Thursday, June 22, 2006

"Lord, make me chaste, but not yet!":Self-Hating Anti-Abortionists

In the wake of news that Democratic Governor, Kathleen Blanco, signed yet another state ban on abortions, I am trying to make sense, once again, of the pro-life position. It is clearly not just a Republican political position, as The (liberal) Girl Next Door explains. Last summer, when I was taking my budding NOW chapter to the grassroots, at various county fairs, I was stunned to see the local Democrats set up their pro-life tent. I felt betrayed, sold out, and repulsed by my local party. In fact, I am not sure what party, if any, I still belong to after that incident. If you live in small towns like mine, or in very rural parts, you will soon realize that the Democratic party is not balm to a soul like mine. The only difference between Democrats and Republicans in my parts is that the former love Social Security and support unions, while the latter is completely pro-market. The "values" of both voters (and yes I did mean to put that word in scare quotes) is indistinguishable. These are conservative folks: very patriotic, traditional families, anti-immigration, pro-gun and pro-life. This makes a feminista like me spin her head. Afterall, I hail from God's Country: California. I would prefer hanging out with a Californian Republican over a Pennsylvanian Democrat (Philly Democrats are the exception) any day of the week.

There are lots of arguments I could make about why I find social conservative politics not only repulsive, but down right immoral. But, I will try to refrain from such a bilious outpour and focus, once again, on abortion. I think that The (liberal) Girl Next Door is onto something when she writes:

what if we stopped engaging in the debate about abortion rights on the Republicans’ terms and started defining the issue for ourselves? We all know that abortion gets the religious right out to the polls, but we also know that Republicans have no real interest in outlawing abortion on the national level, if they did, they could have done so already. What the Republicans want is to have the option of taking the moral high ground while doing nothing other than paying lip service to the abortion issue. Why don’t we take that issue away from them and put them on the defensive for a change?

Beautiful! Seriously, I can't tell you how many "pro-life" Republicans I know, particularly men, who would never deny their mother, sister, aunt, or daughter the right to get an abortion in any circumstance. We know full well from studying history that the moneyed folks have always procured abortions, even if they publically rejected abortion. In fact, what is really happening when pro-lifers set up their tents and preach their moralism is a kind of classism and racism. They are rejecting poor and non-white women getting knocked up; they are punishing these women for having sex. And, let's remember, that no one is proposing legislation that would punish men who impregnate women. Men who knock up a woman, who then desperately seek an abortion in the neanderthal states now passing abortion bans, face absolutely NO criminal charges for their part.

And, to further illustrate (liberal) Girl's point, we have this report from Broadsheet which reports on the number of "pro-life" folks who are planning to turn out and vote for state-wide ballot to reject Gov. Rounds abortion ban in South Dakota. Apparently, when pro-life voters finally get what they pay lip service to--a complete ban that criminalizes abortion--they start putting a real face to the women who they are now penalizing. Abortion stops being an abstract moral issue, and becomes utterly real--what if my daughter is raped? What if my suicidal, bi-polar daughter's psychiatrist recommends that she does not continue the pregnancy? What if my mother's health will be seriously comprimised by an unexpected pregnancy in her late 40s?

The pro-life stance is easy to commit yourself to when the image you have in your head of a woman seeking an abortion is a poor, non-white, drug addict who can't keep her legs shut. The pro-life stance is quite simply a MORALISTIC stance; it has nothing to do with difficult moral deliberations that require looking hard at the facts on the ground, at the individual woman's story or situation. For those who don't adopt the pro-life stance as a xenophobic moralistic stance, I wager they adopt the stance as a corrective to their own less than responsible behavior. I had a staunchly pro-life boyfriend once (believe me, very short-lived) who didn't want to use condoms; I have no doubt that he is destined to get a girlfriend pregnant and we will see how staunchly pro-life he is when that happens. For these sorts of pro-lifers, what you see is a kind of guilt-soaked, self-hating moralism: "Lord, make me chaste, but not yet!"

In fact, I regret that I have even allowed myself to call these folks pro-life, since they are anything but. These are anti-sex, anti-poor, non-white women, and anti-compassion folks. They white knuckle themselves in their own unliveable and unrealistic moral rules, rules that they repeatedly break and then punish others for their own sins.