Tuesday, March 07, 2006

What Tired Pro-Choice Rhetoric Hath Wrought

So the South Dakota guv has signed a bill effectively outlawing abortion in his state.

The Chicago Tribune writes about it here:

http://tinyurl.com/epfuk

I've heard an awful lot of hand-wringing and conservative-hating and doom forecast by women of my acquaintance over this one. And I say to all of them, "Yes, and what have you done in the past ten years to stem this tide, aside from tsk-tsking about it over your skim lattes? Did you write checks to NARAL or other legislative advocacy groups? Did you encourage your clergyperson to speak on behalf of safe, legal abortion and reproductive choice? Did you write letters to legislators and editors making an ethical case for reproductive choice? Did you testify anywhere, or attend a rally? Did you talk to young men and women about the urgency of this issue? Did you make a case for abortion whenever possible: a morally reasoned, ethical argument that goes beyond the old slogans and cliches? Because obviously, not enough of us did."

We all knew this was coming, didn't we?
We saw again and again the failure of our own outdated rhetoric and pro-choice slogans -- we had to have seen it, as reproductive technologies made it impossible not to notice the hypocrisy of getting excited about "the baby" as soon as we viewed it on an ultrasound (4-8 weeks), but then to insist that it's a "fetus" when we didn't want to carry it to term. We kept chanting, "Get your rosaries out of my ovaries" and "If you can't trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child," and "Just say 'no' to sex with pro-lifers" and other phrases that eventually lost their sting (like fifteen years ago) and began to sound merely defensive and petulant. Meanwhile, young women rejected the label "feminist" and, never knowing a time before Roe V Wade, took up the "pro-life" mantle with self-righteous vigor.
They had no idea, none at all, what it would cost us all to lose the right to seek a safe abortion. It has slipped away little by little, state by state, clinic bombing by clinic bombing, and while we were getting fired up by the lawsuit against the pharmacist who refused to dispense the Morning After Pill, one governor was getting ready to consign every pregnant South Dakotan woman to government-enforced motherhood.

It's easy to accuse lawmakers who outlaw safe, legal abortion as misogynist, and I truly believe they are. But the people elect the legislators. We elect them. Until those who frame the pro-choice message start abandoning the slogans and speaking truth about how women sometimes choose to make a human sacrifice to poverty, fear, rampant male immaturity and their own personal life goals, we're going to keep losing this, state by state.

Not to say that speaking truth will persuade the opponents. But it might impress the younger ones coming up behind us who have never heard honest and frank, unvarnished talk about the many possible interpretations of "saving the life of the mother." We've sentimentalized motherhood so much we're terrified of what will happen when Mommy sits us down and explains that along with her great big mushy love for us, she's got rage and wildness and freedom, and that sometimes she just does not have it in her to be consumed by the needs of another life. And that God created Woman, and only Woman, with a womb to grow a baby in and a vagina to deliver a baby out of, and that if Woman doesn't want to grow a baby and deliver it, she will assure that she doesn't have to, even risking her life to assure that she doesn't have to.
Woman who doesn't want to bring another life into this world has always known how to make arrangements to prevent that, and has done so since the beginning of time.

We can be realistic and make it possible for Woman to terminate a pregnancy in a safe and legal way, or we can decide as a society that if she gets pregnant, she has two realistic choices: she can be a mother at whatever cost to her (and her children), or she can be dead of a botched abortion.

And meanwhile, Men make laws to decide these things. And their Mamas are right proud of them.

11 Comments:

Blogger Jaume said...

Sorry, Peacebang, but nowadays it is both men and women who make laws and decide things like this one. The old 70s argument that males are to be blamed for the evils of humankind is no longer valid (if it ever was).

02:26  
Blogger Bill Baar said...

Jill Stanek in Chicago was the woman who persauded me.

She was the nurse at Christ Hospital in Chiago who protested born alive fetuses left in a closet.

07:39  
Blogger fausto said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

08:02  
Blogger fausto said...

The liberal political blogs are slamming NARAL and Planned Parenthood for not providing more effective leadership during the Alito nomination. One of them, I think NARAL, asked its members to thank Joe Lieberman for voting against Alito, even though he also voted for cloture -- which effectively guaranteed Alito's confirmation.

The bloggers say, and rightly I think, that both Lieberman and the pro-choice advocacy groups have been seduced by playing the Washington insiders' game too long. They say, and rightly I think, that the pro-choice advocacy groups have become part of the problem rather than the solution, soliciting donors' money under false promises of effective advocacy, but using it only to preserve their lavish operating budgets and privileged place in the inside-the-Beltway cocktail whirl rather than kicking ass and taking names. (Kicking ass and taking names the kind of discipline the other side uses, and it works. Look at the NRA, for example. The NRA would never dream of thanking a politician who failed to filibuster gun-rights restrictions. They'd work to get rid of him.) They say, and rightly I think, that if the pro-choice advocacy groups wanted to serve their donors rather than their own interest in self-perpetuation, they should active oppose the re-election of every senator who voted for cloture, rather than thank them and continue to endorse them.

Lieberman is being opposed in the primaries by Ned Lamont. Ned says he'd have voted against cloture. Send Ned some money instead of NARAL. Send some to the Connecticut chapter of NOW, which did criticize Lieberman, instead of NARAL. Tell NARAL they'll get no more money from you until they figure out how to actually make a difference, not just nurture their own moral vanity.

And if you have friends in Connecticut, ask them to vote for Lamont, and ask them to write Lieberman and tell him he's a turncoat who doesn't deserve re-election.

08:03  
Blogger PeaceBang said...

Bill, what's a "born alive" fetus?

Of course *any* fetus left in a closet is a horrific thing to contemplate, but I'm not sure what this story is about. I got the link to her blog but is there a link to that story specifically?

14:14  
Blogger Bill Baar said...

The method of abortion that Christ Hospital uses is called "induced labor abortion," also now known as "live birth abortion." This type of abortion can be performed different ways, but the goal always is to cause a pregnant woman's cervix to open so that she will deliver a premature baby who dies during the birth process or soon afterward. The way that induced abortion is most often executed at my hospital is by the physician inserting a medication called Cytotec into the birth canal close to the cervix. Cytotec irritates the cervix and stimulates it to open. When this occurs, the small, preterm baby drops out of the uterus, oftentimes alive. It is not uncommon for one of these live aborted babies to linger for an hour or two or even longer. One of them once lived for almost eight hours.


From Stanek'stestimony.
Docs in Illinois just inches from murder or legal abortion... The Democratic Gov signed a born-alive protection act to put the Docs in a clear space, but the Gov signed it in secret almost for fear of the pro-Choice crowd's wrath.

I was on the pro-choice side frankly until I got to know Jill.

It's technology more then anything else driving the change. A fetus becomes viable independent of mother at earlier and earlier stages forcing issues like this.

Also, a good read on why overturning Roe v Wade can be found in Lexington in the Economist.

It's an issue that's devasted the Liberal Left and Liberal Religion frankly.

16:05  
Blogger Kim said...

It's a separation of church and state issue. If some religions say it's murder and some religions say it's not, then the government taking sides is choosing one religion over another.

In any case, it's time to reenliven adoption.

Or a sex strike.

22:47  
Blogger Christine Robinson said...

Perhaps technology will save us. The right to abortion is only the right to remove an unwanted intruder (by whatever name anybody wants to call it, not even a fully born baby-person has the legal right to use another person's body without their permission). The right to abortion is not the right to "kill". At the moment, of course, abortion causes the death of the fetus but eventually medical science will probably be able to transplant or artificially nurture fetuses to term. Then we'll see how much the society really valued those lives...

I don't see legislators who vote against abortion rights as misoginists, by they way, for most of them do not hate women. They are completely clueless as to what mandatory motherhood will mean for women and men (did somebody mention a sex strike?) or society. That's the education we need to do now.

17:42  
Blogger Charlie Quimby said...

It recently hit me during the discussions of the South Dakota legislation how pro-lifers have induced us to accept pregnant women as mothers — "exception for life of the mother." Pregnant woman = mother. Fetus = child. And when pro-choice people use that language, even in resistance, they unwittingly reinforce the pro-life position.

23:08  
Blogger PeaceBang said...

Very interesting and George Lakoffish of you, Charlie. Thanks for posting. Much food for thought.

00:40  
Blogger Bill Baar said...

Pregnant woman = mother. Fetus = child.

Is it exactly.

As a Fetus becomes viable, as a child outside the womb, at earlier and earlier stages of conception, I begin to accept it too.

16:14  

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