The Pro-Life Movement and Violence

Catherine Morgan has an eye opener on the Pro Life movement and its use of violence to control women’s bodies:

pro-life-cartoon.gif

Suzanne from BlogHer did a post today about how violent the “pro-life” movement has become. Suzanne sites these facts about how hate and terror are permeating through the “pro-life” movement.

How many actual human beings – living and breathing, with family and friends who love them and value them – have been killed by so-called “pro-lifers?” Well, Dr. Bernard Slepian was killed in his kitchen upon return from synagogue by a life-saving sniper. Dr. David Gunn was shot and killed in the parking lot of the clinic he worked in. Religious Tolerance counts 24 murders and attempted murders by “pro-life” folks from 1993-2004. Almost 150 bombings, arsons, or attempted bombings or arsons took place against clinics, many with people inside. Further, 11,449 incidents with hate mail, harassing phone calls, bomb threats, and other terrorist tactics have been employed by “pro-life” advocates.

The tactic of picketing outside clinics is intimidation, pure and simple.  And calling the so called pro-life movement out on this and other violent tactics is a very good move.  Why?  Because the battle over reproductive choice has always been about much more.  More than the right to privacy.  More even than a woman’s control of her own body.  It is about the value of women as living beings.  So called “issue” politics does not occur in a vacuum.  The same politicians removing rape and incest clauses from pending anti-choice bills are campaigning against sex education and contraception.  They are making it harder for rape victims to get the medical care they need.  They are writing laws that make it harder to leave an abusive relationship.  They are foaming over gay marriage and making life more dangerous for victims of domestic violence.

This is one platform.  And it bears repeating, again and again.  Pro-Lifers, homophobes, far right religious zealots are all advancing an anti-woman, anti-individual platform.  And we need to stand directly in their path and push back.

Catherine has some very helpful info on one way we can help push back.  By supporting a targeted Planned Parenthood clinic:

What people can do to stand with Planned Parenthood:

>> Ribbon campaign: We are asking Planned Parenthood supporters across the country stand with us by filling out a form to have a ribbon in their name tied outside the clinic in Aurora.
http://www.ppaction.org/campaign/aurora1/b0809htr08

>> Donate to keep our doors open:
https://secure.ga0.org/02/aurora1/b0809htr08

Quick points about Aurora and the protests:
http://www.plannedparenthood.org/news-articles-press/politics-policy-iss…

You can read Suzanne’s full post, When “Pro-Life” Means “Terrorist”, and all the comments associated with it, at BlogHer.org

Let’s show our support and spread the word.  The pro-women, pro-individual platform will win out in the end if we join together and stand up.  That’s the only way we’ll ever move forward, and the only way we can keep from sliding ever further back.

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23 Responses

  1. I’m all for planned parenthood, but I’m also pro-life. I don’t particularly associate myself with any form of violence, because frankly, do you want to be associated with every single pro-choice advocate. Some of them don’t have such a convincing argument either.
    I don’t think, and I’m sure you’ve heard this before, that it comes down to whether a woman decides to do with her own body, because it’s no longer just her body. She’s making choices with permanent consequences for another human being. It’s not about “her body,” it’s about a human life.
    You’ll pardon my bluntness, but I can’t help but notice that you’re not exactly a victim of abortion, so who are you to speak for them. Let them speak for themselves, which, by the way is impossible. I’m not saying I speak for them, but I’m saying that they’ll never get a chance to speak at all, which I view as disgusting.

  2. Jarom,
    Its not a question of convincing arguments, but the consistent use of violence, intimidation, and an underlying platform that attacks individual rights.

    What is it about a clump of cells that makes it the equal of a living, breathing, thinking human being? It is not a human life, it is at most a potential human life. But that is the classic choice vs anti-choice debate. What I’m getting at is that this debate is not occurring in isolation, and the violence we see seeping out of one side is endemic to a host of related positions.

    I definitely respect that you personally don’t want to associate yourself with violence, but take a good hard look at the pro-life movement. It is a violent movement born of a violent political ideology. It isn’t about reducing the number of abortions. It is about restricting women and punishing them for sex. I find that abhorrent.

    (Out of curiosity, when do you believe life begins?)

  3. There is also the bit about the value of life stopping at birth. BTW, nice site redesign, I like it. I wish I could spruce up my blogs that way, so far all the templates I have tried are boring, to say the least.

  4. There is a great George Carlin monologue that really sums up a lot of the pro-life movement and the way it is so closely intertwined with the right wing.

    His basic point is: pro-lifers love you when you are in the womb then the moment you pop out into the world they could not give a fuck what happens to you.

    The piece is pretty easy to find on youtube.

  5. Rafael,
    Thanks. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and saw this and really liked it.
    Rafael and frolix22,
    Right on. There is indeed that bit about the value of life stopping at birth according to this worldview. How that feeds into the violence would be an interesting question.

  6. In answer to your question, I don’t know when life begins. I don’t know if you’re a religious person, but I am. I’d hate to be the one who stands before God and says, “I didn’t know that he/she was alive yet.” I don’t think anybody knows when the spirit enters the body and speculation will get us nowhere. I respect your comments on rape, but I don’t look on the pro-life movement as a punishment for sex, but rather the natural consequence, good or bad. My sister has two children, and she is not married. She sees this as a mistake, but she wouldn’t give up either of her children for any sum of money or anything else.

  7. Jarom,
    That’s great for your sister, but there is no reason to force that upon all women. And as for standing before God, there is simply no reason to base laws we all must live under on religious beliefs only some of us hold. I agree that speculating on when the spirit enters the body moves us nowhere. We need to answer the question of what life is, and where it begins, scientifically.
    But pregnancy isn’t always the natural consequence, and with contraception and abortion, isn’t a necessary consequence.

  8. I don’t believe in contraception, but that doesn’t mean others can’t use it. I didn’t say we should base our laws on that, I said that’s what I base my opinions on. As for consequences, if a woman doesn’t use contraceptives *and* all the other factors work together, pregnancy *is* a natural consequence. Abortion ends pregnancy prematurely. This doesn’t change the fact that a pregnancy existed. Birth isn’t always the natural consequence, I concede, but abortion doesn’t prevent pregnancy, it ends it.

  9. As for “scientifically,” there are few fields that change their opinions more often.

  10. Jarom,
    Fair enough. Being a natural consequence, in and of itself, is not sufficient to merit opposing efforts to stop the process. That line of reasoning rules out any kind of medical intervention.

    Science, and all the various fields within it, encompasses ideas that change and those that do not. But in each case that change reflects our evolving understanding of the natural world. So change is a positive, not a negative.

    The idea that scientific inquiry loses validity because it continually checks itself against the facts is ridiculous.

  11. Hi. I just noticed your kind recognition of my post on the violence in the pro-life movement. Thank you, I’m honored.

  12. I just happened to come across this post regarding the violent efforts of pro-lifers, and would personally like to apologize on behalf of the individuals to whom it pertains. As a staunch advocate of the pro-life cause, I am embarrassed to learn that such radically inappropriate measures are being taken to supress opposition.

    About the argument:
    Life, on a molecular level, begins at conception. This is the point at which a single cell with a new and unique genetic sequence is formed and begins to reproduce. This newly-formed zygote cannot be considered a part of the woman’s body, because it’s unique genetic stamp . This is why the murderer of a pregnant woman is charged with two counts of murder in a court of law. Technically, abortion is the taking of an innocent life–whatever the circumstances.

  13. Catherine,
    It was an amazing post!

    Mel,
    I understand and sympathize with that sentiment. I’m sure planned parenthood would welcome support from the pro-life crowd who oppose both abortion and violent tactics in furtherance of that goal.

    Back to the argument.
    Citing law for a murderer of a pregnant woman is tricky. I’d imagine that law was passed, along with a host of similar laws, as a “trickle effect” legal tactic against reproductive rights (and a tactic that has been rather successful, I’d say). So using it to form an argument isn’t the most convincing move.

    Technically, abortion is the taking of an innocent life only if what is removed is in fact, a life.

    I can’t shake the feeling that your definition of where life begins, while couched in scientific terms, come from a religious background. That said, what was the argument against abortion, from conception, before genetics became mainstream?
    Why is whether or not the zygote is a part of a woman’s body the tipping point? Why not the start of human life? The genetics viewpoint pegs the potential as the actual.

  14. “It is about the value of women as living beings”

    Thats it? Thats your argument? You are planning to stake your pro-choice claim on this principle? These discussions are simply the parsing of terms. Unless you are planning on denying the possibility that truth does exist in this world you are not capable as a human being to defend abortion. If the baby is alive when it is born it is alive when it was conceived. You cannot separate the two, there is no system of thought available to mankind that is able to defend this most simple of truths. Of course there are those that are stupid enough to take matters into their own hands and retaliate in the same manner. This must not be and should not be tolerated by either side. However, it is unbelievable to read that your defense of why abortion should be championed is because it receives persecution from pro-lifers. You need to, for your own sake, come to terms with exactly what it is you believe on this matter. I fear that there are those of you out there who have twisted these matters so badly you are no longer capable of doing the math. No country that kills its own children will stand for long, and I fear that in this country we’re not falling we have been on the ground for a while.

  15. Johanes,
    That’s the part of my argument that you quoted, sure.
    But I’d be willing to stake my pro-choice position on that principle.

    Let’s take a look at your arguments:

    If the baby is alive when it is born it is alive when it was conceived. You cannot separate the two, there is no system of thought available to mankind that is able to defend this most simple of truths.

    How about logic? Your statement is false. Beyond that, it is invalid logic. You have no way of proving your claim that a clump of cells is alive based purely on the resulting baby being alive. By that same tortured logic, I might claim that sperm is alive. I might claim that the very molecules that will one day form into reproductive cells are alive.

    Of course there are those that are stupid enough to take matters into their own hands and retaliate in the same manner. This must not be and should not be tolerated by either side.

    . Either side? Who does this on the pro-choice side?

    However, it is unbelievable to read that your defense of why abortion should be championed is because it receives persecution from pro-lifers.

    . I don’t. I am saying that this level of violence towards women is indicative of the larger anti-woman movement of which pro-life politics is a part.

    We do not kill our own children (unless you count pro-life policies of President Bush, such as limiting health care coverage for children). Allowing abortion is fine, plenty of countries do it.

    I defend reproductive rights based on the value of women as individuals, and their right to make their own choices about their own bodies. And I will continue to fight the anti-women movement.

  16. “His basic point is: pro-lifers love you when you are in the womb then the moment you pop out into the world they could not give a fuck what happens to you.”

    Yes, that is one of the common errant sound bites that pro-abortionists often trot out. Click the link for responses.

    Here’s the short version: 1) Protesting an immoral act doesn’t require you to take ownership of the situation (Can you call the police on your wife-beating neighbor without having to marry the woman?) and 2) Pro-lifers do lots for the women and babies.

  17. I don’t think the question is if that “clump of cells” is life. Science knows it is. Fertiltiy clinics know it is, and they charge dear prices to help couples achieve pregnancy. Embryonic research scientists know it is life and will pay dear prices for human embryos to experiment on…. more importantly, we all know it is life, simply because we all have the same embryonic beginnings. At the moment of conception, we have contained within our new and unique DNA, all the information that makes us tall, blonde, big eyed, pudgy, or slim. Nothing more is added. I think the real question is what value do we place on this new life? As for this life being a “potential” human being, that line of thinking is misleading. It is the same as looking at an acorn. We recognize the acorn and know it is destined to be nothing other than an oak tree…..if planted and nurtured to it’s designed end. So it is with the newly conceived person, if left alone to arrive in the sanctuary of it’s mother’s womb to grow and develope, is capable of great things. This new person may be able to help find a cure for cancer or put an end to poverty, it will have it’s own children one day and will likely show mercy and compassion for the elderly and the sick and dying. Instead, today the womb is the most dangerous place to be if you are a baby.
    As an aside…please do not muddy the waters by perpetuating the myth that abortion helps women. As a post abortive woman some 30 years now, my abortion did not help me at all. By a series of designed events and a decision to not inform me , I was not given a real choice. Something that 70% of women faced with unintended pregnancies admit to…. having no choice. But really…isn’t the dismembering or saline scalding, or poisoning death of over 1 million babies each year enough? Isn’t aborting 1 in 3 pregnancies enough?

  18. Neil,
    Some anti-choicers do lots for women. A lot don’t. The anti-choice movement is a politically conservative one, and hence social safety nets like healthcare, daycare, and free education programs go out the window. The same conservatives who oppose abortion make life much harder than it needs to be for poor single mothers.
    Robin,
    Is it human life? That is the question. Is it alive? Does it think? Does it learn? Does it feel pain?

    Look at how many acorns fall from a tree. How many mature into an oak? Is the tree committing murder?

    New persons are most welcome, surely. But what of agency? What of choice? If we need new people that badly, and a woman has no choice in the matter, why not start earlier? Why not simply say “women must submit to men and bear children”? That’s where that line of reasoning leads us.

    please do not muddy the waters by perpetuating the myth that abortion helps women. As a post abortive woman some 30 years now, my abortion did not help me at all. By a series of designed events and a decision to not inform me , I was not given a real choice.

    I am not pro-abortion. I am pro-choice. So you should have been given a real choice, and I am sorry you were not. Choosing to carry to term is every bit as valid as choosing to terminate. I highly doubt your uncited 70% statistic. But the pro-choice movement is with you. Women should have a choice.

  19. “Some anti-choicers do lots for women. A lot don’t.”

    As I pointed out earlier, pro-lifers do a lot for women but they aren’t under a moral obligation to just because they speak out against the evil of abortion.

    Protesting an immoral act doesn’t require you to take ownership of the situation (Again, can you call the police on your wife-beating neighbor without having to marry the woman? Do you have to be willing to adopt your neighbors kids before calling CPS on abusive parents?)

    There are more pregnancy centers than abortion clinics, and they are run with mostly donated money (100% donations in the case of the center I volunteer at) and have 85%+ of the staffing done by volunteers.

    Now let’s talk about Planned Parenthood, for example. How much do they do for children? How many adoptions do they refer? Do they perform abortions for free for women who can’t afford it? How much do their directors make vs. pregnancy center directors?

    “Is it human life? That is the question.”

    Yes. Human embryo. Human fetus. Human baby. Human toddler. Human teen.

    “Is it alive?”

    Yes. Virtually all abortions are done to a human being with a beating heart. If she wasn’t alive there would be no reason to kill her, right?

    “Does it think? Does it learn? Does it feel pain?”

    Those are artificial criteria and even if they were valid, how would you prove them? And wouldn’t you err on the side of life? Yes, many abortions are done to the the unborn who feel pain. Wouldn’t you at least want to give the unborn anesthesia before killing her, since they give anesthesia when performing surgeries in utero?

    “If we need new people that badly, and a woman has no choice in the matter, why not start earlier? Why not simply say “women must submit to men and bear children”? That’s where that line of reasoning leads us.”

    Huh? Where did that come from? We were talking about the morality of crushing and dismembering an innocent human being for any reason – except for your exceptions of gender selection and predispositions to being gay.

    I’d still like to know why abortions are permissable for all the reasons you give except when you don’t like the reasons. If your arguments about humanity were solid, the reason behind the abortion would be completely irrelevant.

    “Women should have a choice.”

    A choice to vote? Sure. Higher education? By all means. Whom to marry? Absolutely.

    Oh, you meant the choice to have her child murdered in utero? that’s different. Why can’t pro-choicers complete their sentences? 🙂

    The obvious question: If the unborn is human – and she most certainly is – what about her choice? As with virtually every pro-abortion argument this one assumes the unborn is not a human being.

  20. “We do not kill our own children (unless you count pro-life policies of President Bush, such as limiting health care coverage for children).”

    Abortion kills human beings. Denying that while saying that the Federal Gov’t not giving free insurance to middle class citizens is murder is beyond reason.

    “Allowing abortion is fine, plenty of countries do it.”

    And plenty of countries don’t do it. Plenty of countries do all sorts of horrible things. Are we appealing to that for our morality?

    “And I will continue to fight the anti-women movement.”

    I’ll let the 90% of the volunteers at CareNet know that they are all anti-women.

  21. “The same conservatives who oppose abortion make life much harder than it needs to be for poor single mothers.”

    Really? I thought it was the fathers who didn’t stick around.

    Silly ad hominems aside, go check out who donates the most money, and who founds and operates most major charities, hospitals, etc. (Hint: Orthodox Christians).

    You see, giving only counts when you open up your wallet. “Giving” away other people’s money via gov’t regulations isn’t charity at all.

  22. Neil, carrying on the over-simplistic acorn analogy: the acorn once it falls to the ground will find the needed elelments to put down roots. Unless of course someone sprays a defoliant or rakes up the newly sprouting acorn, effectively thwarting the designed end. The tree rises to it’s biological imparative….replacing itself. It does not uproot the acorn.The point of the analogy is to indicate the created destiny, it’s biological predestination to be a tree, a marmot, and a human being. Again, we know it is human life, neonatal studies indicate brainwave activity, sucking thumbs, the ability to feel pain, and the ability to try to save itself ( as witnessed on ultrasound) from the abortionists instrument . To be sure, we know it is not a zebra that resides in the womb. Why would parents who clearly want their babies play music and read to the developing baby in the womb? Again, the question is what value do we place on the fetus? I put it to you that the unborn is sometimes more valuable as a material good ie: research matter, IVF matter, and spare parts than were it valued as a unique, and unrepeatable human life. Again it comes down to assigning a value …it’s a child if I want the child and it quickly becomes a clump of cells or the product of conceptus if I don’t want the child. Those are competing truths, rooted in subjectivity, which then makes truth an improbability and communicating irrelevant.

  23. Robin, I followed your train of thought until the last sentence. Truth is quite probable, but getting a biased side to see your previous points may be a challenge.

    As usual, if someone used the “more value as material good” argument, the same rationale could be made for doing research on toddlers.

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