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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I Don't Understand the Pro-Life Movement

Rather, I don't understand certain factions of the pro-life movement.  I mean, what is it they stand for, anyway?

For most of my life, I thought that pro-lifers believed life began at conception, and therefore it would be murder to abort a fetus at any stage.  This puts the needs of the fetus before the choice of the mother and her right to her body.  The crux of the argument is that at conception, a child is a child and no longer simply part of the mother's body.

Why, then, would some members of the pro-life movement choose to fight for a bill that proposes outlawing abortions after the first heartbeat can be medically detected?

Of course, I understand why in the short term.  They must be looking at this as one battle in the war against abortion.  If they are able to somehow move the marker on the slope up, they figure it will be easier to fight and win the next battle, which, one would assume, would be making abortion illegal.

Here's my problem with this:

If you are pro-life because you truly believe that a human being starts to exist at the moment of conception, then you are doing your ideology no favors by pulling a stunt tactic at a hearing (having a fetus testify), for a bill that does not stop abortion, but only changes its legality point.  You are, essentially, acknowledging that human life later in gestation is more important that human life early on in gestation.

I understand "baby steps" and "means to an end" and all that...but I don't understand how people in the pro-life movement could subscribe to this bill.  It's unsatifactory to them, and it's unsatisfactory to pro-choicers. It severely limits a woman's right to choose, as with new technology heartbeats are detected earlier and earlier, and some may not even know they are pregnant before their window of choice is shut, and it suggests that it's okay to terminate a fetus before a certain stage.

As a means to "trick" the government into essentially banning abortions, I suppose it's all right.  Fairly witty in its delivery.

But I thought one of the main points of the pro-life movement was the moral superiority on which it stands.  Pro-lifers are able to say, right now, in black and white terms, that they support life (unless, of course, they also support the death penalty, which is another can of worms...).  That's a statement that, stripped of its applications, sounds really good, really moral, really right.  I support life.  I like that statement.  It makes me feel like a good person.

If I were a pro-life supporter, the entire concept would be ruined for me, however, if my group began saying, "Well, we can't ban abortions entirely, yet, so let's settle for this arbitrary cut-off." It misses the point of what I've been brought up to believe is pro-life.  It sounds suspiciously close to "if you can't beat them, join them," with an uncomfortable undercurrent of wily trickery as the movement prepares to achieve its main goal.

To me, a move like this only detracts from the movement by hollowing their morality stance in the name of playing politics.

But, what would I know?  I'm pro-choice afterall.

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  1. Very interesting… I am an advocate for the right to choose as well. Really curious to see an anti-choice respose to this.

  2. Interesting post. The recent development which has disturbed me the most in the past few weeks was a Republican effort to redefine the rape exception for abortion laws to "forceable rape". That would mean that a 13 year old who was repeatedly raped by her 45 year old uncle but whose assault didn't meat the technical definition of a "forceable rape" wouldn't qualify. That's just sick.

  3. What I can't understand is why everyone (including the author of the article) is referring to this as a fetus "testifying in court." Fuckin please. All they're doing is broadcasting the heartbeat on a screen, more or less as "evidence." Either the people referring to this as "testifying" are mocking pro-lifers, or they as pro-lifers are doing themselves a disservice (I think it's the former), but it's ridiculous.

  4. How are they going to swear it in?

  5. That's a really good point, anonymous. I don't know which side of the debate labelled it that way...I had assumed the Faith2Action people (who I don't believe speak for the pro-life movement as a whole) thinking it would further personalize a fetus. In which case, yes, it is a mistake, it's another example of how extremists can trivialize an entire point of view accidentally.

    But it very well could be the other side, trying to trivialize that point of view on purpose.

    Either way, it is ridiculous and inflammatory terminology.

  6. Technically, this law WOULD be outlawing abortion. A fetus obtains a heartbeat at five weeks gestation. Most women don't know they are pregnant until at least four weeks (at the earliest) and that's really only if you've been planning for a pregnancy. Otherwise, you don't know to take the test until you've missed a period or are getting weird cravings and that usually comes at or around five weeks. Thus, by the time the woman who may want an abortion knows that she is pregnant, the heartbeat is already there.



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