I just saw a delightful piece of Pro-Life propaganda. I'm pro-life, but it was still propaganda. Stop acting like it is a dirty word!
Anyway, the sentiment was that President Obama would rather his grandchildren aborted than his daughters become responsible mothers. This was drawn from a statement when he said "I would never punish my daughters with a baby," a couple years back. The conclusion drawn is the most extreme one, and probably not what President Obama meant while pandering to another political lobby. But, still, the line of thought is inherent to saying one's daughter's having a baby is a punishment for poor decision making (you should have had a condom!!!).
I say that he probably didn't mean such things because he seems to be a kind-hearted man, a rather weak one in my opinion. After all, he is a politician. Before someone goes crazy, I do not think that ALL politicians are weak, but rather that they are prone to certain weaknesses that come with the territory of having to have people like you to stay in office to do anything at all. Keep in mind, that none of this would be this way without Andrew Jackson and the like. Jefferson believed in the people, but was still an elitist and felt that people who were trained to do so should run the government. That's the whole purpose of the electoral college etc. Additionally, the president was not the most powerful position initially. Again, that is something that happened due to Jackson's presidency. But, I am not here for a history lesson.
The point is, with the popular vote actually being important these days, politicians have to walk a fine line. In general, most will not go out right and say certain things unless it is too their advantage. Politicians tend not to be built for any real conviction or, if they once were, shed that ability for the sake of office.
In this regard, I can say that Obama was being rather brave. The topic of abortion is a hot button issue, and going out right for abortion as a President, is a rather big deal. He's still wrong, but even the Russians love their children, right?
In any case, like most politicians, I am willing to wager that he has maybe had one introductory philosophy class (okay, so this entire section of this blog was kind of ad hominem. Forgive me, but I cannot trust politicians and I am hoping that will become more evident later. This can also be considering poisoning the well...but, anyway). As a novice philosopher, he surely does not easily come to the logical conclusions of what he says. Richard Dawkins is a brilliant bioligist, but a failure as a philosopher because he does something similar.
Essentially, what we are dealing with is a form of sophistry, that has only become necessary because of how our government works. In a monarchy, there isn't much public opinion can do unless it spawns a revolution. In our government, it can be near about everything. A president cannot continue for another four years if the public opinion has generally swayed away from his favor (though, there are exceptions). So, President Obama is participating in sophistry and poor philosophy.
Here is what he is missing, his statement does imply that he would rather his daughters have an abortion than carry the child to term. His assertion additionally implies that pregnancy is a punishment for poor planning. Actually, it goes beyond simply implications and veers directly into outright saying that it IS a punishment.
Now, I could say, 'how can he say that, pregnancy is so natural,' but that would not be the best argument to make. After all, a lot of things are natural but really dangerous and detrimental to human life and aspirations. For example, there are natural things like cancer, HIV, or the flu (which isn't really a thing apparently...). These are things that do harm to human life, but occur in the natural world without human assistance. They just happen.
On another point of view, sexuality is natural, but what sort of sexuality is good is often up for debate. How are we to tell what natural things are GOOD things? Well, by using our noggins and doing the noodle dance, of course.
In older societies, let us not forget that they were societies, this was discovered by using what we term as natural law. Essentially, it is looking at the world as it is and looking for the ends, or teleology, that natural things appear to be oriented toward.
For sex, people thought, 'what is the teleology of sex?' In the end, an overwhelming majority decided that sex was for procreation and some felt for unity as well. So, what is a good sexual act? It would appear to be one that has, at least, the possibility of producing children, which societies cannot continue without. You have to replace all the old people, you know! Silly old people.
So, let's look at it that way. Pregnancy, what is the purpose of it? What is its teleology? Obviously, pregnancy works within sexuality to produce the next generation. Its purpose is to bring new life into the world to replace the old (in the simplest terms). Without pregnancy, mankind was not going to survive. This clearly means that pregnancy must be a good thing! Why else would there be fertility banquets and deities?
However, despite most of the world agreeing with this thought, there have ALWAYS (abortion isn't new people) been those who find particular pregnancies to be highly inconvenient or unfortunate for various reasons.
Can a pregnancy be inconvenient? Certainly. Can it be unfortunate? If it is doing what it should do and producing life? Not in my opinion. Not in any understanding of its teleology can it be unfortunate, unless it turns out that life isn't good and we need to avoid having children.
Parts of our society (and parts of others) are of the belief that unfortunate, as well as inconvenient, pregnancies can occur. To alleviate what they see as a problem, they feel abortions should be allowed. After a while, our government agreed and we got Roe v. Wade. This is kind of the result of the feminist movement which, in part, advocated for women to gain more control over the whole birth thing.
While I find portions of the feminist movement spot on and good (such as the fact that women CAN do a lot of things like men can and should get paid the same to do the same work), but this is where things get a bit dodgy. For one, what does it mean to have control over one's reproductivity? Does it necessarily lend itself to the ability to terminate unwanted pregnancies or children? Does it necessarily mean that women should take a pill that effectively eliminates (sort of) their ability to have children until they desire? Does it have to mean that children are a burden and should be prepared for as one prepares to do something burdensome? You know, with a big sigh and the pulling up of one's britches as you dig into the life of parenting.
I think it is in the control of reproductivity where we have gotten confused and off-track. This is also tied in the unfortunate tendency of certain feminists trying to advance women by making them into men. Let me explain:
When I say that some feminists try and make women into men, I mean that they try to eliminate ALL distinctions between the two sexes. Is it really so bad that men and women ARE, in general, built differently? Their development is divergent, it makes perfect sense to insist that men and women are different creatures that lend themselves more towards certain things than others.
Men hunted because they were built for it, and women cooked because SOMEONE had to. It was not necessarily oppression. Just because some men have used it as such does not mean that's how it started or how it ever should have been. Women did "women's work" because the men had work of their own to attend to. Men passed down their "man skills" to their sons and women passed their "lady skills" to their daughters. This was not done with the intent of placing a glass ceiling over the life of their progeny, but to keep people going and to help them know how to do so.
Nowadays, it is quite true that this distinction is far less necessary. But, is that a completely good thing? The old shape of society tied men to work in such a way that, their not working eliminated their worth as a person. Even a woman who works will consider her husband (though not always) a deadbeat if he is not working as well. For whatever reason, whomever works outside of the home forgets that the home is its own work and is just as honorable. For years, it was just ungrateful men who took their wives and their wifely duties for granted. But not, it is perfectly acceptable for a woman to consider her husband a deadbeat for not having a job. I could be wrong about this, but I get the feeling that, even if they are working and make enough for the whole household, a woman desires for her husband to be working, too. There is something odd about a man sitting at home and being with the kids all day. Is it a bad thing? No, but it is still treated as such because people cannot seem to get past this idea of being in the home as being the same as being in a prison.
Let's be real, when has a woman throughout the whole history of mankind been chained to the kitchen? When you go to someone's house, where the traditional mold is in place, does the house more reflect the woman, or the man? If you mess up the house, who is more likely to beat you? The entire home was the feminine domain and it was an incredibly important job. The entire early childhood of every child depended on the women folk (and let's keep in mind that families were less fragmented). The village raised the children, but a lot of preliminary and extra work was done by the mothers, grandmothers, and elder sisters of said children. Did this mean that mean could not do such things? No. But, it also does not mean that the person at home is doing nothing, no matter who it is. Both parties, truly, are at work. Just because it is not work as we seem to recognize it today, does not mean that it isn't work and certainly does not mean that it is worthless. Let's get that out of our heads, now. It is ruining families.
That said, there are things to be said for the traditional model, like it was done with some thought to natural law. In general, women are more attuned to the whole child-raising thing. There are hormones and various other things that are not conscious to the woman, that lead them down the road of desiring motherhood. Fatherhood, has always kind of been less like that. There are genetics involved that make men kind of want to do it with every pretty lady, but we can say that men become more into fatherhood (if things are going well) once the child is conceived. Think about every cute pregnancy movie you have seen where the father is a daft, affable fool who just wants to help his wife.
Why would we take pictures of us next to our significant other's bulging belly? That isn't terribly sexy by today's standards. Then again, today EVERYTHING has to be sexy, but that's for another post.
Is it sexist to say that one sex/gender tends to be more attuned to certain things than another? No, it is simple observation. Is it bad to recognize that some children are naturally better at somethings than others? Is it bad to note that some people can do almost everything well, while others cannot? No, it just makes them different, and all of it is beautiful. Please, let's revel in the differences between men and women.
That said, it is OBVIOUS that each sex/gender is going to have exceptions. Should the exceptions be attacked? No. Since our society is supposed to be freer, people should be able to make such choices. If someone wants to be a mother sooner rather than later (when it is healthier to do) is she necessarily throwing her whole life away? Even if they never got to do everything they dreamed of doing as a child, is having provided someone with a life and helping them grow a waste? Where are our priorities? Is not a quality life better than one filled with crap that probably won't make you happy? Have we not learned from movies like CLICK!?
Alright, so I digress and got a bit silly. My point still remains. If men and women were supposed to be exactly the same, it seems like both should be able to get pregnant, instead of just one. Seahorses (horsi?...i wish) live like this. There are plenty of asexual species with little individuality (just as there are many species who sex that have little individuality).
As it is, men and women are different. Let's celebrate that.
Now, I went through all of that to get here. Woman are the ones who can get pregnant. Women are the ones who have a certain level of oneness with the child before it can enter the world as a visible child. She shares her meals, anguish, and womb. The child is literally two in one, but only the mother gets certain privileges.
This makes me think of a Bill Cosby joke. He talks about raising his boy and the boy gets really good at football. The father, of course, taught the boy all that. But, when the big moment comes and the son is under the spotlight, all he says is 'hi, mom.' The father is important, in a different way, but kids tend to be more attached to the one whose breasts they suckled and who, more often than not, held them.
In all previous ages, the mother was the one who was there more often. Now, it can be the opposite, and should the man be penalized for that? I think not, that is TRUE SEXISM.
That still isn't what I want to say though. Brace yourselves, it is going to get worse...
Let me get back to what I started with, the idea that pregnancy can be a punishment. How can life be a punishment? Your body producing another human is terrible and ugly? How far we have fallen.
Pregnancy is natural and produces the greatest good most humans can think of: simply being alive. We need to change our thinking on this. Treating children as oppressions is not going to end well for anyone.
Do we really want women to have control of their reproduction? Yes and no. We need to stop acting as though reproduction is a one person thing. That's what we have done by separating sex from its natural consequence (in the sense that it means a result). It is simply about pleasure in our culture, the baby is an accident more often than not (at least that how it seems to be treated). We have forgotten that the pleasure part is probably (even on a natural, evolutionary view) there so we WILL procreate. The pleasure is not the most important part, as wonderful as it is.
We need to bring the man and the woman together to truly control reproduction. The Church has a method, it is called Chastity. Chastity is not just abstaining from sex. It is an entire system that engages all people. Nothing is truly private. How you do things in private are going to reflect how you do them in person. This is a simply truth.
If you are participating in infidelity, the family you leave behind, the woman you do it with, and even your social circle are affected. Particularly, when you get found out. When it is exposed, you see the effect of your once private actions. Things come out into the light eventually, why spend time hiding things in the dark? Your actions are going to make you treat your friends, children, and wife differently. Don't bring up excuses for your actions. There's always a reason for an action. Let's take some responsibility.
Chastity is found in fidelity, discipline, and love in its truest sense. The desire for the betterment of the beloved. You give up something you want for the sake of something even better.
In the world of chastity, a child is a gift, a reward. It is as the child should be. Behavior and the like are not what the child ARE, the little human animal does not yet know the way to be and must be shown the way. The child is a story that is just beginning. Nothing is yet set in stone. The child represents possibilities and those can be good things! Why are we so cynical? Why is a bit of trouble so terrible for us?
Forgive me, I am passionate about life and its goodness. I am someone who has suffered greatly in my own way, but can you not look at the sky and be lifted just a bit? Lift up your eyes, humans can be so much more! Why should we allow what is imprinted on our DNA dictate everything about us? Where is our choice? Liberals, who are often pro-Choice, tend to contradict themselves when they assert that people are born a certain way. There is no choice in that universe, how can you say you support choice? People aren't even allowed to choose not to engage in all of their desires without being accused of not being true to themselves.
Who are we to say who someone is, we silly, half-hearted creatures? We can only say who they are to us, and nothing more. Who they are is going to be up to them. We can only say who someone was in retrospect. You have to take the whole body of work. You can't stop at that one, awkward, experimental album. You can't stop with that loss in the NBA Finals. Fall down seven times, stand up eight. That is what makes us human, we are not stuck being what we were born as. A dog will always be a dog; a man who behaves as one, need not be.
So, I say we learn to use our choices properly. Law in no way inhibits one's choice. Otherwise, there would be no murders, thievery, or deception under oath. Making abortion safe and easy is not helping the women who get them (as a sidenote: most abortions are not done because the mother is in danger physically). It is crippling them. Making them unable to make choices. It gives them some license to be less careful because it views something they should be able to cherish is a problem to be solved. Pregnancy should be a joy, whatever the inconvenience. New life should be loved at all costs!
Teach our children how to use their bodies properly, teach them that they hold the power to give life and they should be careful. Be disciplined, learn charity. Know that it is beautiful, silly, powerful, and dangerous. Know that we have to make tough choices to refrain from certain actions for the sake of wisdom.
Alright, I am off my soapbox. The point is, the Church is right about what would solve the whole problem. It is the Church that is for choice and affirms that we are free. We are not a system or stuck in a system. We have choices to make.