Do anti-choice activists really think that abortion is murder?

[Update: For more on abortion as a human right, see Are Women Human?” on Pandagon.]

Today is the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. NARAL is celebrating with Blog for Choice Day. Since I believe that having a choice about whether to be pregnant is a critical human right, here’s my contribution.

One of the hoary old tactics of anti-choice activists is to equate abortion with murder. They claim that killing a fertilized egg, no matter how old, is the same as killing a toddler or an adult. So the argument over abortion has been about when life begins – is it Sperm Magic (the moment an egg is fertilized) or is it “quickening” (when movement can be felt) or is it birth itself?

Since nobody can objectively determine the beginning of life, there can be no compromise. That is, IF anti-choice activists really, truly think abortion is murder. But they don’t.

This truly fantastic chart from Alas, a Blog opened my eyes. It lists actual policies proposed by anti-choicers, and whether it is consistent with abortion=murder…or whether it is consistent with punishing women who have sex.


The conclusion is clear. Anti-choicers do not care about actually reducing fetal death. If they did, they would work arm in arm with pro-choicers to improve birth control access and sex education. Instead, they want to punish the sluts, er, I mean, make women “face the consequences.” The HPV vaccine debate proves that beyond a reasonable doubt – opposing the vaccine does not save a single fetus, but it does put those nasty dirty girls at a higher risk of cancer. Many anti-choicers would truly rather women die of cancer than be relieved of a single aspect of Eve’s curse.

That’s why I’m celebrating the right to choose, enshrined 35 years ago today. Women are not mobile uteruses to be punished for not behaving like good mobile uteruses. We are real people with the right to determine the course of our lives, and that includes choosing when to have sex and when to be pregnant, free from the meddling of paternalistic old men.


13 Responses to Do anti-choice activists really think that abortion is murder?

  1. Eric Wolff says:

    Also from the meddling of paternalistic old women.

  2. inmate1972 says:

    The attack on Planned Parenthood by this administration leaves me incredulous. No one works harder to prevent abortion than Planned Parenthood. Anti-Choicers need to wake up to the reality that people make stupid mistakes when they’re in the throes of riled sex-hormones and will always do so. And no amount of praying to Dog is going to change that fact.

  3. Joel Bailey says:

    It seems that you’ve written an argument based upon broad generalizations of pro-lifers. Certainly you don’t believe that all people oppossed to abortion believe the EXACT same thing for the same reasons, do you? It would lend more credibility to your argument if you addressed a specific pro-life group or individual. On second thought, you did mention “paternalistic old men” – perhaps this is the group you polled for your research.

  4. inmate1972 – Exactly. That is why anti-choicers reveal themselves as wanting to punish women for having sex rather than wanting to actually prevent abortions.

    Joel Bailey – It’s true, this is a broad generalization of the anti-choice position. I think of it more as a compendium of anti-choice arguments than as a profile of any particular person or organization. There’s no need for me to poll the “paternalistic old men,” since their opinions are written up in handy legal opinions – I’m referring to the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy in particular. (click the link for details.)

  5. Ray Williams says:

    “Anti-choice.” Can nobody in this debate come up with an unbiased term? The “anti-choice” crowd will likely tell you they’re all for the choice of responsible behavior not leading to medical bills at tax payer expense, or the choice of the fetus in the matter. Meanwhile, “pro-life” people- do they generally support the death penalty? Certainly the occasional abortion could be prevented if the death penalty was more widely used. Of course, that depends largely on Washington, where people are using this topic as a fund raiser, rarely doing much else to resolve the issue. This is bound to produce the pointless legislation and debate mentioned above. Mouth off at every opportunity about an issue that people are passionate about, then rake in the donations while doing nothing substantive. Then if you run low on donations you create a new crisis.

  6. Bonnie says:

    Hehe…you’re pretty funny. Because the same way you think anti-choicers are bigoted, you are bigoted. For instance, this statement, “Anti-choicers do not care about actually reducing fetal death. If they did, they would work arm in arm with pro-choicers to improve birth control access and sex education.” It’s not anti-choicers who won’t work with pro-choicers, my friend, it’s the other way around. Pro-choicers are constantly fighting to keep abstinence education away, and most of the time they succeed. But frankly, abstinence education deserves just as much of a place in sex ed – because after all, abstinence is the most sure way of preventing pregnancy, STDs and cervical cancer. I mean it just plain out is. You can’t really deny that. And shouldn’t someone have the right to choose between sex and no sex? Seems like a decent right.

    Probably the most bigoted thing in your post is the actual premise that the main goal of anti-choicers is to “punish the sluts.” Heh. Maybe you’ve never heard of Care Net, or Sav-a-Life, or Pregnancy Support Centers…but these are anti-choice organizations whose two purposes are to love and care for the mother and to save her child. I mean, just check out their mission statements. And if you ever took the time to survey their operating practices, you’d see it’s true that that is what they do. They provide medical help, such as free pregnancy testing and ultrasounds. They provide free counseling. They provide free parenting classes. They coordinate free baby showers and have adoption resources. And they don’t judge. They are some of the kindest, most compassionate people you will ever meet. They don’t cram anything down your throat. And if you do choose abortion, they follow up with you and offer counseling there too, since many women suffer from depression afterward. You know how I know all this? Because I was there. I was angry and hateful like you, and I saw these people that are nothing like you. They do truly care about the life of the babies, no matter what ignorant people like you say, who have only thought of yourself and your own comforts your entire life. And they care about the women, enough to devote their lives to helping people who get in situations they don’t want to be in.

    But, does any of this matter to you? Will you actually investigate any of it, seeking out what is true rather than just what you want to believe? I doubt it. I doubt you will even publish my comment. Just know that your behavior is equally as bigoted as any form of anti-choice bigotry you choose to highlight. Because people like you will fight anti-choicers just for the sake of fighting, and huddle around only the people who think exactly like you, completely blind to truth because you choose your own “truth.” It is very easy to be like you. It’s much harder to be on the other side, constantly having to defend and stand firm against people like you, who have no idea what they’re talking about.

  7. ninjatales says:

    Well written but I don’t think any amount of writing will sway the corrupted minds of those hypocrites who side with the “anti-abortion” or deceivingly-named “pro-life” team.

    The truth of the matter is that most anti-abortionists are conservative in nature, are right-wingers, support wars as long as the ends justify the means (even if the motives to go to war are unclear), support the death penalty even though they refuse to see the irony in the name “pro-life” while ignoring stats that show the death-penalty doesn’t reduce crime, claim others are bigoted, wants to have a small Government but really don’t care if the Government snoops in your personal matters, very nosey, and usually by the time they go through all this, are brainwashed into believing they are right no matter what.

    To let myself be clear, I think anti-choice folks really do think abortion is murder but their loose sense of ethics and almost psycho-nature in getting things done their way will lead most of us to believe otherwise.

  8. Bonnie – You may build whatever caricature of my personality & experiences that you wish. However, abstinence-only education doesn’t work and “post-abortion syndrome” doesn’t exist.

    That said, I would be extremely happy to see a compromise that resulted in abstinence as a part of comprehensive sex ed, adoption/parenting as a part of a full range of reproductive options, and more support of all kinds (especially health) for parents & children.

  9. mootpoints says:

    You’re essentially rehashing old arguments and then putting them in the mouths of pro-lifers.

    Each person has a distinct and unique reason for believing the way they do. You may be right – there very likely are people for whom the issue is more about punishing sex than saving babies, but it’s not fair to characterize everyone that way.

    And by the way the pro-life movement is largely women not “paternalistic old men.” Even if it’s the old men who sit on the court. Oh yes, those “old men” are currently upholding your “rights”.

    Your premise is flawed in other ways. For instance, “choosing when to have sex”. You are already limited in that “choice” by other laws. You can’t have sex in a large number of places. So either you need to start a movement allowing consenting couples to have sex anytime anywhere or you need to admit that you’re not being entirely consistent yourself.

  10. Bill says:

    I do not claim that abortion is “exactly the same” as child murder, but abortion is the taking of a human life. Human life begins at conception. If not at conception, then when? When did your life begin?

    Even the tiny blastocyst is a separate organism from its mother, and is not a part of its mothers body. If a mother does not have the right to kill her newborn infant, then she does not have the right to kill her embryo. if she does have the right to kill her embryo, then why not her newborn infant?

  11. liftingshadows says:

    why not be responsible? why not make the choice in advance?
    if a women (or a couple) do not want a child, use planning, use birth control. but do not treat a separate life than yours as a disposable body part.
    the development of the human body is starting with the first cell. on what basis can some decide when is acceptable to stop that development?
    if you don not want a child don not conceive it. it is simple as that. but do not take a life.

  12. liftingshadows – Though we disagree about when life begins, we agree that the ideal way to prevent unwanted pregnancy is planning & birth control. Providing free or subsidized contraception would benefit tons of people (especially poor women) and greatly decrease abortions. My point above is that many anti-choice groups are ALSO against birth control (for example, opposing passing out condoms in Africa), and that makes no sense if they truly want to reduce abortions.

  13. frog says:

    Quoting Bonnie: Pro-choicers are constantly fighting to keep abstinence education away, and most of the time they succeed.

    No, pro-choicers constantly fight against “abstinence ONLY” education, because it doesn’t work (see Mim’s comment). We are not successful in fighting against it, however, because congress has attached abstinence only curricula to public health funds for over ten years, to the tune of nearly a billion dollars, and *continues* to do so, despite a Democratic majority and overwhelming evidence that the programs don’t work. And the pro-lifers wonder why the teen pregnancy rates are going up again…

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