Fatal Mistakes, #1: Reproductive Health
I first confronted the question of infanticide when as a college student I heard that a close friend was planning to have an abortion. Although I was an atheist by upbringing and conviction, my mind was already being informed by the best of the Greek and Latin classics. I did not know then what I know now, that Roman law prescribed death for a married woman who aborted her child without the father’s permission or that ancient doctors, trained in the methods and teaching of Hippocrates, were forbidden to perform abortions, but I had read enough to understand how highly the Greeks valued kinship and how seriously they took the duties of parents.
When abortion began to be a major political issue, one of the first mistakes that both sides made was to regard it as a religious issue. Of course, Christianity puts a higher value on human life than any competing religious tradition, but there are perfectly adequate grounds in science, philosophy, and pagan piety to condemn the practice. Nat Hentoff, a Jewish leftist jazz critic, rejected abortion rights as contrary to his strong belief in basic human rights, and, while I think such arguments have limited value, they do indicate the possibility of dialogue with non-Christians of every description.
In this series of short pieces—much of it drawn from previous writings (mostly unpublished), I intend to point out the fallacies in the arguments of the infanticide lobby. I do not intend to cite Scripture or Christian theology, except when it is necessary to refute pseudo-Christian defenses of infanticide. This is not because I do not accept the Scriptures and Christian Tradition as binding on my conscience, but because exclusively Christian arguments can only appeal to Christians. By definition, I think it is obvious, those who tell a mother she is free to kill her child, cannot be counted as any kind of Christian.
Mistake # One: Reproductive Health.
Renegade Catholic Joe Biden has been a staunch advocate of abortion rights guaranteed by Roe v. Wade. However, in past years he also supported Congressman Henry Hyde’s proposed amendment barring the use of Federal funds for abortions.
The intent of Biden’s positioning was obviously to save face with the blue collar Catholics that were a major part of his political constituency.
Biden has worn many masks in his life, many of them borrowed from others—like the life story he plagiarized from a British Labourite politician. He is Joe Six Pack—even though he claims to drink O’Doul’s—and he is “Handsy” Joe with the ladies, and Joe the Fool every time he goes off script. Two days ago, he is reported in the New York Times, he was still backing the Hyde Amendment, but now the same tainted source announces that he is playing Joe the gynecologist, eager to save the lives of women who are being persecuted by Republican politicians:
“If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code,” Mr. Biden said.”
Other news sources report that Biden said that women’s health and safety was under siege in GOP controlled states. Translated into English, he was arguing that women who live in states where a majority votes for pro-life Republicans have fewer incentives to kill their unborn children.
Setting aside the notion that “health care is a right,” what does Biden’s argument come down to? That abortion rights must be defended and extended to protect the health of women. “Health” is an elastic concept, which can extend from preservation of life to freedom from anxiety. If we stick to the life-and-death issue that is the bread and butter of the infanticide lobby, the Guttmacher Institute, a strident advocate for abortion rights, estimates that 2.8% of abortions in the US are to save a mother’s life.
One wonders what Dr. Guttmacher would have said about this statistic. In a famous book, he said that he had never run across such a case nor had he heard from any colleague of this dilemma. But let us accept this preposterously high figure as a number to work with. The Hyde Amendment specifically excludes cases where a mother’s life is at risk.
Decades ago, some pro-life advocates suggested a practical compromise: Abortion would be permitted only in cases where physicians had determined that it was to save the mother’s life—as opposed to being in the interest of her “mental health.” Opinion polls indicated that a vast majority of Americans agreed with that position.
After decades of degrading propaganda from people like Biden, the Clintons, and the Obamas, thoughtless and feckless Americans are confused. Many of them appear to believe, seriously, that the right to kill babies is saving the lives of millions of women.
This is a non-issue, and, by the way, termination of pregnancy in such cases was always a real-world option provided by physicians. It was so much a part of our thinking that anti-Catholics would warn against Catholic hospitals, because, it was said, they would not take steps to save a mother’s life if it would lead to the death of the fetus.
Philosophically, the argument has been made that saving the mother’s life, even if the medical procedure causes the child’s death, is morally licit, because the intention is preservation of life. This is the famous theory of the “double effect.” People like Joe Biden would not wish to consider the fine points, because his mind is Hell-bent on winning elections by hoodwinking the public.
What other health issues does Joe Biden bring forward? Nothing, so far as I have found. He is just one more liar caught in the dirty webs he has been spinning for years.