It’s Late, We’ve All Been Drinking, Let’s Go Watch the Anti-Abortionists Backtrack!

Y’all, I come home to find that the anti-abortionists no longer believe that abortion is murder.  I’m so stunned I almost don’t know what to think.  Is the worth of a human fetus tied to the stock market–the market plummets and suddenly a human life just isn’t worth what it was before?

Because I could have sworn that Ned Williams was all “Abortion is Murder!  Abortion is Murder!” and tonight he’s all

So, yes, I would have likely stammered if pinned down for an answer to the question, “How much time should she do?” I and most Americans think that abortion, like suicide, is something we ought to try to deter. I think that reality is lost on the folks at NIRH.

Oh America, how the tide has turned!  Suddenly, abortion isn’t murder–something a woman does to someone else–but it’s like suicide–something a woman does to herself.  A woman who has an abortion isn’t a cold-blooded killer who needs to be stopped.  She’s just a misguided waif in need of our compassion, and our reassurance that it really isn’t as bad as all that.

Can I take a moment to laugh?

Whew, okay.  I’m done.

Why the change of heart?  Williams claims it has nothing to do with the whole “How Much Time Should She Do?” campaign and yet is it not that very campain that has caused Mr. Williams to redefine his stance from one of “abortion is a vile evil a woman does to her baby by killing it” to “abortion, like suicide, is a tragedy a woman commits against herself.”?  The folks who’ve run around my whole life screaming “baby killer” and “murderer” in women’s faces now decide they’re on the side of compassion and caring for those women?

That’s rich.

The article Williams links to is even richer.  Shall we take a look?  Come on, in for a penny, in for a pound.

The author, Ericka Andersen, is a hoot.  You’re going to love her.

Let’s start with her “Why can’t we just only arrest the doctors?”

Historically, women were not imprisoned for having abortions — the doctors who gave them were. From a moral standpoint, there were two victims — mother and child.  Why should it be any different now?

Yes, America, somehow Andersen wants you to believe that an adult woman who has gone through the trouble of discovering that she’s pregnant and come up with the money to pay for an abortion and showed up at the doctor’s office on her own is somehow the victim of the doctor.  You see, because women are idiots who need to be protected from ourselves in case we make a difficult decision we might have mixed feelings about later. 

You see, having mixed feelings or coming to regret having to take a course of action, those are adult situations and, historically, women haven’t really been legal adults and so we’re just not capable of handling those situations and so we need our daddies–in the form of the State or some other manly man to protect us from those mean old abortion providers who have been all tricksy with us.

Never mind that, in reality, historically, if there was a victim, it was conceived to be the father of the unborn child, since he had legal ownership of both his wife and their children.

She goes on:

A woman does ultimately decide, but that choice is often made under stressful, misinformed circumstances, which seem to make the woman as much a victim as her child. 

As much a victim?  Y’all, I thought these pro-life people believed that abortion is the taking of a human life.  Is Andersen really equating being under stressful, misinformed circumstances with being as much of a victim as a person who’s been killed?  Does she really think being stressed out is so vile or is she just being unguarded about how even she can’t quite bring herself to believe that a murder is being committed?

If abortion is murder, the doctor is a hitman.  Who’s ever heard of making  a equal victim of the person who hired the hitman as the person the hitman killed, just because she might have been stressed out and misinformed about what he was going to do?

She speculates that pro-lifers may not really believe abortion is murder because they won’t say that those who receive abortions should be punished as if it were. In reality, whoever commits the act of murder bears the punishment specified under law. In the case of abortion if the law properly labeled that murder — the individual to be punished would be the physician.

I can’t decide if she’s being deliberately obtuse or not.  But it makes me feel like the whole “How much time should a woman get?” is a good campaign precicely because pro-lifers either have to say that she should go to prison (or get the death penalty) or they have to look like they either think women are incapable of making adult decisions and thus can’t be held responsible for their actions or they reveal that they don’t actually think abortion is murder.

But wait!  It gets better.  Andersen brings in an expert:

Dellapenna notes that a legal focus on the abortionist rather than the woman is necessary in these causes because the law does not allow the conviction of someone on the basis of uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice.

“Courts even in the nineteenth and twentieth century justified continuing to treat a woman as a victim rather than a participant in the crime on the basis that one cannot consent to a crime against oneself,” he wrote in an email message. “This is akin to allowing a drug user to go free in order to convict a drug dealer.”

Dellapana said it is a better likely a better policy for abortion opposers to reject criminal punishments for women who undergo abortion.

This part is a lot of fun because you get to watch the backtracking in real time.  Check that first paragraph.  Dellapenna doesn’t actually believe that women are victims, just that treating them as such is more politically expedient than trying to treat her as an accomplice.  Well, so much for compassion for the “victim.”

Second paragraph, we can justify treating women like victims because one cannot consent to a crime against oneself.  But I thought that abortions were crimes against a fetus.  Isn’t that why it’s got to be illegal?  Because abortion is murder?  Because a fetus should be treated like a legal person with rights?  No, forget the fetus now that it’s inconvenient to conceive of abortion as a crime against said fetus.  It’s women, idiot women who can’t think for themselves, who are the victims.


Because lord knows if they started rounding up women and putting them in prison for having abortions the pro-life movement would become the least popular movement on the planet.  It’s one thing to say “abortion is murder.”   It’s another thing to start locking up moms and grandmas.

So, the backtracking begins.  “Oh, we didn’t mean murder murder.  We just meant that abortion is very wrong.  Oh, it’s not women who are the problem.  No, no, we didn’t mean to make you feel villified.  It’s those evil abortion doctors.  We’re not about punishing women; no, we love women.  We’re all about making women’s lives better, by treating them like children who can’t be held responsible for their own decisions. You’ll love being treated that way. We swear.”

It’s pretty funny.

26 thoughts on “It’s Late, We’ve All Been Drinking, Let’s Go Watch the Anti-Abortionists Backtrack!

  1. The thing that is so sickening about that video Ned is referencing is that NOT ONE of those entrenched anti-abortion protesters whose life work is an aim to make abortion illegal, had not even ONCE thought about the welfare of the women. Not once.

    Pretty fucking astounding.

  2. I especially like how she implies that because 19th century feminists might have thought a certain way, feminists today should think the same things. Perhaps you and I are bad feminists if we don’t buy that, B. Also, “You would be hard pressed to find a woman who will admit she regrets giving birth.” Feeling regret and admitting regret are two very different things in a culture that values women for their baby-making ability, and yet I’ve seen numerous quotes from women online who said they did regret it. Perhaps there is something wrong with women if they don’t want to fulfill their natural baby-making role, eh?

  3. Pingback: They’re Not Infantilizing You, They Just Don’t Think You Capable of Being Informed « Women’s Health News

  4. And by “misinformed,” perhaps she means “lied to about breast cancer and depression because she was told the actual, evidence-based truth?”

  5. “How much time should she do” also is an excellent segue into the logistical issues that would come were abortion to be criminalized. It’s not hard to imagine a Handmaid-esque skip down fundamentalist lane:

    If abortion were illegal, would it also be illegal for a woman to travel abroad to have that procedure done?

    No? Then the ban is really only for poor women.

    Yes? Oh, ok. How will you know a woman is pregnant before leaving the country? Mandatory pregnancy tests before departure for all women of childbearing age (12-45) and upon return to the US? A doctor’s note giving? Pee stations at security screening and a special stamp on her passport?

    If a woman leaves the country and stays abroad long enough to conceive and abort, how would you know? Would she have to check into an approved medical facility (at the embassy would be my suggestion) every 2 weeks or so and bring back proof that she never got pregnant?

    For women who never leave the country, but “miscarry”, what sort of procedures should be in place to see if it was really a secret abortion? Interrogation? Manual examination of the uterus?

    The most insulting concept that overshadows so much of the vehement (Operation Rescue, et. al.) movements, besides the intervention of strangers into a medical and family decision, is the dehumanization of women; the transformation of women from independent, thinking citizen to walking wombs.

  6. I think y’all are missing the point. This is actually a very frightening change in tactics on the part of those anti-choice folks. It indicates that they have given up trying to convince lawmakers and the public that women who have abortions are criminals; they have finally realized that this won’t fly. Instead, they’ll try to do an end-run around the issue by making abortion providers criminals. They think that they can get more support for this; it’s going to feel less icky to people who want to legislate against abortion but have a problem putting women in prison (precisely because women aren’t adult humans to them; remember that to these folks “doctors” generally suggest “men”), it’ll seem like a much smaller step. But if it’s enshrined in law: presto! no abortions.

    Now, these days, it will be easier for women’s support networks to do an end-run around that, because it’s easier and safer to smuggle some RU-whatever around than to maintain a safe but secret clinic. But I don’t think it’s as funny as all that. Insulting? Yes. Back-tracking? For sure. But they’re not being dumb about this — they know what they’re trying to accomplish.

  7. nm, yes, I think we realize that, being that it fits with an overall view of the movement as not so much pro-baby but more anti-woman. Many of the actions of late (such as the “partial birth” abortion ban) are attempts at frightening doctors to the point that they will stop performing the procedures or will be more restrictive in performing them, as a means of limiting women’s access and choices while leaving abortion technically legal. I posted something yesterday about abortion providers who are now requiring a little-studied shot for abortions after 20 weeks because of the deliberate ambiguity of the ban. It’s amusing to some degree to laugh at the protesters who appear not to have thought it through or not to be able to think it through, but the higher level strategy is not funny at all.

  8. Pingback: Nashville is Talking » How much time should she do?

  9. Yes, you are being bitchy, and misunderestimating me, Brittney.
    Though it’s always a bit of a rush to throw the gloves off with AuntB, y’all need to know that she was a little Liberal (she probably can’t help it) with the quotation marks this evening; most of what she imputes to me I’ve never said or even implied.
    I hesitated to link to that article, because I wasn’t in complete agreement with it (and it’s not a good sign if someone has to write that much to make their point), but there was one phrase in there that helped me to understand why I didn’t feel “threatened” by the ad campaign. Anyway . . .
    I didn’t say that if abortion were prohibited in America that women who got an abortion shouldn’t be punished, I just said that punishing women–contrary to what Rachel et al assert above, is not my focus in opposing abortion. I understand why women want to be able to get abortions, and I know you really resent that someone might do something to keep you from doing what you want to do, but I have a hard time understanding your inability to appreciate the pro-life side of the argument.
    And I didn’t say that abortion was like suicide in that it is something a person does to herself. I said that suicide is like abortion in that we can sympathize with someone who feels it is the best thing to do, even if we (at one time) outlawed it.
    But make no mistake, I think that abortion is a homicide. That being said, we have various degrees of homicide and various ways of punishing those different types–we don’t condemn to death every person who kills another human, right?
    Rachel, based on your comment, I guess you defend partial-birth abortion on demand. Whatever. But few people are foolish enough to think that people will stop doing a given act if we just outlaw it. The Law is both prescriptive and proscriptive (I think it’s called the Werther Effect), and making an act difficult will help some women to make the right decision.
    There’s no change of heart and no back-tracking, AuntB, and this ad campaign has not changed my attitude or actions one whit; however, it (the campaign) is likely to make obvious that the majority of people who oppose abortion aren’t happy or vengeful or “anti-woman” in their opposition.

  10. B, do you not understand that I, Lee R____ (you know my real last name) of Louisville, Ky, was the product of an unplanned pregnacny of a 20 yearold unmarried woman working as a waitress, who knew the father of ther unborn child for only of three months?

    And that every time I hear about the so-called God Damned choice of a woman (yes, I typed GD) I think about the possibility that my mother could have considered me simply as a choice.

    And yes, had that God Damned choice (again I type GD on purpose) could have denied me my existence and my opportunity to breathe this air and to succor this existence we call life, and to grow up and to experience all that we call special and sacred in life, then to be quite honest, that pisses me off like I cannot even explain to you.

    You remember when we were in Knuck’s BBQ place and we were all having a damn good time, and Smantix was bringing up abortion and I was trying my damndest to play mediator and not want to talk about it?

    It’s because it hits too fucking close. You hear me? It fucking hits too fucking close, because while for you it is a matter of academic ideology, for me it is a matter of existential being. I could have easily been the choice that many women in my mom’s position in 1978 could have taken.

    You are entitled to you opinion. For for the love of God, when it comes to the life or death considerations of pro choice or pro life, do not dismiss those with whom you disagree with so easily.

    The pro life crowd has some powerful arguments as well.

    One of them is my existence.

  11. How about giving Mom some God Damned credit for making the choice to carry you to term?

    Lee, a lot of folks are where they are in life because of dumb luck and a lack of suitable options. You are here because your mom, despite having an easier road available to her, chose to bring you into this world.

    Rather than this being an issue of how you dodged the bullet (or in this case, the vacuum), look at it as a tribute to your mom making the right choice.

  12. “Rachel, based on your comment, I guess you defend partial-birth abortion on demand.” – Ned, I defend women and their doctors being able to make the best, safest choice for them based on the available technology and the medical evidence, not politics. I do not defend vaguely worded bans that employ terms that don’t mean what supporters would have you think they mean (i.e., it’s not technically a “late term” abortion ban) that cause physicians to stop performing procedures or adding poorly understood and possibly risky steps to the procedure for fear of criminal liability, as has already been demonstrated to be the case by numerous news pieces describing providers doing exactly this.

  13. Lee, I’m not going to change your mind, I know. But let me just plant this seed in your brain. What we’re fighting for here is women’s autonomy–the right to do with our bodies what we like and to make our own choices about reproduction.

    One little-discussed side-effect of the legalization of abortion is that women in your mother’s situation are no longer subject to such unbelievable pressure to either get married or give up all parental rights. Was your mother kicked out of her church for having you? Forced to give up communion? Were you adopted out to people who were encouraged to never tell you that you were adopted and who had to promise to never reveal what little information that they had about your mother?

    No one in my position is arguing for coerced abortions. No one is trying to say, well, if a woman finds herself in these circumstances, she must have an abortion. Even if abortion is completely legal, the vast majority of women will elect not to have one.

    What we’re saying is that every woman–from the young mother who chooses to keep her baby to the mother of five who can’t afford another mouth to feed–deserves to have the right to make those decisions.

  14. We are also arguing very loudly for improved access to and education about birth control. And noticing that the same groups that oppose abortion tend to be active in opposing that access and education as well.

  15. Hehe, it occurs to me that you could tie this argument into the sustainability debate from Slarti’s pretty easily.

  16. The pro life crowd has some powerful arguments as well.

    One of them is my existence.

    Lee, you’re existence is as much of a pro-choice argument as it is a pro-life argument. Roe was decided in ’73 which means that in ’78 your mother HAD a choice, and she chose to have you.

    Pro-choice is not pro-abortion. The pro-choice movement understands that the best way to limit the number of abortions that happen isn’t to ban them, but rather to reduce the number of women who want them (via birth control and education).

    Of course, I personally suspect you would have existed whether or not the particular physical body you chose for this life had been available, but that’s going to get way deeper than the point of this post.

  17. Is that a serious question ned?

    Abortions almost universally occur because a young woman finds herself in an incredibly difficult situation. I don’t wish that kind of decision on anyone. We may disagree on the reasons why, but I don’t think you’ll find anybody who thinks abortion isn’t generally a sad event. It’s just that many of us don’t feel the need to ban everything we find unfortunate or even “wrong.”

    Then of course there are abortions that occur as a result of medical necessity. Unfortunately, no amount of education can prevent those from occurring (except so far as medical science advances to reduce the number). Those are things we just have to accept as necessities. It will be a sad day if we as a society ever again look down on women so much as to put a fetus’s “right to maybe live someday” over a woman’s right to live now and onward. I don’t consider abortion murder, but the blood of any woman who dies because she is denied an abortion is plainly on the hands of the (supposed) “pro-life” crowd.

  18. Sure, dolphin, the very evening I decide to confound right-wingers by aborting the anchor baby of my illegal immigrant lover just because I don’t want to ruin my figure, you’re all talking sense and making throughtful comments. Way to make me look bad.

  19. Sooooo, what happens when a woman refuses to identify “the doctor,” or self-aborts?

    What happens when women who do not view themselves as “victims” refuse to act like one?

    Incidentally, I can guarantee you that the black market in RU-486 type abortifacients WILL explode, post repeal of RvW.

  20. Oh and Ned…

    That being said, we have various degrees of homicide and various ways of punishing those different types–we don’t condemn to death every person who kills another human, right?

    The question then remains…how much time should she do?

  21. Pingback: Music City Bloggers » Blog Archive » If You Outlaw Partial Birth Abortion, Only Criminals . . .

  22. Eurgh. There’s no one in the world who goes “OMG! I’m pregnant and in a shitty situation to have a child! So it’s abortion time! Score!” No matter what pro-life folks might want a person to believe. There’s often a lot of conflicting thoughts, and there’s a reasoned decision made. Abortion is a choice, and it’s a choice that sucks. But it can, for some people, suck less than having a child they don’t want and aren’t prepared to be a good parent for, and can’t have the heart to place for adoption. We can’t see inside the pregnant woman’s head, and we can’t know her situation. We do know it’s her body, and her life. So we back off, and we let her make the decision that’s best for her, and stop intervening in the most critical question of personal liberties: if, when, and with whom to make a family.

    Oh, and to Lee: Your mum made the choice that was best for her and sat best with her circumstances and conscience. Give her a little more respect for her capacity to make decisions. Besides, if a woman can’t be trusted to make a decision about adoption, abortion, or raising a child, how can she be trusted to tend to that child?

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