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

Why doesn’t this surprise me?

Gerard Nadal, the pro-lifer who showed up on my radar a week ago when he argued that (a) it was wrong for a Catholic hospital to perform a life-saving abortion; (b) it would have been better to let a pregnant woman die than perform an abortion anyway; turns out to be the kind of pro-lifer who prefers a high abortion rate to the free provision of contraception.

He doesn’t like the idea of abortions being safely and legally provided, nor does he care for organisations which provide free health care to women and children in developing countries. Explicitly, he’s against Marie Stopes International for its provision of:

In 2008 alone, MSI provided over six million people in 42 countries with high quality health services, including family planning; safe abortion & post-abortion care; maternal & child health care including safe delivery and obstetrics; diagnosis & treatment of sexually transmitted infections; and HIV/AIDS prevention. Millions of people die unnecessarily each year from health conditions that could be prevented or treated at low cost because they do not have access to basic sexual and reproductive health services. Marie Stopes International is working to change that.

Nor is he the least ashamed to say so, right out on a public blog: he’s for women dying. Women in the US, if they make the mistake of going to a Catholic hospital where the local Bishop has recently made clear that pregnant women must be left to die if their pregnancy is killing them: women in undeveloped countries, if their only resource is humanitarian agencies like Marie Stopes.

In a way, Catherine Palmer and Gerard Nadal are the Two-Face of the Gotham villainy that is the pro-life movement. Catherine Palmer, who wrote the very sweet post that was the subject of my last rant, is all about saving the fetuses: she doesn’t want to look at denying women health care and basic human rights (and I imagine, never will: she’s also the only woman, and the newest, posting at Ethika Politika.) Gerard Nadal as consistently promotes the openly-misogynist pro-life cause: the belief that women do not deserve to live unless they can be forced to bear children, that no organisation that prioritises women’s health and welfare deserves to exist.

But, whichever face was turned towards you: Two-Face was always dangerously insane.

July 30, 2008

The basics: why pro-choice is the only moral option

Pro-choice is often referred to as if it were synonymous with pro-abortion. It isn’t. Being pro-choice says nothing whatsoever about your own personal views on your own abortion, your best friend’s abortion, or a complete stranger’s abortion; being pro-choice means you believe that the pregnant woman ought to be the one to decide whether, and when, to terminate her pregnancy.

That’s because it’s thoroughly immoral to force a woman to use her body – at potential risk to her life, and likely risk to her health – to make a baby out of a fertilised egg, when she has decided she does not want to make use of her body in this way, and/or she does not want the baby.

If you want the complicated details, read on.

(more…)

June 19, 2008

William Saletan on the pro-abortion pharmacies

Pro-abortion pharmacies are a bizarre phenomenon: claiming to be “pro-life”, they promote abortions by denying women contraception: especially emergency contraception, which is of course needed precisely when a woman knows there’s a high risk she might well need an abortion otherwise.

William Saletan (via) sees these pro-abortion pharmacies as a “matter of conscience”: some pharmacists, he feels, just see it as moral to ensure that more women need to have abortions, and the law shouldn’t stand in their way.

There’s actually, I discover via Saletan, an entire website devoted to supporting pro-abortion pharmacists, including even a PDF of guidelines to ensure a person who wants to work as a pro-abortion pharmacist or in a pro-abortion pharmacy, can get the job they want.

The PDF suggests that “the following techniques have been used successfully on several occasions to obtain employment in which the company agreed to a [proabortion] dispensing policy for the pharmacy. This means no [female contraceptive] drugs or devices, including birth control pills, and no referrals for the same.” (I’ve edited the unscientific inaccuracies out.)

  • a belief that God has such employment in mind
  • prayer that God will prepare the way to find it
  • include the pro-abortion message clearly on the resume
  • Unless the interviewer brings up the pro-abortion ethics statement, defer discussing it until the end of the personal interview
  • refuse to take the job unless the pharmacist enforces pro-abortion policies on all staff and customers

Saletan’s “solution” to these pro-abortion pharmacies is typically libertarian:

And Stein’s reporting suggests the abstaining pharmacies aren’t making their policies clear enough. If they won’t do this voluntarily—by posting them, for instance—the law should make them do it. If I were writing the regulations, I’d draw up a big, fat, standardized “We don’t stock birth control” notice, complete with a 24-hour toll-free number that will direct you to the nearest pharmacy that has what you need.

Which of course, if it’s the only pharmacy in a small town, might be a hundred miles away.

I’d suggest to Saletan that a more accurate notice would say: “We promote abortion” and besides Saletan’s slightly pointless 24-hour toll-free number for the nearest real pharmacy, would be required to include contact details for the nearest health clinic that performs abortions: and each pro-abortion pharmacy would be required to pay a percentage of their gross take per 28-day period to that clinic to support women on a low income who need abortions.

Or, you know: the law could just require that a pharmacist who has suddenly developed religious scruples about doing their job, which includes providing women with the means to prevent abortion, would have to either quit being a pharmacist or quit trying to impose their religious beliefs on their customers.

Meanwhile, as an active Internet citizen, I’d like a websearch for pro-abortion pharmacy and pro-abortion pharmacists to bring up the appropriate site: PFLI, the pharmacists for abortion. Unlike pro-lifers, and certainly unlike these pharmacists, I actually think it would be great if there were fewer abortions each year – safely carried out, as early as possible, and prevented as far as possible by provision of wider choices to women.

===

Robert Semler, the pro-abortion pharmacist
Robert Semler, the pro-abortion pharmacist
Drugstores Market Beliefs:

When DMC Pharmacy opens this summer on Route 50 in Chantilly, the shelves will be stocked with allergy remedies, pain relievers, antiseptic ointments and almost everything else sold in any drugstore. But anyone who wants condoms, birth control pills or the Plan B emergency contraceptive will be turned away.

That’s because the drugstore, located in a typical shopping plaza featuring a Ruby Tuesday, a Papa John’s and a Kmart, will be a “pro-[abortion] pharmacy” — meaning, among other things, that it will eschew all contraceptives.

Like the doctors, nurses and other staff members at Tepeyac, Robert Semler, the pharmacist who will run DMC Pharmacy, plans to start each workday with a prayer with his staff, which at first will just be his wife, Pam, a nurse. “Being a faith-based workplace, it’s a logical thing to do,” Semler said.

(More on this from Jill at Feministe.)

June 15, 2008

US: Pro-life politicians are anti-children

Here’s a convenient piece of documentation: American politicians, and how they vote on pro-child policies.

You can look up the worst and the best politicians for yourself.

John McCain has a 10% score, by the way. Barack Obama has a 60% score. (Hillary Clinton has a 70% score.)

Correlating the pro-child politicians against the “pro-life” politicians, unsurprisingly, we find that the politicians most likely to vote against children are the politicians also most likely to vote “pro-life”. Being anti-child has a strong correlation with being anti-woman.

I won’t give them a link, but the NRLC has a convenient little tool by which you can look up different politicians and discover how they voted on anti-women bills: McCain has the lowest score as anti-child in the Senate, and he also has a lot of bright green ticks on NRLC (and is endorsed by them as a “pro-life” candidate).

David Vitter, James Inhofe, James W. DeMint, Tom Coburn: score at 20%, – strongly anti-child: and all of them have a 100% voting record as anti-women. Among the legislation they supported was a vote that had the effect of defunding UNPFA.

You can continue checking: it’s tedious but disgusting work, confirming that if you’re the kind of politician who votes to limit women’s choices, you are the kind of politician who votes against helping children.

Pro-lifers don’t care about preventing abortions (a pro-lifer showed up in the comments to that post to confirm this): but if you ask them, they’ll claim their justification for trying to make abortion difficult to access or illegal is “Helping moms, saving babies, ending abortion!”

Yet they vote for and urge others to vote for politicians who don’t care about helping moms, or saving babies (or older children) and who actively prefer to avoid preventing abortions.

Now why do they do that? If they wanted to “help moms” they could campaign for paid maternity leave, for free healthcare for pregnant women and children. If they wanted to “save babies” – well, babies and older children – they could campaign for and support politicians who can be trusted to vote for policies supporting children.

There are Senators who score 100% on voting for pro-child legislation (listed below) and, unsurprisingly, NRLC doesn’t like how they vote very much. Check their names: some of them have a few approving green ticks from NRLC for voting for anti-woman legislation, but most have nothing. NRLC doesn’t score points for voting to help children: all NRLC cares about is the codeword “saving babies” – which has nothing to do with actually helping real children, any more than it has anything to do with preventing abortions.

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) 100%
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) 100%
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) 100%
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) 100%
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) 100%
Sen. Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA) 100%
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) 100%
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) 100%
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) 100%
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) 100%
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) 100%
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) 100%
Sen. Herbert Kohl (D-WI) 100%
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) 100%
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) 100%
Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) 100%
Sen. Joe Lieberman (D/I-CT) 100%
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) 100%
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) 100%
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) 100%
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) 100%
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) 100%
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) 100%
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) 100%
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) 100%

March 25, 2008

Heh: he said “Echo chamber”

Ironically, when in response to Steve Gillard’s claim that ObWings is an “echo chamber”, I attempted to post this here:

Among the many reasons I have little to no respect for “pro-lifers” is their silence about woman.1.2 million women each year in the US are not forced through unwanted pregnancy and childbirth against their will, but instead get a safe, legal abortion. (No pro-life organisation in the US supports access to contraception, the most reliable means of preventing abortions: Planned Parenthood is the most effective anti-abortion charity in the US.)

70 000 women die each year worldwide because they cannot get access to safe legal abortion. Pro-lifers never care one whit about the women who suffer and die because they cannot get access to contraception, healthcare, or abortion.

I would have said all of this at Obsidian Wings, but I chose not to enable Feddie’s attempt to use a post about the 4000 US soldiers who had died in Iraq to score his cheap political point about forced pregnancy.

…and it was blocked as “spam”.

The Rubric Theme Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.