President Trump’s executive office, on October 2, backed the US House of Representatives ban on 20-week abortions, labeled the H.R. 36: Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. This bill, if signed into law, will outlaw termination of pregnancy past the 20-week mark, except if the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life or if it’s the result of rape or incest.
The administration rationalized their stance with their support for a ‘culture of life’ – a talking point and issue that is close to Republicans and Conservatives, alike. The Trump team also added the unborn baby’s capability to feel pain around the 20-week mark as a second reason to bolster their support for the bill. Overall, it seems that the Executive Office tried to cover both the moral and scientific bases to make a strong case.
Abortion has become a heated topic in recent times, especially in the US, with the pro-choicers pushing for more bodily autonomy and freedom of choice and the pro-lifers retreating to the traditionalist positions of respect for life – born and unborn.
While the pro-lifers have definitely ramped up their campaigning and messaging effort, the pro-choicers seem to have gone off the deep end with over-the-top rhetoric and a glib attitude towards unborn life.
My dilemma begins with the Left’s dichotomy over its show of love and compassion towards human life. On the one hand, leftists and contemporary liberals seem willing to sacrifice just about anything for the sake of the weak, the marginalized, and the vulnerable, regardless of their age. On the other hand, however, this unyielding concern seems to dry up when it comes to unborn babies.
In the Left’s vision, the birthing process is a value-added phase that represents a cut-off point, beyond which an entity becomes a human being and, thus, should be afforded rights and protection. Prior to this rite of passage, which seems to confer personhood, the entity is merely a clump of cells whose existence is made subordinate to the conveniences of the woman housing it.
I must make it terribly clear that ‘conveniences’ doesn’t include life-threatening circumstances that a woman might face on account of her being pregnant. Abortions for the sake of saving the mother’s life account for less than 1% of total abortions in the US. The overwhelming majority of abortions are performed for convenience or financial reasons. I shall elaborate on ‘life-saving abortions’ in the later part of this article.
The abortion debate as it hangs now seems to be hinging for the most part, if not completely, on the idea of personhood. The unborn entity, whether it’s a clump of cells or a human-looking organism, is still not a human as it doesn’t exhibit human traits like conscience, self-determination, free will, and other ontological characteristics, hence, hasn’t attained personhood and, thus, should be held subordinate to the mother, who does exhibit these characteristics.
In a survey of models of personhood, Bruce A. Ware describes two competing and prominent models: the functionalist model and the essentialist model. To summarize, the functionalist model confers personhood upon those who exhibit certain measurable and appreciable traits like self-determination and self-control, to name a few; and the essentialist model confers personhood based on the inherent capability to develop the traits referenced in the functionalist model.
The functionalist model runs into serious trouble as its proponents set, without justification, arbitrary indicators of human personhood. It almost seems that the model is set up in the image of its creators, leaving out everyone who doesn’t resemble them. It reflects one of the most serious and widespread elements of human condition – bias. This unfortunate setup leaves out not only unborn babies, but it also leaves the fate of comatose and vegetative patients hanging in the balance.
The essentialist model takes a holistic view of human personhood and ontological characteristics, avoiding arbitrary standards and being rational and ‘inclusive.’ The embryo, although lacking in resemblance to a mature human being in function and structure, contains the data and autonomic behavior to carry on concerted growth that leads to a fully developed human being. Somewhere in this unassuming mass of cells, there lie the seeds for human conscience and free will. Personhood is a function of these natural preponderances, manifest or otherwise.
Interestingly, such results are not seen of any other clump of cells, including, isolated cells derived from the embryo.
Cue human embryonic stem cells.
These cells are just one component of the embryo and by themselves cannot perform the mammoth task of creating a human being. They, thus, don’t constitute a person and can be manipulated for scientific research. The essentialist position is, thus, compatible with human embryonic stem cell research, in that it states that personhood arises out of the ‘ontological wholeness.’ This also follows in a post-birth human, where personhood is conferred upon the physio-psychological entity and not individual components, i.e. organs.
A civilized society places, rightfully, a huge premium on human life and should do everything it can to protect it. Laws exist, or ought to exist, not so much to protect the strong, as to protect the weak, the vulnerable, and the voiceless.
Upholding the sanctity of life will mean making abortion illegal, with an exception for safeguarding the mother’s life. While my libertarian side grimaces at the thought of this prospect, my conservative side stridently calls for government intervention to protect this divine gift called ‘life.’
This raises the questions of offspring resulting from rape/incest.
While rape is a horrid crime, the offspring of such an act bears no responsibility for the crime. Abortion should be forbidden, but the woman shouldn’t be under any duress to take custody of the baby. Adequate counseling, support, and adoption advice should be offered, which is what Crisis Pregnancy Centers are for – a lesser known, yet effective, service. What is even lesser known is that close to three-fourths of rape victims decide to raise the offspring from the act and over three-quarters of those who opt for abortion regret their decision.
In extreme situations that require picking between the mother and the unborn child, the mother should be given the preference based on the fact that she possesses the capability to give rise to another offspring that can be raised in a two-parent family and given optimum life. Saving the offspring at the expense of the mother will simply relegate the child to a less than optimum upbringing.
Abortion is a sensitive and polemical issue that causes tensions to flare up at the drop of a hat. While it has been co-opted into the political battlefield, its edifice remains steeped in the age-old debate over personhood and sanctity of life and that is where it should be fought and resolved.
Macron, Trump and Iran’s future
The incident of the city of Strasbourg in France was a very primitive scenario for facing the deep social and political crisis that the Macron government is facing.
As predicted, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced that the “terrorist”, who “apparently” was responsible for the shooting in Strasbourg, at 9 p.m. on Thursday, December 13th was killed in a street clash with three policemen. Shortly thereafter, ISIS released a statement, claiming responsibility for the shooting and killing of Strasbourg.
The extent and depth of the crisis in France is such that it does not allow the creation of a tense security and repression under the pretext of “terrorism”. Contrary, the scenario of Macron and Castaner, which, regardless of its tragic human dimensions, resembles Louis de Funès comedies, adds to the severity of the crisis.
On the other hand, on Thursday, the United States Senate unanimously condemned Mohamed bin Salman for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and called on Trump to end support for the Saudi war in Yemen.
This is a major change in the US policy that occurred in the final days of the 115th Congress, a congress that is run by both the Senate and the House of Representatives under the control of the Republican Party. The incident shows that Trump will be greatly affected by the start of the 116th Congressional Congress on January 3, 2019, where the House of Representatives will be controlled by the Democratic Party.
Robert Muller’s investigation on Russia’s role in the 2016 US presidential election is also underway.
In addition, there is concern over the US stock market. The current Inverted Yield Curve shows that the number of short-term bank deposits is more than long-term deposits. Financial analysts consider the Inverted Yield Curve a serious indication of the probability of a recession and a financial crisis because it reflects lack of confidence of Americans in the future of their bank savings.
Accordingly, some conservative analysts, such as Michael Wilson, senior strategist at Morgan Stanley Bank, predicted a 50 percent market downturn in 2019. If so, the “golden age”, which began in the second semester of 2009, with the first year of the Obama Administration, ended in the first two years of the Trump Administration. Such conditions will have serious implications for US foreign policy.
In the turn of events, this incident will once again provide Iran with a historic opportunity to work alongside its dynamic and tactful foreign policy, with the advent of fundamental domestic reforms, to modernize the economic system that was launched forty years ago.
First published in our partner MNA
American (And Global) Oligarchy Rapidly Moving Towards Monarchy
Many people do not realize that the proverbial “noose” of civil rights, civil liberties and property rights are rapidly coming to an end, in large part because of the unholy alliance by and between government and the global oligarchs (international banks and major corporations).
For example, people don’t realize that current U.S. federal law permits all banks and credit unions (such as Chase Bank owned by CEO Jamie Dimon) to close any account, at any time, and for any reason, even when their own employees commit fraud, make mistakes, commit unethical acts or otherwise screw the banking customer over for personal or political reasons, and that customer then files a legitimate complaint.
The financial institution is not required to divulge the reason(s) for account closure to the customer.
Now, when a business account is closed by a bank, the bank can (and will) retain the funds in the account for 90 to 180 days in order for checks, debits, chargebacks, etc. to post to the business account before the bank will mail the business customer the remaining proceeds from the account.
However the account holder is of course not allowed access to their own hard-earned funds at all.
What this means is that these banks and credit unions have been given a universal right to steal any and all monies placed within their coffers by anyone at all, which can then be “confiscated” for any reason.
It is even so absurd that these banks and credit unions, even after they have seized or stolen your money/property, do not even have to give you a reason, and can then ban you for life from ever getting your money/property back.
This same reasoning applies to nearly all of the major businesses and corporations, wherein due process has gone the way of the extinct “dodo bird.”
This is what it means, when an administration (in this case Republican) talks about “bank deregulation.”
In many ways, Democrats had the right idea over Republicans when they created and enacted such banking regulatory agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), recently gutted and decapitated by the Trump Administration and his coterie of bought and paid for Republican conservatives.
The problem is that the same global Oligarchs and International Banking Cartels that controlled the Democrats, and enacted even more stifling Communist type regulation to further control, cull, and choke off the American (and global) population (think Obama’s “Operation Chokepoint”), simply use Republican “deregulation” as another mechanism to screw over, steal from, and rob the working and middle class, by allowing these international banking cartels, credit unions, and corporations to completely do whatever they want, to anyone, for any reason, in the absence of any regulation.
Herein lies the rub, and there has to be a middle ground, but only if the American people (and their global population counterparts) push back and vociferously tell their elected leaders to take legal and equitable action against these global thieves and criminals.
War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned
On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entered the Second World War. A war of horrors, it normalized the intensive, barbaric bombing of civilian populations. If the Spanish Civil War gave us Guernica and Picasso’s wrenching painting, WW2 offered up worse: London, Berlin, Dresden to name a few, the latter eloquently described in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughter House Five.” Against Japan, the firebombing of Tokyo, and above all the revulsion of Hiroshima and Nagasaki radiated a foretaste of ending life on the planet.
Reparations demanded from Germany had led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and a thirst for revenge. Thus Hitler demanded France’s 1940 surrender in the same railway carriage where the humiliating armistice was signed in 1918.
If the war to end all wars — its centenary remembrance a month ago — killed 20 million plus, the successor tripled the score. Disrupted agriculture, severed supply chains, fleeing civilians, starvation and misery; civilian deaths constituting an inordinate majority in our supposedly civilized world.
One of the young men baling out of a burning bomber was George H. W. Bush. He was rescued but his crew who also baled out were never found, a thought that is said to have haunted him for the rest of his life. He went on to serve eight years as vice-president under Ronald Reagan and then four more as president. Last week he passed away and was honored with a state funeral service in Washington National Cathedral.
His legacy includes the first Iraq war and the liberation of Kuwait. While he avoided the hornet’s nest of ethnic and religious divisions in Iraq itself, the war’s repercussions led to the Clinton sanctions and the deaths of half a million children. The UN representative overseeing the limited oil-for-food program, Irishman Denis Halliday, resigned in disgust. Not to forget the infamous answer by Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Asked by Leslie Stahl if it was worth the lives of 500,000 children … more than that died in Hiroshima, she answered: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.” (CBS 60 Minutes program, May 12, 1996).
Note the “we” in her answer. Who else does that include but our “I-feel-your-pain” Bill Clinton. Hypocrisy, arm-twisted donations to the Clinton Foundation while wife Hillary was Secretary of State in the Obama administration; her shunning of the official and secure State Department email server in favor of a personal server installed at her request and the subsequent selective release of emails. Well who cares about verifiable history these days anyway as the following demonstrates.
Yes, there was another anniversary this week for a different kind of war. This time in India. After securing freedom from the British, a secular tradition was proudly espoused by the patrician Nehru and the epitome of nonviolence, Gandhi. It is now in the process of being trampled in a war against minorities. The communal war includes the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat for which Narendra Modi was barred from the U.S., a ban lifted only when he became prime minister. He, his party and his allies have been also responsible for the destruction of the Babri Mosque. An organized Hindu mob tore it down on December 6, 1992; hence the shameful anniversary. Built on the orders of the first Mughal emperor Babur, its purpose was to cement relations with Hindu rajas by also sanctifying for Muslims a place holy to Hindus and held traditionally to be the birthplace of Rama — famous from Hindu epics for fighting evil with the assistance of a monkey god’s army … although one is advised to avoid close contact with temple monkeys when visiting.
As the first Mughal, Babur’s hold on India was tenuous and he actively sought alliances with Hindu rulers of small states against the pathans whose sultan he had just defeated. That affinity continued during the entirety of Mughal rule and one manifestation was frequent intermarriage with Rajputs. Several emperors had Hindu mothers including Shah Jahan the builder of the Taj Mahal. In the end, Babur’s fears were warranted because Sher Shah Suri did marshal those pathan forces and throw out his son Humayun, the second Mughal ruler. It was only Sher Shah’s untimely death during the capture of Kalinjar (a Hindu fort then held by Raja Kirat Singh) that made Humayun’s return possible.
The destruction of the mosque was a historical wrong if ever there was one, but then Mr. Modi has never been bothered by history. He is also not bothered that his party’s fairy tale revision of school history books is a scandal. For similar reasons, Indian history on Wikipedia is too frequently tarnished, requiring verification from other sources to be properly informed.
The wrongs of communities, just as the wrongs of war, can lead to repercussions unanticipated and cataclysmic. Yugoslavia is an example in living memory. Clearly, any ruler of a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural country contemplating a path of communal dominance must take note before he is hoisted with his own petard.
Author’s Note: This article first appeared on Counterpunch.org
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