Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Does Pro-Life = Extremist?

This topic at the progressive web forum DemocraticUnderground has really worried me.

Here's some snippets of the opening post:

To be pro-life means you want to overturn the law, and ban abortion.

For these people it is not about life or saving babies, that's why they kill doctors, bomb clinics etc... because the truth is that preventing an abortion is as easy as giving out a condom. Yet, you'll notice the vast majority of those who want to ban abortion, also are wildly against sex education, contraception, and birth control. Because it's not about the fetus. It is not about preventing abortions.

The real issue motiving these Christian extremists is... CONTROLLING WOMEN. That's what this is ALL about, controlling women... primarily by controlling their sexuality. These right wingers would love nothing more than to slap a burka on every woman in the US, but they can't.

To be fair, there were a few dissenting posters on the thread who didn't agree with the OP. Here's an example:

there are people who believe that the law should be overturned peacefully. they don't advocate any violence. they don't use hate speech. they con't advocate against birth control.

I can't believe so many people here refuse to admit that. I disagree with those people. I'll work against them, but I'm not willing to lie and say they don't exist and they're all radical murderous extremists.

You sound just like the fucking wingnuts who insist there are no moderate muslims.

Here's how that poster's response was treated by another poster:

34. It IS hate speech when they want to interject themselves into my health care decisions
Well, I'm beyond child bearing, but I have 3 grand daughters. When someone speaks out attempting to limit the type of health care that they can receive, then they are involved in hate speech.

What I gather from the people who responded that they agree with the original poster, all pro-life people seem to be either

1) Secretly out to crush sexuality and control women


2) Engaged in hate speech

Surfing around the lefty blogosphere, I've found that this sentiment isn't at all rare. It really does seem that a lot of people on the pro-choice side view everyone on the pro-life side as women-controlling, misogynist extremists who are three ticks to the right of the Taliban.

Now, I've lived in Georgia my whole life, which tends to be a state that's more on the conservative side when it comes to abortion. And I've known quite a few very committed pro-life people (including girls who are pro-life).

They aren't extremists. They aren't secret misogynists, or hate-filled religious fundamentalists (some aren't even religious). They just have a disagreement about where life begins and, in their view, they're just defending the lives of innocent people.

That doesn't mean they are right, or even that their view is well-informed. But it's not inherently a hateful or extremist belief, and those who hold it aren't all Taliban-esque maniacs. I think it's extremely unhelpful for the pro-choice movement to be using that sort of rhetoric -- to be jumping into the same kind of blind demonization of people who disagree with them that we see so often on the right.

My advice to pro-choice activists is to eave that nonsense to extremists on the pro-life side (and my advice to pro-life advocates is to leave extreme rhetoric to the extremists on the pro-choice side -- basically, don't let extremists control this debate).