Pro-life stockholm syndrome
January 26, 2013 § 17 Comments
Once someone has been held captive long enough dysfunction frequently sets in. Prisoners become sympathetic to their captors and, wittingly or unwittingly, they begin to adopt their captors’ views and even aid and abet their captors. Something similar has happened to the pro-life movement.
The reason abortion is legal is because it is physiologically easier for men to get away with casual sex than it is for women to do so. Abortion provides the backstop that is necessary to make fornication and other consequence-free sex an equal opportunity sport.
This has created a dynamic wherein the pro-life movement often works to reduce, as much as possible, the consequences of female fornication. Traditionally the consequences of out-of-wedlock sex could include (but did not always include, and never did so equally for both men and women) shame, loss of status and income, and other consequences. Pro-lifers worry that these things will lead more women to abort: unborn children are hostages, keeping the pro-life movement captive.
As a result nearly our entire society is united on the goal of making unwed pregnancy and out of wedlock motherhood as easy and consequence-free as possible. People formally support abortion on the left, people materially support abortion on the right (even though many genuinely wish to oppose abortion and do formally oppose it), and almost nobody actually opposes abortion.
More fuel on the fire is not going to put it out.
As a result nearly our entire society is united on the goal of making unwed pregnancy and out of wedlock motherhood as easy and consequence-free as possible.
This reminds me of James Bowman’s review of the film Chocolat. It had to be set in a remote Catholic village in France in 1960 because it was one of the last times and places in the Western world that there were consequences for out-of-wedlock pregnancy. See: http://www.jamesbowman.net/reviewDetail.asp?pubID=430
Wow. Never thought of it that way but you are absolutely right.
To me, formally opposing abortion usually secular arguments is an untenable propositions because secular philosopher’s have cogent and elegant arguments defending it. Singer’s arguments are indeed an exhibition of the analytical abilities of a person with an adroit ability to reason verbally using the compassionate secular framework of preference utilitarianism. I have failed to witness a religious apologist refuting the core of Singer’s arguments: that a fetus is not a person (as a opposed to “human”) because it is incapable of suffering or having any preferences, desires, or self-consciousness and therefore is not subject to any ethical protection, However, the only, and I repeat for emphasis “only”, “argument” against the moral permissibility of abortion (since it is derived from a revelation and epiphany not from analytical reasoning) is the acknowledgment that all humans are created and loved by God. To a secular materialist, this is just an empty assertion though. While I was an agnostic, I was stoically callous about the destruction of young human life, and embraced its consequences as either a sign of my philosophical sophistication and discipline or detached nihilism.
My philosophical opposition to abortion is primarily spiritual and personal: my spiritual sister who brought me to the Catholic faith has bipolar disorder, and since I once embraced eugenics (in the form of embryo selection to purge new offspring and future generations from the influence of deleterious genes), I understood the consequences of my vision had it been fulfilled, she would probably not be born. In order to find abortion repugnant, I had to acknowledge that she (and I) are created creatures of God.
In reality, however, the phenomenon of anti-abortion movement (I refuse to use the term “pro-life”) most does not rest on a theological foundation or genuine concern for the unborn, but it is mostly tribal signaling by individuals to indicate that they are in a “traditionalist counterculture” movement opposing the “liberal incursion” of Western civilization. Many secularists and liberal Christians understand this, and legitimate question the sincerity and integrity of the anti-abortion movement. They only see opposition to abortion as a component of a political movement that is embraced by those who let their sentiments and tribal affiliations define their identity and positions. From my perspective, without the love of God, anti-abortion legislation and statues are merely inconvenient impediments to those pursuing abortion and can be easily evaded by those with financial resources, but still appeases a political constituency and are ultimately otiose in advancing the Kingdom of God,.
“People formally support abortion on the left, people materially support abortion on the right (even though many genuinely wish to oppose abortion and do formally oppose it), and almost nobody actually opposes abortion.”
You are astute enough that behind the patina of sanctimoniousness and “traditionalism” that the political right too also value secular utility, hierarchical social order, and economic efficiency (which is not universal economic prosperity). If the personal or societal practice of abortion allows them to retain political power, they will avail themselves to it; this is more Machiavellian and calculated than merely using abortion as a “put option” when the pursuit of sexual pleasure becomes awry with a unwanted pregnancy. I also know a right-winger who I overheard said that the Catholic Church was primitive because of its stance on abortion and see children as economic liabilities.
But **** earthly society and Western civilization! I see no reason to value human life that is not “person” from secular reasoning. From a secular, cynical perspective, without the love of God, everything is just material, and nihilism, privation, despair predominate, so life has no intrinsic value and I see no compelling reason to oppose abortion.
My position on abortion readily admits that positing secular arguments is a futile endeavor (I doubt it would have been possible to change my position on abortion on these arguments and it also seems unlikely that people become “pro-life” because of those arguments) and it offers an opportunity for pro-lifers to reflect on their underlying motivations and sincerity for embracing a pro-life position.
I outlined my position before:
[…] wrote my previous post before I read Red Cardigan’s latest. I don’t see much point in trying to engage in a […]
That’s a fairly long comment Black Rose; but I definitely disagree with this:
In reality, however, the phenomenon of anti-abortion movement (I refuse to use the term “pro-life”) most does not rest on a theological foundation or genuine concern for the unborn, but it is mostly tribal signaling by individuals to indicate that they are in a “traditionalist counterculture” movement opposing the “liberal incursion” of Western civilization.
In fact I am convinced that pro-lifers are completely sincere, dedicated, and committed to the cause of the unborn victims (and potential victims) of abortion. I know a great many of them and count myself among them. This does not mean that the overall movement, strategy, etc has been working though, it doesn’t mean that the pro-life movement hasn’t been being used and exploited by various parties (and Parties), and it doesn’t mean that all of the predominant patterns of thinking in the pro-life movement are good and true.
I am tempted to regard Stockholm syndrome as a urban myth itself. How common have been its recorded occurrences divided by the number of times it did not occur?
I have been subjected to much criticism for maintaining at W4 precisely what Black Rose has stated here that it is only by the Catholic dogma that we maintain and affirm the personhood of a day-old embryo.
The DNA is opposed by Self-ownership and who can say which shall prevail.
[…] In the comments below, we learn from Erin Manning a.k.a. Red Cardigan that when Kathleen Quinlan voluntarily disqualified herself from her job in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and was let go, that was the moral equivalent of the diocese torturing her. (We also learn, though, at the same time, that it is downright heroic not to torture captives). We learn that the reason it is wrong to torture presumed-terrorist captives isn’t because torture is gravely and intrinsically evil: it is because not-torturing them is merciful. We learn that failing to employ an unwed pregnant woman is equivalent to stoning her to death, like the biblical case of woman caught in adultery, and the answer to “What Would Jesus Do” is, of course, “what Erin says we should do.” We learn that when you fire someone from a job after that person has voluntarily disqualified herself (and is therefore, you know, no longer qualified), that is treating her as an object not a human being. Treating her as a human being would require us to ignore her choices and actions, as if she were not a moral agent but rather was just an unthinking unchoosing, uh, object. We learn that supporting the diocese in this incident makes Catholics look bad to pro-abortion secularists (and by golly we can’t have that). […]
Declaration on Procured Abortion footnote 19:
This declaration expressly leaves aside the question of the moment when the spiritual soul is infused. There is not a unanimous tradition on this point and authors are as yet in disagreement. For some it dates from the first instant; for others it could not at least precede nidation. It is not within the competence of science to decide between these views, because the existence of an immortal soul is not a question in its field. It is a philosophical problem from which our moral affirmation remains independent for two reasons: (1) supposing a belated animation, there is still nothing less than a human life, preparing for and calling for a soul in which the nature received from parents is completed, (2) on the other hand, it suffices that this presence of the soul be probable (and one can never prove the contrary) in order that the taking of life involve accepting the risk of killing a man, not only waiting for, but already in possession of his soul.
[…] official Praise Someone for Not Being a Murderer Week. Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again. The time when we’re all called out to sing […]
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To respond to one of the other comments here, I disagree that there is no secular basis for being against abortion. Here are some essays by secular pro-lifers that challenge Singer’s idea of personhood and I feel are worth reading for anyone who wants to understand the secular argument against abortion:
If you want to make the argument that absolutely NO form of morality matters if one doesn’t believe in God, then that’s another matter – however if you accept that even atheists can believe that a born human being should not be murdered, then I think you absolutely can make the case that atheists should also oppose abortion because it is a violation of human rights.
[…] This disposition not to judge and to make the woman’s life as easy and shameless as possible is a part of “Pro-life Stockholm Syndrome”: […]
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