Last week a pro-choice blogger called Libby Anne published a piece titled How I Lost Faith in the “Pro-Life” Movement, which has since gone on to become a bit of an Internet sensation (not that that’s a hard thing to do these days), especially amongst pro-choicers.
While this blog article may have gained notoriety and popularity, none of this changes that fact that it’s a factually challenged and illogical exposition from a former pro-lifer now intent on sharing her new found life of active rebellion against her former pro-life, religious, home-schooled (etc., etc.) upbringing.
After wading my way through Libby’s rather lengthy blog post (all 6341 words of it) I was tempted to move on without paying it any further attention, but because of the fact that it seems to be attracting views faster than a William Hung cover song, I thought a jolly good refutation was probably in order, so here goes…
“My journey began one blustery day in October of 2007 when I came upon an article in the New York Times. This article completely shook my perspective… the first thing I learned from that New York Times article shocked me: it turns out that banning abortion does not actually affect the abortion rate.”
The ludicrous claim that banning abortion does not reduce the abortion rate is one of the oldest canards in the pro-choice arsenal, and it is still also one of the most illogical claims they make.
Just consider the facts of what is being proposed here: that the legal status of abortion has no bearing on its occurrence in a population.
Cause if this is true, then what it means is that legalising abortion, in theory, should NOT lead to an increase in the number of abortions carried out in a country – remember, the claim here is that the legal status of abortion (whether it is legal or not) has no bearing on the actual abortion rate.
Why is it then that in our country (and many others where abortion is legal) the abortion rate steadily continued to rise, by the thousands each year, in the years since abortion became easily and legally available here?
Our crude abortion rate, general abortion ratio, and abortion ratio are all now approximately double what they were in 1980 – to suggest that the ease of availability that legalized abortion provides to society has played no role in these dramatic increases in our abortions rate is simply nonsensical.
This claim also looks rather spurious when you consider the case of Ireland, where abortion is ILLEGAL, and yet Ireland has a lower abortion rate than England, Wales or Scotland (and this is even after accounting for Irish women who travel to other countries to have abortions).
Or what about this study from the US which shows that: “several types of state-level anti-abortion legislation result in statistically significant declines in both the abortion rate and the abortion ratio. Furthermore, a series of natural experiments provide further evidence that abortion restrictions are correlated with reductions in the incidence of abortion”.
Then there is always the question of whether the studies which claim to show that there is no difference between the abortion rate in countries with liberal abortion laws, as opposed to those with more restrictive ones, are even methodologically sound.
The pro-life movement is well aware (or at least the pro-lifers I associate regularly with are) that bringing about an end to the grave injustice that is abortion – an act which kills thousands of innocent human beings every year in this country alone – is about more than just legislation, however to suggest that legislation is totally irrelevant in shaping moral decision-making amongst a population is simply totally counter to reality.
Human nature is human nature, and if abortion is easily available to people, then they are far more likely to avail themselves of that option – and let’s also not forget the way in which legislation plays a role in shaping public attitudes, and adds to the normalization of acts over time.
Most importantly of all, the incidence of a particular act amongst the general population tells us NOTHING about whether that act is ethically right/wrong, or whether it should be outlawed or not.
Plenty of people seem content to break the laws against adult homicide, or drink-driving, etc, but so what? This doesn’t mean that we are wrong to outlaw adult homicide or drink-driving, it just means we’ve got a lot of work to do in assisting certain members of our population to come to understand that these things are not ethically good things to do.
Even if our rates of adult homicide or drink-driving were to climb to record highs, no sane person would suggest that this should cause us to legalize either act, instead we would rightly scrutinize what can be better done to bring about more ethical behaviors (and less unethical ones) within the general population.
Imagine if the United Nations announced tomorrow that it had decided that, because of it’s continuing regularity in many parts of the world, genocide would no longer be considered an international criminal offense. I doubt that anyone would be rushing to praise them for their forward-thinking progressiveness – apart from a few murderous dictators, that is.
In fact, on a similar note, this seems like a good time to introduce the issue of slavery.
It is my understanding that there is actually far more slavery today than there has ever been before in human history – far more than what there was when Wilberforce won his important victory to have it banned, or when it was outlawed in the USA.
Yet I seriously doubt that any person of goodwill would suggest that this should cause us to legalize slavery again (in order to better regulate its practice and reduce the harm that illegal slavery can cause?), even though, quite clearly, outlawing slavery has done absolutely NOTHING to reduce the rate of slavery.
Reality and a sound grasp of ethics dictates that there are some acts that are just so ethically reprehensible that societies have an obligation to maintain the strictest prohibitions against them – and murdering innocent human beings (including via abortion) is quite clearly at the top of that list of acts.
“I found that almost 50,000 women worldwide die each year from unsafe abortions, and that many more experience serious injury or infertility. These deaths happen almost entirely in countries where abortion is illegal – and thus clandestine. In fact, when abortion was made legal in South Africa, the number of abortion related deaths fell by over 90%.”
What she has completely failed to mention (I wonder why) is the fact that the latest research actually shows that the countries with the most restrictive abortion laws also have the lowest maternal mortality rates.
But how can this possibly be the case if outlawing abortion is supposed to lead to greater rates of deaths from unsafe abortions (which are recorded in the maternal mortality statistics)?
Ireland, where abortion is illegal, has a maternal mortality rate of less than 1 death per 100,000 live births – that’s seventeen times lower than the United States, which has a maternal mortality rate of 17 deaths per 100,000 live births, and Ireland are not the only ones in this boat according to the World Economic Forum.
Then there’s this in-depth study from Chile (where abortion is outlawed) which showed that illegal abortion is NOT associated with increased maternal mortality.
All one needs to do is look at the official statistics from the USA prior to 1973 (Roe vs Wade) and you discover that the number of women dying from backstreet abortions was dropping dramatically, and well before 1970, which shows that changing the legal status of abortion was NOT the definitive factor involved (the theory is that increased availability of antibiotics, advances in medical treatment, etc, was the real reason for the decreasing death rate).
But of course none of these important points are convenient to the pro-choice PR spin which is built largely around scaremongering about the dire results of outlawing abortion.
And once again, even if these statistics proved to be true, they don’t tell us anything about whether abortion is ethically right or wrong.
If you think about it, what is actually being proposed here is the totally heinous notion that the law should be changed, and abortion legalized and medicalized, so that one group of human beings are able to deny fundamental rights to another group of human beings by having them terminated without posing any risk to themselves in the process.
And if we’re going to start talking about the harm that backstreet abortion can pose to women, aren’t we forgetting the fatal harm that every legal abortion does to a female in the womb (or is this just one of those all-too-convenient ‘that’s-just-too bad for them’ aspects of the pro-choice ideology?)
“But if banning abortion does not decrease abortion rates, what does? Why do some countries have low abortion rates while others have much higher rates? The answer, I found, was simple… I found that making birth control widespread and easily accessible is actually the most effective way to decrease the abortion rate. Even as I processed this fact, I knew that the pro-life movement as a whole generally opposes things like comprehensive sex education and making birth control available to teenagers.”
First of all, there is serious reasons to doubt the validity of the claim that increased promotion and availability of contraception is actually an effective tool in the fight against abortion.
In NZ, approximately 50% of abortions that take place each year happen AFTER a contraceptive failure leading to pregnancy (not because of a lack of contraceptives), and there is no evidence that the remaining abortions happen because women are getting pregnant due to a lack of access to contraception.
Such contraceptive failures are an inevitable reality of life in the real world (baring the use of long term chemical contraceptives, but more on that in a moment), where there is no such thing as perfect contraceptive use. It’s a grand design, but at the end of the day, and for all sorts of reasons, ranging from method failure, to user error, to user risk-taking (usually in the heat of passion), it can never be realized and people still get pregnant despite using contraception.
When this happens, large numbers of these people resort to abortion (because it’s readily available) as their ultimate back up to their front line defense against pregnancy, which has just failed them.
And why wouldn’t they, if they’ve already been conditioned to view sex as little more than a plaything to which babies are a massive inconvenience?
The problem here is not one of technology (i.e. a lack of devices that stop pregnancy), the issue here is one of our cultural attitudes towards sexuality and human life – and that’s a much bigger and far more complex matter that will not be resolved by simply throwing more technology (contraception) at the issue.
Just consider the recent statistics from France which showed that although more women are now using the Pill, and there have been less unplanned pregnancies as a result, the number of abortions in such cases has actually risen (they now have less unplanned pregnancies as a result of increased contraceptive use, but more of those unplanned pregnancies are ending in abortion, which has not reduced their abortion rate).
The simple fact is that when a culture views human life as being dispensable, then, with or without contraception, this attitude will be the deciding factor if couples find themselves pregnant (coupled of course with the easy availability of abortion, and the many pressures that women in unplanned pregnancy have bearing down on them).
Let’s not forget, there are also the health risks associated with chemical contraceptive use, and while this is not the time or place to explore these in great detail, it is important that we don’t just gloss over these in the rush to medicalize women against pregnancy (as Libby seems to want to do). This would be a move which also has other social implications for women too, like, for example, the fact that the Pill makes women sexually available to men 24/7, an outcome that feminist commentators have been raising serious questions about for some years.
As you can probably see by now, suggesting that increased contraceptive use is the magic silver bullet answer to decreasing abortion rates (as Libby does) is a very simplistic response that actually creates a whole slew of other issues in its wake.
More importantly, in relation to Libby’s claims, however, is the fact that the question of implementing a contraceptive-based strategy is actually a separate issue to the ethical question of abortion (is it ethically right to destroy human life in the womb?)
I know many pro-lifers who are staunchly opposed to abortion, but at the same time favor a contraceptive based solution to this issue, so I’m really unsure why Libby believes that the question of which approach to take in response to abortion should somehow have any bearing on whether the pro-life movement is right about the crucial issue; the ethical question regarding abortion.
In fact, it’s a logical fallacy to suggest that because you disagree with the stance of a large percentage of the pro-life movement regarding one of the proposed solutions to abortion, that this somehow invalidates the movement, or their central ethical claim, that abortion is a grave evil that kills innocent human beings.
It’s another one of those classic pro-choice red herrings that is used to try and distract attention away from the real issue here; why the heck are we killing unborn human beings and calling that freedom?
Let me put it another way, if the majority of the anti-whaling lobby felt that the best way to reduce the number of whale killings was to do nothing more than send out poorly worded fliers with a terrible layout and bad font selection, would that make their core claim about the ethics of whaling wrong? Would it invalidate the entire existence of the anti-whaling movement?
Of course it wouldn’t, because what you are talking about here is a secondary issue (of strategy), not the central one of whether the movement’s core ethical claims (and thus its very reason for existing) are actually valid or not.
“I realized that the real way to reduce abortion rates, then, was to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. And the way to do that is with birth control, which reduces the number of unwanted pregnancies by allowing women to control when and if they become pregnant.”
It seems to me that this is one of the key flaws in Libby’s arguments, because what she is trying to suggest is that if you simply find a way to stop pregnancies, then there will be less abortions.
However I would suggest that in actual fact, the important point here is the issue of these pregnancies being “wanted”, or not – that’s not a matter of whether someone gets pregnant or not, but whether they have a respect for human life that is absolute, and that they adhere to, even when a pregnancy is not planned, or it requires sacrifice on the part of the mother (as they all do).
The key point is that increased contraception doesn’t lead to an increase in respect for human life, and human rights in the womb, and therefore, at best, it is little more than a band aid over a gaping wound (by the way, the wound here is NOT the existence of the babies, but our cultural beliefs and treatment of those babies – get it?)
There are also some serious factual flaws in her argument.
For example, an Alan Guttmacher Institute survey, of more than 10,000 women who had procured abortions in 2000 and 2001 in the USA, found that only 12 percent of these women stated that problems obtaining contraception was the reason for their pregnancies.
This result was backed up by a second Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of teenage mothers in the USA which similarly found that only 13 percent of the teens reported having had trouble getting contraception.
Or there is the important research that was recently pointed out by Ross Douthat in his New York Times column (emphasis added):
“Another Guttmacher Institute study suggests that liberal states don’t necessarily do better than conservative ones at preventing teenagers from getting pregnant in the first place. Instead, the lower teenage birth rates in many blue states are mostly just a consequence of (again) their higher abortion rates. Liberal California, for instance, has a higher teen pregnancy rate than socially conservative Alabama; the Californian teenage birth rate is only lower because the Californian abortion rate is more than twice as high“
Once again, I think it’s fair to say that Libby’s supposed bullet-proof solution to the problem of abortion (more contraception) isn’t actually as foolproof as she would to think, or claim that it is.
“I realized that the only world in which opposing birth control made any sense was one in which the goal was to control women’s sex lives.”
This sort of rhetoric (and the rest of the paragraph that follows it) is a logical fallacy that doesn’t actually represent the pro-life ethical position, or the real position of those pro-lifers who aren’t in favor of promoting contraception (many of whom are women, by the way) – it seems to be little more than another personal grievance that stems from her feelings about her own personal upbringing.
“I could no longer call myself pro-life, because I could no longer support the policies advocated by the pro-life movement and the major pro-life organizations. I no longer wanted to see Roe overturned or abortion banned. Instead, I wanted to work towards a world in which everyone has access to affordable birth control and unplanned pregnancies are reduced to a bare minimum. That day I became pro-choice.”
If that’s all that it took for Libby to switch her views on abortion, then I would humbly suggest that:
a. She never actually properly understood, or properly reasoned her way to the pro-life ethic in the first place
b. she made her decision to abandon the pro-life movement without getting all of the facts. According to her own account posted on this blog, all she did was read a couple of articles without ever bothering to verify the validity of the claims being made by these articles (at least she gives no indication in her blog post that she did this).
“I no longer believe that abortion is murder because I no longer hold that a zygote, embryo, or fetus is a “person.” I also came to realize that the focus on personhood ignores the fact that a zygote, embryo, or fetus is growing inside of another person’s body. For a variety of reasons, I see birth as the key dividing line”
BOOM! And there it is, one of the definitive statements in this post which definitely shows me that Libby never really understood the pro-life ethic properly, and as a result has now embraced some very illogical approaches to this issues.
How does growing inside another person’s body change the fact of whether a fetus is a person or not?
Put simply; it doesn’t.
And how the heck does birth change anything, other than the location, of the child growing in the womb?
Birth is a point of transition, and this has no bearing on whether you are a person or not.
(For the sake of brevity I won’t elaborate any further on the (very) logically robust pro-life refutations of these two points)
“I believed that the pro-life movement’s opposition to birth control stemmed not from a desire to control women’s sex lives but rather from the belief that the pill was an “abortifacient.”
There’s no doubting that some people are opposed to the Pill based on its potential to act as an abortifacient, but others are opposed to it for completely different reasons that have nothing to do with whether it is an abortifacient or not (some are opposed because of the way the pill changes male attitudes to women and sex, etc, some are opposed because they believe that sexual intercourse is meant to be unhindered by artificial barriers, others oppose it because they don’t like the health risks and prefer natural methods – and others still oppose it based on a mix of all these reasons).
But no pro-lifer that I am aware of opposes the pill because they have a desire to “control women’s sex lives” – such a sentiment is a cheap straw man that doesn’t exist in the real world (or, if it does, it is so rare that it is practically unheard of).
As you can see, Libby has already started from a position of a false dichotomy (the idea that it’s only one of two options, in this case it’s either because its abortifacient, or because of a desire to control women’s sex lives), and what’s worse, one of the options she is proposing isn’t even real (the desire to control women’s sex lives).
“This meant that the pro-life movement could oppose abortion as murder and yet also oppose birth control without actually being inconsistent.”
Once again, more logical fallacies – another false dichotomy, because even if the pill isn’t an abortifacient, it still wouldn’t be inconsistent to oppose it – someone could oppose it on other totally unrelated grounds, while still being consistent in their pro-life principles.
“I also found that the pro-life movement is not afraid of twisting the evidence when it comes to things like the supposed harmful side effects of abortion, such as depression and breast cancer. Cooking up “scientific facts” in an effort to scare women out of having abortions rather than working to encourage birth control use in an effort to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies seemed extremely backwards, and I became increasingly troubled by the way the pro-life movement treated science and their constant willingness to play fast and lose with the facts.”
I had to laugh when I read that statement, especially after Libby decided to include a link to an article that boldly trumpets that “Having an abortion doesn’t lead to depression” – is that right? Well try and tell that to all the women who have suffered damaging psychological side-effects from abortion, like the 250 women whose stories make up this book.
Such vile dishonesty simply re-victimizes the sufferers of post-abortion trauma by telling them the lie that their hurt is nothing more than a figment of their imagination, a fantasy or a delusion of their own making (gotta love the way certain ‘feminists’ treat their fellow sisters).
“The Biggest Killer: A Woman’s Own Body”
This whole section of her blog post is a woeful litany of terrible mathematics, bad science, logical fallacies and a complete failure to understand human ethics.
Firstly, the other blog post she quotes in this section (from someone called Sarah) fails to use proper mathematical calculations, and it misses several key scientific facts. Sarah’s little insert ends with a rather odd, and totally unproven assertion, that if you really believe that zygotes are human beings then “you actually kill more babies by refusing to take birth control”.
Oh yeah, says who? Sarah’s shonky mathematics and woeful understanding of fertility and human ethics, etc?
Firstly, the chances of getting pregnant each month are NOT 30%, they are 15% – 25% (1 in 5, or 20% seems to be the common answer given by doctors).
But this is merely a statistical average based on a calculation, it is not a constant that applies to every couple, and there are many different factors that have a bearing on fertility, ranging from weight, to age, to stress, to fertility functioning – and the various factors apply to both the male and the female (not just the female, as suggested in the blog post).
The other really important point about Sarah’s scientific analysis of the situation is that she completely fails to mention that the percentages regarding spontaneous abortion that she refers to are disputable. The fertilization process does not always result in the conception of a human being, sometimes it results in things such as hydatidiform moles, blighted ovums, etc.
The key point here is that it is almost certain that it is many of these types of entities which are lost in very early spontaneous abortions, as opposed to healthy human beings (the pro-life position is NOT that every meeting of a sperm and an egg is necessarily a conception of a new human being, by the way).
More importantly, from an ethical perspective, is that both Sarah and Libby (who goes on to add her own new and completely different figures for natural spontaneous abortion loss) are confusing an act of homicide with natural death.
Spontaneous abortion is a case of natural death (i.e. caused by mother nature), abortion, on the other hand, is an act of homicide (the deliberate killing of an innocent human being).
And here’s the important bit – while it is ethically wrong to deliberately kill an innocent human being, it is NOT ethically wrong to allow mother nature to run her course and allow a human being to die naturally (assuming that we are talking about a spontaneous abortion that has occurred after the meeting of a sperm and an egg that has actually resulted in the conception of a human being, and not something else).
Think of it like this – anti-whaling groups are NOT being inconsistent if they try and blockade whaling ships in order to prevent them from harpooning whales, but at the same time do nothing to save whales dying of natural causes elsewhere in the ocean.
There are two different ethical questions/acts involved here, NOT one, as Libby WRONGLY assumes there to be.
“Pro-life doctors often refuse to prescribe the pill, and pro-life pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions for it. This makes utterly no sense unless the point is not “saving unborn babies” but rather making sure that women who dare to have sex have to face the “consequences,” i.e. pregnancy and children.”
Yet more illogical false dichotomy and straw man arguments.
The doctors I know who refuse to prescribe the Pill, don’t do so because they want women to be punished for having sex (where the heck is she even getting this whacky notion from? Oh yeah, probably some fellow ideologue is telling her that this is how anyone who disagrees with contraceptive use, etc, views the world, and she’s just swallowing such garbage hook, line and sinker), instead they refuse to prescribe it based on health reasons – they believe that chemical contraception poses risks to female health and fertility, and they don’t wish to expose their patients to such risks.
Whether you agree or disagree with these doctors is irrelevant, the fact is that they are NOT doing this to punish women, and they are in fact making an ethical decision based upon the evidence in their possession as medical experts.
“As I thought through all of the implications of Sarah’s article, the benefit of the doubt that I had been giving the pro-life movement began to falter. How could they justify opposing the pill when putting sexually active women on the pill would actually save the lives of unborn babies?”
First of all, Libby has NOT at all established the validity of her claim that putting women on the pill would save more human lives.
I have already pointed out above the disputable nature of the natural spontaneous abortion claims, and then there is also the fact that chemical contraceptives are one of the known risk factors for increasing the chance of ectopic pregnancy (where the embryo implants and grows outside the womb, a situation which can kill both mother and unborn child if left untreated).
Most importantly of all, Libby doesn’t seem to have considered the fact that the Pill doesn’t actually save the life of any unborn children.
Even if we assume that Libby’s claims about natural spontaneous abortion are correct, and that we are actually talking about the natural deaths of unborn human beings, then getting women to take the Pill WOULD STILL NOT save one single life.
Instead what the Pill would do (assuming that it worked perfectly and prevented all possible conceptions, which NEVER happens in the real world, by the way) is PREVENT new human life from coming into existence, but that is NOT the same thing as saving a human life – to save a human life, that life actually first has to exist (which wouldn’t happen if the Pill worked seamlessly every time).
This is why it is completely flawed of Libby to imply that pro-lifers are somehow failing to attempt to save lives (therefore being inconsistent) if they refuse to endorse the Pill.
Just stop and think about the totally ludicrous nature of what her position actually entails for a moment – what she is suggesting here is that if pro-lifers refuse to endorse an action that could prevent a natural death by preventing that person from ever existing in the first place, then they are somehow being inconsistent.
But why should this reasoning apply only to unborn human beings and not ALL human beings?
After all, the pro-life movement isn’t just concerned with unborn human life, but with a respect for the dignity of all human beings from conception to natural death.
But then, according to her reasoning, in order to be consistent about saving human lives, wouldn’t pro-lifers actually have to support the sterilization of ALL humans, as this would be the only way to stop any more human beings from being conceived and then going on to die natural deaths at some point in their existence, either before or after birth?
Remember, she’s the one suggesting that pro-lifers should be held to account for natural deaths, and she’s the one claiming that preventing the existence of a new human being is a life-saving act, and that the pro-life movement is being inconsistent if they refuse to endorse the prevention of new human beings via contraception.
We’re not done yet folks, hold on to your tinfoil hats, cause things are about to get even more ridiculous up in this mother…
“A few months after reading Sarah’s article I came upon one by Fred Clark. In it, he argues that if those who oppose abortion really believe that every fertilized egg is a person we ought to see 5K fundraisers to save these zygotes. This is very much like what I said above, except that the focus here is whether the 50% of all zygotes – 50% of all fertilized eggs – that die before pregnancy even begins could be saved. Fred suggests that if the pro-life movement really is about saving unborn babies, and if those in the pro-life movement really do believe that life begins at fertilization, then pro-lifers really ought to be extremely concerned about finding a way to save all of these lives. But they’re not.”
Probably the most appropriate response to this part of the blog post would be: ROTFLMAO, however, let me proceed with a more measured and wordy response instead.
Once again, Libby (and Fred ‘Dagg’ Clark) have completely failed to understand the difference between natural death and homicide, and as a result they are trying to hold pro-lifers accountable for not doing anything about natural deaths.
Like I said earlier, this is about as logical as suggesting that anti-whaling campaigners who protest Japanese whaling, but refuse to try and prevent whales from dying natural deaths are somehow being ethically inconsistent or hypocritical.
I wonder if Fred and Libby (celebrity couple name: ‘Fib’) are just as consistent in their reasoning when it comes to someone like Oskar Schindler, who, according to their logic, was quite clearly a moral hypocrite for saving all those Jewish lives from the murderous Nazis while never doing anything to try and prevent all the cancers that killed Jews during WW2. Surely if he really truly cared about Jews he would have also done something to stop cancer, which also kills Jews, right?
Are these people serious?
What are they actually expecting here? That, in order to be ethically consistent, pro-lifers should be calling for natural death to be outlawed? Or for the impeachment and criminal prosecution of mother nature for all of her barbaric genocide of unborn human beings? Or perhaps they would prefer it if we protested outside the WHO’s headquarters for their failure to prevent natural deaths from occurring?
And, as mentioned earlier, why should this sort of cray cray thinking stop with natural deaths in the womb, shouldn’t it also extend to ALL human beings, and be demanding that, in order for pro-lifers to be consistent, they would need to start protesting, and acting to bring about an end to ALL forms of human death?
The fact that these people don’t seem to understand why pro-lifers wouldn’t ever make protest signs that read “stop natural death!”, or: “mother nature stops a beating heart”, and why not doing this would NOT be an act of hypocrisy or inconsistency, probably tells you a lot about where their heads are at.
I did warn you that this was real tinfoil hat type stuff.
(I realise that I am starting to become more sardonic with each passing sentence of this blog. I really don’t mean any harm, it’s just that such logically flawed notions deserve to be ridiculed in the extreme for the falsity of their content.)
I wonder if Fred and Libby have actually fully thought through the full ramifications of the reasoning they are espousing here? Probably not, because otherwise they would realize that it would mean that, if we take the African continent as just one example, anyone who worked in that region to bring about positive change, but who didn’t try to overcome EVERY single problem hurting the African people (from HIV, to poverty, to disease, to starvation, to corruption, to war, to lack of proper healthcare, to child soldiers, to economic strife, to education, etc.) would quite clearly be an inconsistent hypocrite who didn’t really practice what they preach.
“Barack Obama, Pro-Life Hero?”
In this section, Libby turns her blog post into a political advertisement for the Obama campaign, trying to convince us that Obama is actually the most pro-life president in US history (cue comedic drum and cymbal hit), and that Obamacare is going to reduce abortions by 75% (cue hysterical laughing that never ends until people die from their laughing) and anyone who opposes it is actually a murderous hypocrite.
Never mind that whole religious freedom objection, or the fact that widespread contraceptive availability has NEVER reduced a population’s abortion rate by anywhere even remotely close to 75% – just think about what Libby is trying to claim here, she’s trying to suggest that 75 out of every 100 abortions currently taking place in the US would cease to happen under Obamacare (this would literally be the policy equivalent to walking on water if it actually were true).
Why bother with facts when you can just repeat Obama talking points while failing to mention that Obama is strongly endorsed by Planned Parenthood (America’s largest provider of for-profit abortions), or that they have been involved in policy making under his tenure, or that they are receiving funding from Obama. And no need to mention Obama’s reversal of the Mexico City Policy, meaning that American money is being used to fund abortion in foreign countries.
Sure, this guy’s a real pro-life hero, just like Lance Armstrong was the best non-drug using athlete to ever make it big in the world of cycling (why stop at ‘hero’ as a descriptor for Obama though, when the promises that Libby makes about Obamacare actually suggest that he is in fact a veritable messiah).
Seriously, this sort of unthinking and sycophantic worship might go down great at a pro-Obama soiree, but in the real world it just doesn’t hold up to proper scrutiny, once again showing me that Libby hasn’t so much reasoned her way out of the pro-life movement as she has become blindly infatuated with an opposing ideology.
“Making It Harder to Afford Children”
This next section of the blog post is yet more political policy advertising that is flawed in the following ways:
a. is grossly unfair to the pro-life movement and the individual pro-lifers who make it up
The pro-life movement doesn’t just exist in America, or in Tea Party circles. It is in fact made up of a myriad of views about financial polices, not just the anti-welfare ones, which Libby wrongly implies are official pro-life movement fiscal policies.
b. it wrongly assumes that there is only ONE way (state welfare) to support people in need
Financial policies are actually hugely complex matters, as anyone who has ever worked in these areas can attest to, and it is overly simplistic to suggest that any one policy (i.e. more state welfare) is the complete, or only possible way of resolving poverty in a given population.
c. it wrongly assumes that people who don’t support state welfare type polices don’t want to address the issue, or that they want to see people living in poverty
These same pro-lifers who Libby accuses of being heartless poor-people haters, are in fact usually the very same people who give hundreds of volunteer hours per year, or make regular generous contributions to crisis-pregnancy centres that offer women in unplanned pregnancies free alternatives and support in order to help them avoid abortions.
It is childish and overly simplistic to accuse them, and the entire pro-life movement of not wanting to support pregnant women just because they don’t favor your preferred fiscal policy ideas (ideas which are actually shared by a lot of pro-lifers, by the way).
And I’m not sure if she’s noticed or not, but that article she cites as an example of “conservatives [who] are actively working to make it harder for poor women to afford to carry unintended pregnancies to term” actually states that one of the six politicians promoting the bill it mentions is a Democrat. (I suspect at this point she was just in too much of a hurry to try and crucify the pro-life movement for sins that it isn’t actually guilty of that she just stopped bothering to check the validity of the claims she was making).
d. it confuses the validity of the pro-life ethic/movement with financial policy ideas that some pro-lifers hold
The financial policies that pro-lifers (even if ALL pro-lifers happen to hold such policies) do not have any bearing on whether the pro-life ethic is true or not, or whether the existence of the pro-life movement is a valid thing or not.
Once again, Libby is confusing unrelated issues and trying to use them as an excuse to justify her new found ideological opposition to the pro-life ethic.
I can’t help but suspect that this particular section of the blog post is one of those very clear examples of Libby raging and rebelling against the things that she now perceives as major deficiencies in her own personal upbringing. Just consider statements like this one (emphasis added):
“I knew this back in 2007, because I grew up in one of those families. I grew up believing that welfare should be abolished, that Head Start needed to be eliminated, that medicaid just enabled people to be lazy. I grew up in a family that wanted to abolish some of the very programs with the potential to decrease the number of abortions… I’m remembering rumblings underneath the polished surface of the things I was taught. This idea that women shouldn’t “spread their legs” if they’re not ready to raise the results of their promiscuity, that the government shouldn’t be expected to pick up the tab for some slut’s inability to say no. As a teen and a young adult, I never thought about how inconsistent these ideas were with the “saving unborn babies” pro-life rhetoric I so strongly believed in.”
There’s no denying that there’s a lot of personal baggage quite nakedly on display in the sentiments that she expresses here, and it’s easy to see how this baggage is actually a big part of the conclusions she is now making about the pro-life movement.
The comment about “women shouldn’t “spread their legs” if they’re not ready to raise the results of their promiscuity, that the government shouldn’t be expected to pick up the tab for some slut’s inability to say no” reminds me of my own former follies, when I once wrongly thought that the state was there to finance my carelessness, or to fix every problem in my life, rather than to empower me to stand on my own two feet and start making more prudent lifestyle decisions.
And therein lies the biggest flaw in Libby’s blog post, it’s little more than a poorly thought out and logically deficient declaration of rebellion – all in the service of her new ideological infatuation, an infatuation which leads her to loudly abandon and blame her past choices, her upbringing, and the pro-life movement as a whole, for all of the wrongs she now perceives to be part of her former life.
Just consider her final ‘altar call’, which fervently, and with a religious zeal calls on pro-lifers to come out of the darkness, to come forward and kneel before the pro-choice altar, where they can be cleansed and initiated into her newly found ideology of abortion-choice as well:
“But I am very sure that there are other dupes out there. If you’re sitting there reading this thinking “but I really am in it to save unborn babies,” I am sure you’re not alone. After all, I was one of you.
If you are one who has been a part of the pro-life movement because you really do believe in “saving unborn babies,” it’s time to cut your ties with the movement. You may be an honest and kind-hearted person, but you’ve been had. You’ve been taken in. It’s time to let go. It’s time to support Obamacare’s birth control mandate, it’s time to call off opposition to birth control, and it’s time to get behind progressive programs that help provide for poor women and their children. It’s time to make your actions consistent with your motives. While I am myself no longer morally opposed to abortion, I and others like me share your desire to decrease the number of unplanned pregnancies and to ensure that every woman can afford the option of keeping her pregnancy.
We’d love to have you join us.”
Sadly, this blog post is little more than a testament to the fact that Libby never actually properly understood the pro-life ethic in the first place. It serves as a warning that we, the pro-life movement, need to ensure that our members have actually properly reasoned their way to the pro-life commitments they profess, rather than just merely going along with the rest of pro-life crowd, because their parents told them to do so, without ever being adequately formed in the profoundly important and logically sound ethical truths that we proclaim.
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