Dan Gigloff of US News reported yesterday that a number of anti-abortion groups – specifically citing the US Conference of Catholic Bishops – are opposing an Obama administration attempt to bridge the Culture Wars by offering a comprehensive package to reduce abortions including contraception and sex education. This prompted a few responses in the liberal blogosphere.
It’s precisely because of stances like this that it’s very hard to take the “abortion is murder” crowd seriously when they say abortion is murder. Their revealed behavior indicates that they don’t actually find abortion especially problematic, but just place it on a spectrum containing a general aversion to women controlling their own sexuality
Those People We Want To Find Common Ground With?
Aren’t interested. I’m shocked!
The fact that these two prominent liberals both take such idiotic positions astounds me. Though I have to give Yglesias credit for not faulting Obama for the outreach – as Atrios seems to be doing. Yglesias instead seems to be describing “the Obama Method” at work. And to be clear – I think Obama is doing the right thing here and should keep these two initiatives together. It’s smart politics – and it makes sense to the majority of Catholics and other religious who believe that abortion is awful but contraception isn’t.
But the fact that these two people – who I normally find to be intelligent and worthwhile commentators – cannot understand the position the bishops are taking perhaps explains why the Democrats have had such trouble getting the Catholic vote.
Let me start by way of analogy: Knowing that Yglesias and Atrios opposed wars of choice, I could ask them to support a bill that was meant to reduce wars of choice by supporting coups d’etat in countries who we might otherwise invade. To back up my push, I would show statistically – over history – that such coups would reduce overall violence in the globe. Now, if Yglesias or Atrios rejected this compromise, it wouldn’t mean they didn’t really oppose wars of choice. It would mean that they didn’t think two wrongs made a right. It wouldn’t mean they were appeasers and pacificsts. And for me to claim it did would be nothing but political theatre.
Back to abortion and contraception: the Catholic Church has officially opposed contraception and abortion through much of its history – and certainly for hundreds of years. The justification has changed over the years – evolved it is said – but the basic foundation has remained the same – and this foundation is not the subjugation of women as Yglesias flatly states. Yglesias reveals a prejudice here, grounded as most prejudices are, on ignorance.
The foundation of the Churhc’s policy is a perverse view of sexuality that sees its only redeeming value as procreation. Many Catholics do not live as if this were true – and many reject it – but it remains (with a few qualifications) the official position. This is why the Catholic Church opposes masturbation, blow jobs, dildos, plastic vaginas, anal sex, pornography, prostitution, etc. Given this, it is pretty clear why the bishops view both contraception and abortion as wrong. The Church has even condemned the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS – which is incredibly irresponsible – but it goes to demonstrate their consistency on this issue.
It’s not about oppressing women. And it’s not about bad faith. To suggest such indicates a kind of ideological blinkering I most often see on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. To top it all off, it certainly alienates Catholics – even the majority who disagree with the Church’s position.
It behooves intelligent liberals such as Yglesias and Atrios to actually respond to the Catholic bishops’ position on the merits rather than resorting to prejudiced caricatures.
[Image by Lawrence OP licensed under Creative Commons.]