Abortion vs Democracy

The report of the Select Committee that considered the Abortion Legislation Bill confirms that the whole exercise is an ideological and undemocratic fait accompli.

The process already looked suspect when men were excluded from committee membership (apart from David Seymour, whose membership was unavoidable and passive) and when the committee refused to allow submitters who oppose the bill the courtesy of an oral hearing.

It appears that the policy position that pregnancy is a “health issue” has been a foregone conclusion at least since February 2018 when the Minister for Justice commissioned a report on “alternative approaches to abortion law that would align with treating abortion as a health issue”.

Little wonder, then, that the committee did not even consider whether or not the foetus is a human being, or at least human enough for its future to be of any interest.  These unborn human beings never had a chance.

Despite this, and having already decided that a foetus is nobody, the committee actually fretted over the practice of gender-biased sex selection.  A “health issue” does not have gender!  This is the degree of stupidity that becomes possible when ideology runs amok.

This bovine insensibility is again apparent with the creation of “safe areas” around places where abortions happen.  It is the womb that has always been regarded as the “safe space”, so much so that returning there is the theme of some wishful delusions and some approaches to meditation.

Not anymore.  When this bill becomes law, the womb becomes an extremely hazardous place, in which you are nobody – valuable only as long as you are valued by the “pregnant person” (who used to be your “mother”).  In the womb, you will be fair game, right up until you are pulled out by a doctor who is birthing foetuses today not killing them.  Birthdays will now commemorate your escape from the womb into safety!

We are told that MPs will vote by conscience.  No, they won’t, as they are no longer free to do so.  Parliament has shown that it is ring-barked by the most heartless and ruthless version of wokeness on the market: MPs’ votes are visible and, in today’s new order, punishable.

The heartlessness of the Bill is visible in the report: “Some of us expressed concern about a foetus experiencing pain during an abortion”.  Not “all of us”!  This is wokeness with its gloves off.

And the ruthlessness of the new law is not confined to the foetus.  It also deliberately exposes conscientious medical practitioners to the risk of dismissal and other punitive actions by their employer.  Indeed, a doctor’s day-to-day legal and ethical obligations are now suborned by the notion that the “pregnant person” is the only patient.

Apparently, all those pregnant women and couples who think the woman is carrying their child are stupid and deluded.  There is no child, it’s a “health issue”.  No-one to speak to, no-one to name, no-one to sing to or play music to.  At birth, that health issue is magically transformed into a human being: then, they have a child and can sing all they like, but not before.  The woke ideologues on the Parliamentary Select Committee know better than the rest of us, and they are laying it down as law.

This appalling bill should be handed over to a referendum, where we vote by secret ballot (and cannot be punished for “voting wrong”).  What are the chances of the woke ideologues ceding control to real New Zealanders?

Democracy has clearly been suspended for this Bill.  Is this a one-off, or something we should try to get used to?

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Euthanasia – 4 myths

1) The choice myth

Euthanasia advocates seem to believe that referring to “choice” always clinches the argument.  They appear to assume that choice can only be good.  I agree that choice is better than coercion, but this doesn’t mean choice is necessarily and always a boon.

Have you seen the movie Sophie’s Choice?  The pivotal scene involves the guards at a Nazi concentration camp tormenting a woman by saying they’re going to kill one of her two children and demanding that she choose which.  If she doesn’t choose, they’ll kill both.  Is this choice a boon?

Even in more mundane situations, a choice can actually be burdensome: one is required to make a decision, which requires thought.  Depending on the topic, that thought may be accompanied by strong emotion.  Some choice decisions are really difficult: we call some of them dilemmas: we often prefer to avoid them and don’t like them being imposed on us.

Euthanasia advocates entirely overlook the great majority of terminally ill patients who are eligible for euthanasia but who might prefer not to think about it.  (I say “great majority” because a part of the euthanasia sales pitch is that it will result in very few deaths.)  Once the euthanasia topic pervades the hospital, it will be the elephant in every room.  We will in no time reach a point where patients who wish to live will have to say so.  The “have to” will not be a legal obligation, but a social-familial one: they will feel expected to have thought about it and to have “reached a position”.

The End of Life Choice Act will impose this terrible burden on a large number of people who are already more than sufficiently burdened.

2) The dignity myth

Another magic word relied on by euthanasia advocates is “dignity”.  They tell us that people have a right to “die with dignity” and that this justifies euthanasia.

I agree that a controlled death (predictable, painless, surrounded by family etc) is desirable – far more convenient and less unpleasant than waiting and risking being alone when the time comes.  I can easily imagine preferring it.

However, I don’t agree that a controlled death is more “dignified” than an uncontrolled one, any more than I think any other exertion of control (in any context) is more dignified than allowing events to unfold.

For a start, our desire for control, while understandable, is often not realistic.  A lot of energy and resources are often wasted on it.

In addition, the desire for control is often more like a need – a need that can become seriously dysfunctional, such as in the cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder and extreme perfectionism.

In any case, I simply don’t see how the desire/need for a controlled death is more “dignified” than the patience, forbearance and endurance involved in submitting to circumstance.  It may be a preferable death, in all sorts of ways, but not more dignified.

3) The “My life, my death, my choice” myth

This rather indignant insistence on personal autonomy wants to be conclusive in the euthanasia debate, but it only relates to euthanasia where the patient takes their own life.  As we all know, suicide is already legal, so this bumper-sticker seems redundant to me.

It may be that people who use this argument do so in the hope that it will somehow apply to the other scenario where a patient who is unable to self-administer the lethal drug arranges for someone else to do it.  However, it doesn’t apply there.

The patient is in the midst of a personal tragedy and we should sympathise with all people so afflicted.  However, it is that patient’s tragedy and I believe we are not supposed to drag other people into our personal tragedies, and we should especially not do this if we wish to proudly proclaim our autonomy at the same time.

Far from being independent or autonomous, this patient brings another person into their death and turns that other person into a killer.  Although the other person provides a formal legal consent, turning someone into a killer will profoundly change them.  “Please kill me” is asking a lot and the blithe and cocky “My life, my death, my choice” trivialises this.

I suppose the fundamental problem with “My life, my death, my choice” slogan (and also the “My body, my choice” of abortion advocacy) is the utter self-absorption embedded in it.  This is no more impressive than the adolescent “Me, me, me”, and we should not expect any good to result from adults appropriating that sentiment and giving it legal authority.

4) The compassion myth

This myth falls over with the others.

It makes perfect sense to feel compassion for any human who is suffering – whether they are suffering from poverty, exclusion, fear, grief, helplessness, worthlessness, despair, physical pain or, really, anything else that hurts them.

I don’t think this idea is controversial and I’m confident that people on both sides of the euthanasia discussion fully appreciate it.  So, when euthanasia advocates claim compassion for their side only, they are just being morally conceited.

Compassion is not just felt, valued and practised by everyone (or, should be), it is also felt and practised for the benefit of everyone, not just for some.  If it is selective, it really stops being good.  After all, compassion is not the only virtue, but is part of a package of virtues that includes justice.  Selective compassion is unjust.

It can be seen from the choice myth that euthanasia advocates’ compassion is extremely selective: they seek a choice which is a benefit for a small number and a terrible burden for a far greater number.

Their narrow moral focus becomes even more apparent in their “Me, me, me” slogan.  They give no consideration whatever to the fact that, in many cases, a human being who has never killed, and indeed who has vowed to “Do no harm”, is turned into a killer for their sake.  This is ruthless selfishness, not compassion.

 

 

 

 

 

Abortion referendum, please

New Zealand should have three referenda later this year, not two.  There will be referenda on the “conscience issues” of euthanasia (End of Life Choice Bill) and the legalisation of cannabis.  There should also be a referendum for the most difficult conscience issue of all – widely increased access to abortion (Abortion Legislation Bill).

The Government wants New Zealanders to pretend that abortion is not a conscience issue: the effect of the Abortion Legislation Bill is to rebrand abortion as a “health issue”.  According to this view, the pregnant woman is the only person involved: the embryo/foetus is just a mass; the woman suffers from a condition (pregnancy) that is resolved by removing the mass.

It is not necessary here to describe how ludicrous and repulsive this view is; it is enough to point out that it is highly contentious – probably the most contentious moral issue most of us have ever encountered.  Many New Zealanders consider the embryo/foetus to be either a human being or, in terms of its potential, “human enough” to require serious recognition and protection.

The pretence that this morally highly contentious issue is not a conscience issue at all is nothing short of dishonest – and should be rejected out of hand, not only in the interests of reason and common sense but also as a protest against that dishonesty.

This dishonesty was reinforced by the decision to exclude men (so far as possible) from membership of the Select Committee and by the Select Committee’s decision that submitters who oppose the Bill altogether (seeing no way to tweak it into decent shape) would not be permitted to appear before the Committee.  Only those who support increased access to abortion were granted the privilege of a hearing.  To use the machinery of our democracy to reduce public access to democratic processes is profoundly wrong.

As the Bill is not yet law, it remains for Parliament to decide whether abortion is a conscience issue or a health issue.  For that reason, Parliament might (or might not) decide that the decision whether or not to pass the Bill is indeed a “conscience issue” and allow MPs a “personal vote” rather than a “party vote”.  However, Parliament could also make a far better decision – put the matter to a referendum, along with euthanasia and cannabis.

There are compelling reasons why the issue should be resolved by referendum:

1)      It is completely ridiculous to have a referendum on euthanasia, which allows a person to take their own life or to agree to be killed, and not to have a referendum on abortion which, according to many of us, allows a human being to be killed without their consent.  Our law-making processes should not be ridiculous.

2)      A referendum involves voting by secret ballot.  However, when MPs cast a “personal vote”, they do so visibly, without the protection of secrecy.  There may have been times when an MP’s conscience was safe from scrutiny and condemnation – he or she could express a conscientious objection with impunity.  Certainly, this is not the case now.  We see all around us that the ideologies of wokeness govern not only the law but also morality, and are equally dogmatic, condemning and unforgiving in both settings.  We see that a conscientious objection to any woke dictate is “wrong” and is punished severely – for example, by crippling the objector’s career.  MPs are no exception, they are ring-barked by wokeness in general and by hardline feminism in particular.  They are not free, as perhaps they once were, to vote according to their conscience.  We citizen voters are not as yet under siege to the same extent; and, anyhow, we have the security of a secret ballot.  So, the issue should be left to us.

Abortion on demand is a conscience issue that should be addressed by those who are still free to vote with their conscience – the electorate, in a referendum.

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Christmas

The period between 24 December and 1 January is now commonly described as “the holiday period” (or similar).  I get that, but I’ve also noticed that an increasing number of people don’t seem to know what Christmas even means anymore – to Christians, I mean.

Christmas is not easy to explain, as it is part of a vast epic.  Christians typically believe:

  • God kept creating until He created a being (human) who is capable of returning the compliment of loving.
  • The proud defiance in the Eden story (whether or not it occurred as told) is found in every human heart: essentially, “No-one’s the boss of me!”
  • This defiance resulted in our residing in a world which, while magnificent, is hazardous. (Of course, we are ourselves the greatest hazard.)
  • God is aggrieved by this separation from us and is strongly motivated to reconcile. After various endeavours at reconciling, including an exclusive relationship with the people of Israel (standing in for humanity), it emerged that something quite radical was required.

The point of the Gospel expedition emerges at Easter, but its radical nature is apparent immediately, with the Creator of the cosmos submitting to be born as a human child.  The solution required a new stand-in for humanity – one who could manage the task.  The stand-in had to be human, but only God could perform the task: Jesus Christ is both.

The Gospel expedition is for all humanity, as can be seen in the location of the Nativity and in those who were there: Jews representing continuity with the epic; Roman occupation and the 3 visiting Kings representing everyone else; the Kings representing the powerful, the shepherds representing the poor.

While Jesus’ overlordship is recognised in the homage of the visiting Kings, his position was precarious at the outset – conceived out of wedlock, born in something less than a human dwelling in a subjugated land, and already the object of an assassination plot (courtesy of King Herod).  Still, the expedition is underway.

Yet, Christmas is a positive time, in the same sense that the Friday of Easter is “Good”, and because it’s about –

  • the hope one feels on hearing the first sounds of rescue (the cavalry, the choppers, the police or ambulance siren, your parents’ car pulling into the driveway);
  • grateful wonder that, as we can’t earn or strive our way to God, God has come to us;
  • the reaffirmation of the astonishing value of being human;
  • the value of family and expressing love (eg in gift-giving).

The celebration of family in “the holiday period” in secular society is wonderful and extremely important, but it barely scratches the surface of Christmas.

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Abortion or bereavement?

Labour MP Ginny Anderson has introduced a Bill to amend the Holidays Act to allow parents bereaved through miscarriage or stillbirth to be given paid leave:

Stuff article:

https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/parenting/pregnancy/118054455/bereavement-leave-proposed-for-parents-affected-by-miscarriage-and-stillbirth

The Bill itself:

http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/member/2019/0159/latest/LMS220706.html

This sounds like a good idea: a miscarriage or stillbirth involves the loss of a life to which the parents have usually become deeply attached.

However, Ms Anderson is also a strong supporter of abortion on demand (see Abortion Legislation Bill): https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2138964062898856

I don’t see how it is rational to hold both positions, and Anderson really needs to decide where her head is at.

We all know that pro-lifers say an embryo/foetus is a human being while pro-choicers say it isn’t.

If it is, then there is something (someone, really) to mourn and bereavement makes sense, but equally abortion is therefore a homicide.

If it isn’t, then abortion is fine but there is no-one to mourn – no substantive loss, just the loss of a specific hope for the future.

The attempt in the Abortion Legislation Bill to pretend that abortion is a health issue, rather than an issue with serious moral content (a “conscience issue”, let’s say), does not affect this reasoning.  Regardless of what the Bill says, the embryo/foetus is still there and it is still either a human life or not.  A Bill can ignore facts, but it can’t change them.

Anyway, it seems to me that Anderson is in a non-viable position and needs to decide:

  • human or not human?
  • abort or mourn?

I can think of only one way in which Anderson’s seemingly contradictory positions can be reconciled: “An embryo/foetus is a human life if, and only if, I want it”.  In other words,

“I decide what a thing is and whether or not it has value”.

At any other time, this would be dismissed as a ludicrous degree of hubris.  Now, though, it’s less remarkable.  In fact, the narcissism that passes for virtue today – manifested in unhinged entitlement and the denial of reality that is not self-created – may naturally lead to this kind of ugly absurdity.

 

 

 

Diversity vs Justice

I seldom hear anyone talking about “social justice” anymore.  I used to hear it a lot.  What I hear instead is “diversity” –  though seemingly from the same people.

These people seem to have decided on “diversity” as the new theme of their mission.  I’ve also noticed that, while justice was something these people used to “seek”, diversity is being “celebrated”.

The switch from seeking to celebrating made better sense to me once I realised that the focus of this movement has significantly narrowed.

When they were called SJWs (“social justice warriors”), they pursued justice for a wide range of people who are on the receiving end of systemic injustice, or even systemic disrespect.  The people for whom justice was pursued included the poor, the disabled and chronically ill, people with mental illness, Māori and Pasifika, the elderly, women, LGBTIQ folk, refugees and immigrants of colour.  Apart from women, these groups are all minorities.

When the movement switched from pursuing justice to celebrating diversity – and the SJWs became “progressives” – most of these groups were left behind.  The diversity being celebrated is diversity of gender, sexual orientation and race (especially colour). 

That’s it, though I should mention two other relevant developments (one quite recent):

  • There is a very strong (and difficult to explain) peripheral sponsorship of Muslims, especially if they are refugees and immigrants. They’re usually non-white, of course.  They are also as stridently anti-Christian as their sponsors, so that may be a part of the explanation.  The inclusion of this group is strange, because “progressives” tend to be atheist or agnostic.  Also strange because, if Muslims were to become influential, it would be at the expense of atheists, LGBTIQ folk and assertive feminists.  Still, there it is.
  • There is a more recent but fast-developing focus on young people as a worthy victim group – victims of climatic neglect, I suppose.

Selection process

I’ve been wondering how a “victim group” gets to be shortlisted for sponsorship by “progressives” and welcomed aboard the Weeping Juggernaut.  This is what I’ve come up with:

  1. Feminism, LGBTIQ and, in New Zealand, Māori have very large, well-funded and assertive lobbies. The race component is propped up by Pasifika and, more recently, by Muslim refugees and immigrants who are mostly people of colour.
  2. These groups (apart from recent arrivals) are already on the same page, ideologically – completely on board with the identity politics that venerates them.
  3. The identifying attributes of these groups are positive (in the case of women and Māori) or are at least promoted as positive (in the case of LGBTIQ).

Criteria ##1 & 2 make the work of advancing the causes of these groups much easier. 

Criterion #3 is the most interesting, I think, and seems responsible for the intentional discarding of the groups left behind.

The discarded groups don’t have these advantages.  Some don’t have strong lobbies, but even those who do tend to fail on criteria ##2 & 3.  If they caught up on #2, by spending some time being indoctrinated at a university, they might subscribe to the ideology, but they’d still fail on #3.

While it existed, the Deaf Pride movement in the US claimed criterion #3, just as LGBTIQ does, but generally the discarded groups struggle to market themselves in a positive way.  They rely on a little sympathy or compassion to motivate the correction of systemic injustice.  In this, they display honesty and common sense, while LGBTIQ rely on pride and rebranding.

Some groups have had their noses rubbed into the fact that they’ve been discarded.  The elderly are a good example: nowadays, I only hear about the “dignity” of the elderly (and also the very sick) in the context of euthanasia.  The recently outed “OK boomer” is further evidence of the broad-based contempt for the elderly.  I expect this will get worse now that the Juggernaut seems to be taking on the very young as the latest victim group: “Out with the old and in with the new” will apply to the elderly directly. 

I would suggest that criterion #3 was designed to exclude the groups that have been left behind.  The reason – marketing.  Put another way, you have to look good on a Diversity Pride March.

The criteria for admission onto the Weeping Juggernaut have taken the Left a very long way from the social justice they used to pursue.  It seems, in fact, that an ethos has been replaced by an aesthetic.

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Governed by adolescents

Recently, Greens MP Chloe Swarbrick shut down an interjector with “OK boomer”.  It was reported in Stuff:

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/117196427/chle-swarbrick-explains-what-ok-boomer-means

Ideally, when an MP is speaking in Parliament, no-one interjects.  However, interjections are in fact extremely common and are tolerated to a large degree.  The MP speaking sometimes responds to the interjector.  The Speaker will intervene if the exchange gets out of hand or the interjection itself warrants intervention.  The MP speaking has no authority, only the right to speak.

On this occasion, there was an interjection and the interjector was silenced with “OK boomer”.  I don’t know who interjected but I assume, in the interests of the shut down being meaningful, it was an MP who is old enough to present as a baby boomer.  Swarbrick is quite young, a shining light of the Greens.

It is difficult to see how the age of the interjector might have been relevant to proceedings or how it would make sense to expound on “OK boomer” by saying, “You should not interject (or, your interjection is without merit) because you’re a baby boomer”.

We all know what a furore there would be if an interjector was silenced with “OK youngster” or “OK madam”.  In the case of “OK boomer”, there is no furore: instead, there is an article that explains and attempts to justify the blatantly ageist remark.

Far from apologising (simple enough) or acknowledging that she misspoke by delivering an ageist shut down, Swarbrick considers “OK boomer” to be “relatively innocuous”.  We all know that, for the elite, there is no such thing as “relatively innocuous” sexism and racism:  it is all condemned on reflex.  Nonetheless, she stands by her conduct and Stuff (of course) agrees.

However, she knows that she has misspoken and this is why the fascinating explanation continues.  She says the expression is a “simple summation of collective exhaustion”.  This “exhaustion” results from –

  1. a decade of jibes about the need for millennials to “pull their socks up”;
  2. the fact that millennials are facing environmental and social challenges;
  3. “you cannot win a deeply polarised debate – facts don’t matter”. This is eventually explained as meaning that a lot of baby boomers don’t accept facts.  (It’s news to me that this characterises boomers in particular, but never mind.)

And I suppose the collective nature of the exhaustion means    4. “It isn’t just me”.

Dehydrating the language, we have –

  1. I’m allowed to be rude if it’s retaliatory.
  2. I’m allowed to be rude because life is hard.
  3. I’m allowed to be rude in a polarised debate – especially since it was polarised by “them” (as everyone knows, “we” are really nice).
  4. Anyhow, I’m not responsible for anything I say when acting out my special and enormously powerful “collective” emotions.

It would be difficult to invent a rationale that is so self-righteous, so averse to accountability and so fanciful.   And Swarbrick is one of the more talented Greens.

Then there is the particular focus of this contempt – older folk.  This  contempt on the part of the elite has been around for a while and is now becoming more blatant.

For example, age is represented by “stale” in the caricature of society’s great villain – the stale, pale male.

The only time we’ve heard the “dignity” of older folk mentioned in recent years is in connection with euthanasia.  And, when Diversity is spoken of, age is not mentioned – although the young are starting to appear in that favoured gathering.

We are being governed by toxic adolescents.  I don’t see it turning out well.

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