April 15, 2016
This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
It’s Friday, April 15, 2016. I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
"Dismemberment" deemed too descriptive by pro-abortion activists fighting pro-life bill
To understand the world in terms of the Christian worldview is to understand the importance of language. One of the problems we see in the moral revolution is that things are not known by their proper name. As we have seen, a moral revolution happens not only on the back of arguments and imagery and cultural movements, but also with slippage in language.
This is the language of moral euphemism. It happens when something is not called what it is. In our society, we saw this beginning especially in the 1950s and 60s, when adultery was transformed into a liaison or an extra marital affair. Then it was often referred to in the 60s as merely a “fling.” Now we see the reality that adultery is no longer taken seriously by millions of Americans. The fact is that that was revealed in language long before it showed up in statistics and polls about moral values.Show Full Transcript
When you have this kind of euphemism, you are using a language that doesn’t match the moral reality. There’s a flip side to this, and that is that when the moral reality is absolutely horrific, there are people who want to deny the horror by denying the language.
There was an article in recent days in the Washington Post by Danielle Paquette. It is entitled,
“The Gruesome Language Anti-Abortion Activist Are Using To Win Support.”
“Pennsylvania law makers are pushing to outlaw the most common abortion method used in second trimester procedures, embracing a new strategy from anti-abortion groups seeking to suppress the technique nationwide.”
I simply have to tell you that the mandate of dealing honestly with the culture of death and with the sanctity of human life means this is a story we must discuss. It is not going to be comfortable. The bill, which is expected to be vetoed by Pennsylvania’s democratic governor, would shift the state’s ban on abortions after 24 weeks of gestational age to 20 weeks, and it would prohibit most abortions that involve what the authors described as “dismemberment.”
Here, we simply need to recognize that most of the surgical abortions that take place in the second trimester of pregnancy are exactly that. Without going into extraordinary detail, it simply is morally mandatory to say that what happens is that the baby is torn apart in the womb and then removed.
As I said, moral revolutions and moral evasions are shown in an evasion of language, in the use of euphemism rather than the truth. In the medical community, this is known as Dilation and Evacuation. The word being used by legislator is trying to reflect the sanctity of human life, and the reality of abortion is dismemberment.
We’re not looking here at an argument over what’s taking place. We’re looking at a complaint being made by pro-abortionists about the language that’s being used. In this case, they’re opposed to the language because the language is all too reflective of the reality. Looking at the worldview of the pro-abortion movement, this article provides yet another window into understanding what is behind it.
One of the officials who is opposing this legislation opposes the fact that the gestational age at which abortion will be permitted is moved from 24 weeks back to 20 weeks. The argument used by many pro-life legislators is that the baby can feel pain after 24 weeks, and thus the date must be moved back earlier. You’ll notice that at least some of the people who are arguing against the bill, they’re arguing that a baby can actually experience pain not at 24 weeks but at 28 weeks. Here’s the really chilling reality: they also support an abortion at 28 weeks.
Rarely do you see an article that this straightforwardly deals with moral language as being the basic issue at stake, reflecting a deep cultural divide to deep moral divide over something as basic as the sanctity of human life. What you have here is the horrifying acknowledgement being made by even some of the supporters of abortion that an unborn child can experience pain at 28 weeks of gestation.
The pro-abortion movement actually supports what they demand is a woman’s right to abortion right up to the point of birth. The pro-abortion movement has steadfastly even opposed so-called partial birth abortions. This is the culture of death baring its teeth. Here you have the pro-abortion movement acknowledging that the fetus can experience pain, but insisting that the unborn child does not deserve protection.
It’s really interesting, by the way, that in the description of this reporter, we are told that Danielle Paquette is a reporter covering the intersection of people and policy. In this case, this is not just an article at the intersection of people and policy, this is an article at the intersection of life and death.
Doctors train to kill in medical school, look to spread abortion access to underserved areas
Meanwhile, also in recent days, Reuters has reported that there is a new program training young doctors in abortion training. Jilian Mincer, writing for Reuters says,
“Even as scores of U.S. abortion clinics have shut down, the number of doctors trained to provide the procedure has surged – but only in some parts of the country.”
This is really interesting. We have noted the moral distinction between states and between geographic regions when it comes to something like the sanctity of human life.
This is not a new reality. If we go back to a map of the United States in 1973 just before the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down, there were states that had legalized abortion and there were states that did not. Sometimes, these states could be even in close proximity, separated by only a state border. The reality is that states established the laws. There were pro-abortion states and there were pro-life states, and there were states that were somewhere in between in terms of the shape of their legislation.
All of that was federalized. It was nationalized in terms of the Roe v. Wade decision, one of the most lamentable decisions in the history of the United States Supreme Court. That nationalized what was described as a woman’s right to an abortion. One of the things that has frustrated pro-abortionists ever since Roe v. Wade in 1973 is the fact that abortion is still carrying a significant moral stigma in the medical establishment. Even in the most liberal of places, it is still not a matter of pride to establish one’s professional identity as a physician, as one who conducts abortions.
This is the reason why so many doctors in so many medical schools in training do not want training in abortion. They resist it, not only for moral reasons in all cases, but in many cases simply for professional reasons. They don’t want to be identified with the killing of unborn children. Furthermore, there is the basic worldview impulse that here you have young people training to be physicians in order to cure disease, in order to enhance life, and in order to preserve and save life. They do not go to medical school in order to learn how to kill.
Here, you have a very interesting story in Reuters telling us that pro-abortionists are celebrating the fact that at least in some parts of the country there are more doctors who are seeking training to do abortions. You know, there’s something very interesting—there is no real evidence yet that there are additional numbers of doctors actually entering the practice of performing abortions.
There’s more here that should have our attention to this report from Reuters.
“Medical Students for Choice was started in 1993 by a student at the University of California, San Francisco. The nonprofit now has 185 chapters and a $1.4 million annual budget funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Rockefeller Family Fund, and others. Last year,” we are told, “it sent a 137 medical students and residents for abortion training.”
Now we here simply have to pause for a moment. There is so much in terms of worldview interest that is at stake here. First of all, you have a group started in 1993 and supposedly now has a 185 chapters and a budget of $1.4 million. Let me just point out that an annual budget of $1.4 million distributed over a 185 chapters does not reflect a growing, thriving organization.
Furthermore, when you look at that $1.4 million annual budget, we are told that it is funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Rockefeller Family Fund and others. This tells us that there is big money, big foundation money, behind to the pro-abortion movement. There’s a big lesson here. When you go back to the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, it was big money in terms of foundations, big philanthropic foundations including the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Family Fund, and others, who were behind funding the population control movement worldwide. They were behind the push towards offering contraceptives worldwide, and they were behind, in many cases, the liberalization of abortion laws as well.
Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised that now two generations after Roe v. Wade, some of these same foundations, such as the Rockefeller Family Fund, are still funding advocacy for and the training for abortion when it comes to young doctors. It would indeed tell us something if there is a radical surge of new doctors going into the practice of abortion.
That really is something we need to watch carefully, because even as there are many who say that they advocate abortion and that they’re legally opposed to restrictions on abortion, the reality is that it is still the case that most graduates of medical school beginning their medical practice, and those who are retiring for that matter at the end of their medical careers, don’t want to have been identified and don’t want to be identified in the future as abortionists.
Advocates for abortion continue to press back and complain about the fact that abortion still has a stigma, and of course it does. It is the killing of an unborn human baby. Even those who argue supposedly that it is a woman’s right to kill the unborn baby within her, they still don’t want to be involved in the actual process of killing that unborn child.
Studies show sex-selective abortions taking place in Canada, thousands of missing girls
Shifting to Toronto, Canada, as the scene, The Globe and Mail, a major newspaper there, reported on April 11th,
“Some couples in Canada practicing prenatal sex selection in favor of male fetuses.”
Wendy Leung reporting for The Globe and Mail tells us,
“It is rarely openly discussed and difficult to prove, but new research suggests that some couples in Canada are practicing prenatal sex selection, aborting female fetuses out of a preference for male children.”
As the reporter tells us, two studies published on Monday in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association found higher than expected ratios of boys to girls when born to immigrants from Canada over the last 20 years. Now, as we have noted in China and in India, there are hundreds of millions of missing girls because so many girls were aborted in the womb.
What caught the attention to many of these researchers is that the gender imbalance was particularly true of third pregnancies after two daughters. That means there’s something more going on here that have fluke or mirror statistics. There is some kind of intentionality behind the fact that there are so many male children born after two girls in families coming from Indian immigrants when it comes to a third pregnancy.
“This suggests that many of the abortions may have involved female fetuses, and that’s why the sex ratio at the third birth is distorted,”
Marcelo Urquia, a researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto who led the study said.
“I think the most important implication is that some immigrant groups put more value on the life of sons than daughters. If a son preference exists at this point in life, this raises the question of whether females in some immigrant communities are also at a disadvantage at other life stages, for example, in infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood.”
One of the interesting things in the article is that this is a very sensitive issue to raise because of accusations that it is targeting one immigrant group for unusual moral scrutiny. The push back on that is the fact that this gender imbalance is easily traceable to distinct communities. In this case, the Indian immigrant community in the nation of Canada.
The other very interesting thing about this is that, evidently, the reporter, the newspaper, and many people in Canada consider the fact that abortion will be done for sex selection to be a morally important issue. Christians certainly would understand this, but Christians will understand the importance of abortion as a moral issue regardless of the reason for the abortion or the gender of the baby that is aborted.
The reporter tells us,
“Although sex selection is banned in Canada when it comes to assisted reproductive treatment, the country has no law on abortion, including its use for sex selection.”
Wait just a minute; this article tells us that Canada has no law on abortion whatsoever, furthermore, that there is nothing in the law in Canada that would prevent an abortion for reason of sex selection.
Wait just a minute, why would we point the finger at Canada in this case? Because after Roe v. Wade in 1973, there is no law at the federal level that would prevent abortion for any reason when it comes to sex selection at early points of a pregnancy.
One other interesting thing revealed in this article is something we noted on recent editions of The Briefing where so many moral issues are supposedly translated in the merely public health issues. We saw that on the issue of pornography, but now we see it on the issue of sex selection abortion.
In a commentary in the journal that publish these studies, we are told that medical authorities cited strong evidence of the use of abortion for prenatal sex selection,
“…and called for discussion aimed that examining and developing public health policies to curb the practice.”
Notice, this is a moral issue. We’re talking about the sanctity of human life. We’re talking about the targeting of unborn baby girls in the womb, and then we are told that this is to be addressed by examining and developing public health policies to curb the practice.
We see again that a moral reality is being redefined as a public health problem. From a Christian worldview perspective, we must see in advance that that simply can’t work.
Attempt to raise cats "gender-neutral" fails at the vet where they must be sexed
Finally, another article of great worldview significance appeared in the Washington Post, and it’s only really important, because it did appear on the Washington Post.
Here’s the headline,
“Don’t laugh: I have a serious reason for raising my cats gender-neutral.”
It’s written by Lauren R. Taylor. Once again, it’s important because it appeared in the Washington Post. If you were to consider all the daily newspapers in America, the most influential would almost certainly be the New York Times at the top and then you would simply have to add newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, perhaps USA Today, and regional papers of national influence such as the Boston Globe or the Los Angeles Times.
When it comes to the Washington Post, you got to put that in the top four or five most influential papers in all of North America. In this case, the most important issue is that it was published by the Washington Post. Lauren R. Taylor is described as a freelance writer, but also as a part-time multi-platform editor at the post.
Wait just a minute, this isn’t just a contributor to the Washington Post. This is at least a part-time multi-platform editor at one of the nation’s most influential newspapers. Again, the headline says as the fist two words “Don’t laugh,” that’s one of the situations in which the most proper response is almost always that laughter is the only possible response.
In this case, she says she has a serious answer for raising her cats gender neutral. She writes,
“My new cats were freaking out. In carriers in the back seat of the car, they yowled their displeasure. I reassured them: ‘Don’t worry boys, we’ll be home soon.’ Whoops. I had called them boys, when in fact they were girls. An understandable mistake, as I’ve had cats for about 50 years, and all of them have been male. ‘I’m going to have to work on using the right pronouns,’ I thought, and then another thought: ‘Why? They’re cats.'”
Then she says she decided to raise her cats to be gender neutral. This is where the story goes from interesting to even more interesting.
“The cats’ lives wouldn’t change, I reasoned, and it would help me learn to use plural pronouns for my friends, neighbors and colleagues who individually go by they, their and them. Even though using they, them and their as singular pronouns grates on many people because it’s grammatically incorrect, it also seems to be the most popular solution to the problem of how to identify people without requiring them to conform to the gender binary of female and male. It also,” she says, “just feels right to refer to people as they wish to be referred to.”
Just to understand the situation, here you have a writer for the Washington Post, a part-time editor for the newspaper, who has two cats who happen to be girls; she intends to raise them gender neutral so she can gain practice in using gender or neutral pronouns and other vocabulary for her transgender friends or at least her friends who will not conform to the gender binary of he and she.
Get how the article continues,
“I began to get an infinitesimal taste of what transgender and gender-nonconforming people face. I’m not talking about the outright bigotry and hatred, something I can’t know without being in their shoes, but the complete cluelessness. Friends would come over, I’d introduce the cats and their pronouns, and some would ask, ‘What are they?’ Some would randomly use ‘he’ and ‘she.’ Some would stumble, unable to form a sentence when talking about one of the cats.”
“Things got a little more real,” she says, “that one of the cats named ‘Essence’ got sick. They were really sick. I took them to the vet and had to weigh the question: Do I explain their pronouns not only to the vet, but also to the front-desk workers, the vet techs, and everyone else we interacted with? Before the illness was over, we saw five vets, two sets of front desk people, and countless vet techs. I chose to fall back on my cis-gender privilege, that means supposedly the privilege of referring to human beings as male and female, and used the singular pronoun for Essence. I understood that wouldn’t have been so easy if I were the patient or if Essence were human.
“While all of this was unfolding, friends would ask me: How is your cat? ‘They’re better’ or ‘The same. The vets don’t know what’s wrong with them,’ I’d say. ‘Wait just a minute, they’re both sick?’ people would reply, confused.
“It is confusing,” she says. “We’ve had gender drilled into us as part of language as we first heard adults talking when we were infants, decades of he and she. At the same time,” she says, “it’s necessary. People are coming to understand that not all of us fit into the girl box or the boy box. Those who don’t are claiming space to be who they are. We all need to find ways to acknowledge and respect that. My way of respecting it,” she says, “just happens to be raising my cats gender-neutral. You can choose your own.”
What’s really interesting is this woman, so progressive in her own mind that she intends to raise her cats gender neutral, as finding that the rest of the world isn’t going along. It turns out that the English language still works. When someone says, “they,” it is heard as the plural and not the singular. It still works that when someone says they’re raising their cats to be gender neutral, their own friends say, “But what are they?”
This reminds me of what one transgender advocate said, I cited this in my book, We Cannot Be Silent. She said that the transgender revolution will never be totally complete and successful until doctors in the delivery room stops saying it’s a boy or it’s a girl. That’s the real problem for the transgender revolution, people aren’t going to stop saying that in the delivery room. People aren’t going to stop asking, “Is it a boy or a girl?”
When it comes to a human baby or for that matter as it turns out, when it comes to a cat. When it comes to a woman claiming to be raising her cats to be gender neutral, the most obvious moral response is to say politely, but certainly to say, “No, you’re not. You just think you are.”