Friday, May 29, 2009

On the Failure of a One-Issue Politics re: Abortion: Voice from My Past

As I've done a number of times recently, I'd like to cut and paste for this blog a tidbit I've found in my journals of the past, as I scan them for information these days.

The following journal entry is from January 1993. I wrote it as a small Catholic college in North Carolina expelled me from its midst. Though I had never written or taught anything at all about abortion, one of the charges made against me as I was given the death kiss by church authorities was that I was pro-abortion.

So I had to think the issue through, and I did so in my journals. This entry seems still pertinent to me:

Why a one-issue politics of abortion fails:

▪ It gives the impression that there is no other issue.

▪ In doing so, it invalidates itself, because it implies that abortion can be separated from other life issues; only a consistent ethic of life can validate a pro-life stance.

▪ It appears to endorse one political party, and thus a single (flawed) political agenda.

▪ In doing so, it fails to advert to how the terms “pro-life” or “anti-abortion” are charged with meaning that goes beyond their ostensible meaning—the “pro-life” or “anti-abortion” commitment also comprises homophobia, deification of middle-class family, blind patriotism, blind fidelity to unbridled capitalism.

▪ It merely confronts, and does not transform.

▪ It has no power to transform. It is interested only in standing against and tearing down, not building up.

▪ A religious ideology that does not creatively engage culture with an intent to transform culture departs from what religion is all about, in its core values.

▪ Specifically, it fails to address the value system from which support for abortion proceeds—individualism, expediency, pragmatism.

▪ It does not call for the church to repent of its complicity in these, in making the pragmatic and expedient choice the only possible choice for some women faced with the decision about whether to choose an abortion.

A church that commits itself to one-issue anti-abortion politics will make itself more marginal to a world being shaped by many other forces today. It will eventually find itself on the margins of history and culture, rather than at the center, offering constructive values to the center.