More “Pro Life” in the form of Fetal Disposal Laws

Starting December 19th, 2016 in the State of Texas, aborted fetuses must be buried or cremated. The new rule is just another way to penalize the poor and women who are unable to care for a child. The law was the brainchild of Gov. Greg Abbott, one of many Christian ideologues currently running our state. The allegedly secular “reasons” for the law are to promote public health and safety yet we don’t have to hold burials or cremations for amputated limbs or even diseased tissue. The law does not apply to miscarriages, despite the result being no different than an abortion.

This law has been called a “Trojan horse“, and is clearly part of a larger initiative to restrict access to abortion. The law seems to be the Republican response in the state to the Supreme Court striking down another Trojan horse law that would have closed most family planning clinics in Texas. Texas also publishes a propaganda piece to try to scare women into not having abortions. Clearly. there is a coordinated movement at work here.

The Guttmacher Institute has an impressive body of research that shows that restrictive abortion laws does not have much effect on the incidence of abortion. Lest you think this is propaganda, look at this World Health Organization study. Such laws do have the effect of making abortion and bearing children less safe. Anyone who has studied the issue can look at Western Europe and how they have lax abortion laws and relatively low rates of abortions. The magic ingredients are contraceptives, sex education, and a non-Puritanical attitude toward sex. Note, too, that in Western European countries, women who choose to raise children are given adequate health care. The State of Texas, by contrast, seems to be motivated to lie and coerce women into having children and either standing in the way of their health or actively trying to sabotage it by meddling with medical procedures. Childbirth is a risky undertaking and Abbott and his fellow religious nuts should not be the ones making such decisions on behalf of any woman.

This fetal remains law and so many other attempts to control reproduction in Texas is clearly driven by the Christian “pro life” movement. For his part, Abbott touted the burial law in a fundraising letter to his Christian base. Christians in Texas elected Abbott to do their bidding on this issue and he is clearly working them for more money to continue in this vein. He is up for re-election in 2018. Onward, Christian soldier!

What does the Christian “pro life” movement tell us?

  • First, it tells us that Christianity must use the government to achieve its ends, lacking any other significant power. There is no god that can make this stuff happen, despite being “all powerful” and allegedly deeply desiring to play traffic cop in every women’s uterus. It is also clear that the Churches lack any direct influence over their flocks. Secular laws have more moral influence and more teeth. And finally, we all know that nothing fails like prayer, despite Jesus saying “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24). If Christianity had any real power, they wouldn’t be trying to leverage the government to do the things that they and their god clearly can’t.
  • Christians are happy to use slimy and harmful tactics to achieve their goals. Lies and emotional manipulation are traditional Christian tools. “From their fruits ye shall know them.” There is no attempt to try to reduce abortions through sex education, for example. It’s “boys will be boys”, “Sin of Onan“, but the woman stuck with a pregnancy is a whore who needs to be punished. They will tell you “God will provide,” but with every abortion, they have the opportunity to actually provide meaningful financial assistance instead to a women who lacks the resources to raise a child (through college of course). Yes, it’s expensive, but isn’t that the point? They clearly don’t believe that “God will provide” them with the means to do that. They don’t want that responsibility and they will scream “persecution” if it’s foisted on them. Instead being compassionate, Christians instead choose to be vindictive to women who are in a vulnerable situation. Apparently, religion is just an excuse people give to be a dick.
  • Christians don’t believe in the sanctity of human life. Just look at how church’s spend their money. If “human life” is an arena of “ultimate concern,” why is it completely absent from their priorities? The children they pretend to help are nowhere in their budgets. Instead, they expect local and federal subsidy while operating tax free and accumulating vast amounts of wealth, contrary to Jesus teachings. Church leaders draw large salaries that could be better spent on the children. Don’t expect that to ever change. Those salaries are more sacred than any fetus. If all churches would just pay property taxes, they could make a big difference in the world — even to just provide better programs for child health care.
  • Christianity’s efforts actually have the effect of manufacturing poor people. If a pregnant woman seeks an abortion for financial reasons, clearly having a child will set her back and harm the financial future of the child. Studies have shown that abortion has not been shown to have an impact on later child bearing and many abortions are sought by women who already have children. But the timing has a lot to do with how capable she is to raise a child. Poor children are more likely to need program where Christians will have an opportunity to indoctrinate them. One wonders whether churches prefer weaker, more easily manipulated children to stronger ones. That’s seems to be the hidden goal of their breeding program.
  • We already know that a variety of social ills are correlated with religious belief, including things like incidence of STDs and teen pregnancy. The availability of legalized abortion has been strongly correlated with a drop in crime rate. Clearly, Christianity has little to offer in terms of a solution to social problems except in the form of platitudes and icons from whom beg for help.

Christianity has proven itself to be a thuggish and manipulative fraud. Churches amass money while actively making social problems worse. Christians have just proven themselves to be dicks of the highest order. And yes, my apologies, I’m just speaking about those Christians who are making a difference in Texas.

Open Thread for Episode 20.48: Russell and Tracie

Topic is the Genesis story of Eden which casts human agency as villainous, and how this is reflected in some fundamentalist ideologies regarding the “sin” of asserting one’s own agency–resulting in objectification becoming normalized and even idealized. The Eden story begins the repeated theme of subjugation of one’s own agency and will to that of another–of total subjugation and, consequently, objectification (the denouncing of that which makes us human, rather than object, the will or agency).

Examples of modern agency-denigrating comments by such brands of Christian include statement such as:

“You just want to sin and not be held accountable.”

Since “sin” is not about what causes real harm, but about simply acting in a way that is antithesis to what god would have you do, this comment merely condemns the act of asserting one’s own agency as somehow wrong.

“You worship yourself” (variants may include putting yourself in the position of god in some way).

Again, this is simply asserting that you are holding your own agency as being as important as the agency of what god would have you do, or even more important. So, it boils down to denouncing the assertion of one’s own will or agency as haughty and incorrect.

“You trust your own judgment (rather than what god tells you to do).”

Clearly viewing the person as foolish and wrong for, again, the act of simply asserting one’s own agency.

Objectification of a human being (often conflated with sexualization–although I believe it’s important to differentiate between the two, as they are not synonymous) means denying their agency and treating them as a “thing” by holding their will/agency as irrelevant or less relevant than one’s own–thereby making them nonhuman or less human, and more object-like.

The Christian religion–and especially the fundamentalist branches not only downplay, but vilify agency as wicked, evil and “sinful.” And this carries out in modern conversations with regard to issues such as abortion where analogies are often used comparing women to objects in order to show cause for why a woman’s agency can be disregarded in the equation of conflict of rights between mother and unborn. Terms like “consent” are distorted and used in ways we would not use in any other context. A woman who has consented to sex is often said, by such people, to have “consented” to gestation and childbirth, whereas we don’t say that people who consent to drive have “consented” to die in a fiery car crash–and if the crash occurs we understand why the driver would attempt to escape their death, and we would help them escape by offering whatever assistance we could to avoid the negative consequences of that risk event occurring.

By subjugating human will and agency, and undermining concepts like “consent,” Christianity has created a (sub?)culture of dehumanization and objectification that considers itself morally upright compared to other cultures where respect and regard for human agency are promoted.

Be very skeptical of claims that Donald Trump is an atheist

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump, holds up his bible who was giving to him by his mother as he speaks during the Values Voter Summit, held by the Family Research Council Action, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in Washington ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

As I mentioned on the show several times in the last few weeks, the Atheist Community of Austin is a non-profit group and we don’t endorse political candidates as a matter of policy. We do encourage political engagement though, and there is a big difference.

Donald Trump won the election a week ago today, and will take office in two months. Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts about Hillary Clinton, but at this point they are pretty much irrelevant. The question is no longer “Should we vote for Trump?” but “What will a Trump presidency look like?” That is a hard question to answer decisively, because one of the main features of Trump’s campaign was that he was incredibly erratic and unpredictable. When you come right down to it, who the hell knows what he will do?

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