Pro-‘Life?’ More Like Pro-Control
I have a new hobby! I like to invade pro-“life” pages and irritate the admins and commentators. Technically, this is trolling. The key difference is that I am not opposing their stance on abortion with random insults and stupidity or opposing their stance on abortion at all. Instead, I reveal their utter hypocrisy and, man, does it piss them off!
A few months ago I wrote an article about how I would not engage in the abortion debate. In it, I discussed my ambivalence about the matter and why I was not inclined to debate for or against choice. I maintain that there can be no reconciliation between the two positions. Pro-choice does not consider a fetus a person until some point in the pregnancy (it varies from person to person) and pro-“life” considers a fertilized egg a fully realized human being (usually along with a soul).
The Fat Smug Bastard argues that the real distinction is not whether a fetus is scientifically a human being (they are, in is his estimation) but when they gather to them the same rights and protections that apply to the rest of us. On that point he is less sure of his footing but feels THAT is the point that should be debated.
Either way, it occurred to me that there was a wholly unexplored aspect to the pro-“life” movement that people usually don’t bother with; The aforementioned blinding hypocrisy. This hypocrisy comes in several flavors, all of them rotten. It stems from the Right’s purported “by any means necessary” attitude towards stopping abortion up to, and including, inciting violence against abortion clinics and providers (and then denying they had anything to do with it like a the craven cowards they are), trampling the Constitution so patients’ right to confidentiality can be violated and, of course, spending millions of dollars on campaigns to paint liberals as “baby killers”.
But, as we’ll see, it’s not really about protecting life. And it never was.
Now, you’d think that which such a strong devotion to the protection of sacred, innocent lives, the Right, particularly the Religious Right, would grab hold of ANY method that would prevent abortions. They’ll certainly resort to violence and the threat of it to stop an abortion from being carried out but what about going in the other direction? What about preventing the need for the abortion in the first place? Not so much a priority with this crowd.
For example, one of the most proven ways to prevent pregnancy is contraception. Birth control pills, IUDs, condoms, sponges, etc. When used correctly, these methods dramatically reduce the chance of pregnancy. But teaching teens to use all of these tools and providing access to them is a big no-no to the anti-abortion crowd. “It encourages underage sex and they should be saving themselves for marriage!” is the general refrain. These are stupid people. You know what encourages teen sex? Being a teen. As I get older, I’ve noticed a fascinating trend among my contemporaries and myself; we forget what being a teen was like. Take a moment and focus on those dim memories (if you’re older than 25), think really hard about what being a teen was like. Did confusion, peer pressure, screaming hormones and sex pop into your mind? It not, take off those rose tinted glasses! Honestly, what do these people think it was like? 1950s television? It wasn’t even like that IN the 1950s! Boys develop muscles, girls develop curves and both develop very strong urges that weren’t there before. Gee, I wonder what it can all possibly mean? But ask a religious fanatic about it and they’ll just tell you that they should wait until marriage.
So let’s examine the “wait until marriage” thing for a second. Why wait? Depending on who you are talking to, you will get a variety of answers but they all come down to “the Bible says so.” Well, that’s nice but it really only applies to people of your faith. Some of us don’t believe in your particular mythology. Knowing that just demanding obedience to a religious text is a terrible argument, some will try to waffle around it and claim that teens aren’t mature enough or wise enough to handle sex before marriage. So being married at 14 would automatically convey wisdom and maturity? Of course it wouldn’t. So there goes that argument. And don’t forget to point out that if teens supposedly aren’t wise and mature enough to handle sex, what could possibly make these prudes think that teens are wise and mature enough to NOT have sex? Remember, every inch of their bodies is telling them that sex is a pretty damn good idea. Which would be easier? Directing those urges in a responsible way or trying (and failing) to totally block it until the inevitable occurs and no one knows how to do it safely? Either way, they are GOING to have sex. Who is more likely to get pregnant and have an abortion?
These same self-proclaimed moral authorities love to dismiss teens as incapable of the responsibility of sex but, somehow, fail to take into account the intelligence of teens. Teens do plenty of stupid things but they are not actually stupid. If we can trust them with heavy farm equipment (16) or to go off to war and get shot (17) chances are they can handle a little nookie IF they are armed with the proper information. Instead, according to these very concerned citizens, we’re supposed to teach them nothing and let teens figure it out for themselves with predictable results: More unwanted pregnancies from which follow abortions. Pointing this out to a pro-”lifer” tends to set them off on lectures about morals and how important the family is and how contraceptives don’t work. Ask them what is worse: teen sex or abortions? If they actually gave a damn about abortion, they would admit that teen sex is not as terrible and dealing with its reality is more important than insisting on abstinence. Instead, what you will find in the extremists that they are more interested in forcing their moral code onto others rather than saving babies from abortion. Their religion demands only married people have sex and so everyone has to live that way, even if it means an increase in abortions as a direct result of their ideological war.
Because it’s not about protecting life. And it never was.
A short digression: I recently had a woman tell me that Mother Nature will always win out and that we shouldn’t fight her designs for the human body by trying to prevent pregnancies. Well, OK, then we should encourage children to have sex as soon as they hit puberty. I was about 9 when that started so I should have been cruising the lunch line for some after school activities! Sound good? No? Well, why not? Nature designed the human body to procreate at about ten years of age. Who are we to fight Mother Nature’s designs? But no, before some conservative jackass accuses of me of being a pedophile, I do not actually advocate little kids having sex. I AM, however, pointing out that using Mother Nature as an excuse to not teach responsibility to our young is a deeply flawed argument. We once were apes that lived for 20 or 30 years, max, if we were lucky. That was before we became self-aware. Even after that little gem of evolution took hold, we STILL considered anyone over thirty to be ancient. Back then, successfully having kids was like voting in Chicago, do it early and do it often! Our bodies still haven’t caught up to the incredible changes progress has wrought upon our physiology. Whether it be 13, 18 or married, any determination of WHEN we should start having sex is, at best, an artificial construct imposed by society.
But back to the idea that a married couple is the only way to go. A fun thing to point out to the rabidly ideological is that being married doesn’t automatically grant the stability to successfully raise a family. Say you get married to your high school sweet heart as soon as you graduate. Congratulations! Are you ready for children now? Sure, you’re only 18 but you’re married! So you’re mentally and financially prepared, right? Well, no. You’re not. No one in their right mind would assume such a thing. Having children is an enormous responsibility and these two love birds haven’t even established a life for themselves yet much less built a stable platform from which to raise a family. But they’re married now and they are GOING to have sex. What to do? Go ahead and have kids and hope the resulting strain doesn’t shatter the marriage? Or maybe they should avoid getting pregnant until they are ready for the wonderful burden that is parenthood? Ask a religious pro-“lifer” and you’ll have your answer. “No contraceptives!”
Hmmmmm… that’s funny. They’re married. I thought the problem with contraceptives was that they would encourage pre-marital sex? But even AFTER the wedding, they’re still bad? So, again, it’s not about protecting life at all. And it never was.
Another great way of revealing pro-“life” extremists for the raging hypocrites they are is gay marriage and gay adoption. If abortion is the most horrible awful thing ever, then gay marriage and adoption is freaking awesome! Not only do gay couples NOT get pregnant by accident, EVER, they are more than happy to adopt some of those unwanted children. You know the ones I’m talking about, right? The kids that were put up for adoption because their mother didn’t want them but refused (or was refused the option) to abort? They COULD just stay in the foster system until they’re 18 but the statistics on that are pretty bad. No one should have to live that kind of life. Why not just let gay couples adopt? No? Why? Because gays are an abomination and they’ll make the child gay? Is that somehow worse than being “killed”? But let’s grant that premise for a second (it’s total bullshit and we all know it, but we’re speaking hypothetically here). It’s better to condemn a child to a life of loneliness and ostracization instead of placing them in a home with two loving parents because of religious disapproval of their lifestyle? How about Muslims? Not comfortable with that? Single (straight) parents? Absolutely not? With millions of zealots throughout the country, SURELY there’s enough of them to adopt every child. No? But I thought we had to protect all those innocent babies?
Oh. I see. It’s not about protecting life. And it never was.
Well, at the very least, since they’re so violently against abortion and so pro-“life”, they MUST support the social programs in place to ensure that children get the medical care and nutrition they need and the opportunity to have a roof over their head? Nah, doesn’t look like it. Not a small amount of pro-“lifers” will tell you that they vote Republican because the GOP is against abortion and they stand for a culture of life, not death. How, then, do they reconcile that with the GOP’s war on children? The GOP opposes Medicaid, food stamps, school lunches, low income housing, WIC, pretty much everything the children most at risk require to grow up in a happy and healthy environment. At the very worst, it keeps them from being homeless and malnourished (1 in 4 children in the United States, the richest country in the world, does not get enough food). That kind of compassion is just out of the question for conservatives but anti-abortion terrorism is something they can turn a blind eye to.
How does one support “innocent life” by voting for the party that would throw those same lives into the gutter after birth? How does one enthusiastically endorse a candidate that is happy to let children starve to score political points? How does one claim, with a straight face, to be pro-“life” while denying poor mothers the pre-natal care that can save their babies’ life?
You cannot. Or, rather, you CAN as long as you’re willing to lie about your true motives for aggressively pursuing moral legislation. This has not been a problem for the Right for as long as I’ve been alive. It’s almost depressingly trivial to expose this kind of hypocrisy among the “faithful” of the Right but almost no one does. My suggestion to liberals is not to engage directly on the subject of actual abortion. It’s pointless and the two ends never shall meet. If you suspect, however, that the pro-“lifer” is less than honest in their pursuit of an end to abortion, challenge them with any or all of the above and watch the mental and semantic gymnastics they do to avoid stating the obvious: pushing their moral values down your throat is the goal, not saving lives. Best case scenario, you will find that they are acting in good faith and they DO support social programs for children. Common ground is a good place to start from when exploring divergent viewpoints. Worst case scenario, you will have pulled the mask off a fanatic for everyone else to see. Always a useful exercise.
The Religious Right doesn’t care about the unborn. They care about leveraging their influence on politics to force their way of life on to everyone else. They hide behind the Bible and a self-righteousness they have neither earned nor deserve in order to camouflage their true intentions of carving out a “Christian Nation” where none existed, where all are beholden to their code of hate and intolerance. The unborn are just another means to an end for these despicable people.