Distortions And Evasions

     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.


  1. It will take time. Families have to learn to not consider an extra seat at the table to be a tragedy. People have to stop pressuring women/girls to abort inconvenient pregnancies – which, the fact that the process will be both more expensive and more time-consuming will tend to help.

    If eventually, most states permit abortion only until about 3-4 months, it will mean that women who want to keep their babies against opposition only have to pretend not to be pregnant for a few months – not all that hard. And, for many women/girls, either birth families or the father of the baby are the ones that are putting the pressure on them.

  2. There are other factors as well — some of them imposed upon us by the Omnipotent State:

    “The structure of that society was far distant from ours. Extended families and clans such as we admire were very few. Even intact nuclear families had become exceptional. Many children never knew their fathers. Many couples consciously averted the possibility of conception their whole lives long. A great many women regarded childbearing and child rearing, not as a fulfillment and an honor to be cherished, but as costs, nuisances, and impediments to commercial achievement, or artistic expression, or social access.

    “My Bakunin colleague would say that the typical family was limiting its total economic exposure by having very few children or none, since the expense of child-rearing in a heavily regulated State exceeds any other expense by a considerable margin. Parents wanted their children to ‘have it all,’ as the saying went, but with such a large State burden, which not only reduced the family’s effective earnings but dramatically increased the price of every good for sale, most couples couldn’t square that desire with a family of Hope’s typical size….

    “When Earth’s regard for families and their most fundamental function deteriorated, her people ceased to enjoy the sorts of ties that had held them together throughout the history of Man. Without families, and especially without children, they groped for other things to fill their time, whether to give them a sense of purpose, or to distract them from the waning of their lives. Some invested themselves in industry or commerce, but without the sense of the family line to be built up and made prominent, those things failed to satisfy. Others immersed themselves in games, toys, fripperies, and increasingly bizarre forms of entertainment, which palled on them even faster. Still others made a fetish out of sex; there was a substantial sex industry on Earth, though it tended to operate in the shadows and was seldom openly discussed. They needed emotion and substance, but all they could contrive was sensation and novelty, and they pumped an ever greater share of their effort and wealth into seeking them. That’s my thesis, for what it’s worth.”

    — Arne Stromberg, Edmond Genet Award winner and Professor of Sociology at Gallatin University, the foremost institution of higher learning on Hope. —

    Indeed. Given the exactions the State lays upon us, it’s sometimes difficult to believe that couples are willing to have any children at all.

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