Musings about abortion for the Cult of Charlie Brown

Musings about abortion for the Cult of Charlie Brown July 11, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh has been nominated for the SCOTUS and is on record as saying, “I would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully. That would be binding precedent of the court. It’s been decided by the Supreme Court. . . . ” and (when not even asked by Chuck Schumer to discuss anything more than Roe) voluntarily continuing: ‘It has been reaffirmed many times, including in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.”

So this seems like a good time to reiterate my point that Roe is not going anywhere, that our abortion regime is 100% the creation of GOP Court appointees, that Trump and his party of nihilist predators who have refunded Planned Parenthood six times since he took office have zero interest in Roe except as a means to get the vote of “prolife” Christianist suckers, that Trump’s sole interest is in the hope that Kavanaugh will protect him from Robert Mueller and bow down to a Trump Imperium, and that  this all means that the Old Prolife Movement shall, once again, try to kick the football and wind up flat on its back again.

The chronic unteachability of the Old Prolife Movement is simply breathtaking.  It settled on slogans and mantras 35 years ago and no amount of failure or betrayal by the GOP has ever been able to persuade it to approach the problem in a new way.  Indeed, attempts by Pope Francis and other obvious friends of the unborn to blast it off the rock of the GOP or to get it to think with the Church and embrace a Consistent Life Ethic have only made it hunker down more and cling more tightly than ever to its true Pole Star: the defense of the GOP and whatever sadistic cruelty it advocates today while it dangles the carrot of the repeal of Roe before the most gullible demographic of suckers in the known universe.

And while the leadership of the “prolife” movement says that abortion is their focus, what they in fact do is fritter away their time, energy, and above all credibility, defending, not the unborn, but whatever their GOP paymaster tells them to instruct the faithful to approve.  Here, for instance, is the man who desecrated an altar with a dead body to get a sex predator, grifter, liar, and kidnapping child abuser elected:

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What, you may ask, does apologetics for the traumatization of children and destruction of families–in direct contradiction to the teaching of the pope and the bishops–have to do with ending abortion (which is supposed to be “the focus”)?  Nothing at all.  But it has everything to do with ginning up support for the dimestore antichrist in the White House and, above all, with keeping up the funding from a base that sees Trump as savior and the pope as their enemy (funding that, by the way, he has done a bang up job of keeping in the dark).

So to return to the actual focus, saving children from abortion, one important thing to do is live in reality and not in slogans.  People interested in actually making progress do that.  People who just want to fit in to a culture war in-group refuse to do that.

Take, for instance, this reply to the umpteenth iteration of the cry “Obama was pro-abortion” offered by my ardently prolife chum Elaine L. Larson Wickstrom:

He was and is in favor of women choosing to abort or not, rather than the state enforcing continuation of a pregnancy.
WHEN are pro-lifers going to understand it’s PEOPLE we have to change, not government. Not laws, primarily.
You want a pro-life world you need to work for justice —for women, for the impoverished,etc.”

Yes.  Exactly.  Very few people are “pro-abortion”.   Most people don’t want the state making anybody get an abortion (except for those who supported the One Child Policy in China).  What they want is to not be involved in whether a private citizen decides to avail herself of an abortion. Roughly 20% want that on demand and without apology.  These are the fanatics like Michelle Wolf, who appall normal people with their gleeful zeal.  But even these people don’t want to make anybody have an abortion.  They just want to give the finger to those who believe (as I do) that abortion is the destruction of innocent human life.  Their universe of discourse simply has no room whatsoever for the unborn child (rather like the Christianist’s universe of discourse has no room for the unborn children of neglected brown mothers at the border who were left to miscarry by an Administration–and its heartless Christianists supporters–who just do not give a rip about that class of human).

Then there are the 60% who dislike abortion and who, like Brett Kavanaugh, have no intention of overturning Roe, much less outlawing abortion.  They are not “pro-abortion” either.  They dislike it.  They just have no intention of telling somebody else what they can and cannot do about it.

I think that distinction between “pro-abortion” and “pro-choice” matters if we have any hope of furthering the prolife cause. Every time a prolife person says, “You just want to kill babies!” the pro-choice person says, “No. I just don’t want to tell some 15 year old kid who is terrified of what Dad will do to her that she can’t have an abortion.” That’s about 80% of the public the prolife movement is trying to persuade. About 80% of the public also dislikes abortion and would prefer it go away or not happen, but does not know what to say to that kid. Calling them babykillers is not the way to win hearts and minds, which is why the polling numbers don’t move on this question and have not moved for years. Elaine L. Larson Wickstrom’s point is that if we want the number of abortions to drop we had best focus on demand and not just supply. Seems reasonable to me.

The problem we face is a “prolife” Party totally dedicated to two things: pretending they are just about to overturn Roe (while having zero intention of doing that) and working incredibly hard to put intense economic pressure on the poor to kill their children. The other party, meantime, advocates, rather tepidly, policies that ease those economic pressures while urging, not a “pro-abortion” position, but a laissez faire approach to abortion. They don’t order anybody to abort (unlike, say, China) but it’s their go-to pressure valve for economic stress. It’s a depraved form of compassion in contrast to the GOP’s even more depraved form of being “prolife”.

Understand.  I agree that abortion is taking of innocent human life and is a grave sin. (I always have to tediously reiterate this because the Old Prolife Movement, so far from trying to make converts, is hyper-focused on burning heretics). I’m focusing on how to make abortion less frequent. That’s because, in the real world, Roe is never going to go away in our lifetime, nor in our children’s children’s lifetime. (And indeed, even if it did–hey!  I’m not infallible!–abortion will still be legal in the majority of states.)

So we need to focus more on reducing demand. And we also need to focus on methods of persuasion of our neighbors that work and not simply prolife group identity reinforcement catharses like “Look at that proabort! All she wants to do is just kill babies all day long!”

No. She doesn’t. She just does not. Nor does he.  What they want is to not have to think about abortion, which they dislike, and, above all, not have to tell somebody else what she can and cannot do in a crisis pregnancy. That’s 60% of your neighbors. Calling them babykillers does nothing to change that. So do we want to do catharsis about our hatred of abortion or do we want to actually reduce the number of abortions? Our call.

One reader, noting the relationship between the abortion and the gun control arguments, asked, “Isn’t this just the same argument the Pro-2A groups make; “it is a matter of the heart” and access doesn’t matter? Not agreeing/disagreeing just trying to work it out.”

No. Pro 2A groups argue that all law is futile and that we need a total laissez faire approach to accessing gun technology since “sin is in the heart, not the gun.” My challenge: Let’s try that with really big guns called “Nuclear weapons.” Give Kim and ISIS unfettered access to them and then just pray for God to change their hearts. Good luck with that.

I (and Elaine L. Larson Wickstrom) argue that legal solutions are part of the approach to reducing our abortion rates  just as legal solutions are part of reducing our gun slaughter rate. So sure. Shut down clinics and limit access to abortion technology. Pursue, if you like, the delusional fantasy of overturning Roe that will never happen in our lifetime or the lifetime of our grand-children. But without looking at the economic pressures that the “prolife” party is putting on women to abort, the whole claim to be “prolife” is just wind. If you are prolife, then you address the whole person, not just forbid them to abort and say, “You’re on your own when we cap your benefits to punish you for obeying the Church’s command on artificial contraception.” Every day the “prolife” movement makes clear it is profoundly unserious when it condemns a poor family for the sin of being large. Read John Zmirak’s rather creepy and obsessive fascination with calling Simcha Fisher a welfare parasite for her sin of obeying the Church on being open to life. This is the normative message Freak Show American Conservatives send to large families. Go swimming, but don’t get wet. Obey the Church. Be open to life on pain of mortal sin–and when you are, we will punish you for needing state assistance, you parasite.

These people don’t really care about abortion. They care about imposing rules, punishing the weak (especially poor women), and clutching their stuff.

I would love to say I believe Roe will be overturned. But I just don’t. I see zero evidence that either party or 80% of the American people have the slightest interest in doing so. Meanwhile, I see a prolife movement absolutely focused on that fantasy and that alone as their excuse for not merely ignoring, but making open war on the rest of the Church’s teaching on the dignity of human life. I totally agree that the absurd choice between attacking supply and demand is ridiculous. But we need to face the fact that it is up to the prolife movement to stop forcing that choice. We are the ones who claim to have access to the fullness of truth. We are the ones full of millions of Catholics who spit on the Consistent Life Ethic as though it were heresy and not an obvious statement of the truth. We prevent our own success and give proponents of abortion every reason not to trust us.

The smart approach is to agree with the Left wherever it agrees with Holy Church. To applaud them for defending children at the border. To side with them when they oppose the death penalty, or fight for a living wage. As Jesus says, “Agree with your opponent while you are on the way with them.” Find whatever can be found in common with them in the Church’s teaching. That’s a helluva lot by the way.

Then you are in a position to say, “How can you be so blind to the dignity of the weakest when you are right about so much else?” It’s a powerful argument. And it will save lives, which is the point, not which political tribe gets power.

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