Wednesday, March 22, 2006

If you can't defend legal abortion, then attack the motives of prolifers

I've noticed a rather disturbing trend in the posts of various pro-choice bloggers and writers in recent months. The trend is to attack the motives of prolifers and the strategy seems to be working itself into becoming the most used arrow in the pro-choice quiver. Instead of trying to defend legal abortion and provide good reasons why abortion should remain legal, why tax dollars should pay for abortions and a number of other pro-choice positions, pro-choicers are using simplistic logic and huge over-generalizations to attack the motives of prolifers.

Why is this? Though I'm not certain if certain pro-choicers believe these are the real motives of prolifers, it's much easier to insinuate evil motives and then write off individuals with these evil motives than it is to take the argument of someone you disagree with seriously and then show why that argument is wrong and why your position is right. This is especially true for pro-choice movement which is struggling to find a foothold in a storm as they are currently stuck between a rock (the scientific evidence of the unborn's humanity, the feelings of post-abortive women, and society's belief that abortion isn't morally right) and a hard place (admitting abortion is "bad" inevitably leads to the question of why is abortion "bad").

Prescribing evil motives to prolifers seems like a much easier task (or at least a good short term strategy) than dealing with the problems the pro-choice movement is currently facing.

The two motives (that I've seen at least) prescribed to prolifers are either that 1.) prolifers want to punish women for having sex and/or that 2.) the real goal isn't saving unborn children but making birth control illegal and preventing procreative sex.

At Alas, a Blog, Ampersand provides a chart which attempts to show that the policies which prolifers advocate are more consistent with the belief that women should suffer consequences for having sex than the belief that abortion is "exactly the same as child murder."

Amp cherry picks policies (why no mention of opposing the killing of human embryos for their stem cells, opposition to assisted suicide or bans on tax-funded abortions?), creates some major strawmen (which prolife organization is opposed to an HPV vaccine and which prolife organization wants to keep abortions for rape and incest legal?) and incorrectly insinuates that partial-birth abortion has a lower risk of injuring the mother even though there is absolutely no evidence for this. However, what's most tragic is his complete inability to take the possible varied motives behind a variety of policies seriously even though he says, "I really like to assume the best of everyone, even people I disagree with. And I try hard to take what opponents say, at their word." The chart that follows his statement is strong evidence that he really hasn't tried that hard to take the varied positions of prolifers on a variety of policies seriously.

Molly at Molly Saves the Day makes a similar argument when she states,
"Guess what that means? It means it's NOT ABOUT LIFE. If abortions should be illegal but there should not be forced marrow donations from living donors, the distinction isn't one of life, it's one of responsibility."

This same kind of obvious ad hominem attack is also clearly seen in a Salon article featuring statements from NARAL New York's Cristina Page who says, "The anti-choice movement has become a religious movement, and because of that, their interest isn't in reducing abortion. In fact, reducing abortion has become problematic for them, because they want to strip Americans of using birth control, in effect to change the entire family structure."

Cristina's main schtick isn't trying to prove that the unborn aren't human beings or that unborn human beings don't deserve to be protected by law but to attack the motives of prolifers by claiming that the real goal of the prolife movement is "the creation of a society in which the only acceptable reason for sex is procreation". In the Salon article, she also asserts that the prolife movement, besides wanting to ban abortion and contraception, wants to "make child care impossible" based on nothing but the web sites of a few organizations that are against abortion mentioning a study from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development which seems to have found some correlation between child care and aggressiveness in children.

I think these attempts to unmask the supposedly evil motives of prolifers will ultimately fail to persuade the large majority of the American public. The hardcore pro-choicers will eat this up for breakfast, lunch and dinner but most people who know and interact with regular-average-joe-contraceptive-using-kids-in-daycare prolifers will have a hard time believing that the main motive of behind their friend or co-workers opposition to abortion (especially women who are prolife) is to punish women for having sex.

Do some pro-choice people really think the prolife position of wanting to save unborn children is so nonsensical that they have to come up with other motives for us? Or do they really see us as vile sexist minions trying to control women? I don't know. But it's hard for me to understand why anyone would think this kind of strategy would work.

3 comments:

  1. "as they are currently stuck between a rock (the scientific evidence of the unborn's humanity, the feelings of post-abortive women, and society's belief that abortion isn't morally right) and a hard place (admitting abortion is "bad" inevitably leads to the question of why is abortion "bad")."

    In my experience the scariest thing about the pro-life movement is the narrow-mindedness. I find it hard to believe that the only options behind the reasoning for the pro-choice movement are the avoiding accepting the "rock and hard place" options you have outlined above. Do you not believe that some of us do not accept that abortion is morally wrong? It is my opinion that my morality is my choice not someone else’s. It is also my opinion that I should not be subject to law based on someone else’s moral/religious beliefs. I do not believe abortion is "bad". I believe not having the option is bad. In regards to the feelings of post-abortive women I believe that if it is something that as a person you feel is wrong and would leave you in anguish than you should not choose to have one. It is obviously a significant decision and should not be treated carelessly. Those who feel abortion is wrong should support the "lesser of evils" and stop trying to disallow the morning after pills from being sold over the counter.

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  2. Hi Drea,
    Thanks for commenting.

    I readily accept that some pro-choicers don't think abortion is morally wrong. My point was that the leaders of the pro-choice movement are having a difficult time deciding how to talk about abortion. The former strategy of dehumanizing the unborn and treating abortion as if it was an amoral act don't seem to working any longer.

    It is my opinion that my morality is my choice not someone else’s.

    So if you thought it was morally okay to torture a toddler for fun then it would be morally ok? Is a serial killer's morality their choice?

    It is also my opinion that I should not be subject to law based on someone else’s moral/religious beliefs.

    You're subject to a ton of laws based on another's (your legislator's) moral beliefs. Every law that bans some type of behavior is a law based on the moral beliefs of various legislators.

    Do you have any evidence (such as a scientific study) that shows selling emergency contraception over the counter will reduce abortions?

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  3. Anonymous11:34 AM

    Drea,
    I just want to add some additional thoughts to what J said:

    "I do not believe abortion is "bad". I believe not having the option is bad. In regards to the feelings of post-abortive women I believe that if it is something that as a person you feel is wrong and would leave you in anguish than you should not choose to have one."

    Hindsight is often 20/20, Drea. Many of the post abortive women I've spoken to (including the ladies over at After Abortion) did not know the emotional outcome of their abortion before hand and some were even pro-choice! Also, there are numberous women who despite wanting to carry to term are coerced into abortions by parents and boyfriends. If you believe with your heart that abortion is always a good decision, then you may not understand this, but at least try to have some compassion.

    "It is obviously a significant decision and should not be treated carelessly."

    And yet pro-choicers do just this and degrade the serious nature of the procedure when they use such terms as "simple as having your teeth cleaned" and "a simple procedure to remove tissue" (note: this are lines often given by abortion clinic counselors).

    "Those who feel abortion is wrong should support the "lesser of evils" and stop trying to disallow the morning after pills from being sold over the counter."

    Not all pro-lifers object to the use of artificial birth control. I won't stereotype you if you don't stereotype us. Looking forward to your response.
    Rachael
    http://www.rsnider.blog-city.com

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