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Understanding the Pro-Life Movement, part 2

July 15, 2007

“…when you tell anti-abortion people that comprehensive sex education and the easy availability of birth control prevents unwanted pregnancies, and thus abortions, they grow livid and walk away. Why is that? I think I know the answer… It’s because they’re not about abortion, they’re about sex. They’re about sex and who can have it, and keeping everyone else afraid of it.” – me

Such has been my view of the pro-life movement for some time. But I don’t think I have ever seen it more clearly articulated than in this post over at Alas, a blog.

(Hat tip to Eszther.)

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  1. I’m pro-life, and even though I don’t subscribe to the anti-sex, anti-birth-control stance of the pro-life “movement”, I can’t argue that that attitude exists. But it also depends on whom you ask, and generally where they live.

    Your “South Park Conservatives” of the Midwest and Northeast may be pro-life, but most couldn’t give a rat’s ass how much sex your having.

    Ask the same question of a southern Baptist, and you will see a reaction more akin to what is described above (while at the same time their Senator goes out banging hookers in D.C. – i.e. Vitter, Republican of Louisiana)

    I was an atheist for ten years. Even then, I was still pro-life. For me the issue has never been about a “soul”, or God’s intentions, or promiscuous sex.

    It was about decency. It was about determining when I think a life begins, not when a preacher or politicians tells me when life “officially” begins.

    The only two unambiguous points are conception, and delivery. Everything in between is a matter of argument. And just who wins that argument? Who has the “right” answer to that?

    Politically, and as a matter of law, the answer to that question will ebb and flow through time as most issues do. But in questions of morality, one has to be comfortable in their own choice – personally – regardless of what the law or society says. How else could one sleep at night just letting politicians and justices make your moral decisions for you? The moral choice for me is: conception. That’s when I have decided that “life” begins.

    I know that my position is in the minority in this country (and worldwide). But I can live with that. Even though abortion is legal in the U.S., I know that it is not a decision that is taken lightly by most people who choose to do it. I know women who have done it (even some in my own extended family) – and I know that it’s not as easy or fleeting of a task as many make it out to be.

    Unfortunately, many other pro-lifers can’t live life that way. That’s how you get idiots who, all else being equal, would have voteed against Thomas Jefferson if he ran today as a pro-choice conservative.

    The pro-life people who are the “one issue” voters are the ones to watch out for. I will vote for a candidate who matches 99% of my issues, except abortion, before I would vote for someone who is pro-life, but also opposite me in every other issue.


  2. David has hit my beliefs virtually on the head both before and after I became a christian. I do look at data from both points of view on this issue and, honestly, I thought your articulate link sucked, Scott. “Let’s review:”
    1) Many pro-lifers support an anti-abortion law with no legal repercussions to the non-mother for having an abortion? Read that one carefully.
    2) A fine point, one that laps its inconsistency more with sexual morality than with murder of innocents, but valid enough.
    3) Eh…This is sophistry. It is consistent with his premise, but the reasons are totally unrelated. The reasons for support of that legislative loophole stem from two wrongs not making a right from the non-religious and a concession from the religious.
    4) Now he is losing credibility. The idea that banning a late term abortion procedure is to punish women is ludicrous. Many abortion fence sitters say “Well, it is a baby not at conception, but after it is fully formed.” The later the pregnancy, the more supporters pro-lifers have. Using another even more transparently sophist argument, does not make think of articulate.
    5) This one has totally missed the boat. The conservative argument is that poor women have babies on purpose for more money from welfare. They are considered poor whether they have children or abortions. What does this have to do with abortion or even support his argument?
    6) Opposing the vaccine as a mandatory state funded program is purely fiscal. 4000 people is actually a miniscule percentage and the preliminary side effects, while not fatal, show that hundreds of thousands of women will suffer in some way from having the vaccine. One aspirin a day is proven to reduce heart attack, it is a voluntary precaution, so should the vaccine.
    7) Idolizing murder is not part of the Christian ethos, and does not support his postulation unless you equate all religion with radical Islam. i.e. a fine point for you perhaps, I disagree and I won’t kill you for it.
    8) Another fine point that I personally think supports the argument in at best a sideways manner, because many third world countries still look at having many children as a necessary tool for survival and pro-education people treat everyone like they are in the US or Europe and have the same issues that we have with all the free time we have. It is an apples to oranges situation in many (not all) cases and I think many (not all) pro-ed people only see apples.
    At this point I reiterate. I don’t believe abortion should be illegal. That essentially imposes my religious beliefs on you. A woman should be driven to have or not have a baby because she thinks it is acceptable, right, wrong, etc. and her immediate sphere of people should have influence. If she believes in a church that should already have made her decision obvious to her before the situation arises.

    By the way, why do pro-CHOICERS always seem to want force so many other choices on people even in the same milieu, the vaccine, condoms, etc?


  3. It would be stupid to suggest that this attitude doesn’t exist, but don’t lump us all in with them. I’m a pro-life libertarian. My views on abortion are not based on religion, but rather on my views of when life begins from a pragmatic stand point.

    Because I believe in the basic freedoms of all individuals, most importantly that of the right to life, I have to be against abortion. You want to have sex? Fine. Use birth control? Fine. You want to kill a living human being? Not fine.

    I’ll grant people that it’s not cut and dry though. I do believe there is a continuum of life here. Am I as opposed to 1st term abortion as I am 3rd? No. I think there is room for compromise. But both sides are so fervent about their belief, that I think it’s nearly impossible.


  4. I do believe there is a continuum of life here. Am I as opposed to 1st term abortion as I am 3rd? No. I think there is room for compromise. But both sides are so fervent about their belief, that I think it’s nearly impossible.

    A very sensible and thoughtful position. Compromise would not be impossible with me, not with this attitude.


  5. I’m against abortion and I don’t have a problem with birth control, use it all the time. I’d actually guess that a majority of pro-lifers take this stance. However, these aren’t the pro-life folks you are going to meet at the abortion clinic protests. They generally aren’t zealots.


  6. So if I suggested that we put a few more million into comprehensive sex ed (including condoms) to kids in school you’d be okay with that? If I said we needed to put a few million into women’s family planning clinics to give free or low cost contraception to poor women you’d be okay with that?

    It’s not enough to be “for” contraception as a user; its promotion is a public policy solution to disease, unwanted pregnancy and ultimately abortion itself. And most pro-lifers aren’t onboard with this kind of stuff. At least that’s my take on it.


  7. As I have said before I am an admitted fence sitter on this issue, but I believe the reason ‘most’ pro-lifers are against this is because to them abortion is half the problem at best and an unwelcome by-product at worst of what they perceive as the real problem, moral decay. Condoms and contraception billed essentially as “free stuff” instead of a necessary part of a serious and permanent relationship hastens the decay so how can it be supported?

    An analogy in the school setting would be changing the message from: Drugs are bad and bad for you as well as illegal to: These illegal drugs are safer than those so we will provide free safer drugs so you don’t use the really bad ones. Think it is a bad analogy? In my health class 25 years ago, that is how sex was portayed: These are the dangers (show gross pictures here of STDs) of casual sex. It is bad m’kay? From there we had two directions to choose from in sex education.
    1) Continue to make the parents the primary teachers of sex
    2) Make it a public responsibility
    With the advent of the HIV virus a public direction was necessary, but the clear message to underagers is have all the sex you can get, because it is safer now. Most(?) pro-choice people and certainly the condom dispensers give that message. Perhaps that is the inexorable movement of US society, but we have swung back in forth in sexual freedom in the past, it could swing back for better or worse.


  8. No Scott, it’s about responsiblity. It’s a concept you libs simply don’t agree with. You libs have no values. None.


  9. Scott,

    A few more million what? dollars? I’m not against teaching kids about sex and the responsibility that goes along with it. I’m not against teaching them about birth control and how to avoid STDs. I’m not sure how that would cost a few million? Aren’t most kids already taught about this stuff in public schools? I certainly was.

    Maybe there could be an exception for the kids of zealots or people who don’t want their children taught about such things. Personally, I’m going to teach my kids about sex they way I feel they ought to be taught and not rely on the schools for this important of an issue.

    As for giving it away free or at low cost, whatever, go ahead. Maybe there should be some sort of life priorities re-education that’s built in, because if you are too poor to afford birth control you probably shouldn’t be risking pregnancy even with the low chances when using birth control.


  10. ‘most’ pro-lifers are against this is because to them abortion is half the problem at best and an unwelcome by-product at worst of what they perceive as the real problem, moral decay.

    This is precisely my point. Precisely. Pro-lifers are more interested in promoting their particular view of sex than they are about preventing abortion.

    These illegal drugs are safer than those so we will provide free safer drugs so you don’t use the really bad ones. Think it is a bad analogy?

    Yes, I do.

    the clear message to underagers is have all the sex you can get, because it is safer now.

    O RLY? Then why is it fewer teens are having sex today than they were 30 years ago?

    You libs have no values. None.

    You cons have no capacity for rational thought. None.

    I’m not against teaching kids about sex and the responsibility that goes along with it. I’m not against teaching them about birth control and how to avoid STDs.

    Then we’re in agreement.

    I’m not sure how that would cost a few million

    A million, a hundred million, whatever it takes. It’s surely cheaper than the social and economic damage suffered due to unwanted pregnancies. (To say nothing of the value some purportedly place on preventing abortion.)

    if you are too poor to afford birth control you probably shouldn’t be risking pregnancy even with the low chances when using birth control.

    I doubt very much whether a message of “you’re too poor to risk sex” would gain much traction among the target audience. But it’s an interesting idea.


  11. While I would agree that many pro-lifers are coming from a stance that sex should be saved for marriage, I think that this does not necessarily mean that they are really about imposing puritanical sex views and not about a fetus’ life. They just hold both views.

    I also think that it is possible for several of those answers at Alas to be consistent with NOT having a desire of imposing puritanical sex views, but of having the view that if you create a life by taking the risk of having sex, then you are responsible for that life and that too many people are irresponsible with sex.



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