In response to “A house divided”, BetternBefore writes:
This probably is all over my head. Is it wrong for me to question why Catholics (or Mormons for that matter) would want to legally force non-Catholics like me to produce unwanted children? Did I misunderstand when I was thinking the objective was for the number of Catholics to grow? With the overpopulation of this planet continuing, you can’t possibly want more of us heathens around.
I actually welcome the question, because it provides me the opportunity to bring together some threads of thought from earlier posts. It also gives me an opportunity to practice charitable responding, because BetternBefore is a friend of mine, whom I cherish and respect.
To recapitulate: “A house divided” noted that most successes of we call (pace Ven. John Paul II) the “culture of death” have come from a divide-and-conquer strategy of pushing different agenda items at different times. The Pill made it possible to finally disconnect three human activities—sex, reproduction and marriage—which need to remain connected, even when looked at from purely non-religious anthropological grounds.
Before getting into the meat of the question, we should dispose of a couple of ancillary issues.
First: If you’ve taken an introductory political science class, you probably know about the concept of “cross-cutting cleavages”. The pro-life community embraces more than just Catholics and Mormons; not all self-described Catholics (or Mormons) are pro-life. Dismissing abortion and contraception as purely “Catholic/Mormon issues” may make it rhetorically handy for the opposition to dismiss pro-life objections wholesale, and to cry “imposition of religion” when pro-life initiatives succeed, but it’s not intellectually honest.
Second, as I discussed in “What shall we do with the bishops?”, the integrity of the Gospel message—which necessarily entails the integrity of the Church’s moral teaching—comes first. Fluctuations in head-count are transitory things; to chuck out big hunks of Tradition and Scripture simply because fewer people this year have their butts in the pews every Sunday than forty years ago is not only self-defeating in terms of the Church’s primary mission, it isn’t working for any of our Protestant brothers and sisters.
Now, let’s rephrase BetternBefore’s question in light of the previous: “Why does the pro-life movement want to force women to produce unwanted children?”
The answer is that, if a child is unwanted, that’s not the child’s fault. The child didn’t cause his own conception; he wasn’t even consulted in the matter. To decree that he must die to correct the poor judgment of the mother or avenge the rape by the father is to pervert justice.
Historically, justifiable homicide has fallen into two categories: necessary protection (e.g., self-defense and war) and retributive justice (capital punishment). The unwanted child doesn’t fall into either category by any stretch of the imagination.
No one has ever been able to scientifically demonstrate a correlation between being unwanted at conception or birth and growing up abused or neglected. As they say down here in Texas, that dog won’t hunt. We’ve had unrestricted contraception for forty-four years, and abortion upon request for thirty-eight; we still have abused and neglected children, and their numbers haven’t gone down. It’s time we put that meme to bed.
In the vast majority of pregnancy cases, the parents consented to sex. As I argued in “Of parachutes and prophylactics”, pregnancy isn’t a disease or a nasty “occasional side effect” of sex; rather, it’s precisely the result the sex drive is trying to achieve. Contraception seeks merely to minimize a risk that, within the context of the decision to not have children, is completely unnecessary because sex, strictly speaking, isn’t necessary. To consent to sex is to accept the implicit risk of conception; contraceptives don’t change that.
Part of the reason there are higher risks of heart disease and breast cancer in women who use the Pill or the Patch is because of the unnatural levels of hormones being maintained in their bodies for long stretches of time, to prevent a function completely natural to the female body. If I may be gross: consider the illnesses that would result if you had to wear a butt plug for twenty-four days in a row, then only allowed yourself to excrete for four days.
In those relatively few cases of pregnancy that result from forced sex (rape and incest), abortion is still a fundamental injustice to someone innocent of the crime, someone who is as much a victim of the crime as is the mother. But I have yet to hear of any instance where the child of rape grew up to be neglected or abused, nor have I seen any scientific evidence to bear this argument out. This is another meme that needs to be put to bed.
The mental image of pro-lifers frog-marching unwilling women into motherhood needs to be abandoned; it’s actively misleading and manipulative. Rather, we’re all about both men and women exercising better sexual judgment and taking full responsibility for the lives they bring into the world.
The irony is that the feminist movement first raised the protest against men treating women as sex objects. However, contraception and abortion have allowed both men and women to treat each other as sex tools, and to cooperate fully in their own degradation. What kind of sexual freedom doesn’t allow a woman or man to say “Not with you; not here; not now”?
What kind of freedom is bought by sacrificing children to Moloch? Let us have more heathens around us, by all means … but not that particular heathen god.