Saturday, March 12, 2011

When reality and false compassion collide

Sometime during the last decade or so anti-choicers decided they really had to change their rhetoric when it came to demonizing abortion. Just screaming about babies all the time brought up some uncomfortable counterpoints for them, like when it was pointed out that criminalizing the procedure would take women back to the age where many died due to unsafe abortions, and they never really had much of a response other than to insinuate that consequence was at best irrelevant, at worst, deserved. Being that most people just don't hate women enough to see them as disposable in this way, the anti-choice movement started to lose the public to images of coat hangers and accusations of hypocrisy over why "life" was so sacred when it came to the unborn, but not their carriers.

Trying to pretty up a political position that is so heavily based in misogyny isn't a simple task. Many still avoid the issue of the existence of women and instead soldier on and discuss the issue as if humans gestated in pumpkin patches. But a few others realized that in order to complete the picture of the compassionate "pro-lifer" and win the public back, they would have to at least try to fake some sort of concern for women when it came to that issue. So instead of arguing for a no-tolerance, draconian solution, they began to argue for paternalistic ones. The woman seeking abortion services was no longer a sinister and malevolent person, but rather a stupid and easily manipulable one that needed to be saved.

And that's how obstacles like waiting periods or mandatory ultrasounds set up for the sole reason of burdening an woman's time and resources became "safeguards" against alleged rash and ill-informed decisions to abort, how those that wished to police female sexuality and control the bodies of women became the real "feminists" standing up for their sisters, how a made-up disorder called "post-abortion syndrome" was touted as rampant even though it was discredited by the APA, and how the notion of needing to criminalize abortion in order to protect women from their fickle selves made it's way into the discussion on reproductive rights. While the idea of concern for women in this debate was unheard of years ago, it caught on in a big way, and today it's one of the main arguments being presented by the anti-choice movement.

Indeed, when a major piece of successful anti-choice legislation, the partial-birth abortion ban of 2003, was upheld by the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy used the "concern" for a woman's mental health in his majority opinion in favor of the ban:

Respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child. The Act recognizes this reality as well. Whether to have an abortion requires a difficult and painful moral decision. Casey, supra, at 852–853 (opinion of the Court). While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained. See Brief for Sandra Cano et al. as Amici Curiae in No. 05–380, pp. 22–24. Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow.

Would you like to know what the end result of all this "compassion" for women is? I'm sure by now, you can guess where it's going to lead:

Nebraska’s new abortion law forced Danielle Deaver to live through ten excruciating days, waiting to give birth to a baby that she and her doctors knew would die minutes later, fighting for breath that would not come.

And that’s what happened. The one-pound, ten-ounce girl, Elizabeth, was born December 8th. Deaver and husband Robb watched, held and comforted the baby as it gasped for air, hoping she was not suffering. She died 15 minutes later.

So in case you are keeping track - we must prevent all late-term abortions because even though we "find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon", we will just assume that it would be emotionally devastating for the woman involved to give her wanted yet doomed child a release from suffering, so instead we will force her to carry and birth that child so the parents can watch it struggle for breath and eventually die in their arms, because this apparently won't seriously mess someone up as much as an abortion would.

I have no words for this type of cruelty.

(via C&L)

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