Green Room

Reclaiming the pro-choice label

posted at 7:30 pm on July 15, 2010 by

Zombie’s latest article at Pajamas Media throws a hell of a fastball at the abortion debate, and hits the pro-life crowd pretty hard.

I think both sides of the abortion debate are lying and have been lying since the argument first arose. Anyone who wants to forbid abortion “except in cases of rape or incest” is, frankly, full of crap. And here’s why:

If you truly are “pro-life” in that you believe abortion is murder because the unborn child is a full-fledged human being, then you wouldn’t so casually allow the child to be murdered simply based on its parent’s misbehavior.

Most people who are anti-abortion adopt the label “pro-life” based on the shared notion that the zygote/embryo/fetus, no matter what its stage of development, is an undiminished human being with full human rights. And that’s a principled position which I can respect — if you stick to it consistently. But if you start making expedient exceptions, then your dishonesty has been revealed. Because if you really and truly believed that an embryo was a full human being, then you wouldn’t allow it to be murdered simply because its father was a bad man.

When I was younger, I held the cookiecutter pro-life view Zombie targets here, and I often found myself pondering why rape and incest were allowable circumstances if abortion were truly murder. The exception for the mother’s life being in danger is free of this conundrum, which is probably why she avoids including it. Pro-lifers typically argue that the child should not be punished for the mother’s actions. It follows, then, that the father’s actions are no more a reason to deem an abortion “not murder”. Or, indeed, was the argument that murder was acceptable as a result of the father’s actions?

Zombie goes on, but sums the abortion issue up in a very fundamental way.

That is, unless there was a hidden rationale behind the abortion ban which had nothing to do with the belief that embryos are children. If the “pro-life” stance was sometimes nothing but a ruse, a false front to disguise the real reason for being anti-abortion, that would explain why some “pro-lifers” are willing to murder unborn babies under certain circumstances.

And I have always believed that the hidden rationale is obvious: It’s all about sex.

Many politicians and regular folks feel (accurately, in my opinion) that allowing unfettered legal access to abortion will encourage promiscuity among young people. That if we intentionally make sex consequence-free, then more casual sex will happen, and more sex will lead to more babies out of wedlock, which will lead to any number of well-documented social ills. And furthermore, many feel, pre-marital and extra-marital sex is fundamentally immoral, in that it is explicitly forbidden by the three main monotheistic religions and by many other faiths as well.

Well, partly. I would certainly agree that some of the religious reasoning against abortion is due to attitudes about sex and promiscuity. However, there are other points to consider. Many women who have had abortions have suffered traumatic after-effects, both physically and mentally, due to having abortions. Anyone truly concerned with women’s health would not overlook these instances.

Additionally, there’s the history behind abortion in America, most notably its connection to the eugenics movement of the early 20th century. Planned Parenthood, after all, was formerly the American Birth Control League. Margaret Sanger used this organization as a flagship in exerting active eugenics policies to minimize the black birth rate and population of the United States. That this organization not only still exists, but is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the country today, should make any thinking person very wary of why they advocate abortion so freely, even when they’re not doing it illegally.

Regardless of the reasoning behind your opinion of abortion, when your chance comes to go to the ballot box to determine its legality, you need to focus on one concept: choice. You will either be for the choice to have an abortion, or against it. Over the years, like much of the English language, the term “pro-choice” has been perverted by pro-abortion female supremacists and liberals. In their context, it more clearly implies the advocacy and prolificacy of abortion, rather than the freedom to make that choice. Especially with outfits like PP pushing them, abortion is a huge business, only interested in your choice if it makes them a profit. These people need to be identified as the pro-abortion advocates they really are.

Meanwhile, the abortion debate needs to be reduced to whether you are pro-choice or anti-choice. Is it loaded? Perhaps, but it’s the undiluted truth if Roe v. Wade gets overturned, as I’m hoping, and the states get the chance to determine whether they want abortion to be legal. You’re either going to be for the choice to have an abortion, or against it. Just because you’re in favor of the choice doesn’t mean you personally want people to choose abortion. You can be against smoking, but that doesn’t mean you want it outlawed. The phrase “pro-choice” needs to be reclaimed, and the pro-abortion people need to be called what they are.

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If someone were kidnapped and held in a foreign land, and soldiers sent in to storm the building and rescue the hostage, it’s generally somewhat likely that some “innocent” person will get shot. It wasn’t necessarily the goal, but “collateral damage” can happen.

In the case of rape, there is an initial domination at the time of the rape but the woman can also be forced to live as a hostage to the rapist’s genes for an additional nine months.

One doesn’t have to see people as “full of crap” to understand that ridding oneself of this additional period of subjugation could reasonably entail some collateral damage, even if one recognizes the fetus as a life.

That said, I can understand both sides of the argument — and, of course, I know that I’ll never be in that terrible place myself (being male). I’m not objecting to Zombie’s beliefs, nor to her respect for the purist form of being pro-life. My issue is merely the summary dismissal of the alternative argument.

cthulhu on July 15, 2010 at 9:20 PM

cthulu, that’s bull. For abortion to fit your analogy, the tactical officers would have to PURPOSELY take out an innocent bystander.

RegularJoe on July 15, 2010 at 10:54 PM

If the “my body, my choice” crowd wants to talk about a woman’s right to choose to drive a spike through her own skull, or have her limbs severed, I’ll be all for it.

As for a clear-cut, black-and-white stance on abortion legality, I don’t really think it’s that simple. Even the murder of an adult by a fellow adult isn’t that simple. I really can’t see the nobility in saying that even if a 13 year old were to be impregnated by her father that she should carry the baby to term. This is, of course, a one-in-a-million scenario when it comes to abortions, but rare and extreme situations are what abortion is supposed to be available for.

Rather than dismissing the legitimacy of “necessary” abortions in cases of rape or incest, we need to be addressing how absolutely minimal these cases are.

In a more common example, what about ectopic pregnancies? Or other situations where a pregnancy, for whatever reason, could cause the mother’s death? Not risks to “meantal health”, but bona-fide cases where one must choose between killing the baby or risking killing the mother.

The Hyde Amendment, were it actually followed as intended, is a pretty decent guide. It’d be a lot easier to shift the political climate (and laws) in favor of an anti-abortion stance if we eliminate abortion as a form of birth control and restrict the procedure to hospitals (rather than businesses like PP whose profits come almost exclusively from abortions).

I respect the absolutely-never, no-way-no-how stance on abortion as the moral one, but it’s hardly practical in the real world.

RachDubya on July 15, 2010 at 11:06 PM

Happens all the time, Joe — you’ve got a High-Value Target in a house with 20 people…..you don’t hang around and read their resumes. Sometimes you just have to accept that there is collateral damage, even to the extent of cutting-short innocent lives.

Like I said, I can understand both sides of the argument — and it’s bogus to be dismissive of the other side. It’s a nuanced and difficult moral decision, and can turn on a number of facts and circumstances — including those that seem completely outside the picture. Admiring a purist doesn’t mean that you have to label everyone else a hypocrite, however.

cthulhu on July 15, 2010 at 11:11 PM

While there was a time, not long ago you could of argued the question of when life began. Today, to Quote Al Gore “The science is settled”. It amazes me, the number of “enlightened” people that want to ignore that fact. Maybe, these true Neanderthals should stop dragging their knuckles and stand up right. As the true question of abortion isn’t a matter of how we choose to live. But a question of life itself.

roflmao

donabernathy on July 16, 2010 at 2:46 AM

you’ve got a High-Value Target in a house with 20 people…

cthulhu on July 15, 2010 at 11:11 PM

But that’s war. Your analogy hardly applies to civilian life, when deciding whether to kill your child or not.

BlameAmericaLast on July 16, 2010 at 3:16 AM

The phrase “pro-choice” needs to be reclaimed, and the pro-abortion people need to be called what they are.

I’m all for calling the pro-abortion zealots what they really are, but just like a certain other GR blogger’s fixation on the term “progressive”, I really don’t see the point of trying to co-opt or “reclaim” the left’s self-applied labels of the week/month/year/decade. Anyway, they change them too often.

Cylor on July 16, 2010 at 6:55 AM

I don’t know any rape and incest pro-lifers. Sounds like a weak response to the pro-death crowd that always plays to emotions.

Inanemergencydial on July 16, 2010 at 10:12 AM

Sounds like a weak response to the pro-death crowd that always plays to emotions.

Inanemergencydial on July 16, 2010 at 10:12 AM

Like the other side doesn’t?

Dark-Star on July 16, 2010 at 11:27 AM

Like the other side doesn’t?

Dark-Star on July 16, 2010 at 11:27 AM

Playing to emotions when advocating for saving lives is bad?
Playing to emotions when advocating for killing lives is good?

Is this a difficult dichotomy for some?

Inanemergencydial on July 16, 2010 at 12:29 PM

Like the other side doesn’t?

Dark-Star on July 16, 2010 at 11:27 AM

Playing to emotions when advocating for saving lives is bad?
Playing to emotions when advocating for killing lives is good?

Is this a difficult dichotomy for some?

Inanemergencydial on July 16, 2010 at 12:29 PM

If you think they are human lives worthy of protection, then no. But if you don’t or if you’re not sure that the means always justify the ends, then yes, it is bad.

Jimbo3 on July 16, 2010 at 1:21 PM

If you think they are human lives worthy of protection, then no. But if you don’t or if you’re not sure that the means always justify the ends, then yes, it is bad.

Jimbo3 on July 16, 2010 at 1:21 PM

Oops. Should have been “ends justify the means”.

Jimbo3 on July 16, 2010 at 1:22 PM

I agree that the rape/incest exception doesn’t hold sway considering that a human life is involved, but that doesn’t mean that those who hold such a position are motivated by a desire to control other people’s sex life.

I know several people who hold such a view because they believe that EVEN THOUGH abortion kills a human being, such homicide may be justified if continuing the pregnancy would cause the woman to be retraumatized by the rape.

It’s very hard to overcome the emotional response that says that a woman who’s just been raped should have to carry the rapist’s child for 9 months and then go through the pain of an adoption or raise the child with the memory of his conception.

If we are intellectually honest we acknowledge that regardless of how horrific such a situation might be for the woman, the alternative is the intentional killing of a human being. Thus, the child’s right to life still supercedes the mother’s right to autonomy. It is counter-intuitive and doesn’t make for a great policy statement.

Though logic is on the 100% pro-life side, emotion is often with the compromise.

Vera on July 16, 2010 at 3:28 PM

The rape and incest exceptions are based on poll numbers and moderation, not some “theory” that the pro-life position in based on constraining sexual activity. Very few abortions are the result of rape and incest, but while abortion used as birth control is not popular relatively, abortion in those rare instaces is popular. I’m willing to compromise on a few instances to save many. Would it be better to have a total ban: yes because it’s logically consistent. I don’t see how someone like yourself who’s pro-choice would care one way or the other.

TimTebowSavesAmerica on July 16, 2010 at 5:56 PM

I would certainly agree that some of the religious reasoning against abortion is due to attitudes about sex and promiscuity.

The religious reasoning against abortion has nothing to do with sex and promiscuity.

It’s 100% about “Thou shall not Kill.”

The Church’s stance on birth control and contraceptives is based on controlling sexual behavior.

uknowmorethanme on July 17, 2010 at 2:24 AM

Margaret Sanger used this organization as a flagship in exerting active eugenics policies to minimize the black birth rate and population of the United States. That this organization not only still exists, but is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the country today, should make any thinking person very wary of why they advocate abortion so freely, even when they’re not doing it illegally.

I need to just start a website about how much “Pro-Life” movement lies about Margaret Sanger. It’s truly contemptible to base a movement on hateful lies about a woman long died. It’s not like your lying can’t be easily shown for what it is. If Sanger were the anti-Black bigot you suggest, then why on Earth did Martin Luther King, Jr. think she was a great woman? Why did so many blacks gladly work with her? Did Blacks happily sew the gowns for the KKK in the 1920′s?

thuja on July 17, 2010 at 2:38 PM

Pro-Choice and Pro-Abortion and Pro-because-of-rape-incest are all opposed to regarding the development of a new life as being a gift from God.

Inasmuch as you can’t be a little bit pregnant, you can’t logically claim destruction of a fetus is not the taking of a life and that you legitimately have the right to kill the other’s.

ericdijon on July 17, 2010 at 5:29 PM

Okay, so Liberal peeps like to say conservatives are hypocrites because of ; Your pro-life when it comes to a baby, but Pro capital Punishment when it comes to convicted murderers. I see this in a different way – How is it less hypocritical to be a liberal? They believe in murdering innocent babies, but want to protect…t the lives of convicted murderers…… that seems evil and hypocritical to me

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Abortion Denys all 3 of these. First, obviously denies life but murder. Secondly it denies liberty, your freedom to be you requires my freedom to be free from you. Obviously the woman’s freedom to be free from the baby interferes with the baby due to the murder aspect of the abortion. Lastly, who pursuit… See More of happiness are we looking out for? The Woman? or the baby (who has 50% chance to also being a woman). If a man’s pursuit of happiness is to molest a child, we protect that child and put the man in jail. Why not protect the child while its most vulnerable? A mild inconvenience to the mother is no excuse to murder a baby. Dont want a baby? Don’t have premarital sex; use a condom; birth control is basically free for the poor due to the government. There is no instance where a abortion must take place that a C-section would not be more effective , well there is 1 case, when you want to murder a freaking baby.

When the sperm and the Egg combine and start multiplying that is Life. If left to itself it would become a baby. Now the morning after pill to me is fine, cause it takes from 1-3 days for the process to become a child. That said, ill concede that not everyone will take that view, but i can not understand how anyone can think that once a heart is beating on its own, that its not a child. (hearts can develop between 3-6 weeks after conception).

Donut on July 19, 2010 at 6:57 PM

“…it takes from 1-3 days for the process to become a child.”

You were almost there.

ericdijon on July 19, 2010 at 9:17 PM

:| don’t get it. I guess what i mean is, once the sperm and the egg combine, its a child and murder to abort – sperm can live inside a woman for like 3-4 days so conception can happen long after sex, so the morning after pill is relatively safe. The nuva-ring thing that bumps the embryo and causes the body to miscarriage, now that thing is horrible. :)

Donut on July 19, 2010 at 11:14 PM

So you think you have a valid technicality? I do not agree, firstly on faith and secondly on odds. I checked – you cannot become pregnant – but you can more than likely inseminate.

Just how familiar do you think you can be with a female menstrual cycle? Most women have no idea that they even secrete an egg post-ovulation and therefore have no real idea of their most fertile days. Most women don’t even want their partners to know a whole lot about their cycle – indicating a failing in the relationship – and goof up their fertile days.

In a strong relationship, where a couple records the menstrual cycle daily, where a woman is not disinterested in her discharge, where the couple (the male) can respect the 4 to 5 days of fertileness, that couple can enjoy penetrative heterosexual intercourse and have no need for contraception or abortifacients.

This is well documented as NFP, or Natural Family Planning. The upside is that the woman is not chucking crap down her throat that has iffy positive effects on her body.

The best part is you can throw your odds out the window and eliminate the possibility of goofing up the 3-4 days your sperm living on from overlapping the 4-5 days she is fertile.

The morning after system IS an abortifacient one and enjoys its popularity because most people have the odds that their luck will eventually run out.

ericdijon on July 20, 2010 at 9:16 PM