by Terry Moon
Regular readers of this column know that we often refer to those who oppose abortion rights as “anti-abortion fanatics” and zealots. The short answer for these labels is because many anti-abortionists and almost all anti-abortion organizations think that a fertilized human egg is equivalent—or more than equivalent—to an actual person, a baby, man, woman or girl. But there’s more. Many also hold the fanatical views that sex is only for procreation, birth control is a sin, that women’s role is only to be mothers and wives—and subservient ones at that.
Together these views—and they are almost always held together—create an idea of the world where women are expendable, our lives are not our own, our purpose not decided by us, by those that live our lives, but has already been decided by god. Men’s role is also decided by god. But strangely, and quite conveniently for them, god deemed men the rule-makers and power-holders. Their lives are not expendable, and they get to decide whose are. This fanaticism has led anti-abortion zealots to devise state-sponsored and -enforced cruelty and outright torture on women and anyone else who can become pregnant.
CELLS MORE VALUED THAN ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS
Examples of this abound. Here’s Alex X. Mooney, a Representative of West Virginia running for Senate: “Respecting human life from the moment of conception until natural death is not simply a religious belief; it is a scientific fact that life begins at conception.” What does “life” mean to such a person who would proclaim that two cells are more important than an adult human being? Who are these “scientists” whose “facts” he claims to quote? If two cells equal life, then cutting off your thumb should mean a death sentence or life in prison. Despite his claim, this is a religious proclamation being foisted on half the population. Comparisons to the Taliban can seem a step too far but that is only because these monsters don’t have the power to impose their dystopian version on the rest of us. But they sure do want to.
Following these initial fanatical thoughts is the obscene notion that women should be forced to carry doomed pregnancies to term. Fortunately, the bourgeois press has picked up on the heart-rending stories of women who’ve been forced to face this torture head on, educating the public about what this actually means. Why do anti-abortionists want women to deliver an intact fetus, no matter how painful for the woman or the fetus? Poland’s Christian nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski—now finally voted out of office—gave the reason behind this cruelty: “We will strive to ensure that even pregnancies which are very difficult, when a child is sure to die, is severely deformed, end with the mother giving birth so the child can be baptized, buried, and have a name.” These are the words of a fanatic, now being put into practice in the U.S.
One reason given for abortion bans is the lying claim that fetuses feel pain at 15 weeks (the truth is 24-25 weeks and even then doctors aren’t sure that what is experienced is actual pain). But what is an actual fact is that babies born with certain known fatal diseases or mutations do feel horrible pain and they suffer. Many suffocate while gasping for breath because their lungs are too undeveloped to function. Others die from organ failures which can also be extremely painful. All that concern for fetal pain evaporates once a baby is born. This is fanaticism. Forcing a ten-year-old rape victim to give birth is fanaticism; arresting a woman forced—by hospitals afraid to help her because of anti-abortion bans and laws—to miscarry a dead fetus at home is fanaticism; the kind of “care” that demands a woman hemorrhage or develop sepsis, or lose the use of “a major bodily function” before receiving healthcare is fanaticism.
FANATICS’ UTTER DISDAIN FOR CHILDREN
Feminist writer and author of “Abortion, Every Day” blog Jessica Valenti put it this way when speaking of women being forced to carry doomed pregnancies to term: “Why would anyone want to deliberately create a world where women are forced to be walking coffins? It is inexplicable, until you understand that this has nothing to do with families or babies, but enforcing a worldview that says it’s women’s job to be pregnant and to stay pregnant, no matter what the cost or consequence.”
The disregard—or more accurately, utter disdain—for children already born is seen most recently in how Republicans in the House have proposed funding levels that would turn away “as many as two million eligible parents and children” from the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. Also recently, 15 Republican governors turned down a new program giving food assistance to hungry children during the summer. Approximately eight million children will be affected and the money doesn’t even come from the states but the federal government. Of those states, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas all have abortion bans and Iowa is trying for one. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Wyoming still have not extended Medicaid eligibility to people with low incomes. Clearly fanaticism reigns in statehouses across the country.
Fanaticism is a grotesque perversion of human relationships. We can see this in how abortion bans, etc., dehumanize women. Republican Mark Robinson, North Carolina’s lieutenant governor now running for governor, made that reality obvious when he said: “For me, there is no compromise on abortion. It makes no difference to me why or how that child ended up in that womb.” Clearly it will take a revolutionary movement of women and others to make it clear that women are not things, are not walking wombs. We demand a world where all people are recognized as whole human beings.