A Modest Proposal for Anti-Abortion Catholics (and Some Others)

When I recently ran across yet another of BillDo’s rants against abortion, I was struck by an idea: during transubstantiation, a priest turns a piece of bread into living flesh. But surely this is a reversible operation, no? People turn living wheat into nonliving bread all the time.

In addition, if there’s any kind of conservation law, the after centuries of Catholic rites, there’s bound to be mountains of bread accumulating somewhere, that could be put to good use.

So I propose the following: if a woman wants an abortion, a priest can cast a reverse-transubstantiation spell, and turn the fetus into a piece of bread. And then the abortion can proceed normally.

If Catholic priests can’t or won’t do this, then I’ll do it. I’m ordained, and I have as much evidence to back up my supernatural claims as they do.

I Should Have Known the Pope Wasn’t Going to Change Policy

The news today mentioned that Pope Francis I had okayed contraception for women in Zika-struck areas. Yay, liberal hippie pope! My complaint since the beginning of his tenure is that while he gives good press conference, that’s all he does: he hasn’t changed the church’s policy, and that’s the real problem.

At least so far, the Catholic church has been opposed to both contraception and abortion; Catholic hospitals don’t provide contraceptives when they have a choice, the previous pope famously told Africans that condoms make the AIDS crisis worse. Claims that contraceptives cause abortions. So against that backdrop, saying that contraception ≠ abortion is a step in the right direction, no?

Except, well, maybe not so much: according to AP,

Abortion “is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil at its root, no? It’s a human evil,” Francis told reporters. “On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one (Zika), such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.”

That’s a reference to a document from 1968 in which that okayed contraception for nuns in the Congo who were being raped.

In other words, Francis still isn’t changing policy. He’s just reaffirming Catholic policy from fifty years ago, policy that’s slightly less dogmatic than the way it’s usually portrayed.

U.N. officials have called on Latin American countries to loosen their abortion laws to allow women to terminate pregnancies if they fear the fetus may be at risk for microcephaly, a rare birth defect that causes brain damage and may be linked to the virus.

But Francis told reporters, “Taking one life to save another, that’s what the Mafia does. It’s a crime. It’s an absolute evil.”

So if you’ve found out that your fetus will likely never develop normal brain function; or if you have an ectopic pregnancy; and decide to abort, well, then apparently that makes you just like the Mafia.

A Modest Proposal for the Texas GOP

The platform paper of the Texas GOP shows that they’re as chock-full of crazy rightardiness as ever (like believing in “The sanctity of human life … from fertilization to natural death”, and also being in favor of capital punishment).

In several places, the document underlines their commitment to privacy, e.g.:

Real ID Act – As the Real ID Act effectively creates an unconstitutional and privacy-inhibiting national ID card, we hereby call for its immediate repeal.

Of course, any right to privacy obviously doesn’t apply to what goes on in people’s bedrooms:

Texas Sodomy Statutes – We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.

Presumably what they mean is that they want Lawrence v. Texas overturned. The law that was overturned in that case criminalized blow jobs, but since I imagine a lot of Texan good ol’ boys like those, presumably they wrote “sodomy” as a fancy synonym for “buttsecks”. Which is something that straight people never ever ever ever do. At least, not outside of librul hellholes like Austin.

Yeah, they really don’t like teh gays:

Homosexuality – We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been
ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, refuse to recognize, or grant special privileges including, but not limited to: marriage between persons of the same sex (regardless of state of origin), custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Republican political document if it didn’t mention abortion. The GOP is still sore about Roe v. Wade (which, by the way, reaffirmed the right to privacy that they’re so fond of elsewhere). And while they haven’t managed to get that overturned yet, they’re going for the next best thing: make it so hard to get an abortion that it’ll be effectively, if not legally, banned. And lo, the “Legislative Priorities” section begins with:

We urge the Texas legislature in its next biennial session to enact legislation requiring a sonogram be performed and offered as part of the consent process to each mother seeking an elective abortion.

And that, along with Mike Huckabee’s implied admission that homophobia is mostly about the “ick factor” of buttsecks, gave me an idea: Lawrence v. Texas isn’t going away any time soon, and neither are gays. Gay marriage is coming. So what they should do is do the same thing as with abortion. Allow gay marriage, but before two dudes can get married, they have to watch a gay porn video.

I think my favorite part of this is that this would make it someone’s job in Austin to buy pr0n for government purposes.

Nun Excommunicated Over Abortion

The Arizona Republic is reporting that a nun at a Catholic hospital was disciplined and excommunicated for allowing an abortion that saved a woman’s life:

A Catholic nun and longtime administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix was reassigned in the wake of a decision to allow a pregnancy to be ended in order to save the life of a critically ill patient.

The decision also drew a sharp rebuke from Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, head of the Phoenix Diocese, who indicated the woman was “automatically excommunicated” because of the action.

The article goes on to say that “The patient had a rare and often fatal condition in which a pregnancy can cause the death of the mother”, and that pulmonary hypertension was involved.

“In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother’s life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy,” [hospital vice president Suzanne] Pfister said.

So. Fetus poses a clear and present danger to the life of the mother. First trimester of pregnancy, so the fetus isn’t viable outside the womb. Throw in some rape or incest (which may conceivably have occurred, but the patient’s identity hasn’t been released, for privacy reasons) and you’ve got the textbook description of a justifiable abortion, it would seem.

But still, the Catholic church — run by a bunch of people who’ll never never be put in this predicament themselves, what with not having a uterus — prefers to dogmatically maintain that abortion isn’t acceptable, even under these circumstances, not even as a regrettable but necessary evil.

The article doesn’t say what this policy is based on, save that the fetus is “a human life”. But given the Catholic church’s history of encouraging and abetting the termination of human lives — Saracens, Jews, heretics, Protestants, etc. — there’s got to be more to it than that. Unfortunately, I suspect that the “more to it” is “a bunch of our ivory-tower mental masturbators derived it from our magic book.”

I also can’t help noting some sexism: for decades, men in the organization rape and abuse children, and they get a slap on the wrist before being shuffled off to another parish to avoid embarrassing the church. But now a woman authorizes an abortion — due to, I assume, compassion for the mother — and is immediately reprimanded and kicked out of the club. Would you like to super-size your standard and make it a double?

I remember reading an article about attitudes toward gays in the Catholic church. The investigator found that policymakers in the upper echelons were a lot harsher on teh gays than were priests who dealt with gays in their parishes and heard their confessions. It’s easier to condemn someone when you never have to meet them.

I suspect that something like this happened here. McBride, the nun who was disciplined, made her decision in large part out of compassion for the patient. The bishop who excommunicated her never had to meet the patient beforehand.

If my suspicion is true, then that means that the morality formulated by the higher-ups may look good on paper, but were the rubber meets the road, the rank and file don’t abide by it. That’s a sign of an impractical morality in bad need of a reality check. Unfortunately, if the Catholic church had any interest in reality, they wouldn’t believe in gods and miracles.

Update, Mon May 17 14:10:29 2010: Fixed a missing in a sentence.

I Am the Very Model of a Single-Issue Demagogue

On Monday, in a post entitled
Surgeon General Pick Is Excellent“,
BillDo wrote:

President Obama picked the right person to be the new Surgeon General. Dr. Benjamin is a hero to all those victimized by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Her tireless and selfless efforts are a model for all physicians.

Dr. Benjamin is an African-American Catholic public servant who has been recognized by Pope Benedict XVI: the Holy Father awarded her the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal for distinguished service. When the pope celebrated Mass in Washington, D.C. in 2008, Dr. Benjamin was there to receive his blessing. Moreover, she has also received the National Caring Award, an honor which was inspired by Mother Teresa. “Church was always a very important part of my life,” she told Catholic Digest. “I believe I am carrying on the healing ministry of Christ. I feel obligated to help continue his works.”

Kudos to President Obama and congratulations to Dr. Benjamin. She should sail through the Senate.

Of course, that was then, before he knew what evil roiled in the
depths of her damned soul. The very next day, he

at the same news conference that the
president used to announce his choice of Dr. Benjamin, he pushed hard
for a new health reform bill. […] A central issue is whether
abortion services will be mandated as part of the plan.

[…] a new Advisory Committee will decide which services will be covered. And who is in charge of the Health Benefits Advisory Committee? The Surgeon General.

Dr. Benjamin should not wait until the Senate considers her
appointment to let the public know where she stands. As a practicing
Catholic, she cannot chair a committee that would support mandated
abortion coverage in employer insurance plans.
There is no “common
ground” on this issue.

Don’t quote me regulations. I co-chaired the committee that reviewed the recommendation to revise the color of the book that regulation’s in.

So there you have it. BillDo is explicitly mixing religion and
politics. And telling Dr. Benjamin what she needs to believe, and how
she’s supposed to practice her religion. Not only won’t he allow her
to have an abortion, or support the right of others to decide whether
they should get one, he also can’t allow her to serve on a committee
that regulates the rules for paying for abortions that other people
might or might not choose to have. Have we reached six degrees of
separation from the real issue yet?

Hypothetical Question for Fundies

Let’s say someone develops a reliable test to see whether an embryo is gay[1]. Would you allow abortion in cases of likely gayness?

Variant: what if it turns out that this test can only give meaningful results in the second or third trimester? How would your answer change?

1: Personally, I doubt that a person’s sexual orientation is determined by anything as simple and binary as a “gay gene”. But it does seem plausible that homo- or heterosexuality should have a significant genetic component to it. It may be a group of alleles, or just the sequence or pattern or intensity with which various “normal” genes are expressed. But for the sake of argument, let’s say that this test can measure the likelihood that once the person reaches adolescence, he or she will be sexually attracted to members of the same sex.