Whole lotta sanctimony goin’ on

In an increasingly toxic political atmosphere, there is probably no issue more toxic than abortion. Both sides have spent so long erecting their ideological defences that any possibility of constructive dialogue went out the window at around the same time as flared corduroy. In fact, the abortion debate has long since stopped even really being about abortion at all: it’s simply become a convenient identifying badge. Pro or anti-abortion is now just a moralising proxy for left and right.

Jim Goad tries to cut through the sanctimonious baloney from both. quote.

I despise moralism with every last corrosive drop of my stomach acids, and it’s hard to think of a subject that induces more howling moralistic outrage than abortion.

Moralistic arguments are never about facts, they’re about crushing your opponent’s windpipe to prove that you’re more humane than they are, because crushing someone’s windpipe isn’t inhumane so long as you can hide behind some “good” cause to justify it.

On both sides of the abortion debate—and the only honest way to frame those two sides is “pro-abortion” and “anti-abortion,” forget all the deflection about “life” and “choice”—the blue-haired caterwauling harpies tie themselves in pretzels with contradictions […] end quote.

Goad is right: the partisans of neither side can really lay claim to much in the way of logical or ethical consistency. quote.

Still, both sides scream until blood sprays out of their mouths that they are the good side and the other side is evil…As with all moral arguments, what’s good and evil depends on whom you ask…The fetus obviously doesn’t have a choice in it, but I doubt that very many of them would opt to be aborted if they were given the choice. They’d probably view the prospect of their own preemptive extermination to be the ultimate evil. end quote.

The moral tyranny of both sides, and their absolute refusal to concede even the slightest ground to their opponents is locking the U.S. especially into a downward spiral of extremist absolutism. quote.

Liberal states seem to be legalizing abortion up until the newborn child is 18 years of age, while conservative states seem to be enacting the death penalty for women who even think of having an abortion. And again, both sides appear convinced they are on the side of good and their opponents are the very incarnation of evil. end quote.

But, as he is wont to do, Goad cuts through all the bullshit with brutal ease. quote.

Five years ago I wrote an essay about abortion that contained the following passage:

I think it’s OK to murder a fetus. It’s at least ethically better than putting a child through the slow death of being unwanted […] end quote.

Seems pretty unequivocal. But, in the five years since, Goad has reflected on not just friends who narrowly escaped being aborted, but his own brush with termination. quote.

I’ve told the following story many times—some would say too often—but I’ll dredge it up once more because it’s apropos to the topic at hand. My older siblings told me that when my mother was pregnant with me, my father punched her in the stomach, hoping to abort me. And although my life has been not quite a golden bucket of sunshine, I’m glad my father failed.

In my case I’m against abortion—not to save the life of the mother, but because a failed abortion attempt spared the life of this writer. end quote.

Do I agree? I’m not sure. Abortion is an issue on which I’ve become increasingly agnostic over the years. The only thing I’m sure of is that neither side has the moral high ground all to themselves, and that this is an issue I don’t expect to see settled amicably in the foreseeable future.