In 2010, I wrote a piece titled, “Death’s Progress,” which was widely published. What I laid out needs to be reiterated and updated. Unfortunately, it will need to be regularly reiterated and updated in the years ahead.
Right now, in the aftermath of the Hobby Lobby decision and Obama HHS mandate, we’re witnessing another crucial evolutionary stage in the progressive movement’s ever-changing advance of abortion. In 2010, I underscored the core problem with progressivism, particularly when applied to issues of unborn human life, where the problem becomes a catastrophe. Bear with me as I excerpt my original words:
One of the only things we really know about progressives, and that they know about themselves and their ideology, is that they favor constant “change,” “reform,” an ever-shifting, ongoing “evolution,” or, yes, progression. And therein is an inherent, significant difficulty: progressivism offers no clear, definable end….
For the rest of us, this ambiguity is troubling bordering on maddening, as we can’t, by the very nature of progressivism, get an answer from progressives as to where, exactly, they intend to stop…. [But] here’s where the confusion has the potential to become downright destructive: think about the consequences of their philosophy when applied to the very life and culture of America:
Take the example of Planned Parenthood. It took off in the 1920s, initially as the American Birth Control League. At first, Margaret Sanger and friends wanted birth control. They also advocated eugenics. Sanger was a racial eugenicist. She had hideous views, not only toward the poor (“human weeds,” she called them), to the mentally slow (“imbeciles” and “morons”), but, among others, to black Americans. Progressives today dare not raise the grim specter of Sanger’s “Negro Project” or infamous 1926 speech to a KKK rally.
But what about abortion?… Planned Parenthood’s progressives weren’t there yet; they had to warm up to that.
It will shock pro-lifers and pro-choicers alike to hear this, but Margaret Sanger initially denounced abortion. “It is an alternative that I cannot too strongly condemn,” wrote Sanger in the January 27, 1932 edition of The Nation, “[S]ome ill-informed persons have the notion that when we speak of birth control we include abortion as a method. We certainly do not.”
Nonetheless, for these progressives, what began as birth control and eugenics – aimed at halting life at conception – needed only a few decades to snuff out life after conception.
As with much of what progressives do, where they started wasn’t enough. And, naturally, once legalized abortion came along, it, too, was not enough. Today, progressives tell us abortion should be funded by taxpayers….
Still, that, likewise, will not be enough. What might be next in the progression?…
It serves us all – including unborn future generations – to want answers to some hard questions as far as ultimate objectives are concerned. I sincerely beg progressives for some contours, a vague estimate: Could you please, this time around – where human life is concerned – establish some boundaries, set an end-goal or two, offer an inkling of predictability, a modicum of expectation, some flicker of a suggestion as to where you want to take us?
Unfortunately, they can’t, as such is the crux of their ever-changing philosophy.
I wrote that four years ago. In light of progressives’ genuinely scary reaction to the Hobby Lobby decision, it’s time to update.
We’ve arrived at another new stage in the progressive march. Just 20 years ago, it was unthinkable that an overwhelming consensus of progressives/liberals would compel everyone, including conscientious objectors invoking their sacred First Amendment religious freedoms, to forcibly pay for others’ contraception, sterilization services, and drugs that induce abortions. My “pro-choice” liberal friends assured me they’d never be so crude as to ask me to pay for their abortions. That would be completely over the line. And to pay for their contraception, too? No way! they scoffed. Please, that would be beyond ridiculous. They merely wanted me “out of their bedroom” to allow them their “safe, legal, and rare” abortions.
To repeat: They would never ask me to pay for their abortions and contraception. It was unimaginable. They were liberals, after all. They believed in freedom and tolerance. They would never be so “fascistic.”
Well, here we are, 2014, and the unfathomable is now the unwavering position of liberals/progressives.
How did they change so much so fast? The short answer is that they had to progress, to evolve to this current understanding that they consider more enlightened. As for those of us who haven’t changed, who once shared the same position as these liberals/progressives, we are now deemed the extremists, the intransigents. We’re said to favor a “war on women.” In pleading with liberals/progressives not to force us to violate our sacred beliefs on human life by subsidizing their abortions, we’re told that we’re “imposing” our religious beliefs, and also “denying” women the contraceptives they remain fully free to purchase with their own money.
To say this is frustrating is insufficient. Liberals already had everything they demanded on abortion. And yet, that’s not enough; it’s never enough. Today’s leftists want you to be party to their abortions, to enlist you in their behavior, even if you and your faith consider the behavior gravely sinful. If you beg not to do so, they will call you nasty names and accuse you of hatred.
I need not here detail the astonishing examples of liberals/progressives demonizing those who disagree with them on this. I could expend thousands of words quoting their incensed reactions to the Hobby Lobby case: Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and those screaming that Hobby Lobby stores be vandalized and even burnt to the ground. (They’re equally vitriolic toward those who disagree with them on same-sex marriage.) Hillary Clinton compared Hobby Lobby’s position to brutally misogynistic Muslim regimes. Senate Democrats went so far as to sponsor legislation to “overturn” the Hobby Lobby decision.
The National Organization for Women devised a list of the “Dirty 100” who oppose Obama’s HHS mandate. Included are the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Alas, this is where progressives have progressed on unborn life. It’s the next stage. It is, yet again, a new stage that furthers death. It uses force not only against the victims, the unborn, but against those pleading not to be party to the victims’ destruction.
Again, all that we really know about progressives, and that they know about themselves, is that they’re always changing. Because of that, neither we nor they can tell us where they will stand on issues X and Y in 20 years. We can’t know because they don’t know. They’ll tell us when they get there.
But we do know this much: what’s seemingly inconceivable to all of us right now – including to progressives themselves – may become the dogmatic position of progressives in a generation. The once-inconceivable absurdities become reality, and when they do, the progressive shrugs and then shouts – at you. If you suggest that a certain impossible position might become progressives’ position in, say, the year 2034, they will scoff, insisting they could never hold such an intolerable position. Alas, when they arrive at that position in 2034, they’ll tell you that you are the crazy one; more than that, you are the vile extremist for disagreeing with their newfound position. And they will attempt to force your compliance under the coercive power of the state.
When it comes to these vital matters of literal life and death, the ongoing progressive evolution is proving to be downright frightening. Where will progressives be 20 years from now? Where will death’s progress advance next? Stay tuned.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. His latest book is 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative. His other books include The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor and Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.