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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Pro Choice And Animal Rights

Julie, author of The Happy Catholic posted a link to a Washington Post article. In The Abortion Debate No One Wants To Have, some disturbing questions are raised:
If it's unacceptable for William Bennett to link abortion even conversationally with a whole class of people (and, of course, it is), why then do we as a society view abortion as justified and unremarkable in the case of another class of people: children with disabilities?...

...I know that most women of childbearing age that we may encounter have judged her and her cohort, and have found their lives to be not worth living.

To them, Margaret falls into the category of avoidable human suffering. At best, a tragic mistake. At worst, a living embodiment of the pro-life movement. Less than human. A drain on society. That someone I love is regarded this way is unspeakably painful to me.

This view is probably particularly pronounced here in blue-state California, but I keep finding it everywhere, from academia on down. At a dinner party not long ago, I was seated next to the director of an Ivy League ethics program. In answer to another guest's question, he said he believes that prospective parents have a moral obligation to undergo prenatal testing and to terminate their pregnancy to avoid bringing forth a child with a disability, because it was immoral to subject a child to the kind of suffering he or she would have to endure...
Food for thought? To be sure. But in fact, there is more. There is another article in The Guardian, by Lionel Shriver that offers up more food for thought. In describing the abortion debate, the writer makes the following observation:
What is really going on here is the same culture war that has been raging in America since I was a kid - the same stand-off between the strait-laced, self-righteous toe-the-line types who wear hats to church, and the grubby, licentious long-hairs brandishing peace signs with whom I grew up. Both factions are still shouting at each other across the cultural divide, and these poor foetuses are just weapons flung like ripe tomatoes. The abortion issue in the US is not about babies. It's about control, about power, about who can tell whom what to do, about who despises whom and their disgusting lifestyle. In short, it's about grown-ups
The writer goes on to voice her support for the pro choice movement, but then makes an interesting- and puzzling- observation about pro life ideologies that nullify her earlier remarks about a 'culture war': ...I have studied the eyes of the fanatics who regularly picket abortion clinics in the US and I do not see love of tiny unborn babies. I see hatred. Really. All that from 'studying the eyes'? And there is no hatred in NARAL 'Fuck Bush' parties? There is no hatred for those with an opposing point of view? That hatred for those with an opposing POV or those who wish to impose moral standards the left might disagree with is palpable. Ms Shriver 'sees hate in the eyes' of those she disagrees with. Others see the threats and vitriol written in reponse. Ms Shriver however, is inconsistent:
I spot exactly the same hypocrisy in the animal rights movement, which is also driven by hatred of fellow bipeds, and which appears to have very little to do with beagles that are punched in the nose. This is another cadre giddy with its own power, high on self-righteousness and, considering their ostensible area of biological expertise, one strangely oblivious to the fact that the people whose cars and labs they bomb are animals too. In hounding (if you will) Oxford students or investors of Huntington Life Sciences, Animal Liberation Front types are less driven to protect caged rats than to push other people around.
The left is amenable to the notion that to abort babies at will is a inalienable right. Animals, on the other hand, must be protected. Their right to live supersedes that of the human right to life.

There is an agenda to impose- and a certain morality, on societies. It is not enough that they might wish to set standards for themselves. Like the Jihadis, their agenda serves only their vision of society.

Ms Shriver is right about one thing- like it or not, the debate is less about the fetus than it is about power.