Rep. Todd Akin’s views typical in southern PCA churches

So right now there’s a political and media firestorm over a creepy white Southern man after he said some appalling and untrue things about the victims of rape.

Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., was caught off-guard by the response to his comments, because he wasn’t saying anything new. He was simply repeating things he’d heard said, for years and years, by his fellow “pro-lifers,” his fellow Republicans, and his fellow leaders in the Presbyterian Church in America.

Todd Akin is not a fringe character in any of those groups. And Todd Akin’s views are not fringe views in any of those groups. His views are typical, customary, widespread, commonplace and — within those groups — utterly uncontroversial.

For his fellow pro-lifers, fellow Republicans and fellow PCA leaders, Akin’s only crime was one of candor, not heresy. For them, his mistake was his tactlessness, and not the substance of what he said.

Here, again, was what he said:

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

In Akins’ PCA community, no one blinks an eye at statements like that. Akins’ views are extremely common and typical in the ultra-reformed strain of Southern-Gothic Presbyterianism he inhabits.

Todd Akin was a follower of the late D. James Kennedy. Kennedy, founder of Florida’s Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, was not a fringe character in American evangelicalism. He was well-known and well-respected — and his views on rape victims were the same as those expressed by Akin.

Todd Akin is a product of Covenant Theological Seminary — that’s where you go if you want to be trained in patriarchal misogyny with a side of disturbing nostalgia for the Old South.

As Sarah Posner writes for Religion Dispatches:

This is not a situation where Akin sat in the pews of the church of a controversial pastor, or once attended a conference or seminar where controversial views were discussed. Akin has a Masters in Divinity from the PCA’s seminary, and proudly claims he took a political rather than a pastoral path after seminary. His denomination has not only opposed abortion in all cases, including rape, but has suggested that the number of pregnancies by rape is overstated, and even questioned the veracity of rape claims.

Go into any PCA church south of the Mason-Dixon line and you can routinely hear the same arguments Akin made this weekend, stated just as off-handedly as he stated them — casual remarks about what everyone just sort of knows to be true about rape victims, sluts, abortion and lady-parts.

Todd Akin is not unusual. Todd Akin is not alone. The pernicious, ridiculous lies he got in trouble for are widespread and blandly typical in his subculture — in the PCA, the GOP, and throughout the anti-abortion movement that has replaced what used to be evangelical Christianity.

 

  • Lori is a Nut

    I can think of no worse crimes than rape, murder, or any crime involving a child.  I wouldn’t even want to try to rate one over the other.  They are all horrific and if anyone doesn’t believe this, then you are a non-starter in this conversation.

    Akin is an idiot, and should get out.  Impugning a group for an individual’s action is no better and if you do that you’re an idiot as well.

    Lori is throwing out the term misogyny like bird-feed at a pet store.  She’s an idiot since she’s warping the true meaning of the term and has no clue.

    If a woman is raped and becomes pregnant (anyone who still holds to a belief that the chances of pregnancy decrease should be roped down and taught the truth with a spatula) has a choice to make.  If they dont’ hold to conservative Christian values then they should give less than 2 sh*ts about what Akin and others say.  They need to find a support structure and if that means ending the pregnancy then let them do it and work to continue to heal (as much as one can after being violated).

    Nobody should be condemning another in this situation at all. There is only one primary victim here and that is where the focus should be.

  • JustoneK

    Dafuq.

    The random trolls here are getting less and less coherent.

    Who’s the primary victim here, again?  Is it the entirety of folks who identify as Southern and conservative?  Oh wait, it’s folks who identify as Christian and don’t want to be lumped in with Akin and his ilk.

    Protip:  if you’re a self-identifying Southern conservative Christian type who disagrees with Akin’s bald-faced lies, this post is not about you.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    If they dont’ hold to conservative Christian values then they should give less than 2 sh*ts about what Akin and others say.

    Except, of course, that Akin and others want to enforce their views by law, and them saying what they say is how they intend to make that happen, and there’s reason to believe they might succeed, which would make it impossible to “find a support structure and if that means ending the pregnancy then let them do it and work to continue to heal”.

    If that weren’t true… e.g., if this was all just Internet chatter, and no laws depended on it… I would agree that we should all just cut it out and focus on supporting the rape survivors the way your last sentence implies.

    But in the actual world, I don’t think it actually works to draw the line between focusing on the rape survivor on the one hand and talking about politics and policy on the other. In the actual world, politics and policy are a primary means of supporting the rape survivor.

  • Gerin St. Claire

    @Lori, I’ve never been accused of being a misogynist by anyone who actually knows me. My view on Abortion stems from a high view of unborn children, not from a low view of women.

    Also, you said, “I don’t think you should presume to tell any woman what is best for her, especially based on a poorly designed ‘study’ and some cheap statistics.”
    1) Do you have a study that says my study is poorly designed? I suspect you are just saying that to win your argument.  My study is from the Journal of Mental Health. I gave you the full citation. You can’t just dismiss an academic study like that… not unless you cite something better, which you’ve made no attempt to do.
    2) I didn’t tell any women what was best for her. I cited an academic study. I also said that unborn children are alive and helpless and need to be protected. That’s not misogynistic, and if you call it so, you are robbing the word ‘misogyny’ of its real meaning, which should be reserved for actual misogynists.

  • Tricksterson

    So they support him, just not anything he says?

  • http://www.facebook.com/VLabs Victor Manuel Labrada

    We need a word for hating babies. Mismoro (greek for baby)? Lori why are you being a mismoro? Why do you hate babies so much? What about baby rights?

    I’m being facetious (mostly). If you don’t believe that fetuses have personhood, then that is where we disagree. I would like to know why you arbitrarily pick birth as the stage for imbuing personhood? Why not go Peter Singer style and say it’s not a person until 28 days after birth? Please argue for your point and maybe I’ll argue for mine.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    My view on Abortion stems from a high view of unborn children, not from a low view of women.

    I’m not sure this is a distinction that makes a difference.

    I would say that your view (as you describe it) stems from a belief that a child being born is more important than a woman getting to choose whether to bear a child. My view stems from the reverse belief. Whether any of those are “high views” or “low views” I have no real idea… “high” and “low” compared to what, if not one another?… and I’m not sure it matters.

    As for this semantic argument you’re having… (shrug).

    If I assert that the freedom of Jews to choose whether to worship is less important than the convenience of Christians, I’d likely be called antiSemitic. If I objected that my view was based on a high view of Christians rather than a low view of Jews, nobody would care; the relevant factor would be that my positions acted against the interests of Jews.

    The situation here seems similar.

    I suppose one could argue that “misogynist” is the wrong word for that and the right term is “anti-woman”, just as “antisemitic” is less accurate than “anti-Jew”, but that sort of lexical precision is rarely the most important thing to address in a conversation for me. 

  • Kubricks_Rube

    The first is Akin’s insinuation that there is legitimate and non-legitimate rape. Good luck getting ANYONE to say they agree with that assessment.
     
    There are two ways to take Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment, and both have support in some quarters.
     
    1) By “legitimate,” Akin actually meant “forcible.” This is what Akin himself claimed when prompted by not-exactly-fringe-figure Mike Huckabee: “I was talking about forcible rape,” [Akin] said. “I used the wrong word.”
     
    This language had also been included in the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which had 173 (mostly GOP) sponsors. Forcible, legitimate, whatever word you use, this distinction is troubling for many reasons, not least of which is that it represents a radical redefinition of consent.
     
    2) By “legitimate,” Akin meant that women lie about being raped to get an abortion. The Orthodox Presbyterian Church report that Fred linked to includes this claim that pregnancies from rape “include pregnancies arising from statutory rape as well as, we assume, some cases where rape has been falsely alleged.” Notice that this combines both plausible interpretations of Akin’s statement.

  • JustoneK

    I have to wonder why the rights of the unborn continue to trump the rights of the already born is the main thing.

  • Lori

    Why do you hate babies so much?

    I love babies. I love them enough to A) want them all to be wanted and loved and B) not confuse them with fetuses.

    Please argue for your point and maybe I’ll argue for mine.

    Oh, maybe you’ll argue for your position. How can I refuse such a generous offer?

    Oh yeah, I can refuse it because nothing you’ve said here makes me believe that you’re arguing in good faith, so it’s not worth my time. If you were really interested in why a fetus is not a person you could look it up. It’s not like it’s a secret and you clearly have internet access.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Misogyny: hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women.

    To quote Lori, whose post you responded to:

    On one hand you’re saying that in every case the life of an actual,
    living, breathing woman is less important than your fictional notions
    about the personhood of a fetus*. On the other hand you’re claiming that
    your insistence of having the right to make decisions about her body is
    really for her own good and that you’re protecting her by not allowing
    her to make her own decisions.

    How is it not hating and/or mistrusting women to say that an embryo–a clump of cells less than an inch long–is of more importance to you than a grown woman? How is it not mistrusting women to compel her to do what you want rather than trusting her to do what’s best for her?

    How, therefore, is it not misogynistic to forbid abortion in the first trimester?

    (After that I’m willing to entertain arguments that abortion restrictions are not inherently misogynistic, but do be advised that abortion must be easily obtainable at least well into the second semester for any reason or no stated reason, to account for the women who didn’t know they were pregnant and the women who faced delays getting a first-trimester abortion, and abortion must be easily obtainable right up to the point where it’s possible to do a C-section and put the newborn in the NICU–at state expense, of course–when continuing the pregnancy would put the woman at risk of life or health (and any state unwilling to pay for the C-section and NICU must be willing to provide an abortion instead), and abortion must be easily obtainable at any point in pregnancy when there’s no way the fetus will survive anyway or when allowing one fetus to live risks the other(s).)

  • http://www.facebook.com/EarBucket David Coulter

    I grew up PCA (in Southern Illinois, about an hour and a half from Akin’s district), and I find a lot of their theology and politics horrifying, but I never heard anything like this, from the pulpit or the laity. This is an awfully broad brush you’re painting with here, Fred.

  • Beroli

     

    I’ve never been accused of being a misogynist by anyone who actually knows me. [...]
    That’s not misogynistic, and if you call it so, you are robbing the word
    ‘misogyny’ of its real meaning, which should be reserved for actual
    misogynists.

    *checks off “No True Scotsman” and “You devalue the word by using it somewhere I don’t want it used+” on the Bingo card*

    +Anyone have a shorter, snappier name for this type of argument? Most often, as far as I’ve seen, it takes the form, “By using the word ‘rape’ for an incident where a woman’s boyfriend merely didn’t listen to her saying she didn’t want to, you devalue the word and insult every woman who has really been dragged into the bushes by a stranger and legitimately raped.”

  • AnonymousSam

    I followed up on your source and sites which gave similar statistics and they all seem to cite the same few people- Reardon in particular. Reardon I know as David Reardon of the Elliot Institute, a tax-fraud committing organization with Reardon as the director, who went nearly a decade before having a single other full time member. Research into him brought up exactly where those statistics come from: a series of surveys he sent out in the 70′s and 80′s to women who were searching for counseling.

    I don’t like to invoke the “poisoning the well” fallacy, but these are very untrustworthy. The Ph.D he boasts about comes from an unaccredited correspondence school, meaning degrees by mail. His “random sampling data” came from a very specific demographic and prove nothing more than that traumatized women report symptoms of trauma, especially when they were already suffering symptoms of clinical depression before their abortions (which many of them were, he eventually disclosed). His studies also failed to differentiate between women who genuinely wanted to have a baby and those who did not.

    When peer-reviewed, his research methods were deemed controversial, misleading at best, and outright wrong in other categories. When other research groups have investigated his claims more thoroughly and with more professional methodology, they had very different findings. In particular, Vincent Rue’s “post-abortion syndrome” is not recognized as an actual diagnosis or condition and although legal abortions of unwanted pregnancies do correlate with “sensations of regret, sadness, or guilt, the weight of the evidence from scientific studies indicates that legal abortion of an unwanted pregnancy in the first trimester does not pose a psychological hazard for most women.” A later study even determined that the groups most at risk for negative emotions following an abortion were equally as likely to suffer the same effects from giving birth.

  • AnonymousSam

    First of all, please pick an actual name by which you can be identified, regardless if it’s a pseudonym or not. Changing your name with every post while launching ad hominem attacks is a very weak debate tactic to say the least.

    Also, we’re inclined to give two shits about what Akins and other conservative Christians say considering they have political influence. Akins is in office. He has sponsored bills with large amounts of support. I’d say that’s something to which bears paying close attention.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     I can’t think of a snappier term in common usage.

    It’s kind of a special case of excluding the middle, I suppose, in that it treats the word as though it applies to only the most extreme examples of its reference class. 

    “Only Everest is a Mountain”?

  • Tonio

    One can believe that abortion is wrong and also believe that it’s wrong to force women to carry pregnancies to term. I would love to hear from someone who holds both positions and who agrees that the way to reduce abortions is to empower women so they conceive when they wish to do so. Making abortion a criminal offense would reduce women and their wombs to wards of the state, the complete opposite of empowerment, and would do almost nothing to reduce abortions. HIPAA would have to be suspected for gynecologists, and many women would avoid that care altogether and many practitioners would switch to other fields rather than be considered criminal suspects.

  • EllieMurasaki

    One can believe that abortion is wrong and also believe that it’s wrong
    to force women to carry pregnancies to term. I would love to hear from
    someone who holds both positions and who agrees that the way to reduce
    abortions is to empower women so they conceive when they wish to do so.

    Hi. Far’s I know most pro-choicers are like me, actually–abortion is wrong, but in many cases it’s the least wrong option given the circumstances, and had therefore damn well better be as easily accessible as possible. Not to mention safe, and without complications such as transvaginal ultrasounds or anti-abortion protesters mobbing the clinic or having to listen to a presentation designed to evoke an emotional response in the woman that will cause her to do something other than what she’s already decided is the best or the least bad thing for her to do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/VLabs Victor Manuel Labrada

    Personhood is a philosophical distinction, not a scientific one. Please look up Peter Singer, ethicist, who makes an argument for what “personhood” actually is. He would describe it as a biographical concept, not biological. Meaning, a person who is not aware he is a person is not a person. Most people don’t agree with him, but at least he’s consistent. 

    Thus, the opinion that “personhood” begins at conception is granted as being arbitrary (why not at sperm or egg?). It is philosophical assumption based on Biblical understanding (Jer 1:5, Psalm 139:13, please tell me you’ve heard this before). The assertion that personhood begins at birth is also arbitrary. What’s the difference between a fetus’ heart and brain and level of consciousness from a minute before birth to a minute after? Does breathing in air make you part of the human race? I trust you do not agree with Peter Singer, who says that parents have a right to “abort” up to 28 days after birth since a 28 day year old has as much self-awareness as a fetus. Singer acknowledges that 28 days is an arbitrary number, but he would not like to say “until the baby starts recognizing you.” Yes, we read some Peter Singer at Covenant, since he is a leading secular ethicist on beginning and end of life issues.

    Rather than wade through a sea of internet irrelevancy, please tell me, Lori, why you believe that personhood does not begin until birth and not a day later or sooner. What are the philosophical underpinnings for that belief. It’s not just true “because it’s true.” I’ve revealed my biases (Scripture and ethical consistency); please reveal yours.

  • http://www.facebook.com/VLabs Victor Manuel Labrada

    Also, Lori I want to apologize for being so cutting in earlier comments. I am passionate about this and I can tell you are too. I’ll try to keep the snark at bay.

  • Tonio

     

    having to listen to a presentation designed to evoke an emotional
    response in the woman that will cause her to do something other than
    what she’s already decided is the best or the least bad thing for her to
    do.

    I’ll take “Fetishizing Motherhood” for 100 points, Alex…

    Probably many opponents refuse to believe that any woman would not want to be a mother, so they tell themselves that such women are in denial, or swayed by greedy abortionists, or pressured by selfish husbands or boyfriends. (The latter does happen, but apparently it’s far more common for the pressure to be in the other direction.) Perhaps something like the mentality that Fred discusses in the Bildad thread. These people crave a Movie of the Week ending where the woman collapses in tears upon seeing the ultrasound, confessing that she can’t go through with it. Very patronizing and infantilizing of women.

  • EllieMurasaki

     The assertion that personhood begins at birth is not in fact arbitrary, not in the slightest. Before that magic moment when the fetus emerges from the uterus and the umbilical cord is severed, the pregnant woman is the source, the only possible source, of the fetus’s oxygen and nutrition. After that moment, the newborn uses its own lungs and can take in nutrition via an IV, formula, or breastmilk sourced from someone whose uterus the newborn has been nowhere near. It is therefore reasonable to say that before birth, the fetus is part of the woman’s body, and after birth, the woman and the newborn are separate persons.

  • Hey now

    I believe there could be people who are governmentally pro-choice but personally pro-life.  I believe John Kerry held a viewpoint similar to this in the 2004 election and there are a large number of Libertarian Republicans who fall in the same camp.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I believe there could be people who are governmentally pro-choice but personally pro-life.

    I know for a fact there are. These are the people who are capable of being pregnant and who believe (and who am I to gainsay them?) that abortion is never (what, never? hardly ever) the best choice for them personally, but who know that other women are not them and should not have anything blocking them from choosing abortion or giving birth as they desire.

  • Madhabmatics

    Hahahaha his twitter is full of whining about the “liberal elites” picking on him for ~being honest~.

    I’m loving the fact that his clarification to Mike Huckabee was “I wasn’t saying rape is okay, I was just saying that women lie about rape all the time!”

  • Lunch Meat

    Thus, the opinion that “personhood” begins at conception is granted as
    being arbitrary (why not at sperm or egg?). It is a philosophical
    assumption based on Biblical understanding (Jer 1:5, Psalm 139:13,
    please tell me you’ve heard this before).

    Unfortunately, those verses really don’t prove what you think they do. They do not make any statement about the personhood of the speaker. The statement “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” is about God’s foreknowledge and providence, not about Jeremiah’s personhood. If it were about Jeremiah’s personhood, that would imply that Jeremiah was a person “before God formed him in the womb”–before he was even conceived!

    Likewise, Psalm 139 is about how awesome God is as a creator and again about God’s intimate knowledge of the speaker. If the fetus is a person because God forms it and sees it being formed, then everything is a person, because God created everything.

    Rather than wade through a sea of internet irrelevancy, please tell me,
    Lori, why you believe that personhood does not begin until birth and not
    a day later or sooner.

    I don’t know about Lori, but mine is Genesis 1: “Then the Lord God … breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

    And birth is hardly an arbitrary marker. It’s the point at which the fetus is no longer dependent on the woman to live. This is important because abortion is not about killing babies. It’s about ending a pregnancy. If we had the technology to painlessly and safely beam a fetus out of a woman’s uterus directly into an artificial womb, and if we could guarantee that that fetus would then be wanted and protected by whoever took responsibility for it, then no one would want an abortion.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    If we had the technology to painlessly and safely beam a fetus out of a woman’s uterus directly into an artificial womb, and if we could guarantee that that fetus would then be wanted and protected by whoever took responsibility for it, then no one would want an abortion.

    I’m not at all convinced that’s true; I can imagine a woman in such a world preferring that a fetus grown from her egg be aborted rather than gestated outside of her body, in the same way that I can imagine a man in this world preferring that a fetus grown from his sperm be aborted rather than gestated outside of his body.

    But I agree with you that if a fetus can be extracted in such a way that it can develop into a baby, how we think about whose preferences matter and how we resolve conflicts likely changes.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     The problem with this assertion is that the nuts in the Democrats are relegated to flaming each other on DemocraticUnderground..  The nuts in the Republican Party are getting elected to office.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     As long as you’re posting psalms, how about Psalm 137, verse 9?

  • Tonio

    Also, it’s unconstitutional to use Bible quotes as a basis for making secular laws that define personhood.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    If Akin gets re-elected, THEN can we make insulting generalizations about the people who voted for him?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    I’ve never been accused of being a misogynist by anyone who actually
    knows me. My view on Abortion stems from a high view of unborn children,
    not from a low view of women.

    How is “But women,– and only women — can sometimes have their absolute right to soverignty over their own bodies taken away from them purelty for the benefit of another person” not a “low view of women”?

    However high your view of a fetus, once you start saying “And therefore women have to lose their basic human rights in favor of the fetus,” that is by *definition* a low view of women. YOu view a born, adult woman as being less deserving of the right to control her own body than the life of a clump of largely undifferentiated cells.

    A “high view of unborn children” that isn’t a cover for misogyny is “It is an unavoidable tragedy that sometimes there is no way to respect the rights of the mother without terminating the fetus. We should get to work on inventing a medically-safe fetal teleporter so that there can be an alternative that doesn’t involve removing the basic human rights of the woman.”

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Thus, the opinion that “personhood” begins at conception is granted as
    being arbitrary (why not at sperm or egg?). It is a philosophical
    assumption based on Biblical understanding (Jer 1:5, Psalm 139:13,
    please tell me you’ve heard this before).

    It’d be a neat trick for the authors of Jer 1 and Psalm 139 to have assumed life began at conception, as the process of human conception wasn’t known until the 19th century, before which the human ovum was not known, and the prevailing theory was that men ejaculated tiny little baby seeds, which spontaneously germinated sometimes years after the “generative act” (This was why it was so important that brides be virgins; you could never be sure, even years later, if a child produced from that union was yours, or a leftover baby-seed from a previous lover).

    And for what it’s worth, I believe personhood is a*process*, and I find it pretty diminishing to the stuggles, setbacks, and accomplishments my son has faced over the past several months in the process of learning to become a person when someone claims that it’s something magically conferred just by virtue of me and his mother managing to solve a fairly straightforward spatial relations problem a day or so before she ovulated.

  • Tricksterson

    Was that luterally what he said?

  • Madhabmatics

     the “all the time” part was being hyperbolic, although statements like “women frequently lie about being raped so that they can have abortions” have been thrown around pretty frequently this week, the actual quote is:

    AKIN: You know, Dr. Willke has just released a statement and part of his
    letter, I think he just stated it very clearly. He said, of course Akin never used the word legitimate to refer to the rapist, but to false claims like those made in Roe v. Wade and I think that simplifies it….. There isn’t any legitimate rapist…. [I was] making the point that there were people who use false claims, like those that basically created Roe v. Wade.

    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/08/21/721791/akin-clarifies-legitimate-rape-comments-women-make-false-claims-about-being-raped/

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     It’s important to remember this: you abort a *pregnancy*, not a *fetus*. (or embryo or zygote or blastocyst or whatever).

    Whether or not a woman has the right to demand the destruction of some tissue after it’s been removed from her body is an entirely different moral issue from the morality of abortion

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Fair enough. My point was that if the technology existed to allow a woman to end her pregnancy without terminating the development of her fertilized egg, there would still be women (and men) who prefer that development terminated, regardless of the terminology.

    But I agree with you completely that their right to impose such a preference is a different moral question than the right of a woman in the actual world to end her pregnancy.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    I believe there could be people who are governmentally pro-choice but personally pro-life.

    *raises hand*

    I believe that abortion is morally wrong. I also think it should be very legal.

  • PJ Evans

    I would like to know why you arbitrarily pick birth as the stage for imbuing personhood?
    Well, for starters, they’re fetuses until at least the point of viability, which is the 5th month, roughly. And you need to read about the chances of 4-month-premature babies before you start telling us how wrong we all are. And if you haven’t heard of stillbirths, you’re really not qualified to talk. (I know a woman who lost her chiold during delivery. THINK.)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    One can believe that abortion is wrong and also believe that it’s wrong to force women to carry pregnancies to term. I would love to hear from someone who holds both positions and who agrees that the way to reduce abortions is to empower women so they conceive when they wish to do so.

    We’ve covered this exact ground several times on this very blog in just the last year. Yes, there are many people like this. This is, in fact, the position most commonly held among the Catholics I know–that abortion is not morally neutral, but that it should be legal, safe and accessible, and that we should be pouring shitloads of effort into everything that reduces the number of situations where abortion is someone’s least bad option.

    I fid the entire pro-life/pro-choice dichotomy immensely unhelpful to those millions of us who are excluded from both camps. I consider myself to be pro-life, but not part of the pro-life movement because I’m repeatedly told by both sides that the essence of the pro-life movement is wanting to make abortion a criminal offense. I don’t identify as being pro-choice either because too many people have insisted that pro-choice means thinking that abortion is morally neutral and that no one has a right to believe otherwise. Personally I don’t think you should call yourself pro-life unless you’re also a capital punishment abolitionist but identity labels aren’t subject to coherent classification systems.

    Anyway. Tonio, the type of person you describe and say you would love to hear from is, in my experience, both very common and very likely to stay out of abortion discussions because nuance tends to get screamed at and/or ignored all round.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    I consider myself to be pro-life, but not part of the pro-life movement
    because I’m repeatedly told by both sides that the essence of the
    pro-life movement is wanting to make abortion a criminal offense. I
    don’t identify as being pro-choice either because too many people have
    insisted that pro-choice means thinking that abortion is morally neutral
    and that no one has a right to believe otherwise.

    Well expressed. And ditto.

  • Tonio

    That’s exactly why I avoid those labels and try to describe the positions themselves. Ultimately the morality of abortion and the legality are two separate questions, and my focus is strictly on the latter. 

    The definition you’ve been give of the pro-choice movement (as distinct from people who use that label)  sounds far more like a straw man than does the definition you’ve been given for the pro-life movement (again with the same distinction). That’s because the concept of choice is an implicit rejection of moral absolutes. 

    It’s the latter movement that does seek to criminalize abortion, and these are the folks who have been using other legal maneuvers to hinder access to abortion without conflicting with Roe. People like Akin would criminalize it in a second. But the truly relevant distinction between the Akins and the Catholics you describe is is that the former are using abortion as a proxy for sexist attitudes about families and gender roles. They often say or imply that it’s the logical outcome of feminism, which is really a type of Godwinning.

  • Daughter

    I’d say that the vast majority of USians (I know neither you nor Sgt. Pepper are from the U.S., but I don’t know the stats in your country) have mixed opinions about abortion, although maybe not expressed in the exact same way. I’ve seen statistics that indicate that about 20% of USians think abortion should be legal in all circumstances, 20% think it should be legal in no circumstances, and the other 60% think in some instances yes, in some instances no. That breakdown allows both extremes to claim that the vast majority of USians agree with them.

    I will say this, though, from my time on progressive forums: even many who think abortion should be legal in all circumstances don’t necessarily think it’s morally neutral. However, they believe the morality of it should be determined by the woman making the decision.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The definition you’ve been give of the pro-choice movement (as distinct from people who use that label)  sounds far more like a straw man than does the definition you’ve been given for the pro-life movement (again with the same distinction).

    The definitions are what I’ve been told by quite a few people here over numerous conversations. I wouldn’t have created them thus myself, but what I described is the definition that enough people who do self-identify as pro-choice gave that means I am uncomfortable including myself in that group.

    That’s because the concept of choice is an implicit rejection of moral absolutes. 

    Well, on this we disagree.

    But the truly relevant distinction between the Akins and the Catholics you describe is is that the former are using abortion as a proxy for sexist attitudes about families and gender roles.

    Akins is a monstrous dick. On this we agree.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I’ve seen statistics that indicate that about 20% of USians think abortion should be legal in all circumstances, 20% think it should be legal in no circumstances, and the other 60% think in some instances yes, in some instances no.

    The 2004 Australian Electoral Study showed 54% support for abortion on demand, 35% support for legal abortion in specific circumstances, and 4% support for complete ban. Separately, the 2003 Australian Survey of Social Attitudes had 81%* of respondents agreeing that a woman should have the right to choose whether or not she has an abortion–including 77% of religious respondents generally, 72% of Catholics and 53% of evangelical Protestants.

    *Around 10% neither agreed nor disagreed, or couldn’t choose. 9% disagreed.

    Separately, it is just never an election issue. At the 2010 federal election some conservative Christians were trying to stir up support for the Liberals, saying that Tony Abbott as a conservative Catholic would surely crack down on abortion. Both Abbott and the shadow Health Minister officially said, no, they would do nothing at all about abortion law or funding but the cCs assured me that they were lying, don’t you worry about that. Despite not doing anything about abortion during the 13 years of their previous term in government. But I guess it helps one’s self image to imagine that you vote out of concern for babies rather than because you don’t like poor people. Anyway, point is: the response of both sides of Australian politics to abortion is please let’s not politicise abortion.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    I’ve seen statistics that indicate that about 20% of USians think
    abortion should be legal in all circumstances, 20% think it should be
    legal in no circumstances, and the other 60% think in some instances
    yes, in some instances no.

    This is one of those ‘People have defenses against thinking thigns through” things I mentioned before. Because the whole “In some cases yes, in some cases no” thing is only sustainable by avoding asking the question “How do we make that decision?” because there’s an unconsidered implication there that a pregnant woman should have to go to some board of ethics and plead her case to get *permission* to have control of her body. 

    When you come right down to it, I think the “mixed view” on abortion is really verysimilar to the (I swear, I’m not godwinning) hitler problem for universalism: just as, on a visceral level, a lot of people would be okay with universalism for the most part,  but have this little hang-up where they say “But what about hitler? surely *he* goes to hell?”.  Likewise, I think the stumbling block for a lot of people that leads to a “mixed view” is the (still misogynistic) position of “Well sure, abortions should be legal, but what about the sluts? Surely *they* shouldn’t be allowed to “get away with” using abortion as a form of birth control?”

    And as I said, even if you *were* to concede that some women do not “deserve” body soverignty, never mind that there’s actually no way to determine whether the particular woman seeking the particular abortion falls into that category without stripping *all* women of the normal legal protections about health information (If I break my arm, there’s no medical board that’s allowed to look at my history and demand to know what Iwas doing so they can rule as to whether or not I “deserve” to have it set).  (*This* is why abortion is a privacy issue. If you start from aplace where “some abortions are okay and some are not”, *the right to medical privacy* makes it impossible for law enforcement to determine which are which.

    And nevermind that “Sluts getting abortions because it’s easier than birth control” does not actually happen (And you can shut up right no, guy who is about to claim that he knew a girl once who had six abortions every year because obamacare made them cheaper and more fun than condoms. Pix or you’re a fucking liar), and never mind that “Because you abused your abortion rights, your punishment is that we will force you to become a mother… Which, given that we’ve already, in our smug superiority, declared you a person of poor moral character, and given that you’ll be an unwilling mother, probably bodes ill for this child. But still, we are goign to force you to be a mother as punishment for your immorality.” is a pretty fucking depraved argument on at least three levels

  • AnonymousSam

    I swear I have known someone like that, but in fairness, that area of Michigan is not known for producing women of principles. Any principles. Like “woof woof woof!

    But it’s not as though her existence invalidates the argument. Hell need not exist for Hitler either. The concept of the afterlife and justice therein is a comfort for the living. The dead have far different priorities, regardless of your beliefs.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Likewise, I think the stumbling block for a lot of people that leads to a “mixed view” is the (still misogynistic) position of “Well sure, abortions should be legal, but what about the sluts? Surely *they* shouldn’t be allowed to “get away with” using abortion as a form of birth control?”

    I’d expect much more of the “Of course abortions shouldn’t be legal – but what about women who get raped?”

    Just… for the record. As someone who knows a lot of anti-abortion types.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    (nods) Though the argument admittedly sounds a bit different when the board of ethics (or equivalent) is denying bodily autonomy to a woman who chooses to be pregnant. Which also happens, from time to time.

  • EllieMurasaki

    My first thought was actually “if the woman’s made it past the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy without getting an abortion, it’s too late for her to change her mind, and it’s probably cheaper to pay her to stay pregnant till full term and give the baby up for adoption than it is to C-section her and put the baby in the NICU and then up for adoption”. Though what relevance this has, given that abortions that late in pregnancy are invariably either because someone’s kept her from getting an earlier abortion or because something’s gone wrong such that an end result of ‘healthy mother and baby’ is no longer an option, I don’t know. And even if we did ban abortions after week 24 except in cases of risk to the fetus’s or woman’s life or health, the so-called partial-birth abortion ban is made of evil, because what that actually does is ensure that a stillborn baby has to be removed from the uterus in pieces, rather than as an intact corpse the bereaved parents can hold and cry over.


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