Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A Dumb Argument

"Don't like abortion? Don't get one!" You'll find some abortion rights progressive saying this in every comment section on every article on this issue ever published in the internet age. (You can find an individualist libertarian saying the same thing.) There are a myriad of assumptions in this statement. Let's unpack a few:

1. My individual free choice is the most important thing in the entire universe.
2. There is no public, moral dimension to this question.
3. My body is the only thing involved.

All three are false. In reply to the first, I can say that I could eat a bowl of arsenic shaped to look like corn flakes. It's possible. That'd be idiotic, and morally wrong, but I could do it. I could steal my neighbor's movie collection. Again, idiotic and wrong, but possible. That is, it's theoretically within my ability to do. Is it within my rights, my freedom, to do? No. Because my freedom is limited in reality to what is morally licit. It is within my rights to choose morally licit means to accomplish morally licit ends.

Secondly, generations of American mothers choosing to kill their own children has had massive social consequences. How many people don't even exist, because they barely got to live? Or were never born? Something on the order of 150 million people, considering the generations. How many families have been destroyed--or never even formed--because of so-called "reproductive choice/autonomy"? Naturally, the moral questions go far beyond abortion, but elective abortion is the fail safe to an entire philosophy of sexual autonomy.

And to the third, the reply is plain: It's not your body; it's someone else's. No one has the right to murder someone else. The fact that people murder each other all the time is no excuse to approve of it. Yet abortion rights advocates essentially retreat here all the time. Moreover, the issue has to be re-framed; if it isn't, you'll have people contemplating their obligations to unchanging moral principles, and, "Ain't nobody got time for that," as some have put it.

You'll hear one other argument: "Separation of Church and State!" as if that's an entire argument by itself. In a more sophisticated form, it comes to us as, "Universal moral claims have no place in politics," and literally, this is a contradiction. Politics is the art and science of adjudicating universal moral claims, and individual interests and desires. We've done everything possible to avoid seeing what politics really is, or to truncate the disappointment of not getting what we want to only fall on those we hate, but it never seems to work. I digress.

I'm a Bible teacher, for lack of a better term. I know that lots of people will avoid darkening the door of my Catholic parish for all of their lives, if they can help it. And they want nothing to do with Jesus, and that is fine, as far as it goes. But just because I am a religious man, and depending on what you ask me, I see the world in those terms, does not mean that my universal public morality--my politics--is an imposition of religion. It's not, and it won't be.

It's amazing how many people confuse morality and moral questions with religion. Perhaps they think that by avoiding one, they avoid the other. This is obviously not the case.

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