Abortion and a Just World

I was listening to some people talk about various liberal versus conservative ideas. I say talk because it was just the passing of words over teeth and there were no actual logic used. It dawned on me that their stance on abortion had nothing to do with life at all, but a sense of justice.

Allow me to expand here.

First, some people that fight for pro life do so because they say that life is sacred. For some, there is a debate about the moment when the human becomes human. This is an extremely thorny puzzle because we must then determine what human is and this leads us into the issue of human rights. Aside from the fact that the human embryo is not instantly created BAM into a human, but the child is still developing years after birth adds to the problem. Many people make the mistake that kids are miniature adults when raising kids. The debate can easily shift from defining what a human is and instead into what a human has to potential to become.

The difference between what is and what may be is illustrated if someone is on life support. Some people would want to do whatever it takes to maintain life, even if the quality of life for that person is severely compromised. Another group of people may argue that the person is no longer in the body, that whatever it is that makes us human is no longer present. Both sides may argue that the humane thing to do would be to (keep them alive/remove them from life support).

I am not arguing for either side here, merely pointing out a difference as it has implications in the abortion debate. To argue that there are only 2 sides to this debate is one of the grossest over simplifications I can imagine. I know of no thoughtful person that has weighed this issue and cannot see the multi-factoral aspect of it. If one is faced with this decision, there comes a resulting Yes/No decision to be made, yet this is hardly the same thing as declaring one is either pro life or pro choice. I eat the occasional donut but hardly consider myself as pro sugar. Many would be pro-life men are quick to seek an abortion or not provide child support when a woman is become pregnant. It is easier to blame the slut mother than the man that does what men do.

So in the problematic and confusing debate above, with only two factors (of many) factors to consider, some people will take the easy way out and declare themselves pro life because the Bible says,or pro choice because the Bible says so, eschewing any and all debate and letting an old collection of texts with contradictions and vagaries make their decisions. I do not respect any position which begins It says here that… and so on.

But to my main point… justice. Some people who are supposed pro life will make the case that they are such because of the sanctity of human life, what is and as an added bonus they will make the claim that what may be is still undetermined.

Reasons not to abort a fetus

  1. because the Bible says so (a null argument), but
  2. because we offend the innate rights of that unborn person (a valid point) and
  3. we are making a judgment on the potential of that person who is powerless to make their voice heard (another valid point).

I would like to do a poll of all those who claim conservatism and the above 3 points and how many have voiced support for any of the following actions:
1. cut health care for poor families
2. cut social services for children
3. act against school support for children of illegal immigrants
4. act against emergency medical aid for children and families of illegal immigrants

Anyone who seriously claims points reasons 2 and 3 cannot be for any of the above actions. I would like to see a reasoned argument to defend such a schizophrenic position. How can a person claim the worth of the human being and/or the helpless nature of the child as an autonomous agent and still seek to cut off any and all assistance for that child to develop into a thriving adult? The reason is what I am writing about here: justice.

Justice is a nebulous concept… we don’t know it some much as feel it. The law attempts, sometimes imperfectly, to approximate justice. One problematic aspect of our feelings about justice is that we’ve developed a dichotomous view of it, sometime is either right or wrong, good or evil. Anyone with any experience the world will soon learn that things do not fit into this neat category of either/or. Even the simplistic thou shalt not kill, a supposed easy example taken straight from the Ten Commandments (embraced by man a red state, yet often ignored while they push for more death penalties), has its problems. While an absolute pacifist might claim that any and all violence is bad, they may then allow another evil to occur if they are in the charge of the well-being of some children who will then be abused if one does not protect them. In a world of absolutes, how does one weigh which is more egregious than the next? Is it a greater crime to steal bread than to let your child starve? Absolutes offer nothing to moral landscape of the human experience and should be eradicated from use.

But that will lead us into a world of relativism, people will say. I answer that you are already in a relativist world and to deny so is to admit to your blindness. Wake up!

No, the people that I listened to their ranting about the abortion topic were actually reaffirming each other’s stance within a social group that believes a very important and central belief that goes unchallenged… BJW or Belief in a Just World.

Key parts of BJW are:

  1. There is a central law giver over all things (assumed by some to be a white, male God).
  2. Laws are given to be followed
  3. Good people follow the laws.
  4. Bad people break the laws.
  5. God punishes the bad people for breaking laws.
  6. God ‘tests’ the good people by imposing bad things upon them.
  7. Having ‘faith’ is to submit to the invisible forces of God.
  8. Ultimately, the good will be rewarded and bad punished.

This is a dangerous and toxic idea. It breeds helplessness, as I’ve written about elsewhere, and absolves people of responsibility of their actions. Think about it, the person that is poor is either a wicked person (so we shouldn’t care) or they are begin tested by God (so we shouldn’t intervene). I wonder if it ever crosses the mind of the watching Saint if it is they who are being tested. In other words, what if Jesus were to visit the Earth from time to time as a poor, illiterate, illegal immigrant who happens to bump into someone like this moron. I’m sure Jesus is proud of him. Or how about this guy who is a Mormon Bishop that tried to prove a point.

Keep this central belief in mind when hearing what some will say about those who choose to get an abortion. They will become quite angry and a central part is that the person in question:
1. had sex (which can be sin outside of marriage)
2. is supposedly failing to take responsibility for that sin
3. having an abortion is cheating the system and challenges their belief in BJW.

This fear that someone will get over on the system is fueled by the very real lack of belief in the system itself. Because the person believes a little in the BJW system, but not 100%, that seed of doubt is enough to spur them to take matters in their own hands and create laws to restrict the healthier options. I wish some of the desire for action would spur these individuals to being at least a little bit compassionate toward the poor. But it is easier to think that both sluts get pregnant and lazy people are on welfare than it is to look at each case as it is and, at the very least, ask how would Jesus act if He were standing before this person this very minute?

And if all the above were not so problematic for deciding on the issue, I didn’t even touch on the aspects of patriarchy and misogyny in the debate. But if you’d like to see a sad/humorous clip, watch this as a GOP Representative is asked a question he doesn’t appear to have thought about before.

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