We’re ‘Values Voters,’ Too


This campaign season has, like many before, demonstrated
that sexual and reproductive health issues have become a political football.  To make matters worse, this particular game of
football is one in which anti-choicers and anyone hostile to sexual freedom is on
the offense, and pro-choicers play defense. 
So anti-choicers set the terms of the debate. 

There’s an unfortunate public perception that people hostile to measures to
improve the public’s sexual health are "values voters" — as if the rest of us
don’t have values.  Pro-choicers end up sounding weak because we continue to lean on pragmatic arguments
instead of appealing to higher values. 

George Will called out the mainstream media for the incorrect assumption that only those coming from a religious, socially
conservative point of view are
"values voters."
  

The phrase "values voters" diminishes our
understanding of politics. It  is arrogant on the part of social
conservatives and insulting to everyone else because it implies that only
social conservatives vote to advance their values and everyone else votes to…well, what are they supposedly doing with their
ballots?  Will clarified that even when he disagrees with liberals,
he knows that they are voting their values. 

We get to hear a lot about people who value the patriarchal family,
zygote life, and think that society can’t function without a heavy dose of
sexual repression.  But instead of
letting them have the upper hand by acting like they’re the only ones with
values that need respecting, how about candidates from all parties and pundits
in general accepting that pro-choicers are coming from a principled place with
strong values?

Just a few examples of values that should be considered
values in our nation’s discourse:

Knowledge, education,
and discovery.
  Those of us who support scientific research that results in better
contraceptive tools, disease prevention and treatment, as well as sex education,
will point to the bottom line practical effects of all this research and
education.  From defending the HPV
vaccine to condom distribution to sex education, we point to numbers: lower STD rates, decreased rates of teenage pregnancy,
less suffering.  How about a discussion of the value of
knowledge in and of itself?
  I suspect
most of us would be hostile to switching over to a values system that prized
received wisdom over the scientific method and ignorance over knowledge, even
if we couldn’t gather together irrefutable evidence of bottom line pragmatic
effects.

In my world, it would never be right to lie to teenagers
about condom effectiveness, even if you could prove that it delayed their first
sexual intercourse (it doesn’t).  This is because
I value honesty and knowledge. The love of knowledge and scientific curiosity
comes from a place of strong values, and pro-choicers should allude to those
values. 

LibertyAnti-choicers think they have a right to invoke this value while
we pro-choicers smack our mouths and talk of "choice" and "privacy."  Few liberties come into play in a daily way
more than the liberties fought for by the pro-choice movement–the liberty to
control your own child-bearing.  Anti-choice attempts to lay traps for women
to get them secured in marriages with babies before they’ve even had the time
to think about what they really want are an all-out assault on basic liberties,
and we shouldn’t be afraid to say that. 
Thomas Jefferson thought the right to pursue happiness was so important
that it had to be invoked especially, even though it’s implied by the word
"liberty" before it in the Declaration. 
Want to argue for reproductive rights from a position of strength?  You could do worse than argue that the right
to pursue happiness belongs to women as well as men.

Health. We, as a
nation, value health.  We take our
vitamins, we get our exercise, we get immunized, and we know what the word
"antioxidant" means.  We should be able
to extend this support for preventative health into the sexual and
reproductive health arena.  But when it
comes to sexual health care, suddenly a lot of people apparently want to switch from
maximizing health outcomes to barely keeping people alive.  So you see anti-choicers supporting the
distribution of drugs that keep people alive if they have HIV, but who refuse
to distribute condoms that would help many people avoid ever needing those
drugs at all.  The same attitude
underpins support for abortion bans that make exceptions for women that will be
crippled or killed by childbirth.

We should be unashamed to aggressively promote contraception
access, sex education, and safe abortion as minimum requirements for a healthy
populace, which is easy to do with the full support of most medical groups.
You’ll always hit resistance from people who resist public health initiatives, but on the whole, public health
measures presented from this values position, that we have a collective
responsibility for collective health, do very well.  The religious right geared up to take out the
HPV vaccine, but since it was aggressively marketed as a way to prevent cancer,
sexual paranoias didn’t get much of a foothold. 
That success should tell you a lot about how the public health is a
shared value for Americans.  Even Roe v.
Wade probably wouldn’t have been as strong and likely a decision as it was if
Justice Blackmun didn’t root his arguments in the needs of physicians to be free to
work with female patients to keep those patients in not just minimal health —
but in good health. 

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  • invalid-0

    Amen to that. Those who vote Democrat are values voters!

  • http://www.ravingatheist.com invalid-0

    True value voters believe, like Amanda, that a man who sets up a web site to raise money to get Bristol Palin a late second trimester abortion so he can use the funds to finance more abortions for low-income women “has his heart in the right place.”
    In fairness to Amanda, she does fault the guy: “he appears to think that you can get an abortion on demand when you’re five months pregnant which is something only the loony anti-choicers and people who are very badly educated on this subject think.” For some reason she doesn’t provide a legal analysis of what justifications a woman must provide to get an abortion at five months, like the thousands who do so in New York.
    Probably just an oversight, and as a “values voter” I’m sure she’ll shortly explain to the electorate why Bristol’s attempt to abort would (or should) be “likely illegal.”

  • amanda-marcotte

    Raving Atheist, I’m sorry that you don’t appreciate the half dozen times we’ve banned you from Pandagon, and you have to lash out all over the internet.  Surely you have better things to do with your time than carry a vendetta against one blog that doesn’t want you posting there.  This is the last time I’m replying to you.

  • sayna

    I’ve got a moment to waste on this. Your post makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Anyone who bothered to actually click the Pandagon link can see that she did not defend that website and was in fact critiquing it. That you’re so willing to distort the truth and lie right to our faces shows us just how much pro-lifers value honesty.


    Oh, and great job making the rest of us atheists look bad. Exactly what set of values is it that includes going to websites to harrass outspoken young women?

  • http://www.ravingatheist.com invalid-0

    That you’re so willing to distort the truth and lie right to our faces shows us just how much pro-lifers value honesty.
    Sanya,
    Amanda, and especially YOU, are the liars. Try some honesty now and give DIRECT answers to the following questions:
    (1) Does Amanda not, in the post I linked to, in fact state that the man (Stanhope) who set up a web site to raise money to finance a late-term abortion for Bristol Palin and/or abortions for low-income women “has his heart in the right place?”
    (2) Did I not, in my comment, in fact point out that Amanda “faulted the guy” by accusing him of holding a believe held by “loony anti-choicers” and the “badly educated,” and thus note that she was critiquing as well as defending Stanhope?
    (3) Did Amanda not, as I suggested, completely misrepresent the law governing the permissibility of an abortion at five months?
    Exactly what set of values is it that includes going to web sites to harrass outspoken young women?
    I am not harassing anyone (and quite frankly, had no idea I was banned from her blog until she mentioned it). I’m exercising my absolute right to comment on a topic of public interest, just as Amanda does on her blog or when she posts in the comment sections of other blogs. I’m not promoting outright lies like Amanda, as she does in the Pandagon post, or in her earlier post promoting the completely debunked lie that Sarah Palin made rape victims pay for rape kits. Commentary like mine is important, as it was when it forced this site to retract its lie that Sarah Palin reduced special needs funding in Alaska.
    It’s interesting that that you believe that “outspoken young women” are entitled to some special protection from criticism. Apart from the fact that Amanda is 31 and the former blogmistress to John Edwards, her most recent post is an implied criticism of the McCain campaign’s shielding of Sarah Palin from the press. You want the patriarchy to protect one, but not the other?

  • invalid-0

    Are the winds finally changing direction? From chimpy’s first primary to just about 6 months ago, it was like the thought police were out in force…..everywhere you went or surfed (channel or internet) there was someone waiting to jump down your throat if you didn’t parrot the CW/party line. Only if you were a right-wing ideologue could you claim to have any “values”. During this time I wondered why care for veterans wasn’t considered a value and why taxing the poor and paying the rich was deemed a value by the very people being taxed!

    Thank you for putting into words my feelings on being labeled un-patriotic, lacking of “family values”, and subject to the RW/born-again’s self-righteous judgements. I can smell the fresh air on the changing winds.

  • invalid-0

    TRA,
    You have MUCH better things to do with your time than bother with anything written by Amanda. Go back to doing what you do best: helping women, children and families in meaningful, practical ways.

    (If these people only knew what you’ve done for women over the past 4 years! You’re my hero!)

    Sites like this one are a gargantuan waste of precious time. You know that!

  • invalid-0

    Sayna,
    Personally I think that this “Raving Atheist” person also goes by the names of Tim, and The Truth Returns. There are too many similarities in the writing style of all three, really maybe only one person.

    All three (one) of those individuals need to get a life and go to a wingnut blog where somebody actually cares!

    They will find out what the real “Truth” is come election day in November, when the “Truth Returns” and Obama is inaugurated as the 55th. President of the United States.

    GO OBAMA/BIDEN 08′

  • amanda-marcotte

    There’s not much real help for women coming from the anti-choice movement.  The "services" provided by crisis pregnancy centers are so thin as to not deserve the word "service" at all.  They can wildly outnumber women’s clinics because they don’t need to come up with much more, funding-wise, than the rent.  Scolding women, lying to them about the risks of abortion, and telling them to quit using contraception aren’t "services".  The women’s clinics that you all have made your enemies prevent unplanned pregnancy, screen for cancer, screen for and treat STIs, and offer real recommendations on medical care if you do become pregnant, whether you keep the pregnancy or terminate.  A lot more than a pregnancy test, a guilt trip, and a box of diapers to last you one week of your parenthood.

  • invalid-0

    “Sites like this one are a gargantuan waste of precious time.”

    and yet we see you folks here every day and some all day long offering up your opinions laced with insults, bullying, bitchiness and a constant stream of lies. Why is that?