I woke up this morning to a hacking cough – the flu hit us badly this year – and this delightful email from a Mr. A. Waldron, an apparently pro-life gentleman with whom I have never, prior to this time, had the pleasure of an exchange. He appears to be affiliated with the schismatic Fatima Center and some strangely organized and openly racist far-right blog called Canon 212.
The subject of the email: “RBW = vulgar strumpet”
The message itself:
Your criticism of the prolife movement is simple = you have probably had an abortion ..
either a medically early abortion or a later surgical one.
As life begins at conception, both are an unlawful killings.
If you have had an abortion, it is because you have not practised chastity.
You have not practiced chastity, because you did in believe in Original Sin and the concupiscent effects thereof.
You did in believe in Original Sin and the concupiscent effects thereof because you lack the intellectual capacities to think outside that with which you are presented.
You reject the Divine Word which teaches “The man is the Head of Woman” and you reject modesty of dress.
You lack the intellectual capacities to think outside that with which you are presented and you are unable to be a mathematician and a philosopher and so you pretend to be an intellectual by burying yourself in literature…. and becoming a vulgar strumpet.
What an interesting message! Mr. Waldron seems to cherish a notion of himself as logical, though his opening statement is anything but. Aside from the peculiar use of the equal sign, he seems to be struggling to insinuate an enthymeme according to which anyone who criticizes the prolife movement must have had an abortion.
Considering the many men (both pro-life, and pro-choice) I know who criticize the pro-life movement, I’m afraid this reasoning simply won’t fly, Mr. Waldrop. I am fairly certain that none of the men I know who criticize the pro-life movement have had abortions. I’m afraid I can’t even give points for effort.
Now, it is entirely possible for an argument to be both invalid and unsound, but still present a true conclusion. For instance: “Some bats are male. Batman is a bat. Therefore Batman is a male” – is logically invalid, as well as entirely unsound, but the conclusion still happens to be true. The conclusion to Mr. Waldron’s reasoning is, however, entirely false. I have never had an abortion. I have, however, had two life-threatening miscarriages that required surgery. These painful incidents left me more aware of the kind of physical trauma women may often experience after abortion, and fully determined to be considerate of this fact, as well as of the reality that this is not a choice a woman makes lightly.
I have also experienced a crisis pregnancy. The feelings of terror, helplessness, and isolation I went through then made me all the more sympathetic to women who choose abortion. Contrary to what much of the pro-life rhetoric would have me believe, I have come to realize that abortion exists not because women are too selfish, lazy, or promiscuous – but because our society often leaves them with no other choice. A genuine culture of life would offer women legitimate choices, not just say “choose life,” hand out a pack of diapers, and move on, patting oneself on the back for one’s pro-life heroism.
A culture of life would make it illegal for any employer ever to fire a woman for being pregnant – this includes religious organizations with their “morality clauses.” It would provide women with medical care for labor and delivery, as well as pre-natal and post-natal care. It would guarantee paid parental leave. It would maintain social safety nets so that no struggling mother would ever have to fear that bringing a new life into the world would mean letting her other children go hungry. It would mean adequate sex ed, and a culture of feminism in which women can feel free to say “no.” In which rapists would get justice, not a wrist-slap.
There’s very little point in going over the rest of Mr. Waldron’s peculiar little screed, which appears to have been posted from a different century entirely. But suffice it to say, I do not think that he saves many babies with his attitude. It is unlikely that any woman in a vulnerable situation would consider him a safe person to go to, in a crisis pregnancy, or in any other kind of crisis.
If pro-lifers want women to believe they care, they need to put a muzzle on the men like this who are out there shaming women; they need also to put a muzzle on the women who shame women. If they’re unwilling to do this, then criticisms of the movement are more than merited, especially so long as we are being assured that a multiply-accused predator and open misogynist is the “most pro-life president ever.”
Please, don’t tell me not to judge the movement by one bad egg, because I’m speaking as one who has long been within the movement, and has seen and heard many others like this one. The men who say “she should have kept her legs closed” and “she was asking for it.” The women who say “this is America, break our laws, get tear-gassed.” The people who defend the firing of pregnant women, because “she knew the rules.”
Don’t tell me, either, that there are plenty of good pro-life folks out there: I know there are, I am friends with many, and most are in agreement with me that the movement has failed women, families, and the unborn.
(Oh, and this vulgar strumpet did very well in mathematics, by the way. She also has two degrees in philosophy, and always got top grades in her doctoral level classes in the field).
image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Angry_man.jpg