19 November 2020

Abortion and rhetoric, part two: does your morality measure up?

Another week has rolled by with no sign of outgoing U.S. president Donald Trump's readiness to concede his November 3 loss. His supporters in the public arena point to vast conspiracies aiming to deprive him of his big election-day victory. He takes great comfort from all this support, saying in one of his ongoing flood of fundraising appeals, "One thing has become clear these last few days, I am the American People’s ALL-TIME favorite President."

Meanwhile, away from the public microphones, and especially on social media, the president's supporters continue on their same old rhetorical scripts when addressing the rest of us: we are (1) rabid socialists; (2) baby-killers.

The socialist charge strikes me as wilfully ignorant, as I tried to say more tactfully a few weeks ago. I believe there is more genuine passion in  the anti-abortion argument. Last year, I tried to explain my own mixed feelings about the abortion debate, and how I ended up as an opponent of abortion who also opposes most anti-abortion legislation.

Democrats who participate in these abortion debates sometimes resort to the interesting argument that abortion rates may actually decrease during Democratic administrations compared to the stats under Republicans. Politifact assesses this argument as not entirely false, but requiring more context. (Snopes agrees, stressing the weak link between government policies and statistical trends.) However, I think the anti-abortion movement, at least among Christians, is based on an entirely different analysis. Their opponents are condemned, not on the basis of statistics (although the totals of lives sacrificed through abortion have shock value, of course). They are condemned for being willing to contemplate any abortions at all (or, depending on individual nuance, any abortions that are not justified by the need to save the mother's life).

I respect this reasoning. It seems consistent with Christian pacifism. I find it hard to justify the deliberate ending of a human life under any excuse. (My argument doesn't depend on whether or not the embryo has a soul or otherwise fits the description of a human life, if the decisive factor is simply time until that point is reached.)

Signe Wilkinson  
However, let's look honestly at the way the world is arranged now. Vast resources are put at the disposal of armies to extinguish lives as efficiently as possible -- lives that would otherwise be viable. On a more routine level, governments and voters enact policies all the time that are statistically certain to produce more victims than alternative policies might have done -- alternative policies, for example, to end hunger, reduce poverty, improve health care, overcome structural racism, regulate pollution, outlaw the death penalty, and end military assistance to regimes that starve, torture, and kill their political opponents. We seem to be entrusting our politicians to make the moral distinctions that supposedly justify these deaths, or potential deaths, while we abortion opponents do NOT trust women -- that is, the potential mothers -- to exercise their own moral judgment concerning pregnancy. I would love to see huge numbers of Trump voters direct the same moral scrutiny at health care finance, say, or the danger to our planet's ability to sustain human life, that they do to the mothers whom they judge unfit to decide on an abortion.

What unexamined assumptions exist behind this belief that women are unable to make adequate moral judgments about whether to have an abortion? Do anti-abortion campaigners fully understand what agony a women contemplating abortion might be going through, or do they suspect that a typical abortion is undertaken lightly, to correct the inconvenient results of wanton sexuality, and then lazily extend that assumption to everyone who might consider an abortion?

Obviously I don't actually know what judgments these campaigners are making about the women who would be affected by their prohibitions. I just want them to apply those same moral judgments to their own decisions affecting who prospers and who dies. In the case of those people who call Biden/Harris supporters "baby-killers," I don't see any evidence of that fairness.

On November 29, we have an opportunity to celebrate the living legacy of Dorothy Day.

Roger E. Olson: Distinguishing the evangelical movement from the evangelical ethos.
...[W]hen I call myself “evangelical” I am not talking about membership in some organization or even movement. So far as I can tell the “evangelical movement” is dead and gone. I am talking about my identification with a particular ethos that defined that movement but lives on beyond its demise. And it pre-dated that movement’s rise.
Masha Gessen: Why our country needs a reckoning with the Trump era.
Consider the consequences of choosing against a reckoning—what we would leave in place by choosing not to look back. Republican lawmakers who enabled Trump, some of whom are refusing to recognize the results of the election, will likely continue to hold and win office. Executive-branch employees will continue to publish tell-all memoirs and secure appointments at think tanks and colleges as they await the next Republican Administration. In other words, they will continue to be members in good-enough standing of the political √©lite, demonstrating that political power in the U.S. confers a lasting immunity from prosecution and public reproach. Or, as Trump once memorably put it, “And when you are a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

As for the rest of us, if we choose to move forward without a reckoning, we move into the future lugging the trauma....
What event in the computer market in 2020 was (in Jack Wallen's opinion) the most important for the advancement of the Linux desktop?

Little Charlie Baty, Anson Funderburgh, Mark Hummel, with R.W. Grigsby (bass) and Wes Starr (drums). Enjoy!

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