Liberals trying to skew debate over abortion
Irish culture has been painstakingly manipulated by people trying to further their case
A STRIKING aspect of the culture we are industriously constructing is the automatic assumption that individual claims regarding “rights” must trump more established concepts of societal organisation and human self-reflection.
By a process of purposeful osmosis, Irish culture has of late been painstakingly manipulated to make one set of understandings appear outmoded and pernicious, and the other axiomatic and benign. And because this arriviste thinking clicks into a superstructure of logic which supports it to the disadvantage of prior or contrary ideas, it becomes easy to caricature different ways of seeing things as outmoded, obscurantist or Neanderthal.
The caricature in relation to abortion was given eloquent expression by Fintan O’Toole in this newspaper last Tuesday.
O’Toole sketched, in effect, a community – the Catholic community – that believes things because it is told to – indeed that believes several mutually contradictory things at once and plays “silly linguistic games” to effect symbolic sleights-of-hand.
He advanced a superficially plausible profile of Irish anti-abortion campaigners failing to take their logic to its ultimate conclusion.
“If they really believe what they purport to believe – that a fertilised ovum is a human being in exactly the same sense as Nelson Mandela or Lady Gaga or the pope”, he declared, “they are disgracefully moderate” in the face of – in effect – the obliteration of the equivalent of the population of Limerick over the past decade.
Anti-abortion protesters have many times been roundly condemned from the ranks of O’Toole’s liberal fellow travellers for – to give one example – marching with posters with placards bearing photographs of dead foetuses.
Now, they are condemned for being insufficiently “extreme”.
Yet again, a liberal offers opponents of industrial abortion a Hobson’s choice: be the fascists who endanger women’s lives or the vexatious cranks who cling to vacuous symbols.
Thus, liberal culture constructs its double-binds to trap those voicing contrary perspectives.
The cultural conditions by which “pro-choice” logic has come to dominate our public thought processes renders the pro-life position increasingly disabled by persistent insinuations of blind fanaticism.
To see how this works, we need but thumb along to Fintan’s next paragraph, in which the term “lunatic fringe” is used to dismiss anyone who expresses an “absolutist” position on abortion.
To further their case, liberals demolish the ethical subtlety informing the Catholic position, and then accuse their opponents of denying complexities.
There is nothing inconsistent in the Catholic position that abortion, to begin with, amounts to the killing of a human life, but that this may in certain circumstances be unavoidable and therefore permissible as the lesser of evils.