Monday, November 22, 2010

Jill's question on Common Ground efforts

Jill Stanek's post about "Common Ground" efforts warrants an entire blog post of its own. She asked for comments on William Saletan's "common ground" suggestions. I'll use Jill's summaries, then add my thoughts.

1. Reduce the abortion rate through voluntary means. “Rather than focus on passing laws… study data on why women seek abortions and… systematically address those factors…. Help women avoid pregnancies they don’t want, and you’ll wipe out the vast majority of abortions without having to enact a single restriction.”

Voluntary means? Absolutely. But I disagree on the idea that helping women "avoid pregnancies they don't want" is the key. The idea that an unwanted pregnancy means an unwanted baby is a palpably false one. So in a way, this is a great suggestion, but in a way it's also a red herring.

Real prochoicers would jump at the chance to help women to address their real problems -- bad relationships, financial difficulties, health problems, etc. But I think a lot of the reason that proabortionists, disguising themselves as prochoicers, make this suggestion is to promulgate the "unwanted pregnancy means unwanted baby" fallacy. More on this later.

2. Subsidize maternity. “Money can’t buy everything. But it can make it easier to carry a pregnancy to term and raise the child. To that extent, it can discourage some abortions.” Saletan suggested both taxpayer support and church support. “Every parish that can afford to should have a women’s shelter designed to support mothers and their newly born children.”

This one grates on me, and smacks of paying women to have babies. The effect would likely be to increase pregnancies rather than decrease abortions, by encouraging women who would never be abortion minded to get pregnant, or to at least be less responsible with their sexuality, while having little impact on abortion-minded women.

I'd say Mentor Maternity is a better approach. This is something prolife pregnancy centers already tend to do, that we need to do more of. A lot of the needs aren't financial, at least not in terms of needing money. It's a matter of learning money management. Learning to delay gratification. (And the inability to delay gratification is likely a huge part of why she's pregnant in an untenable situation to begin with.)

3. Embrace contraception. “[I]f pro-lifers were to embrace contraception and give it moral sanction – it would prevent more abortions than any anti-abortion law would.”

Yeah, like it's suddenly gonna start working. We've been throwing contraceptives at women for how long now?

The contraceptive mentality CAUSES abortion by creating a dichotomy in many people's thinking. I've actually had people very seriously insist that sex does not cause pregnancy. "Contraceptive failure causes pregnancy," they say.

No. Sex causes pregnancy. And we need to get that idea back into people's heads. And we need to stop treating women's healthy bodies as if they're diseased. There's something very perverse about "liberation" and "equality" taking the form of pumping your body full of chemicals, and following up with surgery if the chemicals fail, because your body is functioning normally. And then women end up feeling as if they failed because their normal, healthy bodies are functioning. They might as well feel like failures because they built muscle mass after eating well and exercising regularly. Let's stop this pitting of women against their own bodies.

4. Early abortions are better than late ones. “‘And do you think that reducing gestational age of abortion is a common-ground goal?’ [quoting Christina Page]. From a pro-life standpoint, trading late abortions for early ones is hardly ideal. But it’s better than nothing, and if you pursue it, nobody will stand in your way.”

This is such bullshit. The longer a woman delays the abortion decision, the less likely she is to abort. Ambivalence -- and even rejection of the pregnancy -- are normal in the first trimester. The woman needs time, information, and support. Encouraging her to abort earlier so that she's avoiding a more taxing late abortion is a means of ensuring that she aborts before she can pass through this normal stage and get to where she's excited and happy about the pregnancy. It's making it all about pain and loss and failure, and not about life or joy or triumph. Excuse the hell out of me for not jumping on this dismal bandwagon.

Encouraging early abortion is encouraging more abortion. You might as well say you can reduce the divorce rate by encouraging earlier divorces so as to avoid "delaying" divorce through marriage counseling.

5. Choose your friends by your mission, not your mission by your friends. “[T]he pro-lifers who co-organized the conference… have been derided and accused of treachery [for]… cooperat[ing] with pro-choicers…. The reason why young, poorly funded people represented the pro-life movement… is that the old, well-funded people who think they own the movement failed to show up. That’s the role young people ought to play in history: thinking in new ways and taking on new challenges when the older generation has lost its compass or its courage. If the pro-life movement is going to be a movement and not just a self-congratulatory fundraising machine, it will need people like Gushee and Camosy to lead the way. These forward thinkers may have to choose between preventing abortions and pleasing the pro-life establishment.”

This sounds like a "divide and conquer" tactic by the abortion establishment, frankly. Let's not forget that us old soldiers have been ambushed before by "common ground" ploys.

Yes, there are sincere prochoicers who really do want to work with prolifers on areas where we agree. But they're not those in power. And I've yet to see a "prochoice" call for "common ground" that wasn't just another way to assert untrue assumptions such as those tired old canards about "prevention" that have failed in the past.

I'll believe that the abortion lobby is sincere in a "common ground" effort when they start basing their efforts on reality, and not slogans.

PS: I'll also believe that abortion advocates are sincere in their quest for "common ground" when they embrace this sort of proposal: that if there is evidence that the to-be-aborted baby can feel pain, that the mother be informed and that every reasonable measure be taken to ensure that the child is properly anesthetized before being stabbed in the skull, harpooned in the heart, or just dismembered alive. Concede that abortions should at least be done in a way that does not cause pain to the baby you're killing.

Put up or shut up.

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