Saturday, May 10, 2014

Necessary Steps

“Politics is the art of the possible.” – R. A. Butler

If you’re absolutely pro-life, as I am, among the things you struggle with is the acceptability the abortion of convenience has found among the general public. The years since Roe v. Wade have resigned even staunch pro-lifers to the more than one million lives quenched by American abortionists every year, as if we’d largely given up on returning the practice to the realm of the unthinkable. Our convictions remain as they are. We continue to speak against the slaughter, hoping that a non-political approach might at least open minds and save lives by encouraging the choice of life. But our progress in this fashion has been slow at best, and difficult to measure.

It’s a gauge of our society’s devolution that Peyton Place, which Grace Metalious published in 1956, depicted near-unanimous popular outrage at Doctor Matthew Swain for aborting teenager Selena Cross’s unborn baby – a baby her father had put in her by raping her. Even the assertion that the child was the product of a heinous felony was generally deemed insufficient justification for snuffing out its life. Today, women abort their babies for any reason – or none – and he who dares to protest the practice is immediately and massively vilified as “an enemy of women’s rights.”

Even so, one aspect of the abortion holocaust is in our favor: the general distaste over “late-term abortions,” some of which, as they take place just as the baby is entering the birth canal, are also called “partial-birth abortions.” It’s a strong consensus that these abortions kill viable infants – infants already capable of surviving outside the womb – and are therefore indistinguishable from the murder of an infant outside the womb, which would be a legally punishable act. A healthy majority of Americans of both sexes would accept the legal prohibition of such abortions, though the applicable penalties remain a matter of debate.

Wherefore it pleases me to note this morning that the Republican National Committee has included such a ban in its official positions:

Continuing the bold pro-life direction of the party committee under chairman Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee adopted a resolution Friday supporting legislation to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The RNC resolution comes ahead of Tuesday’s one year anniversary of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s murder conviction — which pro-life activists say prompted a series of 20-week abortion bans at the state level.

“The Republican Party is proudly pro-life and this resolution shows our support for this straightforward, simple pro-life initiative,” resolution sponsor RNC Committeewoman Ellen Barrosse of Delaware said in a statement Friday.

“Children capable of feeling intense pain, as well as their mothers, should be protected from abortion at such a very late stage of gestation,” Barrosse added.

There’s a dollop of hyperbole in the above, at least in the mind of a pro-life absolutist. Indeed, many commenters to the Breitbart piece make that exact observation. But the RNC resolution expresses a frank, if sorrowful, recognition of the current political reality: there is simply no possibility of a total ban on abortion in the foreseeable future, given the state of the law, the Supreme Court, and American popular culture. A ban on late-term abortion is simply all that lies within the realm of the achievable for now.

Whether such a ban really is achievable will require, at the minimum, a Supreme Court decision. Roe v. Wade and lower-court cases that have followed in its train have made it impossible, de facto if not de jure, for a state government to impose restrictions on abortion at any stage of gestation. State-level officials’ fear of the political power of the pro-abortion forces is such that many states don’t even try to regulate or inspect abortion mills; the recent case of Kermit Gosnell testifies to that effect.

Limiting the abortion holocaust at its most horrific end isn’t enough for many ardent pro-lifers. Reince Priebus and the RNC are already coming in for opprobrium for “not going far enough.” The pro-lifer who genuinely condemns abortion on principle is undoubtedly sincere in that opinion. But a complete ban on abortion will not be possible until our current culture of instant gratification, unlimited personal indulgence, total irresponsibility, and sensation Uber Alles can be replaced by a culture that cherishes life and acknowledges our duty to protect the unborn.

The process must start somewhere. This is the proper time, and late-term abortion of presumptively viable infants is the proper place.


James Sullivan said...

I've recently come back to reading the blogosphere, and I had thought you had stopped writing there. I miss Eternity Road. Now I find you here.

What a nice surprise!

Anyhow, this is a subject I have been trying to reconcile within myself for years, especially my libertarian side, and now, having returned to the Catholic Church. I was always at a loss.

What ultimately tipped me, in my own self centered way, was the premature birth of my children. My wife went into labor eleven weeks early with our twins, Max and Stella. And, well, something happened in me. After all, they were obviously human beings ( and strangely robust ones at that for being as early as they were: both 21 inches long, and in the five pound range).

How could anyone see them, or any other child (infant may be more correct but, I prefer to say child, to reinforce that it is a person, when talking to people)?

How is abortion not murder?

Anyway, it's good to know you are back. I look forward to continued reading.

Anonymous said...

My beliefs on this issue have evolved and are still evolving. I have a couple of questions that I am not able to answer satisfactorily.

1. Given that the best predictor for failure in life within society (ie, tendency for drug and alcohol abuse, violence, and crime) seems to be that the person was an "unwanted" birth; and that violent crime in the US has decreased since the number of unwanted children post Roe v Wade has decreased; what happens to the greater society if those unwanted children are born?

2. Given that many if not MOST of the aborted children are carried by self-evidently irresponsible people, what possible good is there that those children are born with fetal alcohol syndrome, drug addictions, aids and other diseases, or mental impairments caused by poor nutrition, and that they are born into a culture of dependency, violence and abuse? (And what is the effect of millions of such babies on society at large?)

3. what possible changes could be effected in society that would mitigate against 100s of thousands of damaged babies entering the world? What will they do when they grow up? What would a society look like that could COMPEL a woman to carry to term a baby she does not want, or care about, in a way that would result in healthy babies and later healthy, contributing adults? Who would raise those unwanted children in a way that wouldn't result in a continuation of the cycle of poverty, violence, and dependency?

I have not seen any discussion or plan to reduce the NEED or DESIRE for abortion, only a call for its ending. It has a lot of parallels to the 'war on drugs' in that it attempts to regulate a behaviour, and not the factors that create that behaviour in the first place.

It may be that it is better, in terms of net human suffering, that those children are not born. Perhaps it is a mercy that they do not become the victims and perpetrators of abuse and violence.

As I said, my current beliefs are evolving.


BTW, the discussion almost always ignores the rights of the male involved, and the logical conclusions that result when the state says the female is the only one who can choose to end a pregnancy. If the female is the only one who can say NO then she is the only one who can say YES. By accepting that right, she should also accept FULL responsibility. That means no sueing for child support, amongst other things. And again, I can't imagine what society looks like that could COMPEL these things. (Or rather I can imagine it, and it is nothing any sane person would like to see.)

Anonymous said...

My question stems from my ignorance; how would you "enforce" the ban past 20 weeks?
Is the state of obstetrician's practice that they can determine definitively the age of the child? (it is my personal belief that life begins at conception)
I can picture the raging court orders and hearings being publicized, but in the meantime, an innocent child will be born. If the mother was willing to abort the child, she will either neglect them, or turn them over to the state.
What are the practical realities of how such a law would be implemented? Would the mother be charged if she attempted to abort he child herself?
These scenarios are tailor made for progressives to loudly wail about the "war on women"...