Not so very long ago, I stumbled upon the Slacktivist blog and began reading Fred Clark’s ongoing review of the Left Behind series. It took at least a week to read every post on the subject, but it helped that I was going through an index which only displayed posts specifically related to subject of Left Behind or its authors. Once I finished reading the posts, I finally began browsing the main index to see what else Fred was posting about. I made a few forays into the community, never looking to see what response my posts garnered, until Fred posted Claims of crisis belied by indifference (cont’d).
In this thread, Fred argues that while pro-life advocates frequently claim that abortion is a grave crisis, that millions of lives are taken every year in a veritable holocaust, they rarely, if ever, address a point which arises from the claim that personhood begins at conception: Most fertilized eggs fail to implant, and most implanted eggs are lost due to miscarriage. In fact, some estimates place the number of fertilized eggs which fail to lead to viable pregnancy at between 50-70%, yet calls for better, cheaper and more comprehensive prenatal care are inaudible next to the howls of anti-abortion advocates. Prenatal care is not their objective, even if it would reduce the number of “babies” (by their definition) which are lost. Babies which may be sorely wanted by their parents. Babies who could grow up to a good life with a loving mother.
When Fred posted his argument, I didn’t think it could hold water. It felt like a straw man argument to me. Surely pro-life advocates simply had different priorities and wanted to outlaw abortion first, then address prenatal needs? I couldn’t believe that the needs of anticipatory and struggling parents wouldn’t be a priority for them. It was the most logical common ground between pro-choice and pro-life groups, something we could all agree upon.
No. The priority is to force parents, single and otherwise, to have children they do not want, are not prepared to care for, or lack the desire to raise altogether. Those who want their children and will struggle to raise them are, at best, a secondary concern — and usually no concern at all. I hate to have been driven to this conclusion. I didn’t have it originally, as history shows. I have spent the last year and many months debating with pro-choice and pro-life advocates and one thing continually occurs to me: all too often, it’s the pro-life advocates who start calling for my death, torture, humiliation and suffering in a debate.
Today, I would like to propose a revision to Fred’s argument. The claims of crisis aren’t simply belied by indifference, they are outright contradicted by the wealth of disgust so often demonstrated by pro-life advocates. The claims that innocents are in any way being represented, advocated for, protected — are contradicted by sociopathic contempt for people. Whether or not a fertilized egg is a person with a soul is irrelevant if adult Christians, much less anyone else, are treated like dirt. This goes beyond forcing a person to give birth against zir will into the realm of finally having to ask, “How many pro-life advocates have the slightest ounce of respect for anyone?”
You can oppose abortion without actually caring about the unborn; all it takes is an unyielding regard for a particular rule structure, and if that were the case, it would help to explain why pro-life advocates frequently oppose the common ground legislation which could only reduce abortion rates through a method neither side should find controversial — making abortion unnecessary in the first place.
These are the things I support:
* Better and more comprehensive sex-education. An educated person is one who is more likely to appreciate the gravity of sexual relationships, the means by which to protect themselves from disease and unwanted pregnancy, and the understanding of what demands a pregnancy will make upon them so as to better know when and if to become pregnant.
* Cheaper, easier access to contraceptive options, including a variety of condom types, oral contraceptives, shots, patches, implants, and temporary or permanent sterilization techniques including surgery. Anything which reduces the number of unexpected or unwanted pregnancies should likewise reduce the number of abortions. By ensuring that people have affordable access to birth control they can use without fear of failure or allergies, the odds will increase that people will use contraception instead of taking the risk of unprotected sex.
* Protection and creation of anti-discrimination laws which protect a pregnant worker or parent from being fired or refused employment due to their outside obligations to their family. Anything which reduces the likelihood of financial hardship caused by an expected birth reduces the likelihood of choosing to abort.
* Protection and creation of social programs which better enable parents to provide for their children, alleviating financial and time constraints which might otherwise lead them to conclude that raising a child would be impossible. A parent who can afford and has access to daycare services will have more time to accomplish goals like getting a degree or a better job, while a parent with financial aid can afford to ensure that a new child will not take food out of the mouths of older siblings.
* Development of a culture which rejects rape justification, teaches the importance of meaningful consent, and appropriately punishes those who commit rape crimes. When there is less rape, there will be fewer undesired pregnancies and thus less abortion.
* Cheaper, better and more accessible neonatal care and psychiatric counseling services, promoting fetal and maternal physical and mental health. Early detection and treatment of fetal birth defects and maternal health complications may reduce the number of nonviable or endangered births and thus result in fewer abortions, stillbirths and low life expectancy births. Psychiatric care may help people better deal with stress and psychological conditions which could lead them to conclude they are unable to properly care for a child, or become too stressed to continue their pregnancy, reducing the likelihood of choosing to abort.
* Addressing of issues present in the adoption system, increasing the likelihood of children being placed in permanent homes. By increasing the chances of a child being placed in a home with loving foster parents, people who do not want children but who have become pregnant may feel less compelled to abort to spare their child from an unstable childhood.
In summary, I want to work toward a future where the only people who become pregnant are people who genuinely want to become pregnant, and once they are pregnant, there is no chance that they will become or feel unable to carry the fetus(es) to term.
Each and every one of these ideas has run into stiff resistance from pro-life advocacy groups. Any expansion or development of conditions, culture or services which would reduce the number of abortions is seen as infringing upon American independence and diminishing self-sufficiency.
On almost every pro-life advocacy site with user correspondence which I have perused, I have seen people call for the deaths of people who would choose to abort. On many of these sites, I see people shamed for giving birth to children for whom they are unable to adequately provide. I see abject refusal to have anything to do with helping these people bring pregnancies to term or care for their children afterward. I see rhetoric centering around what terrible people they are to have sex without the express intent to have children. The word “slut” is incredibly common and undeterred by protests that many of these couples were married, sexually monogamous, and using birth control.
I cannot conclude that these pro-life advocates do, in fact, care for the unborn. I cannot conclude that they have interest in protecting the innocent. They are apathetic to need, fear, sorrow. They advocate cruelty with sneers and contemptuous smiles. They excite each other with ridiculous lies about birth control and abortion while ignoring truth about history, medical facts and personal stories. They gleefully embrace any opportunity to express righteous condemnation for others.
The most striking fact is that when confronted by evidence that outlawing abortion does little to reduce abortion rates and only endangers women, many express satisfaction.
These are not the actions of people who are interested in reducing abortion, much less eliminating it.
Their claims of crisis are belied by their happiness that abortion continues.