Friday, June 27, 2008

Abortion and the Presbyterian Washington Office

Here's another one from the vaults, when I thought that I would be allowed to live out my calling in the PCUSA. I thought it appropriate in light of the recent pleas for fair representation of the diversity of PCUSA opinion on abortion. Originally written in August of 2007.
A commentator recently mused over the impartiality and even-handed representation that the Washington Office provides the PC(USA).

Somehow he missed the June 25th edition of Presbyterian Washington Weekly where the Washington Office urged members of the PCUSA to support HR 2596's unfettered access to abortifacient megadoses of hormones (otherwise known as Plan B).

A week prior to that (June 18th), I was asked to support the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007. That would make me - a taxpayer - responsible for the destruction of human life for research purposes.

The April 23rd edition gave more sabre rattling and fearmongering over the SCOTUS decision declaring constitutionally allowable limits on partial birth abortions. Our GA has spoken quite clearly about the moral danger of this procedure (and our there is plenty of medical testimony against its necessity or safety). Nevertheless, anything that could infringe on a woman's "right" to force taxpayers to pay a malicious medico to deliver all but the head of the baby, jam scissors into its skull, and vacuum its brains out must be met with resistance according to the Washington Office.

It continues to amaze me that most of their advocacy is for causes aligned with the Democrats when over half of members and elders in the PCUSA identify as Republicans and less than 30% as Democrats! (PDF proof here) There's a lot of work that the Washington Office could focus on - things that Presbyterians across the spectrum agree on and would support - if they would give up their unmitigated support for limitless abortion access.


Doug Hagler said...

Except for the scissors-in-the-head classic that misrepresents what is still a disgusting practice ("partial-birth" or late-term abortion) I actually found a post I agree with. Let's be silent on abortion and feed some hungry people! Everyone likes to feed hungry people (if they don't, its because they haven't done it enough yet).

In fact, I'm perfectly happy with the PCUSA not acting at all on things we don't broadly agree on - but again that is rooted in my anarchistic leanings where coercive authority is concerned. Lenience where we lack consensus and decentralization all around.

Oh crap a pig just flew in my window.

Chris said...


The adoption of the Social Creed at the last GA was another opportunity to fight about stuff we disagree on, rather than bring us together on things we do. When either side pushes an agenda, nothing gets done. I'm all for finding things to work on together. Unfortunately, I think the actions taken at GA will make it almost impossible to cross the no-mans-(excuse me, no-persons)-land of ordination standard fights.

Doug Hagler said...

You're right, that might be the case. Its regrettable, but I've talked about that stuff in other venues already. Its...unfortunate. I'll leave it at that.

The Social Creed looks like a laundry-list, and is therefore not that useful either way. Listing a few dozen priorities is the same as listing no priorities, functionally speaking. I'd love if we declared 2008-2010 the Years to Fight Human Trafficking or something. I think if we pick our 'fight', in the positive sense of resisting evil, we can have a lot more impact.

Chris said...

Agreed, Doug. One of the reasons I'm involved in the pro-life movement is that I can't be active against everything I see dragging our nation into the toilet. Abortion is both egregious and provides a narrow locus for action. (Granted, our action should be more multi-faceted; especially in the support and love given to mothers who choose not to abort - and men have been wholly left out until the last 5 years or so.)

If every issue is equally important, then no issue is important. Unfortunately, both left and right are full of ethical chicken littles....

Doug Hagler said...

The roof of my head blows off because I'm basically with you here.

I agree very strongly about more support for motherhood. The fact is that it exacts a social and economic cost that fathers do not bear unless they conscientiously see that they share it, a tiny minority do so. There is a lot we could do to reduce the pressure one might feel to have an abortion. People are basically selfish, but we can weight their selfishness in a moral direction at least, rather than the two common options being single motherhood in perpetual poverty or abortion (demographically speaking). How about motherhood with lots of social support or abortion? Given that choice, I think we'd have a lot fewer abortions (almost no one I know who has had one is blase about it as Rush Limbaugh would have us think - so make the right decision less torturous).

I'm not part of the pro-life movement because I feel that movement has missed the boat entirely in this area, focusing on the decision to abort or not to abort as if it took place in a moral, social and economic vacuum. The fallacies come so dense here that I just can't identify myself with it, even though I no longer identify myself as pro-choice for some similar reasons. Nothing good will come of treating it as if it is an instantaneous event and decision, disconnected from the kind of society we construct and the kind of economy we foster. (My position is of course deeply embedded in why I am a pacifist as well - and the "culture of life" touted by Republicans leaves *much* to be desired).

I should post some form of my paper on this topic one of these days. It was interesting presenting a relatively anti-abortion paper to a room-full of liberal women. I think I took a good hybrid position, drawing on ethical strengths of both sides, but I could tell that it wasn't all that well-received.

Chris said...

See, Doug. Outside of the context of the Pissing Contest (USA), we can agree on lots of stuff. (That's a big part of why I had to leave.)

I await your abortion paper. I'm guessing you've already read mine (when I had a lot of conversation with Aric).