Russell and Duenes

Is the Pro-Life Position Empty Because Pro-Lifers Don’t Care Enough About Women

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Suffice it to say that in our Constitutional Law class we ended our discussion of the primary abortion cases, Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and Gonzalez v. Carhart, without really getting to the crux of what the abortion debate is about. But what I found most illuminating was a rather tendentious, and I think, specious, “final thought” we were left with at the end of it all. Commended for our consideration was a particular argument by a professor at U. Penn (whose book was even plugged) which strongly implied that anti-abortion proponents don’t particularly favor laws, political advocacy, or public policy positions that favor women and help to reduce the number of abortions. If anti-abortionists were to be more legitimately anti-abortion and pro-woman, so the implication went, they would 1) support greater contraception promotion and distribution, 2) support sex education, 3) be more pro-adoption so as to make adoptions easier and take the stigma away from adoption, 4) support greater protection of female protection and autonomy, and  5) impose more duties on men. Let’s take these arguments in turn and address them briefly.

First, it is a highly dubious assertion that greater access to contraception will lead to fewer abortions. This was the argument that was being made during the contraceptive revolution in the sixties. All of these contracepting people will now be liberated to have sex, but without unwanted children along with it. I think we know how that has turned out. Contraceptives are easier to get than a candy bar at the local Walgreeens, and also cheaper, if you’re a student and impoverished, so that you can often get them for free. Yet as Janet Smith has pointed out, young Americans are about as good at being accountable to using birth control as they are at doing their homework each night. Further, the Supreme Court itself has said that, if we are going to have contraception, we MUST have abortion, should the contraceptives fail, which they often do. They should have added, we must have abortion should the contraceptives not be used at all, which they often are not. This is the problem. The contraceptive mentality, in my view, leads people to think that they are not at much risk of getting pregnant, whether they use their birth control regularly and properly or not. We tell people that they are liberated to have sex, and that they don’t have to be “punished” with children as a result, and you know what, they start believing it; even when they decide they need a new pair of sneaks instead of a pack of condoms.

Second, it is even more dubious to think that our current government-sponsored sex education programs – which try to scare the hell out of young people with grim venereal disease statistics, while telling them that all that prudish, puritanical stuff about “waiting until marriage” is naive and an infringement upon freedom, love, and self-expression – are somehow going to lead to responsible sexual behavior and chastity. Hah! Chastity. It’s a dirty word. You’d be laughed at less if you dropped an f-bomb in your U.S. History class than if you said, “I think we ought to bring back notions of chastity.” Sex education in its current form denies mature personhood, denies God’s purposes for sex and marriage, denies the spiritual reality of what sexual intercourse is, blunts any proper distinctions between men and women, and exalts radical, individual autonomy and short-term sexual “fulfillment” above such notions as virtue, self-control, chastity, and modesty. People who are told again and again that, as long as you are practicing “safe sex”, then fornication is fine, will not end up deciding, en masse, that terminating the pregnancy they did not want to have is a moral evil. Liberals have controlled the schools and the universities for some decades now. The fruit belongs to them, not the pro-lifers.

Third, I don’t have a lot to say on the adoption front, except to say that it does not seem to me that the real push for adoption as an alternative to abortion is coming from the secular, pro-choice, pro-sexual revolution, left-wing of our nation. Indeed, if the people of San Francisco are any indication, they’d like to run the adoption-as-alternative-to-abortion folks out of town. I do not know a single Christian, in my over twenty years of being a Christian, who is anti-adoption, and who in any way stigmatizes adoption. Granted, this is only anecdotal evidence, but I think I have my ear to the ground enough in evangelical Christian circles to know that we’re quite pro-adoption and pro-helping women who are desperate and in need of help. What’s patently obvious is that the folks at Planned Parenthood are not the vanguard for a renewed pro-adoption movement. If the implication is that certain people, say, Christians, should not stigmatize adoptions by certain kinds of people, say, homosexuals, then I say that one has smuggled in a different issue on top of the adoption issue. Being pro-adoption does not mean that every parenting configuration promotes the well-being of the child. One need not stand up for every form of adoption in order to be a consistently pro-life person.

Fourth, the pro-life, anti-abortion position is the truly pro-woman position. It never ceases to amaze me that we have allowed ourselves to be hoodwinked into the view – to put it mildly – that women are better off in a culture that objectifies them as sex objects (just turn on your TV), denigrates their unique feminine ability to bear and nurture children (see, children as “punishment”), and that tells them that they will only truly be liberated when they can fornicate as much as men because contraception and abortion keep the children out of the equation. You see, in our culture, it’s the female body that’s the problem. Her body must be shut down, she must take a pill, her fertility is what holds her back. There is no male birth-control pill. This is profoundly anti-woman, and worst of all, abortion turns a woman against one of her strongest natural and spiritual instincts, namely, to nurture the life within her, by telling her that her very freedom and vitality is at stake in destroying that life and viewing that life as a non-human, perhaps a blob of tissues. It is profoundly anti-woman to teach women that modesty is no feminine virtue, and that liberation means being able to wear what you want, when you want. As Wendy Shalit points out: the immodest women on “Sex and the City” were not happy. I wonder: Do you think there’s more sexual angst and depression amongst women in New York City and San Francisco where sexual liberation is in full-flower than there is among women in communities where marriage, sexual fidelity, chastity, and modesty are prized and practiced? (HT: Douglas Wilson). To ask the question is to answer it. Women are not helped by a culture that teaches them that the act of sexual intercourse is no different than playing tennis with someone (as Janet Smith again points out), that they need to get over their hang-ups about “commitment” and such, and that if a pregnancy gets in the way of their career ambitions, abortion is always a viable option. The wreckage is all around us. But we deny that, too, for the women must be strong enough to turn against their children, without also suffering any emotional or psychological damage from doing so.

Finally, to the argument that men need to have more duties imposed upon them: To this I give a hearty “Amen!” But it’s a bit thick for anyone to argue that men need to be more accountable to their duties while men are largely cast in our culture as buffoonish, clueless, boorish, and irrelevant at best, and unnecessary at worst. When then candidate Barack Obama suggested that African-American males ought to step up and take their fathering seriously, rather than just siring children, he was accused by Jessie Jackson of “talking down to blacks.” This is insane! African-Americans are on a path to genocide based on current abortion practices, but if any so-called “black leader” steps up and tells black fathers to fulfill their male duties, he is cast out as a leper. We’ve been doing all we can to cut men out of the loop. Now, based on the wonders of technology, we don’t need the man to be around. We just need his sperm. Further, our government’s welfare policies also make men irrelevant. Big Daddy government will take care of the woman’s needs, and will do so without asking too many questions and making too many demands. No, men will not step up to their duties in this kind of a societal milieu. Indeed, if you want to make men step up, bring back female modesty; the very thing the women of old understood was a primary engine for forcing men to learn honor, loyalty, and faithfulness if they wanted to win a proper woman’s hand. But all that is out the window now. So men head off to the man-cave for some more beers and video games.

Let me conclude by mentioning a pro-life organization that is doing precisely the kind of work that apparently pro-lifers aren’t doing enough of. They’re called “First Resort,” and they are a wonderful organization, with committed volunteers and medical personnel, who are laboring in the struggle to both protect and defend unborn human life and help desperate mothers as well. First Resort runs three licensed medical clinics in the Bay Area, where women can come and have free pregnancy tests, free ultrasounds, loving and compassionate counseling and support, adoption information, and referrals to other clinics if need be. In addition, one of the best things that First Resort does is to partner with churches and other organizations to throw baby showers for new moms who have decided to keep their babies. At these showers, mothers are provided with many material things they will need to care for their children, but more importantly, they are showered with love and care at a time when they may not have support elsewhere. Doubtless there are many more pro-life organizations that are doing much the same thing. First Resort is not lobbying the government for more anti-abortion measures. They are caring for mothers, putting their money where their mouths are, showing that being pro-life is not about pitting mother against child.

-D

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Written by Michael Duenes

September 18, 2012 at 4:22 pm

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