Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Of Christians, Contraception and Abortions

Of Lipsticks, Pigs, and yes, the anti-feminist feminine, Sarah Palin.

With the recent furore over the presidential elections in the United States, one of the major talking points over the presidential candidates involves the selection of a certain former beauty contestant, Sarah Palin by Senator McCain as vice-presidential candidate. Much has been said about her inexperience and right-wing stance, which, all things considered, isn't all that surprising, considering that George W. Bush, the commander-in-chimp, wasn't all that outstanding to say the least.

Presidential credentials aside, Sarah Palin's stance towards abortion is, to put in bluntly, archaic and anti-feminist (Which really screams in the face of what she consistently trumpets: A woman's champion in the midst of male, chauvinistic democratic pigs, such as Barack Obama and his lipstick-on-a-pig slur. Tsk tsk). In 2002, she wrote a letter to FFL, stating that she had "adamantly supported our cause since I first understood, as a child, the atrocity of abortion."

The sheer audacity of such a statement beckons belief, if statistics of abortion rates are anything to go by.

Abortions & Contraception

From a social point of view, abortion is generally considered an uncomfortable procedure to terminate a pregnancy. It is usually seen as a last resort, either as a means to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, or a necessary one to protect the mother. Because of our instinct to procreate, abortion flies against all life stands for: To live, procreate and subsequently pass on our genes.

Besides the ill-conceived idea that fetuses are genuine, full-fledged human beings (if a newly-fertilized embryo is a bawling little baby, feel free to commit homicide the moment you scratch yourself - you have just "terminated" the lives of millions of skin cells-cum-human beings), abortion is a medical procedure, and like all medical procedures it does carry a certain element of risk, especially for pregnancies that are more than a couple of weeks old.

From a humanist point of view, it is always better to nip the problem in the bud, and all the better if you can prevent the problem, which in this case is an unwanted pregnancy, in the first place.

& herein lies the magic word: Contraception. Prevention is, after all, better than cure. Secular sex education requires, besides abstinence, the introduction of contraceptive methods, including condoms (a great tool in the prevention of STDs and pregnancies) & contraceptive pills.

Unfortunately, religious hoodlums, particularly of the Vatican variety, refuse to acknowledge the use of such "creation-defying" methods. As a result, the religious right-wing fanatics device all manner of lies to delude the masses.

Condoms are Bad for Health, Says Archbishop Noberto Rivera Carrera. That ban, however, is not applicable to altar boys.

1. According to Mexico City Archbishop Norberto Rivera Carrera, all condoms should come with the label, "Use of this product is harmful to health" attached to them.

Use of this product is harmful to health.

2. One would think that Africans should be more open towards the use of condoms, considering the fact that the African continent has been the scourge of the AIDS virus for decades.

“[W]idespread and indiscriminate promotion of condoms [is] an immoral and misguided weapon in our battle against HIV-AIDS. …[C]ondoms may even be one of the main reasons for the spread of HIV-AIDS.”

- From the text of a statement issued by the bishops of South Africa following their semiannual meeting, where they considered a change in their official condoms policy in response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic [Karen DeYoung, “AIDS challenges religious leaders,” Washington Post, August 13, 2001].

As a result of this stigmatization of contraception and its purported evils, is it hardly surprising, then, that religious people have higher incidents of abortions than, say, more secular, "heinous & evil" folks?

According to a survey reported by Guardian, the relationship between high religiosity in a region coincides closely with high abortion rates:

A study published in the Lancet shows that between 1995 and 2003, the global rate of induced abortions fell from 35 per 1,000 women each year to 29. This period coincides with the rise of the "globalised secular culture" the Pope laments. When the figures are broken down, it becomes clear that, apart from the former Soviet Union, abortion is highest in conservative and religious societies. In largely secular western Europe, the average rate is 12 abortions per 1,000 women. In the more religious southern European countries, the average rate is 18. In the US, where church attendance is still higher, there are 23 abortions for every 1,000 women, the highest level in the rich world. In central and South America, where the Catholic church holds greatest sway, the rates are 25 and 33 respectively. In the very conservative societies of east Africa, it's 39. One abnormal outlier is the UK: our rate is six points higher than that of our western European neighbours.

Allow me to summarize the points:

1. Contrary to the "evils" of secular culture which was so happily derided by the Pope, abortion rates dropped worldwide during the period of increased secularization.

2. Western Europe, long dominated by secularists brought up as children of the Enlightenment, have the lowest abortion rates; Americans, with their fucking megalomaniac churches, have the highest abortion rates amongst capitalist, first world nations. & for regions in central and South America, traditional bastions of the Catholic Church, abortion rates are far higher than those reported in the United States.

Hypocrisy & The Religious Right

The irony of anti-abortion campaigns and right wing nutters is that when it comes to bungling up and making a social mess out of perceived social evils, all too often, God-inspired campaigns often has this distinctive knack of crashing down from the heavens right down to good, solid earth.

The truth is, in most cases (barring abortions carried out due to rape, fetal deformities), an alarming increase in abortion cases can be directly attributed to a distinct ignorance of contraceptive methods and a chronic absence of sex education, which generally translates into spiraling unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and deaths for desperate women who happen to choose unlicensed doctors to terminate their pregnancies (Some countries actually do ban abortions. Such barbarity!). This abject ignorance, plus the failure of abstinence-only classes, have contributed to the increase in abortion rates amongst the religious right. A holier-than-thou attitude towards sex & abortion not only exposes the hypocrisy of these religious campaigns (Since religious folks are the ones who are having the most abortions in the first place!), it highlights the silliness and naivety of the idea that sex is only confined within staid, archaic, marriage-only, pro-creation settings.

As human beings living in the 21st century, it is definitely criminal to deny women the right to abortion simply because some stupid ignoranamous religious morons stubbornly choose Ku Klux Klan values over secular, humanist values.

I will let Bill Clinton sum this one up really nicely:

-Abortion should not only be safe and legal, it should be rare.

BILL CLINTON, speech at DNC, Aug. 29, 1996