The Malta Independent 26 May 2019, Sunday

The abortion charade

Mark A. Sammut Monday, 13 May 2019, 08:04 Last update: about 12 days ago

The abortion question is getting hotter by the day. The Prime Minister claims that the government has no intention to legalise abortion, and yet pro-abortion activists (euphemistically and deceitfully calling themselves pro-choice) feel emboldened to request the legalisation of the right to terminate the life of the unborn. Nobody felt thus emboldened under any other Prime Minister.

What I think the Prime Minister means is that there are many among his MPs who are good people, and wouldn’t want to have the blood of the innocent killed under such barbarous legislation on their hands. Yes, I am sure he is right; the majority of Labour MPs do not want to have their name associated with the introduction of such a law in Malta. And whereas they understand that they owe everything to Joseph Muscat, they also understand that there is a limit which neither Dr Muscat nor the lobbies that support him, can overstep.

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Doctors and the giving of moral advice

But there are some doctors in Malta who think they should advise women to terminate their pregnancies and feel emboldened to ask to do so in broad daylight. They are politically savvy and understand the political subtext of what’s going on. Needless to say, they ignore two facts: when the real medical need arises, the law allows terminations in an indirect way, and all practising doctors know this. It’s a fact of life, and one accepts it as such. Instead they emphasise the other cases, when it essentially boils down to abortion on demand. I want to tell them loud and clear: We, the majority of the Maltese people, are against legalising abortion, and that’s the way we want it to stay.

My own opinion is that, with all due respect, very few medical doctors are equipped to give moral advice on terminating the life of an unborn child. This young doctor who feels emboldened by the current political climate to ask for the legalisation of abortion thinks he can follow his conscience, but he should think twice. Mostly because he is probably not following his own conscience, but unconsciously following ideology.

Ideological shift

Ideology is a subject I have often tackled in my writings. I follow Slavoj ?i?ek’s teachings on the subject (which he bases on other philosophers, etc); he usually refers to a 1988 movie, John Carpenter’s They Live – I suggest watching it as it explains how ideology works, and why people turn violent when you criticise their ideological beliefs.

Whereas in other times the dominant ideology was that humanity is created in the image of God (imago Dei), an important ideological shift took place in the long nineteenth century. The ideology of humanity being created in the image of God was replaced by the ideology that humanity evolved from lower animals. And, therefore, humans are simply higher animals. The divine (what makes Humanity special) was removed from the equation; its place was taken by the “pragmatic” consideration that Humanity belongs to the animal kingdom and that there is no Heavenly Kingdom to aspire to. Christianity had found an equilibrium in the figure of Christ, the point of convergence between divinity and humanity when “The Word became flesh”. This equilibrium was wiped out by the ideological shift of the nineteenth century. Our earthly, animal qualities were declared sovereign while our divinely-inspired “soul” was banished out of the collective consciousness as something childish, naive, superstitious, and “medieval”.

This was, of course, one big travesty of history and philosophy. But let’s not get into that. What is important for our purposes is the ideological shift from humanity as image of God to humanity as simply another animal species.

This is one of the essential elements of Darwinism.

It is clear, I believe, that this ideological shift makes it easy to accept abortion. If people are simply higher animals, then killing them can be excused and tolerated. Thus when they are still not useful (when they are foetuses) or no longer useful (when they are old, frail, and unable to take care of themselves), they can be eliminated.

This is one of the political implications of Darwinism.

The link with neo-liberalism

Darwin never used the phrase “survival of the fittest”; it was coined by Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) who initiated the philosophy called “Social Darwinism”, that is the political application of Darwin’s scientific theory.

At this point, I have to relate a personal anecdote. In the late 2017, I visited Senegal, in Western Africa. It was an incredible experience; I could see with my own eyes the social ravages of the slave trade. I visited the island of Gorée, from where slaves were shipped off to the Americas, and I cried.

You have to be there to feel the intensity and oppressiveness; the air is still heavy with the living memory of the inhuman conditions these poor souls were detained in, the cramped rooms where the male slaves were fattened and the females raped by their white keepers... The island has become a veritable monument to human beast-like behaviour toward fellow humans.

But in Senegal, I also had what I shall refer to as a “Galápagos moment”. You know, Darwin “saw” the evolutionary process when he observed the beaks of birds on the Galápagos Islands, and compared them to the beaks of birds on the South American continent. In Senegal, we visited the so-called Langue de Barbarie, the estuary of the Senegal River. While crossing on the boat rowed by an old Senegalese and his grandson, I looked at the birds perched on the shores. I saw no competition there, no “survival of the fittest”. What I saw was beauty. The birds seemed to me aware of their beauty, they were sort of showing it off, to each other mostly. (In January of this year, I read in The New York Times an article called ‘How Beauty Is Making Scientists Rethink Evolution’.)

As I observed those beautiful birds, a little voice inside me said, ‘There’s no brutal competition here! There’s beauty and a way of life in which beauty plays an important role!’ And then it dawned on me! Darwin had projected the brutal competitiveness of the economic laissez-faire characterising the political world of his times unto an unsuspecting natural world!

But the story does not end here. In 2018, I started reading Enzo Pennetta’s 2017 L’Ultimo Uomo: Malthus, Darwin, Huxley e l’invenzione dell’antropologia capitalista [The Last Man: Malthus, Darwin, Huxley and the invention of capitalist anthropology]. Pennetta quotes a letter Marx wrote Engels in 1862 in which he explains Darwinism in more or less the same terms: Darwin projected unto nature the capitalist desire to dominate the market and the Malthusian idea of the struggle for survival.

This is the explanation of why abortion is now tolerated (and even, somehow, in a perverse way, promoted). It is the liberal philosophy of economics (capitalism) being imposed on nature while posing as science. (I will expand on this in a future article.)

But it is pseudo-science!

What is real science?

Real science is something you can measure and determine empirically. In other words, something you can replicate in a laboratory. For something to be scientific, you have to be able to repeat it under the same conditions. Let’s consider one of the simplest scientific facts: the evaporation of water. Wherever you go in the world – anywhere – if the atmospheric pressure is 0.101325 MPa, water will always boil at 100°C. There’s no way that at that atmospheric pressure and at that temperature, water will not boil: it always becomes vapour.

Why am I saying this?

Because there is the attempt to justify abortion on scientific grounds. The most powerful pro-abortion argument is that the foetus is still not a person, not an individual, and therefore should not enjoy protection at law. Proponents of this argument claim they can determine when somebody becomes a person! In his book A Defense of Abortion (2002), David Boonin argues that measurable cortical movement in the brain determines when one becomes a person.

And yet, this is simply not true. If it were true, the different specific laws that regulate abortion in Europe, say, would not be so diverse, they vary from 10 weeks (in Portugal, for example) to 24 weeks (in the UK and the Netherlands, for example). If this were a real scientific issue – as opposed to it being an ideological one – then it would be like all scientific facts: the same everywhere, just like water boils everywhere at the same temperature (if the atmospheric pressure is the same). But whereas in real science, the change from one state to another (from water to vapour, say) is truly measurable, in the case of pseudo-science, the change from one state to another (from foetus to person) is arbitrary.

And therefore, ideology, not science.

Every human being belongs to humanity

A common misconception is that children belong to their parents. This is capitalist/neoliberal thinking. Children are not property. No human being is property (one reason why slavery was abolished). All human beings are human beings and they belong (in a metaphorical, spiritual sense) to all of humanity. Thus every human being conceived belongs to humanity, not to their mother.

Why is this?

Because in every human being there is the potential to solve one of the myriad problems facing humanity. Upon growing up, a child can follow any calling – from science, medicine, law, architecture, engineering, to anything else – and improve the common good.

Leonardo da Vinci and Franco Zeffirelli were both born out of wedlock. Pro-abortion preachers would tell you that their mothers could have aborted them, to avoid scandal, to go on with their lives, and so on. They would have deprived us of their geniuses. Andrea Bocelli too – doctors suggested his mother to abort him.

This in the name of an ephemeral right to choose, of the unfounded and illogical claim that you can do whatever you like with your body. We know that this not to be true. You cannot do whatever you like with your body. We hospitalise certain patients to avoid them harming themselves. The State runs anti-tobacco and anti-alcohol campaigns because no, you can’t do whatever you like with your body. Tellingly, whereas you can use your body to knife somebody who’s making your life hell... well, actually you can’t do that.

So, no, the arguments in favour of abortion fall flat. They are based on pseudo-science, on  philosophical misunderstandings, and on the selfishness of some who do not understand their role in the wider world, who think that the entire world spins around them, who think only what their country can do for them rather than what they can do for their country, the world, and humanity.

Let’s stop this abortion charade and concentrate on the serious things: like corruption, air quality, overbuilding, and the many other problems which Joseph Muscat’s neo-liberal Government is allowing to plague our country.

My Personal Library (49)

You can find videos uploaded by the Italian intellectual Enzo Pennetta on YouTube and Facebook.

In his book of 2017, L’Ultimo Uomo: Malthus, Darwin, Huxley e l’invenzione dell’antropologia capitalista [The Last Man: Malthus, Darwin, Huxley and the invention of capitalist anthropology], Pennetta

In it, Pennetta discusses the theory of the overpopulation of the world presented by Robert Malthus (and now considered to be wrong), the Darwinian idea of the survival of the fittest (which justified the Nazi ideology of exterminating disabled people), and the eugenics of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Though dealing with political philosophy, the book is written like a thriller, exposing intrigues, discoveries, hypotheses, and manipulations. It also describes the rise of progressive ideology, starting with the utopian ideas of Francis Bacon and August Comte and reaching our times marked by social engineering: birth control and gender theory. It all boils down to social control and domination, the creation of a new anthropological model.

And ?i?ek teaches: cui bono? Who will benefit from all of this? The people? Or the “elites”?

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