Thoughts on Abortion (2nd)

Is some of the uproar over abortion, birth control, etc. an attempt to regain lost power and influence?

These days religious freedom, that is, freedom to practice one’s own religion, does not give one the right to tell others what to do.

T’was not ever thus.

In past time, conservative religious groups held considerable power over the population as a whole, as well as over their adherents.

Consider these examples of power lost:

   ◊   Control of family life by banning abortion and birth control.  In disagreement, many people, and not just the irreligious, quietly, (or not so quietly), ignore the bans.

   ◊   Control of family life by banning or penalizing divorce.  In disagreement, people for the most part pay no heed to this.  They divorce at will for reasons such as infidelity, infertility, or infelicity, among others.

   ◊    Control of society through imposition of their views on human sexuality, which were encoded in secular law, which punished perceived moral infractions, and/or sexual activities that religious dogma found to be sinful, such as homosexuality.

   ◊   Let’s talk about influence on culture in general.  For long years conservative religious groups had sufficient influence to dictate what literature, movies, stage plays, and elements of fashion and even of speech were morally acceptable.

Exercise of these powers was defended with reference to perfect (?) infallible (?) sources of divine guidance: sacred books, sacred persons, etc.

On the other hand, exercise of these powers can be described as coercion of conscience—and as an example of spiritual pride—the notion that The Almighty, however understood, speaks exclusively to one’s group.

Exercise of these powers seems to be based on an assumption that freedom to make personal moral decisions, (and to live with the positive/negative consequences thereof), exists only to the extent that such decisions align with certain groups’ notions of right and wrong.

Is this real freedom of conscience? ¹

Some conservative groups seem to pay lip service to freedom of conscience, while denying it in policy and practice.

Is this hypocrisy? ¹

Does great moral urgency ² ever justify coercion of conscience—that is, compelling people to live their lives in obedience to someone else’s moral standards?

I sincerely believe that practice of one’s particular religion does not give one the right to tell others how to behave, still less to use any means, overt, covert, direct or oblique to compel specific behavior.


¹ These questions are not sly propaganda designed to lead readers to a specific conclusion. Make up your own mind.

² As found in the “pro-life” position, for example.

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