In defense of the pro-life movement

A reader writes:

I think we should be thankful for the pro-Life movement and their single issue work. While I agree with you on some of your criticisms of some of their tactics I think you are missing an important angle on their work in the current health care debate.

Their hard work has caused the debate on abortion to take center stage again. The President and those in Congress are once again forced to face head on their moral relativism and materialism with regard to the unborn. People are thinking about this critical issue once again and polls are showing a shift in attitude.

You spend much time lamenting the cultural impact of the 1965 immigration act but I think you should also comment on the cultural and moral suicide that abortion injects into our consciences. Legal abortion is moral relativism enshrined as a right. To relativize unborn babies is the beginning of the moral cancer our country is dying of. Never giving up on pointing this out, in any context, is noble and just.

Abortion not only destroys babies but families and eventually an entire society. People like you can help shift the sometimes embarrassing tactics and rhetoric of some pro-lifers into reasonable, rational ideas but instead you either ignore the issue or spend much space on pointing out the foolishness of some that share our view of life.

LA replies:

I don’t spend a lot of time on the abortion issue because there is a large, numerous, well-funded movement devoted to it, and abortion, while a grave problem for our society, has gobbled up vast amounts of oxygen for the last 35 years with essentially nothing being accomplished, while other grave issues have been ignored. Over and over abortion was put forward by conservatives as the main thing wrong with America morally and culturally and would dominate the debate and use up the available time, while the mainstream moral and cultural views of which abortion was a consequence were ignored and implicitly accepted. At the time time I understand that the anti-abortion cause had a populist appeal and power that allowed liberalism to be challenged in one of its core tenets.

Also, there is a hierarchy of ills. Large scale abortion is a terrible thing, a horrible stain on us as a people. But the practice—and the nihilistic belief in unlimited freedom that allows the practice—could come to an end, and our society could recover. But if the culture and ethnic basis of America is swamped and marginalized by immigration and other cultural changes, our society won’t recover, at least not in its historic form.

While I support the principle and much of the activity of the pro-life movement (not some of its specific policies such as federal anti-abortion amendment), I think they lack intellectual seriousness, because, as I said above, they look at abortion as though it existed all by itself rather than being an inevitable outcome of a society that embraces unlimited freedom as its ideal. If the practice of mass abortion is evil, what is its good opposite? Its opposite is traditional morality—meaning that the standard and the ideal for society is that sex belongs in marriage. But the pro-life movement abandoned traditional morality when it gave its gushing approval to Bristol Palin’s pregnancy, all because she hadn’t had an abortion. Not that long ago, it was the conservative understanding that out of wedlock pregnancy was something shameful, but that if it occurred, the baby should be adopted by a married couple able to take care of it. Thus pro-life was combined with traditional morality. But now pro-life has been entirely separated from traditional morality. What the pro-life movement today seems stand for is: the liberal feminist culture, plus opposition to abortion. I.e., Sarah Palin.

However, you make a good point that I could mention abortion more frequently and integrate it more into my critique of liberal nihilism and cultural suicide. All these things are related. The belief in unlimited personal freedom leads to large scale abortions and also leads to delayed marriages and infertility and thus the need for couples to adopt children. But because of abortion, there aren’t enough children to adopt in the U.S., and couples must go to other countries, bringing about the transnational adoption which further adds to the country’s racial transformation and loss of identity

This is why only a return to traditional morality can save us.With traditional morality, women will marry earlier and have babies earlier, and fewer women will face infertility and the need to adopt. With traditional morality, for those couples that did need to adopt, babies conceived out of wedlock would not have been aborted but would be available for adoption, making foreign adoptions unnecessary. With traditional morality, we would stop thinking of the world as a giant borderless singles bar cum human rights organization, and there would be a renewed appreciation for traditional national and ethnic communities as settings that provides human meaning and are worthy of being protected.

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The reader replies:

I enjoyed your articulation and agree with you 100 percent. It is necessary for intellectual traditionalist conservatives such as yourself to articulate this issue as you just did. Abortion cannot be ignored as part of a comprehensive view on the state of our civilization.

Laura Wood writes:

I very much agree with Mr. Auster’s points here, yet I also agree with the commenter who said that this constant push by abortion advocates has made progress. In the past year, the figure for those who explicitly reject abortion has increased significantly in polls.

In defense of this single-mindedness, I would say the issue of the sacredness of life itself does lurk behind almost all the other major social controversies. Conservatives who focus only on abortion are perhaps right in thinking that if this sacredness can be restored all else will fall in place. But, as Mr. Auster says, when they go to the extreme of abandoning all other issues they seem to convey the message that only life in its utter simplicity is sacred, and that every other dimension of existence and culture is meaningless. This seems inhuman or at least blind.

This reminds me of an incident described to me recently. A Catholic priest visited a nursing home and gathered the residents around to give a talk. He spent most of the time decrying the evil of abortion. Then one old lady in a wheel chair turned to him and said, “But, Father, I don’t think any of us are considering an abortion any time soon.”

It’s easier to marshal support and raise money for the fight against abortion because most middle and upper class conservatives aren’t considering an abortion anytime soon. There is less unanimity on the issues of feminism, divorce, public education, popular culture and race. I have heard abortion preached against many times in Catholic churches and only once have I encountered a priest who occasionally spoke about such things as divorce, the abandonment of home by women, the destructive effect of popular culture on the young, the use of TV and video games as babysitters, etc. Why? Many of these issues make people in the pews uncomfortable.

LA replies”

Right now, TV advertising has become a swamp of either semi lurid sex-enhancement ads, or repulsive prescription medicine ads consisting mainly of long lists of disturbing medical conditions which if you have you must immediately stop consuming the advertised product. The TV environment watched every day by Americans is unbearably sick and gross. Yet the supposed defenders of the moral order never have a word to say about it. All they do is repeat like robots their opposition to abortion.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 18, 2009 03:16 PM | Send

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