The Dishonesty of the “Pro-Life” Movement part II
Posted on June 29, 2016
Progressives like to claim the antiabortion movement is dishonest about its motives, e.g. that its real goal is to control women. I think that is a false claim and a bad rhetorical strategy. Like any movement, antiabortionism has many actors with many complex motives, some though not all of which are exactly what movement leaders say they are.
Far more relevantly, antiabortionist organizations are deeply, systematically, endemically dishonest about facts and science. Here are a few of the many lies that the movement utterly depends on:
–that they support reductions in abortion. Actually, the movement quietly OPPOSES all of the most effective means of reducing abortion, which include free contraceptives, scientific sex education, free reproductive services, and socialized support for pregnant women and parents of young children.
–that criminalization helps reduce abortions. There is strong evidence to the contrary.
–that a majority of Americans are “pro-life” in the sense defined by the movement. Actually 80% to 90% of Americans have always supported abortion to save the life of the mother, and a majority have always supported first trimester abortion rights.
–that the movement is non-violent. Actually, the movement consistently uses pro-violent rhetoric, consistently supports demonstrations that are perceived as physically threatening by clinic staff, is consistently associated with low-level threats and property damage that it consistently does not take responsibility for or attempt to control. (Truly non-violent movements know how to control violent acts by their supporters.)
–that the movement is nonpartisan. Actually a majority of leading movement websites I’ve reviewed include a wide range of partisan movement-conservative positions, while movement organizations often support Republicans running against pro-life Democrats.
In addition, movement rhetoric is filled with completely unnecessary false claims it could quite well manage without, e.g. that abortion is more dangerous than childbirth, or that there is a serious incidence of an invented malady known as “Post-Abortion Syndrome,” or that most abortion providers are motivated by profit, or that Planned Parenthood sells body parts.
In addition, the movement uses directly fraudulent methods to attract troubled pregnant women to “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” which provide propaganda rather than medical assistance.
You have to ask yourself: how could a generally well-meaning and in some respects admirable organization like the Catholic hierarchy get so deeply involved in what is in fact a marginally criminal enterprise? The Catholic Church has the power to unilaterally force the movement to clean up its act, but chooses not to.
The Protestant wing of the movement is equal venal, but not equally responsible. There is no central Protestant authority with similar short-term power over the movement. However, one can imagine that a concerted long term campaign by the Southern Baptist Convention in an alternative universe might take the dishonest wind out of antiabortionist sails.