I was poking around in the China Post and ran across this essay by Fujen University’s Daniel Bauer, a Catholic cleric who writes a regular column for the China Post, the pro-KMT rag. I am using this for my second years. as a writing assignment for their final. Bauer’s position on abortion is dictated, of course, by his institutional affiliation with the Church, so there is a certain irony in his praise of “spiritual convictions” of others, when he is simply a cypher for someone else’s authority values on so many key issues.

Bauer quickly describes the proposed law.

Proposed abortion law opens window to talk on sex, values By Daniel J. Bauer

Taiwan would clearly benefit by a hefty dose of political harmony. That is one reason I was pleased to learn this week of a dramatic bi-partisan effort by leaders of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Law-makers Lin Tai-hua of the DPP and Yang Li-huan of the KMT spoke as a team in support of a revision in the Genetic Health Law which would mandate a six-day waiting period before a woman could obtain an abortion.

I am guessing that various women’s groups are making life miserable at the moment for legislators Lin and Yang, charging that a six-day wait for an abortion constitutes an unreasonable attack on a so called right to an abortion. Fidelity to spiritual convictions on this question while under public pressure from members of one’s own gender is surely a tough challenge. Lin and Yang deserve our praise for their courage, as does independent legislator Chang Li-san. She also favors the proposal.

Believe it or not, Dan, opponents of this rule also have spiritual convictions. And practical ones as well…

Although I hope the suggested revision will win approval, I do not support abortion. I believe life in the womb is a whole human life, and society has an ethical and spiritual responsibility to protect it. The legislators say, however, that Belgium discovered a 60 percent drop in its abortion rate after its laws required a similar waiting period.

The problem lies right here — importing things from another culture without any similar infrastructure in one’s own. Six day waiting periods are also found in Europe, where abortion rates are much lower than the US or Canada or Taiwan. Why? Because in European countries, where the neurotic, anti-human sexual doctrine of Christianity has long since been dispensed with, there is a rich infrastructure of family planning, sex education, information, national health insurance, and so on. None of that is available in Taiwan.

Bauer rightly notes that abortion statistics in Taiwan are a joke — far too low — but then comes to the wrong conclusion. He thinks that we ought to have another 150,000 babies on the island every year, because, as we all know, Taiwan needs more people. Everywhere you go — the streets are empty of vehicles, the night markets lack for customers, the sidewalks are barren of life — there just aren’t enough people in Taiwan. Everyone I know complains about how hard it is to find other people in Taiwan. Good move, Dan!

Abortion restrictions punish women, and here in Taiwan women have already been punished enough. We should note that the big month for abortions in Taiwan is September as women go back to school. A six day waiting period means that a lot more girls would go back pregnant. In a more enlightened country, that would not be an issue, but here, pregnant girls are stigmatized and often forced to drop out of school. Bauer’s policy in effect calls for the creation of more single mothers who are school dropouts. Good move, Dan.

Further, Taiwan, like many nations with double standards on sexuality, has a vibrant back alley abortion industry. It’s not as bad as nations where the Church has been a success, as in Latin America and Africa, where young women are maimed and killed in botched abortions every year (and abortion rates are multiples of countries where abortion is safe and legal). In Kenya, where I used to live, at any one time, more than half the beds in the obstetrics and gynecology ward of Nairobi’s major state-funded Kenyatta hospital are occupied by women admitted with abortion-related complaints. Every year in Kenya alone about 2,000 women die from complications from abortion. Good thing they value life there, eh? If abortion were legal, Kenya would have fewer abortion deaths, and fewer abortions as well. But what is life-affirming logic in the face of an implacable hatred of women and sex?

In any case, a six day waiting period will have little effect in Taiwan for the simple reason that anyone who doesn’t want to wait can get an abortion without one off the street, an option many will choose. Not only does Bauer on one hand call for an increase in the number of single mothers in Taiwan, on the other, he proposes that we increase the number of illegal abortions as well. Good move, Dan!

Bauer may not realize this, as an asexual priest without wife or child, but babies do cost money, and so do health complications. Orphans and single mothers drive up social welfare costs. Someone has to pay for medical care for victims of botched back street abortions. Us taxpayers, of course.

To his credit, Bauer, who has lived in Taiwan many years, is not entirely clueless about the complete lack of sexual knowledge among the young. He knows….

Those words may be of help in a far away culture, but what works here at home? When it comes to knowing how our local parents talk of sex with their teens, we are sitting in great darkness. Most of my students tell me their parents have NEVER spoken deeply with them about sex, babies or birth control. Don’t you too feel we have a little problem here?

Yes, we have a problem here, Dan. The problem is that you can’t introduce measures that depend on a certain level of social infrastructure, in countries where that infrastructure does not exist. You’ve seen the problem, but refuse to think it through to the end. Bauer at one point calls for the island to take a shot, saying;

Well then, why not try it here in Taiwan? Let us do all we can to confirm the value of human life.

By all means, Dan. Let’s do that. Let’s confirm human life, in a broad and progressive way. Let’s have your authoritarian Pope resign, consign the pedophiles your Church protects to prison, apologize for your close ties to Mussolini, Franco, Peron, and other facists, and let’s see promotion of a truly life-embracing culture in your Church that values people like Oscar Romero and Dorothy Day, instead of hopeless rightists like Escriva of Spain and Cardinal Stepanic of Yugoslavia. But in the meantime, keep your nose out of Taiwan’s ethical business, because when it comes to ethics, your Church doesn’t have a moral leg to stand on.