Amanda got her paws on an anti-choice protester’s guide, and it’s amazing. You can see the pages she scanned (PDF) here. Part of her post:
This casual disregard for women’s lives is acknowledged as a credibility-wrecking problem in another section “Women Will Die in the Back Alleys with Coat Hangers.” It’s clear that Justice for All activists have convinced themselves that making abortion illegal actually doesn’t hinder access to safe abortions (!), but followers are instructed to pretend to concede that illegal abortion is dangerous, to gain credibility. (Which means they have to pretend to believe what they don’t, but ironically what they don’t believe is true. It’s a rabbit hole of deceit and misinformation.) The important thing is creating the illusion of concern for women’s lives, apparently, and the manual even offers a small section titled “Sound Bites For Showing Concern,” which the activist is supposed to use to soften up the target before comparing an elective abortion (most commonly performed in the first trimester) to shooting a toddler. One does wonder when reading this section if Justice for All offers role-playing classes so you can practice your “concerned” face when someone brings up the problem of women who are mutilated and die due to illegal abortion.
The explicit instructions to feign concern for women’s lives in order to gain credibility is also what struck me about the handbook. In the section titled “What if the mother’s life is in danger?,” the handbook tells anti-choicers:
Key Tactical Point: Just as there is an underlying test of your compassion when people bring up abortion in the case of rape, when someone asks “Would you say abortion is wrong when used to save the mother’s life?” they are testing whether you are a reasonable, compassionate human being. It’s critical that you pass this test in order to maintain credibility and have further opportunity to make the case for the unborn. However, it’s also critical that you use this opportunity to clarify the moral logic of the pro-life position.
In other words, fake concern for women so that people mistake you for a reasonable, compassionate human being.
It goes on to talk about how there are basically no health concerns pressing enough to justify abortion, including cancer. But it’s mostly a “How to Lie” instruction guide, to help people who don’t care about women at all effectively pretend that born people matter.
As Amanda says,
This tactic is a mainstay of the anti-choice movement: it shows one face to the initiated, and another to the public, especially on the topic of contraception. Once you realize this, the movement’s half-hearted denunciations of Dr. Tiller’s murder, coupled with the enthusiastic return to calling Dr. Tiller a monster, become all the more chilling.
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