Sunday, April 09, 2006

God Help Protect Us From Your Followers

I was eager to read today in the NYTimes magazine, Jack Hitt's piece, "Pro-Life Nation," on El Salvador and its draconian anti-abortion laws. The article is devastating. I sincerely hope that Hitt's piece winds its way through public discussions on the pro-life movement. We need to be clear-eyed about the consequences of criminalizing abortions. Abortions simply will not cease. What could happen, especially if South Dakota is the standard bearer, is that we will have an array of illegal abortions: "back-alley" abortions, online pharmacies selling RU486 or other pharmaceuticals rumored to enable an abortion, and of course rogue physicians willing to defy the laws or cheat the system.

I think it is important for people to dwell on cases, such as women who have ectopic pregnancies and the hospitals simply will not operate until the fetus dies. Or, how about the forensic vagina specialists who look for evidence of an abortion in order to sentence a woman to 30 years in prison. This is barbaric. If you ever had any doubts about the disengenousness of the "pro-life" movement, read this article. The goal is not to preserve life. The goal is to control female sexuality: to create shame, fear, and intimdation, particularly among poor women. I am also struck by the fact that our own policies, here in the supposedly civilized nation of the United States, are heading in the direction of El Salvador.

When I was in college, there was a horrific civil war in El Salvador. I was attending a Jesuit college, wherein we regularly participated in teach in and public debates about the U.S.'s role in training the death squads of El Salvador's military. The people leading these discussions were Jesuit priests, who embraced liberation theology. In those moments of my education, I was in awe of the courage and heroics of these priests. When I was a first year student, I had the pleasure of an older Jesuit priest living on my dorm floor. He was a man of great integrity and supported in every way our liberal politics, even our budding feminist awakenings.

Those priests, and the courage of liberation theologians, has been wiped out by the radically inhumane dogma of conservative Catholicism. I have no illusions that it is a fundamentally misogynist worldview, deeply frightened by female sexuality and determined to shame women into total submission. To grow up in that environment is unthinkable to me and I fear for the future generations born into this world.

Follow this link to an interview with Jack Hitt by Rachel Maddow from Air America.