Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Why Didn’t I Think of This First?

I'm not endorsing anyone get an abortion. I am, however, endorsing that this procedure be available to those who would want it. I really despise how the reproductive rights debate has been easily framed as a bipolar issue: for or against. I particularly despise those that support the National Right to Life movement.
I don't know anything about the show that this transcript is from, but I am glad that the unanswerable question was posed to the leader of the National Right to Life (I got this from Pandagon; the original transcript of the show is at

MATTHEWS: I have always wondered something about the pro-life movement. If—if you believe that killing—well, killing a fetus or killing an unborn child is—is murder, why don't you bring murder charge or seek a murder penalty against a woman who has an abortion? Why do you let her off, if you really believe it's murder?

O'STEEN: We have never sought criminal penalties against a woman.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

O'STEEN: There haven't been criminal penalties against a woman.

MATTHEWS: Well, why not?

O'STEEN: Well, you don't know the circumstances and how she's been forced into this. And that's…

MATTHEWS: Forced into it?


O'STEEN: … to be effective.

We're out—we're not out—we're out to try to protect unborn children.


MATTHEWS: See, this is where the hypocrisy comes in, sir. If it's wrong to have an abortion, why don't you criminalize it?


O'STEEN: I don't think that's the way you're going to protect unborn children.


MATTHEWS: But, if you say it's murder, why don't you act on that?

O'STEEN: I think civil—I think civil penalties, aiming at the doctors, taking away their financial incentives. We're after what works to protect unborn children. And that's the goal.

MATTHEWS: But the problem with all the states' rights is, you just go to the next state. And, if you outlaw it in America, you just go to Canada or Mexico or Dominican Republic.

Unless you penalize the person who has an abortion, I don't see how you actually stop somebody from having one.

O'STEEN: Well, I—I'm not—we have never sought criminal penalties against a woman.

I think it's much—far more effective to take away the financial incentive of the abortion doctors that are doing this for profit and for money. And we are—and our goal, remember, is to protect unborn children and to do what will work.

And it is a fact we have a federal system of government, yes.


O'STEEN: Yes, we're going to work for laws in all of the states. And we will overturn Roe v. Wade. And Fred Thompson would help do that.

MATTHEWS: Do you believe that abortion is murder?

O'STEEN: I believe it's the killing of a human being. Murder is a technical term. And right now, unfortunately, it's legal. But it's the killing of a human being.

MATTHEWS: But you do believe it's murder?

O'STEEN: I believe it's the killing of a human being, that's the term.

MATTHEWS: It just seems like you make a basic political judgment that would blame the doctor, when, in fact, these doctors don't go door to door offering people abortion services. The person who wants the abortion goes to a doctor and has the procedure done by the doctor. Yet you put the onus on the doctor. It just seems to be the strangest way to enforce a law.

O'STEEN: Remember, that's where the financial incentive is, and the physician knows what they're doing. How many women have been told this is a blob of tissue? This isn't really a human life? How are they pressured by men that want to escape their responsibilities, perhaps? What about a young girl that's been impregnated by a male, where it's a case of statutory rape?

But the abortion doctor knows exactly what they're doing. They're taking a human life. And you will see Roe v. Wade reversed and you'll see respect for human life restored. And Fred Thompson will help do that.

Abortion can't be stopped without criminalizing the women that get the procedure done: if doctors are fined all that happens is the market cost of an abortion gets higher (because the fines become part of the cost of services sold).

If I may, I really like how Pandagon furthers my sentiment:

Anti-choicers correctly perceive that their raging misogyny is a strike against them, that their quivering hatred of women who don't apologize for being daughters of Eve with actual sexualities and carbon-based bodies will tend to draw people short, since half of us are women (with sexualities, due to that humanity thing and all) and the other half still have mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, and friends that they don't want to see being treated like criminals for the high crime of living your life, even with the dreaded sex in it. And in order to get the stench of misogyny off them, they came across a, um, brilliant? P.R. move: Instead of saying that women are evil, let's just say women are stupid, that they have sex (and use contraception and have abortions) not because they really want to, but because they're badgered by men, feminists, and doctors who make so much money off performing a procedure that technically goes on the books as running in the red and is, at places like Planned Parenthood, subsidized largely by more profitable endeavors like supplying contraception. (Not that PP ever runs in the black, since they are a non-profit and subsist not only on fees, but donations and government funding.)

The question here is why do anti-choicers go with the "women are stupid" line instead of the "women are evil" line—because they are stupid? Or because they're evil? Today, I'm leaning towards the latter, at least with the leadership. They think they're so damn clever, with their fucked-up story about the supposedly high-rolling abortion "industry" and helpless women of a sheep-like stupidity who can't be held to account for killing someone. Which does make me wonder why they don't picket women's prisons and demand the release of all the prisoners, who are not morally accountable human beings, but barely sentient ambulatory wombs in the anti-choice estimation. They don't, of course, because they're full of shit. I think David O'Steen is a liar, actually. I think no human being can be so stupid as to think that you can ban an act without enforcing the ban if you want it to work.

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