Wednesday, March 08, 2006

 

It's all about the sex

“Pro-lifers” aren’t pro-life. They’re anti-sex. The basic rhetorical assumption that drives the pro-life movement is that a fetus is a person and should have the rights of an individual. Yet the most common stance for anti-abortionists is that abortion should be outlawed except in the case of incest or rape. Is it now legal to kill a two-year-old child if that child were the product of incest or rape? Of course not. Even advocates of South Dakota’s recent anti-abortion legislation, which outlaws abortion even in the case of rape or abortion, give some wiggle room: the now infamous raped-and-sodomized-Christian-virgin execption:
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Napoli says most abortions are performed for what he calls "convenience." He insists that exceptions can be made for rape or incest under the provision that protects the mother's life. I asked him for a scenario in which an exception may be invoked. BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.
Napoli is saying that a certain moral standard should be applied to the circumstance surrounding conception, and if the pregnant woman is sufficiently religious, asexual, and was clearly forced to sex through violence, well, then, an abortion is okay. (What’s not said is that, if a woman is sexual or has had sex, isn’t religious, and her rape wasn’t brutal enough, then she deserved what she got and should bear the child.) Again, would this exception stand for a two-year-old child? Of course not. At best, then, pro-lifers think the fetus is quasi-human, sort of alive, but not really, and certainly not really deserving the rights of a born U.S. citizen. After all, could you imagine the legal confusion surrounding a fetus if it was given the rights of a born citizen? Imagine these scenarios: --“Back alley” abortion. Would the mother be accused of murder? --Miscarriage. Would the expulsion of the fetus from the womb go before an inquest to determine if the act were malicious on the part of the mother (murder), deliberate on the part of the fetus (suicide), or a result of natural conditions (accidental)? --Age. Should we start calculating a person’s age based on their date of conception? And should we change the laws where age is a factor (e.g., voting, driving) to account for the extra time? Should an ovulating woman undergo daily exams to determine if she’s conceived? The scenarios are, of course, completely ridiculous. The real purpose of abortion laws is social control. Fundamentalist Christians and their hangers-on, like many of us, see the problems that divorce, domestic abuse, drugs, STDs, and teenage pregnancy cause in society. These are real problems that rip apart families, destroy peoples’ lives, and cause related problems that affect everybody, like crime. But these people see the solution not in, say, eradicating poverty or correcting social imbalances that lie at the heart of these problems, but in creating an idealistic moral society based on strict Christian principles. The solution to the problem is the nuclear family (preferably white and suburban) and the problem is “easy” morals. Sex. You see it in the language of anti-abortionists. They call abortions a “convenience” and accuse women using abortion as a contraceptive. (Never mind the psychological distress caused by getting an abortion, the guilt associated with it, and the pain of the actual procedure.) In this worldview, abortion is a form of last-minute contraceptive. That is, abortion removes the disincentive not to have sex. More from Jim Lehrer’s News Hour interview with South Dakota representatives:
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Democratic Representative Elaine Roberts is one of South Dakota's few pro-choice legislators. What's next, she fears, is a host of measures that regulate women's private lives. ELAINE ROBERTS: We already have a law that says that pharmacists by conscience could refuse to fill my prescription for contraceptives. There is already a move from some groups who have worked on this to say that there should be no contraceptives, that sexual intercourse is for the purpose of reproduction FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Much of what she fears as an assault on basic rights Senator Napoli sees as a return to traditional values. BILL NAPOLI: When I was growing up here in the wild west, if a young man got a girl pregnant out of wedlock, they got married, and the whole darned neighborhood was involved in that wedding. I mean, you just didn't allow that sort of thing to happen, you know? I mean, they wanted that child to be brought up in a home with two parents, you know, that whole story. And so I happen to believe that can happen again. FRED DE SAM LAZARO: You really do? BILL NAPOLI: Yes, I do. I don't think we're so far beyond that, that we can't go back to that.
Napoli wants to progress from outlawing abortions to outlawing contraceptives. For a guy that wants to save the “lives” of the “unborn,” that seems to be...well...stupid. (Studies show that in states where family planning and easy access to contraceptives is readily available, the number of unwanted pregnancies goes down.) But you might not think Napoli’s position is idiotic if you think removing all safeguards to having sex will discourage people from actually having sex – that is, if you think the more chance you have of getting pregnant, the less likely you are to have sex. (That’s the theory; I know it’s ridiculous.) In fact, by making sex “dangerous” (i.e., likely to result in a pregnancy), you’ll actually use people’s sex drives to compel them into marriage, thus dotting the landscape with happy nuclear families and halting our nation’s descent into immorality. The real effects of such a policy will be disastrous. Stay tuned.
Comments:
Well said, and thank you for posting this after my initial "debate" statement had been submitted. THis way, we can't be accused of "groupthink" or collusion.
 
I hadn't realized you submitted your initial debate statement. I thought the debate fell under a train or something. Where is it?
 
Matt is collecting our submissions according to the rules we have agreed upon. A 400 word position statement from Eric on Monday, my 600 word position statement/rebuttal yesterday; tonight Eric will submit a 300 word rebut, and then I have a 400 word summation on Thursday, with Eric having a 300 word final-say on Friday. The whole thing will be presented next week at LITW.
 
Do you want me to hold off on the rest of my posts until after Thursday? Not that anybody is reading this blog, but it might look improper...as if we're colluding...of course, I don't know the substance of the debate.

This abortion stuff is exhausting!
 
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