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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Larger Agenda


[Today's post is reprinted from my blog, "Yeah, but..."]

If we suddenly stopped arguing about the legality of abortion and just skipped straight to an appeal to morality independent of legality (if that's even possible), how would people react?

Secular Pro-Life once talked about how 68% of Americans believe abortion should be illegal after the first trimester. The blog post ends by asking, "Why, then, has it been so difficult to unify and enact meaningful change?"

One of the blog followers commented,
Most pro-choicers that I know do not think abortion should be legal after a certain stage of the pregnancy. As for the policy making (just speaking of the conservative side), abortion bills are usually written by/for or framed in such a way that makes them appear more as small steps towards making abortion completely illegal. They do not come across, despite what some policy makers say, as "for the benefit of the woman or society", but as part of a larger agenda by very religious conservative people. That makes average/everyday pro-choicers very nervous and so it is fought.
How many people would work to legally restrict abortion if they weren't afraid that the end goal was to legally eliminate abortion?

Similarly, how many people would work to legally restrict abortion if they were confident that exceptions for the life of the mother and for rape would be preserved?

Even if we could change hearts and minds such that no one chose to get an abortion, I think I'd still want abortion to be legally restricted. After all, what does it say about my society that it is legal to kill an innocent person, even if no one actually chooses to do it? What would you think of a society in which it technically wasn't illegal to kill an infant, even if no one ever chose to do it?

But sometimes I do wonder if, on a practical level, the pro-life movement could get more done with a different strategy.

12 comments:

PennieS said...

You would think rational pro-choicers would agree with this. However, I have a strong suspicion that they only use the argument that pro-lifers are trying to eliminate abortion completely to conceal the fact that they just don't want to restrict anyone's "right to choose". What I have seen is that they don't want to be seen as restricting any freedoms regardless of whether or not they agree with it. They seem to think telling someone to do or not do something will make them look like the "right", and thus, hypocrites in their eyes.

Diane said...

"But sometimes I do wonder if, on a practical level, the pro-life movement could get more done with a different strategy."

Yes, important idea to consider!

And this is a very interesting post. Much to think about here.

I often also wonder (not sure how this relates, maybe it's the "other side of the same coin", so to speak): in common conversations/arguments, it seems that there is often a disproportionate focus placed on these exceptions. Why is that?

Is it really because we fear that abortion in ALL cases will be outlawed? Or is it because we (the overall popular culture, I mean) don't want to admit the more unpleasant reality: that most abortions currently occur resulting from CONSENSUAL intercourse, where a baby is simply not wanted, but has been negligently created anyway, though the actions chosen by the parents.

Facing this reality directly would require us (the general population) to honestly face our own personal recreation choices. It would identify US (us = average citizens, NOT rapists, and NOT life threats such as ectopic pregnancy, etc.) as the current true cause of most unwanted pregnancy and the majority of all abortions currently desired and performed.

Kara Baylog said...

I agree. That is part of the reason why I support the rape exception - it is a small number, and if stopped talking about it would it be easier as a whole to pass restrictions of second and third trimester?

NorthStar156 said...

"If we suddenly stopped arguing about the legality of abortion and just skipped straight to an appeal to morality independent of legality,...how would people react?"

They would react just as they have done for the last three decades when we usually used that exact approach; they would use it to weasel out of taking a meaningful pro-life stance while duping many pro-life groups into supporting them. The use of that approach is why pro-life groups presented Mitt Romney as being just as pro-life as Michele Bachmann.

NorthStar156 said...

"How many people would work to legally restrict abortion if they weren't
afraid that the end goal was to legally eliminate abortion?"

Probably none. Your quotation misrepresented its context. Here it is the full first sentence: "As a pro-choice woman my opinions are such: Most pro-choicers that I
know do not think abortion should be legal after a certain stage of the
pregnancy." She asserted that she is pro-choice and never said anything about her or any other pro-choicer working for any kind of pro-life legislation.

NorthStar156 said...

"Similarly, how many people would work to legally restrict abortion if
they were confident that exceptions for the life of the mother and for
rape would be preserved?"

Again, probably none.

NorthStar156 said...

"What would you think of a society in which it technically wasn't illegal to kill an infant, even if no one ever chose to do it?"

It would be better than a society in which it was technically not legal to kill an infant but such killings still occurred.

Marysia said...

Whoa....Leaping to judgments about '"negligence" doesn't help anyone avoid unintended pregnancies and abortions. A couple can practice any method of birth control, or a combination of methods, correctly and consistently, and still conceive. And when people don't practice birth control, or do so inconsistently, they may be grappling with financial, mental health, or relational barriers to correct use, or systemic discrimination that keeps them from accessing the best & most effective method(s) for their circumstances. Instead of judging people, why not help them make the most of existing methods, and invent some even better ones???

NorthStar156 said...

The problem is on our side, not with pro-choicers. I have been writing to politicians since 2004 with requests to propose a constitutional amendment to allow states to place time limits on when elective abortions can occur. Since that time, no member of Congress or any member of the Minnesota Legislature has proposed any serious legislation to reduce the number of abortions beyond limits on funding. Meanwhile, the pro-life groups have continued to endorse the politicians with fraudulent pro-life records.

Laura Nicholson said...

I don't see how the fact that the commenter is pro-choice changes anything. She specifically said she thinks abortion bills are fought *because* they are seen as part of a larger agenda by religious conservative people. This seems to imply that there are those who wouldn't fight such bills if they weren't concerned about the "larger agenda."

Laura Nicholson said...

The Gallup poll suggests otherwise: majorities of both self-described pro-choicers and pro-lifers believe there should be exceptions for both life of the mother and rape. http://www.gallup.com/poll/148880/Plenty-Common-Ground-Found-Abortion-Debate.aspx

Diane said...

"A couple can practice any method of birth control, or a combination of methods,
correctly and consistently, and still conceive."

Exactly!

Given that fact - it’s illogical to know this, then still go on to regard a pregnancy,
any pregnancy (after any instance of penis-in-vagina intercourse + ejaculation
into the inside of woman’s reproductive organs, contraception or not) as a “surprise” or any kind of “mistake”. Yet we do. And we promote and encourage that kind of “oops, mistake, but not my fault or doing” sort of thinking.

I don’t think this should be regarded as an either/or or “instead of" sort of thing (come up with better contraceptive options INSTEAD OF being honest about basic choice and cause-and-effect). To the contrary, I think it’s essential to accept basic reality first. THEN go on to problem-solve FROM that essential realistic starting point.

Facing honestly, plus repeating and reinforcing the very basic fact of nature that intercourse and ejaculation causes conception (often despite the use of artificial contraception) isn't the same as "judging people". We're being dishonest and fanciful within the mainstream popular
culture, about intercourse and pregnancy; suppressing our common sense knowledge of reality in favor of how we wish things were, instead. This leads to a great deal of confusion and SUFFERING.

I believe that being direct and honest about reality (basic cause-and-effect) can
help to alleviate the confusion and suffering surrounding intercourse/conception/pregnancy.