Where Does Anti-Choice Extremism Come From?


When the Supreme Court ruled
on Roe v. Wade in 1973, a giant
anti-choice movement did not spring, fully-armed, from the aching head of Jerry
Falwell. Rather it took the better part of a decade to channel already-existing
anger and zealotry in the direction of women’s right to choose, a direction that
proved fruitful in dividing the country and ultimately, provoking violence.

Abortion wasn’t always a culture-war issue.  Writes The Nation‘s Max Blumenthal in a piece about
Falwell
, "While abortion clinics sprung up across the United States
during the early 1970s, evangelicals did little. No pastors invoked the Dred
Scott decision to undermine the legal justification for abortion. There were no
clinic blockades, no passionate cries to liberate the ‘pre-born.’" In
fact, the issue didn’t have the rigid party divide that it does today–there
were plenty of Republicans, particularly on the local level, who approved of
the decision.

Catholic hierarchy opposed abortion and Roe
from the get-go (although Catholic doctrine on abortion had earlier accepted
abortion prior to "quickening"), but as Blumenthal notes, many Southern
evangelicals did not pick its legalization up as a problem initially. In fact,
many Southern Baptists had held pre-Roe
that abortion should be legalized in
a variety of cases, from fetal abnormality, to rape and incest, to extreme
mental or physical threats to the mother. W.A. Criswell, president of the
Southern Baptist Convention, said, "I have always felt that it was only
after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became
an individual person and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is
best for the mother and for the future should be allowed." Other
evangelical leaders called the decision a "victory" while many were
merely silent.

So it was, and so it might have remained. But in 1972, the Supreme Court upheld
a lower court ruling that institutions segregating based on race were not
charitable, and therefore should not receive tax-free status. The case was Green v.
Connally,
and several of
the affected institutions were evangelical. In 1975, in particular the IRS
tried to revoke that special status from Bob Jones University, which imposed a
notorious ban on interracial dating among other discriminatory practices.

And it was only when the government actually began to regulate these segregated
religious institutions that the anti-choice Religious Right as we really know
it took hold. In his book "Thy
Kingdom Come:  An Evangelical’s Lament
," Randall Balmer describes
going to a Religious Right conference and realizing the truth about the origins
of the movement. These origins were revealed quite openly and unapologetically
in a speech by Moral Majority and Heritage Foundation pillar Paul Weyrich
(recently deceased). Balmer was so flabbergasted that he had to hear it a
second time:

I cornered Weyrich to make
sure I had heard him correctly. He was adamant that, yes, the 1975 action by
the IRS against Bob Jones University was responsible for the genesis of the
Religious Right in the late 1970s. What about abortion? After mobilizing to
defend Bob Jones University and its racially discriminatory policies, Weyrich
said, these evangelical leaders held a conference call to discuss strategy. He
recalled that someone suggested that they had the makings of a broader
political movement – something that Weyrich had been pushing for all along –
and asked what other issues they might address. Several callers made
suggestions, and then, according to Weyrich, a voice on the end of one of the
lines said, "How about abortion?" And that is how abortion was
cobbled into the political agenda of the Religious Right.


Blumenthal writes that the Christian Right, many of whose members had staunchly
opposed civil rights, "gradually transmuted its racial resentment into
sexual politics."  The movement’s leaders seemed to be able to
capitalize on residual anger and resentment from the number one issue (besides
the war in Vietnam, one assumes) that had divided the country and in fact
splintered the Democratic Party: desegregation and race relations. Just as
civil rights for African-Americans were going to undermine the so-called moral
foundations of American society, so were upstart feminists, loose women and
gays in the post sexual revolution-era. Indeed, that "us vs. them"
mentality, the idea that the rights of the dominant majority were being usurped
by a minority, flowed quite well into the sexual panic about abortion and
homosexuality that marked the new culture wars–not that there isn’t a healthy
dose of racism still lingering, as the recent flap over Sotomayor demonstrates.
(Indeed, former "segregation forever" governor George Wallace saw
this early on, and
sought out the Catholic anti-abortion vote
in his 1976 primary run.
Although this was after Wallace had softened his stance on segregation, his
tenacious grasp of "wedge issues" was scarily prescient).

As blogger Digby
notes in typically succinct and cutting terms:

It should always be
remembered that abortion only became the cause de jour on the right once legal
segregation lost its organizing clout. It’s all part of the same mosaic of
civil rights, which has animated certain people on the right side of the
spectrum from the beginning. And it’s served them very, very well….Racial
discrimination flowed directly into the anti-abortion movement.

Pointing out the link is not to condemn all abortion opponents–or even
religiously orthodox abortion opponents–as racists, but rather to illustrate
the way one hatred neatly replaced the other in our cultural fabric, and the
way escalating rhetoric leading to violence and intimidation
have been markers of the extreme factions of both movements. It puts Scott Roeder
on a continuum with assassins like James Earl Ray and even John Wilkes Booth,
which I personally believe is appropriate.

Another former evangelical, Frank Schaeffer, wrote a memoir describing the
founding of the Moral Majority, and said that he believes the movement’s
leaders were fully cognizant of the way their language could be used to incite
violence–or at the very least, incite inflamed clashes with the other
side.  On the Rachel Maddow Show (transcript), Schaeffer claimed
that leaders were used a twofold approach towards their goals: influencing
politics, but also stirring up localized anger.

I know that this is the case because of the fact that I was
part of the movement, but also understood very well what we were doing back
then was to attack the political issue when we talked to people like Ronald
Reagan and the Bush family … But on a private side, we also were egging
people on to first pick at abortion clinics, then chain themselves to fences,
then go to jail.

We knew full well that in a country that had seen the
assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, two Kennedy brothers and others, that
what we were also doing was opening a gate here.  And I think there‘s no
way to duck this.  We live in a country in which guns are all over the
place.  We have plenty of people with a screw loose, plenty of people on
the edge.  It only takes one.


Schaeffer has also made
the connection
between anti-choice violence and the kind of threats that
have been leveled at Barack Obama since the heated days of the campaign, and
he’s absolutely correct. It’s no coincidence that fringe right-wingers are
calling Obama a "Muslim" and other racist slurs in the same breath as
"abortionist" and "baby-killer."

The founders of the Moral Majority were on the wrong side of the segregation
issue in the 1960s, as Randal Balmer notes,
and to let them get away with the lie that their movement sprung up from pure
altruistic pity for fetuses–as the media largely has–is unconscionable. We
are in fact facing the same anti-progress, anti-rights fringe that has plagued
every movement for social justice in this nation’s history and they hate all of
us "renders of the moral fabric" with equal fervor.

Read More:

 

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  • invalid-0

    This is a fascinating article. I’ve always been of the view that most anti-choicers are motivated by something other than defense of “innocent” fetuses—if it were really about that, that same hyper-concern for the very young would manifest itself in strong political support for children’s health insurance, nutrition and educational programs, and so on, a situation which we obviously don’t have in this country—but I had figured the “ulterior motive” came down to plain old reactionary Puritanism, not catharsis for no-longer-legal racial segregation.

    Of course, with that established, the question is, how can this information be used? Anti-choicers motivated by hatred have effectively co-opted the smaller number of anti-choicers motivated by actual principles (e.g. the Catholic Church) by parroting the same arguments. In light of this, a common-ground strategy is not likely to yield much progress—such an approach presumes that anti-choicers can be taken at their word, and that reducing the number of abortions really is their priority—but it would at least work as a way of calling their bluff.

  • http://treebeardforlife.blogspot.com invalid-0

    Didn’t RH just put up a whole section based on trying to build common ground?

    So on one corner of the site its “lets try and work together” and on another corner its don’t “let them get away with the lie that their movement sprung up from pure altruistic pity for fetuses”?

    How can we work towards common ground if pro-lifers don’t assume that a pro-choice position doesn’t come from concern for the woman and pro-choicers don’t assume that a pro-life position doesn’t come from concern for the unborn?

  • invalid-0

    Frank Schaeffer here: Sarah Selzer quotes me accurately in her article. I want to add that she is on to something and the proof that Sarah is correct is that the pro-life movement moved seamlessly to embrace the evangelical/right anti-gay agenda too.If it had all been about life issues there would have been no correlation of forces. Good piece!

  • invalid-0

    This is well done, Sarah. But what distinguishes abortion is that it taps into some people’s existential fear: what if my mother had aborted me? That deep, unsettling fear makes some of the antis more zealously animated–and sometimes violent–than they are on other issues. I’ve spoken to countless antis over the years, and their most pointed retort is always the same, what if your mom had aborted you? As if that settles it!

  • invalid-0

    This comment has been edited and the links have been removed because they link to a blog that advocates violence against "right-to-lifers." We absolutely will not condone and will not be party to this kind of philosophy.  If any reader sees a link to a blog called "Operation Counterstrike" on RH Reality Check please flag it for removal.  

     

  • invalid-0

    According the FactCheck.Org, Obama and the majority of Democrats voted against the Family Adoption Tax Credit in 2007.

    What hypocrisy from people who say they want “common ground” on abortion and desire to make it “safe, legal, and RARE.” The “RARE” means, in part, enabling more adoptions by helping lower to middle class families afford the tens of thousands of dollars in fees that the process entails. I guess it is more important to give people $4500 for a clunker car than an $11,000 deduction that could help an unwanted child have a LIFE.

    The $11,000-deduction that the bill allows really helps middle class families–like my wife and myself–who are in the process of adoption and for whom the process entails very much financial sacrifice.

    On this issue, Obama and the Democrats have not been our friends and have shown themselves to be FORKED TONGUE HYPOCRITES ROYALE.

    The concern is now that he and the Democrats who control Congress will not renew the Republican-enacted tax credit in 2010. Join me in fighting for adoptive families and children and against Democrats who say one thing and do another.

  • invalid-0

    Male or female, if you’re going to have sex then you need to be an adult and be prepared to deal with the consequences…a child; and a child is a HUGE responsibility. Real love at it’s core, requires self-sacrifice; denying oneself for the good of another who needs our care.

    Wisdom says that there is a time to kill, but the VAST majority of abortions stem from selfishness rather than responsible love for the child; and selfishly motivated abortions cross over from wise-killing to murder.

    Abortions done for selfish reasons should be prosecuted as murder, and those performing them should be prosecuted as accomplices.

  • invalid-0

    That deep, unsettling fear makes some of the antis more zealously animated–and sometimes violent–than they are on other issues.

    I’m not so sure about this. I mean, they could say the same thing about abstinence—what if their parents had practiced abstinence?? Oh noes!! Mandatory sex for everyone! :-)

  • invalid-0

    How can we work towards common ground if pro-lifers don’t assume that a pro-choice position doesn’t come from concern for the woman and pro-choicers don’t assume that a pro-life position doesn’t come from concern for the unborn?

    Well, there’s been nothing to suggest that pro-choicers’ concern has been about anything else but the woman’s health and freedom, and reproductive health and freedom in general. But if the anti-choice side really isn’t concerned about fetuses, then yes, how can we work toward common ground? Simply taking them at their word isn’t going to magically change around their priorities to be consistent with that.

  • invalid-0

    Pro-choice folks can walk and chew gum at the same time, and so can anti-choice folks. Sincere pro-choice people can work with sincere pro-life people who want to help pregnant women in economic crises so that they will carry their pregnancies to term because pro-choice people want generally to help all women and men facing economic crises, and specifically to eliminate the economic-distress factor as a reason to terminate if the woman would choose to carry her pregnancy to term otherwise. At the same time, we are ethically bound to maintain a woman’s right to determine when she becomes a mother and to defend R v W. That’s how disparate and even opposite groups have always formed coalitions and worked toward a common goal.

    As an aside, Sarah did differentiate between the well intentioned pro-lifers and those who are not:

    Pointing out the link is not to condemn all abortion opponents–or even religiously orthodox abortion opponents–as racists, but rather to illustrate the way one hatred neatly replaced the other in our cultural fabric,

    Perhaps reading narratives by feminists or liberals about the right is difficult, particularly when discussing feminist and liberal hypotheses about the right’s motivations. How dare they tell the right’s stories and get into their minds! Well, women’s stories have either been suppressed or pejoratively told for them forever. And sinister motivations have been heaped upon us, particularly by the cons, as well. (Just look at Tribe-Dad’s comment down a few from this comment.) So as a good progressive, I really do feel your pain.

    Nevertheless, an airing of how the religious right shifted its focus and organized against women’s rights vis a vis anger over Bob Jones U’s losing its non-profit status morphing into concern for fetuses, is long overdue, especially when it is presented with quotes, facts, and in a historical context as Sarah’s article has. You can try to refute any of those things. But challenging our good intentions to find common ground where we can while not yielding an inch of hard-won civil rights is fruitless just as it would be if we expected anti-choicers to stop all anti-choice websites and activities (from the non-violent, legal variety to the violent, illegal types).

    Thanks, Sarah. Great article!

  • invalid-0

    Thanks for removing that comment. I still believe the link to that site is a faux site aimed at making pro-choice people seem as violent as the radical anti-choice people are. Removing links to any site that incites violence or even provides information that would enable known malevolents that visit that website to commit violence is the responsible course to take.

  • invalid-0

    Too many paid or perhaps unpaid trolls and not enough time to refute malevolence on the part of President Obama or selfish motivations on the part of women. But here’s a link that will help:

    http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/12224

  • invalid-0

    Sarah – this is a great article and I’m glad it is being well read. However, your description of the history of the Catholic position on abortion is incorrect. Many authors make the same mistake, probably by reading something that was incorrect. The Catholic church has always been against all abortions. Historically, the reason had almost nothing to do with the status of the fetus but with the belief that sex was only moral within marriage and when it was open to procreation. Having an abortion was a public rejection of the purpose and nature of sex.
    There was also an ongoing discussion of when the fetus became a person, which was considered to be when God gave it a soul. But nobody knew when this was and God has not revealed this information. And so great thinkers conjectured. Some thought quickening (the first movement of the fetus – boom the soul had entered the body;) some said it was when the body was highly developed that it would be “ready” for a soul; some said the soul went through stages as Aristotle thought and Aquinas concurred. None of those ideas justified abortion before that possible moment because abortion was considered a sexual sin, not a sin against the commandment Thou shalt not kill. Even now theologians hypothesize on this issue – surely not before the fetus could divide into twins or recombine into a single entity or not before 14 days when a thing called the primitive streak appears which signals some element of individuality. But there is no doctrinal position on which theory is correct.

    Now, no church leader or Catholic anti-abortionist wants to step out in public and say the reasons for opposition have to do with sex. They would be laughed at. So the argument about murder has become more popular, even though it is factually unfounded. The most honest (or best educated) anti-abortion Catholics frame this more carefully> They say we do not know when the fetus becomes a person, but it might be at conception. Therefore, in order not to unwittingly commit murder, we must exercise caution and treat the fetus as if it were a person.

    The cautionary principle has validity even in secular ethics, but it must be weighed against the other values at stake in prohibiting an abortion and one needs to think about how likely it is that fetuses have the characteristics medicine, philosophy, social sciences etc equate with personhood. Many thoughtful people have concluded that these disciplines far more lead us to the conclusion that fetuses are not persons and that it is legitimate to terminate their lives when other values are threatened. Hope you don’t mind this lengthy correction.
    Too many non Catholics who are prochoice just buy in to what they are told by anti-abortion Catholics is the position. But we have the same obligation to fact check theology as we do medicine or law.

  • invalid-0

    In 2007 the Democrats voted against a law which would have removed the sunset provision and made the adoption tax credit, due to expire in 2010, permanent. Reposting this same comment over and over no matter what the subject of the article is doesn’t make it any more true. And your insistence that “Democrats…say one thing and do another” requires us to believe that your incredible psychic powers have revealed how the votes will come out next year.

  • invalid-0

    Excellent piece Sarah. Thanks. I would also recommend a recent analysis by Chip Berlet at Public Research Associates (publiceye.org) which connects some of the same threads. It also bring to mind yesterday’s debate on Diane Rehm on the subject of gay rights/marriage and Bishop Harry Jackson who was so ineffective in articulating his reasoning for opposing gay marriage. It really just comes down to fear.

  • invalid-0

    Male or female, if you’re going to have sex then you need to be an adult and be prepared to deal with the consequences…a child

    But it is just simply not true that there needs to be “consequences” for sex, and it is horrible to think of children as a CONSEQUENCE. My parents have been having consequence-free (ie no unplanned pregnancies) sex for over 30 years, and I have for 10 years. In fact, of all the people I know, only a few have had “consequences” and usually it was from UNPROTECTED sex – including a married couple! (yes that’s right a wedding ring does not work as a contraceptive! imagine that)

  • invalid-0

    *yawn* Troll harder. Your privilege is showing. This comment adds nothing to the discussion and just showcases what an insecure, self-righteous, pompous person you are. You’re not going to change any minds here, and your comment is purely masturbatory and should be removed.

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

    Blumenthal writes that the Christian Right, many of whose members had staunchly opposed civil rights, “gradually transmuted its racial resentment into sexual politics.” The movement’s leaders seemed to be able to capitalize on residual anger and resentment from the number one issue (besides the war in Vietnam, one assumes) that had divided the country and in fact splintered the Democratic Party: desegregation and race relations.

    Sarah – this was an interesting read. I’d like to know your opinion and others here about how this evolution from racial resentment into political resentment has continued to transition. In my opinion the 80/20 rule applies here, and may have always. 20 percent (or less) are responsible for the perception of anger among the Christian Right. No doubt there was/is anger. But was/is this indicative of the group as a whole, or was the squeaky wheel getting the grease?

    In my opinion, this is the case. I don’t believe that the majority of the Christian right are “angry” over this topic. Many have convictions and are concerned, but not angry. Again, my opinion and I’d like to hear others.

  • invalid-0

    Feminists are frequently called “angry.” They have convictions and concerns as well.

  • invalid-0

    I have several questions. First, in what sense is this article aimed at common ground? Second, what exactly is an anti-choice extremist? The term is never defined. I am an anti-choice extremist: I think abortion is murder and I think 1.3 million murders in the United States should be the primary focus of everyone’s concern. However, I’m married to a black woman and I think the debate over homosexuality has nothing to do with the debate over protecting the most helpless members of our species. Third, the DIRECT evidence we have about racism and abortion suggest that it works in the other direction: the abortion industry was started by racists, it continues to set up shop in communities of racial minorities, and blacks in particular are much more against abortion than our whites. Fourth, we will never have common ground if we continue to ignore facts about the violence of the pro-abortion rights side (as well as the pro-life side) and if we do not presume that people mean what they say. That an offical post like this can be made, and that the majority of the reactions to it can be positive, I think is strong evidence that a common ground effort made by RHRC is going to fail.

  • invalid-0

    Why wasn’t the link removed rather than the whole post? Was the post supporting such violence? If so, then, yes, it should have been removed. But if it was highlighting such violence it looks like running away from the fact that pro-abortion rights extremists are also violent. Here is a story documenting and condemning the such violence:

    http://www.pewsitter.com/view_news_id_19751.php

  • invalid-0

    That the soul comes into the being at birth, and that pregnancy is a symptom of body functioning after mechanics have been set in play, (sex withour birth control) and I am not alone in that belief. I think that a soul will find a way to materialize into flesh on this earth if it really wants to be reborn. I have gotten that response to my pro-choice belief from an anti-choicer with that question “what if your mother had aborted you?” And my standard reply is the glib “then I guess I probably wouldn’t be here, having this conversation with you.” That usually shuts them up.

  • invalid-0

    That’s true, it would be nice if Sarah could write an article about how indebted the current pro-choice movement is to the ideas, temperament and infrastructure developed and cultivated by proponents of both the negative and positive forms of eugenics.

  • invalid-0

    Liberal’s like to say conservatives are intolerant to other people’s opinions and values and yet Liberals are just as intolerant to other’s opinions and values as they claim conservatives to be…Hypocrits…… TOLERANCE GOES BOTH WAYS!!!

  • amanda-marcotte

    Catholic hierarchy opposed abortion and Roe
    from the get-go

     

    Which was and is just an extension of their opposition to birth control of any sort.  From the get-go, concern for fetal life was largely a cover for hostility to sex and women.

  • amanda-marcotte

    If abortion opponents sincerely want to talk about common ground, then perhaps they should start by embracing honesty.  Lying about history helps no one, except those who are arguing in bad faith.  And if you’re arguing in bad faith, then the discussion is over, isn’t it?

  • invalid-0

    There are few arguments more absurd than the one just offered by Amanda. One of the most ancient prohibitions of the Church was against abortion and infantcide. This from the Didache 2.2 which may date to as early at 50 CE: “you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born.” So, not only was the concern for fetal life not a cover for prohibition of birth control, but it predated it by 1900 years! Good try though. :)

  • invalid-0

    There is a basic difference between the two sides in this controversy, however – the ProChoice side has always agreed to and already tolerates the ProLife moral beliefs that they should be abstinent except in marriage, reject contraception and refuse abortion but in return the ProLife side insists that they will not tolerate others having sex outside marriage, using contraception or having abortions under any circumstances and that they want the law changed to their position and enforced against the unwilling who disagree with their moral beliefs. ‘Tolerance’ can only be reciprocal, not solitaire.

  • paul-bradford

    Honestly embracing the truth about our recent history would include reporting some truths about the Catholic positions on abortion and on the civil rights struggles of the ‘sixties.  

     

    With regard to abortion, there has been some talk recently that the Church, during the Middle Ages, drew a distinction between the moral severity of abortions performed before ‘quickening’ and those performed afterward. During this time, however, the Church taught that abortion at any phase was morally problematic. By the seventeenth Century the Church’s teaching was unambiguously opposed to abortion at any point in a pregnancy and made no distinction about moral severity.

     

    As far as racial issues go, Catholic teaching, prior to Roe, was unfailingly on the side of liberation when it came to racial conflict.  See Octogesima adveniens from May of 1971 or "Justice in the World" from November 30, 1971.

     

    The Pro-Life movement has long been infested with people who claim to be ‘Pro-Life’ but are actually just politically conservative.  Genuine Pro-Lifers are opposed to capital punishment and torture, opposed the invasion of Iraq, are concerned about the environment and the rights of immigrants and take a solidly pro-child position on issues concerning children AFTER they are born.

     

    Sarah Seltzer does an excellent job of charting the recent history of the way conservative evangelicals have distorted the Pro-Life message.  I hope she will continue to get this sort of information out to people. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    "There was also an ongoing discussion of when the fetus became a person, which was considered to be when God gave it a soul. But nobody knew when this was and God has not revealed this information. And so great thinkers conjectured.

     

    Modern Catholic theologians have pulled away from a discussion of ‘ensoulment’ and concern themselves more forcefully with the dignity of the human body.  One does not even have to enter into a discussion of the ‘soul’ in order to note that the human body, at any phase of development, should be treated with dignity.  You just argue yourself around in circles if you insist that we don’t become ‘persons’ until we have ‘souls’.  It’s enough to note that a fetus, or an embryo, or a blastocyst, or a zygote can logically and rationally be considered an entire ‘body’ and Catholic teaching holds that human beings are worthy of being treated with dignity — body and soul.

     

    When people talk about the ‘soul’ they often think in terms of intelligence, consciousness or volition.  Obviously these characteristics are not present at the very early stages of development.  But a body is present, and we are not permitted to kill a living human body. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • emma

    Jill Stanek, Frank Pavone and Troy Newman, and all from a religious Catholic site? Such reliable sources you’ve chosen there! (Or, you know, not.)

  • emma

    Pro-choice position: If you’re not ok with abortion, don’t have one. If I need one, I’ll have one.

     

    Anti-choice position: I don’t like abortion, therefore no one should be allowed to have one. Everyone should be required to do what I think they should do.

     

    Hmm. Pro-choice position sounds a lot more tolerant to me.

     

    (I am, however, intolerant of people who use apostrophes inappropriately.)

  • invalid-0

    Multiple posts are because Common Ground doesn’t seem to want to make supporting adoption and reducing abortions part of its agenda. Now more people know the facts than before.

    You write: “In 2007 the Democrats voted against a law which would have removed the sunset provision and made the adoption tax credit, due to expire in 2010, permanent.”

    Exactly. You want common ground, so why not encourage and enable adoption permanently? If federal funds go to support abortion on demand, why not allow a one-time tax deduction for adoptive families permanently? Perhaps its because we are not a monolithic voting bloc that the Democrats can control such as they do unions? They get rewarded in the stimulus, adoptive families might get shafted.

  • invalid-0

    Amen, girl. The pro-choice side is by definition more tolerant, since the whole point is to allow people to make their own personal decisions regarding these matters. The pro-life side wants to force their morals on everyone.

    My husband last night described himself as being ‘pro-choice, anti-abortion’. He doesn’t want me or his sisters to have to go through an abortion, but that doesn’t mean he wants to deny that option to other women.

  • invalid-0

    Great article.

    I hope with the election of Terry O’Neill pro-choice advocates will take to the streets. I, for one, will be joining them. The anti-abortion crowd needs to be reined in.

  • http://treebeardforlife.blogspot.com invalid-0

    Anonymous, AnonyMs, Amanda, and Paul, thanks for the discussion, here is what I think:

    If you and I are going to engage each other on this issue on a search for common ground, we must START by giving each other the benefit of the doubt. As we debate, ask each other tough questions, and start to understand each other a bit more, then absolutely we should call someone out if we see behavior that doesn’t line up with their stated convictions. However, it has to start with a charitable attitude towards the other person.

    If people want to call out politicians who want to simply use the abortion issue as a means to stay in power, I am fine with that. I don’t want them in power either. I recognize that Sarah mentioned that she doesn’t believe every rank and file prolifer is a racist; but the problem as I see it is that this article seemes to say that almost the entire movement was built for the purpose of using abortion as a political wedge, and that it should be assumed that most pro-lifers leaders still feel this way.

    Margaret Sanger and many founders of the abortion movement were also strong advocates eugenics, and had some rather lovely things to say regarding the poor and immigrants, and that abortion was part of the answer to the problem of their existence. I could then imply that most pro-choice leaders probably think the same way.

    Yes, Bob Jones University has a sad past on racial issues, and Planned Parenthoods founders have a sad record regarding eugenics. I am not suggesting we should lie, hide or coverup these realities. However, to frame our debate about whether or not abortion itself is a moral act based on these issues encourages us to assume our opponent is either disingenuous or deluded. And as Amanda pointed out, honest dialogue and debate is dead at that point.

  • invalid-0

    I don’t know where in my comment that didn’t give the benefit of the doubt, was uncharitable, or assumed that all anti-choice people were disingenuous or deluded. Please indicate.

  • invalid-0

    Humans have a long history and prehistory with plant interaction. An interesting book, Eve’s Herbs, indicates that herbal formulas were used as both birth control and abortifacints for centuries prior to the present time. Unfortunately, much about women and their lives is not known because they were pretty much chattal for most of human history, and in some parts of the world, they still are.

  • invalid-0

    Abortion is a sign of callousness toward life. Most abortions are for convenience, not the life of the mother. Life has only relative value, that is the result of modern liberal dogma eroding the consciences of people. The liberal dogmatists have also introduced their own word game to control the moral consciences of the masses: women call their wanted unborn children “babies,” and the unwanted “fetuses.”

    The ironic thing in human history is that ultimate degradation and devaluing of human life came not through violent, authoritarian forms of government and tyranny, but through democracy.

    The Spartans, Romans, etc. set their unwanted, disabled children outside to die of exposure, now we do it in the womb, hidden from the light of the Sun.

    And to think we are more civilized than our ancestors 2000 and 3000 years ago!

  • invalid-0

    The cons’ dogma wants to assign blame for all sins to woman; hence “Abortion is a sign of callousness toward life.” It’s enshrined in their interpretation of religious texts. And I’m pretty certain that women had little to do with assigning the terms, “zygote,” “embryo,” “blastocyst,” and “fetus” just as they had little to do with assigning the term “hysterectomy” (hyster is Greek for womb–*see note below). Only those who want to control and/or blame women for everything become indignant when those same terms are used, particularly by women, in the context of abortion.

    Is it any wonder that these same people have problems with democracy? As I’ve stated before, women have been using herbs for both birth control and abortion for thousands of years. So the Spartans and Romans were not less or more moral than we are, if you believe abortion is immoral. Don’t worry, there’s always the mythical Eve to blame for everything that’s immoral.

    *Note: “… But Ancient Greeks and more modern men too had the sexist notion that nervous afflictions were peculiar to women and were symptoms of various uterine maladies. Plato imagined that the uterus (Greek hustera or more usually in the Greek plural hai husterai) was a separate spirit and animal part of a woman that only wanted to become pregnant. If it did not, this imaginary uterus-spirit wandered in a fit of mopish pique through the female body causing trouble. When it arrived at the brain, this hystera (womb animal) went totally postal and induced feminine hysterics.” See http://www.billcasselman.com/dictionary_of_medical_derivations/fifteen_hysteria.htm

    If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. (Florynce Kennedy)

  • invalid-0

    Just want to make clear that if we enable adoption permanently there also needs to be put in place better laws for adoption. Adoption is just as hard on mothers as abortion.
    Who’s going to take care of those children?
    If adoption would be on the rise then wouldn’t we want as many able families be able to adopt? (Gay Couples)

    Adoption is not the end all-be all answer to ending abortion.
    Try better sex education so people feel comfortable with their bodies and actually know what they’re getting into (and know how to use a condom properly).
    Even if they ‘don’t believe in birth control’, if the kid has sex, I think using a condom is a lot more responsible and shows more character and respect for the other person than just going for it and then 9 months later have to change their whole world.

    okay.

  • invalid-0

    You make some pretty bizarre statements, to say the least.

    “Adoption is not the end all-be all answer to ending abortion. ”

    OK, but why stand in the way of a “a partial answer to ending abortion” by not making one-time adoption expenses partially tax deductible?

    “Adoption is just as hard on mothers as abortion. Who’s going to take care of those children?”

    I don’t know what planet you’re from, but I think most people would be glad to know that their child is in a safe, loving adoptive home instead of dead. One’s sadness at giving a child up for adoption is not justification for killing the child (“Sorry, honey, the thought of giving you up for adoption was so depressing to me, I just had to abort you!” Huh?). Spend some of the millions spent on birth control education and boost American’s ability to adopt children.

  • http://treebeardforlife.blogspot.com invalid-0

    My apologies if I implied that you were uncharitable in your response, you most certainly were not. I was just giving my general thoughts on how to carry out this debate constructively, and why I think this article (not your reply to me) doesn’t help.

  • invalid-0

    Apology accepted.

    This article is no more comfortable for anti-choice people as the countless references to Margaret Sanger’s history posted on this website to remind pro-choice people of Ms. Sanger’s unfortunate embrasing of eugenics. While I can defend her passion to help women have access to birth control (as she saw the hardship her mother, in particular, who experienced 18 pregnancies and 11 live births and died of turbuculousis and cervical cancer, but also the hardship of her entire family experienced because of the deep poverty it experienced), I cannot defend her position on eugenics.

    Of course, I know people from larger (but not as large as Sanger’s) families who thrive off their family dynamics; so I do not argue that large families are a prescription for hardship. Still 11 children in today’s economy would be quite a financial challenge for most people. Regarding Sanger, it was not unreasonable for her to have believed her family’s financial difficulties would not have been so difficult had her mother had access to and practiced birth control. Additionally, surely an argument can be made that her mother’s immune system may have been hardier had she not experienced so many pregnancies.

    Such is the way politics works: We cannot chose our foremothers and forefathers of the women’s civil rights movement any more than the anti-choice movement can choose theirs. Perhaps an argument can be made that the historical research on each other, provided that it is intellectually honest, can keep each other’s movements honest.

    We’re all fallible, and we can’t let our moral passions forget that. Members of each side just gotta grow a thick skin in order to participate on these fora. I’ll give you credit that you participate here. I’m pushing 60, have been on your side long before the advent of the internet, and now my mind is made. So I don’t bother visiting your side’s websites. Besides, a wide variety of opinions on both sides are posted here, so I don’t “need to go there.”

  • invalid-0

    And please don’t equate abortion to eugenics. Just indicate where anyone has defended eugenics on this website. I’d like to know because maybe I missed it. I don’t defend it. You will, however, find many references to Ms. Sanger’s unfortuante foray into eugenics.

    And you can’t handle this article about anger fostered from Bob Jones U’s loosing its tax exemption being corralled and directed toward the abortion issue–where there hadn’t been that much anger–by social con architects way back in the 70s and early 80s?

    As I explained to another disheartened but less cutting anti-choice person earlier on this particular blog, we gotta grow some thick skin to participate on these fora.

    Mine is very thick, so please feel free to take some of it.

    If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. (Florynce Kennedy)

  • http://treebeardforlife.blogspot.com invalid-0

    AnonyMs., I am enjoying our discussion. It is always nice to have a courteous exchange with someone of a different viewpoint. Thank you for the opportunity to be challenged and think critically about my own positions.

    While I can defend her passion to help women have access to birth control … I cannot defend her position on eugenics.

    I think this is an important point. Really, you shouldn’t have to defend her position on eugenics, because even if she was wrong about the positive value of eugenics, that does not necessarily mean she was wrong about the positive value of birth control. Each subject should ultimately be evaluated based on its own merits.

    Still 11 children in today’s economy would be quite a financial challenge for most people. Regarding Sanger, it was not unreasonable for her to have believed her family’s financial difficulties would not have been so difficult had her mother had access to and practiced birth control. Additionally, surely an argument can be made that her mother’s immune system may have been hardier had she not experienced so many pregnancies.

    I would agree that these are not unreasonable conclusions, and I think anyone who is planning on having or already has a family can relate to these concerns. Surely reasonable people could agree that avoiding poverty and staying healthy are good ends to strive for, the question is whether the means taken to reach these ends are justifiable.

    I bring this up because on not just a few occasions I have been called a misogynist by some on these forums. Its not being insulted on the internet that bothers me (I agree with you, thick skin is definitely necessary), but the idea that since I am pro-life, it must be true that my position must spring from the intention to degrade, demean, or hold back the progress of women. Repeated attempts to explain how this is untrue (it is the means I object to, not the ends) usually fall on deaf ears. In fact, lets play devil’s advocate and say I AM a misogynist (this kind of feels like joking about bombs in an airport). The honest truth is, someone could be wrong about the value of woman’s rights and still be right about the morality of the act of abortion. As in the example of Margaret Sanger, each subject ultimately needs to be evaluated on its own merits. Would you agree?

    Let me just state one more time that I am not opposed to the end of ensuring the full equality of women in our society, rather I am opposed to some of the means that are taken to try and reach this end.

    Perhaps an argument can be made that the historical research on each other, provided that it is intellectually honest, can keep each other’s movements honest. We’re all fallible, and we can’t let our moral passions forget that.

    I couldn’t agree more. Too often people would rather be the righteous crusader than the honest persuader. (Haha, that was awful, but you get my point.)

  • invalid-0

    Having a civil discussion/debate with people you mostly disagree or even agree is always good thing. This happened to me on a long train ride this past winter. A lady, within one minute of greeting each other in the observation car, asked me my opinion of Obama’s then-upcoming inauguration. I expressed my relief that perhaps we as a nation were turning a corner, and she expressed her fears for us. We were polar opposites, but I didn’t get the impression that she thought I was less of an American than she. I usually avoid discussing politics with strangers in public places, but if someone asks me directly where I stand, I answer directly sans any flourishes.

    As in the example of Margaret Sanger, each subject ultimately needs to be evaluated on its own merits. Would you agree?

    Certainly!

    Regarding your discussion about misogyny, I can tell you that it is a deep undercurrent throughout the planet. There is an evolutionary psychological explanation for it, but I’m not going into that here. But because misogyny is pervasive, I will bring it up on this forum. If someone (male or female) assumes most women have abortions for convenience, I will call that out as misogyny because it is reductive of women’s lives and projects unknown motivations on them. “Misogynist” is admittedly rough, and I think I reserve it for snarky anti-choicers.

    The “righteous crusader v honest persuader” comment was a clever turn of phrase, and I just may use it. I can only honestly persuade others of where I stand and what I believe is true. And if I do that, I must allow others to do the same.

    Nice talkin’ to ya.

  • invalid-0

    but even if you didn’t, I live by MY laws, the laws of the United States (which says a woman has a right to an abortion) not some BS you made up or even that person, if they really said it…. I go by MY law, and US law, and both protect women’s right to choose an abortion. That is good enough for me!! I could care LESS what some ancient old MALE jerks said millions of years ago, in church no less. I do not subscribe to your “God”.

  • invalid-0

    a right to a safe and legal abortion. The world has always been somewhat callous, abortion rights or not. We are still evolving. We live in a Democracy, and that is how women won the right to vote, which a lot of men were against, and then rights over autonomy of our reproduction, which a lot of men were against (and still are.) Women getting their freedom has been a long and arduous process, but we are making ground. The younger generation of males is very strongly pro-choice, and thankfully, isn’t as religious. They have only known when women have had choice. They are pro-choice, pro-planet, mostly respectful, intelligent free thinkers, who know right from wrong because of good perenting, but aren’t messed up by theories of “God.” They are more accepting and loving of the world, it seems to me. These are children who were wanted, loved, and are not as nasty or violent as previous generations. More accepting. I am obviously not talking about ALL of the younger generation, but the ones from the good families that I have come accross. There is more civility when a child grows up loved and wanted.

  • invalid-0

    Loved every WORD of it! Wars caused by MEN are the most callous and violent affronts to life in this world, I just want to add that. : )

  • invalid-0

    The anti-choicers are ever going to take MY and all women’s rights to a safe and legal abortion away, is when their flaming hell freezes over.

  • http://treebeardforlife.blogspot.com invalid-0

    If someone (male or female) assumes most women have abortions for convenience, I will call that out as misogyny because it is reductive of women’s lives and projects unknown motivations on them

    I can see where you are coming from here. After all, becoming pregnant is a life altering event, with many added stresses and pressures when the pregnancy is unplanned. This should not be belittled or demeaned. I can’t imagine the stress I would have felt if 3/4 of the way through my schooling I had unexpectedly become pregnant. I would argue though that these kind of ‘blanket’ assumptions regarding the decision to abort can often come from thoughtlessness, rather than an actual hatred or contempt of women deserving of the label ‘misogynist’. I suppose if someone is being snarky, though, maybe they out to expect to get a little flak thrown back at them. Others besides yourself seem to throw the term around with much less consideration.

    I’d like to ask a pointed question of you, and feel free to answer as directly as you’d like to. As you have said, honesty and a thick skin is crucial. You included this quote at the bottom of some of your other posts on this thread:

    If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. (Florynce Kennedy)

    Earlier you mentioned that you wouldn’t hesitate to take someone to task
    for being “reductive of women’s lives and projects unknown motivations on them”. Doesn’t Kennedy’s quote simply reduce men to a people unable to make a principled stance on an issue, and doesn’t it project unknown motivations on them? When quoting Kennedy here, aren’t you guilty of the same wrong that you charge others with?

  • invalid-0

    But ask this woman a question and you get a book.

    If men could get pregnant, the entire paradigm among all primate groupings would shift seismically. And that’s assuming a lot because surely reproductive specialization between the genders occurred long before the evolution of primates. Let’s assume that male homo sapien sapiens could become pregnant and all other gender dynamics within our species were ceteris paribus (where men pretty much call the shots–the big ones anyway). Then just like men justify war as a necessity, even though innocent men, women (including pregnant women), and children are killed, so would abortion be deemed a necessity. Men would simply assume autonomy in deciding to carry to term. Perhaps they’d come up with an entirely different rationale, but there is absolutely no question in my mind that abortion would be justified. Can I prove it? Nope. But I don’t have to prove a hypothesis that is physically, as of yet, impossible.

    Continuing the justification-of-war comparison and regarding the “sacrament” part of the quote, there have always been initiation rites for becoming a warrior. We call it basic training (tearing down the individual—mentally, physically, emotionally, etc.—and building a military team member). So rites of passage can be equated with sacraments.

    I can only speak for myself when applying Ms. Kennedy’s quote. First of all, it’s feminist literary armor defending feminist values and opinions on a feminist website. But more importantly I am not so much reducing men’s lives or projecting unknown motivations onto men (of a non-existent species other than transgendered men) as I am making a statement about male privilege.

    So I’m getting the impression that you’ve never dialogued much with a feminist before because I asked both my sons, who are admittedly pro-choice but don’t self-identify as feminists, what they thought Ms. Kennedy’s quote meant; and in a lot fewer words than I’ve explained here, they came to the same conclusion. I didn’t ask my partner because he definitely is a feminist.

    Of course, this comment has most likely opened an entirely new can of worms (assumptions I’ve made, the debate about evolution or male privilege, comparing war to abortion, etc.). So I’ll look for your response to this comment entry–if you wish to do so. But I don’t think I’ll participate any more on this thread, and I’ll look for you elsewhere.

    Ta4now!

  • invalid-0

    Thank you.

    An interesting Psychology Today article, entitled “Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature,” was emailed to me last week. A couple days later an article, entitled “Ten Offensive Lies That the Patriarchy Would Love You to Believe” from a feminist blog—-namely Curvature focusing on politics and culture, was emailed to me as well. It refutes four of the “truths” in the former article. If you have time, do a search on each article. You might find them interesting.

  • invalid-0

    Timely article, Sarah.
    I’d like to add my longer thoughts, later,
    if that’s okay. For now though, this:

    — An item at Think Progress .ORG 6/24

    FBI Arrests White Supremacist Blogger Hal Turner For Threatening To Kill Federal Judges
    .


    .
    .

    FBI agents went to the New Jersey home of white supremacist blogger/radio host Hal Turner and arrested him “on a federal complaint filed in Chicago alleging that he made internet postings threatening to assault and murder three federal appeals court judges in Chicago in retaliation for their recent ruling …


    As the Nation has pointed out, Turner has ties to Fox News’ Sean Hannity. In fact, Hannity has “offered his top-rated radio show as a regular forum for Turner’s occasionally racist, always over-the-top rants.

  • http://treebeardforlife.blogspot.com invalid-0

    To be perfectly honest, AnonyMs., it seems to me that your answer just proved me right. I’ll explain why I feel that way, and perhaps someone else can show me if I’ve misunderstood or misrepresented something you wrote. I’ll be as concise as possible

    I’ll start here (with stuff you’ve probably already heard millions of times before, but for the sake of clarity I’ll repeat it); the prolife argument doesn’t stand or fall depending on whether it is a male or a female who gets pregnant. We acknowledge that the life of a human being begins at fertilization, and we hold that all human beings deserve equal human rights. No matter which sex fertilization occurs inside of, these things would not change.

    Then just like men justify war as a necessity, even though innocent men, women (including pregnant women), and children are killed, so would abortion be deemed a necessity. Men would simply assume autonomy in deciding to carry to term. Perhaps they’d come up with an entirely different rationale, …

    Here is where you show that men are incapable of taking a stance based on principle. You are arguing that men would find the ends achieved by abortion to be necessary and then assume a rationale that would attempt to justify the means. To you it is not possible that if men could get pregnant, they might see that the principles behind the pro-life stance apply to their pregnancies, and they would oppose abortion just as many women do today.

    but there is absolutely no question in my mind that abortion would be justified. Can I prove it? Nope. But I don’t have to prove a hypothesis that is physically, as of yet, impossible.

    Here is where I am really not getting it. You admit that you cannot prove these things, and you go even further when you say you don’t even have to prove them. You admit these motivations are unknown (even unknowable), and you project them onto men. You argue that proof is irrelevant since the hypothesis is impossible. I don’t know how the quote itself can be relevant if there is nothing to back it up. You might as well say “because I said so”.

    This is the problem I have with that quote, the original article by Sarah, and the approach to dialogue that they encourage. Basically they all say that pro-lifers don’t really believe what they say, they just say it because a) someone at church told them to, b) they are trying to gain political/social power, or c) they hate women.

    If we cannot at least START with the assumption of the honesty and goodwill of the other person despite our dissagreements, how can we have civil, productive dialogue?

    …I am not so much reducing men’s lives or projecting unknown motivations onto men (of a non-existent species other than transgendered men) as I am making a statement about male privilege.

    But in the process you are stating that men are unprincipled and projecting motivation that you admit is unknowable, and therefore unknown.

    So I’m getting the impression that you’ve never dialogued much with a feminist before…

    Just recently, and only a few times. Its part of the reason I am here, so that I can learn more about what other people think about this stuff… to get out of the box, so to speak.

    Of course, this comment has most likely opened an entirely new can of worms … I don’t think I’ll participate any more on this thread, and I’ll look for you elsewhere.

    Fair enough, (who wants to spend their whole life in comboxes anyway? Me, apprently.) I’m sure I opened a few cans of worms myself. I hope I didn’t seem rude in this post, its easy for direct questions to come across that way in writing. If you change your mind, I’d love to hear your reply, otherwise maybe someone else has one for me?

    Again, thanks for the discussion.