Maybe Peter would be surprised
Several days ago in Slate, William Saleton assailed Mr. & Mrs. Palin's decision to have their daughter Bristol carry the pregnancy to term. In creating a new victim class, oppressed minors, Mr. Saleton, in the space of just this article, exposes the toxicity of the liberal "moral" outlook. Here is the nut graf:
* I added the preceding two sentences to this post
"[Sarah Palin backs parental consent laws because consent is required in nearly every other] aspect of a child's life." But that logic is backward. The more profoundly a decision affects a girl's future, the more vital it is that no one, even her parents, be authorized to veto it. And nothing short of death alters a person's life more profoundly than bringing a child into the world. It is the moment when you cease to be the primary purpose of your own existence.The Advice Goddess [Update: link fixed](whom I stumbled upon thanks a link in Arts & Letters Daily) editorialized, finding in favor of Mr. Saleton. I posted this response (Sep 8, 12:20 am):
Saleton, who I read often and whose writing I generally like, has waltzed the both of you right past the primary point without even noticing it go by. Along the way, you both also make, by omission, an implicit assumption that is completely wrong.
(In the following, keep in mind that I Am Not A Christian, although I know some who are, and also that I Am Not A Woman, although I know some who are. Also, I am pro-choice.)
First, the point: The Mr. & Mrs. Palin have a strong moral attitude towards life and abortion. That I, or you, do not share that attitude does not mean we can avoid its implications in their lives. For them, life begins at conception, and any human action to end it constitutes murder. Abortion, even of a blastocyst, is murder, pure and simple.
This is not the thread to debate the advisability of this moral decision, or some very real contradictions in practice.
However, this is very much the place to discuss the consequences of that moral decision.
First, for Christians, moral decisions do not become optional simply because their consequences are inconvenient, or even life changing. Second, that means that so long as Bristol is a dependent, and her parents are not Christians of convenience, then there is simply no discussion, regardless of all the harrowing statistics surrounding teen pregnancies. For true Christians -- and, I suspect all truly moral people -- moral decisions are not in thrall to the difficulty of their consequences.
I doubt Mr. Saleton even once acknowledged this aspect of the Palin's moral life, which is surpassing odd considering how central it obviously is. Typical of a liberal, but that is a topic for another thread.
The second is the implicit, but far from acknowledge, position in this statement:
The more profoundly a decision affects a girl's future, the more vital it is that no one, even her parents, be authorized to veto it. And nothing short of death alters a person's life more profoundly than bringing a child into the world.
Can you see what the assumption is?
That of the three options on offer -- abortion, adoption, and keeping the baby -- the assumption is that abortion does not constitute a death, and that death will not profoundly alter the mother's life.
Now, as mentioned above, IANAW. However, I happen to know some people who are. One of them is my 15-yr old daughter. In her world, the angels shed a tear whenever a kitten is hurt. There is simply no way, should she become a teen pregnancy statistic, that she could have an abortion and not carry that with her for the rest of her life. It might be the most convenient decision, but that sure as heck does not mean it comes without profound costs.
All the options facing a pregnant teen are bad; all are likely to be emotionally scarring -- for life. Pretending that one is not is simply nonsense. (Since IANAW, nearly everything women do leaves me in a pretty constant state of astonishment, but the obvious failure of girls and young women to take this glaringly obvious -- and existentially central -- fact on board cranks the astonishment level right up to 11.)
As a consequence of missing the fundamental point, and making an unwarranted assumption, Mr. Saleton's conclusion is fatally holed below the water line.
As a society, we must make laws that define one thing from another, even where the boundary may not be terribly clear. Our society defines adulthood as starting at 18. Consequently, a young woman, Bristol in this case, is simply not a moral agent: she does not get to make moral decisions that contradict those of her parents.
Perhaps he would see this more clearly if the shoe was to be shifted to another foot. Do the young man's parents get to make a decision about whether he must -- not should, must -- marry Bristol? If it was my son, all the moral instruction I have given him through life would mean I would do everything in my power to make him marry the mother. He would know that I would always view him as dishonorable should he not shoulder his responsibility, no matter how inconvenient: actions have consequences, our actions define us. That is what parents capable of making moral distinctions do.*
Allowing Bristol to have an abortion would make a mockery of the moral instruction her parents have provided her. Citing inconvenient statistics changes that not one whit. Pretending that an abortion makes the problem go away is staggering nonsense, no matter one's view on abortion's moral considerations, and succeeds only in objectifying women.
So, instead of describing how certain actions -- in this case, pre-marital sex -- can have inescapable life altering consequences, and that stories such as this underline that point, Saleton creates a new victim class; somehow, I doubt he is a parent.
If one wanted to find the shortcomings of the liberal outlook, there is no need to search any further than this.
What surprises me, Amy, is your following his lead.
* I added the preceding two sentences to this post