The Confluence of Homosexuality and Abortion

Ian Donnis rather wryle points out that “one of the country’s top evangelicals, Kentucky-based Albert Mohler, has suggested that pre-natal treatment to change homosexuality in the womb would be biblically justified.” Donnis also directs us to a recent piece by Mary Ann Sorrentino on the same topic. Writes Sorrentino:

The same gang that for decades has warred against any invasion of the womb in which a developing fetus (which they call an “unborn child)” resides now hopes to put a fetus on a sure road to heterosexuality.
As interesting as the concept of a gay fetus may seem, the image of hordes of so-called Christians fretting about the sexual orientation of the not-yet-born boggles the mind. Yet the Reverend R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Louisville’s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, claims that in utero gays can find salvation through hormonal interventions that might make them straight from the moment when the obstetrician whacks their newly born bottom.
Mohler belongs to the same faction that has opposed pre-birth medical tampering in the past. Gender selection, in vitro fertilizations, even some pre-birth surgical procedures have all been deemed wrongful interference in divine territory. Now that these people see a way to diddle with the sexuality of the unborn, however, many of them are all over that possibility.

Indeed, it’s apparently the hypocrisy of it all that is bothering people:

”What bothers me is the hypocrisy,” [Jennifer Chrisler of Family Pride, a group that supports gay and lesbian families] said. ”In one breath, they say the sanctity of an unborn life is unconditional, and in the next breath, it’s OK to perform medical treatments on them because of their own moral convictions, not because there’s anything wrong with the child.”

Rev. Mohler is clearly making a distinction between pre-natal hormonal treatment and genetic manipulation (maybe it’s too fine a point, I don’t know). And Chrisler seems to be willingly conflating the meaning of “sanctity of life” to serve her own rhetorical purpose. There can be little doubt that Mohler is being consistent in his stance against abortion, as he also said “he would strongly oppose any move to encourage abortion or genetic manipulation of fetuses on grounds of sexual orientation.”
This is part of a deeper debate, as outlined in this article:

Conservatives opposed to both abortion and homosexuality will have to ask themselves whether the public shame of having a gay child outweighs the private sin of terminating a pregnancy….Pro-choice activists won’t be spared, either. Will liberal moms who love their hairdressers be as tolerant when faced with the prospect of raising a little stylist of their own? And exactly how pro-choice will liberal abortion-rights activists be when thousands of potential parents are choosing to filter homosexuality right out of the gene pool?

I think Rev. Mohler’s stated belief is representative of a majority of Evangelicals (I’m not one, by the way) and thus answers the first question: having any child–gay or not–is preferable to aborting one. On the other hand, Sorrentino has consistently framed the abortion issue as a matter of “choice.” So, if she doesn’t want to be, you know, “hypocritical,” does that mean that we can assume she also endorses a woman’s right to choose to abort a fetus because it may be gay?
And that takes me to an even wider discussion. A couple years ago, I came across this touching piece by Patricia Bauer, the mother of a child with Down Syndrome. The parallel to the above discussion is obvious:

Margaret is a person and a member of our family. She has my husband’s eyes, my hair and my mother-in-law’s sense of humor. We love and admire her because of who she is — feisty and zesty and full of life — not in spite of it. She enriches our lives. If we might not have chosen to welcome her into our family, given the choice, then that is a statement more about our ignorance than about her inherent worth.
What I don’t understand is how we as a society can tacitly write off a whole group of people as having no value. I’d like to think that it’s time to put that particular piece of baggage on the table and talk about it, but I’m not optimistic. People want what they want: a perfect baby, a perfect life. To which I say: Good luck. Or maybe, dream on.
And here’s one more piece of un-discussable baggage: This question is a small but nonetheless significant part of what’s driving the abortion discussion in this country. I have to think that there are many pro-choicers who, while paying obeisance to the rights of people with disabilities, want at the same time to preserve their right to ensure that no one with disabilities will be born into their own families {here’s an example–ed.}. The abortion debate is not just about a woman’s right to choose whether to have a baby; it’s also about a woman’s right to choose which baby she wants to have.

As far as I can tell, Sorrentino is perfectly fine with that.
Sorrentino has done admirable work in the gay community, but has she ever wondered if those whom she’s helped through the tragedy of AIDS would have been better off if their mothers had aborted them instead?
That’s a pretty tough theoretical, I know.
I suspect that Sorrentino was so delighted to hold up the mirror of hypocrisy in front of Rev. Mohler’s face that she failed to look into it herself. Dealing with these deeper issues–instead of taking the easy, facile “hypocrisy” angle–is a much more difficult task. After she’s seen the strength and grace of humanity amidst the tragedy of AIDS, I wonder how she can support giving carte blanche to those who may one day seek to preempt what they’d deem an imperfect life. Does she have personal reservations about unfettered abortion rights or does she subscribe to a universal, abortion-on-demand ideal–regardless of circumstance–because it’s an individual choice?
In the end, I’m left with the impression that it’s the right-wing, Evangelical zealot who is more likely to protect the right to life of an unborn gay child than a liberal, pro-abortion radical.
Get your head around that.

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mike
mike
14 years ago

I think the way to stop baby killing is find a doctor to put billboards all over 95 with pictures of girl babies with big red XXXX through them and the advertisement ” HAVE A SON ABORT YOUR GIRL BABIES”.
Want to see how fast the “freedom of choice” will be curtailed?

Jeff Grybowski
Jeff Grybowski
14 years ago

This was a misprint, right?
“Sorrentino has done admirable work in the gay community, but has she ever wondered if those whom she’s helped through the tragedy of AIDS would have been better off if their mothers had aborted them instead?”

mrh
mrh
14 years ago

I’m having trouble making the connection you’re making:
Does she have personal reservations about unfettered abortion rights or does she subscribe to a universal, abortion-on-demand ideal–regardless of circumstance–because it’s an individual choice?
Do you really believe these are the only two options?

Justin Katz
14 years ago

Not to interject, but I don’t see what other choices there might be for somebody who is “pro-choice.” Either abortion rights should be fettered, or they should be unfettered. Either one believes that they are absolute, or one has reservations about one form or another.
Glossing over the binary nature of this sort of self-definition is one of the ways in which many in our society convince themselves that they do not support monstrous policies, even though, when pressed, they won’t accept any arguments against them.

smmtheory
smmtheory
14 years ago

Sorrentino has done admirable work in the gay community, but has she ever wondered if those whom she’s helped through the tragedy of AIDS would have been better off if their mothers had aborted them instead?

My guess is – more than likely not, because she’s disconnected the source (the lump of barely differentiated tissues floating in the uterus and prime material for culling) from the end product (the victim suffering from a disease “fostered by a homophobic society”). It’s called compartmentalization.
Funny, eh? The more a person sees the world as homogenous, the more compartmentalized becomes their thinking.

Rhody
Rhody
14 years ago

This all sounds like a bad science fiction movie, or “Night of the Hunter.” Somebody check Rev. Mohler’s knuckles to see if he has “love” and “hate” tatooed on them.

Anthony
Anthony
14 years ago

I don’t know of many people who are pro-life that are opposed to medical surgery on a baby in the womb. The fact that surgery can be performed in the wound only refinforces the belief that there is a human baby in the womb, not just a mass of cells.
The debate does raise certain implicit questions. Mohler’s remarks appear to affirm that he views homosexuality as genetically pre-determined rather than as chosen lifestyle. That in itself, is a big step for an evangelical to make.
The next implicit question raised is the moral nature of homosexuality. Most pro-lifers would oppose genetically modifying a human being for cosmetic reasons (to give the baby blue eyes or blond hair) as being unethical while using genetics to eliminate abnormalities such as disease or disability would be considered ethical.
It’s clear where Mohler would come down on the question as to whether modifying sexual orientation is closer to modifying a cosmetic trait or an abnormal trait. But it should lead to a good amount of introspection.

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