A current effort to stifle speech in favor of life rather than abortion threatens both freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Christians must be aware.
Abortion is by definition the termination of life
In any other context, when someone ends a human life it is called murder. People die in various ways, but when one person terminates the life of another, except in executions sanctioned by a court of law, it is called murder. Murder is a crime in every culture. The most primitive of people know two important truths: 1) the union of one man and one woman is marriage, the foundation of life, and 2) when one human takes away the life of another, it is murder. In every culture, marriage is esteemed, and murder is reviled.
In an abortion, one human being takes away the life of another. The person killed is not able to defend or even speak for himself. The person who is killed may not look a lot like an adult human, but he is, nevertheless, as human as anyone else. Every living human being was once a fertilized egg in the body of that person’s mother. Every living human being was once an embryo, once a fetus. Regardless of the labels applied to describe the state of the physical development of the human being, from fertilization to death, that person is a human being. That human being is a person. If someone steals life away from that person, it is murder.| Abortion is marketed as an aspect of reproductive rights, even though it is the opposite of reproduction. Reproduction is the creation and nurture of new beings. Human reproduction is the creation and nurture of human babies. To call the murder of unborn babies a reproductive right is a contradiction in terms. Somebody might want women to have the right to murder their own babies, unborn or born, but if such a right were granted, it would have nothing to do with reproduction. Reproduction is about life; abortion is about murder.
Center for Reproductive Rights claims that pro-life speech is torture
The Center for Reproductive Rights, an international advocacy organization, is currently petitioning the UN to sanction religious leaders and organizations that support the right to life. This organization is a prime mover in the effort to call abortion an element of reproductive health. CRR feels so strongly about this point that it is currently attempting to sell the world on the idea that speech in favor of the preservation of life is torture for women and girls. CRR publishes materials and has stated in documents submitted to the UN that it is torture for women even to hear speech that support restriction or prohibition of contraception and abortion, two practices that CRR treats as parallel items in the suite of health services that protect reproductive rights.
Because the UN Convention on Torture considers that religion may not trump the treaty requirements, CRR is specifically addressing the Vatican as an enemy of reproductive rights. The Vatican is the target of CRR’s current petition to the UN, but that action is a warning shot over the bow of religions worldwide. The fact that the Vatican is treated like a nation, in the same way that the US is treated like a nation at the UN means that its hierarchy is treated like a governmental administrative structure. If CRR were to achieve its goal with the UN Committee against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT Committee), the UN could sanction the Vatican if any cleric in the hierarchy publicly advocated prohibitions on contraception and abortion. The UN could do to the Vatican whatever the UN does to any other nation who violates the Convention on Torture. While most religious groups do not have an administrative structure anything like that of the Vatican, success against the Vatican would rapidly translate into action against any other group that tried to speak or act in opposition to either contraception or abortion.
CRR declares that hearing speech that speaks against abortion and contraception is torture of women.
This statement is a complete fiction. The whole strength of freedom of speech lies in the recognition that speech, no matter how repugnant it feels to a given hearer, does no actual harm to anyone. People may choose to allow someone else’s speech to wound them emotionally, but that is the hearer’s choice. Some people may suggest that people with weaker psyches can actually be wounded by speech, but this is an abnormal condition that requires treatment for the condition, not the binding of public discourse. CRR’s first hurdle will be to convince the CAT committee that free speech can even be torture. Given the way much public discourse is conducted, it seems likely that if someone can imagine it, someone can go along with it, both for the purpose of advancing the underlying agenda, not because they actually believe that any spoken word can justifiably be called torture.
CRR declares that enforcing prohibition against abortion and contraception through the catholic hierarchy requires punitive action by the UN against the Vatican. If the case is made that speech in opposition to contraception and abortion is torture, then the CRR is asking for action to stifle the Vatican and the entire Catholic Church. Should the UN actually agree to take such action, it is likely that the Catholic Church would do what many nations do with regard to UN directives: ignore it. Nevertheless, the discussion is under way, and it remains to be seen how receptive the UN as a whole will be. Like the issues surrounding homosexuality, this discussion will not likely be gentle. Like any issue before the UN, nations with entirely unrelated agendas will scurry to find ways to attach their own goals to this process. The world must watch, because it is not a small matter for the UN even to entertain a conversation about constraining religious liberty.
Center for Reproductive already is actively seeking the same legal protection in the US
CRR already calls a ban on abortion an unconstitutional law in press releases. In a notice published on its website on May 13, 2014, CRR said, “Today Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is expected to try to force a vote on his unconstitutional, nationwide abortion ban and cynically pit this measure against the Women’s Health Protection Act (S. 1696/H.R. 3471)—a bill that would prohibit politicians from imposing unconstitutional restrictions on reproductive health care that apply to no similar medical care, interfere with women’s personal decision making, and block access to safe and legal abortion services.” Notice that this statement calls Graham’s bill unconstitutional. His bill is contrasted with the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would prohibit even the consideration of Graham’s bill. Notice that the WHPA is not described as a bill to promote the murder of babies; it is called a bill to protect the “personal decision making” of women.
CRR consistently calls all efforts to promote abortion “women’s health issues.” The name of the Women’s Health Protection Act masks the fact that it is not about health; it is about murder and worse, it is about preventing any effort to save the lives of the people that will be murdered. CRR does not want anyone to talk about the murders or make laws to prevent the murders. CRR simply wants everybody to get out of the way so the murders can proceed as expeditiously as possible.
The language CRR uses is the same as the language of the Affordable Care regulations, which call provision of contraception and abortion services “preventive health measures.” Speeches made during the leadup to passage of ACA included startling diatribes against the horror of being pregnant. Pregnancy was treated like a disease that must be a threat equivalent to that of cancer. According the congressional leaders who supported the ACA and according to the CRR, pregnancy is such a dire disease and such a threat to women’s health worldwide that any and every means possible must be provided to prevent such an outrage. If prevention fails, termination is the only acceptable response. Nobody and nothing may be allowed to impede access to the means to murder an unwanted baby, and nobody may be allowed to talk trash about the people who murder babies either. The language of pro-life advocacy must be squelched in favor of language that lies about the nature of preventive health services.
Christians must be assertive and smart if religious liberty and free exercise of religion is to be preserved
Religious practice is increasing viewed in secular terms – as a collection of rules and rituals that simply define a community of sacred definitions. The momentum of the secular agenda fuels a growing perception that religion is not relevant to daily life. It has nothing to do with real life. It is ceremony. It is ancient ritual and special words and books with secret meanings. It is old, dusty, and interesting mostly for aesthetic and social reasons. A church or a synagogue is a gathering no different from the photography club or the birding walks in the park
People who live according to counter-cultural or counter-state religious teachings are viewed as having allegiance to the wrong authority. A culture that thinks of a church as a club will naturally not see any validity in accepting the authority of God, or a god, or a disembodied spirit, or a voice in your head. People who, like the apostles in Jerusalem, dare to act on counter-cultural teachings simply as an act of obedience to God will, at the very least, amuse their more sophisticated neighbors. Worst case, obedience to God will be seen as an affront to the authority of the state, just as it was in the Roman Empire, and believers will be treated accordingly. Legal action, such as the petition the CRR is submitting to the UN Committee Against Terror, will be directed with as much pressure and pain as necessary to keep believers from flouting cultural and state authority.
The world-wide secular juggernaut seeks to diminish and confine the expression of any religion, but that effort falls most heavily on Christians because of the demographic dominance of Christians coupled with the strong Christian teaching of making disciples. Christians generally take Christ’s command to make disciples quite seriously. This means that not only do Christians presume to reject state teaching that conflicts with obedience to Christ, but Christians also actively recruit other people to do the same thing.
It is not too late to change the momentum, but every moment that passes without action to turn things around is a moment lost.
In the US, Christians not only have the right to participate in the public forum and contribute their moral perspective in the discussion; they have the obligation as citizens to do so. The Founders wanted that input. The Framers wanted it so much that they wrote into the constitution protections for that speech and the religious principles it embodies. Still, the trend to suppress speech on the simple basis that it might possibly offend someone is a trend detrimental to the protection of free speech on any subject. The trend to push religious life out of the mainstream into a sideline of niche interests diminishes the force of protection for the free exercise of religion. Christians must act, and they must act with integrity and nobility. Maybe advocates for abortion can make fun of the “war on women” but advocates for life must choose their words not only to refute that argument but also to ennoble the message that life is so important we should protect it at all costs rather than measure it by an ROI that automatically devalues the unborn. Christians must take their case to the throne of Grace and petition the creator of all things, seen and unseen, to act in this conflict for the blessing of his creation. Christians do not have the luxury of standing aside, out of the muck of politics, if they want the US Constitution to mean anything for future generations. There is no time to lose. Speech that celebrate a life as God’s greatest gift is not torture; it is a blessing.