Progressives love grand social experiments. They get all excited about the possibilities, and as long as the experiments only kill folks in Cuba, China, the Ukraine and so on they are quite willing to forgive and forget a few million deaths here and there. A for effort, right? It’s the thought that counts. Can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs (and selling a few t-shirts!)
They have had a lot more trouble with government-mandated experimentation on a grand scale here in America due to the intractable nature of the American citizenry. Seems that after kicking one monarchy out of the country and telling the rest to keep their grubby paws to themselves you just can’t convince these crazy folks that a little top-down authority is good for them.
The progressive quest for utopia has a lot of elements to it. One of them–oddly enough–is the feminist ideal of turning women into men. Of course that’s not how they look at it, but it’s how it looks to me. That’s not how feminism started, mind you. Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries the movement was all about empowering women to be women. But sometime in the 1960s and the 1970s they decided that they should just emulate the worst aspects of stereotypical male behavior. Do men open doors for men? Then they shouldn’t for women. Do men have casual recreational sex? So should women! Do men work too many hours for thankless bosses? So should women! Do men serve in the army? So should women!
The old phrase was crystal clear: Anything men can do, women can do better. It apparently never occurred to overzealous feminists to ask: But would we want to?
But really the most anti-feminist achievement of the feminist movement was legalized abortion. Can men have babies? Then neither should women!
This was the most radical departure from authentic feminism you could imagine. The suffragists who referred to abortion as “child murder” had a very clear view of the subject. Women got abortion because society oppressed women. The answer was not to legalize abortion and thus further enable systematic oppression of women, but to support and empower women.
Guilty? Yes. No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; But oh, thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime!
– Susan B. Anthony
When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit. There must be a remedy even for such a crying evil as this. But where shall it be found, at least where begin, if not in the complete enfranchisement and elevation of women?
– Elizabeth Cady Stanton
When a man steals to satisfy hunger, we may safely conclude that there is something wrong in society – so when a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that either by education or circumstances she has been greatly wronged.
– Mattie Brinkerhoff
Every woman knows that if she were free, she would never bear an unwished-for child, nor think of murdering one before its birth.
– Victoria Woodhull
These women demanded that the world meet them on their terms, rather than conforming themselves to better imitate the supposed oppressive patriarchy. These women sought liberty for themselves and for their children, rather than attempting to sacrifice the one to gain the other. Freedom is not something you barter or trade for. It is something you either claim as your inalienable right–and thus grant to all others as well–or it is merely a privilege on loan from some higher authority. None put it more succinctly than Alice Paul–author of the original Equal Rights Amendment–”Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women.”
Some few courageous modern feminists carry on the ideals of their ideological foremothers.
[W]e refuse to join [organizations like NOW] totally because they seek to solve the world’s ills through the violent means of abortion. Feminists for life consider the fanatical insistence of certain women’s rights groups on abortion to be a sell-out of the feminist cause. They have sold out to the male dominated abortion industry… and to the playboy philosophy which sees women as exploitable commodities for male convenience and profit.
Abortion is the destruction of human life and energy that does nothing to eradicate the very real underlying problems of women… After the abortion these problems will all be there and another one added besides: her guilt.
By encouraging society to consider a woman’s child as a disposable piece of property, abortion reinforces the image of woman herself as disposable property and reusable sex object-a renewable sexual resource. It is no coincidence that the biggest single financial contributor to the cause of ‘abortion rights’ is the Playboy Foundation. When abortion is available to all women, all male responsibility for fertility control has been removed. A man need only offer a woman money for an abortion and that’s it: no responsibility, no relationship, no commitment. And there we are… Recycled and used again!
– Cecilia voss Koch
Tunnel-visioned pro-abortion feminists cannot see to help [us] develop real alternatives to abortion, programs of support for women with hardship pregnancies, a change in society’s attitude toward pregnant women so that young women won’t automatically think that, once pregnant, they can never attend college, never pursue a career, not go on living. Pro-abortion feminists are part of the problem–they contribute to a ‘pregnancy as disease’, ‘fetus as cancer’ attitude that turns a normal, natural function of a woman’s body into something to be attacked with a curette and vacuum. Is this creative thinking? Is this women supporting women? What kind of ‘sisterhood’ have we wreaked upon ourselves?
– Paulette Joyer
Abortion ignores the cause and treats the symptom: instead of suggesting a way out of the isolation mothers face, it offers a way out of motherhood.
– Nancy Randolph Pearcy
If women must submit to abortion to preserve their lifestyle or career, their economic social status,… they are pandering to a system devised and run by men for male convenience.
– Daphne de Jong
Abortion is one result of the historic and deep exploitation of, and discrimination against, the female…. It is a strange irony that other, pro-choice feminists embrace abortion and define it as a fundamental feminist right instead of seeing it as a fundamental and devastating exploitation. Such a feminist embraces and cooperates in her own oppression. Abortion, in the final analysis, works to the advantage of the exploitative male, not for the female…. Abortion is a male sexual fantasy come true.
– Susan Maronek
I know abortion is not the most pressing political issue of the day, but the recent controversy over the Tim Tebow Super Bowl ad brought it freshly to mind. We’ve come a long, long sad way since the days when feminists demanded the world honor their femininity rather than attempting to trade their femininity for the honor of the world.
Here’s that horrific, anti-woman ad, by the way:
In the days after the Roe v. Wade and equally important but less well-known Doe v. Bolton decisions were handed down abortion became legal on demand for essentially any reason at any time during the 9 months of pregnancy. (Pro-choicers will argue that it’s not really legal for all 9 months. They are wrong. You just have to put the Roe and Doe decisions together to get there.) The dramatic social ramifications of these decisions were fare more important than the legal ones. Many states had already moved to legalize abortion. In California Governor Reagan signed their bill into law before having his conversion to the pro-life side. What the U.S. Supreme Court decision did was elevate abortion from a personal moral decision into a fundamental American right. It literally wrapped the practice of killing your unborn offspring in the American flag. As a result, the number of abortions in the United States soared. (While we’re mentioning statistics I should point out that they didn’t get any safer after Roe. That was a trend that had been going on since the 1930s and Roe wasn’t so much as a blip in the mortality rate of abortions in the United States.)
Through the 1970s and the 1980s abortions continued to be incredibly common as birth control with more than one million performed annually. In the 1990s Democrats proved the apparent strength of the pro abortion lobby by repeatedly blocking attempts to ban partial-birth abortions. These “medical” procedures are never necessary, and are certainly one of the most barbarous human practices in our history. If you can’t make unnecessarily sucking the brains out of mostly-born children illegal, just what on earth can you criminalize?
But somewhere along the line from Roe v. Wade to Clinton’s veto of the partial birth abortion ban in 1997 a quiet revolution had been taking place inside the pro-life movement and the country at large. The sea-change was led – fittingly enough – by science. The heart and soul of the pro-choice movement is to do whatever it takes to deny the humanity of the unborn child. In the 1970s it was possible to do this with rhetoric like the ‘products of conception”. What a work of rhetorical genius! The developing human being has been pluralized, put in the passive voice, and relegated to an afterthought to conception. In short: dehumanized.
With the advent of cameras small enough to see inside the womb – not to mention ultrasound – the essential myth of the pro-choice mentality quietly came undone. And as it did, the pro-life movement found its voice as never before.
I know quite well how the elite pro-choice mentality likes to stare down its long nose at simpering “appeals to emotion”. Fine. Bring it on. What I want to point out, however, is the extent to which the pro-life movement has learned to emphasize saving lives instead of preventing deaths. It’s a subtle change, but it’s all the difference between a funeral dirge and a celebration. In songs, movies, posters, and ads the pro-life mentality has been infused with more of a direct appeal towards individuals to choose life. More important than defusing the legal battle, these kinds of messages put the focus right where it needs to be. Not on the child to the exclusion of the woman – as the pro-choice side would accuse – but on the mother and child together in that sacred bond of love and sacrifice.
In addition to the rising social consciousness of the essential humanity of the unborn human being, the people of the United States of America also have a long, tearful century’s worth of experience with abortion as birth control. The reality has not lived up to the advertisements. If you listen to a typical feminist talk about abortion you could be forgiven for thinking they were referring to some kind of sacrament. A sanctified ritual which guarantees equality and liberty from women, and initiates one into the elite sorority of independent women. And yet – even when not downright regretful – popular culture reflects the fact that abortions are a tragedy no one celebrates. Note: this is not a list of pro-life songs. There’s a bunch of those – mostly by Christian bands like P.O.D. This is a list of songs that are more or less apolitical, and simply express personal American experiences with abortion.
“Brick,” by Ben Folds Five
Up the stairs to the apartment / She is balled up on the couch
Her mom and dad went down to Charlotte / They’re not home to find us out
And we drive / Now that I have found someone
I’m feeling more alone / Than I ever have before ….
They call her name at 7:30 / I pace around the parking lot
Then I walk down to buy her flowers ….
Now she’s feeling more alone / Than she ever has before ….
As weeks went by / It showed that she was not fine ….
She broke down, and I broke down / Cause I was tired of lying
Driving home to her apartment / For a moment we’re alone
Yeah she’s alone / I’m alone / Now I know it
“Lucy,” by Skillet
Hey Lucy, I remember your name
I left a dozen roses on your grave today
I’m in the grass on my knees, wipe the leaves away
I just came to talk for a while
I got some things I need to say
Now that it’s over
I just wanna hold her
I’d give up all the world to see that little piece of heaven looking
back at me
Now that it’s over
I just wanna hold her
I’ve gotta live with the choices i made
And I can’t live with myself today
“The Freshman,” by The Verve Pipe
When I was young I knew everything
And she a punk who rarely ever took advice
Now I’m guilt stricken, sobbin’ with my head on the floor
Stop a Baby’s Breath and a shoe full of rice, no…
My best friend took a week’s vacation to forget her
His girl took a week’s worth of valium and slept
And now he’s guilt stricken sobbin’ with his head on the floor
Thinks about her now and how he never really wept
“Happy Birthday,” by Flipside
Please accept my apologies, wonder what would have been
Think about it every year, so I picked up a pen
Happy birthday, love you whoever you woulda been / Happy birthday…
I’ve got a millon excuses to why you died
Bet the people got their own reasons for homicide
Now you’ve got a little brother maybe he’s really you?
Maybe you really forgave us knowin’ we was confused?
Maybe everytime that he smiles it’s you proudly knowin’ that your father’s doin’ the right thing now?
Think about it every year, so I picked up a pen
Happy birthday, love you whoever you woulda been / Happy birthday…
And from the heavens to the womb to the heavens again
From the endin’ to the endin’, never got to begin
Maybe one day we could meet face to face? In a place without time and space
So can I come to see you sometime / Cause I been missin you
I’ve never heard you cry I’ve never seen you whine / I’m feeling oh so young
But still I must die to get to you / And if I do I wonder how just you will see me
And implicate the things I’ve done / I’m diein in the shadows of this man I’ve never seen
I’ll see you soon / Now where’s my gun
You got me, sad and lonely / When I’m me…me
You know you make me so lonely / I am so alone
And I will pray and then I’ll cry
“Choir Girl,” by Cold Chisel
Lookin’ like a Choir Girl / She’s cryin’ like a refugee….
One nurse to hold her / One nurse to wheel her down the corridors of healing….
Suffer little children / Suffer little children
Send a little child to me / Send a little child to me
All day the Doctor / All day the Doctor
He handles his responsibility….
“Miracle,” by Whitney Houston
How could I throw away a miracle? How could I face another day?
Its all of my doing, I made a choice / And today, I pay
My heart is full of pain
How could you understand, the way I feel? How could you relate to so much pain?
Seems as though nothing can comfort me / So today, I pray
That someone should listen ….
How could I let go of a miracle? Nothing cold ever take its place
Thought I was looking, out for myself
Now it seems the pain / Is all that I have gained
I wonder if I could be your miracle / I wonder if I could spare you pain
Seems as though nothing will comfort me….
“Red Ragtop,” by Tim McGraw
Well the very first time her mother met me,
Her green eyed girl was a mother to be for 2 weeks
I was out of a job and she was in school,
Life was fast and the world was cruel
We were young and wild, we decided not to have a child
So we did what we did and we tried to forget
And we swore up and down there would be no regrets
In the morning light, But on the way home that night
On the back of that red rag top / She said please dont stop..
We took one more trip around the sun / It was all make believe in the end,
No I cant say where she is today / I cant remember who I was, back then
Well you do what you do and you pay for your sins / And theres no such thing as what might’ve been
I was stopped at a red light just yesterday beside a young girl
In a cabriolet and her eyes
Were green / I was in an old scene
I was back in that red rag top / On the day she stopped
“Lost Woman Song,” by Ani DiFranco
under the fierce flourescent
she offered her hand for me to hold
she offered stability and calm
and I was crushing her palm
through the pinch pull wincing
my smile unconvincing
on that sterile battlefield that sees
my heart hit absolute zero
I didn’t pick pro-life songs. I left out Lauryn Hill’s 2 songs about choosing life. I left out several such songs from various Christian bands. I don’t know if most of the artists above are personally pro-life or pro-choice (although I know at least some are pro-choice). I picked songs that were simply about the American experience of abortion.
And what has abortion done for us? Loneliness? Grief? The one thing you notice more than anything else in these songs is the sense of loss. Loss of innocence. Loss of love. Loss of life.
Congratulations, Planned Parenthood and NOW: this is your brand. You look at an ultrasound, you think about what abortion really does, and all the ra-ra sisterhood rhetoric in the world falls flat. A real sisterhood doesn’t expect its members to kill their own. A real sisterhood takes care of their own.
People often say that human science progresses, but human ethics never grow. It’s not entirely true. Human ethics may grow slower than our science, but it grows. If you put down the anti-America bullhorn long enough you’ll realize that despite our flawed past we have a nation where people cannot be enslaved, where people cannot be discriminated against because of their race or gender, and where the definition of “human being” has grown from “land-holding men” to “all born human beings”. We’re almost there.
The principles of this nation were not reflected in the reality of our founding. The notion that all men are created equal wasn’t a statement of where we were in 1776. It was a statement of where we were heading. From abolition to woman’s suffrage to the civil rights movement our nation has slowly and imperfectly moved towards this goal. Although it has taken too long at every step in the journey, I know we will one day live in a nation where human equality has become reality instead of an aspiration.
Robert Wallace is classical liberal studying economics in graduate school. He and his wife work as business analysis consultants, and they live as undercover conservatives with their two small children in a socialist bastion of a college town. He he has been writing for America’s Right since December 2008.
Lead-in photo credit: The Orthodox Peace Fellowship.