Good Question

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I have been thinking for several days now about everything that the Religious Right has sacrificed in its singular zeal for the “pro-life” cause.  (I will only use that term in quotation marks because it’s both overinclusive and underinclusive).  This article on Slate describes what I’ve been puzzling over.   Back in 1980, one of the goals of religious conservatives was to reduce divorce — remember that?  And the furor over Murphy Brown having a child on her own?  What ever happened to conservative promotion of  two-parent families?  Since I know that no one reads linked articles, here’s an excerpt or two:

In fact, these two conservative social goals—ending abortion and upholding the model of the nuclear family—were always in tension. The reason is that, like it or not, the availability of legal abortion supports the kind of family structure that conservatives once felt so strongly about: two parents raising children in a stable relationship, without government assistance. . . .

By vaunting their pro-life agenda over everything else, conservatives are abandoning one of their most valuable insights: that intact, two-parent families are best for children and for the foundation of a healthy society. The evidence here is overwhelming. Children with two parents, whether of the same sex or the opposite sex, are vastly better off. By every measure social scientists have devised, those raised by two parents grow up healthier (physically and psychologically), wealthier, and wiser, on average, than those raised by a single parent, divorced parents, or even a parent and a stepparent.

I understand and sympathize with people who oppose abortion, although I mostly disagree with their public policy prescriptions.  But I am truly baffled by the fact that it seems to trump all other issues for a significant number of voters.  Could someone please explain this to me?  This is a sincere question.  I know that some of you have written me off as part of the domestic axis of evil, and I would like to take this opportunity to ask you to reconsider that position and engage in a real conversation.  I have some guesses, but would like to hear what others think.

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4 Responses to “Good Question”

  1. DeJon05 Says:

    I’ll take a symbolic go at an answer. Symbolic because I’m once again I’m feigning to carry a banner. (At least I’m upfront about it.)

    But the right-to-life line of thinking as far as I can tell stands on the ad hominem truth that a human life is the most precious of resources and abortion destroys human life.

    I think most reasonable people would nod in agreement with the sanctify-of-life argument, but IMO a staunch pro life stance demonstrates a misguided certainty that has become a staple of the right.

    “Killing babies is wrong so killing babies must be outlawed.”

    While I would agree that the abortion of a fetus that would otherwise most probably grown to become a person is a sad, sad action that breaks my heart, it is ridiculous to suggest that were the pro-lifers to get their way that such actions would end.

    ISTM the result of a hardline outlaw of abortion would probably mirror drug use in contemporary culture. The poor have a greater need, and are forced to take on greater risks to themselves in dark alley transactions. Whereas the more affluent who have the same need are able to fill their need with more sanitary and safe means.

    So I, like Ms. Miranda, patently reject most public policy prescriptions espoused by the right as they just don’t mix well with the reality that mothers seeking abortions face.

    But it sounds good to be “pro-life.” That sounds like something Jesus would be, so the shallow, unthinking, pseudo-religious over-zealously carry that banner without a clue as to the plight of the mothers facing the decision or the world that surrounds them. (Pardon my redundancy… I’m too lazy to edit all this.)

    But that’s just how I see it.

  2. J D Says:

    Though I doubt there are political solutions … the reason this is so BIG is that the voiceless and defenseless are being destroyed.

    I wish every marriage was harmonious and there were no divorces, but these are adults with voice and ability to change their own destiny.

    The human life, now thought of as a faceless nameless ‘problem’ blob … is the prototype of other nameless faceless problem humanoids … to be disposed of once usefulness / viability is judged.

    The election of a President won’t solve this one. Ours is in many ways a culture of death and violence. The nameless faceless pakistani is as the 6 month old in the womb … potentially in the way of the will of a politician.

    My lexapro must be wearing off.

  3. Sandi Says:

    JD, thanks for sharing these thoughts. This is the kind of answer I was looking for. If I understand you correctly, you’re saying that abortion is symbolic of a disregard for human life that is endemic to American society and is most compelling because the unborn have no way to have a say. I agree that there is a disregard for human life, not just in our own time, but as a thread that runs throughout human history. What were the Crusades, colonialism, and the Holocaust but expressions of the view that human lives are worthless when they get in the way of greed and ill-imagined superiority? So I see that concern, it is real and important.

    I think the thing I find most difficult to understand is why the regard for human life of most pro-life activists ends at birth, and extends mostly to other Americans rather than reaching worldwide. If we are going to be serious about valuing human life in all its forms, then I think we have to focus on much more than abortion, because criminalizing it is not going to solve the problem that you’re naming — disposing of human life when it is inconvenient. (Of course looking back at your answer, I see that you say as much).

    Although in defense of our culture as it stands now, the truth is that the world is a far less violent place than it has ever been in recorded history (which is not to say that’s good enough). This is true of both crime rates around here, which have fallen so rapidly that even sociologists cannot entirely figure out why, and armed conflicts around the world, which, despite what we hear on the news every day, are down as well.

    I guess what I’m wondering is, based on the premise that our culture disregards human life when it stands in the way of something we want, WHY is that the case? And HOW can we go about changing it? I think we have to know why before we can confront the problem. My own feeling is that greed/materialism and its flip side, poverty, are a large part of it. Anyone else have thoughts?

  4. J D Says:

    Sandi: I think the thing I find most difficult to understand is why the regard for human life of most pro-life activists ends at birth, and extends mostly to other Americans rather than reaching worldwide.

    JD: Amen. And I do not know how to change it. Christianity, if practiced as taught by Jesus, offers hope. Therein lies the problem … humans do not have a great track record of loving the less fortunate (as a whole… there are many exceptions of course). So, I would propose that genuine Christianity can make a difference.

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