The Manichaeism of the “Prolife” Movement Has Rendered It Ineffective
2019 was the Year of Infanticide in the United States of America.
Never before were politicians or abortion supporters advocating to leave a baby girl who survived an abortion to die. It’s sick and pure evil.
“Pure evil”. Such rhetoric is slung around constantly. It assumes not merely that those who disagree with prolifers are wrong or mistake, but that they are wilful, perversely, diabolically committed to what they themselves know in their heart of hearts to be gravely evil. And because they are given over, body and soul, to monstrous evil, there is no point in trying to reason with “pure evil”. There is only war to be made and victory to be won over such monstrous, sadistic, wilful, babykilling enemies.
Only, here’s the thing:
Does Jewish law state that life begins at conception? No, life does not begin at
conception under Jewish law. Sources in the Talmud note that the fetus is “mere water”
before 40 days of gestation. Following this period, the fetus is considered a physical part of
the pregnant individual’s body, not yet having life of its own or independent rights. The fetus
is not viewed as separate from the parent’s body until birth begins and the first breath of
oxygen into the lungs allows the soul to enter the body.
Does Jewish law assert that it is possible to murder a fetus? No, Jewish law does not
consider a fetus to be alive. The Torah, Exodus 21:22-23, recounts a story of two men who
are fighting and injure a pregnant woman, resulting in her subsequent miscarriage. The verse
explains that if the only harm done is the miscarriage, then the perpetrator must pay a fine.
However, if the pregnant person is gravely injured, the penalty shall be a life for a life as in
other homicides. The common rabbinical interpretation of this verse is that the men did not
commit murder and that the fetus is not a person. The primary concern is the well-being of
the person who was injured.
According to Jewish law, is abortion health care? Yes, Jewish sources explicitly state that
abortion is not only permitted but is required should the pregnancy endanger the life or health
of the pregnant individual. Furthermore, “health” is commonly interpreted to encompass
psychological health as well as physical health. NCJW advocates for abortion access as an
essential component of comprehensive, affordable, confidential, and equitable family
planning, reproductive, sexual health, and maternal health services.
What does Jewish law say about the rights of the person who is pregnant and the
rights of the fetus? Judaism values life and affirms that protecting existing life is paramount
at all stages of pregnancy. A fetus is not considered a person under Jewish law and therefore
does not have the same rights as one who is already alive. As such, the interests of the
pregnant individual always come before that of the fetus.
Do abortion bans unduly favor one religious viewpoint over another? Yes, different
religions believe that human life begins at different stages of development. Science can
explain developmental timelines, but philosophic and religious viewpoints largely determine
what exactly defines “life” or “personhood” for each individual. NCJW believes, as the First
Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees, that no one religion should be enshrined in
law or dictate public policy on any issue — including abortion.
Here, O Prolifer, is the core problem of your easy breezy assumption that any person who disagrees with the Church’s teaching about abortion is “pure evil”. Until you can address the intrinsic anti-semitism of your assumption and find a way to argue for your position that does not presume the essential evil and bad faith of your opponent in this debate, you are not arguing. You are simply calling for the crushing of all religious conscience by main force and the imposition of draconian tyranny in the conviction that the ends justify the means. And I speak as one who opposes abortion and who agrees with the Church’s teaching that life is sacred from conception.
The “prolife” movement is almost entirely a heresy that will burn down the world and all sanity and liberty in monomaniacal pursuit of one good end. It has lost the good of the intellect and can no longer argue its case. It seeks conquest by mindless brute force, not the moral persuasion of free people.
After the great example of St. Thomas, the principle stands, or ought always to have stood established; that we must either not argue with a man at all, or we must argue on his grounds and not ours. – G.K. Chesterton
Once the MAGA prolife movement abandoned the good of the intellect in favor of the hope of trampling all their enemies with raw power, they gave up moral suasion. If they ever have a prayer of making a coherent case for the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, they will have to return to the hard work of thinking and persuading, not lust for stupid, nihilist power and blind contempt for their enemies. I don’t see that happening anytime soon while they remain in the grip of MAGA fever. But maybe someday, when God has crushed this evil cult and its slaves have repented, the prolife movement will return to the Catholic intellectual tradition it has abandoned and try addressing those who differ with it as though are are thinking being capable of reason and not “pure evil”.