Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The REAL doctrine behind Pro-Life

The Catholic church has focused, wisely, on "pro-life" as the doctrine that it brings to bear in public when defending restrictions and bans on abortion. Not only does this ring well with us all...who, after all, is "for death?" but it hides a much more fundamental Catholic belief which argues against abortion rights but which, when brought to the light of day, is not widely shared by anyone, including rank and file catholics.

Let's first dispense with "pro-life". To its credit, the Catholic church has attempted in these past decades to enlarge this stance beyond abortion. They Catholic church stands against capitol punishment, for instance, and against assisted suicide as a part of its pro-life stand. Gotta give them credit for attempting consistancy.

However, official Catholic doctrine still has a just war theory, and just war theory says that, if someone is seriously endangering your nation or threatening the freedom of its inhabitants, war with all its killing is justified. The nation at war must have tried all other routes to solve the problem and must attempt to avoid killing non-combatants, but there is a place in Catholic doctrine where, when fundamental human freedom clashes with life, freedom wins.

Well, I have to say, that I know of no more fundamental clash between freedom and life than that which takes place within and around every unwillingly pregnant woman, who is giving up huge chunks of her freedom for the sake of the life of another...for nine months if she can bear to give away the baby for adoption, and for at least 18 years if she can't. The fact that this is never discussed points to the fact that there's something else going on in our minds and hearts,

And it is.

The REAL doctrine underlying abortion restriction is the (old but still powerful) doctrine that sex is for procreation. Since you should never have sex unless you want to have a baby, then if you do have sex and get pregnant, you should accept the consequences.

The newer version of this doctrine is that every act of sex should be open to the possibility of creating new life, which, in a culture in which we don't need any more babies and in which every baby is a significant burden as well as a joy, amounts in practice to the same thing. Shall we have sex tonight, honey? Well...maybe not.

These are the doctrines that lie behind the church's prohibition of artificial means of birth control, which most Catholics and others don't support. But they are unconsciously powerful.

Look, for instance at the fact that, besides an exception if her life is in danger, the most common exception in anti-abortion legislation is the exception in cases of rape and incest. Why those exceptions? Because in that case, the woman didn't choose to have sex and shouldn't be expected to take the consequences.

Now I myself believe that it sex is a part of human life for far more than creating babies. Evolution made sex such fun because it's necessary to keep families together over the long haul of the lives of children and grandchildren, who benefit immensely from intact families and care from multi-generations of relatives.

If sex has two legitimate purposes, it is likely that those purposes will sometimes conflict and that conflict has to be managed. Unwillingly pregnant women are not bad people who were doing something illicit and have to take the consequences. Unwillingly pregnant women are bearing the consequences of evolution's duel purposes for sexuality and need assistance.

Or, we could all agree that sex is for procreation and we should only be doing it a few times in our lives. That, too, would solve the abortion problem.


Joy said...

According to OWL there are lots of ways to have sex without procreation. Those techniques are safer. Some folk find those techniques sinful. I think they are marvelous.

I think we need to get away from the idea that copulation is the only acceptable form with which to express our sexuality. I think the Catholics are living out their old ideas that we need much bigger families and so are being obstinate about letting people take the choices that science has offered up low the last 50 years or so. It ends up seeming anti-woman doesn't it?

It maybe hardest to get the men on the alternative sex methodologies bandwagon that is until they realize that with safer sex there should never be child support payments required.

Bill Baar said...

This would be a little more persausive if you could quote some Catholics and Catholic doctrine.

I attended two Catholic Churches, and supported them financially as my step-kids went to CCD there, and was an open acknowledged secular-humanist-sort among them.

I found much more depth there than your portraying here.

I also found a far more diverse community in the Church, and much more appreciation of the worlds complexities because of it.

WiseLalia said...

Christine, your comments are exactly on target. Basically the whole anti-abortion stance is anti-sex.

Women in good healthy relationships who have the means to raise children usually choose to do so. It's all the exceptions that create the "market" for abortions. Women who cannot raise their child because of financial or religious or societal circumstances, need the option of not being pregnant and not having this enormous responsibility thrust upon them.

Looking at situations with fetal abnormalities, to me it is cruel to make a woman continue a pregnancy if she will not be giving birth to a child with an expectation of a "normal" life and normal lifespan.

And finally, as someone who has a 27 year-old daughter in graduate school, who says our financial or other responsibilities end at age 18? It is a permanent responsibility!