Do You Really Want the Kind of World Where Abortion’s Okay?
We Need a Pro-Life Diogenes
In the past five parts of this series, I’ve poked around inside our fallen minds to see how they work. Specifically, how we first choose our worldviews. And then the arguments we use to justify them. Then later, the premises those rest on. All in service of the kind of world we’d prefer to believe that we live in. Whose final implications we don’t always dare to think about.
Yep, that’s how it works. All this, the better to understand what makes some otherwise decent people support legal abortion. Nice people, the kind who rescue dogs instead of fighting them, who wince at racial slurs, and give up their seats on the subway to pregnant women.
Each One of Us Is a Mixed Bag
People are complicated. Inconsistent. Each of us (save the saints) is a mixed bag, like a Trick or Treat sack that’s mostly Snickers bars, with just a few poisoned apples.
The same noble Romans who upheld the “virtues of the Republic” and commissioned great works of architecture let their hair down at the Colosseum, as gladiators slaughtered animals then turned to gut each other. Several of the men who founded our admirable free nation owned slaves. Even bought and sold them.
Our culture today pretends that it looks for purity. That’s the pretext for pulling down Confederate statues, and pretending that the U.S. was founded in 1964 by Rosa Parks. For “cancelling” Kate Smith because she sang a song that was popular among “negroes” at the time, but we have since decided is “racist.” Or for whatever the next act of cultural vandalism or censorship to come down the pike.
The Pro-Choice House of Glass
But in fact, the last thing nice, “Woke” pro-choicers want is to face all the implications of their worldview. They sense, on some level, that they live in glass houses built on sand atop the San Andreas Fault. That’s why they’re so keen to throw stones.
So we must make them face those implications. Lead them gently to the edge of the Gadarene cliff, and point to all the dead porkers down at the bottom. It’s the kind thing to do. We ourselves have gone astray in our own ways over the years. We’re glad God didn’t abandon us to our folly. So we ought to pay it forward.
A Pro-Life Diogenes
To make this more entertaining, think of Diogenes. This ancient Greek philosopher was one of the original Cynics. His school of thought existed to sharply critique the common man’s unexamined certainties. Diogenes walked around the city naked, doing rude and disgusting things, to shake people up. (Not the kind of person most of us would spend much time with, to be honest.)
But he served a purpose then, and we could use him now. Imagine a modern Diogenes on Youtube who wasn’t naked. No, he even more annoyingly dressed as a mime. Even worse, he wasn’t silent. He just liked the white face paint, irritating stripes, and French beret. This pro-life Diogenes would roam social circles where support for legal abortion seems obvious and beyond question. In other words, he’d go from an Ivy League college here, to a TV network there, then a lily-white hipster neighborhood full of pious anti-racists. His cover? That he’s a “performance artist.”
Do You Really Want to Believe That?
Wherever he went, Diogenes would barge into conversations to confront people with the terminal implications of the pro-choice premise I unearthed in my last column. Namely:
Pleasure as opposed to pain is the only important thing in life.
Sex is very pleasurable, and pregnancy often a pain in the neck.
So we want women to end their pregnancies, rather than limit their sexual activity to situations where they can stand being pregnant.
Women deserve absolute sovereignty over their bodies and pre-born children insofar as they need it for the sake of consequence-free recreational sex, because that creates the kind of world we want to live in.
Diogenes would rudely prod people to think through whether they really believe all that. Is the world that abortion makes possible really what they want? Deep down?
Diogenes at Yale
At Yale, Diogenes would barge into a party full of 18-year-olds drinking cheap beer and dancing to hip-hop under 30-foot carved Gothic ceilings. He’d walk up to a circle of young women ogling a guy who passed for an athlete in the Ivy League, and whispering to each other.
DIOGENES: Hi ladies. Or is that term offensive now? I can’t keep track. Assume I’m using in it a knowingly-ironic fashion, okay? I make it my business to mind other people’s, so I’m curious if you’re thinking of “hooking up” this evening.
I’ve heard that young women have taken up this practice. It’s too exhausting trying to shape young male sexuality into something remotely adult and human. So if you can’t beat them, why not join them, am I right? A good thing the campus clinic will vacuum out any children the man accidentally implants in you along the way. That way you can go right on imitating male attitudes and serving male desires, while telling yourselves that you’re “feminists.” And you’ll tell yourselves that doing this, maybe several times before you decide on a “wanted child,” doesn’t leave any scars on your soul. You might even “shout” your abortion, to drown out the guilt and the mourning, the sense of loss.
Meanwhile, you’d taught yourself that sex isn’t even one of the better means to bind yourself to someone you love. It’s just recreation, a noisy mode of yoga. But what would do it then? If sex is nothing special, what is? How do you and another person express lasting love, much less love for life? Give him one of your kidneys? Guarantee each other’s student loans? Once you’ve inflated the currency so it’s worthless, there’s no going back. How’s that going to feel when you’re fifty?
But have a nice evening, though! I hope you can find a guy here who’s into women.
Diogenes at Planned Parenthood
Next, Diogenes might stroll some Saturday morning up to a Planned Parenthood in the ghetto. (Weird, how the organization founded by a eugenicist racist who worked with Nazis puts most of its abortion clinics in places like that. What could be their motive?) Outside stand two picket lines. One consists mostly of blue collar, church-going women (some pushing strollers) plus a few friendly or grizzled old geezers and one or two earnest college students clutching rosaries or bibles. These he ignores. They probably already know that they’re sinners.
He turns his gaze instead on the pro-choice “clinic escorts.” These are mainly students from the nearby private college, bedecked with some nose-rings, but mostly dressed out of Abercrombie and Fitch. More women than men, but the women he leaves alone. It’s the guys who catch his interest. Tall, fair-skinned and fit, they look like ought to be at crew practice instead. But here they are, duly chanting slogans at 9:00 on a Saturday morning. (“Racist, sexist, anti-gay — anti-choice bigots go away!”) Diogenes sidles up to one of them in a varsity lacrosse jacket.
DIOGENES: Kind of early in the day for politics, I’d say. But then, the quest for tail is a never-ending one, and I guess every nookie-feminist has to put in his time here, if he wants any street cred. I hope these girls are good and impressed that you’re standing up for “choice.” They probably think you’re being noble and disinterested, by strolling around here with them. Of course, you and I know what’s really on your mind. “Hos before embryos,” am I right? By the way, most of the kids getting snuffed out here at this location? They’re poor, black, Hispanic. Just tax burdens you won’t have to carry in future. I’m sorry, I meant to say you’re “reducing the carbon footprint,” and “saving the climate.” Yeah, that’s what I meant.
Diogenes at the IVF Clinic
Next Diogenes drops by a fertility clinic in some posh suburb. He sits down in the waiting room next to a prosperous forty-something couple.
DIOGENES: What a great place. I hear this clinic is state of the art. They’ve got a really high success rate doing IVF, and the freezers full of embryos on ice to prove it. How long have you two been trying to achieve a “product of conception?” Months, years? All that chemical birth control wreaks havoc on the organs, though. Almost as if producing other human beings exactly like us were a mystery that wasn’t amenable to our total control. As if babies weren’t something you order on an app like Grubhub.
What I wonder is this: When the doctors here tell you that you have to produce six, eight, or ten embryos, then pick how many and which ones you want to implant, how’s that going to feel? When they pop all the others in the deep freeze, or simply flush them, will that feel like you’re losing babies? Or just getting a pedicure?
And the one you picked, that you decided to call a “baby,” how soon will you start taking picture of him? Posting them on Facebook? Isn’t it weird that the baby’s status could change overnight if you decided you didn’t want him? Let’s say you found out he was likely to be retarded. Ouch, that’s an ugly word isn’t it? “Killing retarded babies” is a such a nasty way of putting things. How about “curing Down Syndrome”? That’s what the government in nice, pristine Iceland calls it. Let’s stick with that, I guess. If after all this money and trouble you have to “cure Down Syndrome,” will you just go back to the freezer and pick another one?
Will he then become a baby? How do you wrap your head around this stuff? Anyway, good luck, and best wishes for all your babies, even the ones you send to technological Limbo.
Diogenes at a Funeral
Finally, fittingly, Diogenes shows up at a modern funeral. Or rather a “remembrance service,” since the body has already been cremated. The ashes now sit in a tasteful ceramic urn, which the widow crafted herself at a local pottery studio. Family members and friends stand around a gleaming platform made for a casket, where the urn looks a little … paltry.
The Unitarian minister in a lime green hemp vestment has just finished his vague, consoling remarks. The group hasn’t yet dispersed, so Diogenes climbs up at the microphone.
DIOGENES: Sorry, none of you know me. And I didn’t know the deceased. No disrespect intended. I hope, as all of you do, that he achieved many more moments of pleasure than pain. I hope he had lots of sex, with lots of really attractive people. Maybe with some of you. Perhaps those acts even generated one or two of you, biologically. In that case, my condolences on the loss of a parent.
I hope that the person whose body was reduced to this (tasteful!) jar of ashes had fun. That his happy moments total completely outweighed the moments of meaningless, pointless, irredeemable suffering. For your sakes, I hope that thinking of him gives you pleasure instead of pain. If that’s true, you should remember him, and think about him often. But if it doesn’t, then you should put this senseless tragedy out of your minds immediately. Because what’s the point? You only live once, if that. Life’s a beach and then you wash up on one. YOLO! Peace out.
Then he drops the mic, and walks off, alone.
John Zmirak is a Senior Editor of The Stream, and author of the new Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism.