Yesterday, I stumbled across a quote by Tertullian on abortion at the same time that I received an email promotion for two movies on abortion. Today I was going through some old files, and I found a letter I sent to “The Guardian” (the one at WSU in Ohio, not England) back in 1996 when my wife was pregnant with our third child. I was responding to a letter or article by someone named Craig Naiper.
I’m posting the letter as it was written as a way to preserve it for myself, because I find it interesting that my views haven’t changed, and I am dismayed that abortion is generally not a relevant political topic in 21st century America. I also can see the seeds of a way of thinking that have since solidified. I dislike abstractions. Jesus always dealt with the concrete person before him.
Mr. Craig Napier
c/o The Guardian
In your brief note in the May 1 issue of “The Guardian,” you wrote, “I don’t really believe words by a man are relevant in a situation that he is not bonded to by body or blood.” In other words you are rephrasing the current trendy cliché that when it comes to abortion, “men should have no say.” (At least that is what I believe is implied in your statement. If it’s not, then most of what follows will be wasted space.)
The problem with your thinking, and with the reasoning of those who think this way (I usually refer to them, for convenience sake, as liberals even though that word has been so devalued and distorted it has lost any real meaning), is that you create generalized, abstract conceptual frameworks and then seek to impose them, by force of law if necessary, upon concrete people in particular circumstances.
The major problem with “liberalism” in the waning of the twentieth century is that its practitioners believe themselves to be beyond moral categories, so they anoint themselves the arbiters of truth for the “unenlightened.”
Well, no one has anointed you, or anyone else, with the authority to tell my wife and me that I, as a man, have no say what-so-ever in choices that effect our children while they are in her womb, and no one made you, or anyone else the arbiter of whether or not I have anything relevant to say?
I am the father of three [now five, two adopted]. One is as yet unborn, but she has a name already; it’s [deleted for safety]. She has a heart that beats, two kidneys, ten fingers, ten toes, and a normal, fully functional brain. I can feel, and actually see, her move inside my wife. She is due on June 30th.
All this is not particularly relevant to my point, but it is very relevant to me, so forgive the digression. My point is this: my wife and I decided before we ever married that all of our decisions would be mutual. Now you might say that she merely allows me a say in this regard which means that she is the real decision maker, but this is not true.
If I may make a comparison. Let’s say there is a family and the man works outside the home, and the woman, by mutual consent, stays home with the kids, or vice versa as in my case, and they have a joint checking account, and the woman goes out and buys an orbital sander. (Well why not? What did you think I was going to say- a dress?)
Since she did not “earn” that money in the marketplace, is the man merely allowing her to have a say in how it’s spent, making him the real authority? To argue this is to misunderstand the fundamental nature of marriage- oneness. This is not just some meaningless buzzword found in poetry and music; it is as much a descriptive statement of the reality of marriage as πr2 is a description of the area of a circle.
This is why sex and child rearing should wait until after marriage. If you do not understand how two people can actually be one in all aspects, thus giving both a say in all decisions, then it is because you are bounded by a cultural worldview that won’t allow your mind to make the necessary paradigm shift. However, please don’t presume to tell my wife and me who gets to make which decisions in our relationship, and don’t tell us which of us has anything relevant to say about our children’s well-being.
In trying to reason in a general, abstract way about mankind, or humankind if you would rather, you actually end up engaging in tyranny in a particular way; by telling concrete men and women everywhere, in all times, and in all circumstance that despite what they as individuals may choose for themselves, there is only one “correct” policy, which is that men have no say, and that only certain people have relevancy to policy debates in a democracy.
This is the exact same flaw, just a different form, as the one made by those who protested the newspaper’s inclusion of a particular advertisement [context of Napier’s letter, I presume. I have forgotten.] They were arguing that their belief, pro-choice, be imposed, in the form of censorship, on those who disagree. You are arguing, if in fact you believe that fathers should have no part in the abortion decision making process, that your belief be binding upon me. My wife and I can decide for ourselves.
Besides the above argument, there is another reason, one extremely vital to our country’s current social problems, why your statement about men’s relevance is wrong-minded. One of our gravest problems is that we are becoming a fatherless nation. I do not have any current statistics on hand, but more and more children are being fathered by men who, in many cases, are already fathers to other children through different women, and who, in few cases, take any responsibility for any of the children they father.
On top of this, there are abusive fathers who beat their children, dead-beat dads who skip out on them, and workaholic fathers who ignore them. All your statement about men’s relevancy does is make it easier for men to shirk their responsibilities and ignore their mistakes. You can’t argue that a man has no say in whether his children even get to live or not and then expect him to hang around and raise them.
There is another fallacy in your brief comments. You use a line from the poem, “Just Becuz U Believe in Abortion Doesn’t Mean U’re Not Pro-Life,” where Laini Mataka writes, “I thank Mother-God for the technology that allows a woman to free herself from the possibility of becoming a horrible mother.”
Can’t you see the glaring contradiction in this reasoning? You can’t stop being a horrible mother by becoming a hideous one can you? Can she become better by becoming worse? Maybe stating it as an oxymoron would help: you suggest she becomes a life-giving murderer, a nurturing destroyer, a benign cancer or that she engages in benevolent infanticide.
Abortion is an absolute, complete, and final act of violence against a child for an adult’s self-interest. Ms. Mataka, and you (since you offer her quote as a homily for our edification), argues that a woman who knows she would make a bad mother somehow redeems herself by killing her child.
If she knows, with enough certainty to kill her child, that she would make a bad mother, then she should abstain from intercourse, period. If she doesn’t do that, then she doesn’t somehow elevate and ennoblize herself by killing the child, as you and Ms. Mataka suggest.
Your reasoning in both regards discussed in this letter shows how your arguments are, if I may be allowed another oxymoron– a flash of darkness.