Why, as I look out on the sea of signs at today’s the March for Life, do I see nothing about maternity leave, much less paternity leave? Why aren’t expansive parental leave policies front and center on every pro-life website, and on the lips of every pro-life politician?
Why does every speaker fail to mention contraception? Why isn’t sex education front and center on every pro-life website, and on the lips of every pro-life politician?
Why is adoption mentioned only in passing, if it is mentioned at all?…
Why, if your movement “welcomes everyone,” as Ted Cruz and Cardinal Timothy Dolan both emphasized, do you focus so much on the Christian God? How do you expect to win over people like me if prayerful protest is more important to you than funding health services? (No. 1 on this website.)
To anyone looking in from the outside, the movement seems to be more about making public declarations of pious conservatism than advocating for life. It is, at heart, a religious movement, which explains the absence of contraception and sex education from the platform. It is also a politically conservative movement, which values small government more than the souls of unborn children and seeks to do little for them once they are born. In the (viral) words of Sister Joan Chittister:
I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is. [Source]
So here’s a funny thing. Well, sad. I’m sure there are some lovely pro-life people out there somewhere. But my extensive experience of blogging over a dozen years is that whenever I do a piece on abortion, my comment threads go mental and are infested with people who appear to hold all of these traits:
It’s actually now just really predictable. I follow a Texas abortion piece with one on Brexit and those same pro-lifers are just being horribly racist on it. There is absolutely nothing pro-life about the pro-life movement. And yes, I am referring to most of those pro-lifers who have commented here over the last few days.
First of all, if you are going to peddle some sort of personhood argument, you’ll lose. Don’t bother. Read these first:
- What Is Personhood? Setting the Scene.
- Life starts at conception, but what about personhood? Revisited.
- Human Rights Don’t Exist until We Construct and Codify Them
- Personhood vs Bodily Autonomy; the Central Arguments of Pro-Life Advocacy
- Christian Pro-Life Lobby Isn’t, You Know, Pro-Life
- Dealing with some Pro-Life Arguments: Human Individuals
- Pro-Life Argument from a Zygote’s Internal Self-Organisation
I was wondering the other day, to someone living in Wallington, where Wallongton starts and Fareham or Portchester stop. The same for Portchester: where does Fareham end and Portsmouth start the other side?
The thing is, these places, though they have real and concrete properties, are merely abstract labels assigned to a bunch of stuff. By human minds. As humans, we arbitrarily demarcate and categorise things. Fareham ends there and Portchester starts there, even though Portchester is part of Fareham Borough Council. If all sentient creatures (qua humans) were to die, these categories would cease to exist. Fareham only exists in the mind of people who understand and accept the abstract demarcation and labelling of Fareham.
I’ve told you this a million times before. it’s how all abstract objects work, including morality and rights. We construct them so they exist conceptually, and in our minds, and then we codify them into law. This only becomes meaningful if the law is enacted and robustly defended.
The Consitution and the Bill of Rights are just old bits of paper. You can amend them get rid of them, supersede them – whatever. They only become meaningful in a pragmatic sense when codified, enacted and enforced.
Pro-life, eh! Here are some pro-life facts:
- In “A new poll shows what really interests ‘pro-lifers’: controlling women“, the reporter states: “According to their own survey responses, anti-abortion voters are hostile to gender equality in practically every aspect.
According to self-identified “pro-life” advocates, the fundamental divide between those who want to outlaw abortion and those who want to keep it legal comes down to one question: when does life begin? Anti-abortion advocacy pushes the view that life begins at conception; the name of their movement carefully centers the conceit that opposition to abortion rights is simply about wanting to save human lives.
A new poll shows that’s a lie. The “pro-life” movement is fundamentally about misogyny.
A Supermajority/PerryUndem survey released this week divides respondents by their position on abortion, and then tracks their answers to 10 questions on gender equality more generally. On every question, anti-abortion voters were significantly more hostile to gender equity than pro-choice voters.”
- We see in a 2013 PRRI poll (though the data finds in reverse for Catholics – would like to see the latest on that), “Among white evangelical Protestants who say the term “pro-life” describes them very well, 64% oppose stricter gun control laws, compared to 33% who favor them…. Nationally, nearly 4-in-10 (38%) Americans live in a household where at least one person owns a gun. White evangelical Protestants (57%) and white mainline Protestants (55%) are the most likely religious groups to report that they live in a household where at least one person owns a gun.”
- “Amongst women, gender-role beliefs and the desired number of children contribute significantly to opinions on legalized abortion (Dugger 1991; Bojanic 2015; Cook 2019; Westoff 1969; Wang 2004; Sahar 2005). There is a clear correlation between strong, traditional gender role beliefs and a women’s pro-life views, while those in more modern gender roles (educated women, working wives, and families with shared responsibilities) support the pro-choice movement (Dugger 1991; Westoff 1969; Cook 2019; Sahar 2005).” [Source]
- “Historically, Christians have been some of the most susceptible individuals to supporting a pre-existing racial bias by influence of the church. Christianity was built on a premeditated belief of symbolic colors. For instance, in the church white is seen as the color of renewal, hope, and prosperity. All of these are the symbols of heaven. In contrast, black has been the representation of the devil, death, and hate, not coincidentally being transferred to people’s beliefs on skin color (Bastide 1967; Davies 1988). These beliefs in Christian churches led to the formation of Black and White churches because of the proximity belief (the belief that sin was contagious through physical proximity between people). This, combined with the inherent evilness of blackness, led to a physical separation of Blacks and Whites within the religion, which was followed by a social distance created between the two races (Bastide 1967)….As previously stated, religious values have been shown to negatively influence attitudes towards abortion, thus linking negative racial attitudes to opposition for abortion….
There is a demonstrated correlation between conservatism, both political and moral, with racism in the United States (Sidanius 1996; Smith 2010; Granberg 1985; Gilens 1995; Hinojosa 2004; Bobo 1972). Negative correlations have been found between education and the societal causes of racial inequality. Also, negative correlations between education and racism have been found to be causes of racial inequality. Positive relations with racism within research have been found in variables such as premarital sex, extramarital sex, gay attitudes, political conservatism, and individual responsibility for racial inequality (Hinojosa 2004; Sidanius 1996; Smith 2010). These correlations provide for a direct correlation between those who have negative racial attitudes (or a high racial distance) and those with conservative beliefs. One can further infer that those with racial prejudice are also pro-life due to an inherent connection with conservatism” [Source]
- In the 2014 PPRI American Values Survey looking at views on the death penalty, “White evangelical (59 percent) and White mainline Protestants (52 percent) expressed majority support for the death penalty, with 34% and 40% from these groups, respectively, preferring life without parole.” [Source]
So on and so forth. The problem is, as a liberal, all my ideals oppose the conservative. And the conservative is more likely to be religious, advocate for guns, be racist and xenophobic, and generally support the things I oppose.
Wowsers, there are some pretty interesting abortion graphs at Pew, found here, well worth perusing.
Where is the pro-lifer when we are considering social welfare policies to actually protect and nurture young life from all sectors of society? Or is “life” mainly middle-class, white humans?
Therefore, I am no longer going to call the pro-life movement pro-life. They are anti-choice. I like this because they invariably bang on about freedom, libertarianism, the free market and all these other instantiations of double standards, so anti-choice really fits the bill.
I urge all of my readers to in all circumstances no longer refer to them at all as pro-life – they are not; please refer to them as anti-choice. Don’t give them the moral and positive high ground in the label. They don’t deserve it.
Mueller, Ashley (2020), “Are Opinions on Abortion Based on Racial Attitudes?”, https://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2366&context=honors_research_projects
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