There has been lots, and lots of talk about Fascism speckled throughout my time, at least from the beginning of my political awareness during the Bush Era and precipitously escalating through the T***p Era. Most experts that I have read say that as bad as T***p and his Republican party are, they are at best, Proto-Fascists. Not quite the Musulini clone like most on the Left believe him to be (myself included).
But today’s extreme ruling from the Supreme Court that overturns 50 years of legal precedent and a woman’s right to privacy marks a significant success in the Right’s campaign to dismantle Democracy as we know it. And in my estimation, it also marks the Right’s official arrival to Fascism. Their success in overturning this one decision will be seen by historians as the moment the Right became truly free to unleash their Fascist tendencies. T***p’s election was indeed a definitive moment, but this decision is not a symbolic or electoral victory that can be reversed or ignored. This will have real and dire ramifications on peoples’ lives, and what else does a Fascist want but to control the populace, especially women.
And as much as I want to write about abortion and its importance to a free society, I am a white cis man, and we’ve heard enough from them. I certainly don’t need to discuss how abortion is an essential aspect of a woman’s healthcare regimen and how this decision will adversely affect women of color and the poor. I also don’t want to get into the legal arguments already spreading throughout the media landscape. It’s not worth repeating the dangerous consequences this decision will result in (including Justice Thomas’ very own marriage). All this has been covered by better thinkers than I. And finally, the comparison between a woman’s healthcare choices and one’s “choice” to wear a mask or receive a life-saving vaccine is so fallacious it would be a waste of time.
So what do I have to add to the debate that hasn’t been already said?
All I have is what’s been eating at my brain during my recent internal shower debates, something I believe is not talked about enough: the actual biblical justifications used by the Right, how they are wrong, and more importantly what this means in the context of an Inclusive Democracy. As a former Catholic with friends who are ardently pro-life, I want to attempt to speak to their point of view and address how they were convinced to support an issue that has no root whatsoever in their faith. But also how that doesn’t matter a hill of beans in the current debate and inevitable political fight. And at the end I promise the intro about Fascism will pay off.
First, it’s well documented that anti-abortion sentiments were not a direct response to Roe v. Wade as popularly argued by the Right. It was chosen as a simplistic but highly-charged issue to activate a political base after the Right lost the fight for school segregation with Brown v. Board. It’s also well documented that the Christian denominations like Southern Baptists were, at best, ambivalent about the issue for years prior to this. Only the Catholic Church has been consistent in its opposition.
The fact is abortion is supported biblically. Here are 10 passages that either directly advocate for abortion or describe the value of a fetus vs mother (source):
- A pregnant woman who is injured and aborts the fetus warrants financial compensation only (to her husband), suggesting that the fetus is property, not a person (Exodus 21:22-25).
- The gruesome priestly purity test to which a wife accused of adultery must submit will cause her to abort the fetus if she is guilty, indicating that the fetus does not possess a right to life (Numbers 5:11-31).
- God enumerated his punishments for disobedience, including “cursed shall be the fruit of your womb” and “you will eat the fruit of your womb,” directly contradicting sanctity-of-life claims (Deuteronomy 28:18,53).
- Elisha’s prophecy for soon-to-be King Hazael said he would attack the Israelites, burn their cities, crush the heads of their babies and rip open their pregnant women (2 Kings 8:12).
- King Menahem of Israel destroyed Tiphsah (also called Tappuah) and the surrounding towns, killing all residents and ripping open pregnant women with the sword (2 Kings 15:16).
- Isaiah prophesied doom for Babylon, including the murder of unborn children: “They will have no pity on the fruit of the womb” (Isaiah 13:18).
- For worshiping idols, God declared that not one of his people would live, not a man, woman or child (not even babies in arms), again confusing assertions about the sanctity of life (Jeremiah 44:7-8).
- God will punish the Israelites by destroying their unborn children, who will die at birth, or perish in the womb, or never even be conceived (Hosea 9:10-16).
- For rebelling against God, Samaria’s people will be killed, their babies will be dashed to death against the ground, and their pregnant women will be ripped open with a sword (Hosea 13:16).
- Jesus did not express any special concern for unborn children during the anticipated end times: “Woe to pregnant women and those who are nursing” (Matthew 24:19).
It’s clear that the “sanctity of life” argument is not biblical. Nor is the preferential treatment of a fetus over a mother. It’s also a fact that in some Jewish traditions, life does not begin until an infant’s first breath, drawing from how Adam’s body was created first from clay but was not alive until God breathed the first breath into him.
But I think my point is that this is all moot. We can talk for days (or decades) about the issue’s racist history and how theology has changed over time. Or cite the myriad biblical passages that (often simultaneously) support or prohibit abortion rights. There are no avoiding endless contradictions and circular arguments on this path, and I don’t think it’s constructive when planning how the issue is to be dealt with legislatively moving forward.
The Bible is endlessly contradictory. Does that automatically negate an entire belief system? From an atheist’s perspective, sure, but to hold any human institution to a standard of abject perfection in any regard is unfair. And Dogma, of course, changes with the times; it must be allowed to. If the history of the Christian faith is any indication, there is no one way to interpret its texts. If that weren’t the case, there wouldn’t even be a Catholic Chuch. Christians would be Gnostic or Arian (not that kind, this kind) or even some form of Jewish Zealots (likely the closest we can come to what Jesus actually was). For good or for bad, there are hundreds of different translations and as many denominations. Hell, there are Pro-Choice Catholics out there. And the argument that they aren’t “real Christians” is a fallacious one that must be categorically ignored (the No True Scotsman Fallacy if you’re wondering). That’s just how human institutions work and we can’t hold that against them.
The passages I’m citing as evidence of a Biblically-based Pro-Choice stance are interpretive. As are most passages that are used to justify any and all human behaviors. And that’s my point. The Right is trying to legislatively and judicially impose a very narrow Religious interpretation of an ancient text on the entire country. Forget for now the patently political and racist history of the Pro-Choice Movement. Forget for now the fact that justifying a Pro-Life stance with the Bible is difficult at best. The Right doesn’t seem to care about either fact. Their arguments are at best superficially biblical. They speak only of belief, morality, and “life.” All are ineffable abstractions limited by the subjective mind of the individual viewing them. Is killing wrong? Sure, with exceptions. When does life start? Who the hell knows. The oversimplified arguments from the Right are again fallacious. And also completely moot. Imposing such a vague and subjective belief on others is objectively wrong.
This decision is imposing a specific religious belief on an entire population. A population that while majority Christian, is growing more and more diverse (and less and less Christian). And again, not all Christians are Evangelical or even Conservative. For the Government to impose such a specific belief is tantamount to preferring one religion over all others, which last I checked was unconstitutional.
Abortion is not a nice thing, no Democrat or Progressive thinks that it is. It’s a terrible choice a mother may have to make. But to force someone to undertake a pregnancy is unconscionable. Even in ideal circumstances, pregnancy can be incredibly difficult. A woman loses control of their body, and loses their biological and personal autonomy. And then to force the financial and emotional responsibilities in raising a child is even more unconscionable. If you’re lucky to be white and wealthy then it’s far far easier. But this isn’t about you. This is about the numerous individuals who must have the choice. The fetus is quite literally a part of the mother’s body, all the way down to the shared DNA. And the choice, while a difficult one, is the choice of the individual whose body the fetus is integrated into, and theirs alone (with the consultation of a medical professional). And to impose a purely personal belief on that individual is tantamount to taking away their freedom.
And that’s where we complete the circle back to Fascism. The control of women and their relegation to be baby factories for the State is a core tenant of Fascism. Couple that with the hyper-nationalistic Republican platform and their obsession with militaristic strength, fear of the other, strongman worship, and obsession with the mythical good old days, the Right and the T***p’s Republican Party have cemented themselves firmly in Fascism. Experts may disagree as to the extent, but as far as I’m concerned, and more importantly, as far as American Women are concerned (and every other marginalized person), Fascism is here.
Steel yourself, get ready to fight, and more urgently, let’s vote T***p’s Republican Party out.