Butterfly Cauldron

Monday, July 31, 2006

A crime without a punishment

I realize this is not new, but I was flipping through YouTube earlier and stumbled on this video of anti-choice protestors. They were asked what should happen to women who have abortions, should abortion be ruled illegal. Their answers are telling, as you'd expect. None of them had thought the issue through. None of them could see beyond the "poor babies." (And frankly, I wanna know where they get their sign info. Because those pictures are not typical of what an fetus looks like when terminated.)

The interviewer makes a very good point -- this would be a crime without a punishment. Which makes the whole point of making it illegal dumb. If I knew I wouldn't be punished if I had an abortion, why wouldn't I have one if I needed one? Of course, they're willing to punish the doctors who perform them and the people who drive women to their appointments, but not the women themselves. Exactly what other crime does that? Particularly one that results in the killing of another human being? I mean, if you're mugging someone on the street and accidently kill someone, you're still charged with murder regardless of the fact that you didn't start intending to kill anyone. (Or maybe you get charged with a lesser offense. I don't know. Depends on the state. Point is, you don't get a free pass.)

At least one women in this video admitted she'd never thought about what happens to the women, she only thought about the babies. How you can not think about what happens to the women is beyond me, seeing as how it's the women who are pregnant and deciding to abort. They're the ones who have to live with the outcome of any pregnancy. They're fucking central to the whole argument. Without them, hey, no abortion contraversy! Maybe these people think babies should grow on trees or something.

Frankly, this is the point I think pro-choicers should hammer home. You cannot outlaw abortion without punishing women. You cannot say abortion is the taking of a human life and then let those central to that action have a free pass. You cannot, logically, make the claim that a fetus is equal to a human and make its death less meaningful in the law. It doesn't work that way. Either it's a human life with all attendant rights or it's not. (Frankly, my personal view comes down somewhere in the middle on that issue, depending on the point of gestation. But the anti-choicers have polarized this issue so much that there's no room for compromise anymore.)

Women who have had abortions also need to be more open about them. At least, those women who in positions to talk about them should be. I understand that there are lots of women who have abortions in situations where it would be more dangerous for them to admit that. I know that if I'd had to have an abortion when I had my pregnancy scare, I'd never be able to talk to my family about it. And my family wouldn't do anything drastic or dangerous to me. But women who have had abortions, who can safely talk about them, should do so. Right now, the anti-choicers have control of the debate. They get to paint the face of abortion, even though the facts point out just how wrong they are.

Frankly, I'm praying for early menopause so I won't have to worry about accidental pregnancy. My mother started menopause in her late 30s, so I'm hoping I get lucky too. *sigh*

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posted by Zan at 8:56 AM

5 Comments:

Hi. I am a woman who had an abortion recently, and it was the best decision I could have made. I agree that more women need to talk about them. Obviously, they need to feel safe in doing so but I think that if more discussion was opened up about them, less women would feel they needed to act ashamed of their decision. I wrote a very frank blog post about it. You can read it here if you're interested.

As for the protesting pro lifers...I think any argument that includes the sentiments, "What about the poor defenceless baby?" is a crock of shit. The unborn baby is unable to form emotional responses to stimuli, therefore death would essentially be an unfeared and hence easy thing.

10:46 AM  

This is a fascinating video. My first thought was that these people are well intentioned, and my second was of the road to Hell. It is amazing how people can work for something they haven't thought through at all. Get them on the emotional baby killing point and their brains turn off.

When the Quakers decided that slavery had to be ended, they thought about what do you do with the ex-slaves. They didn't just say, "It's wrong, free them." They thought about what would happen to the slave holders.

Perhaps this lack of thought about the consequences is some kind of red flag? Like Dubya not thinking about what would happen when we invaded Iraq?

1:32 PM  

Hey, Audrey! I popped by to read your story. I'm glad you felt able to write about, so soon after the procedure. And you're absolutely right -- the decision to have or not have a baby, at any given time, is something that must reside with the woman involved. I'm not familiar with the abortion laws in Australia. Do you have a lot of restrictions placed on it? And have you been afflicted with the nutters we have over here in the U.S.? I'm genuinely concerned that our right to abortion will be striken within the next decade, if not sooner. And when that happens, there are going to be a lot of dead and damaged women who are going to suffer needlessly.

MG, I agree that most of these people's intentions are good. Most pro-lifers, the ground troops as it were, are true believers. I think the fact that they never thought about the women involved suggests that, for most of them, they're not really interested in punishing them. But that doesn't matter, because that is the logical outcome of their position. It is so the road to Hell.

And frankly, the position doesn't make a lot of sense. Many of them are religious, Christian specifically. From a theological perspective, it's actually better for those fetuses to be aborted, thus ensuring that their souls go straight to Heaven. If they're never born, they can never sin. If they never sin, they cannot go to Hell. Thus, if the soul is so important, abortion saves souls. But try that line on an evangelical and watch their heads explode.

Which is why religious arguments don't belong in this debate. On a personal level, of course, people should live according to their personal convictions. If your religious views lead you to believe abortion is equal to murder, then you should absolutely not have one. You should do what you can, within the confines of the law, to help those feeling they have no choice but to abort. However, until the Bushies rewrite the Constitution, there's still a line between church and state, which means you can't legislate your religious beliefs.

And I think this lack of thinking is a red flag. I also lay this lack of critical thinking skills firmly at the feet of religious fundamentalism. Any system which actively warns it's adherents against science and 'too much' questioning is bad for everyone.

2:45 PM  

i used to do a lot of rallys for various political causes. and there were these old nuns who would come out to support us. and they were always upset about what they saw as "a bunch of men telling us what to do". i always asked the anti-abortionists what should happen with the women who died from having backroom abortions when it was illegal and they could only say that the women were sinning for having the abortion. absolutely no thought whatsoever. cause it's always better to save the unborn then it is to save the living i guess...

and don't get me started on the "pro-lifers" who are also pro war and pro death penalty. it's a wonder more heads aren't exploding all over the place with the contradictions going on

8:19 PM  

It's a logically inconsistant position, but you can't point that out to them. They think I'm logically inconsistant because I oppose the death penalty but support abortion rights. Trying to get them to understand that there's a difference between a living, functioning, breathing human being and a set of cells that may or may not eventually become a living, breathing human being is a frustrating waste of time.

And exactly what other 'sin' does god demand instant death for? Isn't Jesus all about forgiveness and acceptance? I mean, if I gunned down a six-year-old in the street, their god wouldn't smite me dead on the spot, so why does abortion get a special pass? These people have never read their own Bible, which specifically spells out that all 'sins' are equal in the eyes of god. There is no hiearchy, but man can't deal with that, so he goes about assigning value to 'sins'. Of course, the ones that are worth more or the ones he doesn't engage in. *sigh*

7:26 AM  

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