Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, June 4th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 40 Comments
Let’s be very clear about this: when a woman finds herself pregnant due to violence and chooses an abortion, it is the violence that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.
When a woman finds that the fetus she is carrying has anomalies incompatible with life, that it will not live and that she requires an abortion — often a late-term abortion — to protect her life, her health, or her fertility, it is the shattering of her hopes and dreams for that pregnancy that is the tragedy; the abortion is a blessing.
When a woman wants a child but can’t afford one because she hasn’t the education necessary for a sustainable job, or access to health care, or day care, or adequate food, it is the abysmal priorities of our nation, the lack of social supports, the absence of justice that are the tragedies; the abortion is a blessing.
And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion — there is not a tragedy in sight — only blessing. The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing.
These are the two things I want you, please, to remember — abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Let me hear you say it: abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.
It is, of course, those last two paragraphs that really stand out. Many abortion-rights supporters now concede, like Obama, that abortion itself is an emotionally fraught act — something that most women would probably prefer not to have to do. (In 2005, for example, Hillary Clinton marked the 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade by stating that abortion “in many ways represents a sad, even tragic, choice.”)
In the aforementioned passages, however, Ragsdale takes precisely the opposite tack. Even when a pregnant woman enjoys the best possible circumstances, she’s suggesting, the act of aborting a fetus isn’t an occasion for ambivalence or guilt. It is, instead, an unfettered good — something to be cherished and celebrated.
That’s a provocative line of argument — and it, too, invites some thorny questions. If more abortion-rights supporters reasoned like Ragsdale, for example, would the pro-choice cause be weaker or stronger? And would abortion’s most aggressive opponents be less emboldened — or even more likely to lash out?
But none of you are really as disgusted by Katie Rags as you think you are. That’s all the work of Sinister ForcesTM out to destroy the One True Church.TM
While Ragsdale’s relatively low-key response may stem, in part, from her years in the pro-choice trenches, there are some additional factors worth noting. One is her understanding of what motivates her detractors. As Ragsdale sees it, her critics aren’t giving voice to spontaneous, genuine moral outrage. Instead, they’re being manipulated by shadowy outsiders eager to wreak havoc in the Episcopal Church.
Which, of course, means–DAH DAH-DAH-DAH DUM DUM DUM DAHHHHH!!–the sinister IRD World Domination Conspiracy.
Exhibit A, she claims, is the Washington, DC–based Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) — whose president, Mark Tooley, dubbed Ragsdale the “High Priestess of Abortion” in a May 8 American Spectator piece. (To support this claim, Ragsdale cites a grant proposal in which the IRD speaks of “redirecting [Protestant] churches away from their reflexive alliance with the political left.”) “They want to undercut mainstream Episcopalianism, and they want to undercut this seminary as one of the [places] that supports the instincts of mainstream Episcopalianism,” she says. “So I become another opportunity for them to create trouble.”
My but we’re full of ourselves, Katie Bear. This is, of course, Episcopalianism par excellence. My views are so obviously correct that if you disagree with them, you’re stupid and were obviously manipulated into your opinion since no rational person would ever disagree with me about anything. And Katie Rags most emphatically believes that pro-lifers are completely irrational.
In addition to arguing that her critics’ rage is inorganic — that it’s the product, essentially, of right-wing ideological carpetbaggers — Ragsdale also dismisses their arguments as illogical. The idea that abortion kills a child, she contends, reflects parental hopes and dreams for the child-to-be, not the reality of what the zygote or fetus actually is. (It is, in her words, “proleptic,” a theological term for anticipated realities that come to be treated as extant in the here and now.)
I hope everyone reading this sees the difficulty with Miss Ragsdale’s “logic.” In case you don’t, I’ll ask a question that I asked once before. What was the difference between me on October 29, 1955, a little after 7:30 PM in the evening, Mountain Time, and me exactly 24 hours later?
The second me didn’t have an umbilical cord.
I had a name but I couldn’t have told you what it was. I didn’t know what those huge entities were that kept staring at me. Not that it mattered since I couldn’t have told one from the other anyway. I did know that when I got that bad feeling in the middle of me somewhere, one of those entities stuck something in one of those holes in the front of my head that made the bad feeling go away.
At that point in time, I was just as much of an “anticipated reality” as I had been 24 hours before. So according to Katie Rags, if those entities decided that they didn’t want to have to raise another human, they would have been well within their legal and Christian rights to have Deaconess Hospital in Billings, Montana dispose of me in any way that the hospital saw fit.
This is the truly monstrous aspect of the pro-abortion argument. Stripped to its essence, people like Katherine Ragsdale believe that “humanity” is not an objective fact.
You are a human being only if another human being decides that you are. And if potential humans don’t become human until other humans decide to let them into the club, Katherine Ragsdale has just made a “theological” argument for infanticide and any number of other barbarities.
Where would Katie Rags and those who think like her draw the line between humanity and non-humanity? When you know your own name? When you can identify your parents? When you can tell the difference between you and your sister?
What if you can’t ever communicate any of those things? Would it be okay to dispatch you? What is even remotely Christian about allowing sinful human beings like Katie Rags and others like her to draw any line anywhere at all, at any age or condition?
Miss Ragsdale knows, or should, that in the past, other people have frequently taken it upon themselves to decide who is worthy of humanity status and who is not. It is fascinating that this “Christian” doesn’t seem to have a problem with that concept.
But to continue. Katie Rags would like to assure women who have had abortions and feel guilty about them that you too have been manipulated too and that you don’t really feel what you think you feel.
“That’s the tragedy in most cases,” she continues. “That birth control failed, that they might want to have a baby but the economics are such that they can’t possibly afford it, that we don’t have healthcare, that women can’t choose to have the babies they want. There’s a tragedy.”
What about old Partial-Birth Abortion? Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King rolled into one.
“I knew George Tiller; in fact, I was out to defend his clinic some time ago,” Ragsdale told me on Monday, a few hours before she led a vigil in Tiller’s memory at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral. “He was an extraordinary man, deeply spiritual, who put his life on the line every day because this is what he felt called by God to do. Women needed him; there were so few places for them to get the necessary care. So the profound grief, and the fury and outrage, and the question of how women get the care they need now . . . these things are at war with one another as I try to find words to express them all.
And the people who told the truth about Tiller are the people who actually popped a cap in the guy.
“Even though I disagree with [abortion opponents] engaged in the common-ground talks, I don’t want to tar them with the same brush as the people responsible for this violence,” added Ragsdale. “But I also don’t want to exonerate a host of people who are responsible, even though they never pulled the trigger. And if you want to know who they are, look at the ones who ran most quickly to publish press releases trying to distance themselves from [Tiller’s murder]. It’s the guys who called him ‘Tiller the Baby Killer’ ” — e.g., Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. “It’s the ones who said he ran an abortion mill, and protested outside his clinic. They’re the ones who created a climate that made violence inevitable.”
In the past, I would have rationalized away monsters like Katherine Ragsdale. She’s got nothing to do with me, I would have said, I certainly don’t believe such appalling ideas and my parish doesn’t either.
Which, when you come to think about it, is precisely why monsters like Katherine Ragsdale get the positions that they do.
After all, if such moral bankruptcy as Ragsdale’s has no cost, she can foam at the mouth to her heart’s content. If you say to yourself, “Well I certainly don’t agree with that,” but otherwise do nothing, then you have just tacitly admitted that Miss Ragsdale’s views don’t really bother you all that much.
Katherine Ragsdale is one of the most morally repulsive human beings in the world. And Katherine Ragsdale now runs one of the Episcopal Organization’s principal seminaries. So I’ve got three words for those people who are unwilling to consider the idea of breaking with a “church” for which such unadulterated evil is just another point of view.
Do the math.