Abortion: No Women Involved

One thing I was struck by as I moved from being anti-abortion to being pro-choice was the difference in how each group views the women in the situation. Namely, the pro-choice crowd focuses on the circumstances, needs, and desires of a woman in an unintended pregnancy while for the anti-abortion crowd, it’s almost like the woman doesn’t exist.

For the anti-abortion crowd, it’s all about the sweet developing “baby” – who from the rhetoric might as well be hanging out in an artificial womb rather than within a woman. Sure, there are Crisis Pregnancy Centers geared toward talking women out of having abortions by lying to them about health risks and offering them free cribs. But the discussion centers not around the woman at all, but around the “baby.”

But even though I’d realized and thought about this, the image above, which I discovered via Sarah Over the Moon, still shocked me. I didn’t realize an anti-abortion activist could go quite that far.  One stroke of the pen (or rather keyboard) and the women have disappeared from the picture entirely. Women? What women? Babies come from storks! Save the storks! I’m sorry…what? And it’s not just that picture. Here’s a quote from the website advertised on the image:

A staggering 1.2 million storks were shot out of the sky last year alone. Tragically, as these beautiful creatures take flight over the moon, they carry our most precious resources. As they carry these resources, storks journey over perilous regions, unprotected from man’s hunting. Save the Storks is an organization that hopes to save these endangered creatures.

I used to be a Republican. I wasn’t anti-woman, or at least, I didn’t think I was. So in this whole discussion of the Republican Party conducting a “war on women,” there’s a part of me that has wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. That part of me is getting smaller.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Froborr

    I dunno, in my debates with anti-choicers they do occasionally acknowledge the existance of a slut whose pregnancy is a well-deserved punishment for the hideous crime of having sex while poor. That’s… almost like acknowledging that there’s a woman involved? Ish?

  • machintelligence

    Only marginally related, but fun.

  • SophieUK

    Maybe this will take the discussion off track so please feel free to ignore or delete this if it’s the wrong place for it, but I was just pondering today what my stance on “abortion” would be if the baby somehow materialised in a test tube as a result of sex? If a woman’s body wasn’t put at risk by pregnancy, would it be ok to terminate the fetus and if so who gets to choose whether this happens? What if one parent wants to let it develop into a child and the other doesn’t. What would happen in this instance?

    • Rosa

      well, what’s your stance on the embryos from IVF not used in pregnancies? That’s just about that situation, but with slightly more volition.

    • http://riliansrlog.blogspot.com Rilian

      My uncle said there were some societies that, since they didn’t have a way of killing the baby in the womb, would put sand in its nose so it would suffocate right after birth. If they didn’t think they could support another baby right then.
      If the baby appears in a test tube, then it’s possible to kill it before it has any feelings or anything, so how could that possibly be a bad thing? And it could definitely be a good thing, because maybe you can’t support another baby right then. Or maybe you just don’t want to. Also, aren’t there like 2 million kids in merica alone who need to be adopted? I truly don’t understand people’s desire to create more babies (people who are “trying”) when there’s already so many kids that need them.

    • Scotlyn

      The Irish Supreme Court has ruled on this question – the case was a married couple who had separated after having a child through IVF. Subsequent to the separation, the woman wished to become pregnant again, using one of the embryos already stored and frozen. The man, however, refused to agree, saying he was happy with the child he had, and did not wish to become a father again. Without his agreement, the procedure could not be carried out, so the woman pursued the case to the Supreme court – arguing that, according to the Irish Constitution, the unborn embryo had an equal right to life to herself. The Supreme Court ruled against her, holding firstly (interestingly in a country with a complete ban on abortion) that pre-implantation there is no “unborn child” to be considered – therefore embryos do not count. Also that the man had the right to refuse to become a parent. (I await this right being extended to women, but nevertheless, an interesting precedent).

      • http://riliansrlog.blogspot.com Rilian

        Guh, why not just say that the man would have no parental obligations? Then he’d just have been a sperm-donor, not a parent.

  • SophieUK

    Having just reread my comment I have absolutely no idea why I put the word abortion in inverted commas.

  • smrnda

    I checked out her whole post – part of me wonders whether or not the people who made all the propaganda were idiots who can’t figure out how someone outside of the US evangelical culture would react to things, or if it’s more meant some kind of internal pep-rally that’s not meant for outsiders.

    I find it hard to believe what point is made by pointing out that some people who used to be affiliated with or founded planned parenthood were racists, as if that means anything for the organization currently. The people who founded the US were racists, and I’m sure that the Christian patriots (TM) would get on my case for pointing that out as if it means there’s something wrong with America today because of that.

    I’m kind of shocked by the evangelical Protestant opposition to contraception. I mean, you probably never saw Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life but the distinction between Catholics and Protestants over birth control was joked about in the film. I wonder if it’s because of some kind of pissing contest between the groups to see whose more pro-life. The Catholic church was anti-abortion and anti-contraception, and so denominations that didn’t used to oppose contraception are doing so because it ups the ante for what is considered ‘pro life.” Part of that might just be that the real goal is turning back the clock on women’s rights and people realized that it can’t be done without an assault on contraception.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Ah, but the Protestants in “The Meaning of Life” would be Anglicans. Completely different story.

      • Ismenia

        They’re also intended to make fun of traditional British repressed attitudes towards sex. Remember that unlike their fruitful Catholic neighbours they have only had sex twice. Religious beliefs certainly played a part in those attitudes.

    • Carol

      “I find it hard to believe what point is made by pointing out that some people who used to be affiliated with or founded planned parenthood were racists, as if that means anything for the organization currently.”

      These people should take a good look at the motherhood programs that helped put a certain German dictator in power. Before the concentration camps, before the Nuremburg laws there was the Law for Encouragement of Marriage. Women were expected to stay home and have lots of babies, to raise their sons to be soldiers and daughters to be mothers. They were promised all sorts of good things by following this path. Women will be taken care of, men will provide, all problems will be solved. Awards were bestowed based on the number of children women bore. Homeschooling was encouraged because of the fear that children will come home from school and turn their parents Jewish. And so forth. You get the picture.

      • Austine

        Carol, I’m late to this post, but thank you. Sometimes I wonder if i’m the only one who can see where these attacks on women, who have always been the ‘low-hanging fruit’, will lead.

      • L’Ann

        Actually, Homeschooling was NOT encouraged in Nazi Germany. After all, schools were staffed by Nazis and used as a tool for indoctrination. And children were encouraged, and later required, to join groups like the Bund deutscher Madel and Hitler Jugend to ensure they were learning racist, antisemitic, eugenic, and general Nazi ideologies correctly. In general, Nazi officials didn’t trust parents to inculcate children properly. After all, the fathers may have served with Jews in WWI. The mother may have Jewish classmates in college. Someone may have had an elliptic friend. Recent scholarship has emphasized how much Nazi society destroyed the traditional family unit. (See: Beyond Totalitarianism. And yes, I am a Modern European historian.)

  • Kevin S.

    Excellent post, and it reminds me of the first time I figured out that much of the “pro-life” movement was based on, at best, a callous disregard toward women.

    I was watching a presidential candidate for the U.S. Taxpayers’ Party (now called the Constitution Party, I believe) on C-SPAN in the 90s. What I thought was a cute little single-issue third party dedicated to abolishing the IRS turned out to have an extensive evangelical-based social conservative agenda. Their candidate specifically promised that if he was elected president, no “baby” would be killed “just because its father was a rapist or a close relative of its mother” (his words as best I can remember them). His rhetoric acknowledged the baby and its father without ever mentioning the expectant mother. That was my first clue that there was a part of the anti-abortion movement that really didn’t care about women at all.

    • smrnda

      An interesting way of framing the discussion. “If your father was a rapist you won’t be killed.” Instead, why didn’t he say “rapists have a right to impregnate women. They shouldn’t rape women, but if they do, screw her!”

  • http://dream-wind.livejournal.com Christine

    Because I’m a masochist, I had a look at some of the abortion stories on that website. All the stereotypcial guilt and shaming the pro-lifers insist is the result of every abortion.

    I wonder – will they ever feature a story like those over at http://www.imnotsorry.net/? At least they are up front about only presenting one sort of story, and why.

  • http://dream-wind.livejournal.com Christine

    I really AM a masochist. I went and looked at the stupid stork site some more. Underneath the “Why Storks?” is this gem: “The White Stork is a graceful creature, not something to be afraid of. There is nothing mean or aggressive about them. ”

    They do realise the reason storks have that honking great beak is because they are AMBUSH PREDATORS who use that honking great beak to fish? And yes, people have been stabbed by those beaks. I’ve been in an ED when someone came in with a nasty stab wound on his leg from a stork.

    • lane

      “They do realise the reason storks have that honking great beak is because they are AMBUSH PREDATORS who use that honking great beak to fish?” I laughed out loud.

  • ScottInOH

    for the anti-abortion crowd, it’s almost like the woman doesn’t exist

    I think it’s *entirely* like the woman doesn’t exist. That’s the only way to have the discussion using their terms: think of the BABY (even though a zygote is not like a baby at all)! If they even acknowledge the woman exists, it is to say she should be punished (Froborr’s point) or to explicitly deny her any rights at all (i.e., treat her as a non-entity).
    Even if pro-lifers are correct that a fertilized egg is as human as a six-month-old, the discussion should be how to balance the rights of TWO people. Pro-lifers want none of that; they deny bodily autonomy to (what should be recognized as) a fully fledged person on behalf of a tiny cell mass drawing sustenance from her body.
    Given the other anti-woman policies most pro-lifers are OK with, and given that they don’t seem to care a whit about babies that have been born, I’ve come to the conclusion that their anti-abortion policies are just another weapon in their arsenal against women.

    • ScottInOH

      P.S. And their arsenal against sex.

  • Monika
  • Gordon

    Wow, I cannot quite accept that this is real. I poured over the page expecting to find “only joking” in the FAQ!

    • Elly Phillips

      Same here. It’s just too weird.

      • Ismenia

        When I first saw the image I assumed it was a satire. Poe’s law.

    • Jenny Islander

      I thought it was really a campaign to save needlessly slaughtered storks somewhere in the EU that was being done in English as well as the national language in order to draw in foreign bird enthusiasts in a sort of “the eye of the world is upon you” thing. But 1.2 million storks per year is awfully high, I thought, and then the penny dropped.

  • Tracey

    So many evangelicals and right-wingers are pro-hunting, so I am confused by this ad. They actually RELISH the destruction of non-aggressive animals.

    • Liberated Liberal



    • Steve

      Animals don’t have souls according to them

  • Lee

    I get what they’re trying to do, actually. They think they’re being cute– you know, the myth about storks bringing babies. But the fact that it IS such an accurate representation of the way they see women in the abortion debate– as vehicles for babies, rather than as fully developed humans or anything– is pretty startling. But I don’t think this particular ad is over-the-top. It’s actually a decent marketing idea– something that is a bit confusing at first, causes people to stop and think, and maybe even gets a laugh out of them. Someone who sees this will remember it more than all those anti-abortion ads with unrealistic pictures for supposed stages of development, and that’s what the creators intend. So the ad itself, I can understand. It’s the attitude that it conveys– something that’s not new at all– that’s scary as hell.

  • Minnie

    “Catholic Church excommunicates mother and doctors of a nine-year-old rape victim that had abortion – but not accused rapist”

    Police believe the girl was sexually assaulted for years by her stepfather, possibly since she was six. That she was four months pregnant with twins emerged only after she was taken to hospital complaining of severe stomach pains.

    Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/catholic-church-excommunicates-mother-and-doctors-of-a-nineyearold-rape-victim-that-had-abortion-ndash-but-not-accused-rapist-16163052.html#ixzz20RUtPSQs

    Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/catholic-church-excommunicates-mother-and-doctors-of-a-nineyearold-rape-victim-that-had-abortion-ndash-but-not-accused-rapist-16163052.html#ixzz20RUIcxtF

  • Minnie

    Every time I hear one of the pro-little-girl-rape pro-forced birthers say they would love to force raped women and raped little girls to stay pregnant and be forced to reproduce with a rapist, I cry.

    I have learned from the pro-forced birthers that little-girl-rape is pro-family, and little girl rape is pro-life, and little girl rapist are doing gods will. I did not get pregnant from my childhood sexual abuse, though if I had my rapist would have been a hero to the pro-lifers.

    Their misogyny manual uses birth to hurt women and little girls.
    Pro-lifers favorite piece of literature of all time.

    Genesis 3:16
    I will greatly multiply your grief and your suffering in pregnancy and the pangs of childbearing; with spasms of distress you will bring forth children. Yet your desire and cravings will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. ~

    And their misogyny manual is pro-rape of women and little girls, but NOT pro-life, their book the bible testifies against them that they are misogynistic liars.

    ~ II Kings 2:23, 2:24 “He went up from Jericho to bethel. On the way, young [maturing and accountable] boys came out of the city and mocked him and said to him, Go up [in a whirlwind], you baldhead! And he turned around and looked at them and called a curse down on them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and ripped up forty-two of the boys.”

    ~ Hosea 13: 16
    “Samaria shall bear her guilt and become desolate, for she rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women shall be ripped up.” ~

    ~ 1 Samuel 15:3
    “Now go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” ~

    ~ Exodus 11:4-5:
    “And Moses said, thus says the Lord, about midnight I will go out into Egypt; and all the firstborn in the land [the pride hope and joy] of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sits on his throne, even the firstborn of the maidservant who is behind the hand mill, and all the firstborn of beasts.” ~

    ~ Psalms 137:9 “Happy and blessed shall he be who takes and dashes your little ones against a rock!” ~

    ~ Numbers 31:17
    “Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who is not a virgin. “ ~

    ~ Numbers 31:18
    “But all the young girls who have not known a man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves.” The Christian god telling soldiers to rape thirteen year old and twelve year old virgins. ~

    pro-lifers are obsessed with female submission to men, the bible knowing man who abused me when I was a little girl was obsessed with female submission to men also, these pro-lifers are not fooling me. Everything they stand for the man who abused me when i was little adores also.

  • smrnda

    The way religions chum up to allegedly ‘repentant’ rapists (who confess with crocodile tears to male members of the clergy) and think there’s something wrong with the idea that a little girl shouldn’t be forced to carry the baby of her rapist makes me pretty certain that subjugating women and relegating them to the status of property is a major goal of most religions. Crimes against women are never taken seriously. Sex abuse victims aren’t ‘victims’ since ‘we’re all sinners’ (meaning a 9 year old girl is the same, morally, as an adult male serial rapist? you’re trying to get me to buy that?) It’s like the sperm of a rapist is sacred and who cares about the girl. Abuse victims get no help from religions since they’re ultra-obsessed with ‘purity’ – even if you were raped, you’re somehow not ‘pure’ and are damaged goods, just like the Bible says in the OT – just marry the rape victim off to her rapist since she’s damaged goods.

  • lucrezaborgia

    CPC’s are, more often than not, connected to adoption agencies. Adoption is touted as the ultimate answer to unplanned pregnancy. It’s touted as a WIN WIN WIN situation for all involved…and it’s getting worse with the idea in evangelical culture that adoption is a mission from god.



    • Steve

      They frequently delay appointments, tests and other stuff so that it’s too late to perform an abortion

      Or they just lie and tell women they aren’t pregnant when they are:

    • Dianne

      It’s been thoroughly demonstrated in several studies that adoption is extremely hard on the relinquishing mother and often leads to long term physical and mental health issues. I wish there were strict laws demanding that adoption agencies give women who are pregnant and considering giving the baby up for adoption accurate information about the process and their likely outcomes. And the baby’s likely outcomes-adopted children are at high risk for abuse. But the baby sellers won’t allow such things.

      • smrnda

        When you mention that I had to think about the adopted girl who got killed by the parents who were using the Pearl’s child care methods. If you go to some Christian crisis pregnancy center, they’ll ship your baby off to some fundamentalist family so it can get beaten and abused.

      • lucrezaborgia

        @Dianne: They also don’t care about the long-term effects on women. Gotta punish those sluts somehow! People have moral blinders on when children are involved. As long as it the product ends up in a married, Christian, American home, who cares what else happens? Clearly, the children are way better off with those three indicators!

  • Tracey

    A recent news article tells of a couple who made their adopted daughter wear a shock collar, work in excessive heat, and live on bread and water for her supposed misdeeds, claiming the bible as justficiation:


    • smrnda

      I wonder if the abuse of adopted kids by fundamentalist parents goes along with their belief that if a child is given up for adoption, it *must* be because there is something morally wrong with the child’s mother and their idiotic belief in ‘generational curses’ and all that nonsense. The story you linked to – with the daughter being a teen – I don’t know how old she was when this couple ‘adopted’ her but if an older child is adopted by fundamentalist parents, that child has already grown up in an environment which was probably much less punitive and restrictive. Most secular adults would respect that an older, adopted child might already have developed her own ways of doing things and her own sense of normal, but with the authoritarianism inherent in fundamentalism, adopted parents like that want total submission or else.

      I’d be all for reviewing adults for authoritarian tendencies and preventing adults like that from adopting kids.

  • Karen

    Gotta weigh in here — I’m pro-choice, but I was also adopted at birth. Biological parents were poor and were maxed out on kids already. It was a tough decision I expect; but I’m grateful that they made it. I won the parent lottery and ended up with wonderful parents.

    Oddly enough, though either of them would preclude my own existence, I’m a big fan of contraception and I support abortion. Life is hard enough; shepherding children you don’t want just makes it harder!

  • http://wonderingwanderingthoughts.blogspot.com OneSmallStep

    **unintended pregnancy while for the anti-abortion crowd, it’s almost like the woman doesn’t exist.**

    Or exactly. Even when trying to penalize abortion, they’re always targeting the doctors, ignoring the fact that if the demand for abortions wasn’t there, then there’d be no doctors performing the abortions. The women — the demand — aren’t a factor, even though that very demand creates an abortion in the first place.

    Or who anti-abortionists argue that forcing a woman to remain pregnant isn’t telling a woman what to do with her body, as the embryo is separate … ignoring the fact that telling a woman to remain pregnant is in fact telling her what to do with her body.

  • MaryKaye

    Just as a fact to throw into this debate, while it is true that there are a great many children in the US who need to be adopted, they are not infants. It is extremely easy to find parents for healthy white newborns, and moderately easy for healthy non-white newborns. The waiting lists for parents wanting to adopt such children are extremely long. I attended one meeting of parents trying to adopt and it was heartbreaking, as the field is prone to all kinds of scams and tricks playing on hopeful parents’ vulnerability.

    What we actually have are a great many older children who need to be adopted, and some non-healthy infants. Older child adoption is, speaking as someone who has done it, very difficult. I would never blame anyone for choosing to consider only infants. But that’s not where the great need is.

  • The_L

    If I’d seen this back when I was pro-life, I wouldnt have stayed pro-life nearly as long as I did.