Tag Archives: personhood

Thoughts from rhetoric in the last election

The anti-abortion cause is not actually about condoning rape or about hating anyone.

I know it is a crazy dream….infanticide has been a fact of life for every truly civilized society from the Ancient Near East to Classical Rome to Progressive Sweden….

But that odd rabbi came and changed everything. He said we really could, that we really could make everything in our ordinary human lives into something sacred, as a breath of love, through pain and degradation, to the end. And he stuck to his word too—beaten and bloody and nailed to a stake of wood. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

We can live in a world where we treasure the little ones, the weak, the mentally retarded, and all those more dear and precious and sacred than ourselves. And yes, all the little ones, those hurt and hated and *shameful* and abused—so even those called ‘products of rape’.

In the ‘despised of the earth’ is the incarnation of Christ. They ARE Christ to us. It is an honor to carry the burden of these little ones. Of course this world is dark, and there are times of hellish pain. But let us live through it, for a different kind of world. A world where the little ones, especially the malformed and sick little ones, are treasured–not politely discarded onto the scrap heap of utilitarianism.

Where we hold them in our arms, and treasure them to their last breath.

Can’t we live in a world like that?


The Catch-22 of Compassion in the Abortion Debate

We must try to see it from eachother’s perspectives, really try. I don’t mean just emoting, I mean understanding eachother’s reasoning too. Once you understand why they come to “those” positions, perhaps you will also better understand your own position.

If one tries to argue that a fetus is a human person, the debate does not–as one might expect–center around conflicting definitions of personhood. Rather, one is rebuked as hateful and cruel, for emotionally torturing women who have had abortions by making them into murderers.

Biological definitions and ultrasound images have no place in defining personhood. No, for nothing is as it seems, “only thinking makes it so” and as long as we don’t *think* of it that way, then nobody is guilty, but if a society starts thinking differently, then suddenly many people will feel guilty and be in great pain.

In other words–reality is culturally constructed. There is no place for any kind of empirical, scientific evaluation of data in the formation of our definitions.

So let us de-humanise the fetus, so that women will feel less pain. Right?

Fully 1/3 of women who experience miscarriages have suicidal thoughts, and most of the rest struggle with serious depression. Those who have not gone through it, or intimately known someone who has (and witnessed it firsthand), have absolutely no idea of this very peculiar and horrible pain.

It is the pain of loving into a potential, something that would have been, was, and yet wasn’t. There isn’t even anything tangible to hold onto, not even a photograph–just a little plastic thing that looks like a thermometer, with two pink stripes. And all those familial jokes and eager anticipation and food cravings, the projected due date and the mended baby clothes, the discussions and the dreams, now nothing but the passage of blood. No funeral, and there is no point in telling others because their casual compassion, as they smile and shrug it off, is twisting the knife in the wound, “You already have other children,” or “don’t worry, you’ll get pregnant again”. As if this loss was something completely replaceable, a carton of eggs, an “it”.

It is Rachel, weeping for her children, for they are no more. They aren’t even allowed to be deceased in our culture, just non-existent. This is a pain whose depths you will never fully understand until you go through it.

And it is a pain that is greatly increased by our present culture, which de-humanizes the ‘fetus’. “It” isn’t even allowed to be a human person. And so this culture, which tries so hard to diminish the pain of women, torments those in grief, who are denied even the personhood of the one they have lost.