The feminist writer Florynce Kennedy once said, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” She didn’t give the left enough credit. Abortion has become a kind of “sacrament” because women can get pregnant. Abortion has morphed from a taboo tragedy to a constitutional right: a sine qua non of the Democratic Party, who fight for it religiously. Abortion is a deathly lifeline for progressives, a central column supporting the political platform of narcissistic relativism. It is the unholy sacrament.
Liberals assign a pseudo-sacramental significance inherent in the “right” to kill an unwanted child which causes, like a sacrament, an existential attitude through its symbolic reality. A sacrament is not just a religious idea or holy practice; it is something far more than its external nature suggests. The Sacraments of the Church are institutions of Jesus Christ to give mystical gifts to those of proper disposition. They are efficacious signs of grace, which contain, cause, and confer the thing signified. The word “sacrament” might be applied analogously to those things that both characterize and cause a human condition, and abortion is a dark participant in that analogy.
When Roe v. Wade gripped the nation in 1973, current presidential-hopeful Joe Biden protested that the law went too far. “I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body,” Biden said in a 1974 interview. But being a bad politician and a good Democrat, he soon fell in lockstep with his party’s iron-fisted position that sanctified abortion rights in the leftist canon. Earlier this year, he Biden finally relinquished his support for the Hyde Amendment (the legislative provision that prevents the application of federal funds for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother). In the words of Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia:
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
Sign up to get Crisis articles delivered to your inbox daily
The unborn child means exactly zero in the calculus of power for Democratic Party leaders, and the right to an abortion, once described as a tragic necessity, is now a perverse kind of “sacrament most holy.” It will have a candidate’s allegiance and full-throated reverence… or else.
Joe Biden has evolved in his stance just as abortion acceptance has evolved, for abortion bolsters a cultural concept of egotistical control and license that is essential for life as the left would have it. In this way, abortion bears a sacred importance that parodies the sacramental. While a sacrament relieves people from the burden of death through Life, abortion relieves people from the so-called burden of life through death, and, as such, it is the very antithesis of a sacrament. But it is revered as one, and we may take heart at hearing of priests who will withhold the Blessed Sacrament from those who publicly venerate abortion—as happened to Joe Biden on the campaign trail in South Carolina.
The modern determination to dictate moral consequences with dogmatic force is a slippery slope that grows more cliff-like with every year. “Safe and legal” abortions led to Kermit Gosnell’s Philadelphia house-of-horrors clinic, where fetal suction tubing did double-time as oral-airway assistance and tiny, mangled corpses were stuffed in plastic bags, milk jugs, juice cartons, and cat food containers. The abortion trade is not known to attract the best physicians, nor to operate under much regulatory oversight. It does not take much for this “sacrament” of self-centered, self-empowering society to proclaim its sacrilege even as it is proclaimed sacrosanct. Despite the lies, euphemisms, posturing, and sophistry in our culture, abortion is never safe and always harmful to women. As Ben Shapiro put it,
the Democratic “safe, legal and rare” formulation regarding abortion was logically and morally untenable: If Democrats wanted abortion to be rare thanks to its inherent immorality, there was no reason for it to be legal. Democrats have finally come around: They’re now “shouting” their abortions, proclaiming them from the rooftops, suggesting that there is a moral good achieved by abortion.
Abortion is for both sides of the aisle a matter of life and death, hence the divisive and vitriolic nature of the debate. Hearings late last month involving Planned Parenthood representatives and Missouri officials will soon determine whether that state will withhold licensing and close its one and only abortuary. Such a ruling would make Missouri the only state without a single legal abortion option—and the only state where the all-holy “right to choose” is overruled. This last-standing abortion mill in Missouri was found to have “deficient practices” in safety standards, causing the state to deny its license renewal. Missouri’s assistant attorney general described several “failed” abortions, botched jobs where a half-dozen procedures were necessary to complete a single murder, or where twins were not initially detected, requiring a second impromptu procedure.
Planned Parenthood is fighting these concerns for human health in the name of “women’s health,” questioning whether abortion clinics should meet the legal standards of health and safety as required in outpatient clinics. If the ruling in Missouri goes against Planned Parenthood, it might uphold, albeit incrementally, the right to life in a way that may eventually challenge the right to choose. A similar struggle is underway over the only abortion clinic in the Dayton, Ohio area because of failure to secure a written patient-transfer agreement from local hospitals, as the law requires. Alabama’s bill is another dramatic resistance, legislating that a doctor who performs an abortion is punishable with life in prison. Even though this bill and others like it are essentially unenforceable as long as Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, such efforts could serve as pathfinding precedents back to the Supreme Court and stop the slaughter of innocent children behind a sanctimoniously silvered façade of civil rights.
One way that abortion is something of a sacramental avenue is in the baptism of blood: the droves of dead are martyrs for truth and justice. They are the new Holy Innocents, silently slaughtered in the name of self-interest and the false repose that dismisses the challenge of charity. The only thing sacred is that nothing is sacred.
Image: The statue of Moloch currently on display at the Roman Colosseum (Wikimedia Commons/Jean-Pierre Dalbéra)