Monday, September 29, 2014

Abortion. Can we talk about it?

It is only the callous who will dismiss mental health as not being a problem. There are those who will deny that the mental health of a person is as important as physiological health. These are the people who lack the sophistication to understand the human anatomy and the complex biochemistry that human organs and the central nervous system that affects our mental health. It is why I am surprised that, according to recent research into the matter, that the church, whether traditional ones or the evangelical and pentecostal strains, has little to do, or say, about mental health.

One of the clues to this reluctance must be tied to the research by several leading healthcare providers and policy-makers regarding the link between crisis pregnancies and the mental health of the pregnant. Sexual assault is the most common cause of a crisis pregnancy. The assault alone is responsible for suicide, depression and a permanent state of fear in the victim. More often than not, if there is an ensuing pregnancy, it exponentially compounds the mental problems of the victim. Many Christian fundamentalists insist that if the physiological well-being of the victim is not at risk, she must not be permitted to terminate the unwanted pregnancy.

The debate around the termination of pregnancies is driven mostly by Christian fundamentalist extremism. Some extremists do not see the irony of murdering doctors who assist women to terminate pregnancies. In their warped sense of justice, they will murder doctors who assist women to terminate pregnancies because abortion is murder. The "killing of the unborn" is murder. All life is precious, so they tell us, especially the life of the unborn. They seem to be partial to an Abrahamic interpretation of the eye-for-and-eye rule that requires every "killing" to be answered by still more killing. I am surprised that they have not pushed for the amendment of the Penal Code to provide for capital punishment for women who procure an abortion.

Abortion is a very sensitive subject, whether one is a man, a woman, a man or woman of the cloth, a lawmaker or a disinterested observer. It raises passions. But there is something frightening about the moral certitude and absolutism of the religious fundamentalist, especially the Christian religious fundamentalist. There's absolutely no doubt that anything done my man to cause the death of the unborn is murder. There's absolutely no doubt that the penalty for that murder, in addition to the eternal fires of damnation, is death. There's absolutely no argument that can possibly be made to persuade them that in certain, exceptional and rare circumstances, that it would be preferable to abort a pregnancy than to carry it to term. To the Christian fundamentalist who is absolutely certain, all abortion is murder and the penalty for that murder is death.

Absolutist certitude shuts the door to compromise. It presumes that only one viewpoint can, shall prevail. It reduces all reason to something valueless. It brooks no dissent. It is the usually the preserve of the dictator who knows best about what his people desire, need. Religious fundamentalism is the worst form of tyranny. It is frequently fact-free. It sometimes attracts the least intelligent among us. It, ironically, breeds violence and death whereas the usual religious incantations speak of peace. Christian fundamentalists like the reviled Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are the purveyors of great intolerance and the contributors to intractable conflicts that will rage on and on because their adherents have given up the power to think and reason. It is for this reason why it is impossible to talk to a Kenyan Christian religious fundamentalist on abortion, especially if he has drunk full from the waters offered by the Falwells and Robertsons of the unhinged United States of America.

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