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 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.
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 terrorize 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 equalizer,” 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, legalized 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 favorite 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-defense 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 war zone 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.