The abortion issue is not solely about a women’s right to choose, it is about the hatred and fear of women’s sexuality. There is a subtext to this movement, shown plainly by the actions of many Anti-Abortion supporters, that goes way beyond the issue of whether abortion is murder. This is not asserting my opinion as to the validity of either side in the Anti-Abortion debate. It is not to stir up a debate for or against abortion. I’ve commented here enough for people to know where I stand on the issue. What has bothered me for a long time on this issue has been whether it is just about being for or against a women’s right to choose? If it is only about the right of choice, then I could at least accept that those who would deny it have sufficient beliefs to justify their actions, without there being another unspoken agenda. Indeed, the original initiator of the anti-abortion issue was the Roman Catholic Church.
The RCC’s position is that society should ensure a safety net to take care of babies and children after they are born. I may not agree with the Church’s teachings, but I applaud the fact that they at least recognize that if you are going to have the State ban abortions, then the State must also have responsibility for taking care of those children not aborted. This makes sense to me as a viable belief to have if you are solely against abortion.
An article in Friday’s Huffpost, got me thinking about this issue and the implications of trying to de-fund Planned Parenthood, a Non-Profit that I believe is providing extremely important services throughout our country. Fully 96% of Planned Parenthood’s services go to identification/treatment of STD’s, Cancer Screening, Contraception, and other vital women’s health services. None of these services include abortions. These are essential services needed by all women. However, the viral opposition to Planned Parenthood funding and the de-funding of its’ programs by various States, comes primarily from those opposed to abortions. Planned Parenthood provides very necessary services to the community at large that government should support. Remember it is a private not public institution, cheaper in provision of these services than can be offered by profit making institutions. Why do anti-abortionists hate Planned Parenthood and other similar Non-Profit services?
One female member of Congress, discussing Planned Parenthood de-funding put it this way:
“The real purpose here, as I’ve come to view it, is to impose a traditional view of a women’s role,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) told HuffPost. “Republicans don’t really care what the benefits of Title X funding are in terms of women’s health, so women’s health is held hostage. Planned Parenthood can prevent 4,000 women a year from dying of cervical cancer with screenings and vaccines, but that is not of interest to them because of a personal and philosophical agenda.”
What is the personal and philosophical agenda to which Rep. DeLauro is referring? It goes far beyond some peoples deeply held beliefs that abortion is murder. Beyond that belief is that women do not have the right to sexual autonomy and therefore are in need of punishment if they have sex outside of marriage. Therefore, women should be denied birth control counseling, STD identification, and treatment to ensure that they are sufficiently chastened for daring to go beyond the bounds of some people’s religious beliefs. This is the only logical inference to be drawn, and yet if one examines this logically this is highly inconsistent with the ostensible aims of the anti-abortion movement. If they were actually worried that abortions are murder of a fetus, then you would think that birth control, which would prevent many abortions, would be a good thing.
We know that this is not the case. Since the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t approve of birth control, we know what answer they would give. I would suppose those religious fundamentalists who believe in abstention until marriage would also be against it. However, what is a worse sin? Is it “murder” as the anti-choice people deem it, or is it preventing an unwanted pregnancy in the first instance?
I find answer obvious. We generally see murder as the worst of human crimes. One would think that if something could prevent “murder”, better the lesser of the two sins, than the ultimate one. The reasoning of the anti-choice people doesn’t seem to follow that line of logic. Therefore, I can only conclude that the concern to halt abortions is only secondary to the real agenda of some leaders of the anti-choice movement.
My conclusion is that the subtext of this anti-choice movement, at least its leadership, is a hatred of women being autonomous sexually and the concomitant desire to punish them for having sex outside of marriage. This is why they also oppose birth control education. The “abstinence only” meme they push is a failure. As a result we find that incidences of teen pregnancy are higher in states more aligned with anti-choice, anti women’s sexuality values.
“Only a quarter of evangelical teens abstain from sexual activity more than other teens. And expanding access to contraception, rather than abortion, is the best way to delay marriage and promote stable families.”
The above article, a book review, delves more deeply into the subject. The quote I’ve presented provides interesting evidence of the fear that fundamentalist anti-choice people have about female sexuality. Despite all their preaching of abstinence, their teen women are having sex a lot and it makes them angry. Angry at a “permissive” society where sexuality is rampant and angry enough at their “disobedient” children to see them punished for not following their rules. There is probably another dichotomy that exists in that many men are proud when their son has loses his virginity, but enraged if it is their daughter.
The notion of female sexual autonomy is frightening to many religious people, since all major religions have a history of male domination. If women can assert their own right to be sexual beings, then this would also give them leave to assert that they are to have equal footing with men in all respects, including in marriage and worship. This would represent such a radical revolution of ideas to those of religious fundamentalist bent, as to create fear and loathing, which of course translates readily into hatred.
Anticipating objections to funding Planned Parenthood, FactCheck.com presents the following article detailing the funding of Planned Parenthood and showing that the opposition to it can’t possibly be all about abortions. The following relevant quote is from this article:
“Abortions represent 3 percent of total services provided by Planned Parenthood, and roughly 10 percent of its clients received an abortion. The group does receive federal funding, but the money cannot be used for abortions by law.”