The recent push in Alabama to restrict most abortions has energized the culture war. But despite the seething passions on both sides, nothing has really changed.
Abortion has always been anti-family, always been about convenience, and always been evil.
What has changed is the candor of abortion extremists. The far Left’s recent embrace of late-term abortion on demand is as sign that the time for compromise and “dialogue” is rapidly fading.
Most people are still repulsed by overt infanticide—and most well-meaning liberals who aren’t so extreme probably do not realize what they are supporting when they acquiesce to a general “right to choose”—but the embrace of late-term abortion as a serious topic of discussion heralds a nation in decline.
The truth is that abortion is not just a “leftist” issue. It’s a gruesome convenience with which a broad swath of America has made peace.
A Cultural Shift
Abortion is popular. According to a Morning Consult poll, most Americans oppose Alabama’s new abortion law. A sizable chunk of Republicans—40 percent—either have no opinion or oppose the law, too.
By some estimates, nearly 50 percent of Republicans believe Roe v. Wade should remain the law of the land.
If the new abortion extremism is a sign of some cultural shift, it’s not that a large segment of the population suddenly supports infanticide. It’s that an even larger segment of the population, libertarians, soft conservatives, and the like, quietly tolerate abortion in the name of “small government.”
It would appear that America has largely accepted abortion as part of the nation’s liberal contract. Even so-called conservatives find themselves unable or unwilling to oppose abortion in the name of non-interference.
Some conservatives who say that they are passionately opposed to abortion will nevertheless withhold judgment and make allowances for it on the principle of separating private belief from public policy. A moral outrage is received with a libertarian shrug: it’s not my business to “legislate morality.”
The notion that government should not “legislate morality,” and instead allow evil and injustice to thrive—in the name of minding one’s business, like a good American—shows how deeply liberalism has degraded the social fabric.
The social apathy that attends widespread acceptance of abortion is part and parcel of the corrosion done by liberalism, and its evil twin, utilitarianism. All arguments for abortion boil down to these two principles: that the freedom of the individual should remain as unrestricted as possible by inconvenience; and that the Good of society should be measured by convenience and pleasure.
Matters of Convenience
Abortion has been widely accepted as a necessary trade-off to accommodate the freedom and convenience of the individual. The ascendance of a philosophy of moral libertarianism, and the decline of family and community, have coincided with the acceptance of industrial-scale butchery. The abortion state is a gruesome convenience that must continue in order for humans to enjoy their sexual and personal freedom without consequences.
A grim data set from Florida paints a portrait of what most “pro-lifers” have always suspected about abortion. According to the statistics, fewer than than 2 percent of abortions in Florida last year involved cases of rape, incest, or life-threatening danger to the mother. Nearly 98 percent were for no specific reason or poverty.
If this data set is representative, then abortion exists largely, if not primarily, for convenience, if not as a form of contraception outright.
Yet pro-abortionists focus on the extreme, implausible cases of pregnancy through rape or incest in order to justify the rule. All that the extremists’ candor has done is clarify what abortion was really always about.
Some children are born under the right circumstances. Others are “mistakes.” The child is always a hypothetical hindrance; the only tangible considerations are the desires, plans, and convenience of the those who contemplate killing it.
While abortion is often presented as the sole domain of women, the convenience of abortion knows no sex. It often gets lost amid the cliches of the debate that abortion is immensely liberating for men, too. Every man who supports a “woman’s choice” is, however secretly, supporting his right to evade the responsibility of becoming a father whenever he doesn’t feel like it.
Abortion is, and always was, fundamentally about convenience. But the mind has clever ways of making selfishness look like altruism. To justify the violence necessary to accommodate the restlessly free individual, liberals look to a demonic, utilitarian arithmetic soaked in fatalism.
Pro-abortionists always assume that children born into challenging circumstances are without hope before their lives have even begun. The idea that it’s more cruel to bring a child into the world at the “wrong” time or under difficult circumstances, rather than simply killing it outright, is cynical nonsense.
But this is exactly how abortion is always ethically calculated: people are imagined as factors in a giant pleasure calculator rather than as ends in themselves. Their value and worth are measured relative to the convenience of the whole.
Abortion is thus justified as a compassionate release from pain for all involved. Individuals who are burdensome to the convenience machine are projected as having little chance of thriving in it, and only posing a hindrance to those with the luck to have survived the moment of birth.
A Barbarous Sacrament
Abortion serves the convenience of the individual in the bloodiest conceivable way, but those individuals are themselves denied essential value. They become part of an inhuman aggregate, a civilization that has given up its humanity for pleasure.
The world envisioned as the liberal ideal, with abortion as its sacrament, is barbarous. There is no more society; instead there is a loosely connected mesh of individuals abstracted into a monstrous, libidinal organism. Individuals no longer exist within a web of meaning and social bonds; stripped of their dignity, severed from social ties and obligations, they are like isolated cells within a pulsing, hyper-stimulated dendrite.
Consumption and convenience are the guiding principles of this debased thing; life has no worth that is inconvenient. Anything that stands in the way of personal choice must be consumed, even innocent lives. Humans are mere fungible flesh, disposable according to their addition or subtraction from the convenience of the monster.
Civilization is reduced to a debased and dysfunctional state. With convenience and individual choice taking precedence over all else, the things that make society civilized are discarded. There are no hard and fast moral truths; ambiguity and arbitrariness rule. Morality, family, and community are dissolved in a libidinal acid bath. There are no consequences, no right and wrong, only the craving of the present moment.
This is a monstrous vision of humanity, but it is liberalism’s ideal. Liberalism can brook no limitations on the individual will. Abortion is core to liberalism and its ideal of a “liberated” humanity.
Abortion at any time, for any reason was an inevitable development given liberalism’s advance.
Abortion is necessary for the liberation of the individual, male or female, from the burdens that would hinder the personal quest. Abortion is about a woman’s choice, but more broadly it gives humans the choice to opt out of forming families, to retreat from responsibility for their neighbors and wider society.
Every form of liberation requires the destruction of whatever tethers and bonds are limiting one’s freedom. Abortion replaces the most intimate bonds of all with the restless individual will.
Family and community are replaced by individualism, materialism and careerism as the new ideal. A child conceived at the wrong time may frustrate the plans of those who did not “plan” for the child, so the child is disposable. Social responsibility is replaced with personal caprice.
With abortion, there is always a possibility to erase one’s “mistakes,” however grave. One’s freedom is curtailed as little as possible by things that, and people who weren’t “planned.”
If people cannot be expected not to kill their offspring, then virtually no social responsibility can be expected of them at all. But this retreat from social responsibility is not just the province of the Left; it is the consequence of a widely shared liberal tradition.
The “live and let live” mentality is a strong American instinct that is shared by “both sides.” The radicalization of abortion laws either way shows a certain divergence, but abortion has still very much been accepted by a large part of the population as the American way.
To counteract this will require a return to a more encompassing politics than the laissez-faire mentality which animates the thinking of libertarians who imagine restrictive abortion laws as an infringement on the hallowed principle of small-government.
It will require recognizing that right and wrong are binding and universal, not circumstantial and up to the individual; that society is more than individuals minding their own business in isolation; that politics is about justice, and that laws that sanction evil are lawlessness; that upholding standards is necessary for civilized society; that withholding judgment from evil in the name of “small government” is not a virtue; that abortion barbarizes humanity and destroys the things that make civilization possible; that true liberty is not freedom from consequences or the necessity of worrying about one’s neighbor. Above all it recognizes that the purpose of civilization is living a virtuous and happy life.
The popularity of abortion signals a nation and culture in steep decline. A change in course will require rejecting run-away individualism for the things that really matter.
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