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Tuesday, 27 July 2004

Abortion and the Right Wing

There's an urban legend going around right now that political wife Heinz Kerry donated money to extremely radical leftist groups like "Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Rights Action League, and the Abortion Action Project." It's not true. But first, let's note that George Bush the elder donated a lot of money to pro-choice organizations before he fell in with Regan. Second, I'm highly concerned about the idea of Planned Parenthood as a radical organization. Abortion is a constitutional right. Planned Parenthood does not just provide women with (constiutionally protected) abortion services, it also provides them with other healthcare as well.

There is a compelling argument that the anti-abortion movement has a lot more to do with limitting women than with protecting fetuses. For example, conservatives are wont to grant exceptions in the case of rape or incest. Women can get abortions as long as it's not thier "fault" for getting pregnant. Otherwise, it's a just punishment for their actions. Furthermore, miscarriages are not treated like deaths. Fetus don't have funerals, they don't have names, they aren't counted in the census and they aren't dependants on your tax forms. You legal age starts from zero at birth, not conception. In no way is a fetus legally a person. The argument about where life begins is a religious argument, but most religions, similarly, are inconsistent. Fetsus are still unnamed, unbaptised and unmourned should they miscarry. No religion that I can think of has a system in place that recognizes fetuses. Also, many religions support exception for when the women is "innocently" impregnanted. Pregnancy is a punishment for illicit sex and a natural consequence of non-ellicit sex. Women should not have agency to control reproduction. And this is why Planned Parenthood is under attack, as much for their non-abortion activities as their abortion ones. Religious right wing reactionaries have increasing taken stands against birth control. Thi is true of some protestants as well as the long standing anti-birth control position of the Catholic church. It seems like birth control is a sensible way to limit the number of abortions performed. If people can prevent accidental pregnancies, then they are much less likely to terminate pregnancies. But birth control gives women agency. Women's health clinics give women agency. A healthy, informed woman is problematic to reactionaries. These same men who will willingly take thier girlfriends to get abortions want to prevent their wives, daughter, girlfriends and the unwashed masses from making thier own choices. Agency belongs to men, not women.

Privacy

However, there is an attached concern to overturning Roe vs Wade. The supreme court ruled in that descision that Americans have a right to privacy. Abortion cannot be outlawed because it would be government intrustion in a private matter. A right to privacy is a protection against all kinds of government spying. roe vs Wade not only represents female empowerment, it's a roadblock against having a full police state. Total Information Awereness, TIPS, and Homeland Security projects are impeeded by this constitutional right. If Roe vs Wade says that prosecutors can't look at your medical records to see why your fetus disappeared, then they can't snoop around them at random.

Lanuage

Through excessive reptition, reactionaries somehow turned "liberal" into a dirty word. It is imparative that they not be allowed to also do this to abortion. Right now, a vast majority of Americans, especially young Americans, are in favor of the legallity of abortion. If the right wing successfully demonizes the term, well, opions will change and you can kiss your rights and your privacy goodbye.

The best way, I think, to fight their over the top rhetoric is to mock it whenever possible. "Abortion on demand!" why, yes, that would be terrible! Imagine if we could get other medical services on demand like wisdom tooth removal or apendectomies! Conservatives are in favor of liposuction on demand! have they no shame??

3 comments:

yesyouam said...

> No religion that I can think of has a system in place that recognizes fetuses.

Hinduism?
"It teaches that a fetus is a living, conscious person deserving of protection. Hinduism has traditionally taught that a soul is reincarnated and enters the embryo at the time the embryo is conceived."

Les said...

And yet, it's legal in India.

I want emergency apendectomies to be safe, legal and rare.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I hope you don't mind me butting in since I've never met you, but I was very interested in your posting and the issues it raised. I went to school with Jesse (and sometimes read his blog, which is how I got the link) and have since spent my time at work mobilizing youth for choice and not at work helping low-income women get 2nd trimester abortions.

So I had two thoughts, one, regarding the religion question. In Jewish law, in the event that you hit a pregnant woman and cause her to miscarry, whether or not you have caused harm to a person depends solely on whether or not the woman is injured (miscarriage excluded). You are liable for all damages you cause the woman according to a strict system of compensation, but your liability for the loss of the fetus is subjectively determined by the husband. My point being, disregarding all sexism--that the husband knows better than she does-- and hetero/marital normativity there, the fetus does have a certain degree of importance, but its value is determined, I think, on the basis of how much it was wanted.

Which brings me to my second thought, which is that a lot of people (and many people in reproductive rights are terrified to admit this) mourn, baptize, bury and name not only their miscarriages but also the fetuses they have aborted. It helps some women grieve for a loss that weighs heavily on them (regardless of whether or not that is a result of social pressure making them feel inadequate for not carrying a pregnancy to term). Some fetuses are *effectively* human lives in the eyes of the women carrying them. Others are not. But we lose the battle if we don't admit that-- just look at the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act." It's wrong to make a fetus into a legal person. But it's dangerous to allow the Right to act as if they are the only ones who care about the fetuses that women DO want to keep.

I think the real invasion of privacy is the government's acting as if they can determine the value of what a woman is carrying better than she can.

Please excuse my blathering :) Great post. Please tell me you are registered in a swing state?

Spencer