Sunday, February 19, 2012

Is Cultural Conflict Inevitable?

The Editors of The New Republic published "The Increasingly Disturbing War Against Women’s Rights" last Friday, where they lamented, "It’s hard to pinpoint where the current upsurge in dismissive rhetoric about women’s rights began. Anti-abortion sentiment has long been a staple of right-wing politics, of course."

Well, at least since 1973.

Further down the page, they said,
We would all prefer to live in a world without deep conflicts over cultural issues. But that is not the world in which we live. Over the past generation, women have gone from being second-class citizens to being full and equal partners in American life. The ability of women to make their own reproductive decisions—on both birth control and abortion—has been a central part of this revolution. Defending and expanding on these gains should not be a side-issue for liberals: It is a core component of our political philosophy. If conservatives are going to pursue a rollback of women’s rights, then there must be no doubt that liberals are prepared to make a strong and unambiguous stand.
I, too, would prefer to live in a world without deep conflicts over cultural issues. I cannot think of many people who find glee in polarizing themselves from other human beings over belief systems, much preferring the common ground.

But perhaps our table manners end there. Citizen rights in this country revolve around three declarations of the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to pursue happiness. No one has the right not to be accountable for their actions, be it financial or social or moral. Accountability is a trust that one person is not going to harm another person, be it emotionally or physically.

In this case, artificial birth control and abortions are naturally violations of the right to life clause. Furthermore, I am disturbed that abstinence is so poo-poo'd as an acceptable possibility, or that the many types of natural birth control (e.g.Natural Family Planning) which help women both achieve and avoid pregnancy using the natural rhythms and ovulation cycles of their body, are not widely discussed as viable alternatives.

While it is true that sex is not only for reproduction, but it can never exclude it. To suppress a woman's reproductive abilities is to deny a woman the only leverage she has over a man: her body can nurture the baby created within, and her body can give birth to the child. A man can only give so much, while the woman becomes the embodiment of love and creation for that little being.

If women wish to suppress their reproductive abilities, that is their private business. But expect a public backlash. Expect people not wanting to pay for medicine for others, especially if the drug conflicts with consciences and is for an otherwise healthy patient. Expect people, who see the life within the womb as something precious and with dignity, to not stand by as the mother expresses willingness or want to kill her child.

As Thomas Becket says in T.S. Eliot's 'Murder at the Cathedral,' "You argue by results, as this world does,/ To settle if an act be good or bad./ You defer to the fact. For every life and every act/ Consequence of good and evil can be shown."

I, too, am tired of the cultural divide. My fingers grow weary as I type this. I am currently reading The Hunger Games, and it makes me wonder if anyone today would say it is okay for the government to force people to fight to their death for the sake of entertainment. One person's life may seem expendable, but what of your own? How can you argue against another person's life while valuing your own? How unjust? How heartless! How illogical!

March for Life Mass at the Verizon Center
I weary of the abortion debate and I weary of my government and its HHS mandate, claiming the higher moral ground of "women's rights" and like. Only fools use brute force to convince the masses. Because I will never be convinced that abortion is right, or a right. What are those mothers-to-be so afraid of? How can such a small babe bring so much terror that they must first be eliminated? How the unknown is unnerving.

Women, join the cause! Speak out! Offense will be made. It simply is no longer personal. It's not condemning women; it's redeeming the sacredness of the body, and it is pro-women if we save the life of more women by allowing them to be born. At center stage, it does not matter how many sexually-active Catholic women have used birth control. Life is not a numbers game. We owe our loyalty to God's law and should not pledge allegiance to misguided words. We follow a higher law and over 2,000 years of wisdom.

Professor Helen Alvare of George Mason University is looking for women in the personal and professional spheres to send her your name, city, state to add to her open letter to Congress, in defense of our first amendment Constitutional rights. This issue is not only about Catholicism's stand against any degradation of life-- it is about protecting and upholding our country's Constitution.

Please see the letter below:

We are women who support the competing voice offered by Catholic institutions on matters of sex, marriage and family life. Most of us are Catholic, but some are not. We are Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Many, at some point in their career, have worked for a Catholic institution. We are proud to have been part of the religious mission of that school, or hospital, or social service organization. We are proud to have been associated not only with the work Catholic institutions perform in the community – particularly for the most vulnerable -- but also with the shared sense of purpose found among colleagues who chose their job because, in a religious institution, a job is always also a vocation. 
Those currently invoking “women’s health” in an attempt to shout down anyone who disagrees with forcing religious institutions to violate deeply held beliefs are more than a little mistaken, and more than a little dishonest. Even setting aside their simplistic equation of “costless” birth control with “equality,” note that they have never responded to the large body of scholarly research indicating that many forms of contraception have serious side effects, or that some forms act at some times to destroy embryos, or that government contraceptive programs inevitably change the sex, dating and marriage markets in ways that lead to more empty sex, more nonmarital births and more abortions. It is women who suffer disproportionately when these things happen.
No one speaks for all women on these issues. Those who purport to do so are only attempting to deflect attention from the serious religious liberty issues currently at stake. 
Each of us, Catholic or not, is proud to stand with the Catholic Church and its rich, life-affirming teachings on sex, marriage and family life. We implore President Obama and our Representatives in Congress to allow religious institutions to continue to witness to their faith in all its fullness. 
Helen M. Alvaré
Associate Professor of Law
The culture divide is great. Let us pray and persist!

In addendum: As the cultural divide is great, so is the range of writing. A reminder to keep conversation civilized and truth-seeking.

‎"Nothing is more certain than that our manners, our civilization, and all the good things which are connected with manners, and with civilization, have, in this European world of ours, depended for ages upon two principles; I mean the spirit of a gentleman, and the spirit of religion." --Edmund Burke, as quoted by Russell Kirk

1 comment:

  1. Trying to hide their ruling class culture war in patently ridiculous rights talk. They want no one reading this from the Family Research Council

    "• In population, the culture of monogamy is fertile and expanding while the
    culture of polyamory is below replacement and contracting.
    • The culture of monogamy is inexpensive while the culture of polyamory is
    very expensive."