Briefly, on Roe
The Supreme Court just overturned the 1973 decision that has led to millions upon millions of legal abortions. And something about it feels very weird.
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I can no longer accurately be described as a religious person, though I remain very preoccupied with religious questions. I believe the answers to these questions matter very much, but also that, inasmuch as they are elusive — sometimes to the point of being simply unknowable — I cannot find my way to moral certitude about any of them. At least not at this time.
But religion is not why I believe abortion is wrong.
I believe it is wrong to kill people, especially the most innocent and vulnerable among us, to solve our problems. And it is undeniable that a fetus is a human being.
In a 2015 piece entitled, “It’s Time To Demand Intellectual Honesty About Abortion,” I made a scientific case that it is an act that takes a human life. I remain every bit as convinced today as an agnostic as I was in 2015 as a believer. (I won’t rehash those arguments here, but feel free to read them for yourself if you’d like.)
And I’m not alone. The group “Secular Pro-Life” which attempts to “create space for atheists, agnostics, and other secularists interested in anti-abortion work” tweeted that “life at fertilization is the overwhelming scientific consensus. This is not a matter of religion…” They then linked to a paper by Steven Andrew Jacobs at the Northwestern Prizker School of Law at the University of Chicago, entitled, “Biologists' Consensus on ‘When Life Begins’”.
I have never been what you might call a pro-life activist, but as a father of eight who has written quite a lot about abortion and the politics surrounding it from a pro-life perspective, I have certainly been involved in the debate.
And so I find myself in a strange place regarding the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade, and the four decades of precedent based on the jurisprudential lie — there’s really no other way to describe it — that a constitutional protection for abortion exists in the 14th Amendment.
Since I have something of a habit of saying things most people aren't thinking, here I go again. You may be dismissive, and that's fine. Just ignore me or file it away.
I've been trying to put my finger on why this decision, which seemed utterly impossible for my entire adult life, feels like such a hollow victory. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m being punked, or that it’s only going to foment more mass psychosis while failing to fix anything.
It feels like a scene in a movie where the main character gets what he wants but somehow everything is wrong and then it turns into a nightmare or a drug induced hallucination or something. And you, the viewer, are noticing the dark mist creeping in through the gaps in the baseboards, and you know that something is wrong.
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I mean, where the hell did this come from? It's like being a kid who only ever wanted a pony & your parents said they wanted you to have a pony but also kept giving you all the reasons you couldn't have a pony and the reasons were frustrating but made sense even to you -- you live in an apartment, there's no room, they can't afford to feed it -- but then suddenly they came home with a pony anyway.
Out of nowhere.
There was no momentum here. The majority of the country opposes this. We have a weird SCOTUS and a terrible president. If I had to guess at why I'm feeling this way, I'd say it's some kind of intuition. When you watch situations like this long enough, when you learn to read the ebb and flow of human tides, something this incongruous stands out as an almost Lovecraftian surreality.
And I think it has the potential to unleash a whole new kind of ugliness on an already ugly world. As my old friend Hilary White put it this morning, “[A]ll I see is that a tool of evil has fulfilled its purpose and is now being tossed aside. Roe was meant to demonise the culture. Job done.”
Maybe I'm wrong. Either way, I'm writing it down to refer to later, just in case.
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