Monday, January 10, 2011

Abortion's Charade?

Note: As you can probably tell from the title, this will not be an uplifting read, so you have been warned.

Are America's liberals encouraging minorities to kill themselves off?

For years, blacks and Hispanics in America have been blaming conservative Republicans for all that ails them, but fresh proof surfaced last week that abortion represents one of the most dastardly tools in the disenfranchised voter's arsenal of self-destruction. A tool given to them on a silver platter by left-wing liberals.

As numbers gleaned from the City of New York's own statistics reveal, the abortion rate in America's largest city has hovered around 40% of all pregnancies for several years, but ticked up to 41% last year.

Of all pregnancies to black women in the five boroughs, a whopping 60% were aborted.

As New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan bemoaned at the interfaith press conference announcing the findings, that's "downright chilling."

While the overall number of abortions performed in New York City has dropped within the past decade, it's their percentage of total pregnancies that has risen to the point at which high-profile clergy in the city have been compelled to publicize it. Although historically, Catholics have waged the most vociferous pro-life campaign in the Big Apple, they have help this time from the Chiaroscuro Foundation, a relatively new non-profit founded by one of the city's elite financiers, Sean Fieler, who happens to be socially conservative.

I might also add that my candidate for New York's 15th Congressional District, Michel Faulkner, was among the city's religious leaders hosting the press conference discussing the city's depressing abortion statistics.

Abortion, Eugenics, and Politics

Not that abortion is a new problem. Or that it's even more widespread now than it's ever been. Indeed, since abortion's been legal for so long, it's almost become invisible again. When it was still a crime, abortion was nevertheless a component of birth control practices, albeit more clandestine. These days, its hard to know if legalization has made abortion more widespread, or simply more widely available. But it doesn't really matter anyway, does it? One abortion is one too many.

Some might be further dispirited to learn that Archbishop Dolan has given up trying to eradicate abortion completely. Ruefully, he admits having to lower his expectations to simply making abortion "rare." Which, obviously, is a comparative term, and marginally less satisfactory than what many right-wingers might like. But hey - with the moral and ethical slide we're experiencing in the United States these days, every baby saved needs to count as a victory.

Like abortion, eugenics has been around for a while, although the height of its public popularity may have been in the first half of the 20th Century. Simply put, it's the practice of culling disfavored characteristics in humanity through artificial birth controls. Hitler was perhaps history's most famous proponent of eugenics. He combined barbaric tools for eliminating unwanted peoples and traits with propaganda encouraging archetypal Germans to procreate, populating the Third Reich with wholesome specimens of the Aryan race. To the extent abortion could weed out undesirables, Germany incorporated it into its arsenal of despicable social experimentation.

Birth Control and Margaret Sanger

One of America's early advocates for eugenics, Margaret Sanger elicited the ire of religious conservatives across the country with her incessant passion for birth control. Although she's been vilified as an indiscriminate abortionist, however, Sanger personally claimed abortion was immoral and unsuitable for birth control, although she agreed that in situations where the life of the mother is at stake, abortion should be among the medical options. I think even many modern pro-life advocates would at least begrudge that position.

Admittedly, if you maintain that any form of birth control represents an unGodly machination of natural procreation, Sanger will forever epitomize the evil face of inconsequential sex. However, for the many other conservatives who privately employ a variety of contraceptive techniques, Sanger's legacy may be less contentious.

After all, contraception, rather than abortion, drove Sanger's message. In her article "Contraceptives or Abortion?" she wrote, "I assert that the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace to civilization."

Sanger's first clinic was in an impoverished Brooklyn neighborhood. In her autobiography, she describes how she and her staff counseled young women there:

"To each group we explained simply what contraception was; that abortion was the wrong way - no matter how early it was performed it was taking life; that contraception was the better way, the safer way - it took a little time, a little trouble, but was well worth while in the long run, because life had not yet begun."

Of course, while this explanation doesn't absolutely refute abortion as a viable response to an unwanted pregnancy, it certainly isn't the stuff of abortion-mill proponents either, is it?

Indeed, Sanger's opinions and beliefs run the gamut from perplexing to downright audacious. For example, she sounds like a redneck racist when advocating birth control to manipulate minority populations. She rhapsodizes about racial purity in language that should make just about anybody today shiver with unease, yet she recognized Hitler's Germany was taking eugenics beyond even her definition of humanity. She called for immigration restrictions which would be considered strikingly conservative today, while calling for the sexual freedoms for which many liberals revere her. She advocated for greater sexual fulfillment among women, but preached against the evil of masturbation.

Abortion and the State

I don't pretend to be an admirer of hers, nor am I arguing that Sanger has been grossly miscast as an ardent abortionist. Rather, I think that for evangelicals to maintain a legitimate claim in the abortion debate, we need to parse facts from rhetoric.

The reason I'm wading deep into the background of Margaret Sanger isn't to give ammunition to those who insist I'm a closet liberal. I'm trying to construct here a larger thesis about abortion with her writings on the subject as supporting documentation.

Towards the end of her storied career, Sanger went on a tour of what was then the Soviet Union. In her autobiography, she describes her own chilling encounter with a male Russian official who was a staunch abortion advocate:

"I then gently brought up the subject of abortion. 'Doesn't [abortion] seem a ridiculous substitute for contraceptives?...Why is it such an act of enmity to advocate contraceptives rather than abortions?' ...To my horror, he replied, 'We will never give over the control of our numbers to the women themselves. What, let them control the future of the human race? With abortions it is in our hands; we make the decisions, and they must come to us.'

As bad as communism is, should we be surprised that the Soviets used abortion as a way to control their women and their population? If they did it, what's stopping America's liberal elite?

An Insidious Reason for an Insidious Problem?

Which brings me back to how I began this little essay. And at the risk of sounding like a lunatic, I'm going to be blunt. Has abortion become in our country a way for liberals to quietly let minority populations "control" their own numbers so that poverty doesn't get out of hand? Is abortion about "women's rights," or is it about allowing particular segments of the population to enjoy irresponsible sex with minimal repercussions? Is abortion just another perverse power play to keep minorities subjugated and beholden to the political left?

Now, I realize that sounds as preposterous as what some left-wingers claim right-wing conspirators have done. Perhaps it's as shallow as the rhetorical bluster from which I think conservatives should be abstaining. And maybe I'm giving in too much to my innate cynicism. But if even a birth control freak like Margaret Sanger held a dim view of abortion, how has it become such a big part of the family planning conversation today? Remember, she considered it murder.

Surely, of course, that's what abortion is. That's why Archbishop Dolan, Michel Faulkner, and other religious leaders in New York are aghast at the high numbers of abortion in their city. The only good thing to come out of an abortion - and even this sounds absurd - is that a precious life is granted eternity with Christ without ever having to be born to the person who wanted it dead.

To have so many black babies being aborted in my hometown doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. Until you think about my theory.

Which I hope is wrong.
Excerpts from Margaret Sanger: an Autobiography; Maxwell Reprint Company, 1970

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