Posts tagged ‘abortion’

Killing the Unborn

This is not a question of constitutional law, and it never has been. Not from the first. The issue is that some Americans, a non-trivial number of them, would rather put their unborn children to death than be burdened with the responsibilities of parenthood, even if they are only short-lived responsibilities.

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There is a great deal of dishonesty in the abortion debate, which is necessary: Otherwise, we’d be obliged to think about the horror of what we perpetrate and what we endure, and that would be very difficult. Instead, we hear a great deal about extraordinarily rare catastrophes of pregnancy, which are heart-hurting but which also are, in the vast majority of cases, entirely beside the point: These cases are as a statistical matter nearly nonexistent. Even the usual hedge offered by office-seeking pro-life Republicans — the exemption for children conceived through rape or incest — approaches statistical insignificance. (Never mind the moral insignificance, as though we could murder a four-year-old, or a 38-year-old, because he was conceived via rape.) We hear dark warnings about a new Torquemada and a rising theocracy, as though an atheist such as my good friend Charles C. W. Cooke doesn’t know a baby when he sees one, as though the world were not full of agnostics and outright heathens who still have enough civilization in them to know better than to accept butchering unborn children as normal.

You cannot foist a philosophy of man-as-meat on civilized people without a great quantity of lies, some of which will be published in the form of Supreme Court opinions. That is why those who oppose the philosophy of man-as-meat are denied political recourse, and why the authorities in backward places such as Ohio have tried to quash their First Amendment rights, too. Man isn’t meat, and the political model built on insisting that man is meat cannot withstand much scrutiny or debate. It must rely on brute force, which sometimes comes disguised as a Supreme Court ruling. How many people throughout the ages have been convinced of the most indefensible nonsense by similar figures in black ceremonial robes? Think on that the next time you feel inclined to snigger at Iran’s Guardian Council.

But when the hysteria subsides and the blood dries up, reality is still there, and we’re still putting millions of unborn children to death because Caitlyn doesn’t want her prom ruined and because Rachel is living out some third-rate HBO fantasy in Brooklyn, or some place she wishes were Brooklyn. Harry Blackmun didn’t imagine that, but it is his legacy — and our indictment.

The Imaginarium of Harry Blackmun

Ozymandias

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Is there such a thing as a life not worth living?

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Pope Francis recently lamented the obsession of modern society with perfect bodies. Although our first thought on contemplating this might be cosmetics and plastic surgery, he was actually speaking about our increasing rejection of the disabled and the sick.

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Is there such a thing as a life not worth living? Many in our culture seem to believe that there is. There has arisen the tragically ironic idea that death is a form of therapy, that an appropriate treatment for disabled unborn children is to kill them. Of course death is neither a treatment nor a therapy; it cannot be considered an acceptable solution for the one who loses his or her life. Yet this is often the advice that parents in this situation are given.

All of this “advice” and pressure goes a long way toward explaining why more than 90% of unborn children with a poor prenatal diagnosis are aborted. We in the Church cannot remain silent in the face of this; we must reach out compassionately to families experiencing such a crisis. Many of them are devastated by the news that their baby may have serious disabilities. Often they descend into shock and are overwhelmed by fear, conflicting feelings, and even anger towards God or others. Sometimes the greatest gifts we can give them are time, information, and the framework of faith.

Accepting the Disabled in a World Obsessed with Physical Perfection

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“Bake-me-a-cake libertarianism”

The dress-code libertarianism and bake-me-a-cake libertarianism [Libertarian Party 2016 presidential candidate Gary] Johnson has embraced isn’t libertarianism at all — it’s left-wing social engineering enforced at gunpoint. Coming from Johnson and Weld, it reeks of raw identity politics. The only consistent theme is that religious people are bad.

Johnson’s quick reversal on his Burqa ban, and his logical fallacies and weird arguments on coerced baking suggest that he doesn’t hold libertarianism as a principle — he is really just a social liberal and economic conservative, as he says. This is the heart of [Libertarian Party 2016 vice-presidential candidate Bill] Weld’s campaigning, too.

Maybe Weld and Johnson haven’t been paying attention since they left office, and that’s why they conflate “socially liberal” with libertarian. These days, it’s not the conservatives trying to use government to enforce their morality. The Obama administration is trying to compel nuns to provide contraception for their staff. The ACLU is suing to force Catholic hospitals to abort babies. Gary Johnson’s own state fined a Christian wedding photographer for refusing to participate in a gay wedding.

The “anti-choice” side in America today is usually the cultural Left.

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This puts Johnson and Weld at odds with the rest of libertarianism. The Cato Institute and the Reason Foundation both filed amicus briefs on behalf of Hobby Lobby, the Christian-owned store that objected to Obama’s contraception mandate.

Is this the dawn of bake-me-a-cake libertarianism?

Ozymandias

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Something has gone awry….

Did you ever wake up in the morning and wonder just what has gone wrong?

Yes, I know. The water runs clearly, friendly faces chat about good news, pills slaughter your germs, back seats bulge with mall loot, and chocolate-chip bagels are but a few steps away.

Isn’t it the best of all possible worlds? You’d rather be a sixth-century Visigoth or an Aztec virgin preparing for her sacrificial duty, maybe?

But there it is, nonetheless, tugging at what some still suggest is your soul. A suspicion that something has gone awry, that in this age of the fit, the prosperous, and the wired, someone has neglected to tell you something important.

And the science—oh, that science. It prolongs your life, brings wonders into your home and explains everything that mystified those impoverished ancients. Everything, that is, except for one thing, as writer Walker Percy puts it:

“How indeed is one to live in this peculiar time and history and on ordinary Wednesday afternoons?”

Yes, you suspect, there is something wrong, for there are those moments when you realize that modern life, culture, and knowledge have left you without something most fundamental: a satisfying understanding of just who you are and why you are here, in this place, watching the sun put one more day of your life in the past. You must be more than a mere organism or an insatiable, endlessly manipulable consumer.

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Percy’s targets are the shallow pursuits of contemporary life that entertain us into a state of mass misery, and those who seek to raise us from the despair: pop religionists who treat us as irrational, unembodied spirits, scientists and theoreticians who diagnose our ills in purely physical terms, and social planners who would solve human problems by eliminating human beings—the last being the particular subject of The Thanatos Syndrome, a book that I saw for the first time stacked on a display table at a National Right to Life Convention.

The battles Percy describes are fierce, comic, frightening, and, one can’t help reflecting, prophetic. Something has gone very wrong, as we all admit when we are honest about what we see. We seem, simply put, to have forgotten who we are and why we were put here. It is time to let the ghosts take care of themselves and embark on the pilgrimage. We can thank Walker Percy, who left a challenging, fascinating body of work behind him when he passed away on May 10, 1990, for heroically diagnosing our ills and suggesting, however elliptically, a cure.

Walker Percy at 100

Desire for comfort is also connected to the global addiction to abortion and growing attraction to euthanasia. [Cardinal Robert] Sarah learned something different:

“I learned from my parents how to give. We were accustomed to receiving visitors, which impressed on me the importance of welcoming and generosity. For my parents, and all the inhabitants of my village, receiving others as guests implied that we were seeking to make them happy. Familial harmony can be the reflection of the harmony of heaven.”

Family values may be also perverted into a false tribalism, he says. But the absence of close ties may be the broadest horror today because it goes to our roots as persons: “The battle to preserve the roots of mankind is perhaps the greatest challenge that our world has faced since its origins.”

The Dictatorship of Horror

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Statolatry, Ancient and Modern

Ancient regimes were intellectually and morally self contained. They themselves were their own frame of reference for good and evil, better and worse. Their gods were the gods of the city or of the empire. When they worshiped those gods, they essentially worshiped themselves. There was no difference between politics, religion, and society. Hence, there was no basis for individual freedom. The closest to ancient polities in our time, prior to, say, the last forth years or so, was Japan—the world’s largest tribe.

Christianity, which gave medieval regimes their character, which character endured in the Western world up until recent decades, revolutionized life by recognizing each individual’s direct relationship to God—the creator of the universe, the essence of goodness, and hence the one and only standard of right and wrong. This, including Jesus’s mandate to separate duties to God and to Caesar, made it possible for life in the West to be lived on several independent levels. This is (or was) our charter of freedom. As Luther put it: “Be on you knees before God, that you may stand on your feet before men.”

Modern regimes, by denying the existence of God and his laws have, once again, placed their own human authority beyond any challenge but by power. Collapsing the distinction between freedom and power quite simply destroys the autonomy of individuals and of society—hence of freedom.

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In today’s America, right and wrong, better and worse, have become mere appurtenances of partisanship and power.

Politics, Religion, and the Ruling Class

A culture of death. Ozymandias

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Statolatry and Eugenics

By the end of this morbid session, I thought I was in a eugenics court. Then it dawned on me, I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the modern Progressive movement has been dominated by a self-anointed elite, like several of the justices, who had contempt for the common people. In the early 20th century, they even promoted social and economic policies driven by anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic impulses.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Read the excellent new book by Princeton’s Thomas Leonard, Illiberal Reformers: Race Eugenics and American Economics in the Progressive Era. Under the banner of a “New Nationalism,” progressives called for a centralized administrative state manned by expert managers and planners, who would use “scientific methods” to enhance human welfare.

Believing that social progress “required the individual to be controlled, liberated and expanded by collective actions,” progressive intellectuals perceived human persons as “lumps of human dough” to be formed on the “social kneading board.”

That molding, Leonard points out, was to be done “by the best and the brightest, those who, uniquely, ignored profit and power to serve the common good – which is to say, the progressives themselves.”

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Today, however, the new “progressives” in the White House and on the presidential campaign trail are promoting an agenda, similar to their forbears, that includes ideological conformity, suppression of free speech and religious liberty, unlimited abortion, and euthanasia.

Progressivism’s Dark Side, by George J. Marlin

Statolatry and Eugenics, Ozymandias

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“Success” and Children

The prejudice against children begins from an immoderate desire for order. Order, the first need of all, is like all other goods in that it can be taken too far. And disgust with the intrinsic disorder of children (especially boys) takes this good to the point of denying the value of life itself. When one adds to this prejudice the social science myth that traditional societies remain poor because they include too many children, one gets a powerful argument against life. Some traditional societies are ruled by policies, such as subdividing inheritances and multiplying the obligations of family members, that do in fact discourage economic advancement. That said, however, contemporary policies in the West have gotten to the point of substituting the government for the family so thoroughly that they, too, have undermined entrepreneurship while having the further disadvantage of sapping the spirit out of communities and increasingly isolated individuals.

Traditional societies are poor for many reasons. They survive because their families remain strong. Modern societies, after decades relentlessly pursuing wealth, are becoming poorer, and increasingly have only the state to look to for “social” security. That state, while seemingly unstoppable in its growth and grasp for power, is running out of money and drowning in the bureaucratic red tape it uses to bind the rest of us to its will.

In addition, society itself is becoming increasingly disordered even as we in effect consume our children. As our middle class disappears, those children who do survive until birth are either palmed off to the state, then to drugs, technology, and further dependency, or put onto “the path to success” at the hands of various facilitating professionals who coddle them in a stress-filled manner creating sky-high suicide rates and the pathetically fragile creatures who inhabit elite institutions of education. This is a society suffering from a veritable death wish, as those with the responsibility for raising responsible adults either eschew children altogether or abandon them to others while they pursue their own vision of personal success, treating spouses and children as mere accoutrements, consumer items made more precious by emotional attachments that, alas, are rooted in precious little practical experience at shaping lives and characters together.

It would be all too easy to throw up our hands and say that this is the inevitable route of decadent cultures, and especially of cultures rooted in the drive for economic well-being. While understandable, such a reaction would be misguided on several levels. First, material goods are in fact good. It is pursuing them for their own sakes, rather than as necessary but limited tools in building a good life for one’s family, that is wrong. Moreover, the progress toward our atomistic society was not paved merely with greed, but more fundamentally with a revolt against nature. By this I mean not merely the rejection of traditional families and the necessary role of women as primary caregivers, but also rejection of men’s obligation to marry, have children, and stay married, supporting their families in good times and bad.

The West’s War on Children, by Bruce Frohnen

“[A]s communities become more ethnically diverse they in fact become socially frayed,” as Jonah Goldberg wrote in The Tyranny of Cliches:

Putnam found that as a community becomes more ethnically and socially varied, social trust plummets. People tend to “hunker down,” in Putnam’s words banding together with a shrunken and shrinking group of friends or alone in front of the TV. Trust in political leaders, the political process, and even voting decline precipitously. Volunteerism, from charitable giving to carpooling, deteriorates. Political activism increases as people look to government to solve problems that once might have been solved by a simple conversation across a coffee table or a shared fence between neighbors. Note: Putnam did not find that diversity fuels racism; the vast bulk of the people interviewed for the study were not bigots. What he found was that diversity promotes alienation, disengagement, and social isolation. This all runs counter to a host of prevailing clichés and pieties.

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A healthy, vibrant society requires citizens who see themselves as parts of things that are larger than themselves, in which they must play important, though rarely central roles. This means that families, churches, voluntary associations, and states are part of a way of life. They are aspects of our nature as social beings.

When we ignore our social nature—or substitute mere political activism for community life—we may enjoy ourselves as flies of a summer, whether singly or in swarm-like mobs. More likely we will merely make ourselves miserable in pursuit of pleasures and honors of the moment that will never satisfy because they have no place in any larger order and so lack any intrinsic meaning or value. And so, no matter how many toys we accumulate before we die, we die fundamentally alone and un-mourned, in a society that is dying, largely unnoticed even by its own members.

Gone to Texas

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Killing People

At Mass today, across the Archdiocese of Toronto, all homilies were suspended so that a statement could be read by our Cardinal Collins against the Ottawa government’s impending “euthanasia” legislation. This our Parliament was ordered to write and pass by Canada’s Supreme Court: a junto of nine who are a law unto themselves. The Parliamentary Committee discussing the matter, now dominated by the Liberal Party, has made recommendations such as forcing all doctors and other medical staff to participate in the killings; and arranging for children and the mentally ill to be terminated on the advice of one “care giver” or another. It is a monstrous, unambiguously evil measure they are contemplating — which, like abortion, targets the defenceless.

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Nor can the few remaining Catholics and others, still animated by the “traditional” human decency, hope to disentangle or separate ourselves, in a time when centralized government is increasingly able to track every individual, and control his behaviour and fate by external means.

Eventually the burden of overwhelming cost will inspire our keepers to cut their expenses by eliminating all their more expensive “clients,” whether they request it or not. The latest proposed legislation will surely be found insufficiently “inclusive” in a few more years. As we see, the great rush of Liberalism is accelerating. It is that of the Gadarene swine.

We cannot stop this “trend” except by growing more faithful and courageous; by raising children with the knowledge and backbone to resist the Devil’s works. We can, at best, struggle to recreate families that will take care of their own, without poisoned government assistance, and persist in doing so — until the jackboots burst in, and the matter is out of our hands, and into God’s.

Killing people

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The Ruling Class

But science is reason, not pretense. Only the power of government can translate scientific illiteracy into scientific pretense. What President Dwight Eisenhower warned against in his 1961 farewell address has become our reality: “domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money.” Government money is the means by which ruling-class power has become the scientific pretense by which we are instructed what to eat, how to shower, what medical care is proper and what is not, and what to think about right and wrong.

Standing Up to the Ruling Class, by Angelo Codevilla

The state is the clerisy’s idol

[P]eople are fooling themselves if they think electing a strongman is going to save us. Dante Alighieri fantasized about a strongman coming to sort out the godawful mess that was Italy in the 14th century, but I think he told truer than he knew in Purgatorio XVI, on the terrace of Wrath. When the pilgrim Dante asked Marco the Lombard why the world back on earth is in such a mess, Marco answered him by saying, in effect, If you want to fix the world, first fix your own heart.

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Look, I’m not saying that policy (economic and otherwise) has nothing to do with this “things fall apart” situation we find ourselves in. It does. But there’s a lot more going on here, at every level of our society, from top to bottom. The center is not holding. Trump is not the cause; Trump is the effect. If he becomes president, maybe some things will change for the better, but if he threw out every illegal immigrant, built a wall between the US and Mexico, reformed the financial system and did everything he promised to do, We The People would still have massive problems governing ourselves, in our private lives.

Bunga Bunga Billionaire Nation, by Rod Dreher

Ozymandias

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Abortion is killing the “unwanted”

Abortion means killing not strangers but our own children, our own flesh and blood. No matter who the father, every child aborted is that woman’s own son or daughter, just as much as any child she will ever bear.

Once I recognized the inherent violence of abortion, none of the feminist arguments made sense. Like the claim that a fetus is not really a person because it is so small. Well, I’m only 5 foot 1. Women, in general, are smaller than men. Do we really want to advance a principle that big people have more value than small people? That if you catch them before they’ve reached a certain size, it’s all right to kill them?

What about the child who is “unwanted”? It was a basic premise of early feminism that women should not base their sense of worth on whether or not a man “wants” them. We are valuable simply because we are members of the human race, regardless of any other person’s approval. Do we really want to say that “unwanted” people might as well be dead? What about a woman who is “wanted” when she’s young and sexy but less so as she gets older? At what point is it all right to terminate her?

The usual justification for abortion is that the unborn is not a “person.” It’s said that “Nobody knows when life begins.” But that’s not true; everybody knows when life — a new individual human life — gets started. It’s when the sperm dissolves in the egg. That new single cell has a brand-new DNA, never before seen in the world. If you examined through a microscope three cells lined up — the newly fertilized ovum, a cell from the father, and a cell from the mother — you would say that, judging from the DNA, the cells came from three different people.

Roe Won the Day, and Sooner or Later That Day Will End

“The moment of the videos demonstrated that there were many Americans willing to turn their eyes away from what they revealed. They showed the pro-life movement what we’re up against in terms of the conscience of the nation,” he said.

Why the March for Life is becoming a destination for more evangelicals

March for Life

Today, many of us march for life, here in Washington, on the West Coast, and in other communities. Today we ponder the great mystery that is expressed in the 139th psalm:

For it was you who created my being, knit me together in my mother’s womb. I thank you for the wonder of my being . . . Already you knew my soul my body held no secret from you when I was being fashioned in secret….every one of my days was decreed before one of them came into being. To me, how mysterious your thoughts, the sum of them not to be numbered! (Psalm 139 varia)

No human being is an accident, no conception a surprise or inconvenience to God. Mysteriously he knew and loved us long before we were ever conceived, for he says, Before I ever formed you in the womb I knew you (Jer 1:4). And, as the psalm says above, God has always known everything we would ever do or be.

The Miracle of Life

Today [January 22, 2106] marks the 43rd anniversary of a Supreme Court ruling that reversed and erased a decade of civil rights gains, and created a new Constitutionally-defenseless class of persons with no voice before the bar of justice, no recourse under law.

The high court, on this day in 1973, twisted freedom’s charter from a document designed to protect the People from their government, to a death warrant that set the government against some of the people, committing our nation to a ceaseless slaughter of innocents that would have horrified King Herod.

Roe v. Wade Erased a Decade of Civil Rights Gains, and Violated the True Constitution of a People

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