The Anti-Abortion Authoritarians

No political initiative in America skirts as close to the advancing of theocracy as the anti-abortion crusade to render abortion illegal on what is nothing other and nothing less than a religious basis. If imputing personhood or spirit life to an unborn biological entity isn’t a religious act someone will be required to point out exactly what the hell it is.

As the Komen hoo-hah illustrates yet again, if there is a more relentlessly and remorselessly absolutist impulse in this nation of myriad right-wing cultural and ideological absolutist impulses than the anti-abortion version, god spare us from it. As with institutional Catholicism’s hissy-fit that its facilities employing workers of all religious dispositions and serving the public at large must comply with law requiring contraception coverage in insurance plans, the Komen angle is that monies going to multi-purpose organizations somehow will sinfully mingle, one’s pure anti-abortion dollars afflicted by abortion cooties once they land in the bank.

Naturally, if contributions to virtually any large multi-purpose organization or institution, including the United States government were viewed through this peculiar lens all manner of chaos necessarily would ensue, the micro-surgical detachment of specific dollars from specific purposes bizarre beyond the reaches of satire or dystopian absurdist imagination. In this day and age I would not be at all shocked were the familiar denial-of-reality playbook to which extremists increasingly resort now, utilized in this endeavor, insisting upon the extrusion of compartmentalization from the dictionary.

Most of us shudder at the potential abominations funded by our tax dollars, my tax contribution mingling in the coffers with all sorts of soon-to-be-spent on something hideous dollars. Besides which, neither Catholics or Wesleyans or Baptists or any other religious affiliation with heavy bankrolls and gazillions of acres of property excused by the tax man ought to be barking up the theocratic tree, since the rest of us are picking up the loss.

Frankly, the anti-abortion authoritarians not only have become incredibly tiresome, but always have been suspiciously disingenuous. This is a movement hardly motivated solely by the sacralization of the biological nascent state, but likewise a mixture of anti-sex Puritanism, raw partisanship, patriarchy and domination. While no doubt there is a real amount of religious principle and sincerity among the anti-abortion masses, among the activist zealots and garden variety Republican or conservative mouthpieces reflexively yapping on about abortion, there is a cynically contrived moralism. In that vein, there is something undeniably smarmy about the sentimentalizing of tiny fetuses as infants, a creepy sort of reproductive kitsch.

The hypocrisy is especially pungent. Often those demonstrating a rigid absolutist impulse when it comes to abortion are the same political actors who stink up the public forum because Michele Obama simply suggests kids eat a healthier meal. Somehow it is the nanny state run amok if government recommends a carrot, but no encroachment upon the public’s liberty when the many are forced into compliance with the theology of the few. Minority rights are protected under the Constitution; and no one is being forced to use contraception or to submit to abortion. Allowing a dogmatic religious interpretation of personhood to determine public policy is un-American.

Far from demonstrating respect for freedom of speech or minority rights, Republican presidents since Ronald Reagan, succumbing to the anti-abortion absolutism and complicit in anti-abortion authoritarianism have instituted domestic and international gag rules, forbidding doctors at publicly funded health clinics even from discussing abortion, despite the mother’s health or the request by the patient for information. Similarly, international gag rules under these same administrations forbade funding of international health organizations offering abortions or abortion counseling. Religious ideology triumphant over health, indeed.

Imperfect as it may be, and excoriated as Roe v. Wade has been by authoritarian anti-abortionists its acknowledgement of constitutionally guaranteed privacy rights, its parsing of trimesters and legal consideration of viability was a morally and intellectually good faith effort to bring sanity and order to a contentious and highly complex matter. Such rationality of course is dead on arrival in the eyes of the absolutist and zealot.

If one is not inclined to imbue spiritual presence in a theological sense either to born human beings or nascent forms of human beings, birth seems to be a reasonable fundamental criterion for assessing personhood, given that all the action really seems to be occurring beyond the womb, lifestyle options severely limited within.

Still, if an individual believes personhood ensues at birth, all well and good. If someone believes contraception is an abomination, dandy. Coercing those beliefs into the law of the land smacks of the theocratic and the authoritarian, assuming those words remain in the dictionary.

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