The Abortion Controversy Still Reigns
A January 2018 Marist poll showed that 56% of Americans believes that abortion is morally wrong and over 75% want abortions to be limited to the first three months of pregnancy. Surprisingly, the latter statistic includes 61% of Democrats. While the zealots that indoctrinate children and spread conspiracy theories about abortion practices are the driving force behind the Pro-Life movement, they’re not the only members of the tribe. Forty-five years since the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade, abortion continues to be one of the most controversial moral and political subjects of our time. There’s a reason that the Pro-Life movement hasn’t been aborted itself. However, the cause for the enduring controversy has nothing to do with pious citizens determined to protect fetuses.
So, why then? The controversy hasn’t just remained, it’s actually heightened over the years. The reason for the crescendo of moral outcry is multi-factorial, but it boils down to power and prejudice. A central part of the Evangelical (and Republican, to a slightly lesser degree) ideology is the subjugation of women. God gave men the power. This foundational concept is laid out clearly in scripture. The traditional, ideal family has a male-dominant, female-passive dynamic, where the division of labor is allocated based on the husband’s and the wife’s “natural” strengths and weaknesses. Males go out and get the worms while the females tend to the chicks in the nest. That’s the sacred familial blueprint and Evangelicals will attack anything that threatens the male monopoly of power.
Slaves Shall Serve
Abortion is one of the most important tools that society has at its disposal to help equalize the balance of power between the two sexes. The voices that decry abortion also either oppose birth control or don’t want insurance to cover birth control. They want abstinence only education, despite the fact that it has been proven ineffective, especially when compared to comprehensive sex education. All of these initiatives have a common theme: they keep women locked into the traditional, Evangelical power structure. The more often women get pregnant, the less likely it is that they will be able to leave the nest. There are many women who fiercely defend this familial model. They either suffer from self-hatred or they don’t want to admit to themselves how much the traditional model has stolen from them.
Evolution has handicapped women. The risks of sex are exponentially greater for a female, but the sex drive isn’t proportionally mitigated. Aside from embarrassment or paltry child support payments, men suffer virtually no consequences from their sexual indiscretions or accidents. It’s easy for a man to flamboyantly proclaim he has the moral high ground on abortion when he doesn’t suffer any of the consequences. Pregnancy and motherhood can either hinder a woman’s intellectual and professional development or it can destroy it. It can never enhance that type of growth. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs puts self-actualization (when a person fulfills their perceived purpose) at the top of the pyramid, while physical needs (food and water) are at the bottom. Traditional Evangelicals and Pro-Lifers don’t want women to achieve self-actualization, unless it means becoming a human breeder or a stellar homemaker. If women are achieving self-actualization, the vast majority of the time it means that they were able to escape the nest’s domestic prison. Pro-Lifers don’t want to make it easier for women to leave the nest, they want to make it harder. They don’t want evolution’s female handicap to be mitigated.
A Fetish for Punishment
The philosophy of the Pro-Lifers is baffling. The hypocrisy is comical; they are zealous defenders of the fetus, but, politically-speaking, care very little about the protection of other forms of life (the uninsured or those with preexisting conditions, drug-addicts, the poor and indigent, etc.). Their main assumption is specious. The idea that a zygote or embryo is a living thing is, in some ways true. But, so is a sperm. A friend of mine always said that life begins with the erection. It’s ridiculous, but it’s also true by Pro-Life standards. A sperm has the potential to create life. Every sperm wasted in masturbatory pleasure is technically a missed opportunity for life. If the goal is to not hinder new souls being brought into the world, Pro-Lifers should be campaigning for the rights of the sperm. What’s the difference? The difference is that, in the Pro-Lifer’s mind, some tramp let herself get knocked up and now she’s trying to get out of it with an abortion. She’s trying to break free from the model that God created in Eden. Pro-lifers love when people suffer from their choices.
School districts with insufficient funding don’t have the resources to adequately teach students about sex. Kids in areas stricken with poverty are more likely to have sex before they’re eighteen. Young women get pregnant and are then locked into a cycle of poverty. They’re not equipped to raise their children and then their children repeat the same mistakes. These are the lives that we should be passionately protecting. These are living, sentient human beings that have been ravaged by a political system that would rather suppress their votes instead of improve their schools. Pro-Lifers want the cycle of poverty to stay intact. They want these sinners to reap the consequences of their actions. They want to punish sexual immorality and reward righteous behavior (stay a virgin until marriage and then don’t leave the nest). This cycle destroys lives and perpetuates a great deal of suffering, yet there is no outrage from the Pro-Lifers.
Morality & Morons
Philosophically speaking in an academic sense, the Pro-Life movement is a moral train-wreck. Whenever an undergraduate takes an introduction to philosophy course, she will always learn two ethical schools of thought: utilitarianism and deontology. Utilitarianism is easy to understand. Consequences are what matter. The end justifies the means. The morally correct action to take is the one that produces the most utility, i.e. good. On the other hand, deontology is not concerned at all with the consequences; they don’t factor into moral determination at all. What’s important to the deontologist is acting based on a sense of duty to the moral law and following the rules of that moral law. Immanuel Kant, the originator of this school of thought formulated, what he called, the categorical imperative.
- Act only according to that maxim by which you can also will that it would become a universal law.
So, this means that for an action to be moral, it must be feasibly applied to all circumstances. For example, if someone attempted to universalize stealing, they’d run into trouble. In order to steal, people have to have private belongings. But, if everyone is allowed to steal, it’s impossible to have private property, so the principle of universal stealing is logically negated.
The pro-life argument is purely deontological. If every person who was pregnant had an abortion, there would not be any abortions to be had, because eventually the human race would die out. Most Pro-Lifers aren’t that academic in their reasoning and think of it as more of a divine commandment, but the adherence to immutable natural law is the same. Ironically, they use a utilitarian strategy to enact their deontological worldview. Pro-Lifers will do anything to outlaw abortion. They’ll indoctrinate children with terrifying images of aborted fetuses. They’ll create and spread elaborate lies about how fetus organs are being sold to the highest bidder on an international scale. They’ll side with the non-religious and horrifically immoral Donald Trump because they believe that he can deliver the goods of a conservative pro-life Supreme Court that will overturn Roe v. Wade. The ends justifies the means, even if their foundational principle says the exact opposite.
The Pro-Life movement is a philosophical mess; a utilitarian blitzkrieg with the aim of deontological theocracy. It’s the product of terminally-narrow tunnel vision. All that matters is outlawing abortion to these people. The fetus is more valuable than any living human to them, especially the mother. They want to do two things to the mother: help her atone for her sins and keep her tending to the chicks in the nest, where she belongs. The more women that achieve self-actualization, the more the Pro-Lifers’ familial model appears painfully obsolete. The Pro-Lifers don’t care about saving babies, they care about saving God.