Monday, July 11, 2005

Pro-Life Pols: a culture of disingenuous inconsistency

The conservatives have been very crafty in how they framed and, more importantly, re-framed the abortion debate over the years. When abortion itself seemed to be accepted by the mainstream and the overturn of Roe out of reach, they raised the specter of infantacide by contriving the "Partial Birth Abortion" issue claiming that it was not uncommon for healthy, viable near-term babies to be partially delivered breach and then, just prior to completion of delilvery, murdered by crushing their skulls. [The D & X procedure is a relatively rare procedure done in the third trimester not because, as "pro-lifers" claim, a woman just no longer wants to have a baby - it's done for legitimate health reasons either due to significant anomaly in the fetus or significant physical health risk to the mother.] This helped increase the ranks of those who voted against candidates as they couldn't understand why anyone would bote against a ban on the procedure (if you take a look at the language used in the legislation, you'll understand why the laws have not been upheld in the courts).

As the movement was emboldended by the success they had making people cringe with "Partial Birth Abortions" and the increase in the ranks of couples facing infertility (many of whom resented women terminating pregnancies when they couldn't conceive or succesfully carry to term) joining their crusade the debate was re-framed again to redefine hormonal contraception as a method of abortion instead of a way to prevent pregnancy (including the straw man of "Pharmacists Conscience"). More recently, additional reframing in the form of "snowflakes" or embryo adoption instead of embryo donation, is gaining press as "pro-lifers" tread carefully into the territory of reconciling the inconsistency of their position by not demanding the banning of IVF (based on past subtle shifts in position, this will be the next step if they feel they have enough to control of legislators/judges that the backlash from infertile couples will not impact their ability to retain power).

Perusing The Liberal Avenger this morning, I noted the post regarding the new politics of abortion. As stated by dadahead, with the Repubevangelicals salivating to overturn Roe v Wade with installation of religious idealogues to the Supreme Court and sending up cases to chip away at rights until they have full control, the focus will now change to those running for office as ensuring rights are protected by law (or not) will be specific legislation proposed/enacted by elected officials. Unlike the Supremes, elected officials do need to pay attention to their constituents as they face election/re-election. Thus far, politicians tend to tow the party line or make "symbolic declarations" - especially on abortion - because moderates and progressives (and even some liberals) have taken Roe for granted; whereas it's been the cornerstone of the conservative party since Reagan ran for President (and the elder Bush changed his stance from Pro-Choice to ardently "Pro-Life" to run as Vice President).
If Roe ever is overturned (or, for that matter, Stenberg v. Carhart), candidates' positions on abortion would probably end up being scrutinized fairly closely, as opposed to the present practice of regarding them as mostly symbolic declarations of allegiance (are you 'pro-choice' or 'pro-life'?).
Dadahead points out, this is already being played out in the race for governer. The Republican candidate, Jerry Kilgore, takes what Dadahead indicates is the same as the vast majority of "pro-life" politicians: Kilgore is against abortion except in cases of rape or incest, or to save the mother's life.

I can appreciate someone who is "pro-life" allowing an exception to terminate a pregnancy that jeopardizes the life of the mother. The are walking the balance between saving the life of a being that is already alive against a being the believe is a human life but with the understanding there is a possibility that the "unborn child" may not be born alive. This seems a reasoned approached. It is, however, patently hypocritical for someone who is "pro-life" to say they can accept termination of pregnancy in cases of rape or incest. The pro-life argument supposedly is one that states life is sacred regardless of quality or duration. As such, the "pro-life" politicians must make the assertion that it is unconscionable to allow the termination of a pregnancy that is likely to result in the birth of a healthy child due to the fact it's conception was the result of a criminal act.

Additionally, allowing termination based on the act of incest is equally confounding. The incest clause is based on an assumption of health anomaly due to the primary biological relationship of the parents. Any resulting child may be reasonably healthy despite the inbreeding. When you contrast this to the life is sacred regardless of quality rhetoric/laws and lack of exception for genetic/development anomaly detected in utero of a fetus that is not the result of incest (or rape) - even in instances when post delivery viability is limited or nil - how can the "pro-life" movement accept the rape/incest exceptions in the case of abortion? In order to maintain a consistent position with their rape/incest exceptions, these politicians must either allow for termination due to genetic/developmental anomaly of the embryo/fetus and for significant health risk posed to the mother (not necessarily imminently life-threatening risk) as well or they must limit their exception to an imminent life-threatening risk to the mother. Any other stance is illogical & intellectually dishonest as well as being a disingenuous attempt to as Dadahead called it: bring their position on abortion in line with American sentiment.

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