If you do nothing else tonight, read this post, from the blog with the greatest name ever.
why on earth should pro-choicers accept the premise that the fetus is the moral equivalent of a “child,” when most of the people who purportedly believe it aren’t willing to apply this principle with the slightest consistency?
But wait—it gets worse. We now get to the second clause, which exempts women who initiate the decision to get an abortion entirely from criminal penalties! So, in other words, women who procure abortions are committing first-degree murder—but should not be punished. (Enshrining this principle into criminal law would certainly have interesting consequences; if you want somebody killed, just pay somebody to do it, and as far as you’re concerned it’s all nice and legal.) There are two possible explanations for this bizarre combination of policies. The first—which is the reason that abortion laws passed in the 19th century (including the Texas law struck down in Roe) applied only to doctors—is that Republicans do not consider women to be responsible rights-bearing subjects (unlike, say, the first-trimester fetus that inhabits a woman’s body.) Given the extent to which the “pro-life” position tends to come packaged with a variety of other patriarchal regulations of female sexuality, this would seem to be a significant part of the puzzle. You may remember this kind of phony male chauvinist “compassion” from some of the conservative op-eds that came out in the wake of Karla Faye Tucker and Titanic—it used to be women and children first, but then those feminists ruined everything and now a woman can be executed as if the laws should apply to them because they’re legal persons or something. (I mean, sure, women couldn’t own property or vote or practice law or anything, but I bet they’d trade that for having doors held open for them regularly anytime!) Shorter American pro-life movement: fetuses are right-bearing subjects, adult women are not. But there is a second explanation: pro-lifers sincerely believe that women who get abortions are guilty of first-degree murder, but they are willing to abandon this purely for reasons of political expedience. If this is the case, this provides yet another glaring hint that new bans on abortion would be as internally contradictory and inequitably enforced as the old ones, and that the rhetoric of most “pro-lifers” about fetuses being “children” is not to be taken seriously.
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- “This way of thinking reflects ancient notions about women’s place… under the Constitution — ideas that have long since been discredited.” by Jill August 7, 2007