Abortion: A Satanic Perspective

With recent news both good and bad, abortion has been on the minds of many, myself included. In Missouri, the abortion restrictions are being challenged in a case being heard by the state Supreme Court. In bad news on the national level, a twenty week ban has been proposed.

I’m going to explain here why I have come to a few conclusions. First, that while abortion affects women far more, it is an issue for everyone, even gay and asexual men. Second, that it seeks to enforce a religious opinion upon women. Third, that it violates the first amendment rights of everyone. Finally, that it amounts to the state telling people what they must think. This means that there can be no wavering on this issue.

Frequently in debates people want to conflate what “life” means. Life in general, as in just being alive is conflated with sentient life. Everything with human DNA is human, and sex cells are alive long before they ever join, and all the ones that never join are alive at some point. Despite the conflation, we only mean sentience.

There are no facts as to when human life reaches the point of sentience. In science, there is no point where sentience “happens”. We can be nearly certain that it is sentient when it is viable, and it being a separate life dependent on no other for a life support system, makes it a moot point at that stage anyway. However, prior to that point, there are not any actual facts about when it becomes a person.

The beginning of life is a religious opinion. Various religions have all sorts of different opinions on when life begins. Some religions believe in a soul, and think it joins with the body at one stage or another. Other religions don’t believe in souls, and look to brain development.

While the total lack of a religion is not a religion, it is an opinion that religion is unnecessary. So even people like that have a religious opinion of sorts, that being that the views of organized groups have no bearing on their opinions.

With the beginning of life being a matter of opinion, there can be no mandate on non-viable fetuses, or human tissue of earlier stages. Everyone has a right to their opinion, and the opinion of all must be respected.

If one is opposed to abortion, then it is their right to not even consider abortion during their pregnancy. If someone feels abortion is acceptable up to a certain point, then they should be able to do that. If someone feels it is all right at any point, that should be fine as well.

This is simplified to choice. As life is a religious opinion, and everyone has freedom of religion and a right to their opinion, each given person should be able to decide what to do about a pregnancy. Any restriction on abortion is a denial of religious opinion, in favor of a state-mandated religious opinion.

Abortion, like birth control, is part of family planning. When people are going to have children, decisions about when to have them, and how to plan a family, are deeply personal opinions. Sometimes these views may be religious or cultural, but they are always personal. Any abortion restriction amounts to the state enforcing a family planning opinion. They are saying that your family planning must have a chance of random children in the event of unintended conception.

The decision of whether or not to have children at all, is a personal decision, and a matter of opinion. Abortion restrictions are telling you that you must accept a chance of having children, regardless of your opinion on that matter. One should be entitled to their own opinion, as we are in all other personal matters, whether or not one ever has any children.

The meaning and significance of sex and sexuality are usually the most personal opinions one has. They are sometimes cultural and/or religious as well. Some people may see it as sacred, only for couples to have kids, and that it involves the approval of a deity, some see it as nothing but a biological function, and a multitude of opinions lie in between.

Abortion restrictions are always predicated on one accepting a chance of children when engaging in sexual activity. It is frequently stated that people should not have sex at all if they do not want children. This not only dictates sexual behavior, but also the significance and meaning one must place on sex and sexuality.

We cannot allow any restrictions at all on abortion because of the bodily autonomy of women and trans men. Even if one does not care about others, it is still important, even for gay and asexual men.

When abortion is restricted in any way, the state is mandating a few different opinions. It is saying that life begins at conception or other point they have determined, that family planning must allow for children from unintended pregnancies, that any sexual activity must have some chance of children, that abstaining from sex is the only way not to have children, that sex carries a minimum level of significance and meaning.

Abortion restrictions are ultimately a state-mandate on what we think regarding our most personal opinions. While it isn’t possible to directly mandate thought, abortion restrictions are predicated on beliefs, which are all opinions, all deeply personal in nature, and the effects of which are identical to that of people who share those state-mandated beliefs.

By being forced to act in accordance with a set of state-mandated beliefs, our beliefs on those points are being overridden. Usually laws are not entirely devoid of all objective fact, whether right or wrong, and based entirely on opinions. In no other case are laws based on nothing but opinions, when all the opinions are religious, cultural, and personal, and ones that are so deeply held.

With choice everyone has a right to their opinion, their own beliefs about the most personal elements of one’s life. Any restriction to that is the state dictating what the beliefs of everyone must be. Lawmakers and lobbyists are legislating their religious beliefs, forcing them off on all of us.

Women and trans men bear the greatest burden, as it is an assault on their bodily autonomy. It is also an assault on our most personal beliefs about the beginning of life, and the significance and meaning of sex and sexuality.

Even if you just consider people who favor some sort of abortion restriction, what they are saying is that their opinion should override the opinions of other people. They are for the state forcing other people to live as if they share those opinions, regardless of the opinions held by everyone else.

I’m not going to “respect” the opinion of someone, when that opinion, is that their opinions on the most deeply personal matters must override the opinions of everyone else, via a state mandate. They are saying they think everyone else must be forced to live as if they share opinions contrary to the ones they actually have.

If someone has no respect for the most personal beliefs of others, and thinks the state should force them to live in accordance with different beliefs, on matters that are entirely subjective, with no objective component at all, then I have no reason to respect any of their opinions at all. I also refuse to accept a view that some group of people doesn’t get the same level of bodily autonomy.

Any views favoring any abortion restrictions are an opinion against the most fundamental human rights of others. It is a view that some get less bodily autonomy than others, and that everyone must live as if they accept a set of fundamental beliefs about life, sexuality, and the very essence of what it is to be human, that contradict the beliefs they actually hold.

Additional Thoughts:

The abortion issue being so contentious, has nothing to do with aborting fetuses. It is about the fundamental beliefs we have about what it is to be human, and the meaning of life. One group of people feels that everyone has a set of beliefs and their own understanding of what it means to be human, and what the meaning of life is. Another group of people feels that the existence of opinions outside a particular range, regarding what it means to be human and the meaning of life, are intolerable, as such beliefs are an offense to their concept of life and to their deity, who allegedly shares that view. They feel the remedy is to force all others into behaviors consistent with their acceptable range of beliefs on the aforementioned things.

For Completeness:

For the sake of completeness, it is worth circling back to another point I did not work into the essay. This is more typically where I go when arguing on this topic, but I wanted to get right into the points I planned on digging into.

In no other circumstance, can the body of one person be used to keep another person alive. Without consent, you cannot take organs or even blood from someone, even if it saves the life of another.

Without consent you cannot even take blood or organs from a corpse, even to save a living person. So by that standard, you do not even need to get into points about religious opinion. The only reason I did was because people who want to override the opinions of others, always demand respect for their opinion that other people do not get an opinion.

Political correctness is the devil

People like to keep things simple. Whenever possible, they would prefer to have One Big Problem, rather many different ones.

The Devil is a perfect illustration of this principle. Over hundreds and thousands of years, mythic and historical writing has included a number of bad characters harboring ill will, or representing challenges to humanity. But our simple-minded culture has decided that they are all actually just one Super-Bad Being: the Devil.

In the Book of Job 1-2, Job has a spiritual adversary who is referred to as “the satan” (which translates from the Hebrew as “the adversary”). According to the book of Job, this being is specifically Job’s adversary: not “the adversary of God” or “the adversary of mankind”. The satan is in fact following God’s instructions, according to the story. And yet, in our modern-day interpretation of the myth, this being becomes “The Devil”.

In Leviticus 7:17, the Hebrew word sair is translated as “The Devil”, even though it really means “goat” or “satyr”.

In Deuteronomy 32:17 and Psalms 106:37,  the Hebrew word shed is translated as “The Devil”, even though it means “idol”.

In 1 Kings, the word “satan” is used to refer to an actual human being: Rezon of Damascus. He was an adversary (a “satan”) to Israel. But many Christians claim this passage refers to The Devil.

“Shaitan” or “ash-Shayṭān” is also the name of Iblis in Islamic myths: the one who whispers evil temptations into the ears of man. According to many: also the Devil.

A snake in a garden that tempts Eve? Must have been the devil.

The peacock angel worshiped by the Yazidis? Must have been the devil.

And my favorite bit of twisted interpretation is Ezekiel 28:12-14, which many many Biblical scholars argue must be referring to the Devil:

“Thus says the Lord GOD: You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, carnelian, chrysolite, and moonstone, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald; and worked in gold were your settings and your engravings…”

And so on, and so on. The passage goes on to say that he was proud because of his beauty, and so the Lord cast him out. Many Biblical scholars call this a description of the Devil.

The only problem with this description of “The Devil” is the one sentence that precedes it:

“Moreover the word of the LORD came to me: Mortal, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him…….”

This (supposedly inerrant?) biblical passage very clearly states that it is a description of the king of Tyre, not the Devil. But no! It’s too confusing to have more than one Bad Guy in the novel of life… so Christians claim that this, too, is a description of The Devil.

This over-simplification happens in other areas of life, too. A good example is the way that America’s right-wing has chosen to focus on “political correctness” as the supposed source of so many things it finds disagreeable.

The original idea behind political correctness was fairly mundane: be mindful about how the things you say might have unintended negative consequences or might impact people around you in negative ways.

But now?

Students are complaining about their classes? It’s because of political correctness!

President Obama won’t use the phrase “Islamic Terrorism”? Political correctness!

Women are being allowed in the military? Oh, the horrors of political correctness!

Conservatives want to make “political correctness” synonymous with “language policing” and authoritarianism. And admittedly, some radical “PC Police” activists can use the term in a very authoritarian way. As a Satanist, and a strong supporter of Loki, I’m against anyone who tells me that I should never offend people, or must walk on eggshells in the way I talk.

But it is also obvious to me that political correctness has become the American Right’s modern “Devil”: the single big Bad Guy that can be blamed for all of the problems!

Well, you know what? I like the Devil. And I also like political correctness: at least in the way it was originally intended, even if not the way it is executed by some on the left-side fringe. It is noble, and indeed very Satanic, to be mindful of one’s place in a culture, and one’s relationship to other people. It is very Satanic to be aware of the power you have with your own rhetoric, and as an activist within a community. It is the very nature of the aspect of The Leviathan.

So let the political right wing wrings its hands over the devastation being brought down on the land by the dreaded Political Correctness! As a Satanist I say:

Hail Community. Hail Political Correctness. Hail Satan.

Psychotherapy in the desert

Fame and faith can consume a man. They can make for a deadly combination. Imagine the man who had so much of both that people became convinced that he was divine… and he allowed himself to be convinced, as well. If you saw him walking through the desert, muddled with hunger and delusion, your heart would surely go out to him. You would want to help. Of course you would.

When I was in college, a friend of mine suffered from a psychotic break. He was eventually diagnosed with acute schizophrenia, but that diagnosis only happened later: after he’d stopped eating, shaved his head declaring that he didn’t have the “right” to own hair, and then tried to poison himself. I saw him in the hospital that night, his mouth ringed with black from the charcoal the medics had force-fed him, his eyes red and wild. And it threw me back to all the conversations I’d had with him in the months leading up, where I could tell that something was wrong but I didn’t know what.

He was an intelligent guy, and very articulate. But he would phase in and out of lucidness, his mind wandering off into conspiracies about “higher powers” and creatures that were always watching and who would punish you if you made bad decisions. Sometimes he would claim he had powers himself, and that the rest of the humans were “mere shadows” compared to him.

Those conversations were frightening, because he was so plainly earnest. He believed to the core of his being, every word that he said. So, I tried to use the only conversational tactics at my disposal: logic and reason. I asked him for evidence. I challenged his logic. But nothing I could say would penetrate his delusion. “They are watching us,” he would simply mutter over and over again, “they see everything.”

When I imagine Lucifer in the desert, watching over a rail-thin man who has been starving himself for weeks on end, my heart goes out to that poor fallen angel. Lucifer is seeing a man who is wrecked by mental illness, a man who is on a literal path to self-destruction. The man is consumed by the myths and stories that people tell about him, and that he believes about himself.

If I were in Lucifer’s shoes, I’d want to help poor Yeshua, too. Lucifer knows the importance of evidence and skepticism, so naturally he tries to use that tactic to get through to Yeshua:

“If you are really some kind of divine being, then why don’t you throw yourself off of this cliff? Come on, if you really believe all this stuff: prove it with your actions rather than your words!”

But it couldn’t break through the mental illness of Yeshua’s faith, who simply replied: I don’t need to provide evidence, I know what I know.

It reminds me of my schizophrenic friend in college: coherent, semi-rational,  but completely unable to recognize the delusion in his own thoughts.

After Lucifer gave up on Yeshua, Pan decided to give it a try. Pan knows the importance of earthly pleasures and indulgences, and his heart went out to the starving man in his self-imposed abstinence. “Hey, bro… at least make yourself come bread and eat. What are you accomplishing by starving yourself?”

But Yeshua’s mental illness consumed him, and he claimed that he didn’t need actual food, he could survive just on his own willpower and beliefs.

Finally, Satan appeared, and attempted to reason with Yeshua one last time: “You’re destroying yourself in abasement to some imaginary being who has imaginary rules… this is absurd! Why are you doing this to yourself? Bowing down to an invisible, impalpable, unknowable entity is insane, don’t you see that? You might just as well bow down to a rock! Or a horse! Or, even me! That’s how ridiculous it is!”

Quite naturally, when this story was transcribed by others, they described these events somewhat differently. But this is how it actually happened.

And you should think about how you would act, too. What would you do, if your friend was out there, a shattered man, broken by mental illness, killing himself in the desert with paranoid delusions about superpowers and an invisible being watching over his every move. How would you try to help him?

Would you try to reason with him, like Lucifer?

Would you try to get him to take care of his body, like Pan?

Would you try to get him to see the oppressiveness of his delusion, like Satan?

Maybe you would take a different tactic completely. But if you have any compassion in you at all, you would surely do just as the Devil did, 2000 years ago on Mount Quarantania, when he tried to talk poor Yeshua out of his delusions and bring him back to the eternal light of reason.