The real shame of this post is that I'm getting on an airplane at 4 AM Wednesday morning, and I won't be here to field your "yeah Buts ..." to my point today. However, It's my intention to field some of them from 10,000 feet if the WiFi hangs in there, so keep your fingers crossed.
And: Pack a Lunch.
I usually check in with Dan (and even Phil in spite of his so-called "retirement" from the internet) before I make a statement as broad as this, but I'll say it: there should be no questions in anyone's mind about where TeamPyro stands on Abortion. Life begins at conception, and it is a gift from God. Every person is made in the image of God. Re-read Genesis 9 if you have trouble wrapping your mind around the idea that murder is wrong.
"Yes, But," comes the objection from the person who thinks a woman has a right to choose, "How is this murder? Far many more of these so-called 'people' die in the womb due to a lot of other causes and complications than by the act of an OB-GYN, so doesn't that make your so-called God a murderer?"
Before we get to the meat and potatoes, I have a brief foreword for those in the Abortion apologetics business. The people who are in favor of abortion as a policy is a broad spectrum of people -- and almost none of them are philosophers. Most of them, if I can be so bold, are people under the age of 35 who are in their sexual prime and who have grown up in the most absurdly-comfortable and safe civilization in the history of human kind. Most of them are emotional adolescents at best, and intellectually? They have a hard time distinguishing between facts (that is: the sort of thing their convenient pseudo-religion of Science is allegedly based on) and emotions (that is: how a story makes them feel).
We know this because every conversation, every conversation, every conversation about this subject with one of these people starts with their urbane narrative about the social mandate for abortion: people who wouldn't allow abortions are stupid, because abortion saves the lives of women.
Before I get into the thick of that, let me say this to the pro-life apologist who has just started unpacking his Greg Bahnsen playbook (some of you have blacked out "Greg Bahnsen" and have written "Cornelius Van Til" on a piece of tape and plastered it over the title) for presuppositional ribaldry: put a sock in it. Even if you are dealing with a rank nihilist (and you might be), the problem here is not establishing a plausible epistemological system in order to detail the ethical implications of the Creator/Sustainer as it relates to reproductive ethical reasoning. The problem in rather that this person is not reasoning at all: they are emoting.
You know, Margaret Sanger was a vile racist. That is: in retrospect. She wasn't vile because she tossed around denigrating epithets, made profane jokes, kept slaves and shot guns at Jamie Foxx. She was an educated woman, and was in the company of the intellectuals of her time -- who were, among other things, convinced that some races were superior to others. Her racism was subtle, superior, and ineffable -- so much so that in her own mind, she was never any kind of racist. She was an idealist, and wanted what was best for all humanity -- and especially for women. Here's one of the slogans the American Birth Control League produced when she helped found it:
We hold that children should be (1) Conceived in love; (2) Born of the mother's conscious desire; (3) And only begotten under conditions which render possible the heritage of health. Therefore we hold that every woman must possess the power and freedom to prevent conception except when these conditions can be satisfied.Now seriously: who would say otherwise? It's only in retrospect that we see that her motives came from an urge to eliminate poverty, and therefore an urge to eliminate all impoverished people pro-actively. She wanted it not because she was a committed atheist, or because she was some sort of necrophile: she wanted it because she had witnessed herself the awful state of women through the lens of her own mother's life. Her mother, Anne (Purcell) Higgins, was a devout Catholic who went through 18 pregnancies (with 11 live births) in 22 years before dying at age 50 of tuberculosis and cervical cancer.
And this is the narrative that survives through to today: women are oppressed by the state of their reproductive shackles, and suffer horrible consequences because of the futility of pregnancy and the profligacy of pregnancy -- while men are, they say, scott free.
This is why calling abortion "murder" lights the advocates for such a thing up into such white-hot indignation. "Murder?" You mean like all the women who die in childbirth? Or how about the murder by inches of a woman trapped in poverty because she has more children than days of the week? How dare you toss out a moral evaluation like "murder" when what a woman actually faces is both more morally-complex and morally-blighted than you so-called theologians and men can comprehend? Trying to walk that person through the argument that you can't really say what is "good" or "better" without first referencing God's law is too clever by a long shot. They are wrapped up in a compelling, emotional story upon which to base their support of abortion. The idea that mothers put their lives at risk when they enter into pregnancy has a kind of gothic allure; it rings of Margaret Atwood by way of Mary Shelley. Nobody wants their wife or mother to die for any reason -- let alone in child birth.
So you will excuse me if, on that basis, I will ask the presuppositionalist to stay out of it. He's most of the way out of it already anyway. If he wants to get involved, he should start where the person in question actually is rather than where he would rather they be.
And, as I said: where they are is emoting, based on a story they believe in, rather than considering the facts of the matter. For example, they don't consider that the trend in the US for abortions over the last 20 years is, thank God, going down. That's without much legislation, without much government intervention. 2009 (the last year for CDC reporting) counted "only" 784,507 abortions -- which is down from a peak of 1.4 million in 1990. That kind of downward trend is really exceptional progress in spite of the number of abortions still being blasphemously-high.
The reason this fact has to be the starting point in this discussion is simple: the number of abortions have effectively been cut in half in the last 25 years, and there has been no correlating explosion of women dying in child birth. In fact: the single most obvious cause for the change in the rate of maternal deaths in the US in the last 30 years has been the change in CDC policy for reporting maternal death in childbirth. Until that point, that rate had flat-lined at roughly 9 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies. It's not hardly the riskiest thing women do. Factually, vehicular accidents claim 10-times as many women each year -- and there is no narrative which casts a dark shadow over women with drivers licenses as there is over the fact that women give birth to children.
Abortion is not causing pregnancy to be more or less safe for women.
Well, we all appreciate a good one-liner because that's the kind of literate and sanguine Christians we are -- even when the humor masks a terrible and indefatigable ignorance and arrogance. But if we again engage in facts, we see that perhaps the other side is defaming the wrong flying spaghetti monster. It's not the God of Abraham who has his facts out of kilter: it's the god of Science. Or rather: only her hapless accolytes.
It turns out that as recently as 2011, fewer than 14% of OB-GYNs are willing to conduct abortions for any reason -- at least, according to those knuckle-dragging fundamentalists at PBS and the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, who don't spare a moment to get to blaming traditional religion for that problem. However, that doesn't account for the fact that only one in 4 OB-GYN's with no religious affiliation are willing to perform abortions. It turns out that those who actually understand what's inside the womb -- because they are actually fully-informed about the Science, you see -- think it is unconscionable to go in after it. That is: the Scientists are against the idea because it turns out, it looks like murder to them.
So abortion isn't affecting the survival rate of pregnant women in our country, and the overwhelming majority of OB-GYN's have a moral objection to doing unspeakable things to unborn human beings. Nobody expected that the story we find ourselves in looks more like Exodus than Rosemary's Baby, but the truth, as it turns out, is God's truth and declares to us our shortcomings rather than His.
It also declares to the so-called fact-based advocate for this procedure that she's not immune to the power of a good story. However, if she's the sort of idealist and realist she says she is, when the fact is cleft from the fiction, she should calmly and consciously change her mind.
Next week, we'll take a look at the objection: "Of course it's murder. So what?"