Jesurgislac’s Journal

June 27, 2010

Why is abortion like setting fire to kittens?

As many of you may know, I am a fervent and committed believer in a woman’s right to choose: I support all six demands of the women’s liberation movement: equal pay, equal employment opportunity, free contraceptive services, abortion on demand. (The last demand, free 24-hour childcare, I think is brilliantly utopian, world turned upside down, but the first five are all achievable in our present political state….)

Setting fire to kittens, on the other hand: inarguably wrong. Even if you hate cats, and as many of you may know, I am a fervent and committed cat worshipper whisperer.

Pro-lifers generally run blogs that do not accept dissenting viewpoints. (They’re like gay marriage opponents in that way.) But for pro-lifers, the “dissenting viewpoint” can be anything like “Contraception is a good way of preventing abortions” or scientific facts about how methods of contraception work, to assertions that women have abortions for all sorts of reasons, including the purely economic fear of losing your job, and these reasons are none of them outrageous or wicked. If you don’t want a woman who works for a Catholic school to have an abortion because she can’t afford to lose her job, then – as the ACLU did – you fight the case of a woman fired for getting pregnant, so that Catholic schools in future will refrain from encouraging their employees from having abortions. If you think a high abortion rate is a bad thing, you fund free access to contraception, you put in place sex education in schools that encourages children to think about sex positively as a source of pleasure for themselves and each other and using contraception whenever they have sex unless they intend to engender a child, you provide maternity care and paid maternity leave and rights for working parents to have time to care for their children and earn a living. We know that pro-lifers are not interested in reducing the number of abortions because, as a political movement, and, mostly, as individuals, they support none of these things.

What are pro-lifers interested in?

They hate abortion. And they want you to know they hate abortion.

Part of this goes right along with hating abortion because it means women can have, in the pro-life euphemism, “sex without consequences” – why pro-lifers also oppose free access to contraception. Women, in this view of things, ought not to be allowed to have sex joyfully, for her own pleasure, without fear: the fear of becoming pregnant is something that ought always to be looming over a woman’s mind when she thinks about having sex. Especially an unmarried women: hence pro-life support for firing an unmarried woman who decided not to have an abortion. This hatred of women having sex for pleasure is very strong in the pro-life movement, and for many years I’ve assumed it to be the key motivator. There’s considerable evidence for this in the policies/campaigning of the pro-life movement, as this post by Ampersand outlines:

In contrast, the leaders of the abortion criminalization movement have consistently put their political weight behind policies which make little or no sense if they genuinely think that abortion is identical to child murder. And those same leaders routinely endorse policies that make a lot of sense if their goal is to penalize women who have sex – to, as I’ve heard many of them put it, make sure women “face the consequences” of having sex. And they’ve done so with the apparent backing and blessing of the vast majority of the rank and file. [Further analysis at Alas a Blog.]

This belief – that denying access to abortion is an effective means of turning pregnancy into punishment and babies into “consequences” – is why many pro-lifers say they think abortion ought to be allowed for rape or incest, or to save a woman’s life.

But for some pro-lifers, that’s still not acceptable. For them, the key is hating abortion, and hating people who support the right to have an abortion. They don’t care about women dying: they don’t care about fetuses dying, or babies dying: they certainly don’t care about preventing abortions, because where would their source of hate be then?

I read this post on Slacktivist about false witness some time ago; Fred illustrated his point with reference to an awful incident the paper he worked for had reported on, a “group of disturbed and disturbing children doused a kitten with lighter fluid and set it on fire” and other incidents in which disturbed and disturbing people had done this awful thing. Fred noted that people were universally and unsurprisingly against kitten-burning:

But one also came away from reading that thread with the sense that people seemed to think this ultra-minimal moral stance made them exceptional and exceptionally righteous. Like the earlier editorial writers, they seemed to think they were exhibiting courage by taking a bold position on a matter of great controversy. Whatever comfort might be gleaned from the reaffirmation that most people were right about this non-issue issue was overshadowed by the discomfiting realization that so many people also seemed to want or need most others to be wrong.

The kitten-burners seem to fulfill some urgent need. They give us someone we can clearly and correctly say we’re better than. Their extravagant cruelty makes us feel better about ourselves because we know that we would never do what they have done. They thus function as signposts of depravity, reassuring the rest of us that we’re Not As Bad As them, and thus letting us tell ourselves that this is the same thing as us being good.

Hating abortion is a political tool to get people to vote against their own economic self-interests: as Avedon at the Sideshow summarises succinctly: “the lie that the anti-abortion movement was an organic reaction to Roe v Wade, but of course that’s not true – like everything else, it was orchestrated by rich right-wingers as part of their ongoing program to polarize society.”

In the US in the 1970s, racism was becoming less and less acceptable as a means by which right-wing politicians could convince working-class white Americans to vote and even campaign against their own economic interests. (As an example: By the end of that decade,even the Mormon Church had had to receive a revelation from God that it was unacceptable to ban black men from the priesthood. But in the 21st century, the Mormon Church actively campaigns for discrimination against lesbians and gays.) In 2002, the then-Senate Majority leader, Trent Lott, had to apologize for saying that the United States would have avoided all these problems if the racist Strom Thurmond had been elected President in 1948: in 2004, George W. Bush could endorse a national campaign for homophobic bigotry and inequality.

But if you can’t, any more, use racism as a trigger to get people to vote against their own economic self-interest, what can you use to drum up hatred? In the 1970s, the LGBT equality movement wasn’t widespread enough for gay-hating to work as a national trigger – too many parts of the US where LGBT people just kept their heads down and tried to be invisible and inaudible – but women, everywhere, need access to abortion and contraception. Turn this natural human need into a hate campaign and you’re off to a winner.

Abortion is like setting fire to kittens not because human fetuses are like kittens (there is no lolfetuses website) but because pro-lifers get their buzz out of believing themselves to be better than others. The opposition of pro-lifers to intact dilation and extraction, and their invention of the non-medical term “partial birth abortion”, is otherwise inexplicable: IDX is an abortion technique, one which can be safer for a woman who needs an abortion in late pregnancy, but banning IDX will not prevent any abortions: it merely ensures that a method which may be less safe for the woman must be used. Many pro-lifers have reacted with anger and rejection when asked if their opposition to IDX is because they want women to be hurt or permanently damaged: apparently what they want is a return to the pre-IDX days when the only way to remove a dead or dying fetus from the uterus was piecemeal. This belief that IDX in particular is bad makes no sense to many people, but if what pro-lifers want is the reassurance that they’re better than people who support a woman’s right to choose, thus letting them tell themselves that this is the same thing as “being good”, then it makes sense that they want abortion to appear “extravagantly cruel“. Performing IDX means the fetus can be removed intact, allowing the parents to hold the body as they mourn their loss: to pro-lifers this is as unacceptable as legislation for social justice is to Trotskyites who believe in a worker’s revolution.

I was 27 weeks by this point. I was terrified. The moment I met the doctor, all of that ended. He was a wonderful and loving man. I came in on Monday and gave birth to our baby girl on Friday. We were able to hold her after, and say our goodbyes. That doctor will always be in my heart. (From A Heartbreaking Choice, the website set up to commemorate Doctor George Tiller’s work.)

Pro-lifers are the movement for setting fire to kittens. They are not interested in preventing abortions: they are not interested in protecting women from harm. They are not interested in saving fetal lives. What they want is to compare access to abortion with the holocaust, with slavery, with torture – they want abortion to be performed as dangerously as possible: they want to claim that abortion is dangerous and performed by uncaring people; they want to campaign against evil like brave, brave, brave Sir Robin without actually running any risks because the evil empire they tourney against is entirely of their own invention.

Unfortunately, the women condemned to suffer and die from their tourneying are not.

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!

June 1, 2010

Tuesday Recipe Blogging: Liver and Chianti

Pro-lifers tend to be in agreement that forced use of organs is immoral: they just make an exception for using the uterus (using the organs of a pregnant woman) without her consent. As the essay The Only Moral Abortion Is My Abortion has already demonstrated, the anti-choicers are themselves unwilling for their own bodies to be used against their will: men can’t get pregnant,and pro-life women have abortions as often as pro-choice women.

“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”

Many more eggs are fertilsed than there are babies born. For a baby to be created from a fertilised egg, a woman must be willing to use her body – not only her uterus, but her heart (which must beat for two); her liver, her kidneys, her guts – all of her bodily resources are used in the process of making a baby.

As I noted in a comment on Catherine Palmer’s blog Ethika Politika (the blog of the Center for Morality in Public Life) the pro-life argument against medically-required abortions is that women have no right to life or health if their bodies are being used by a fetus: explicitly, that fetuses are more valuable than women. (That the only way to keep a fetus alive, safe, and supported through pregnancy is to ensure that the health and life of pregnant women is made a priority, is something that does not appear to have occurred to pro-lifers.)

The pro-life argument against elective abortions, is that a fetus has the right to make use of a woman’s body against her will, because a fetus is a “person”. But that’s not a workable argument if a woman is a person: because then she has an inalienable right to decide for herself not to use her body to bring a fetus to term.

To rephrase the very basic statement of morality made by a member of the pro-life community against forced organ use: The [pro-life] community has tempted some to seek a weakening of the strict ethical rules which prevent patients—no matter how sick or catastrophically disabled—from ever being treated as a mere organ system rather than an equal member of the moral community.

The key rule is: Organs will be taken only if consent is freely given—either by the patient or by family members (if the patient is catastrophically disabled or otherwise unable to consent). That informed and freely given consent is both a legal and an ethical principle. Arguments that the use of an organ is for the “common good”, that saving life justifies taking the use of an organ against that person’s will, are profoundly immoral: A woman must never be treated as a mere organ system to be “submitted to the common good”. Not for the use of her heart, her liver, her kidneys – or her uterus.

Again, going back to the article about disrobing pro-life euphemisms:

This ideology is, broadly speaking, the pro-life ideology. This doctrine insists, sans sound premise, that certain human beings ought to be labeled non-persons and thus be denied rights. It insists further that it is fundamental to society that no woman who decides against pregnancy ought to be allowed her choice: that human rights for women ought not to be regarded as protected by the US Constitution or by any other human rights laws.

As Catherine Palmer herself notes: The ramifications of this mentality are unspeakable, but not unprecedented. Anytime unpopular human beings are reduced to something disposable, we see horrific effects. We saw it in our segregated nation under Jim Crow laws in the 1950’s, when African-Americans were lynched by the thousands because they were dark-skinned; and we see it in [Latin America] today with denial of medically-required abortions where pregnant women are allowed to die of preventable complications as a human sacrifice to a religious Law without humanity. (For horrid examples of pro-life Americans celebrating the ideal of human sacrifice to the Law, see the comments thread here.)

Like Catherine, I would like to think (and generally do think) that the propagators of these killings would never commit them were they to see them for what they really are.

But the pro-life movement is guilty of murder, terrorism, and other violence towards health service workers, and has recently and very openly made clear that where the choice lies between saving a pregnant woman’s life by performing an abortion, and letting the pregnant woman die even though the fetus dies too, they argue for the latter: they prefer two deaths to one.

Like Catherine, I say the first initiative is educational in nature. We have a responsibility both to educate people who have been deceived by pro-life lies about fetuses, pregnancy, and abortion, and to educate people in valuing women as human beings. The abortion question ultimately comes down to the moral status of pregnant women, but pro-lifers like to argue that it’s all about “saving fetuses” – and then tell further, complicated lies both about the nature of fetuses/fetal development and about abortion. Both contradicting the pro-life lies and affirming the equal humanity of women are required to correct the inimical pro-life mindset. Pro-lifers need intellectual confusion to make their case: the service of truth corrects their lies.

Like Catherine, I say the second initiative is active in nature. The pro-lifers have political and religious power and money on their side: she argues that “we see that the Civil Rights Movement required authors and activists, professors and preachers, to bare segregation for the world to see”. I agree with her that the Pro-Life Movement will likely prove no different: it is not enough for them to expose themselves as indifferent to women’s lives and opposing human rights for women, it is essential that they should be exposed for what they are.

The pro-life ideology is an inhuman ideology “parading in dress-up clothes and pretending to be human”. Catherine quotes a Narnian in one of C.S.Lewis’s novels saying “But in general, take my advice, when you meet anything that’s going to be human and isn’t yet, or used to be human once and isn’t now, or ought to be human and isn’t, keep your eyes on it and feel for your hatchet”. While a pro-lifer would naturally think in terms of violent action, which I oppose as I oppose all pro-life ideology – I agree with the recommendation to be wary of inhumanity.

The belief that other people exist to be used against their will is one of the most pernicious and deadly that humanity is rife with: and it is the pro-life belief in a nutshell. Pro-life euphemisms, be gone!

I should admit: I plagiarised large chunks of Catherine’s post with satiritic intent. The best satires were teaching rants. Catherine’s post presumes that if only those of us who believe that women are human and so support a woman’s right to choose, could understand the humanity of the cute li’l fetuses, we would somehow change our minds about the humanity of women. We do need to convince pro-lifers who have a sincere concern for humanity, that their concern is severely misdirected when they argue that because human fetuses are fully human, that must mean women ought to be treated as slaves, animals, or incubators. A fetus can have all the human rights that every human is born to: that does not mean that a fetus (or a pro-lifer claiming to act for a fetus) can force a woman to use her body as an incubator against her will. As humans we have the right to choose if, when, and how many children we will have: pro-lifer arguments that pregnancy is a “common good” for which women can be used against their will are straightforward arguments for enslavement and dehumanisation of women.

February 17, 2010

Pro-life terrorists: eight murders haven’t been enough

Pro-life terrorists in the US have already murdered eight people for working in clinics that perform abortions, and have attempted to murder 17 more. (cite) Now that the pro-life murderer of George Tiller has been convicted, pro-life terrorists and their supporters are working elsewhere to get more clinic staff killed:

A gynecologist who performs abortions in Tarrant County is the target of a vicious postcard campaign which lists his home and work addresses along with names of five of his staff members.

The postcard is printed in black-and-white and it is unsigned.

On the front is a picture of Dr. Michael S. Phillips next to the question: “Have you seen this person?”

When it’s flipped over, the postcard lists the doctor’s name, and three addresses — including his home.

It goes on to reveal names of five staff members.

When reached at his home, Dr. Phillips said he wouldn’t talk about it. “I’ve been dealing with it for 35 years, that’s all I can say.” (Texas, WFAA)

The card uses familiar pro-life hate rhetoric, calling the clinic staff named on the card “heart-stoppers” and promoting the usual pro-life lie that that the doctor and the clinic staff practice infanticide, claiming “They kill ‘em cheap and stack ‘em deep.”

Chuck Pelletier, apparently the clean face for the pro-lifer movement in Texas, claims that he has nothing to do with producing or passing out this card, but that everything on it is true. (He and his wife run the “Mother & Unborn Baby Care” crisis pregnancy center in Fort Worth: I have no idea what links this particular crisis pregnancy center may have to the coercive adoption industry, but “follow the money” is a good rule anywhere – and the adoption industry in the US is huge and has nothing to do with respecting women as mothers.)

It is, as always, ironic and worth noting that not only is the pro-life movement a terrorist anti-life movement… it is also deeply against provision of services which prevent abortions.

January 12, 2010

Teenagers having babies: Just Not A Good Idea

I’m pro-choice. That doesn’t necessarily mean pro-abortion, as discussed earlier: it means I think that the woman who is pregnant is the one who gets to make the decisions.

But with regard to teenagers who get pregnant: I’d counsel very strongly towards having an abortion, and the younger the teenager, the more strongly.

Reason one, and the single most important one: Getting pregnant too young is bad for your long-term health. There are no circumstances under which an early abortion wouldn’t be far better for the teenager’s health than carrying a pregnancy to term.

Reason two: None of the options for a teenage mother – especially one too young to have a legal full-time job – are good. The pro-lifers who think teenage girls can be used as surrogates to produce healthy babies for their adoption industry, are the most callously damaging, but none of the other prospects are particularly good either – a teenager who has a strong supportive family behind her, willing to provide free childcare and financial support, may still manage to get the education she needs to get a job to be able to support her child, but the odds are against her.

So: a teenager who’s pregnant, ought to be told her first, best choice would be to have an early abortion. (And yes: there are circumstances under which I’d say that a parent is justified in ignoring a 13-year-old girl’s arguments that ABORTION IS MURDER, supposing she comes up with them, and saying firmly “We’re going to the clinic, you’re talking to the counselor” – the doctor shouldn’t perform the abortion against the girl’s will, but the parents should absolutely be doing everything possible to encourage the girl to do the right thing and agree to terminate. Including finding this 13-year-old an afternoon job in a baby nursery wiping up vomit, shit, and other baby messes.)

What if the teenager has unsupportive, abusive parents who think she should have the baby whether or not she wants to do that, and plan to force her to abandon the baby to the adoption industry?

Well, then the teenager should be supported by the law, medical ethics, and humanity, against her abusive parents: she should be able to have an abortion without her parents knowing about it. (Most of the time, I think, most parents would do the right thing even if initially they got mad at their daughter: but a child who says firmly that she doesn’t want her parents to know, may well have good reason to think her parents would be abusive.) Laws that force the government into the parent-child relationship, that require parental consent before medical staff can provide a pregnant teenager with the abortion she needs, are vile and inethical.

As Harriet Jacobs at Fugitivus says, the thunderous conclusion of a fantastic post that outlines how parental notification laws actually work to harm children by denying them essential medical services:

So, welcome to the reality of legal restrictions on medical services to teenagers! This is a thing to keep in mind whenever you read about a new law taking shape or being passed. If the new law does not explicitly identify standards and procedures, and if it does not explicitly identify service providers, and if those service providers do not actually exist in your community, you now have a pretty good idea of the intentions of the lawmakers. Passing a law that is undefined and inaccessible is passing a law you don’t want to see enforced. When lawmakers passed this notification law, they didn’t want girls to actually be able to acquire bypasses. They didn’t even care if girls notified their parents. If they had cared about these things, the law would have actually addressed what “notification” means, what “parents” mean, and who provides bypasses. It did not address these things, because these were not the things lawmakers actually wanted to see happen. The lawmakers purposefully made a law where it is impossible to ensure compliance, but is entirely possible to be punished for non-compliance. They made it this way because they did not want to see compliance. They wanted to see a full stop.

They wanted to see teenagers forced into either having illegal abortions or having babies they did not want and could not support, to provide products for an industry valued at $1.4 billion.

November 10, 2009

What the Stupak-Pitts coathanger amendment means for Americans

Bart Stupak, Democrat for Death, decided he hated women and he didn’t want women who needed abortions to get healthcare: he wants taxpayers who are women to be required to pay for government subsidies for health insurance plans, but he wants those health insurance companies to be allowed to deny those women life/fertility-saving healthcare.

The amendment will prohibit federal funds for abortion services in the public option. It also prohibits individuals who receive affordability credits from purchasing a plan that provides elective abortions. However, it allows individuals, both who receive affordability credits and who do not, to separately purchase with their own funds plans that cover elective abortions. It also clarifies that private plans may still offer elective abortions.

From a woman who had an abortion on Hallowe’en:

As much as I struggled with the sudden realization that the pregnancy was over, I also found myself trying to decide financially what I was willing to do. A chemical abortion would cost $40, but I would be alone, bleeding, and it could still be incomplete and I would require a D&C anyway, since my pregnancy was so advanced. Surgery would be quick, total, and under controlled circumstances, but would likely be our full maxed insurance amount of $1500. And of course, there was the free option of waiting for my body to finally realize I wasn’t pregnant, but after 4 weeks the risk of infection was steadily climbing, increasing my chances of future miscarriage, infertility, or even death. With a toddler at home, and still nursing hopes for extending our family some day, this was not an option.

I chose the quick and total route of the D&C, despite the costs, prioritizing my health and the health of possible future children. I was lucky, and could afford to make that choice, because currently, my insurance cannot chose to refuse to cover what the hospital as termed an abortion.

Thanks to the Stupak amendment, that can now change.

This is an anti-women amendement – the kind of misogynist crap that women-haters spew – but it is also a typically rich-bastard anti-poor people amendment. A woman who already has a good insurance plan – one that covers abortion – or who has the kind of income that can afford to pay a couple of thousand for an unexpected medical expense that her health insurance, she discovers, won’t cover – will be OK.

A woman who figures she can scrape together $40 for a chemical abortion and just hope that will do it? Or a woman who can’t afford anything but a coathanger?

Congressman Bart Stupak has decided such worthless women can die. Or become involuntarily infertile. Or whatever. Their lives, and the lives of the children they hoped to have, are of less than no importance to a man like him. He has an e-mail form here, if you want to let him know what you think. (You will need to provide him with a zip code inside Michigan’s 1st District, which you can do by looking a city up here and the zipcode for it here. )

October 11, 2009

Cupcakes for Macduff

The Cupcakes for Life site is down due to bandwidth, but the magic of Google found me the cache, and this is too good not to share:

“Cupcakes were designed with birthdays in mind. However, not everyone has been allowed to be born.”

How did you celebrate pro-life cupcake day? (via)

Act V, SCENE VIII. Another part of the field.

Enter MACBETH

MACBETH

Why should I play the bakin’ boy, and cut
with my cake knife? whiles I see cakes, the cuts
Do better upon them.

Enter MACDUFF

MACDUFF

Turn, cupcake, turn!

MACBETH

Of all men else I have avoided thee:
But get thee back; my plate is too much charged
With cake of thine already.

MACDUFF

I have no cakes:
My cake is in the oven: thou baker’s reject
That sugar can cover!

They fight

MACBETH

Thou losest frosting:
As easy mayst thou the intrenchant air
With thy cake knife impress as ice my cake:
Let fall thy sugar on softer baked goods;
I bear a charmed cake, which cannot yield,
To one of woman born.

MACDUFF

Despair, cupcake;
And let the baker whom thou still hast served
Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother’s womb
Untimely ripp’d.

MACBETH

Accursed be that tongue that tells me so,
For it hath cow’d my better part of man!
And be these juggling fiends no more believed,
That palter with us in a double sense;
That keep the word of promise to our ear,
And break it to our hope. I’ll not fight with thee.

MACDUFF

Then yield thee, cupcake,
And live to be the show and gaze o’ the time:
We’ll have thee, as our rarer cake wrecks are,
posted on a blog, and underwrit,
‘Here may you see the cupcake.’

MACBETH

I will not yield,
To kiss the ground before young Marcotte’s feet,
And to be baited with the rabble’s curse.
Though Conservapedia be come to Slacktivist,
And thou opposed, being of no woman born,
Yet I will try the last. Before my body
I throw my warlike cake. Lay on, Macduff,
And damn’d be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough!’

Exeunt, frosting. Alarums.

December 6, 2008

Humans are not an endangered species

Sometimes, the obvious needs to be said. The world’s population is 6.7 billion (World Population Clock) and rising: a large and flourishing population of human beings exists in almost every part of the world. About the only continent we don’t have a breeding population of humans on is Antarctica, and we could, any time we wanted, it would just take much more technological investment than penguins need.

So what’s with the “demographic winter” thing that Christian-right “profamily” activists are so keen on? As Kathryn Joyce points out in The Nation, what’s missing are the “right” babies – what worries this kind of person is not the human species becoming extinct, but not enough white babies being born.

At the national level, in 2004 Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi offered a “baby bonus” of about $1,000 to parents who had a second child. … Elizabeth Krause, an anthropologist and author of A Crisis of Births: Population Politics and Family-Making in Italy, tracked that country’s population efforts over the past decade and found politicians demanding more babies “to keep away the armadas of immigrants from the southern shores of the Mediterranean” and priests calling for a “Christian dike against the Muslim invasion of Italy.” The racial preferences behind Berlusconi’s “baby bonus” came into embarrassing relief when immigrant parents were accidentally sent checks for their offspring and then asked to return the money: the Italian government hadn’t meant to promote those births.

Barry McLerran, said to be a “producer” (he doesn’t appear on IMDB), did a “documentary” about this problem racists have with white women not having “enough” babies, which is entitled Demographic Winter.

Proposition 8 passed on lies: one of the most prevalent lies before it passed was that somehow it would affect the Californian school system. That’s not a lie the pro-Prop8ers can usefully stick to, as it will become evident as time goes on that “Yes on 8″ didn’t affect the school system in California at all.

But now the rash of homophobic blogs that appeared around Proposition 8 have been picking up on this: I noticed it via Beetle Blogger, Kingfisher Column, The Pomegranate Apple, all of whom are linking to a free torrent. They need an excuse: a claim that if same-sex couples are allowed to marry, this will somehow affect the white population of the world, or at least of their respective countries. This works for the anti-marriage movement because for them (as I wrote two years ago):

these people who oppose contraception, sex education, abortion, and who oppose child support, a right to paid maternity leave, breastfeeding, subsidised daycare, free education for all beginning in nursery school. Racism and sexism are the roots, with homophobia as a flourishing fruit of the tree.

Not just the bloggers, but their permitted commenters (most of these blogs only allow their own cohort to post comments):

  • “Oh man. If that video doesn’t make obvious the need for traditional, healthy marriage and family, I don’t know what will. Homosexuals seem to always bring up the broken homes, victims of divorce, that plague our society today. As if the crumbling family unit and committed, loving marriage will be saved by allowing gays to marry.”
  • Marriage has been weakened by no-fault divorce and the general acceptance of cohabitation and adultery. Will gay marriage serve to strengthen the desire for marriage in the eyes of young heterosexual males? The mule is about to kick again.
  • The amazing thing is that people can see pretty clearly that the trends are going south, but the majority of people haven’t been convinced enough to change how they see things. Perhaps this has to be like the new “environmentalism” cause. Save the planet, go back to basics, families, values, vegetables and whole grains.

It’s not just about equal marriage. For these people, racism is just as important as sexism is just as important as homophobia: not only must same-sex couples be denied marriage, white women must be denied contraception and access to abortion, because more of the right kind of babies must be born.

On 16th November, in The Advocate, Michael Joseph Gross described an encounter with an elderly straight woman:

The night before Election Day, a black woman walked into the San Francisco headquarters of the No on Proposition 8 campaign. Someone had ripped down the No on 8 sign she’d posted in her yard and she wanted a replacement. She was old, limping, and carrying a cane. Walking up and down the stairs to this office was hard for her.

I asked why coming to get the sign was worth the trouble, and she answered, “All of us are equal, and all of us have to fight to make sure the law says that.”

Right on.

November 14, 2008

My Obama Wish List: 9

What’s next?

9 Repeal the global gag rule.

The Global Gag Rule was re-instated by George W. Bush on his first day office. It was a promise of symbolic support to the misogynistic Christians who are the backbone of the forced pregnancy movement, and it was a warning to people round the world who regard women as human beings and care about human life.

The global gag rule is a rule that no recipient of US aid may advise women on where they can get an abortion. They may not even talk about the need for safe legal abortion, or the damage that lack of safe legal abortion does to women.

In a world where lack of access to safe legal abortion kills over 60 000 women each year, the global gag rule is a monstrosity, justified by hypocrites who claim “each life is precious” – and who don’t care how many people die because of it.

Okay, break’s over!

October 18, 2008

“I should have a choice about this”

Transcript below the fold.
(more…)

September 28, 2008

Being “Pro-life” has nothing to do with being pro life

A few years ago on Obsidian Wings, Von (then one of the conservative front-page posters) put up a pic of a fetus and titled the post Why I’m pro-life. (Von added that his partner is pro-choice, and that they have long ago quit having dinner table conversations about it.)

When debating with or about pro-lifers, I am in the habit of using their own name for their own movement, because I do think people have a right to name their own identity: but I also feel that it’s necessary to point out that being “Pro-life” is not actually, literally, about being pro-life: it’s about being pro forced pregnancy.

One of the “pro-life” commenters on my post The basics: why pro-choice is the only moral option took exception to my pointing this out: Opple claimed it was an unfair attack, but of course it is not:

Being pro-choice means that, regardless of your personal opinion about abortion, in general or in particular, you support every woman’s right to decide for herself whether or not she will have a baby, and every pregnant woman’s right to make decisions for herself, in consultation with her doctor, regardless of how advanced her pregnancy is. Although being pro-choice and being feminist are intrinsically intertwined (a person who believes women ought not to be allowed to control our own bodies is patently not a feminist…) a person need not necessarily be a feminist to be pro-choice: you could hold sexist beliefs about women without necessarily believing that women ought to be used as incubators.

Being pro-life means being part of a movement that believes the government should have the right to force a woman through pregnancy and childbirth against her will, and that the legislature and the courts should have the right to make medical decisions for pregnant women, overriding their wishes and their doctor’s advice. Von’s excuse for being part of this movement is, he asserted by his post, the cute li’l fetus argument: which would make more sense if those cute li’l fetuses really did incubate in jars rather than requiring a pregnant woman to make use of her body and blood and resources in a nine-month effort that may jeopardise her life.


I adopted a cute lil’ American fetus
from Fetusmart! Hooray fetus!

Forced pregnancy, or as a friend says “forced labour”, is a much more accurate name for the movement to deny women the right to access abortion: but pro-life is so utterly contradictory that it almost works as a label so divorced from the reality of their political movement.

Around the world each year, more than 500,000 women die in pregnancy or childbirth due to lack of proper care. What does the pro-life movement focus on?

The Global Gag Rule

The Global Gag Rule was reinstated by President George W. Bush on his first day in office in January 2001. Officially termed the Mexico City Policy, these restrictions mandate that no U.S. family planning assistance can be provided to foreign NGOs that use funding from any other source to: perform abortions in cases other than a threat to the woman’s life, rape or incest; provide counseling and referral for abortion; or lobby to make abortion legal or more available in their country.

Called the “gag” rule because it stifles free speech and public debate on abortion-related issues, the policy forces a cruel choice on foreign NGOs: accept U.S. assistance to provide essential health services – but with restrictions that may jeopardize the health of many patients – or reject the policy and lose vital U.S. funds, contraceptive supplies and technical assistance. (The Global Gag Rule Impact Project)

The Global Gag Rule Impact Project notes that “the gag rule is eroding family planning and reproductive health services in developing countries. There is no evidence that it has reduced the incidence of abortion globally. On the contrary, it impedes the very services that help women avoid unwanted pregnancy from the start”. (Over a year before Bush reinstated the global gag rule, a paper was published that showed countries that have poor family planning services have a high rate of abortions: there was no global correlation between easy access to safe/legal abortion and a high abortion rate.)

Von and Sebastian (both front-page pro-lifers on Obsidian Wings – though both are currently on hiatus) have both consistently argued against universal free health care in the US – both only support people having access to health care if it can be made profitable to someone. They have consistently refused to explain how their ideological belief that anyone too poor to have health insurance does not deserve decent health care, fits with their ideological belief that no woman ought to be allowed to decide to terminate a pregnancy: and it is that refusal that firmed my belief that even pro-lifers who otherwise come across as decent, sensible, honest people, are being more or less insincere when they claim that they only want to prevent women from having the legal right to choose because they care about the fetuses. “Care for fetuses” is not expressed by denying women healthcare, or denying pregnant women mandatory paid maternity leave with the right to return to work, or by arguing that the baby can always be taken away from the mother as soon as born and given to wealthier parents – the old “adoption instead of abortion” argument, which in any country with so many unwanted children in need of adoptive parents, is just about the ugliest argument for forced pregnancy that anyone could possibly make.

I wrote this over four years ago:

We can all agree that abortion is a bad choice to have to make. Where are the pro-life Republicans calling for free health care for pregnant women and for all children to the age of 18? That basic, human help alone could make the difference between “Can afford” and “Can’t afford”. Where are the pro-lifers calling for free contraception to be available to all? For free daycare and nursery schools available to all low-income parents? For good, detailed, thorough sex education (the Netherlands have an excellent model) available to all children, well before they’re old enough to be actively interested in sex themselves, and regardless of their parents’ opinions on how much their children ought to be kept in ignorance? How many pro-lifers – Republican or Democrat – are actively campaigning for parents to have federal employment rights enabling them to maintain a career and be good parents? (I’m not just talking maternity leave or paternity leave or even “children’s sick days”. I’m talking an end to the work culture that says you don’t get promoted unless you’re putting in 12-hour days at your desk and always have unused leave at the end of the year.)

I’ve written similar comments since: no conservative pro-lifer has ever tried to engage this argument, and justify their denial of care to pregnant woman with their insistence that every fetus must be protected.

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