Opinion: Without God, All Things are Permitted
For the last few weeks following the overturn of Roe v Wade, the age-old justifications for abortion have once again reared their ugly heads. One can’t go onto social media without being swarmed by subtle misinformation, typically underlain with an appeal to emotion. The so-called “activists,” filled with a raging fire of indignation towards anyone who does not subscribe to their ideology. If you’re not for abortion, you’re against it. If you’re not with them, you’re the oppressor. They call for protests in the streets, going as far as vandalizing pro-life clinics with the threat: “If abortion isn’t safe, you aren’t either.” Their intimidation does not stop there. Threats were also flung at the Supreme Court Justices, particularly Justice Thomas, who received multiple death threats and was labeled “evil” and “whitewashed.” I guess “Black Lives Matter” does not apply to him. This irrational hatred triggered proposals to “abolish the Supreme Court," and to stop “old white people from running this country." Would the abolishment of the Supreme Court include the abdication of President Biden's hand-picked intersectional trophy, Justice Jackson? I don’t think so.
THE ROLE OF RESPONSIBILITY
These overblown reactions and incoherent arguments in favor of abortion all include the neglect of one major role: responsibility. Around 96% of abortions are categorized as elective abortions, abortions performed without rape, incest, or the health of the mother playing a part in the pregnancy. Elective abortions all neglect responsibility. Responsibility is assumed when both the mother and the father consent to have a child. Responsibility is assumed when pregnancy is the result, no matter how inconvenient. Responsibility falls upon the mother and the father to rear the child. Yet, far too many justify to themselves leaving this responsibility in the bloody hands of an abortionist.
Fyodor Dostoevsky, the great Russian author, in Crime and Punishment brilliantly displays the sin of self-justification. The book's main character, Raskolnikov, is a struggling student who is short of money and in dire need of it. To satisfy his temporal needs, he conjures up a conspiracy to murder a pawnbroker and take her money for himself. The pawnbroker is a miserable old lady who takes advantage of her clients, abuses her mentally disabled step-sister, and selfishly hoards the money obtained from her business. Raskolnikov, while plotting the murder, mentally justifies the heinous crime. He conceives that his murderous act will free the enslaved step-sister from her bondage, and that the money would be used for the benefit of mankind, Raskonilkov being the benefactor. Raskonilkov even views the murder as an act of virtue, positing that the world would be better off without the malevolent lady. The plot is justified, murder is committed, the blood is on his hands. However, sooner than later, his conscience convicts him while his baseless justifications shatter.
Does the reasoning from Raskolnikov sound familiar? Bodily autonomy, feminism, patriarchal oppression, career pursuits, financial insecurity, or inconvenience are just some of the many self-justifications for feticide. It is as if the prescient work of Dostoevsky is being played out in front of our eyes. With a mask of self-righteousness, many find abortion to be the “honorable” decision to take. Even some Latter-day Saints claim the mother's agency as a justification for abortion. Almost 40 years ago, now President Russell M. Nelson addressed this same perverted doctrinal view in General Conference. President Nelson said:
“Another contention raised is that a woman is free to choose what she does with her own body. To a certain extent this is true for all of us. We are free to think. We are free to plan. And then we are free to do. But once an action has been taken, we are never free from its consequences. Those considering abortion have already exercised certain choices. The woman’s choice for her own body does not validate choice for the body of another.”
The rational mind, or shall we say irrational, will always find a way to satisfy the temptation to shirk one’s responsibility.
THE RESPONSIBILITY AHEAD
The overturn of Roe v Wade was just the start of a long journey ahead for pro-lifers. The responsibility now falls more upon us as we find ways to take care of, provide for, and adequately sustain the thousands of children that will be saved from an early demise. Ben Shapiro explained soon after the news of the Supreme Court decision that, “For those of us who care about unborn life, it is now our job. We can no longer blame the Supreme Court for not doing anything.” Donating and volunteering to help support local pro-life clinics, national relief organizations, and advocacy groups is a good start. Improving our foster care system and adoptive services will also help provide for new children.
BYU students especially must stand firm on our moral foundation, and reject the pernicious scourge of abortion. As Chloe Chandler, a BYU student, put it in her speech at the Utah Capitol Pro-life rally after the overturn of the decision, "It's on us to educate our peers, help pro-life organizations in their efforts to support women and vote so we can make pro-life the new norm." We have the obligation to advocate for the right to life of unborn children, and demonstrate our civic duty in electing pro-life representatives. We cannot shirk our own responsibility in this matter. BYU is a God-fearing university, and we need to bring our religious convictions into our political views. Without God, there is always a justification. Or as Dostoevsky penned, “Without God all things are permitted.”
July 17, 2022