The reason why I abandoned my previous evangelical Christian stance and moved into what some would dismiss as a progressive or liberal view of issues like abortion is that, as an evangelical, I had often found myself among those who had limited understanding of ethical principles, shaky Bible scholarship and what to me seemed an unthinking judgemental attitude which appeared to be short on empathy and common-sense. Like it or not science has widened our understanding (for those who bother to read with an open mind) and the “beggar thy neighbour” attitudes of the Conservative right truly worry me.
Let’s just go back a little. Thou shalt not kill. Yes I accept that, particularly if it means avoiding visiting unnecessary suffering on the living. But many conservatives, apparently obsessed with abortion, have taken it to mean: forget the suffering, look at the rules. Don’t kill any cells if they might eventually be used to create a functioning human being? Well the science says clapping (eg applauding a State of the Nation address) most certainly kills off some cells which contain the complete genetic information for making a fully functional human being. It is called cloning. Next time don’t clap!!
We see another dimension of this in attitudes to society passed off as judicial killing. For example many of the religious righteous right who are opposed to what they term unnecessary termination of a foetus are happy to condone Donald Trump instructing his soldiers to lay waste to Middle Eastern towns, terming the end result from wiping out the few terrorists by smashing nearby houses and hospitals as “unfortunate collateral damage”– then walking away from the mess, including the bombed, killed and maimed civilians. More seriously they turn a blind eye to Trump’s government actually closing off a good proportion of the funding for the refugee camps and approve him signing off laws to stop the fleeing refugees from settling in his country. And the fundamentalists applaud him for so doing! Why is the concern for the unborn critical when the living are seen as disposable pawns.
I checked up on the UN figures for one month and discovered that the US coalition had actually killed more civilians for that month (last March) than ISIS had in Syria. While as a cash equation I can see the US arms dealers make lots of money not to mention being responsible for what the president calls “jobs, jobs, jobs” please allow me as a liberal to be horrified at what the Saudis are doing with the weapons in Yemen.
The anti-abortion lobby claim abortion is murder, yet they are very selective in which cells they will mourn. The untold natural abortions (miscarriages) sometimes after only a few days whereby the accumulating cells in the developing embryo for a whole variety of reasons, die by the thousands they ignore, and in practice the mother is often even unaware it has happened. Surely no-one, not even a nutter, would call this Murder by God!
The conservative right place great store on stem cells which abound in aborted foetuses and as a consequence oppose them being used to develop vaccines or cell repair interventions to save the lives of fully functioning humans. Don’t forget the various centres for disease control claim that more than 200 thousand die each year from the Human papillomavirus (HPV) and that this virus now affects something like half the population of the US and is calculated to cause 5000 or so women to die of cervical cancer each year. There is a safe vaccine for HPV. It was tested on 6000 women and was one hundred per-cent effective. And what happened. The evangelicals agitated to get a law passed to prevent the use of the vaccine saying that the cancer risk is a useful impediment to pre-marital sex.
The blanket opposition to abortion should not be used to equate to a genuine concern for the lives of the young. One of the more self-righteous evangelical members of the CDC’s ( Reginald Finger) even tried to get the HIV vaccine banned apparently wanting to condemn millions (particularly in Africa) to die unnecessarily each year. I think of those babies born with HIV and seriously wonder about what really drives such judgemental zeal.
Actually we should not assume the scripture is the final authority in this situation. As it happens, the Bible doesn’t condemn abortion. The Jewish custom was to not consider the baby fully alive until it was half way through the birth canal. Certainly I would be very cautious about full term abortion but that is rarely considered and early termination is the standard practice.
Blanket condemnation of all abortion to my mind is barmy. What about incest, or rape, or when the mother knows with certainty that the foetus has damage of the sort that precludes being born as a fully functioning child? Neither should insisting that a mother be sacrificed to preserve the possibility of life in the baby be an automatic option, and the reality is that some pregnancies are entirely unintentional and sometimes distinctly harmful to a family situation.
Yes I agree that abortion is in danger of being trivialized, but cant we at least have the debate without the finger pointing and name calling?