Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

“My Abortion Journey: Becoming a Pro-Choice Christian”

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Nick Coccoma has a thoughtful and interesting post at The Similitude. It begins:

As a Christian who cherishes human life, I understand those who think abolishing legal abortion is good. I’m a former Catholic who thought seriously about becoming a priest. I hold a Master of Divinity degree from a Catholic institution, where I studied moral theology. I know the mindset of its milieu from the inside. Many anti-abortion activists have convinced themselves they are saving lives. And who doesn’t want to do that? If you think you could be on the side of good—and God—by saving lives, who wouldn’t feel attracted (or pressured) to embrace that cause?

Those who want legal abortion access also think we’re saving peoples lives. But our side, I’m afraid, has done a poor job of marketing by framing abortion as about choice. While correct on principle, “choice” is a word associated in daily life with consumer habits and careless, half-baked, impulsive acts. Coke or Pepsi for lunch? Hmm, Coke! Have a baby or abort? Hmm, abort!

This is the troubling image conjured by the word “choice” in the minds of anti-abortion people. It sounds like you’re degrading human life into a commodity. It raises fears of a slippery slope to eugenics, a throwaway culture where the elderly, people with mental disabilities, and other vulnerable members are stripped of their dignity. Some, if not many, anti-abortion activists want to protect those people, made in the divine image.

But so do people who favor legal abortion access—perhaps more, actually, than many anti-abortion advocates, especially evangelicals. The states that allow legal abortion have the broadest social supports for the poor in the nation—those now banning it, the weakest. Most states outlawing abortion also execute prisoners with ruthless abandon. Those with abortion do not. Where is the epicenter of the new abortion regime? The Deep South—the historic site of slavery, Jim Crow, and sodomy laws. This belies the truth of their actions: that it’s about power, punishment, and control—not life.

“Choice” also paints women as careless and indifferent to the moral stakes of sexual intimacy, pregnancy, and termination. But that is untrue. Women do not approach abortion like a consumer choice at all. For them, it is a fraught, profound decision. It is about care for their bodies and their lives. It is not a thoughtless disposal of human beings.

The anti-abortion movement has been very psychologically powerful in this regard. I myself wrestled over abortion for years. Like many Catholics, I grew up in an ecclesial culture steeped in traditionalism. In this nostalgic vision, abortions never used to happen. Women led wholesome lives in idyllic families, raising children and mothering them with affection while husbands labored at the office. This fantasy was, of course, totally at odds with my home. My parents led modern lives, a marriage of equals with both spouses working.

But in the imagination of the Catholic hierarchy, abortion—like feminism itself—is a dangerous invention of modernity, akin to pollution. This road to perdition burst on the scene—along with contraception, gays, and sex itself—in the 1960s, that era of decadence. Philip Larkin parodies this mental construct in his poem “Annus Mirabilis”:

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(Which was rather late for me) – 
Between the end of the “Chatterley” ban
And the Beatles’ first LP.

It’s all a myth. Women have sought to terminate pregnancies since the dawn of time. And when it comes to “tradition,” human beings lived for hundreds of thousands of years in hunter-gatherer bands, egalitarian societies without fixed gender roles. Women harvested food and men hunted, but all were involved in providing for the community’s sustenance. Childrearing was done communally, allowing kids to play freely and benefit from alloparenting.” The idea that it was solely women’s work was absurd. In indigenous American cultures, like the Iroquois, women held political power—the men could initiate war only at their behest. What’s more traditional? Their way of life? Or 1950s suburbia? Measured against the long arc of human history, the nuclear family, with a sole male breadwinner, is the novelty—not the norm.

Even in the Anglo-American world, pregnancy termination before “quickening” (the time when the mother felt the fetus moving in the womb) was legal under common law from 1607 until 1828. According to the American Historical Association, abortion laws emerged slowly starting in the early 1830s, mostly to protect women from dangerous procedures—not the fetus. In the 1850s, a mysogynistic physician named Horatio Storer spearheaded a campaign to ban abortion as a means to put women back in the home.

This was a response to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 July 2022 at 9:18 am

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