Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The Meaning of “Life”: Abortion and Traditionalism

By Richard Spencer

The cloyingly named “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act” (HR3541) failed in the House on Thursday, despite gaining overwhelming Republican support. If passed, the bill would have outlawed racial and sexual discrimination in abortion, jailing any doctor who helped a woman end a pregnancy because the fetus was a girl or a minority.

For some, the bill called up fears of the mean, ol’ “far Right”: Republicans who seek to take away women’s rights and send them all, humiliated and barefoot, back to the kitchen—and perhaps establish a national weekend curfew of 9:30PM and confiscate everyone’s iPods while they’re at it.

More astute observers perceived the bill as an attempt by the Religious Right to, subserviently, boost the electoral prospects of Mitt Romney. Now, conservatives dream, the specter of “sex-selection abortion” can be spun as “The Real War on Women.” (Rush Limbaugh—along with, no doubt, the entire Red State echo-chamber—has already picked up on the meme.)

Thursday’s political stunt certainly clarifies the utter uselessness of the American Right; more important for our purposes, it reveals the ways in which both the mainstream Right and Left are beholden to the same egalitarian ur-ideology.

Perhaps no other political issue generates more claims to absolute, no-compromising principle than abortion: the unborn has a right to life; a woman has a right to privacy and choice; abortion is murder; etc. Nevertheless, whenever the rubber hits the road, both sides quickly become wishy-washy.

Very rare is the Pro-Life advocate who will state that women who seek to have abortions should be tried for murder, perhaps even executed, despite the fact that this would be necessary if abortion were truly criminalized. Instead, they like to blame abortion on “doctors,” implicitly men, who are, in reality, performing a task that surely would have taken place without their assistance, and in a much more dangerous fashion.

In turn, for liberals and progressives, abortion isn’t simply a matter of “privacy,” but is wrapped up in a particular vision of femininity and modernity.

Hillary Clinton, for instance, is known as being staunch on a “woman’s right to choose”…except when she’s lecturing Asians that that they should never, ever consider sex-selection abortions. As she toldthe New York Times in 2009,

Obviously, there’s work to be done in both India and China, because the infanticide rate of girl babies is still overwhelmingly high, and unfortunately with technology, parents are able to use sonograms to determine the sex of a baby, and to abort girl children simply because they’d rather have a boy. And those are deeply set attitudes.

For Clinton, and millions like her, abortion  isn’t, actually, a “right” in itself. Instead, it is meaningful to them in that it’s a part of something larger. When Hillary thinks “abortion,” the image that flashes through her head, I imagine, is of a 29-year-old budding lawyer or Capitol Hill staffer—a young women who won’t let a Saturday-night mistake or the patriarchal demands of her husband hold back her career plans.

On the other hand, when an Indian woman chooses to dispose of a female fetus in the hopes of dedicating her energies to a boy, abortion undergoes a remarkable dialectical reversal—it becometraditionalist, an avatar from the Old World of patriarchy, hierarchy, and the belief in heroes (in Hillary’s words, “deeply set attitudes.”) One is reminded of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, who, in a wild mood, spoke, “Man shall be trained for war and woman for the procreation of the warrior. All else is folly.”

Joseph Stalin actually banned abortion in 1936, which indicates that he was something more than a Marxist—a national socialist and, oddly, a Russian nationalist. Certainly, Stalin’s brand of natalism would offend most American Pro-Lifers, who talk more of the innocence of the unborn and less of the health of the national family.

Moreover, I’ve always sensed that the Religious Right’s attacks on Planned Parenthood for its “racist” and “eugenicist” past evidenced the egalitarian core to these Christians’ thinking. Margaret Sanger sought an alliance with Madison Grant; her sin was thus not just promoting birth-control but being too right-wing…too fascist…too interested in breeding stronger, more beautiful and intelligent human beings.

To her credit, Sanger spoke the absolute truth when, in a lecture on sterilization, she observed,

When we view the political situation and realize that a moron’s vote is as good as an intelligent, educated, thinking citizen, we may well pause and ask ourselves: “Is America really safe for democracy?

I’ve never considered myself “Pro-Life” in the way that the term functions in contemporary discourse. That said, I recognize that contraception and abortion have, on the whole, been a catastrophe for the White race and Occidental civilization. Put simply, those who are most intelligent and reasonable have used contraception too often; those of poor stock, who lack care for the future anyway, have never had any compunction in churning out more wards of the state. In this way, birth-control has been an irony and a tragedy; and it has yielded the exact opposite results to those that its Progressive-era advocates (Sanger, Lothrop Stoddard, et al.) had hoped for.

For these reasons, any effort at a Western revival must be natalist at its heart. Indeed, our most pressing task is to forge a Pro-Life Movement of the Future—one for which life is more than mere existence.

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