Monday, March 27, 2006

PATTERICO, A RIGHT-WING BLOGGER, responds to posts by Ampersand and Kevin Drum about the most extreme members of the movement to criminalize abortion being motivated largely by a desire to punish women for having sex.

Patterico writes, in part:

First, not all abortion opponents strictly see abortion as murder. Many of us who are uncomfortable with abortion become more so as the fetus advances in age -- something my commenters and I discussed at length in a recent series of posts debating abortion. ... We can't be termed hypocrites for not strictly treating abortions as murder, because we don't see it that way. That doesn't mean that we are happy about abortion. We would like to see fewer of them. We would like women to be better informed. We would like to prevent the killing of fetuses as a method of birth control. And many of the regulations discussed by the chap in the post linked above would accomplish some of these goals.

Patterico makes a number of other illogical and hypocritical arguments for what motivates abortion opponents, but the one highlighted above struck me as particularly outrageous, given the growing trend on the right to restrict access to actual birth control.

What does Patterico think about the move earlier this month by Republicans in the Missouri legislature to cut off funding for family planning, which Democrats had included as part of a $9.2 million allotment for public health services? How does he feel about Wal-Mart's refusal to stock emergency contraceptives anywhere in the country -- until state pharmacy boards in Massachusetts and Illinois ruled in favor of several women who filed suit against Wal-Mart's policy?

Here is part of what the Kansas City Star wrote about the successful Republican move to effectively deny birth control to low-income women (single or married):

Missouri stopped providing money for family planning and certain women's health services when Republicans gained control of both chambers of the Legislature in 2003.

But a Democratic lawmaker, in a little-noticed committee amendment, had successfully inserted language into the proposed budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 that would have allowed part of the $9.2 million intended for "core public health functions" to go to contraception provided through public health clinics.

The House voted 96-59 to delete the funding for contraception and infertility treatments after Rep. Susan Phillips told lawmakers that anti-abortion groups such as Missouri Right to Life were opposed to the spending.

"If you hand out contraception to single women, we're saying promiscuity is OK as a state, and I am not in support of that," Phillips, R-Kansas City, said in an interview.

Others, including some lawmakers who described themselves as "pro-life," said it was illogical for anti-abortion lawmakers to deny money for contraception to low-income people who use public health clinics.

"It's going to have the opposite effect of what the intention is, which will be more unwanted pregnancies and more abortions," said Rep. Kate Meiners, D-Kansas City.

In short, Missouri Republicans and Wal-Mart corporate management think it is evil for single women to have sex; and they additionally think that single women can be dissuaded from having sex by denying them access to birth control-- because birth control removes or greatly reduces the possibility of pregnancy. Pregnancy is, in this view, the negative consequence of having sex, and birth control can prevent that negative consequence. Of course, the human sex drive and the human need for love, emotional closeness, and alleviation of loneliness that sex fills have never, in all of human history, been overcome by the fear of pregnancy. Nevertheless rabid abortion opponents disregard that truth and continue to act in accordance with the belief that fear of pregnancy is more powerful than a basic human need.

And that is the central motivation behind right-wing support for using every avenue available to keep birth control out of the hands of women -- especially unmarried women. The idea is to exploit fear in order to manipulate and control women's sexual behavior.

Which brings us back to the issue being debated by Kevin, Ampersand, and Patterico: that fanatical opponents of legal abortion are motivated, not by the conviction that abortion is murder, but by the conviction that sexual desire and sexual activity in women is wicked and should be punished. It would seem to be quite clear that Kevin and Ampersand are correct: It is sex that hardcore abortion opponents object to, not the termination of a pregnancy. If that were not so, then conservatives who say abortion is murder would be working tirelessly to make birth control more accessible to women, not less.

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