That's the message we get from the pro-death right wingers. And it's the message we get from the "let's just be reasonable" would-be liberals and "progressives." The whole abortion discussion has moved away from whether a woman has a right to her own body, and over to this collective giving of the third degree to all women everywhere. Society is saying, "Yo, bitches, we'll decide what you can do with your own body based on our own sense of morality." Underlying that is a misogynistic and/or paternalistic attitude that refuses to even acknowledge that women might rightly have a say in what happens in their own bodies.
The Democrats and their supporters are split between three groups:
- Those who want the government to control women's wombs
- Those who are afraid of right-wing's "pro-life" spin on the issue
- Those who believe people should have rights to their own bodies.
And in the context of a radical right minority's influence over Republican politics, and thus American politics as a whole, the Democratic Party has recognized the need to do something: cave in and put up right-wing candidates of their own, so that these silly ideas that women have rights to their own bodies can be "set aside" so that politics can get to the "important shit." Call this group #1.
Often the people pushing this agenda talk out of both sides of their mouths, claiming that they're "pro-choice" while pushing for pro-criminalization politicians like Bob Casey, Jr. and Tim Kaine -- which is kind of like a robber claiming he's the computer repairman while he carries your brand new iMac G5 out the door. Believe what you see, not what you hear.
Group #2 is probably why we don't even have a real debate about abortion. These folks just find it too "icky" to think about, and can't be bothered with the implications regarding fundamental human rights that underlie the issue. They see the screamers on television with their signs and spittle and want nothing to do with it. They hear the "culture of life" spin the right wing puts on its punish-the-women agenda and want nothing to do with it. And they hear the absolute and devastating silence from the other side, and want nothing to do with anything where nobody's got their back. And so they stay away.
Nancy Scola kind of treads the line between #2 and #3:
More important for me than it being morally wrong or not (though for the record, I generally don't think that it is) is whether or not it is a net bad for the individual woman involved. Everything tells me that it is....
I think it's important that we distinguish between the two basic positions open to pro-choice Democrats: that abortion is entirely neutral and that we must fight to the end to protect the right to have one, or abortion is a net bad and that we still must fight to the end to protect the right to one. Ezra Klein wonders why if we all agree on our policy end goal -- preserving choice, of course - what does it matter how we all get there? You see this kind of thinking time and time again. In this case, it's wrong for at least two reasons.
First off, if we admit that the policy is intended to address those worst case scenarios, then working to avoid having folks find themselves in these situations becomes the next logical thing to focus on. That this opens up the door to progressive/Democratic solutions -- on poverty, education, gender relationships, and so on -- is of course not a bad thing. Secondly and more importantly here, is where we stand in 2006 - we've got an anti-choice Democratic majority leader, House, and Senate. An anti-choice governor just gave the Democratic rebuttal to the State of the Union. We have a twice-elected President who ran heavily on the abortion issue. He's just appointed two anti-abortion Supreme Court Justices, something he promised he'd do when he asked people to vote for him. The evidence suggests that we have yet to convince a whole lot of people of the wisdom of the pro-choice Democrat way of thinking on this.
My own feeling is that people have no place wringing their hands over other people's private medical decisions. If you think abortion is bad, don't abort your pregnancy. But don't presume it's your place to judge what others do.
But of course, we never hear that, because women are already considered owned by society. Women's rights seem to be provisional, and in fact luxuries, such that when women speak out against attempts to establish governmental claims on their own bodies, people start whining about whining, shrieking about shrieking and bitching about bitching. The only difference is that the women are fighting for their fundamental human rights, while the others are just wanting the women to shut the fuck up.
What's come of all this are Establishment attempts to manufacture consent. We see Katha Pollitt's comments deleted from NARAL's blog. We see the notorious browbeating of progressives by Kos and friends. And we see the same bloviating garbage from puffed up Senators who talk a lot but don't say much.
And it's not going to work. Never. Ever. Because we've been there before, and wanted to part of it.
And the more Machiavellian Democratic pundits declare that this is a good thing, that a bloody harvest of women struggling with a jack boot on their abdomens will be a good thing for Democrats. Yeah right.
Just what the Democrats need: martyrs to their spinelessness.