Saturday, January 31, 2015

Women Have The Right To Stand Up To Oppressive Religions!

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Author and atheist Sam Harris hits it spot on in his masterful book, 'The Moral Landscape' (p. 63):

"Because religions conceive of morality as being obedient to the word of God (generally for the sake of receiving a supernatural reward), their precepts often have nothing to do with maximizing well-being in the world. Religious believers can, therefore, assert the immorality of contraception, masturbation, homosexuality etc. without ever feeling obliged to argue these practices actually cause suffering. 

They can also pursue aims that are flagrantly immoral, in that they needlessly perpetuate human misery, while believing these actions are morally obligatory. This pious uncoupling of moral concern from the reality of human and animal suffering has caused tremendous harm."

Examples reflecting the last points exist in abundance, such as the RCs' excommunication of  an American nun (in Arizona)  for saving a 27 year old mother’s life at the expense of her fetus’. Her moral choice was either to let the birth occur and see both mother and infant die, or prevent the birth (because of the mother’s blood pressure complications) and save the mother.

The Vatican's distorted morality (the same that forbids artificial contraception as "mutual masturbation") demanded that both mother and infant perish rather than allow the lesser of the beings (the fetus, not yet a fully formed person) die to save the more advanced being.  But  this is exactly what Harris meant when he referred to the "pious uncoupling of moral concern from human suffering".

To her credit, the nun chose the higher morality not dependent on simple obedience to an archaic God-concept. Realizing both lives couldn't be saved she chose to save the mother's.

In a similar way, another courageous woman - Brittany Maynard - realized that she already had a death sentence from brain cancer, but she had the power to circumvent it having the "last word". Thus, Brittany chose to end her life as a still sentient being rather than descend into a totally vegetative state lacking any life quality - with excruciating pain to go with it. Hence, Brittany's choice to end her life manifested a greater morality .  This morality rejected the suffering of merely existing in a debased vegetative condition based on the specious presumption  of "sanctity of life" demanded indiscriminately for any and all conditions.

Examining Brittany's choice one can see in retrospect that it was highly moral while the religionists attacking her exuded a morality that was "flagrantly immoral" because it extended human suffering.

These are extreme examples, to be sure, but lesser examples can also be invoked to show that women have the power (and right) to exercise their own choices - say in the matter of artificial contraception or abortion.

Thus, a Catholic woman with four kids already may understand that another would incur enormous hardship because of lack of resources. She is therefore totally justified in rejecting the Catholic Church's proscriptions against birth control.

Likewise, a single woman given a ''roofie"  in a drink by some low class renegade, and who later gets pregnant, is fully justified in getting an abortion. Her pregnancy occurred against her will, not her choice, so she is not obligated to endure the biological suffering and hardship a nine-month pregnancy will induce. 

Other single women, who may work in Catholic institutions (schools, hospitals),  have the right to demand FREE contraception as specified under the Affordable Care Act.  The argument that the institutions' "religious liberty" requires that no contraception be a part of any health plan is nonsense. This also extended to the Hobby Lobby fracas, irrespective of the decoupled SC decision.

As the Obama Administration has persuasively argued:

The owners of Hobby Lobby aren’t entitled to exemption for their business based on their individual religious beliefs

Or, as the Philadelphia-based federal appeals court pithily put it:

Businesses do not pray, worship, observe sacraments or take other religiously motivated actions.”

It is also important to note the Court has never recognized a for profit corporation's "religious rights" under federal law or the Constitution. 

As far as the Catholics' claim, it is also detached from reality- since workers at Catholic institutions are under no obligations to adhere to Catholic dogmas.

The bottom line is that once women - of all faiths or none- see that religions' moral precepts have nothing to do with maximizing well -being in the world, they will be charged to act under their own consciences. This is their right and it trumps any "pelvic proscriptions" the religions may have on offer!

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