Hilary White

Abortion and the Will to Power: ‘So what if abortion ends a life?’ asks Salon writer

Hilary White
Hilary White
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ROME, January 24, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An item came to my attention today in my daily inspection of the internet, asking a very pertinent question. And though I’m sure it was meant rhetorically, I thought I’d have a go at answering it. A short piece, clearly published in answer to the hundreds of thousands gathered this week on the Washington Mall demanding an end to the slaughter of children, asks, “So what if abortion ends life?”

Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote yesterday on the “progressive” online magazine Salon, “I believe that life starts at conception. And it’s never stopped me from being pro-choice.”

She called the “move” of the “anti-choice lobby” to call itself “pro-life” “diabolically clever,” adding, “Life! Who wants to argue with that? Who wants be on the side of … not-life?”

Well, apparently Williams thinks herself equal to the task.

“The ‘life’ conversation is often too thorny to even broach. Yet I know that throughout my own pregnancies, I never wavered for a moment in the belief that I was carrying a human life inside of me,” she writes.

“I believe that’s what a fetus is: a human life. And that doesn’t make me one iota less solidly pro-choice.”

It immediately brings to mind a passage from On the Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche, that mad prophet of the atrocity-crammed 20th century. He proposed that Christianity and its moral law are born from hatred of the warrior’s strength and has succeeded only in weakening the strong and overturning the natural order of existence in which the strong must oppress the weak. Christianity is a “slave morality,” he said.

Miss Williams, perhaps unconscious of the philosophical roots of her position, says that the issue is more “complicated” than life and death. And what is the “complicated reality” behind abortion?

“All life is not equal.” There we have it. Some people once said it slightly differently: “some life is not worthy of life.” Specifically, the “life” that gets in my way.

“A fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides,” writes Williams. “She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.”

“That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers.”

Well, you said it, honey, not me.

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For some years now, the abortionist ideology has been sailing out further and further into the deepest moral waters it can find, in an apparently desperate attempt to continue convincing the world, if not of the rightness of its cause, at least of its unstoppability. But with rhetoric like this, it’s hard to see how much further they can go while still maintaining any semblance of rationality.

Once you have responded to “It’s a human being,” with a manufactured shrug like this, there seems nowhere else to go in the conversation. So what if abortion is genocide? So what if it serves the cause of sex trafficking? So what if it enables pedophiles and pimps? So what if it’s slaughtering entire generations of girls in India and China? So what if it’s being used by totalitarian governments to terrorise women and maintain control over their populations?

So what? I want it, and I have the power to get it; discussion over.

And this is right and good because the strong must always have power over the weak. From some dark place, the shade of Nietzsche howls his mad, tortured shriek of triumph.

We often identify feminism and its strumpet daughter the Sexual Revolution with Marxism, and a quick glance at Engels on the evils of the Monogamous Family  will demonstrate that this is true. But on a deeper level, it is more simply about power, as most feminists will readily admit. Some people have called a gun the “great equaliser,” that gives ultimate power to people who would otherwise be too weak to impose their will over others. For women dedicated to the cause of power-over-others, abortion is that gun.

Miss Williams has helpfully illustrated exactly where the abortionist ideology goes. It is not, at its root, a manifestation of feminism, though feminism has adopted it as a core doctrine. It is not even a tool of political manipulation from the left, or a method of systematic genocide in the developing world to protect western economic interests.

At the very core of its black heart, it is the scream of the nihilist, who seeks power and ownership over anyone weaker, for no other reason than the pure exercise of the will: because we want it. Abortion for woman has become the final manifestation of the old “will to power”. And at its core is nothingness, a black hole endlessly gaping and swallowing everything in its orbit. It seeks, finally, no good that anyone, even the abortionist movement itself, can identify, let alone defend rationally.

Mass, legalised abortion, industrial scale abortion, is simply a final manifestation of the global, nihilistic and ultimately suicidal ideation that took hold of the entire western world at the start of World War I and has never let go. And the 55 million dead in the US alone would attest to this, if they could speak.

Not my favourite pope, by any means, but it does also bring to mind what many people like to refer to as the “prophecies” of Paul VI in his anti-contraception encyclical Humanae Vitae. Whatever else you may think about the effects or uses of contraception, it is hard to pass by the following without a pause of recognition.

The widespread use of artificial contraception, the Pill being the key that opened the Pandora’s Box of the Sexual revolution, would lead, he said, “to conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality.” “The man,” the pope said, will lose respect for “the woman” and “no longer (care) for her physical and psychological equilibrium”. He will come to “the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment and no longer as his respected and beloved companion”.

Of course, what the pope neglected to mention was the next set of logical progressions. The contraceptive culture will finally lead women to regard men as sexual objects and, as childlessness comes to be seen more and more as a goal, as economic competitors. They will come to see children, childbearing and motherhood as a form of slavery and “oppression,” a kind of living death. And ultimately they will see abortion as their only recourse in accidental cases of pregnancy, the ultimate catastrophe. And they would come to defend the killing of their own children as a form of self-defence against an unjust aggressor.

For women, under the new cultural dispensation, remaining in the condition of carefree, unencumbered, sexually alluring ingénue is not the highest good, it is the only one. And women are clearly willing to kill to achieve and maintain it.

Contraception and the Sexual Revolution has, as John Paul II used to say, pitted men and women against each other, and both of them against their own children. It has made a mass warzone of our entire culture in which each individual is the enemy of every other in the struggle to be the last one standing on top of the rubbish heap of our mass produced goods. 

And like all such political movements, it is an absolutist ideology, a form of totalitarianism, that will admit of no dissenters. There can’t be any opt-outs, as we have seen from the determination of the Obama administration to impose contraception and abortion funding on an unwilling public.

We must thank Mary Elizabeth Williamson for saying so clearly what the rest of the Revolution has so far rarely had the courage to say. For making it so clear that at its heart, what we are fighting against is not abortionists, politicians or feminism, but against dark, unsmiling faces looking up from below, against Powers and Principalities, the final darkness that was loosed on the world in the early 20th century, with nothing but black emptiness and despair, hatred, at its core.

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Vatican’s doctrine chief: ‘Absolutely anti-Catholic’ to let bishops conferences decide doctrine or discipline

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By John-Henry Westen

VATICAN, March 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has rejected outright the idea floated by Germany’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx that various bishops’ conferences around the world would decide for themselves on points of discipline or doctrine. 

“This is an absolutely anti-Catholic idea that does not respect the catholicity of the Church,” Cardinal Müller told France’s Famille Chrétienne in an interview published today

The question was raised because Cardinal Marx, the head of the German Catholic bishops’ conference and a member of Pope Francis’ advisory Council of Nine, told reporters that the German bishops would chart their own course on the question of allowing Communion for those in “irregular” sexual unions.

“We are not a subsidiary of Rome,” he said in February. “The Synod cannot prescribe in detail what we should do in Germany.”

Vatican Cardinal Müller remarked that while episcopal conferences may have authority over certain issues they are not a parallel magisterium apart from the pope or outside communion with the bishops united to him.

Asked specifically about Cardinal Marx saying that the Church in Germany is “not a subsidiary of Rome,” the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said pointedly “the president of an Episcopal Conference is nothing more than a technical moderator, and as such has no special teaching authority.”  He added moreover, that the dioceses in a particular country “are not subsidiaries of the secretariat of an Episcopal conference or diocese whose Bishop presides over the Episcopal Conference.”

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The CDF head warned that “this attitude makes the risk of waking some polarization between the local churches and the universal Church.” He did not however believe that there was the will for Episcopal conferences to separate from Rome.

The important interview also saw Cardinal Müller contest the notion that the pastoral practice or discipline could change while retaining the same doctrine. “We can not affirm the doctrine and initiate a practice that is contrary to the doctrine,” he said.

He added that not even the papal Magisterium is free to change doctrine. “Every word of God is entrusted to the Church, but it is not superior to the Word,” he said. “The Magisterium is not superior to the word of God. The reverse is true.”

Cardinal Müller rejected the notion that we would have to modify Christ’s unflinching words totally forbidding divorce and remarriage.  We cannot “say that our ministry should be more cautious than Jesus Christ Himself!”  Nor could we, he added, say that Christ’s teaching is out of date or that “we need to correct or refine Jesus Christ because He lived in an idealistic world.” 

Rather, the cardinal said, bishops must be ready for martyrdom.  Quoting Jesus he said, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and if we speak all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

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‘Groundbreaking’: Kansas may become first state to ban dismemberment abortions

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By Ben Johnson

TOPEKA, KS, March 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Kansas will become the first state in the country to ban a procedure in which unborn children are dismembered in the womb, if Gov. Sam Brownback signs a bill that recently passed the state legislature.

The state House passed a ban on dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions, called dismemberment abortions in common parlance, by 98-26 on Wednesday.

The Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, which had already passed the state Senate in February 31-9, now heads to Gov. Brownback's desk.

Brownback, a staunch defender of life, is expected to sign the act into law.

"Because of the Kansas legislature's strong pro-life convictions, unborn children in the state will be protected from brutal dismemberment abortions," said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, which has made banning dismemberment abortions a national legislative focus.

The procedure, in which an abortionist separates the unborn child's limbs from his body one at a time, accounts for 600 abortions statewide every year.

Nationally, it is “the most prevalent method of second-trimester pregnancy termination in the USA, accounting for 96 percent of all second trimester abortions,” according to the National Abortion Federation Abortion Training Textbook.

“It’s just unconscionable that something happens to children that we wouldn’t tolerate being done to pets,” Katie Ostrowski, the legislative director of Kansans for Life, told The Wichita Eagle.

Leading pro-life advocacy groups have made shifting the debate to dismemberment a national priority, with similar legislation being considered in Missouri and Oklahoma. Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., who is NRLC's director of state legislation, called the bill's passage in Topeka “groundbreaking.”

"When the national debate focuses only on the mother, it is forgetting someone," she said.

The abortion lobby has made clear that it is uncomfortable engaging in a public relations tussle on this ground.

Elizabeth Nash, the senior state issues associate of the Guttmacher Institute, said that dismemberment is “not medical language, so it’s a little bit difficult to figure out what the language would do.”

On the state Senate floor, Democrats tried to alter the bill's language on the floor by replacing the term “unborn child” with fetus. “I know some of you don’t believe in science. But it’s not an unborn child, it’s called a fetus,” said state Senator David Haley, D-Kansas City.

If the bill becomes law, the abortion industry has vowed to fight on.

Julie Burkhart, a former associate of late-term abortionist George Tiller, said the motion's only intention is “to intimidate, threaten and criminalize doctors.”

“Policymakers should be ashamed,” she said, adding, “if passed, we will challenge it in court.”

Gov. Brownback has previously signed conscience rights protections and sweeping pro-life protections into law.

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How NOT to move beyond the abortion wars

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By Anne Hendershott

March 26, 2015 (CrisisMagazine.com) -- A few years ago, when an undergraduate student research assistant of mine—a recent convert to Catholicism—told me that he was planning to meet with a well-known dissenting Catholic theology professor who was then ensconced in an endowed chair at a major metropolitan Catholic university, I told him: “Be careful, you might end up liking him too much.” I jokingly told my student not to make eye contact with the theologian because he might begin to find himself agreeing with him that Catholic teachings “really allow” for women’s ordination and full reproductive rights—including access to abortion.

I was reminded of that conversation this week when I began reading a new book by yet another engaging Catholic theology professor at a major metropolitan university who also claims (pg 6) that the argument he puts forward in his book, Beyond the Abortion Wars, is “consistent with defined Catholic doctrine.” Written by Charles Camosy, associate professor of theology at Fordham University, the new book purports to be in line with Catholic teachings and promises “a way forward for a new generation.” But, Camosy delivers yet another argument for a woman’s right to choose abortion when confronted with an unborn child that he has described—in the past—as an “innocent aggressor.”

Indeed, Camosy has spent much of his career trying to convince us that he knows Catholic teachings better than the bishops. Criticizing Bishop Olmsted for his intervention and excommunication of a hospital administrator for her role in the direct abortion at a Phoenix Catholic hospital, Camosy suggested in 2013 that “the infamous Phoenix abortion case set us back in this regard.” Implying that Bishop Olmsted was not smart enough to understand the moral theology involved in the case, Camosy claimed that “The moral theology in the case was complex—which makes the decision to declare publicly that Sr. McBride had excommunicated herself even more inexplicable. The Church can do better.” For Camosy, “Catholics must be ready to help shape our new discussion on abortion. And we must do so in a way that draws people into the conversation—not only with respectful listening, but speaking in a way that is both coherent and sensitive.”

This new book is likely Camosy’s attempt to “draw people into the conversation.” But, there is little in his book that is either coherent or sensitive. Claiming to want to move “beyond” the abortion wars, Camosy creates an argument that seems designed to offend the pro-life side, while giving great respect to those who want to make sure abortion remains legal.

Especially offensive for pro-life readers will be Camosy’s description of the abortifacient, RU-486 as a form of “indirect abortion.” The reality is that RU-486, commonly known as the “abortion pill,” effectively ends an early pregnancy (up to 8 weeks) by turning off the pregnancy hormone (progesterone). Progesterone is necessary to maintain the pregnancy and when it is made inoperative, the fetus is aborted. For Camosy, who claims that his book is “consistent with settled Catholic doctrine,” this is not a “direct” abortion. To illustrate this, Camosy enlists philosopher Judith Jarvis Thompson’s 1971 “Defense of Abortion”—the hypothetical story of the young woman who is kidnapped and wakes up in a hospital bed to find that her healthy circulatory system has been hooked up to a famous unconscious violinist who has a fatal kidney ailment. The woman’s body is being used to keep the violinist alive until a “cure” for the violinist can be found. Camosy makes the case—as hundreds of thousands of pro-choice proponents have made in the past four decades—that one cannot be guilty of directly killing the violinist if one simply disconnects oneself from him. Likewise, for Camosy, simply taking the drug RU 486 is not “directly” killing the fetus. He writes:

The drugs present in RU 486 do not by their very nature appear to attack the fetus. Instead, the drug cuts off the pregnancy hormone and the fetus is detached from the woman’s body…. Using RU 486 is like removing yourself from [Judith Jarvis Thompson’s] violinist once you are attached. You don’t aim at his death, but instead remove yourself because you don’t think you have the duty to support his life with your body…. Some abortions are indirect and better understood as refusals to aid (pp 82-83).

Perhaps there are some readers who will find Camosy’s argument convincing, but I am not sure that many faithful Catholic readers will agree that it is consistent with settled Catholic doctrine.

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As one who is hardly a bystander in the abortion wars, I wanted to like this book. As an incrementalist who celebrates every small step in creating policy to protect the unborn, I had high hopes that this book would at last begin to bridge the divide. A decade ago, in my own book, The Politics of Abortion, I joined the argument begun by writers like Marvin Olasky in his Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion in America, that it is more effective to attempt to change the hearts and minds of people than to create divisive public policy at the federal level. I share Charles Camosy’s desire to end the abortion wars—but this war cannot end until the real war on the unborn ends. This does not mean that the two sides cannot work together—battling it out at the state level—where there is the opportunity for the greatest success. But, complex philosophical arguments on whether RU 486 is a direct or indirect form of abortion are not helpful to these conversations.

Camosy must know that we can never really “end” the abortion wars as long as unborn children are still viewed as “aggressors” or “invaders” and can still be legally aborted. Faithful Catholics know that there is no middle ground on this—the pro-life side has to prevail in any war on the unborn. It can be done incrementally but ground has to be gained—not ceded—for the pro-life side. Besides, Camosy seems a bit late to the battlefield to begin with. In many ways, he seems to have missed the fact that the pro-life side is already winning many of the battles through waiting periods, ultrasound and parental notification requirements, and restrictions on late term abortion at the state level. More than 300 policies to protect the unborn have been passed at the state level just in the past few years. The number of abortions each year has fallen to pre-Roe era levels—the lowest in more than four decade.   Much of these gains are due to the selfless efforts of the pro-life community and their religious leaders. Yet, just as victory appears possible in many more states, Camosy seems to want to surrender by resurrecting the tired rhetoric—and the unconscious violinists—of forty years ago.

While it is disappointing, it is not unexpected considering Camosy’s last book lauded the contributions of Princeton’s most notorious professor, Peter Singer—the proponent of abortion, euthanasia and infanticide. Claiming that Singer is “motivated by an admirable desire to respond to the suffering of human and non-human animals,” Camosy’s 2012 book, Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond Polarization, argues that, “Though Singer is pro-choice for infanticide, on all the numerous and complicated issues related to abortion but one, Singer sounds an awful lot like Pope John Paul II.”  In a post at New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, a progressive organization led by Rev. Richard Cizik (a former lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals who was removed from his position because of his public support for same sex unions, and his softening stance on abortion) Camosy wrote that he found Singer to be “friendly and compassionate.”  Camosy currently serves on the Advisory Board of Cizik’s New Evangelical Partnership—where he has posted Peter Singer-like articles including: “Why Christians Should Support Rationing Health Care.”

One cannot know the motivations of another—we can never know what is in another’s heart so it is difficult to know why Charles Camosy wrote this book. It must be difficult to be a pro-life professor at Fordham University—a school known for dissenting theologians like Elizabeth Johnson. But, if one truly wants to advance a culture of life in which all children are welcomed into the world, it would seem that inviting Peter Singer to be an honored speaker to students at Fordham in 2012 is not the way to do it, nor would claiming that RU-486 “may not aim at death by intention.” Perhaps it is unwise to continue to critically review Camosy’s work from a Catholic perspective because it gives such statements credibility—and notoriety. But, as long as Camosy continues to claim that his writings and policy suggestions—including his newly proposed “Mother and Prenatal Child Protection Act”—are “consistent with defined Catholic doctrine,” faithful Catholics will have to continue to denounce them.

Reprinted with permission from Crisis Magazine. 

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