Forty Days of Protesting Birth Control: This is “Pro-Life?”


The 40 Days For Life anti-abortion campaign kicked off its fall tour yesterday – it’s largest yet, spread across 200
cities in 45 states. And I find myself thinking harder about the arguments of the
anti-choice movement. I recently went to Wisconsin, where anti-abortion
protests have lately gathered strength. I wanted to hear their argument from
their own lips. 

I
got the usual comments about God and conception and murder, and even found
myself at one point involved in a discussion about my own hypothetical murder
(see the accompanying video).  But it was the inherent irony of their
opposition to contraception which I found most baffling.



The religious right in Central Wisconsin pickets a family planning clinic with the intention of having the clinic closed and all birth control made illegal.

There
are two family planning clinics in central Wisconsin – one in Wausau, one in
Stevens Point – that have been picketed by typical religious right-wing
anti-choicers over the past two years. What’s not typical is that these clinics
do not provide abortions. Nor do they
provide referrals or even medical counseling for abortions, because their
federal grant restrictions explicitly prohibit them from doing so. The people
of Wisconsin know this. The protesters know this. So what’s the big deal?

The
big deal is that this family planning clinic dispenses contraception – condoms,
birth control pills, and emergency contraception. The protesters I spoke with
in Wisconsin believe that “the morning-after pill” is the equivalent of murder.
They even believe that the birth control pill is a form of murder. (Since in
some cases it prevents the fertilized egg – which they would call “the
embryonic person” – from implanting in the uterine wall.)

And
condoms? One protester told me that condoms encourage men to use women “for sex
without repercussions.” But isn’t it the woman who has to deal with the real
“repercussions” of a pregnancy? You would think an anti-abortion activist, of
all people, would see the use of condoms.

But
no. “If you want to have sex,” he told me, waving his finger in the air, “make
sure you can deal with the consequences. Which are children.”

It’s
this kind of thinking that stands in the way of reducing unplanned pregnancy
and reducing abortion in America. If these people got what they wanted, and
birth control were made illegal, the number of unplanned pregnancies would
skyrocket. So would the number of abortions – including late-term abortions,
which are the most controversial of all.

Does
a fertilized egg feel pain? Does it feel stress, anxiety, hope, love and fear?
Does it appreciate a sunny day after a week of rain? Does it have friends,
neighbors, and lovers? Does it have dreams and ambitions or plans for the
future? Does it worry about hurting the feelings of the people it loves? Is a
fertilized egg afraid of dying?

To
answer yes to any of these questions would require a leap of faith that
rational argument could not support. To force women under penalty of law to
carry every pregnancy to term is another way of keeping them downtrodden and
subservient in a male-dominated society. Moreover, it’s not the job of
government to legislate on a woman’s body. But that’s beside the point.

The
point is: While some may be bothered by the fact of
abortion, contraception helps women and men prevent unintended pregnancy, which will
reduce abortion. Surely that’s something we can all agree on.

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  • stingerpgh

    Why is it that these people seem to see women as nothing more than "ovens"?

  • jeornom

    Does a newborn appreciate a sunny day after a week of rain? Does a newborn have friends, neighbors, and lovers? Does a newborn have dreams and ambitions or plans for the future? Does a newborn worry about hurting the feelings of the people it loves? Is a newborn afraid of dying?

  • bj-survivor

    And I love the "pro-life" penchant for increasing the amount of suffering in the world. I also love their idea of children as "punishments" for women daring to have sex. Those attitudes are neither pro-child nor pro-family.

  • crowepps

    Does a newborn have friends, neighbors, and lovers?

    Well, yeah, actually, because the newborn has been, you know, BORN. Which is why he or she is qualitatively different from the fertilized egg.

  • katwa

    Back next week for easy answers to easy questions.

  • daphnechyprious

    is a fertilized egg aware of its own existence? PS I had a @#$ of a time registering to post comments. Making it as difficult and confusing as possible is not exactly to your advantage. Please rethink the process.

  • crowepps

    It’s my understanding that both self-awareness and consciousness are functions of the cerebral cortex, which develops starting at approximately 27 weeks. Lack of the cerebral cortex (as in anencephaly) is considered an indication that the fetus is non-viable.

  • shlumn

    According to the Guttmacher Institute, 54% of women who have abortions used contraception (either birth control or condoms) during the month they conceived. This is a huge number of women, accounting for over 1/2 of the 1.21 million abortions performed each year.

    Since when do the qualifications for personhood include the emotions of fear, anxiety, stress, “enjoying a sunny day”, etc. These are arbitrary qualities and have nothing to do with one’s right to life. For example, a 1-year-old neither knows nor experiences the emotion of hope, etc. This is a poor argument, lacking evidence and thorough thought. If you can individually determine the qualities that makes someone worthy of the rights of personhood, then what is to prevent say a politician in power from making similar arbitrary claims into laws that take away yours or my right to life?

    You are attempting to pick apart a particular groups’ religious convictions rather than addressing the scientific, rational, and ethical dilemma that abortion creates.

  • frolicnaked

    “If you want to have sex,” he told me, waving his finger in the air, “make sure you can deal with the consequences. Which are children.”

    Is it just me, or does this sound threatening — and like it’s meant to be so?

     

    Between this and the no "sex without repercussions" statement, this goes way beyond any argument about fetal personhood and straight into, "Hi, let me impose my private morality on others!"

  • crowepps

    You are attempting to pick apart a particular groups’ religious convictions rather than addressing the scientific, rational, and ethical dilemma that abortion creates.

    Ethical dilemma I’ll grant you, since inherent in the abortion controversy is a conflict between the good of the individual woman and conflicting views of what is good for society/the extent to which society as a whole can coerce the individual — but how could abortion be a scientific dilemma? Or a rational dilemma?

  • danine

    I am so embarrassed by this. I live just an hour away from Wausau and less than two hours from Stevens Point. I know people who go to these churches. I wish I could say I was surprised by this, though. The Catholic community doesn’t quite have its priorities straight, though. I moved to northern Wisconsin five years ago after living in Eau Claire my entire life (except Mankato, MN, for college). At the Catholic church I went to in Eau Claire, I was taught that a good Catholic’s job is to treat everyone as Jesus would have – the poor, the sick, the needy, tne imprisoned, etc.
    I don’t think I ever heard the word "abortion" in church once growing up. At my church, I learned it wasn’t OK to discriminate against other people. Every year the shared building my church was in held the World AIDS day ceremonies. So this meant discriminating against LGBT & people w/HIV & AIDS was not OK, either.
    The long and shorr of it is that the Catholic Church has got to get its act together. This is ridiculous.
    These people are not doing God’s work.
    ————————————————————

    http://www.danine.net

    http://twitter.com/daninespencer

  • frolicnaked

    According to the Guttmacher Institute, 54% of women who have abortions
    used contraception (either birth control or condoms) during the month
    they conceived. This is a huge number of women, accounting for over 1/2
    of the 1.21 million abortions performed each year.

    This is not a logically sound reason to be against the use of contraception. According to Contraceptive Technology, among other credible and authoritative sources, every form of contraception is more effective — and significantly more effective — at preventing pregnancy than is using no contraception.

     

    Yes, even with effective contraception, unplanned pregnancy happens, and some people who become pregnant choose to abort. But with less contraception, or less effective contraception, the number of unplanned pregnancies — and, very possibly, the number of abortions — would be greater. 

  • crowepps

    I think it goes far beyond ‘imposing private morality’ right over into “Sluts Must Die! Stone the Sluts!”

  • princess-rot

    And condoms? One protester told me that condoms encourage men to use women “for sex without repercussions.” But isn’t it the woman who has to deal with the real “repercussions” of a pregnancy? You would think an anti-abortion activist, of all people, would see the use of condoms. But no. “If you want to have sex,” he told me, waving his finger in the air, “make sure you can deal with the consequences. Which are children.”

    This is not new. In fact, its old. Very, very old. It has the same root as in the Genesis myth: women are simultaeneously all-powerful (able to lead the gullible Adam) and yet they are completely passive and secondary (made from him, for him, inferior to him). In it, sex is constructed as something as men do to women, and women perform for men. Its the same thinking that drives rape apologism and ‘boys will be boys’ and ‘a man is a slave to his sex drive, once its set off, they can’t help it’. It cares nothing for children or women, since the former is simply a convienient ball-and-chain for the latter’s sexuality. It is insulting and patronising to men, suggesting that they are idiots led around by their penises, but it does remain only insulting. It does not result in second-class citizen status, as it does for females. 

  • genroku

    We know they don’t want sex education in the schools or Family Planning, which would go a long way to preventing unwanted pregnancies…abstinance only is the rule, and we know THAT doesn’t work! At the same time, they also want to eliminate access to all forms of birth control, which would, ironically, prevent abortions by preventing conception in the first place. Their efforts are totally illogical and at cross purposes, and one can only conclude that something else is working here. Perhaps, in the face of ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies and subsequent abortions, they actually WANT to see others suffer, and that’s sick! On the other hand, once the child is born, they lose interest, complain about welfare, and instead, point fingers at the "sinner". And THAT’s sick. These irrational protesters simply won’t be happy unless they control the intimate lives of others. In my opinion, their problem is that they feel inadequate, irrelevant, and hope to achieve some kind of status or superiority by forcing others to accept their very small and negative worldview.

  • emma

    So, I guess we can now state definitively that the anti-contraception lunatics are pro-abortion.

     

    I wonder what form of psychopathology it is that makes someone spend a bunch of time and energy contemplating other people’s sex lives?

     

    The wingnut is such a fascinating specimen to behold.

  • lisa4tech

    There are many ideas for responses floating around in the ether and I like all of them. My favorites: People should contact Planned Parenthood and ask what kind of help they need during this time. People should also rally for counter protests or outrageous-over-the-top solidarity protests. One other idea I had this morning was launching a phone in to city hall reporting the violation of the Pedestrian Interference Ordinance. These anti-freedom radicals are putting chairs in the six foot zone of the sidewalk, and with the narrow sidewalks in that portion of town, they blatantly violating the law. This is the city’s chance to prove to us that they didn’t just pass it to target our houseless neighbors.

    Addiction Recovery

  • grayduck

    "I wonder what form of psychopathology it is that makes someone spend a bunch of time and energy contemplating other people’s sex lives?"

     

    How can you imply that people concerned about rape, incest, and molestation are mentally ill?

     

    http://www.abortiondiscussion.com

  • crowepps

    The connection between a concern about rape, incest and molestation and whether people should be able to voluntarily use birth control seems kind of feeble.  Perhaps you could point it out?

  • emma

    What on earth does wanting to control whether people use contraception have to do with rape, incest or molestation? The people this article’s about aren’t demonstrating against rape, incest or molestation; they’re demonstrating against contraception.

     

    Rape

    Incest

    Molestation

    Contraception

     

    One of these things is not like the others.

     

    To paraphrase crowepps, that’s really bloody feeble, GrayDuck, even for you.

  • paul-bradford

    Don’t forget that GrayDuck was responding to Emma’s post and that Emma was making two separate points.  She said:

     

    1) I guess we can now state definitively that the anti-contraception lunatics are pro-abortion.

    2) I wonder what form of psychopathology it is that makes someone spend a bunch of time and energy contemplating other people’s sex lives?

     

    In other words, 1) Anti-contraception is pro-abortion and 2) It’s pathological to spend time and energy contemplating other people’s sex lives. 

     

    She’s absolutely right on Point #1.  GrayDuck was quibbling about Point #2.  He was saying that anyone who is concerned about rape, incest or molestation is concerned about "other people’s sex lives" and there’s nothing pathological about being concerned about rape, incest or molestation.

     

    Of course, the issue shouldn’t be whether or not we’re concerned about each other’s sex lives.  We ought to be concerned.  What’s important is what we’re concerned about. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice