Beware anti-choicers’ calls for “common ground”

21 Mar 2017 12:05 am
Posted by: Donna

handmaids tale
A Handmaid’s Tale is not a dystopic novel to them, it’s a how-to manual

AZ Republic‘s Alia Rau reported last Thursday on SB1367, the lastest “born alive” anti-choice bill:

Maureen Williams testified that the bill would have changed the final minutes she had with her daughter, Zoe. At 23 weeks pregnant, she said, she learned her daughter had tumors on her liver, half a vertebrae and water on the brain.

“The doctors told me she barely had a chance of living,” Williams said, sobbing. “I wanted Zoe. She was mine. I remember her every day. I made the choice of taking on her physical pain and having this abortion. I would have wanted her on my chest to let her pass away in peace. We need to leave this decision to the parents and the doctors.”…

…AnMarie Stone said a mid-pregnancy ultrasound showed she and her husband were having a healthy baby boy…

…”He had a heartbeat. He was breathing. He was a child outside his mother,” she said. “The nurses gently wrapped him in a blanket and gave him to us. My husband and I held him until he was gone. Legislation forcing the doctors to resuscitate him would have been not only unethical, but cruel.”

The women testifying before the House committee were describing their own complicated tragic personal experiences, which are precisely the kind of situations that make anti-choice meddling in health care decisions dangerous public policy. And to help understand why anti-choice legislators never seem to be moved by these stories, take a gander at how the main sponsor of the bill reacted to them:

Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, said he was surprised by the opposition to the bill and thought it was a position everyone could support.

“The baby is no longer in the mom. The baby is no longer ‘a blob of tissue’ so obviously we want our doctors to provide medical care,” he said. “If there’s any common ground ever on this issue, it would be this.”

Anti-choicers see themselves in a Manichaean contest between good (female chastity and embrace of motherhood) and evil (female promiscuity and rejection of motherhood) at all times. So when they speak of “common ground”, know they mean concessions that push the dialog and public policy toward their end. Since abortion rights tend to be debated on theoretical grounds, it’s easy for the anti-choicer to extract “reasonable” compromises, in this case agreement that efforts should be made to save a very premature infant showing signs of life!

And in this abstract good vs evil battleground, it is necessary to invent evildoers: women who wait until late into a pregnancy for no good reason to abort, doctors who prey on highly malleable girls and women to get them to get abortions at any stage of pregnancy, evil mercenaries who run “abortion mills” and sell baby parts harvested from unnecessary late-term abortions for profit, etc. Anti-choicers are easily able to convince a depressingly large number of regular people such monsters exist by tapping into existing cultural angst over female sexuality and independence. As I’ve said before, slut-shaming is about as close to a national religion as we have in this country and is basically the only thing keeping anti-choicers from being fully recognized as the lunatics (every bit as batty as Birthers or anti-vaxxers) that they are.

Grieving parents of wanted babies refusing heroic medical interventions so as to not further traumatize the infants or themselves are inconvenient to the anti-choice “common ground” strategy being pursued here, the goal of which is a law making it yet more expensive and risky to be an abortion provider. So the existence of the grieving parents is simply ignored. Hence, Senator Smith’s surprise – feigned or real – at the opposition to his bill. But this is exactly why we should resist calls to find common ground with anti-choicers, wherever they’re from. You can’t find common ground with fantasists. Plus, leaving fraught and highly personal medical decisions to people and their doctors, AKA the pro-choice stance, is the compassionate and, yes, moderate position on Smith’s bill.

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