So weary are we all, those of us in the news media, those of us professionally engaged in government, those of us standing around on the sidelines staring open-mouthed at the undiluted hypocrisy of it all, that we sometimes miss the underlying patterns. What, for example, does the impeachment trial of Donald Trump have to do with Trump being the first US president to attend and speak at the March for Life rally? Two things. First, his appearance at the rally on Friday is all about getting reelected, just as his illegal engagement with the president of Ukraine was all about getting reelected. Second, just as Trump doesn’t give a crap about Ukraine as a country, Trump doesn’t give a crap about abortion. In fact, there is credible evidence to suggest that Trump has paid for 8 abortions for 8 different women. Privately, I don’t doubt for a second that he’d pay for 8 more abortions if it were in his perceived best interest to do so. He’d do it gladly and without hesitation, just as long as nobody found out about it and it didn’t hurt his chances to get reelected.
The March for Life rally has existed as long as the landmark Roe v Wade decision has been in force, 47 years. It was conceived as a Christian Right antidote to that Supreme Court decision. That the Christian Right came to regard abortion as the sine qua non of Christian causes didn’t happen organically, but was force-fed to them by Christian Right founder, theologian and philosopher Francis Schaeffer.
Schaeffer was, as I say, the father of the Christian Right, and it was he who first inculcated the whole notion that abortion isn’t just bad, it’s the single worst thing imaginable, the single most despicable thing that anyone can do – ever. In theory anyway. Like Schaeffer’s son Frank I am an escapee from that world and can see with – and I’ve been dying to say this in a double entendre sort of way for some time now – 2020 hindsight that the whole abortion bugbear is just that, a bugbear. Very few Christians actually give a crap about it. To be sure, some do. You can find loonies and True Believers in any movement, and the majority on the sidelines were and remain happy to let those fanatics represent them.
But the real question at its root is this: does the creation of the human soul (whatever that is and assuming it exists) happen at inception? The correct answer is: no one knows for sure. The incorrect answer is: Yes! Or: No! Depending on who you talk to. For my part, I seem to have a “me” that is separate from my physical body. But that might just be an illusion, or the result of years of habit using the English language, which has biased me to thinking about myself that way. I just don’t know, and I am content not knowing. I don’t feel the need to come down heavily on one side or the other, a useful way to feel when one lacks sufficient information.
But I do know this: when governments take away a woman’s right to make her own moral choice about the matter, far more evil comes from it than when they don’t. So it’s a no-brainer. Government should stay the hell out of the question, and leave the moral decision to the woman.
It’s particularly galling when a bunch of fusty old white men get together and make the decision to make abortion illegal again. They make the decision without a care in the world. After all, it doesn’t apply to them. They don’t have to worry about raising the kid. In fact, they’ll make some more laws making it doubly hard for the woman to raise the kid, particularly if she is poor or brown or unmarried, or all three. They’ll congratulate themselves with little anecdotes about all the possible little Beethovens they saved, and ignore the anecdotes about all the little Hitlers they also saved.
Besides, it’s hard to take seriously a movement that derives its moral authority from voices in its head. Pro-lifers generally leave the Bible out of it because there’s nothing in it that definitively forbids abortion. Therefore the “God told me” bit is all they have, and I don’t know about you, but I need something a little more substantial than that. I think passing laws based on voices in people’s heads is generally a bad idea.
So the people at the rally had this to say to Trump: “four more years” and “we love you.” I’m not saying that belief that abortion is bad because of voices in the head and being a supporter of Donald Trump are somehow connected. I just can’t think of another explanation.