Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Something Other Than What It Seems?

There was a big celebration for pro-lifers on the Washington Mall the other day. The Republican president, as usual, phoned in his remarks. My fellow Adventist, I'm sorry to admit, Maryland Congressman Roscoe Barlett, was on hand, though, to cheer on the troops of compassionate conservatism, if that is what they are.

Now, Bulworth admits abortion makes him uncomfortable. Especially those carried out after the fetus is viable outside the womb. But at the same time, I can't say I get worked up about the issue. It's hard for me to imagine that abortions performed early, and inventions such as the so-called "morning after" abortion pill, RU-486, cause harm to a conscious or unborn being.

Which makes me wonder just exactly what is it about abortion that gets the ardent anti-abortioners upset. They seem like a pretty rough, angry group, unsympathetic to other human rights issues and the care of persons once they're born. Take for example, some of the loudest, most prominent voices waged against abortion such as James Dobson's Focus on the Family, and the folks at townhall.com. So it seems hard to believe they are really concerned about the "sanctity of life" as they and their president like to say.

There are some who would say that the whole anti-abortion movement is really about limiting sex, and ultimately wants to do away with contraceptives as well, something which, if right-to-lifers really thought about it, would likely have the effect of increasing unplanned pregnancies and increasing abortions. This is by and large the official Catholic church position, so there must be some truth to this allegation.

Then there is the curious phenomenon that indicates that real life abortions actually declined under the liberal Democratic President, Bill Clinton, but have increased under the stewardship of George W. Do "right-to-lifers" care about these trends? Is there any interest on the "right"
about what causes abortion and perhaps taking strides to limit those conditions, or is it just the prominence of legislation, the stamp of official disapproval from their nation's federal government that they want?

Still, what else is there? Do they feel the "pain" of the fetus? Do they think there is some injustice being done during an abortion? Or are they upset about something else? Me thinks most anti-abortion members aren't really concerned about families or children or the "unborn". Their tone and alternative policy preferences strike me as a jarring disconnect.

Then, too, I wonder to what degree most "right to lifers" are really ready to impose serious criminal penalties on doctors who perform abortions and women who receive or attempt to receive them? Undoubtedly some believe they are. But it seems like a difficult hurdle for anti-abortionists to get over. Maybe I'm being too generous or naive about the ends to which some "defenders of life" are willing to go.

Like the Rogue Progressive, I tend to believe that most if not all of the issues under the culture war banner are about restricting the rights of women. But I think the general conservative fetish is that of hierarchy. That's why conservatives express such reverance for institutions like the military, the church, and corporations, and such disdain for more egalitarian and diverse places like colleges and universities. When conservatives say things like "the family is under attack" I suspect they are primarily complaining about what they perceive to be challenges to the man's hierarchical place in it.

Now, back to what I started with...abortion gives women an option about a pregnancy after the fact, so to speak, and this prerogative doesn't sit well with conservative admirers of male domination, even among those women who like male-dominated family hierarchy.

Next: Why do conservatives hate gays?

No comments: