abortion, abstinence, pro-life, religion, right to choose, sex education, sexuality, women's bodies, Women's issues
It is probably true that there is no basis of compromise between the two sides. One either believes that there is a fundamental right of a woman to control her own body or one believes that conception and the resultant life trumps all other issues from the moment that sperm meets ovum.
We can all agree to that. What choice people profess, and most anti-choicers refuse to acknowledge, is that choice people also want to reduce abortion in every effective way possible short of legally restricting the right. Nobody is “for” abortion as the “pro-lifers” are want to insist.
Reasonable heads should prevail, one would assume. The question should become, “what can we do to effectively work toward reducing abortions?”
It would seem obvious that we can get together to work on that, right? Wrong.
Because that is part of the big lie of the right. They are not so much interested in reducing abortions as they are in winning on this issue, and controlling women’s bodies. And that suggests that it is not some “overriding” moral conclusion that is beyond religion as they claim. Make the argument that abortion is a religious issue, and wait for them to begin howling. No they claim, it’s not religion, its simple morality. Odd, since they will surely claim that all sense of morality comes from God, thus non-believers cannot be “moral” exactly.
If abortions are immoral, then reducing abortions must be more moral than merely stubbornly objecting to abortions as being immoral. And the dirty little secret is that abortion is only part of the agenda for the religious right. The other item on the agenda is “contraception.” And this of course is very much a religious issue, and depends on a very specific type of belief, namely that sex is only for procreation and that to use any type of barrier to conception is a slap in the face to God.
No matter of course, that an omnipotent God can presumably frustrate the best efforts of humans to defy his wishes. It is the internal desire to take conception out of God’s hands that is objected to. And most every if not all the right to life organizations are anti-contraception.
There is a fascinating article by AlterNet on the subject, and with some amazing statistics. Tim Ryan, (D-OH) and pro-lifer, has been removed from a pro-life board of directors because he favors means to reduce abortion, including contraception. He has gone public and is underscoring that the real war is between a tiny segment of the “pro-life” movement, and the vast majority of pro-lifers who are like him, fine with contraception.
The realities are stark. Abstinence only programs are a failure, at best postponing for a few extra months, teens experimentation with sex. Worse, when they do begin having it, they don’t use protections and have a much higher incidence of STD’s and pregnancy, thus abstinence only programs actually result in increased abortions.
Study after study shows that broad based sex education works. States are moving away from AO after watching their statistics start to re-climb, back to comprehensive sex education, a proven method of reducing STD’s and unwanted pregnancy. Joining with Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Ryan sponsors the “Preventing unintended pregnancies, Reducing the need for abortion and supporting Parent’s Act,” which aims at instituting practices found useful from the “The Third Way,” a left-center think tank.
Various anti-choice organizations now call Ryan “so called” when it comes to being pro-life. But when polled 80% of those who self-identify with a pro-life stance, also are pro-contraception. The bill supports contraception, help for poor women who wish to carry to term, comprehensive sex education, and help for adoptive families. No pro-life group supports the legislation.
Only the Catholic church 0pposes contraception, even though 90% of its faithful use it or are in favor of its availability. There is no denomination whose support of contraception is below 88%. Jewish support is at 97%. Even 70% of Republicans and Independents favor contraception and only a measly 2% of them don’t.
According to Ryan, only 20% of the pro-life movement favors no contraception, but they seem fully in control of the movement. Ryan urges that those within the movement need to hold that 20% accountable now.
It is obvious that this minority has an agenda separate and apart from reducing abortion. And I contend that that agenda is religious in nature and is theocratic in intent. It is nothing less than to impose religious concepts of sexual behavior onto the public at large, regardless of what their religious believes are or are not.
Certainly, it is perfectly fine for anyone to believe personally that contraception is wrong for them, and somehow against God. One’s personal theology is sacrosanct. However, to allow it to intrude to the point that one will not work for a legitimate goal of reducing abortion, is telling to say the least. It in fact shows all too clearly that something else is at stake. The article is a real eye opener. It is what I have been contending for some time, and what no doubt others have realized as well.
It’s not just about “life” its also about controlling women and their sexuality.
I think you’re probably correct that there really is little middle ground on this issue. It’s so fundamental to each of our belief systems that there isn’t much room for compromise.
As an example, I do believe a woman has the right to control her body. She gets to control when she has sex and when she doesn’t. Killing another being because it’s inconvenient simply isn’t an option.
Guess you can tell where I fall on this issue. LOL
Your position is legitimate, however then claiming that a woman can’t use contraception and must then avoid all sex, is not about protecting life, it’s about controlling another human being and forcing them to adopt your personal belief about morality. That I find unacceptable.
Why can’t we work together to reduce abortion?
For many of us it is about obeying what God has in mind for us. If we obey and do not fornicate, there is, for the most part, no problem. Fornication being having sex with someone other than your spouse. This is the fundamental bottom line of the abortion debate. Reduce unmarried sex = reduce unwanted pregnancy = many less abortions.
And it’s not about legislation, it’s about conforming your own heart. I really don’t care whether there is a law legalizing abortion or not. I would like women and men to listen to God. It’s not our personal belief, it’s God’s decree.
David, I understand the desire. The RCC makes that all very clear. It interprets scripture that way, and I don’t have objection to the interpretation, but it ignores the realities. Sex doesn’t end because it’s wrong. Tons of people don’t agree with your interpretation and go on their merry way. The question in the end is do you want to reduce abortions or do you want to “hope” people become more moral? I want to address the problem of abortion. We make people more moral by our action, not by punishing them.
Very well said – it is definitely a religious issue to be against contraception and by including this issue in their pro-life stance, the pro-lifers are not doing themselves – or their morality – any favors.
Another thing I always find interesting – many pro-lifers ALSO believe in the death penalty! It boggles the mind – and yet they are able to come up with a Biblical explanation for this if you ask – just goes to show that the Bible can be used to justify almost anything.
I agree. And yes, many pro-lifers are also in favor of the death penalty, although I must say I have met some who are not.
It is undeniably true that the bible is so vast in its subject matter, that anyone can find justification or support for virtually any proposition. Although this often means doing violence to the true meaning or context of the verse. It is a perennial problem.
As always, I enjoy your posts so much! Seriously. I do.
I’m all for working together to reduce abortion. We might just be coming from a different perspective in terms of potential solution. I do believe behavior has consequences and we have to make our choices based on the potential consequences.
The truth is that no society can exist without rules and standards. All of us, every day, put up with controls on our behavior. I can’t kill my housemate because she’s a pest and annoys me. If we didn’t have rules and regulations, standards of behavior, we’d have complete anomie.
And I would find that unacceptable.
Some of this might be a function of just plain getting old on my part. I’ve seen what all the “if it feels good, do it” standards have created. It hasn’t worked. I’ve come to learn that there are some absolutes whether I happen to personally like them or not.
It would be interesting if we could actually find a way of working together to reduce abortion though. I’m with you on that!
Indeed we should find common ground in our desire to reduce abortions.
Frankly legislating morals doesn’t work so well as we constantly find. We can all agree on the basics, murder for instance, and rape, and robbery, but when it gets to matters sexual, the non-believer and many believers frankly part company.
One claims it is God’s law, another laughs at the presumption. One has no right to impose one’s beliefs on another in this matter. We convince by example and that one form of living turns out better in the end than the other. Sure actions have consequences, but they shouldn’t be additional burdens that one group imposes upon another because of religious beliefs.
I’m a serious believer, yet I cannot countenance forcing another to live by my faith beliefs.
Randal Graves said:
The fact that the wingnuts are all about control of the body (of others – witness C Street/The Family) is about as obvious as having a Steinway land on your skull.
HAHAHA, Randal, directly on point! you betcha. Though I’m not sure the Family cares a hoot about sex for the most part, it just likes power and is more than willing to use the fanatic rightwing religious to accomplish their goal. But there is a definite strain of paternalism flowing through their Jesus + 0 brains so who really knows?
Ruth Hull Chatlien said:
I know that many conservative people are sincere in their opposition to this, but I don’t think it’s a moral issue for most political leaders. I think it’s a Machiavellian political scheme–a way to keep conservatives hyped up about “all the murdered babies” so they won’t pay any attention to the other things liberals stand for. It’s the trump card that overrides everything else.
Ruth, I agree, for most people opposition to abortion is sincere and certainly not tied to contraception. I also agree that politicians by and large are just using people to achieve their own objectives, which generally have nothing or little to do with the issue of abortion.