So…362 anti-abortion bills were proposed in 2011, and over 350 have been proposed so far for 2012.
Anybody else getting nervous?
You’ve probably noticed that Planned Parenthood, a sexual health services provider for millions of people living in the USA, has come under an extreme political attack. Major threats to defund the organization, straw-man sting operations, and multiple bombings of clinics are just a few recent events in this chaotic spiral.
Planned Parenthood provides a much needed service in the United States: birth control, family planning, pregnancy testing, cancer screenings, STI prevention, HIV/AIDS services, and various other vital reproductive health services that a healthy country desperately needs access to. So why all the violence?
Because 3% of Planned Parenthood’s funds go toward abortion for accidental pregnancies.
Extremist Christian groups, under the dishonest banner of “Pro-Life”, have thus made it their top priority to shut down the entire organization that is Planned Parenthood in order to stop the abortion care. The debate about this Planned Parenthood/abortion/pro life stuff typically revolves around how we should feel about abortion.
But I think invested time and resources in that debate is futile.
Humans will never have universal feelings about abortion. We just won’t – it’s a personal issue that examines how humans feel about their own existence. Tough stuff. The sooner we become okay with having different feelings about it, the sooner we can take a look at the practical side of things….that is, the scary amounts of terrorism surrounding access to abortion. I know the word “terrorism” sounds extreme and dramatic in itself, but if we’re going by dictionary definitions, this one fits the bill. There has been:
vandalism: Anti-abortion vandalism leads to arrests
and murder: Abortion doctor shot to death in Kansas church
…all in the name of ending abortion. Keep in mind, these are just a few examples.
But I never hear this discussed, except in super-feminist circles. Why can’t we acknowledge that the “pro-life” movement has evolved into a scarily terrorist-y force? Why is this violence condoned?
Moving on from the violence issue, I have several other problems with the “pro-life” movement that exist outside of the tired “is abortion moral?” rhetoric. It’s time to take a step back and acknowledge the real social implications of anti-choice extremism.
1. “Pro-Lifers” Refuse to Learn From the Past
The facts are pretty clear: those who want to make abortion illegal do not care about peoples’ lives. Plain and simple. Before Roe v. Wade, countless mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends died seeking the care they needed. The years of forced pregnancy were a horrific time for women. It pains me to think about how many were pushed underground into unsanitary, life-threatening conditions in order to plan the right time to have a child. History clearly and unapologetically illustrates that prohibiting abortion does not make it go away, making the “pro-life” position quite literally pro-death. It may be appropriate to mention here that even those who personally oppose abortion/would not have one are pro-choice; you acknowledge the importance of having a choice and do not advocate forced pregnancy.
I strongly recommend this short film called “When Abortion Was Illegal” for anyone who hasn’t seen it. It’s outdated, but its message is firm: we can’t go back. We just can’t.
2. “Pro-Lifers” Don’t Trust Women
An undeniable theme as the wheel of humanity turns is the dehumanization, patronizing, manipulation, and control of women. Academics call this “patriarchy”, and it is embedded in the system that we live in (see my previous post on How Oppression Works). One of the clearest manifestations of male control over women is choosing what they can and cannot do with their bodies. Although there are an undeniable number of women out there fighting against abortion, there are also many MANY men. And the political scene, which is really the bottom line here, is dominated by men. “Dominated” is an understatement. I’m sure you all remember the panel to decide if women should have access to birth control through their employer:
Beneath all the righteous indignation is the steady heartbeat of a humanity that does not see women as rational actors who are fully capable of making their own decisions about their body.
3. “Pro-Life” Terrorists use fear and intimidation to push their agenda
Fear and intimidation have historically been some of the most powerful tools to push an agenda. When people are unlikely to hop on board with a cause, it’s time to find some way to manipulate the masses. Fear is a great way to do so. This fear is reinforced through the “pro-life” movement’s violence and threats to eliminate life-saving health care services for women. It makes pro-choicers in targeted communities scared to go to work, scared to do their job, scared to help women. Intimidation is used every time they march onto a college campus with their enormous fake photos of dead bloody fetuses screaming that “abortion is murder”.
I remember in college, one of these groups came to my school with 8 foot tall posters, screaming and hollering, setting up thousands of white crosses on the lawn to signify the “dead” unborn. Women on campus who had had an abortion (1/3 of women will in their lifetime) spoke up angrily and vocally. The scene was brutal. Within the first hour, 2 fist fights had broken out and the police were summoned. How can a cause claim to be pure of heart when it channels an undercurrent of emotional and physical violence everywhere it goes?
4. “Pro-Lifers” don’t care about the LIVING
I constantly find myself asking: why are the lives of the unborn deemed more important than the real, living people who are pregnant? Are women so devalued to these pro-lifers that they sincerely don’t understand how problematic it is to put the unborn before the living? Regardless of how you feel about what constitutes “life”, the fact does remain that the LIVING BODIES supporting a fetus are just that: living. There is no dispute; they do not rely on another’s body to live, they have a fully developed conscious, and because there is no ambiguity about how alive people who can become pregnant are, they should be afforded all the rights of the living. This includes safe health care, personal choice, and respect.
Further, many “pro-life” forces, which are fanatically conservative, simultaneously enable organizations and systems that are killing machines. “You think Planned Parenthood ‘kills’ a lot of people? Tell me what you know about the corrupt blood-for-oil war the US just fought. Tell me what you know about starving families in the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Haiti. Tell me what you know about not having health insurance to receive treatment for your disease. Tell me what you know about corrupt governments who routinely kill their people.” In the same conversation, I’ve heard “pro-lifers” convey an undying dedication to lives of the unborn and then casually discard inquiries about unjust war, crippling poverty, and genocide. You cannot claim to be “pro life” without meeting head-on the realities of human injustice on a much broader scale.
5. “Pro-life” is really just a fancy term for LAZY
And I mean, why does a human being not matter the moment they come out of the womb? Why aren’t “pro-life” activists fighting against abuse, for clean water, for food and shelter, against poverty, against starvation, against war, against injustice? How can you even call this PRO LIFE? What is this BIZARRE fucking cause?
The answer becomes clearer when I talk to these people. Fighting for the unborn is easy. No matter what, they won’t win, there will always be abortions and always be people to point their fingers at and scream “INJUSTICE!” “Pro-lifers” can keep on crusading, shaming others, and deluding themselves into thinking their cause is about justice. Perhaps the biggest pro-life delusion of them all is that being “pro life” makes them morally superior. Wow. In reality, their actions are a dangerous, selfish, and lazy way to “take the high road” without helping a single person.
When a living, air-breathing human being actually comes into the world, being “pro-life” becomes infinitely harder. This requires you to actually care about people. The sort of care that takes a critical mind, patience, and self awareness. The sort of care that requires figuring out why things are the way they are so that you can work toward actually fixing them. The sort of care that takes compassion and an unending dedication to a better for life for all humans.
The sort of care that marching around, waving huge dead baby posters, and calling women murderers is completely and utterly devoid of.