A Particularly Ugly Episode in the Christian Culture Wars.

(Content note: Abortion, women’s rights, misogyny. I would also like to remind readers that nobody has any quarrel with anybody who personally wouldn’t choose abortion for themselves but who would never, ever seek to deny others that right. All people are allowed to make whatever decisions they wish about their own bodies. I am writing here about people who would seek to deny others that same right.)

It’s been a rather mind-blowing week over in Christian Bizarro-land. The anniversary of the landmark decision Roe v. Wade was coming up, and it happened to coincide with the start of a legislative session in Congress, so naturally there’s been quite a lot of grandstanding and showboating going on as Christianist politicians and religious leaders alike jockey to demonstrate who loves fetuses the most.

Christian extremists have always hated that court decision. The day that an American court decided that women’s reproductive decisions were their own business and nobody else’s was the day that zealots got smacked in the face with the fact that their opinions of other people’s private lives don’t matter. Every decision further made to remove Christians’ opinions from impacting other people’s lives has been one step further taken to end Christian supremacy over society. It’s that lack of supremacy they’re upset about, not abortion itself. Abortion is just the emblem and symbol of that erosion of control. But it’s a powerful emblem. Though this opposition is, as Fred over at Slacktivist phrases it so well, “younger than the Happy Meal”, Christian leaders at this point take it for granted that of course abortion is some kind of grave moral wrong that of course Christians must fight tooth and nail to stop–for women’s own good, of course, though the implication is clear that these Christians think that women are too stupid, dense, immoral, and sex-crazed to realize how bad abortion is (or even sometimes to know what abortion is).

The problem isn’t so much that women are getting abortions; it’s that they’re getting abortions despite Christians’ attempts–by any means fair or foul, though mostly the means are foul–to stop them from doing it. It’s that Christians are saying “You shouldn’t do this” and women are either ignoring them or outright disagreeing–and getting abortions anyway, because this is a secular country and not a theocratic hellhole, and women own their own bodies here, which means nobody else gets to decide or override what another human being will or won’t have inside their own body, not even when the people trying to deny women their bodily rights are doing it for what they are totally convinced are the very best of reasons.

Nowhere does toxic Christianity’s pulse thump as loudly as it does when abortion gets mentioned. And oh yes, I know that there are “pro-life” dupes involved here who aren’t Christian, all of them trying to find non-religious arguments for denying women their bodily rights and turning their bodies into public property. And largely the arguments for doing so are already non-religious in nature because misogyny is a dogma that transcends all religious labels. Anybody who believes deep down that women aren’t really full people with exactly the same rights as men have, anybody who thinks that sometimes a woman’s rights and consent should be stripped from her the moment someone else needs to use her body or even just disagrees with her decisions, can be a “pro-life” advocate and hop into the party van.

Yet, despite the presence of some non-Christians in that party van, the “pro-life” movement is a Christian movement first and foremost–though some Christian groups reject this position, making the fight not between “Christians” and “the mean ole secular world and mean ole atheists and feminists,” but rather a fight between “misogynists, many of whom are Christians, and non-misogynists, many of whom are non-Christian.” (Kinda like how Creationism works, right? Not “Christian vs. atheist” but “a very narrow group of ignorant Christians versus everybody who understands and embraces science and reality, a group that very much includes a number of Christians.”) That said, I find it hilarious that these non-Christians don’t even realize that the entire movement was constructed from start to finish not to save pweshus baybeez but to get Americans used to the idea of losing their rights for the greater good–and to get us all used to having toxic Christians control our most intimate decisions. The movement is about keeping these Christian extremists in power and getting them back the authority and influence they’ve lost over the years as people have left the religion. It’s a great way to whip increasingly-alienated, angry, and disaffected Christian voters into enough of a frenzy to keep Republicans in power through pandering to a manufactured distrust and hatred of feminism and liberalism. And the leaders of the nuttiest wing of politics clearly think that they can accomplish that goal by fighting to keep women subjugated–women’s growing independence has always threatened Christian zealots’ conceptualizations of hierarchy and gender relations, just as LGBTQ rights do, so it’s a safe thing to pander with. Christian leaders are perfectly aware that reproductive rights are the linchpin of women’s progress and that control of women’s own reproduction is crucial to having and expressing equal rights. So trying to block women’s access to abortion performs a number of critical functions in right-wing Christianist politics.

At its worst, the “pro-life” movement is about erasing and negating women entirely. For a long time these zealots have painted pregnancy as this happy skip in the park that any woman should be totally okay to do, a favor on par with dropping a friend off at the mall on one’s way to work, like women just carry fetuses around in shopping bags during pregnancy rather than what pregnancy really is: a life-altering, incredibly dangerous medical procedure with literally hundreds of risks and complications, up to and including psychosis and death. Painting abortion as a purely frivolous, gratuitously mean-spirited and shallow decision is a big part of demonizing it–and an even bigger part of undermining the women who need to make that choice. And slowly, slowly, by pushing imagery like that, these zealots are insinuating the idea into our society that rights can and should only be granted to those who deserve them and will use them the way that those in power want them to use those rights. If someone doesn’t deserve the right to control her own body, goes the unspoken logic, then that right should be removed from her for her own good before she does something really bad with it, sort of like taking a teenager’s car keys away if the kid gets a speeding ticket. Think about what that attitude says about the person whose rights are being stripped and the person doing the stripping-away, because I’m deliberately using the image of a child being punished. If a woman doesn’t use her right to consent the way the men around her think she should use it, then maybe she shouldn’t have the right to consent to how her body gets used at all. Every single day, American women’s rights hang precariously from a crimson thread that can be cut the moment those rights are judged to be too much for them to handle.

In short, misogynists look at a photo of a pregnant woman and see a fetus riding around in some anonymous body and don’t care what the owner of that body thinks of the matter because whatever risk that fetus represents, whatever unwanted violation that fetus brings with itself or catastrophe it is going to wreak on its host’s body, its needs are what matter in the situation, while non-misogynists look at that same picture and see a woman–and they ask that woman if she wants to be pregnant or not, and most of all they care what her answer is.

How emphatically do forced-birthers negate women’s existence when it comes to abortion? Well, here’s a story about a ridiculous video some fundagelical men put out lamenting about how they “let” their partners get abortions. I know, “let”? But they don’t put it that way exactly. I want you to read this post while you look at that video, and I want you to hear the outright contempt and dismissiveness expressed in it toward these men’s ex-partners.

It begins with SHOTS FIRED. An ultra-somber, ultra-sincere bald bro says in the most sad and weepy tone imaginable, “I got an abortion.”


“I got an abortion.”

Oh, he did? Really? Huh, how neat. That must have been very interesting for him, given that he doesn’t have a uterus or a vagina, much less the ability to carry a fetus in his body.

One after another, men gaze soulfully into the camera and sadly declare, “I’ve had an abortion.” One guy even claims he’s had two of ’em.

Um, how’d that happen? Are they transgender? No, they’re all cis. They’re apologizing for abortions they did not actually have. Like the parade of forced-birthers through the movement’s history, they are all eager to write the women carrying these sacred fetuses right out of the picture. The women whose lives are directly affected by pregnancy don’t even exist in this video. The abortions referenced were not any woman’s own decision, but instead those of these ultra-earnest, ultra-sincere bros; the fetuses all sound like they were in these men’s bodies, not someone else’s. It’s like their partners weren’t even involved. I’ve read Naruto fanfic that more plausibly handled men having babies than this glib appropriation of pregnancy language to advance a self-serving agenda of false victimhood.

One after another, they swallow painfully, purse their lips, and gaze off into the distance, their pious eyebrows knitting and their eyes misting up as they haltingly recall “their” abortions and confess “their” sins. One home-group leader says at about the 00:30 mark:

So I was 28, and I didn’t know god; I called myself a Christian though. . . I had just started dating this gal, and, uh, she got pregnant.

The sheer contempt he displays for this partner–calling her a “gal” rather than a woman, distancing himself from the sex he engaged in with her–glitters brightly. He wasn’t some teenager. He was an adult man, pushing 30, and apparently premarital sex was totally okay by him. Presumably his partner was an adult woman as well. But he acts like her pregnancy came out of the clear blue sky. He doesn’t say “I got her pregnant.” He takes no responsibility whatsoever for having had unapproved premarital sex. He doesn’t even admit he had unapproved pre-marital sex. He uses only passive language to describe his actions and role in the situation.

There’s a reason for this choice of phrasing.

In a rather chilling snippet, one bro does discuss that he regrets not having “fought for the opportunity to save my child.” Others whine about not having “rescued” their partners from their own stupidity. We already know what “fighting” and “rescuing” looks like to people who deny women their bodily rights; domestic terrorism, manipulation, deception, and fearmongering. It’s not “his” child anyway–hell, it’s not even a child; it’s actually part of another human being’s body if it’s a nonviable fetus, and the only opinion that really matters here is the opinion of the human being being volunteered to host that fetus and who is taking huge medical risks on that fetus’ behalf. Mangling and misusing medical terminology is a big part of how forced-birthers manipulate emotions, and we need to call this dishonesty out when we see it.

And the video just keeps rolling on. Amid manipulative images of cute babies and playing children, the bald dude–who I’m calling Pastor Bro–sadly talks about how he regrets “his” abortion to this very day, then goes on to say that about 1/3 of Christian church members “have participated in an abortion.”

Wait, what?

Who exactly is he talking about here?

It’s hard to tell what he means by “participate.” He could be talking about anybody from the women getting the actual abortions to their partners to the people driving them to the clinic or making them soup afterward to the people putting up the money for the procedure to the employers giving those women time off work. We have no idea who or what he means. He never explains.

This dishonest hedging is completely intentional. We’re not supposed to wonder.

This blurring of lines is part of what makes forced-birther ideology so recklessly dishonest. About 1/3 of American women have chosen abortions, and that number doesn’t change a whole lot in Christianity (studies vary from “about as often” to “slightly less often” to even “way more often,” but oh yes, Christians definitely do have abortions; just as with their sex lives, Christian women don’t differ much regarding abortion from the standard population–they just feel guilty afterward and happily campaign for laws and rules they themselves can’t live under). But we already know, thanks to Pastor Bro and his buddies’ hangdog “I had an abortion” rhetoric earlier, that none of these guys even consider their partner’s private medical decisions to be anything but completely their business and moreover something they can feel free to spread around in public to score a political point and pander to their audience. We’re going to devote some special time to this blurring of lines soon, but for now, just be thinking about how toxic Christians often dishonestly take ownership of and claim a say in other people’s private business–especially when those other people are marginalized Others that Christians disapprove of (such as how cake decorators think that selling a cake to a gay couple is somehow participating in their wedding).

Then we get to watch these Christians concern-troll in a truly sickening display of paternalistic condescension. Looking right at the camera, Pastor Bro and his buddies say very earnestly, “I’m so sorry,” over and over again, most of them with a catch in their voices that suggests they’re just on the verge of breaking into manly sobs.

This “me so sorry” whining is nothing but more dishonest emotional manipulation. They want women who’ve had abortions to feel like there’s something to be sorry about and something to apologize for.

And there just isn’t.

Abortion’s a very simple, quick procedure that is one of the safest procedures any woman can have done–when legal, that is; illegal abortions, like the ones that absolutely would result if these “so sorry” bros got their wish, can be quite dangerous as well as way more common in countries that ban and criminalize abortion. Abortions are much less dangerous than pregnancies, which are way more likely to cause death. Though they can be expensive, especially for the poor and vulnerable women who need them most, abortions are a lot less expensive than a full-term pregnancy would be, not to mention a mere drop in the bucket compared to the cost of raising a baby; I seriously doubt these bros have in mind supporting all the babies that would result from their sanctimonious showboating or the astronomical rise in costs to government welfare programs that absolutely would result from such restrictions. And the “abortion regret” they clearly think women suffer–and which they giddily, gleefully appropriate for themselves to paint themselves as victims–was something even I knew was nothing but a myth back in the 1980s. But they keep on yammering about “the burdens and the weight” that their partners had to bear, implying that there is actually a burden or weight.

This, too, is a falsehood.

Most women who get abortions aren’t sorry. Most of them are actually hugely relieved. It isn’t hard to imagine why. An unwanted pregnancy is an absolutely devastating catastrophe for a woman. It can affect her entire life in every single direction. It can impact her relationships and her employment, hijack her very body and mind, and even maybe kill her. I’ve only met a few women who regretted their abortions–and you know what? Most of them came from Christian rhetoric-laden environments like these bros want to impose on society again. Tell a woman her whole life that abortion is terrible, that it is “shame and darkness” as Pastor Bro terms it, and she might just come out of one thinking so. Shocking, isn’t it? Maybe the problem is that Pastor Bro senses–dimly at least–that most women don’t think of abortion as shameful or dark. He just desperately wants women to think that–and he’s happy to lie for Jesus if it leads to women agreeing with what he thinks about abortion.

But out here in reality-land, we know better. And as more and more women get abortions and talk about their experiences, demystifying the concept and discovering in the process that an abortion is not a big deal, the rhetoric and propaganda pushed by people like Pastor Bro is going to continue to fail. Indeed, the comedy site Funny or Die has already put out a must-see reaction video discussing this Orwellian travesty against decency and I recommend you see it to help detox yourself.

That increasing awareness of what the forced-birther movement is really about–the naked negation of women’s rights and the hamfisted, baldfaced attempt to bring back Christian dominance even if it means writing a bill that sounds like it’s actively negating rape victims–is why, when the American House of Representatives tried to pass a draconian anti-abortion bill this week, the measure died. It did not die because a bunch of progressive, feminist allies stopped it, nor because the President vetoed it–though both would likely have happened. No, this awful, ludicrously evil bill died because Republican women themselves spoke out against its weird rape provision, to the fury of both forced-birther domestic-terrorism groups and their party alike. And those Republican women immediately got censured by people they probably previously thought were their allies, with one asshole even hinting that one of those women, Representative Renee Ellmer, didn’t deserve the right to live because she had spoken out against the tribe (and he even went on to proudly declare that he doesn’t care if anybody thinks his question is “un-Christian, irresponsible, or just plain mean”–remember, misogyny transcends religious labels, and, clearly, even basic human decency). It sounds like the first time she actually has stepped outside the bounds prescribed for women in her party; Renee Ellmer’s record is pretty solidly in lock-step with fundagelical extremism. The good ole Christian boys in her Republican clubhouse grudgingly tolerated her presence as long as she said and did exactly what they wanted; when she refused to comply even one time, they turned on her like a pack of wild, rabid dogs. It’s tragic that the only “life” forced-birther zealots care about is that imaginary one they think fetuses have. Actual real women with real lives, even women who are forced-birthers themselves for whatever misguided reason, get brushed aside and even threatened by their male masters any time they get inconvenient to the narrative.

“Once you’re born, you’re on your own.” /BOOM BAM MIC

This is one culture war that isn’t going to end until our society starts caring about the right to consent and understands how important bodily autonomy is–for men, for women, for everybody–and stops thinking that one person can or should have a say in what violates and uses another person’s body. The problem is that a society that truly values consent and bodily integrity would not be one that fundagelical Christians like these bros in this video would want to live in. They wouldn’t have influence over total strangers’ lives in that society, nor would their opinions, as fascinating as they would be to these bros, matter to a person making an intimate medical decision based on his or her own understanding. They wouldn’t even get to feel smugly superior and morally above anybody. Just think of all those women having all that unapproved sex and all those borshuns without even caring what these bros think of it! Won’t someone think of the children bros?


Are forced-birthers sorry enough that women choose abortions that they will campaign for the measures that actually work to lower abortion, though? I seriously doubt it. The movement as a whole is increasingly anti-contraception, anti-sex education, and anti-social justice. That their stated solution to the issue of unwanted pregnancies is a chirpy “WELL JUST DON’T HAVE UNAPPROVED SEX THEN, GYAHH, SILLIES!” and a concerted attempt to regulate strangers’ sex lives instead of anything that actually would affect abortion rates indicates that the real problem here is the unapproved sex being had. Instead of tackling the very real and pressing reasons why women need abortions so often in our dysfunctional society (poverty, poor education, lack of access to contraception, lack of support for domestic abuse victims and very poor women), they try to nip the supply instead by criminalizing this safe, completely simple procedure and shaming and terrorizing women to compliance with Christian “values.” But the need is still there. The reasons are still there. That’s why these measures fail in the real world and lead only to deaths for women desperate enough to seek abortions anyway.

As one of these bros puts it in that video, the problem is that abortion is “available” at all–and the solution to the problem he’s creating in his head is quite clearly to remove that availability, which will solve everything. Except it won’t–remember, banning abortion just makes abortion rates soar. It’s the countries that allow abortion more or less freely that tend to have the lowest rates of abortion. Weird, isn’t it?

If there is any “shame and darkness” involved in abortion, then it’s imposed entirely by misogynists who hate and fear the idea of self-owning women. One of the bros in that video actually says he is sorry that his partner had to hide her abortion “from everyone.” Gee, ya think, asshole? Why do you suppose she’d want to conceal having had one, hmm? Did you even ask her first if it was okay to talk about her private life on this video? I doubt it’d be hard for people who are even vaguely acquainted with this guy to figure out who the woman in question must be. But her very real risk of humiliation doesn’t matter. When a poor widdle man-child bro feels man-pain, that man-pain matters more than protecting an ex-girlfriend from the fury of his own tribe. She’ll understand, right? He has man-pain here! MAN-PAIN!

This video–and the legislation that came along beside it–is grotesque. This is what the forced-birther movement is about: dishonesty. Manipulation. Excessive overreach. Negated existence. Blurred lines. Trampled rights. A total lack of understanding of consent and autonomy. Concern trolling. Grabbing control of and judging others’ lives under the mistaken conviction that good intentions shield the controllers from all criticism. This is the ultimate end-game of Christianism, and the ultimate evil it represents to all of us. And I use the word “evil” quite intentionally, because I think there is nothing more evil than someone who knowingly harms others while insisting it is for those others’ own good. This is nothing but more “ends justify the means” zealotry. Harm done out of “sincere” concern is still harm.

We should all feel outraged that this is the direction that forced-birthers are taking, and we should not ever tolerate this kind of overreach. We should not allow zealots to remove people’s bodily rights, or to dictate how those rights will be expressed. We should not allow them to think even for one heartbeat that they have the right to make other people’s private medical decisions for them, or to negate human beings. We should be aware of appropriation language and manipulation tactics such as those used in this video, and aware of the undercurrents of arrogance, presumption, and false ownership in forced-birther tactics nowadays. This video represents a trend that we need to keep in mind as we move forward.

Let’s sum up:


I am a woman and I have these human rights: the right to life, the right to privacy, the right to freedom, the right to bodily integrity, the right to decide when and how I reproduce. — Soraya Chemaly

I know this topic hits a lot of us very deeply, and it should. I don’t apologize for taking this subject personally. After all, there’s not much that’s more personal than having one’s bodily rights and autonomy stripped clean away. But I also want to end with a note of optimism–an optimism I do not feel is misplaced. The darkness assembling against women across the world (almost every bit of it at the hands of religious zealots, I’ll add) can look overwhelming sometimes, but you know what they say about it always looking darkest right before dawn. As right-wing politicians start noticing how badly these tactics backfire both on them personally and on their party, and as Christians themselves grow increasingly weary of this ridiculous, self-generated culture war their Dear Leaders have kicked up, I expect society to shudder free and move forward.

In fifty years, misogynists attacking women’s right to terminate unwanted pregnancies may well be considered much like how we consider anti-gay bigots today, and how we began considering fervent racists a few short decades ago. We may have to drag toxic Christians and other misogynists forward kicking and screaming every inch of the way, but eventually our forward tide will bring them forward to the point where there’ll come a day when they say with total certainty that they always supported women’s right to choose. If that idea doesn’t buoy you, I don’t know what else might besides a kitten going to town on a soft blanket:


About Captain Cassidy

I blog over at Roll to Disbelieve about religion, culture, cats, and tabletop RPGs.
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59 Responses to A Particularly Ugly Episode in the Christian Culture Wars.

  1. When I first saw the video a couple of days ago, listening to each man, my thought was “This might be credible if the woman was here with you; if you were apologizing to her; if she was responding positively to the apology and affirming what was said.” It wouldn’t be right, but it would have been more credible.

    I understand they want to push men to “man up” and take charge of the decision since they have steadily lost influence with women, but by creating the video with no women involved; then showing no respect for the women’s feelings or privacy and saying what they would have done “to” the women if they had another chance, they simply confirmed that at heart they and their anti-abortion bros don’t respect or care for women as people and don’t see them as capable of thinking through an issue and making a decision that’s best for them. Those beliefs are the reason they should be apologizing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What women need, what all of us need, is egalitarian society. I am certain that to clean up the society that we have in a way that leaves an egalitarian society would require more mops than we can produce.


  3. mikespeir says:

    Is there any time during nine months of pregnancy when a woman should not have the right to an abortion?


    • Anything that happens to a human body–sex, an operation, a pregnancy, dancing, tickling, whatever–requires ongoing and continuous consent. At any point during whatever the festivities are, anybody involved has the right to withdraw consent and stop. So I’d say no, there is no time during pregnancy when the right to consent should be withdrawn.

      Me personally, if it was post-viability, I’d probably finish the job, and if someone withdrew consent that late into the process I’d want to see if there was some way to extract the fetus without harming it–but that’s mostly because at that point if someone else wants to take over the job of nurturing it, they’re welcome to do so. But I don’t want to impose my idea on someone else. Sometimes it comes down to GET IT OUT OUT OUT OUTOUTOUT.


      • william says:

        but I guess the human life in the womb doesn’t have those rights, and is incapable of giving its consent.

        and I’m not staunchly for pro-life or staunchly against pro-choice, but we are talking about a real human life that just happens to be in the womb. Should no one speak for them?

        and if a woman were trying to kill herself or cut herself or harm herself in any other way, would you not stop her, would you not try to help, but stand aside and try to keep others from stepping because, hey, a woman should be able to do whatever she wants with her body?

        you might. I would try to stop someone from harming themselves or from harming another.

        But abortion wont go away. I realize that. I just think that “women’s rights” is worded just so as a way to sidestep the other life involved.


        • Again. Imagine a 20-year-old making the demands upon someone that a fetus makes on a woman. Imagine a 20-year-old walking up to you and saying, “I want to crawl up inside your body, rob you of quite a lot of your tissue, and put you through hundreds of risks that might result in your death–as well as put you through pain for nine months. When I leave, I’ll be subjecting you to an experience widely regarded as the most painful thing a human being can go through. That okay? Lift your skirt, I’m going in dry.”

          Would that be okay?

          The fetus does not have a “right” to anything that allows it to violate another human being’s body. It might not have had a say in whether or not it needs that body, but NOBODY gets that expectation.

          Would you stop someone trying to violate a human being without his or her consent? I would. Would you stop someone trying to hurt somebody without their consent? I would.

          You’re looking at this thing ass-backwards. You’re seeing a cute little baby needing protection. I’m seeing a parasite/thing/whatever trying to hurt somebody and use somebody’s body without that body’s owner’s consent.

          Women’s rights are worded to allow women the same exact rights that men get. Men own their bodies. If you were imposed upon in that way, you’d have the right to say no. Well, women own their bodies. Nobody gets to negate their consent and use their bodies without their permission. Doesn’t matter if it’s a man, a fetus, a medical instrument, or anything else. Just like in sex, that permission has to be ongoing and can be withdrawn at any time.

          That make more sense?

          Liked by 1 person

        • PS: Not to double you there, but the reason that we don’t care if it’s a “life” or not is because the whole personhood argument is a red herring cooked up by “pro-life” people to try to humanize fetuses and make them seem a lot more sympathetic than they are. That whole argument barely even existed when I was a Christian myself. Now it’s the primary focus–because it works (and magnificently) on people who don’t know about the consent problem with forced gestation. It’s not a primarily religious argument, so it works on people who aren’t even Christian, as well, so bonus there to them.

          As I noted, it doesn’t actually matter in the least if it’s a life or not. The issue is, it’s inside someone without that person’s consent, using that person’s body, and building itself out of that person’s own cells and blood and bones and tissue. It wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the body it is robbing of resources. So that’s why women’s rights and abortion rights don’t give a flying shit how “human” or how much of a “life” a fetus is. It’s not some sinister plot. It’s a simple recognition of the fact that it wouldn’t matter if it’s a life or a cancer tumor or a little ceramic button someone swallowed. What matters is, it’s imposing on someone, and as I wrote recently, the entity or person doing the imposition doesn’t get any right to consent to its removal. That’s as macabre an idea to me as trying to pass laws giving rapists the right to consent to stop fucking their victims. Or surgeons the right to consent before they stop cutting into unwilling victims. (You do realize that your arguments here could be used to bring about forced organ donation and a return to legal marital rape, right? Forcing organ donation would certainly save many more lives, so surely that is more important than you keeping all of your liver…. Life and all….)


  4. davewarnock says:

    Christians who take the Bible seriously will always have a hard time distancing themselves from misogyny. It’s deeply embedded in the fabric of the movement. The OT clearly shows that women were nothing more than property- to be controlled exclusively by men. And for all the pro-woman sentiment ascribed to the Jesus figure, we still don’t quite see any women among the BIG 12 do we? He’ll let them get close to him and wash his feet and pour oil on him and shit, but give her any REAL power. Whaaaat? Are you carazeee?!

    This video is disgusting- from the soft-sad music that opens it, to the sad-eyed forced tears (almost…couldn’t quite get it rolling down the cheek), to the utter disregard for the woman’d voice in this lurid pity-fest. Ugh!

    And what is all the angst about anyway?? If all these babies (fetuses hopping around heaven is a video I want to see made!) are laughing with Jeebus now, then isn’t abortion just the greatest thing ever?!


    • ANGST! That’s the word I was looking for! Thank you. And yeah, I never got it either after I finally woke up from that fever-dream. Why weren’t Christians aborting right and left if fetuses go to heaven? (Of course, one vile Christian thing making the rounds lately is a Calvinist-sounding dipshit who is claiming that no, actually, fetuses and babies do not go to heaven.)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Their willingness to tolerate rape exceptions undermines the “high-mindedness” of their whole argument. They know if they don’t it turns into forced-birthing for even the dimmest of bulbs, yet if it truly was an actual baby, rape exceptions are murder, too.

    Which is why they are so quick to lie and tug on heartstrings. Because their argument makes zero logical sense.


  6. I was made aware of this video a few days ago, and I remembered commenting on how these guys were only apologizing for not knowing how to use a condom. You’re spot on: they didn’t take ownership over their part in creating a new life. At nowhere do they say they regret not knowing how to use the simplest form of birth control out there.

    Granted, I’ve got a different set of rants about this video. The awful things you point out about the misogynistic culture against women are quite true.

    Just on a side note, the current state of the law about abortion isn’t even Roe v. Wade anymore. So every time some Pro-life attack dog gets butthurt about the decision, feel free to laugh at them. It’s just them being openly obvious about how little they care to know about women’s rights.


    • Yeah, I was wondering that too–what birth control were they using? Seems like when a person is raised ignorant (like Christians often are with abstinence-only education) and thinks having non-marital sex is evil and shouldn’t happen, when that sex does happen they’re just completely unprepared for it–or choose not to prepare, since only bad people prepare for sin. Kinda like how in my town, which has a huge number of Mormons in it, has a serious issue with underaged drinking and DUIs–all these kids leave their little hometowns, get away from the parents and church family, and go to college here, and they just go wild–and don’t get taxis or designated drivers after drinking because that’d require a little forethought.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I remember reading an article somewhere about how ignorant abstinence only sex makes people. Personally, I had a decent sex ed in the public school I went to (in rural Alabama, of all places). Even without that, there were enough popular depictions of birth control in the 90’s that I had to find out what they were. Making it taboo but accessible, by the way, is a great marketing strategy for birth control. It will guarantee that kids will inquire as to birth control products.

        But what you said reminds me that these people in this film are trying to have it both ways. Either they were “living in sin” and should have known better, or they were sheltered and didn’t know better. This ties back to your piece on testimonies: they’re lying about something.

        And even if they used birth control, obviously they didn’t use it properly. So even there, they didn’t care to use it right or they couldn’t have been bothered once to put a rubber on. Therefore, they messed up no matter which way they want to claim it happened.

        The worst thing about all of this, the thing that gets me angry about the video, is that these assholes are sitting there getting sanctimonious about the fetus they helped create when they couldn’t have given two shits about it earlier. That’s because they still don’t give two shits about unborn children. They just care about keeping women in the 1850’s.

        Finally, that drivel about how many women have had an abortion in church? Yeah, that’s an attempt to shame those who have had an abortion. Now their church friends are going to ask everyone. And these women are going to have to admit to it or lie, further alienating them from people who are actually supposed to be helping them with their grief.

        So much for demanding mercy and not sacrifice.


  7. Well said. From the World Heath Organization: Unsafe abortion: the preventable pandemic

    “The underlying causes of morbidity and mortality from unsafe abortion today are not blood loss and infection but, rather, apathy and disdain toward women.”


    • Thank you :) I was reading about one abortion doctor here in the States who was butchering women and doing all kinds of unsafe things. The forced-birthers went to town on it–until pro-choicers pointed out that women went to him instead of to the super-safe, by-the-books clinic nearby because they were afraid of all the demonstrators and harassers who always flocked around that clinic. The butcher’s clinic was under the radar and never had forced-birthers out front, and women could slip in and out unnoticed. They knew it wasn’t as reputable and so therefore not as safe, but they were scared of the domestic terrorists outside the safe clinic. They took their chances, and some of them paid a hefty price for that safety and anonymity.

      Those demonstrators–all of them really–have blood on their hands. Not that they care.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. karenh1234567890 says:

    I agree.

    Pro-forced-birthers are a newish Protestant phenomenon. Back when I was young, many Protestants were OK with abortion as it differentiated them from the Roman Catholics, who were the generally the people who had gigantic families, in the suburban US that I was raised in.


    • There’s not a lot of difference at all anymore between the extreme right-wing of Christianity and hardcore Catholicism. Back when I was young, not only were Protestants okay with abortion but also with birth control, public schools, and recreational (marital) sex–and I remember a few times people saying that they were specifically proud that they weren’t like those evil sexist Catholics who didn’t like that stuff.


  9. Beth Caplin says:

    We’re going to have to agree to disagree on the morals of abortion itself (which we’ve talked about), but seeing what the pro-life movement has turned into churns my stomach, because it’s all about making sure a baby is born, and not doing a damn thing to prevent the situation that lead to an unwanted pregnancy in the first place: lack of access to affordable contraceptives, poor education, and honestly? Pressure from the culture to engage in sex earlier and earlier (at least that’s what I experienced). And maybe there are women who choose abortion because they think it’s better than raising a child with very limited funds and lack of other support. In which case, Republicans who refuse universal healthcare and live with the mentality that everyone should pull themselves up by bootstraps they might never have had in the first place are hypocrites.

    Abortion is a societal issue, and it should be about the women and families just as much as it is about babies. When the unborn baby’s life matters over everyone else who is already born, you’re doing ‘pro life’ wrong. Ideally (and this is the definition of ‘pro life’ I use for myself) being pro life means supporting choices that benefit everyone involved.


    • And maybe there are women who choose abortion because they think it’s better than raising a child with very limited funds and lack of other support.

      I’d say they’re right. If they think that an abortion is better than a life plunged into poverty and stigma, then I’m willing to trust their evaluation of the situation. Alas, like most things the religious right wants people to believe, there’s not really a cut-and-dry answer.

      I don’t really care what someone thinks is the morality of abortion. I care about women have the right to decide for themselves what is moral and immoral for their own situations, and having the right to consent or not consent to anything that is thrust into their bodies. By assigning moral value to the process of consent, inevitably consent itself gets ignored in the rush to make women’s personal decisions public property to judge and evaluate.

      Abortion itself is neither moral nor immoral. If you want to assign morality to it, for your own personal life, that’s up to you. I won’t argue about that. To me, it’s a lot more immoral that forced-birthers want to create a world wherein women must ask for permission to exercise their own bodily rights, and where their personal decisions get second-guessed. Seems to me that, as you’ve already found, it’s a lot better to–if someone really wants to lower abortion rates–concentrate on stuff that actually works to do that. But there is a reason why the vast majority of Christian leaders choose instead to shame women and trump abortion up into this moral quandary, when it really is more a logistical issue.


    • Glandu says:


      (1) Contraception is better than abortion. Always. As long as contraception works, there is no question to be asked. In an ideal world, there would be no need for abortion at all. In a more real world, it could be limited to accidents & specific situations. more details in point (2)

      (2) There are far more abortion than that. The impressive thing is, at least in Europe, the most repressive is the law against abortion, the more local women abort.
      It means that id you’re reality-based & want to reduce the number of abortion, you should enforce better abortion systems. The rationale behind it is that when people do not fear, people are more prepared, and make less mistakes(with contraception, in this case). And there is less need for abortion.

      (3) When people use a bad imitation of Greek myths as their only link with reality, point (2) gets overlooked. Both abortion & unwanted pregnancies are in huge numbers, and some of those wreck havoc in people’s life.

      (4) My conclusion : Anti-abortion militants are either blind or hypocrits. I’d say most of them are blind & react with guts instead of brains. Still, there may be a few hypocrits amongst them.

      (5) P.S. : we live an onverpopulated planet. Abortion & contraception are good as they help us limiting our impact on the planet – and keep it usable for longer. Before even going to morals, or life condition, or feminism, or whatever.


      • Beth Caplin says:

        Yeah I never understood the Catholic argument that birth control is akin to abortion. I did my research before choosing one that is not supposed to affect an already-existing pregnancy. But even if pills aren’t for you, condoms certainly don’t cause miscarriages or other physical side effects.


        • Like most of the rules about sexuality in religion, it’s just arbitrary. Catholics do that stupid rhythm thing and it’s still avoiding pregnancy–it’s just doing it in a way guaranteed to fail and cause boundless stress, yet make Catholics think they’re doing something to avoid it that’s still within the rules. If “never avoid pregnancy” was really the desired goal, the religion’s leaders wouldn’t allow rhythm either. But it’s not. “Let us control every aspect of your intimate life” is the real goal. And the tactic works perfectly for that goal.

          I can think of a few other places where the goal doesn’t line up with the tactic.


          • Beth Caplin says:

            Well it can work for some people, it just takes discipline. My best friend has been married almost 2 years and is only using NFP. No babies yet. Though I don’t know how much they have to abstain during the “unsafe” days of every month. I don’t feel comfortable asking…


          • No babies … yet. You know what people call those who use “birth control” like that?


            Instead of doing all that intrusive, invasive bullshit with charts and temperatures and whatnot, someone can get a shot or pop a pill or get a device implanted in their uteruses–or get sterilized, if they can find a doctor who’ll do it (took me till my 30s). Sounds like a hell of a lot of fuss. But it’s her body, and if that’s what she wants to do, it’s her business. I’ll note that my mom–an ardent Catholic–slammed my teenaged butt onto genuinely effective birth control when she realized I was on the verge of becoming sexually active, and for her practicality and pragmatism I remain thankful to this very day.


          • Beth Caplin says:

            I considered the NFP route too, honestly. But that was because I knew of someone who developed a blood clot from her pill and ended up in the ER. Maybe that’s rare, but I was terrified at the thought of putting hormones and chemicals into my body if I didn’t absolutely need to (like for hellish periods or something).

            Then I became a nanny and I quickly got over that :)


          • I hated hormonal birth control personally. I had to carefully weigh the risks against its extreme effectiveness. I really wanted sterilization because I’ve known since I was a kid myself that I did not want to be a parent, but you’d be downright shocked how few doctors are willing to give one out to anybody under the age of like 50.

            I had a friend who was a nanny and referred to herself as Our Lady of Bodily Fluids. I’m betting being around kids in that capacity cures people quick of taking unnecessary risks with pregnancy. And we put chemicals and hormones into our bodies constantly–but as I just mentioned to Jed, one person’s acceptable risk is another person’s unacceptable one. I totally understand your hesitation there. Can’t blame you at all, at all at all. I hope your friend was okay.


          • Beth Caplin says:

            I guess I just got lucky, because I haven’t had any negative side effects at all. The only thing about it I’m disappointed in is that it didn’t make my boobs any bigger or clear up my acne.


          • Oh my, that’s awesome. I remember kinda hoping that too and not exactly lucking out. But on Depo I did skip my period for like seven years, so I guess I had that going for me, which was nice.


          • Beth Caplin says:

            Seven years?!! That’s another thing that freaked me out about certain pills… If I miss a period now I know to be suspicious. I know there’s other ways but that’s a pretty tell-tale sign of being preggo…


          • Oh my god exactly.


    • william says:

      I can agree. I did want to add that condoms are affordable in the USA and other such countries. That being said, many religious organizations and people do seem to try and impeded their distribution and availability.

      To me, it seems that the loudest on this issue for both sides, have their inconsistencies, their times when they focus on soundbites instead of the real issues, and demonize the opposing side.

      I find that I am for life, and think that certain choices we can make are bad ones, but that I do not identify with the mainstream “pro-life” movement in many, many ways.

      and I’m not religious. My views come from what i believe to be well reasoned, humanist conclusions.

      But, i dont expect abortion to be stopped, like many other things. and i dont lose sleep over it either, nor will i fight anyone over it – just express my opinions when the subject comes up.


  10. SirWill says:

    I haven’t watched the video. I can’t stand people like this, and I’ve got a bad enough headache as it is.

    But seriously, no women in the video at all? I’ll bet in the making of this, not one of them ever thought why they should bring a woman in. Why bring in a piece of furniture to make your point, anyway? *glowers*

    Now that I think about it, it’s almost funny. These people push abstinence only sex ed, some of it so badly handled that the kids involved just might honestly believe the storks deliver the babies from some manufacturing plant. In that case, an abortion would just be telling the stork “I didn’t order this, take it back!”

    Now I’m remembering some of the classic Looney Tunes scenarios where a drunk stork brings the wrong baby around. A mouse for a pair of cats, for example. Or Bugs himself, who milks it for all its worth.

    I’m also remembering an episode of Sliders. In this episode, something happened (I think a disease, it’s been a long time) that made it impossible for a woman to carry a fetus to term. So to perpetuate the human species, doctors transplant the developing fetus into the father, who’d have to carry it until it was viable on its own.

    I bet if any of these guys lived in that universe, they’d be -all- for abortions, or at least refusing to undergo the operation. How odd that these people are so confident about the moral wrongness of something they -never- have to worry about. Ever. We just don’t have the requisite mad scientists needed for them to have to face this kind of thing. The closest they’d ever get to it is….well, having a tapeworm.


    • I always liked those cartoons ;)

      I’ve managed to startle a few guys out of their privilege blindness by bringing up the famous court case of McFall v. Shimp, wherein a man was taken to court by another man to try to force the first man to donate an organ to the second man.

      I think it’s one thing for someone (especially a man, who is guaranteed to never ever have a dog in that fight) to think that women’s bodies are public property, whose private decisions can be pored over, mulled over, and either accepted or denied by an all-knowing, far-more-moral society. It’s another entirely when the ramifications of that philosophy (“violating someone’s physical body is totes fine if it’s for a good cause and saves someone’s life!”) turn out to apply quite nicely to a variety of other legal situations. Forced organ donation is an issue that affects both men and women equally, and I think realizing that fact brings the issue of overridden consent into sharper focus.

      You’ve heard the old joke right? If men could get pregnant, RU-486 would come in flavors and you would be able to buy it at any 7-11 in the country.


  11. dave says:

    I’m always dumbfounded that the same people who believe that God is in control are the same people who are most opposed to abortion. The majority of abortions are spontaneous. Many Christian women have experienced abortions without even knowing it. Logically the same god who is in control of everything arranged a spontaneous abortion. The act of abortion is horrific when done by a doctor but OK when your god is behind it? How was I ever a member of this tribe?

    Liked by 1 person

    • “God” becomes the worst abortionist of all time. (Plus, ya know, how the Bible has him forcing abortions on women in several places.)

      That’s why I just can’t buy the idea of abortion being some moral wrong. If abortion is wrong in and of itself, where does that put miscarriages? And why would “God” order abortions to be forced on women in the OT if abortion is so morally wrong?


  12. Nan says:

    Oh my! This is a subject that I have adamantly protested for many, many years. A women’s body is NOT up for grabs. In any way.

    I’ve written several posts on this topic (not nearly as detailed and emotional as yours). One in particular brought one of those “toxic Christians” out of the woodwork. If interested, you can find it here: https://sayitnow.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/in-the-matter-of-abortion/.

    More recently I wrote a post on free will and shared this thought: Many believe our choices are actually pre-determined by an omniscient (all-knowing), invisible, super being that lives somewhere “up there.” Further, by virtue of this being’s omnipotence (unlimited power), it controls the factors that make up these choices. In other words, our lives are totally controlled by a “power” that cannot be physically seen, felt, or heard … yet exists to run our lives.

    Based on this “Godly” perspective, not only are we born by God’s choice, but it is God who decides everything for us from that point on.

    Now think on this — if God is the determining factor in a person’s life choices, it could be said it is God who decides whether a baby will be aborted!


    • Welcome! Nice blog post, and you ain’t kidding at all, that was a quick woodworking there.

      Adoption is not an alternative to abortion. Adoption is actually an alternative to parenting. The actual alternative to abortion is gestation. It blows my mind that forced-birthers don’t get that. And frankly I’ve heard enough horror stories about adoptions-gone-wrong that I’d be hesitant to force adoption on women as some kind of magical fix-it to the issue of an unwanted pregnancy.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Jed Rothwell says:

    Pregnancy and birth are not “incredibly dangerous medical procedure.” If they were, the human race would have gone extinct long ago. Even among prehistoric people with no medicine, most mothers survived most births. Children were at much greater risk, and they remained at risk up to age 5 or so. Thus, women had to bear many children on average for the human race to survive. The fact that our species did survive shows that most women survived pregnancy and childbirth. There were plenty of elderly grandmothers in every known society in history.

    With modern medical care the chances of a severe injury or death to the mother in childbirth are extremely low. The death rate is higher in the U.S. than any other first world country, and higher than China. U.S. maternal death rate in childbirth is 18.5 mothers for every 100,000 births. The actual number of mothers who died in 2013 was 800. (See WaPost, “Maternal deaths in childbirth rise in the U.S.”) But, this is because of our dysfunctional health-care system, not because childbirth is inherently dangerous. Nearly all of the U.S. victims were uninsured poor people. If you exclude them, the U.S. rate is the same as China, Japan or Europe, which is to say far lower than the likelihood of dying from a car accident or diabetes. Cars kill ~30,000 people per year.

    Childbirth is not a rate event. The average U.S. woman must have 2.2 children, because the population is stable. That’s 300 million births every 80 years or so, replacing the entire population. Yet most middle class people never know a woman who dies in childbirth. In Japan it is so rare these days that when a half-dozen highly at-risk women died because the specialized wards were full, over several months, the whole country was in an uproar. This story was featured on NHK National News for a week. The Prime Minister had to visit the families and apologize.

    Babies are much more likely to die in childbirth than the mother.

    Anyway, this has nothing do to with your main point.


    • Beroli says:

      Women rarely actually die in childbirth (at least now that they rarely breed until physically unable to do so), but bearing a child still significantly shortens a woman’s life expectancy.

      (Also, I’ve thought for a very long time that the rate of vehicular deaths in the U.S. shows that our cultural attitude that cars are a safe-enough mode of travel means either we are, as a culture, insane, or, our claims to the contrary, we don’t value human life very much.)


      • karenh1234567890 says:

        We forget that for most of the time human beings have been on Earth, childbearing and child rearing had a high risk of death. The following is a list of what happened to the children of one woman who was very wealthy. Think about what it was like for peasants who didn’t always have enough to eat. She didn’t die, but about 3/4 of her children did as babies or young children.

        Amalie-Elizabeth von Hanau-Münzenberg (1602-1651), Landgravine of Hesse-Kassel. Between 1620 and 1637, she gave birth to 14 children. Her husband Wilhelm V of Hesse-Kassel, who died in battle in 1637 (the Thirty Years War). She remained widowed and regent for her only living son.

        Of her children 4 lived to adulthood, 3 females and one male. This happened not in the poorest of families but in the wealthiest.

        Here is a list of her children from the de.wikipedia.org:


        Agnes (* 24. November 1620 in Kassel; † 20. August 1626 in Hersfeld)

        Moritz (24. September 1621 in Kassel, † am gleichen Tag)

        Elisabeth (* 21. Oktober 1623 in Kassel; † 13. Januar 1624 in Kassel)

        Wilhelm (* 31. Januar 1625; † 11. Juli 1626 in Ziegenhain)

        Amelia (* 11. Februar 1626; † 15. Februar 1693 in Frankfurt am Main), verheiratet 15. Mai 1648 mit Heinrich Karl, Fürst von Talmont

        Charlotte (* 20. November 1627 in Kassel; † 16. März 1686 in Heidelberg), verheiratet 12. Februar 1650 mit Kurfürst Karl I. Ludwig von der Pfalz, geschieden 14. April 1657, Mutter der Liselotte von der Pfalz

        Wilhelm VI. (* 23. Mai 1629 in Berlin; † 16. Juli 1683 in Schmalkalden), verheiratet 9. Juli 1646 mit Markgräfin Hedwig Sophie von Brandenburg

        Philipp (* 16. Juni 1630 in Kassel; † 17. August 1638 in Groningen)

        Adolf (* 17. Dezember 1631 in Kassel; † 17. März 1632 in Kassel)

        Karl (* 18./19. Juni 1633 in Kassel; † 9. März 1635 in Kassel)

        Elisabeth (* 23. Juni 1634 in Kassel; † 22. März 1688 in Kassel), als Elisabeth V. Äbtissin des Stiftes Herford

        Totgeburt 8. Februar 1635

        Louise (* 5. November 1636; † 6. Januar 1638 in Kassel)

        Totgeburt 28. Mai 1637

        Compare the birth dates and death dates.

        Some German translations and conventions:
        Totgeburt = stillbirth.
        The crosses before the date indicates the date of death.
        Verheiratet = married.
        am gleichen Tag = on the same day


        • Jed Rothwell says:

          Yes, childbirth was always been much more dangerous for the child than the mother, especially in premodern conditions. It still is today. So in order to maintain a stable population, women in premodern societies had to bear 5 or 10 children. Yet many women survived to old age. So it was not quite as dangerous as it is sometimes portrayed in modern drama. Nowadays, for a woman in good health, the danger is minimal. The average woman gives birth 2.2 times. As long as she is generally healthy, the chances of her dying on those 2.2 occasions are roughly as high as they are for removing wisdom teeth (1 in 400,000 extractions).

          Mothers who die in Europe, Japan or China were nearly all known to be at-risk before birth, with severe cases of things like diabetes. The doctors make arrangements in specialized wards ahead of time. Still, some number of women die. I think it is on the order of 5 in 100,000. In the U.S., the main cause of maternal death is lack of money. Typically, fatalities occur when an at-risk impoverished mother gets no prenatal care. She does not realize she is in danger. The doctors do not see her until the ambulance brings her to the emergency room, which is too late for many conditions.

          There are, of course, many other risks involved in having children, such as depression and having a thankless child throw you out of your house in old age. That happens to fathers such as King Lear as often as to mothers.

          Regarding “peasants who didn’t always have enough to eat” — they were surprisingly rare in Medieval Europe. See the book, “The World We Have Lost.” Severe starvation among landed, working peasants was rare because the church was obligated to take care of people with the 10% tithe (which was food). The book describes a case in France where a family starved to death during a severely bad harvest year. There was an uproar in the village. It was a scandal. The Parish Priest was recalled to Rome. European peasants has a lot more political power than we realize today. The people who starved to death during famines were beggars and homeless people, single women with children, prostitutes, criminals, and others who were thrown out of the social support system and had to fend for themselves. There was a sharp increase in adult and infant mortality during famines, but most of the victims were not peasants or other people with jobs, property, and the church’s support system. In other words, it was similar to the U.S. today. That is not a coincidence. Our attitudes and institutions are directly descended from the European models.


          • Now that you mention it, I can think of a few Italian city-states that made and gave out bread for free to anybody who walked up and asked for it. People could still starve when social services’ net gave out–plagues come to mind and famine–but it wasn’t till the Reformation that we began seeing a lot of poor people having especially hard times, what with the social support network that Catholic churches held together falling apart.


          • jedrothwell says:

            This book, “The World We Have Lost” covers from the medieval period up to the mid-1600s in England and France. It does not describe a situation where bread was handed out to all comers. On the contrary, assistance was only provided to members of the church in that parish. Others were driven off or left to starve. In other words, tithing was a self-help program for local people only. You had to contribute food to get some back. During famines, mortality increased more in the cities than in rural areas.

            By the way, I made a mistake interpreting the modern maternal mortality rates. In Europe and Asia the rate is ~5 per 100,000, but nearly all of those women were known to be at risk during pregnancy. If you look at the rate for healthy European women with no known risk factors, where the birth takes place in a modern hospital, the rate is well below 1 per 100,000 (I am pretty sure). It really is similar to wisdom tooth extraction mortality rates.

            Of course giving birth can be an ordeal, but it is extremely unlikely to be fatal in modern circumstances. If you have a baby at home, on the other hand, you are right back in 1870, which I would find terrifying. Even with a skilled doctor it is dangerous. I find it mind-boggling that some people do this deliberately.


          • Ah, okay, I’m more aware of Italy and England pre-1600. I’m pretty useless after 1600 and about France generally. My understanding is that in the Middle Ages (earlier part of it, like 900ish?), people could basically purchase “life insurance” of a sort from their local church in England, and then when they got old, they’d already pre-bought the charity they’d get–the contracts were quite creative at times, including shoes, exactly how much beer and bread the person got per day, how many changes of clothes, where the person would live, everything.

            I really cannot imagine why people do home births. That sounds just awful to me. I saw something on TV about people thinking about doing “dolphin-assisted births” and it just blew my mind–do they not know what’s in that water nowadays?


          • karenh1234567890 says:

            I was thinking about the time and place where she lived. Germany, during the Thirty Years War when it was being ravaged by the mercenary armies that ate by foraging (stealing food from the locals or “paying” them with paper chits which more often than not were worthless). 20% of the population of the Germanies died.


    • Until the modern age and our understanding of hygiene and germ theory, childbirth killed about one in six women. It still kills–as you said–an absolutely atrocious number of women, especially poor women and women in underdeveloped countries. And that’s not even talking about the other risks of childbirth. I know families who’ve lost mothers to childbirth, but you’re right, not many; I know a lot more however who have faced down post-partum depression (and one psychosis) and who deal with lifelong complications from having had children, including my sister. I’d say just about every woman I know who has had children deals with some major after-effect from doing so.

      Speaking as someone who faces mortal risk as well as the numerous other risks from childbirth and gestation, I consider it beyond unacceptable–especially if it is a risk imposed on me by someone else. I don’t think we ask those questions like we should. How much risk is okay to impose? How much is okay to force on someone? Where does the benefit of overriding consent become greater than the supreme horror of overriding it in the first place? I don’t think the folks who’d impose those risks even think about it–in large part because it doesn’t seem like as big a risk as other medical situations. I learned a week or so ago from my GP that I’ve got a 8% chance of having a stroke in the next ten years if I don’t clean up my act health-wise, and that is enough of a risk for me to be cleaning up my act. So to each their own I guess. You’re right, it’s a bit tangential, but still, to me it’s a quite valid consideration to think of childbirth as risky–thankfully, abortion is way less risky. What we ought to be paying attention to is the wingnuts who try to say that abortion is somehow dangerous, because in comparison to the nine-month shebang, it’s a walk in the park.


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  15. karenh1234567890 says:

    One of the things that really upsets me is that the forced-birthers ALWAYS assume that the ONLY reason that someone has an abortion is because the selfish woman does not want a healthy baby, especially when it comes to late-term abortions. From what I understand, late term abortions generally performed when either the mother or the developing baby has severe medical problems. I know of two people (a friend’s friend and a step-sister-in-law) who have had late term abortions, one whose immune system was killing her and the other whose baby’s brain did not develop properly (maybe anencephaly).

    Forced birthers want to present later-term abortions as the mother up and deciding after several months that she really doesn’t want a baby. They want black-and-white thinking. They don’t want people to think about the real, agonizing problems that lead to the decision.


    • I’ve heard this kind of thinking “living in the oughts rather than the ares.” BURSHUN BAD is very easy to understand and the solution–criminalization and restrictions–are axiomatic solutions at this point to that crowd. The very real dysfunction that goes along with high abortion rates–and the very real medical emergencies that necessitate the quick action that only un-criminalized, un-restricted abortion access can allow–interfere with their cherished vision of society and womanhood.

      My heart truly goes out to women who have miscarriages of wanted pregnancies. That really is agonizing–there’s no other word I can summon.


  16. OneSmallStep says:

    I feel more and more like there’s no way to be pro-life without negating women, no matter how “kind” one’s motives are. For instance, when Obama first became President, there was some sort of pro-life meme going around saying that his mother met most of the conditions under which women got abortions, and so pro-choicers were hypocrites because their stance could’ve cost them President Obama. However — here’s the problem with that. What about Obama’s environment? This meme completely negated any influence his mother had in raising him, which in turn influenced him becoming President. In this meme, he basically grows up in a bubble and then BOOM — President!

    Or a case where pro-choicers are called hypocrites because they’re ok with abortion but sad about miscarriages, even though both are “babies.” No, pro-choicers are said about miscarriages because they either wanted the child or they mourn with the woman who feels like she lost something. Again — pro-choicers focus on the woman, pro-lifers treat the embryo like it’s in a vacuum.

    Or the pro-lifers who scream that you can’t say abortion is about a woman’s body because the embryo is the one aborted — again, completely ignoring that you’re telling a woman what to do with her body because you are forcing her to remain pregnant.

    Regardless of any pro-lifer talk about how they are all about “true equality” because they treat both equal — no. As soon as you want to make abortion illegal, you have said that an embryo has more rights to a woman’s body than she does. They can’t be equal. The pro-life position by default turns women into second-class citizens.


  17. Christine D. says:

    Such an excellent post! I literally stood up and applauded at several points while reading, especially at the Carlin video. (As I metaphorically row away from insane christianity, I come to appreciate that man more and more. Rest in peace, you glorious bastard.) I just have a few musings after reading the comments.
    1. Pro-life propaganda was extremely effective in molding how I see pregnancy, and I still carry the vestiges of that with me. Every time I see an article that argues “women have the right to abortion, and they don’t need to provide a damn reason for it!” I immediately think, on reflex, “But, the fetuses are alive!” Luckily, through years of self-re-education, I’ve come up with a counterpoint–miscarriages (there’s a reason it is called ‘natural abortion’). Also, there isn’t actually a difference between “necessary” and “unnecessary” abortions, because it is none of our damned business why a woman gets an abortion. (BTW, I love all your articles about Consent and how it applies to all areas of life! I think I might’ve said that before, but it deserves to be said again.)
    2. It would be fantastic if free birth control was the 96.4% effective solution in society (i.e. if free birth control could eliminate the need for abortion). Then, we’d just have the uphill slog of convincing the uber-hardcore pro-lifers that birth control is actually pretty great (*exasperated sigh*). HOWEVER, even if birth control was free and accessible to every woman, there are populations in whom birth control is dangerous per current medical guidelines; namely, women older than 35 who smoke. (The smoking thing is a big deal: smokers on birth control have higher risk of clots in their veins and lungs, aka deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Those clots can cause serious damage and/or death.) For women in that demographic, hormonal birth control is a huge no-no (the risk is VERY REAL). Those populations of women have a damn right to a perfectly safe abortion if the condom breaks (or whatever else goes wrong). Yay legal abortion!
    3. Condoms are marvelous things.
    4. Seriously, I don’t even know where to start on the condom thing. Imagine, an incredibly cheap and easy-to-use device that PREVENTS HIV TRANSMISSION AND PREGNANCY EXTREMELY EFFECTIVELY (when used correctly, and I’ll get to that in a second, see #7). Yes, HIV is a big deal to me. HIV is an unbelievably devastating disease with no cure. Yes, there are medications that can extend the patient’s life, but those are THOUSANDS of dollars a MONTH. Like, paying off college debt or an extremely lavish house, but for **the rest of the person’s life**. And those patients are usually getting help from the government to pay for their medical care. (Christ on a bike, if our legislators actually cared about decreasing future medicare costs in a realistic manner, they would be advocating comprehensive sex ed and needle exchange programs like nobody’s business!)
    5. I am not joking when I say this: I consider it to be a crime against humanity for the catholic church to oppose and demonize condom use. From what I understand, the African areas in which the catholic church has the loudest influence are the countries that have the highest rates of HIV transmission in the world. This includes transmission to women, which means transmission to newborns. Because the HIV meds are so expensive (practically unavailable in those areas, due to cost), those HIV-positive children die of opportunistic illnesses (illnesses that only become a problem because the immune system can’t fight it off). Carlin was right on the mark when he said “once you’re born, you’re on your own.”
    6. I used to go to catholic bible study (*sigh*, I know, I try not to think about it) and our wide-eyed leader would fawn on and on about how ‘condoms create a barrier between the man and the woman, and create a dis-unity that is against god’s will!’ Like, people seriously believe that. Even at the time, mid-deconversion but clinging to my childhood beliefs, I knew that entire statement was the biggest load of crap anyone had ever thought up. What a flimsy goddamn excuse to not use protection. It still makes me mad to think about it, even to this day. There is a hell of a lot more that can come between a couple than an insignificant layer of latex.
    7. Which US state literally has a law mandating abstinence-only education, with the explicit provision not to demonstrate proper condom use? Mississippi. Guess which US state has one of the highest teen pregnancy and young-adult-HIV-transmission rates in the US? Mississippi. ( http://io9.com/hero-teacher-banned-from-demoing-condom-use-demos-soc-1681480265 <–that man is a HERO.)
    8. Wow, this really turned into a rant……..if/when you get this far, thanks for reading. I don't get worked up very often but this whole realm of topics will do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I got all the way through it all right! Wow! Beautifully said and so true. (And isn’t it so weird how Catholics have just unilaterally decided that condoms are a “barrier” between sexual partners, without asking people what they thought of the matter? And yes, those abstinence-only states mesh pretty well with high misery indexes in a lot of other directions too. Keep ’em ignorant, keep ’em breeding like crazy, keep ’em poor, and they’ll likely never figure out what’s going on enough to vote anybody sane into power. I think you and I could drink all night over that one alone.


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