Thursday, July 16, 2009

Christian Resistance: "Pardon me, sir, but your fig leaf is on fire."

"Pardon me, sir, but your fig leaf is on fire."

My thanks to the Wretched Dog for forwarding me Burning the Fig Leaf by Leon Wolf at My strict libertarian friends will be at best uninterested in this subject. They should understand though that we all will be going through this process as the social lubricant of polite fiction evaporates in the growing heat of tyranny.


Burning the Fig Leaf

Posted by Leon H. Wolf

Tuesday, July 14th a

For years, the plight of the ardent pro-lifer has been fully understood by precious few political analysts and policymakers. Unlike other policy questions that touch on matters of the pocketbook or matters of liberty, abortion is a policy question that strikes at a much more basic and fundamental issue: when and under what circumstances human beings are entitled to protection from being killed from their government. Other than the death penalty, no other policy question touches this issue as squarely as abortion. And it is perhaps not well understood by many that the end consequence of modern American abortion policy is that, from the perspective of the pro-lifer, the United States Government intentionally allows over 1 million humans to be killed every year, with no attempts at prevention, intervention, or punishment visited upon their killers.

Compounding this problem is the fact that abortion policy has been almost completely removed from the Democratic process. As Megan McArdle - herself no ardent pro-lifer - noted in the wake of George Tiller’s muder:

My argument is that abortion, like slavery, is becoming in this country an issue upon which people have no reasonable political recourse. I’ll go further, and say that the process by which 7 judges enforced their consciences on the American public was itself borderline illegitimate; it was first, not in their proper job description, and second, a bad way to run a government.

Yes, in theory pro-lifers could pass an amendment. And in theory, the Palestinians have access to the political process too, as right wing blogs often point out–all they need to do is elect a coherent government that Israel is willing to negotiate with. Most Obsidian Wings posters and commenters don’t have much trouble discerning that a sufficiently remote possibility of political access is not political access, and that the individual Israeli actions which might be justified in a democratic government acting on an enfranchised population, are problematic when Israel does them to the Palestinians. After all, we bulldoze peoples’ homes, too–we just call it eminent domain.

Questions of fundamental human rights that have been closed off from the normal political process are very likely to produce violence. I can simultaneously, as I do, want Tiller’s murderer given a long jail substance, and worry that we’ve left his fellow lone gunmen no other outlets for their legitimate moral beliefs.

For almost three decades, the lone fig leaf that has covered the conscience of the committed pro-lifer has been the notion that abortion, while a moral evil, is at base a failure of the government to act properly, rather than a positive act committed by or on behalf of the government. This is especially important in a democracy, where action committed by the government is properly seen as an extension, however, remote, of action by the people. There is, after all, a sense in which the individual citizen in a democracy participates in all actions taken by the government, if not by the exercise of voting, then by the exercise of paying taxes which go toward the funding of said government action. Thus did the Hyde Amendment allow staunch pro-lifers to rest satisfied that, at the very least, they were not participating positively in what they considered to be a great moral evil. Yet now our President seeks to rend that fig leaf asunder and burn it thoroughly to ashes in the name of “healthcare reform”. As Marjorie Dannenfelser notes:

In his first week in office, President Obama issued an executive order overturning the Reagan-era Mexico City regulations, which had prohibited American foreign aid from going to organizations that finance overseas abortions. Just a few weeks later, the Gallup organization revealed that the executive order was the single most unpopular action taken by the president during his honeymoon period. At a time when American families had experienced an average 25 percent decline in their net worth, it would appear that increasing the net worth of foreign abortionists was not high on their to-do list.

* * *

But by now, nearly six months in, the bottom line for Barack Obama is clear. After making a few polite noises about finding “common ground” with pro-lifers, his administration has shown zero interest in doing so. Instead, the Obama agenda is to weave government-backed abortion into the fabric of American life and make it a far more integral part of domestic and foreign policy than ever before.

Exhibit A is the emerging Democratic plan for health reform. At this writing, the draft House bill is the best indicator of where the administration and congressional Democrats are heading. Agreed on by three powerful committee chairmen, Henry Waxman (energy and commerce), George Miller (education and labor), and Charles Rangel (ways and means), the House bill outlines a minimum-benefits package that will be universal–that is, required of every American’s insurance plan, whether provided by a private firm or by the government. It lists, among others, two categories: “out-patient hospital services” and “out-patient clinic services.”

What services are included under these categories? Is abortion covered? If the drafters of the Democratic bill have their way, this will never be specified in the bill itself. It will be decided by a “Health Benefits Advisory Committee,” whose membership will be determined by President Obama and Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services who is remembered by Kansas pro-lifers for her gubernatorial vetoes of restrictions on late-term abortions.

Clearly, if Obama’s preferred health reform becomes law, abortion will be defined as a “health benefit” automatically provided to every American family. The Hyde amendment, which for more than 30 years has banned federal funding for almost all abortions and has enjoyed overwhelming congressional support, will become all but irrelevant once abortion on demand is defined as a universal “health benefit.”

The same relentless agenda recently surfaced locally, as it were, when the president endorsed the repeal of the Dornan amendment. If Obama gets his way on this, the left-liberal District of Columbia government will be free to spend government money on abortions for the first time since 1995. This is apparently what the president has decided our nation’s capital needs, given its steadily declining population, low rate of family formation, and recorded legal abortions already nearly equal to the number of its live births.

These measures clearly constitute a concerted attempt by the Obama administration to overrule the Hyde Amendment - the one significant effect pro-lifers have had on abortion policy, an effect that was enacted through the legislative process - sub nom. These efforts are offensive in one sense because they are primarily being enacted through backdoor channels that seek to circumvent the legislative process as much as possible in favor of unilateral action by executive branch actors. However, they are also offensive in a more fundamental sense, in that they have been enacted in total disregard for the moral compunctions of an increasingly large plurality of this society. Through a series of underhanded maneuvers, the Obama Administration will once again place a fundamental question of morality and human life beyond the reach of the ordinary legislative process.

How are ardent pro-lifers to respond to this development? Will our consciences permit what amounts to material cooperation with evil, all in the name of peaceful coexistence with our increasingly degenerate society? If not, what recourse is available? It seems to me that the Obama Administration is deliberately moving pro-lifers into a situation where some form of civil disobedience is the only response that they view to be morally legitimate; a maneuver which would make excellent political sense in terms of potentially marginalizing a large segment of his dedicated opposition, but which, as McArdle noted, is a terrible way to run a country. It is an especially cynical and cruel maneuver when executed by a President who duped a number of (excessively gullible) pro-lifers to vote for him based on the promise to reach out in search of common ground and understanding with them.

The situation has the potential to create unrest in the populace not seen since the days of slavery (the last time, not coincidentally, the Supreme Court decided it would be helpful to effectively remove a fundamental moral issue from the democratic process). The confrontation looms and can be easily avoided, at least for the time being, by the Obama Administration; all the Administration needs to do is to not overreach. However, if the last six months have taught us anything, it is that the Obama Administration is constitutionally incapable of not overreaching in everything that they do. Let us hope at the least that Obamacare will be summarily defeated in the House so that this might be avoided. In the event that it is not, the time for serious soul searching by the pro-life movement is immediately around the corner.


Anonymous said...

Mike, sometimes I believe you may suffer the same fate as all of us with regard to categorizing folks in certain ways. We all do. Our brains just function that way but here is the point of view on state subsidized abortion from a market anarchist perspective (aka Libertarian purist...)

From a philosophical standpoint the pro death crowd can not make a coherent argument as to why, how and when it is O.K. to kill an unborn human fetus. This creates a rather slippery slope to the eugenics camp in that perhaps it is then OK to consider killing anybody for anything that we do not deem desirable like limited mental capacity, downs syndrome, old age, voting for Obama, etc. Of course these mental thought constructs could not come about without the collective viewpoint which says that all humans (even the unborn) are a means to an end rather than an end in and of themselves.

I see this in a larger context as just one more peace of the puzzle, with an omnipotent state and a collectivist viewpoint being dominant, that the innocent do not possess control or redress for infractions against their property or their very lives.

Another interesting philosophical concept to ponder: Sometime ago within this very country slaves of African ancestry where deemed to be less than 'persons' possessing no rights. Our country finally came to it's senses with regard to the shameful practice of slavery and the view toward people of specific ancestry . Might we one day do the same with regard to the plight of unborn humans?

Either way the government should have no say in the practice. The SCOTUS overstepped it's bounds but it does this by design all of the time.

This also may be where the Conservative camp may differ in that they may say that we want free markets and limited government (hahahah - sorry slight digression) but the government should step in to back my 'morality'. My response is be very careful how much power you give your friends because your enemies may end up wielding that same power against you in the near future.



rexxhead said...

As a radical Rothbardian libertarian -- 'anarchist' if you must -- I see it this way:

All power resides in the people.

When people act, voluntarily, in such a way that a reasonable person would understand that a new life has been brought into being, then a new life has been brought into being.

If it's not voluntary -- rape, etc. -- then a new life has not been brought into being.

If someone goes for an abortion, she should be holding in her hands the police report she filed against the rapist. No police report -- no abortion.

The police report should result in an arrest, a prosecution, and a trial.

Fair is fair.

Kristophr said...

It looks like there isn't a single "libertarian" take on this tough subject.

Other than the usual injunction against spending MY money on YOUR projects.

Anonymous: IMO, it isn't OK to kill a fetus ... but it also isn't OK to force a woman to carry one at gunpoint.

This would cause a PBA to become murder.

A third-trimester abortion would also become murder if you prevented a volunteer from adopting the child and then providing an incubator.

1st and 2nd trimesters? Too bad. Life is rough. You can't make a slave of the woman involved, even if such slavery would save a life. Her culpability in creating that life is not relevant ... you can't enforce a contract requiring slavery.

Anonymous said...

It's either life or it isn't. "Voluntary sex" is about the poorest test for abortion ethics I've ever heard.

Just like the caution to beware the power you give your friends, beware the ethical choices you allow to slide by. You won't like it when it happens to you.

This issue like no other illustrates the inherent problem with man-centered, power-in-the-people philosophies. The world isn't a mess because there is too much government, or too little, or too much religion, or too little reason, or too much superstition, or too much poverty, or too little education, or anything else. Human beings are basically broken, and making them the center of any government, or any philosophical system, will never yield the results you think you should get.

Anonymous said...

“But by now, nearly six months in, the bottom line for Barack Obama is clear. After making a few polite noises about finding “common ground” with pro-lifers, his administration has shown zero interest in doing so.”

In all things Obama, watch what he does, not what he says.

Anonymous said...

"It is an especially cynical and cruel maneuver when executed by a President who duped a number of (excessively gullible) pro-lifers to vote for him based on the promise to reach out in search of common ground and understanding with them."

And for those that were duped, I have zero sympathy. Idiots, all of them.

Oh well, we got Obama. I'm starting to think we should just let him run absolutely rampant, with health care, cap and trade, etc.

Let him run the economy into the ground, so we can then elect a replacement in 2012. Hopefully one that will promptly push for a straight repeal of all Obama policies and laws as part of his(or her) first 100 days.

Yes, I'm naive enough to think that the electoral system still works. Sue me.

straightarrow said...

Kristopher, would you call it slavery if we punished a woman who freed herself by killing her four year old? After all, we should force her into a contract that she wishes not to fullfil. Right? Right?

I suppose your slant on this is why I am not a big L libertarian. Most of them, if not all, appear to me to be doing nothing more than trying to establish a system under which they have no responsibility to anything or anyone except their immediate whims.

Anonymous said...

If I could make a couple of points on the matter.

"All power resides in the people". Is this not the problem? Instead of saying that power resides in individuals then the open ended concept of the 'People' can be made to be anything the connected political class says it is (eg the power to make decisions on any matter).

to straightarrow - I admire your posts but would argue that the Libertarian camp and more so the market anarchy group offers a solid sense of personal responsibility as individuals are ultimately responsible for any and all damages directly paid to the damaged party no matter who the person might be. In this world view the driver who kills a woman with an unborn child must pay restitution to the family for both lives and the cop that slams into a car killing two woman while pursuing somebody going faster than the posted speed limit, should make the same restitution rather than receiving a slap on the wrist with his boss saying 'he was following procedure'.

Still though I can see no logical way to find uniformity on the abortion matter as all may define what makes a human a human differently from one another, but I definitely find it wrong to fund eugenics programs with stolen tax payer money, whether the eugenics program is paying for Planned Parenthood or the death of foreigners on the wrong side of a JDAM.

All the best,


thedweeze said...

y'all are missing the point.

The FedGov does not cross my or your threshold. Period. I'm sure you all, like me, enjoy having the mail delivered, so I hope we can agree that the Gummint should be allowed into the front yard in order to access the mailbox, but not a millimeter more.

Abortion Control = Gun Control. It's about control. One would hope that, after decades of them trying to take your guns, you'd know better than to do the same thing.