WARNING: Some supporting links go to pro-life websites, which commonly feature really gross images of alleged aborted fetuses.
[This post was originally published in 2006, but there seems to be an error and the original post can’t be accessed anymore. So I’m reblogging it, with some edits.–Amp.]
[One more update: The original post can now be accessed. But I'm leaving this one up, too, because comments at both places. --Amp]
I really like to assume the best of everyone, even people I disagree with.
And I try hard to take what opponents say, at their word.
But sometimes it’s hard.
A lot of “pro-lifers” say that they believe that an abortion, even early in pregnancy, is identical to child murder. Have an abortion, shoot a four-year-old in the head; morally, it’s the same. Or, anyhow, that’s what they claim to believe.
In contrast, pro-choicers tend to think that the abortion criminalization movement is motivated by a desire – perhaps an unconscious desire – to punish women for having sex.
I used to reject that latter view as a pointless ad hominem attack. Nowadays, I’m not so sure. Although I’ve met some rank-and-file pro-lifers whose policy preferences were consistent with a belief that a fetus is morally indistinguishable from a child, those folks usually have policy preferences which are totally out of step with the abortion criminalization movement as a whole.
In contrast, the leaders of the abortion criminalization movement have consistently put their political weight behind policies which make little or no sense if they genuinely think that abortion is identical to child murder. And those same leaders routinely endorse policies that make a lot of sense if their goal is to punish women who have sex.
To be fair, this is never phrased as “punishing” women by pro-lifers; what I’ve heard again and again from pro-lifers is that women should be made to “take responsibility for their actions” (by “actions,” they mean having sex), or that abortion is wrong because it lets women “avoid the consequences.”
So what motivates pro-lifers: the belief that women should be forced to face consequences for having sex, or the belief that abortion is exactly like child murder? Let’s review:
Almost no pro-life policies make sense if they really see no difference between the abortion of a fetus and the murder of a four-year-old. However, nearly all pro-life policies make sense if they’re seeking to force women who have sex to “face the consequences.”