How Effective Will the ‘Abort Theocracy’ Campaign Be?

The group Secular Woman is launching a new project today that… well… just rubs me the wrong way:

Abort Theocracy is focused on the intersection of religious power over a women’s bodily autonomy, dedicated to terminating that connection by opposing religious influence in government.

The idea behind it isn’t bad at all. The larger the spotlight we can shine on legislation that’s bad for women, that serves to control their bodies, that spurs women (and men) to contact their legislators to vote against the bills, the better off we are.

But the metaphor of treating that legislation as something to be “aborted,” or to be “terminated,” just doesn’t make sense to me.

We celebrate defeating those awful bills; we don’t celebrate abortions.

Those bills are meticulously-planned and written. Pregnancies don’t always work that way.

For most women, an abortion is not something they aspire to have — they’re usually a necessity or the result of serious deliberation; the anti-abortion bills, however, are written by politicians who championed their ability to limit women’s rights.

No doubt this in-your-face campaign is hard to ignore — that’s pretty much the point — but I worry it will just give ammo to our cultural opponents who already, wrongly, see us as “people who want to kill babies.” Will anyone on the fence about these issues really be swayed by this campaign?

On another note, the use of the word “theocracy” bothers me, too. Because no matter what you think about conservative politicians, I’m pretty sure 99% of them would tell you they have no desire to establish a “theocracy.” They’ll tell you they respect the right of people to choose and live by their own beliefs. Sure, they’ll vote based on their Christians “values,” but I doubt any of them (Texas reps excluded…?) would argue that we should replace the Constitution with the Bible when it comes to how we are governed. Using the word “theocracy” just reeks of over-the-top hype that isn’t based in reality.

I’m all for fighting religious-based legislation — or any legislation that limits the control women have over their own bodies. I hope this campaign finds a way to do that effectively. But I’m doubting it can do that right now. Instead, it’ll just give conservatives something new to raise money off of.

(For what it’s worth, I raised many of these points to Secular Woman President Kim Rippere last night and, while she didn’t agree with me, she noted my concerns.)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.