My responsibilities to my Gentle Readers are more extensive than you might imagine. Yes, I’m here to provide analysis and commentary. Yes, I’m here to dissect the statements of others who don’t always express themselves clearly. But alongside those duties, I’m also here to pull the wool off your eyes – to tell you, and anyone else who might wander in, when you’re being deceived, and how and why.
Deceptions take many forms. The one that most concerns me at the moment is an old bug-bear of mine: the deliberate distortions of words.
He who deliberately perverts a word, employing it to mean something it has never meant and will never mean, is a deceiver of the first stripe. Such persons are many today. The nostrums they’re selling point in the general direction of death. See this collection of essays for my thoughts on such things to date.
Sometimes the distortions are relatively easy to penetrate. That’s especially the case with some of the more blatant Death Cult propaganda. Remember this one?
WASHINGTON — The House voted decisively Thursday for the first ban of an abortion procedure since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling that women have a right to end their pregnancies. Strongly supported by President Bush, the bill could be on his desk for signature in days….
“Don’t ever forget, this is about Roe v. Wade,” said Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., referring to the 1973 Supreme Court decision making abortion legal. “It’s about restricting access to safe medical procedures throughout a pregnancy.”
I added the emphasis in the above. Nita Lowey knew what she was about. Rather than call abortion what it is – killing an unborn human baby – she called it a “safe medical procedure.” I greeted that distortion at The Palace of Reason, when the subject came up there:
Safe for whom? It’s certainly not safe for the baby.
But of course, that confronts the pro-abortion advocate with something he dares not deign to acknowledge. He’ll probably call you a sexist for daring to say it.
It’s better to rap such a person’s teeth with the truth about his intentions, rather than to proffer it to him as gently as I did. Watch how it ought to be done:
“[E]ven the ancient pagans noticed that Nature imposes nothing on you that Nature doesn’t prepare you to bear. If that is true even of a cat, then is it not more perfectly true of a creature with rational intellect and will—whatever you may believe of Heaven?”
“Shut up, damn you, shut up!” she hissed.
“If I am being a little brutal,” said the priest, “then it is to you, not to the baby. The baby, as you say, can’t understand. And you, as you say, are not complaining. Therefore— “
“Therefore you’re asking me to let her die slowly and— “
“No! I’m not asking you. As a priest of Christ I am commanding you by the authority of Almighty God not to lay hands on your child, not to offer her life in sacrifice to a false god of expedient mercy. I do not advise you, I adjure and command you in the name of Christ the King. Is that clear?”
[Walter M. Miller Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz]
The power of that passage has remained with me for sixty years. It’s a brilliant illustration of the proper reply to one who seeks to deceive – yea verily, even if the one she seeks to deceive is herself. The riposte needs to be forceful – even brutal. Breaking through a shield of self-deception will always require great force, because the deceiver and the deceived are one and the same.
Self-deception we must not permit.
Self-deception isn’t confined to the Left. They do a lot of it, true, but we do our share right along with them. A lot of people in the Right are doing it over the very same subject: abortion.
The overruling of Roe v. Wade was a good and constructive first step. Yet it’s not more than a first step. Too many pro-lifers are treating it as a grand victory rather than a modest entering wedge.
The Alito opinion merely returns authority over the subject of abortion to the state governments, in keeping with the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. In no state in which abortion is currently legal has it been rendered illegal by that opinion. State legislatures must first have their say, and we cannot be certain what they will say until they’ve said it.
Those states dominated by the Left will probably leave abortion legal. The rulers’ constituents want it that way, and the rulers fear to be turned out of office. Those states in which the Right is dominant will probably outlaw or restrict abortion. The rulers of those states know their constituents equally well. But there are other forces in play, some of them not very nice. They make certitude unwise.
If we want women not to seek abortions, we must work on the beliefs and attitudes of the women themselves. Abortion in the earliest stages of gestation is easily concealed under another name – “menstrual extraction” is the usual term – so even should abortion as such be outlawed nationwide, abortions that the law can’t touch will still occur. The only way to reduce them in number is to get women to accept the sanctity of human life, including unborn human life.
Whatever we might wish, this drama has more acts to play out. The Dobbs decision has given us an opportunity, nothing more. We who are pro-life must not evade the necessity of further, certain-to-be grueling work…especially not to ourselves.