The 40 Days For Life anti-abortion campaign kicked off its fall tour yesterday – it’s largest yet, spread across 200
cities in 45 states. And I find myself thinking harder about the arguments of the
anti-choice movement. I recently went to Wisconsin, where anti-abortion
protests have lately gathered strength. I wanted to hear their argument from
their own lips.
got the usual comments about God and conception and murder, and even found
myself at one point involved in a discussion about my own hypothetical murder
(see the accompanying video). But it was the inherent irony of their
opposition to contraception which I found most baffling.
The religious right in Central Wisconsin pickets a family planning clinic with the intention of having the clinic closed and all birth control made illegal.
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are two family planning clinics in central Wisconsin – one in Wausau, one in
Stevens Point – that have been picketed by typical religious right-wing
anti-choicers over the past two years. What’s not typical is that these clinics
do not provide abortions. Nor do they
provide referrals or even medical counseling for abortions, because their
federal grant restrictions explicitly prohibit them from doing so. The people
of Wisconsin know this. The protesters know this. So what’s the big deal?
big deal is that this family planning clinic dispenses contraception – condoms,
birth control pills, and emergency contraception. The protesters I spoke with
in Wisconsin believe that “the morning-after pill” is the equivalent of murder.
They even believe that the birth control pill is a form of murder. (Since in
some cases it prevents the fertilized egg – which they would call “the
embryonic person” – from implanting in the uterine wall.)
condoms? One protester told me that condoms encourage men to use women “for sex
without repercussions.” But isn’t it the woman who has to deal with the real
“repercussions” of a pregnancy? You would think an anti-abortion activist, of
all people, would see the use of condoms.
no. “If you want to have sex,” he told me, waving his finger in the air, “make
sure you can deal with the consequences. Which are children.”
this kind of thinking that stands in the way of reducing unplanned pregnancy
and reducing abortion in America. If these people got what they wanted, and
birth control were made illegal, the number of unplanned pregnancies would
skyrocket. So would the number of abortions – including late-term abortions,
which are the most controversial of all.
a fertilized egg feel pain? Does it feel stress, anxiety, hope, love and fear?
Does it appreciate a sunny day after a week of rain? Does it have friends,
neighbors, and lovers? Does it have dreams and ambitions or plans for the
future? Does it worry about hurting the feelings of the people it loves? Is a
fertilized egg afraid of dying?
answer yes to any of these questions would require a leap of faith that
rational argument could not support. To force women under penalty of law to
carry every pregnancy to term is another way of keeping them downtrodden and
subservient in a male-dominated society. Moreover, it’s not the job of
government to legislate on a woman’s body. But that’s beside the point.
point is: While some may be bothered by the fact of
abortion, contraception helps women and men prevent unintended pregnancy, which will
reduce abortion. Surely that’s something we can all agree on.