Show Notes- Episode 111
You know, I hate to admit it but I really am not looking forward to having to record and process this one. I know it sounds very hopeless and pessimistic but when I think about how firmly ingrained opinions are on this subject in the minds of evangelicals, it makes me wonder if I'll even be able to get a grip on one of those starfish with this messaging much less successfully return it to the surf. But I do think we have the responsibility to second as many truths as exist around this issue and keep exposing the man behind the curtain for the full-of-shit, woman-hating, mass-murdering son of an un-spayed bitch who also should have had an abortion he is so here we go. I'm Spider...
...and tonight, we're going to talk about abortion, why it's necessary, lies your pastors tell you about it, and why the moniker “pro life” is not just a front for perpetuating misogyny and literally destroying society from the inside, but one of the most misnamed concepts ever. And the hell of it is, we don't even get away from it in Christians behaving badly this week.
We start out with a good news, really bad news story about the mindless followers of the shit gibbon who got us into this mess and then more proof that the right is nothing but a huge Borg collective feverishly passing around 10 IQ points among its elected representatives. It's Christians behaving badly: Same MAGAs, different shit edition....
The alarm seems to be going off for a lot of pastors who just...must not have been paying attention. Apparently the only christian churches that are growing in any way are the ones that subscribe whole-heartedly to 45's MAGA nonsense, who reject COVID science, and who venerate Supreme Court justices higher than Jesus. And now, finally, some of those who weren't all on board with this are realizing that this is a problem. Churches that are focused on Jesus are struggling and the ones worshiping 45 are getting stronger.
Perhaps it's just easier to see from the outside?
One evangelical christian left a moderate church to go to a more MAGA friendly one. This man was convinced that Trump won the 2020 election. When pressed, he explained “He is just as convinced that Trump won the 2020 election, he said, as he is that Jesus rose from the dead 2,000 years ago.”
Of course, when you belong to a religion that tells you to dismiss logic and reason in favor of faith and obedience, it’s not that big of a leap for worshipers to accept a difference kind of mythology. When you’re taught from a young age to avoid challenging authority and told to keep critical questions to yourself (or to “just have faith”), why would anyone be surprised when you fall for the flimsiest of conspiracies?
And the evangelical pastors who purport to be “surprised” aren't much better, since they subscribe to many of the same beliefs, just not the ones about 45. They remained silent while these beliefs grew within their own congregations.
As Hemant Mehta says, “Christian leaders need to speak out against both the MAGA cultism in their midst as well as all the other awful, harmful, fact-free, evidence-denying evangelical beliefs that got us to this point. ...They can emphasize how being a follower of Jesus means never accepting lies even from people who hand you right-wing judges on a silver platter.”
Of course, the chances of that happening are slim to none. The belief systems that make people believe in Qanon and that make people believe that the Bible is literally true overlap strongly and pastors are afraid if they consider one untrue it will alienate the other. When you raise humans to believe in a series of lies, chances are they won't have the ability to identify the truth.
And in the “we told you” department: GOP senate candidate admits he wants to block access to birth control. If you've been paying attention, you knew this was coming. US Senate candidate Blake Masters wants to ban access to all birth control, even for married couples. That was what it said on his website, though it was also taken down because it said the quiet part out loud.
When he was asked about this statement by Business Insider, he denied having contraception access in his crosshairs, but also said “Griswald (the decision that made contraception legal for married couples) was wrongly decided”. Nice job speaking out of both sides of your mouth, dude.
But he's just one candidate: how do other Republicans feel? An MSNBC article gives us some bullet points:
Republican legislators in Louisiana are working on an abortion ban that would “arguably criminalize in vitro fertilization and forms of birth control.”
Republican legislators in Idaho are currently weighing new restrictions on some forms of contraception.
Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee recently denounced Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 case that struck down a state law that restricted married couples’ access to birth control.
Each of the Republican candidates running for state attorney general in Michigan also denounced the Griswold precedent.
So a good portion of republican candidates and politician seem to not only block abortion but also block access to contraception. Remember this when you go to vote. AS for me...I still just can't even.
Next Week: A Thief in the Night
Then a week off
Then “Why America Isn't the Greatest Nation”
I really like how Pro Choice America refers to pro-lifers. They simply call them “anti-choice” and that is a much more accurate, exponentially more honest way of describing them. After all (and these points come directly from their website:
It’s pretty hard to call yourself “pro-life” when you’re actively working to:
Imprison or execute women who access safe abortion care.
Tear babies away from their parents and lock them in cages, with no plan to reunite them.
Silence doctors and strip reproductive healthcare away from millions of low-income people.
Stand by while the maternal mortality rates skyrocket and women—especially Black women—die in childbirth.
Deny affordable healthcare coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.Cut programs that feed hungry kids.
Block access to HIV testing and treatment across the globe.Incite far-right violence with lies about abortion.
Spider, is it really that bad? Listener, it's worse. Mitch McConnell is now saying that if the republicans win the house and Senate in November they will draft legislation to ban abortion nationwide. Oh really... and how are you going to circumvent states rights to make that happen, Mitch? You might actually force the Supremely Useless Court's hand and force them to hand the decision back to the people.
And here's another reason it's that bad and worse. In the United States, the “greatest country in the world” more women die in childbirth than in any other developed nation on the planet. And many of those women die due to complications arising from difficult pregnancies and deliveries. Sometimes the problem is known beforehand and sometimes not. But you would think that a country that calls itself the greatest on earth would be at least more toward the bottom of the list and not... you know... at the very top.
And here's something else that predominantly anti-choice states like to do: they take food out of the mouths of children to promote their idiotic agenda. Oh yes... Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas have used federal TANF (welfare) funds to support anti-abortion clinics, namely, Crisis Pregnancy Centers. These people who call themselves pro life STARVE THE MOST NEEDY CHILDREN IN THEIR STATES in their effort to go on forcing women to have babies they don't want. Excuse me, but the women who need the food for their kids DID WHAT YOU WANTED THEM TO you complete and utter fucking idiots....
Pro life my ass...
When roe vs. wade went into effect, the collective evangelical response was ‘meh’. Christianity Today articles in 1968 had statements like “God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed.” The former Southern Baptist Convention president Wayne Dehoney said in 1976 (!) that Catholics got it wrong with their anti-abortion theology because “the soul is formed at breath, not with conception.” The SBC, at the very least, adopted a resolution in 1971 allowing for abortion in many unfortunate circumstances, seeing it as a sensible “middle ground.”
Sometime after the debut of the McDonald Happy Meal in 1979, Evangelical Christians decided that the Bible said that life begins at conception. Over the next few years, any opinion that said otherwise was changed until the anti-abortion theology was united over all Evangelicals. And everyone also acted like it had always been this way.
Now let's look at some of the common lies evangelicals are fed about abortion. And they buy this shit hook, line, and sinker without ever questioning or seeking the truth on their own. Just like with everything else...
Abortion is murder
Even if we granted the most generous possible terms to the anti-abortion camp, even if we pretended the fetus was fully rational and contemplating Shakespeare in the womb, abortion would still not be murder. - Jennifer Wright, Harper's Bazaar
This is a truly amazing article that I highly recommend you go to the show notes, click on, and read word for word when we're done here. It's almost artful the way Jennifer Wright so thoroughly eviscerates every major pro-life argument.
There are a great many facts that conservatives feel comfortable ignoring when it comes to the abortion debate.
There is no difference between a baby and a fetus
Except... there is. There are many differences. For starters, a fetus cannot live unsupported for at least the first 21 weeks in utero almost no fetus born before week 24 survives. It is not its own life or entity at all for a full two-thirds of a pregnancy. Also, a fetus becomes a baby when it is no longer dependent on the mother's body to sustain it. That basically means it becomes a baby when it's born and starts breathing on its own. Even with a fully-developed brain, it's still a fetus until it can sustain life on its own.
Does that mean aborting a 9th month gestational fetus is ethical?
The fetus feels pain during the abortion
The fetus doesn't have a brain developed enough until at least week 24 to be able to feel anything. That's nearly six months in. At that point in its development, in a huge majority of cases, the decision has been made to carry to term. Nearly all abortions happen prior to any developmental stage where the fetus can feel or perceive anything.
Life begins at conception
Eggs are fertilized all the time that are absorbed by the mother or that pass right through the menstrual cycle when they fail to implant. In fact, the majority of fertilized eggs never develop into viable fetuses.
“There has been no concerted anti-abortion effort to demand research funding into why all of these fertilized eggs die, or to find a cure. Perhaps that’s because even the most active anti-abortion advocates know the truth is that a fertilized egg is not the same as a three-year-old, and they do not genuinely believe that it has the same right to life.”) -Jill Filipovic
And this is so true of so much of what these people purport to believe. They ignore anything that doesn't suit their own needs, wants, or opinions and, at the end of the day, they do what they want just like the rest of us. I've said before that I don't think most evangelicals really believe in hell because if they did they'd be tormented into insanity at the never-abating thoughts of their unsaved child, spouse, sibling, or parent roasting on a spit for all eternity. I see a direct correlation between their lack of likely response to their loved ones being hell and their lack of concern for fertilized eggs that die. It comes from the same place: that pocket of logic that lives inside their brain that allows them to think they believe something while cleverly protecting them from their own belief.
“When that happens it's god's will.”
OK so... your god who is supposedly telling you that you can't “murder a baby in the womb” murders literally millions of babies per day in the womb? Does it bother you even a little what kind of monumental hypocrite your god is?
Abortion causes psychological damage
Well, not in 95% of cases. Most women don't look back with regret. Quite the opposite, actually. But I will say this: in the past three years I've met two five-percenters. They exist and the mental and emotional toll it takes on them is significant. And there are various reasons why this would be. I'm not a licensed therapist so I won't even speculate. I do know what I gleaned from the two women who told me about the negatives of their abortion decisions and both cited religion in various contexts during the conversation.
Promiscuous women have abortions
OK, first off, define “promiscuous.” Does it mean anything beyond someone who has had more sex with more people than you? No, it really doesn't. And lots of people have sex outside of marriage and with multiple partners throughout their adult lives. Who are the “promiscuous” ones?
If you don't want to get pregnant, use birth control
Um... more than half of all unwanted pregnancies are the product of parents who were using birth control.
Science considers a single cell found on Mars to be life
Yes, microbial life exists and by life, once again, we mean self-sustaining. A self-sustaining microbe is a form of life. And, as Jennifer Wright points out, if that microbe from Mars posed even the slightest threat to us, we would kill it. And guess what: every pregnancy has potential to pose a threat to the mother. Every. Last. One. Remember... we have the highest pregnancy and birth related mortality rates among women than literally any other developed nation. That means that every pregnancy is a potential threat and women who don't want to roll the dice with their own lives Should. Not. Have. To.
Almost as long as women have been having children, there has been the need for abortion. It might not have always been called by that name, but it's been around. In the 1800's and early 1900's, the height of the 'patent medicine' era, a series of “female remedies” could be bought.
These were not safe by any means, and often contained copious amounts of alcohol, narcotics like morphine and cocaine, and herbal concoctions. There were female strengthening remedies and nerve tonics, all of them packaged with promises of better health, telling women that they were weak and needed the remedies described in the ads.
And some of these patent medicines were abortifacients. An advertisement for Burdock’s Blood Bitters told women that as a “grand system-renovating tonic” it was the best cure for “chronic diseases common to their sex.” Sounds delightful, doesn't it. But if you were having worries like, for instance, morning sickness, or you had missed a period, you could take a medicine called an “emmenogogue”: these would “timulate pelvic and uterine blood flow and could bring on menstruation.
These may well have been used for that purpose — and likewise could be used as abortifacients. Historian Leslie Reagan describes how women in the 18th and early 19th century who faced an unwanted pregnancy first tried to induce an early abortion at home using abortifacient plants like tansy and pennyroyal and then, if that didn’t work, sought more help.”
These remedies' advertising and packaging contained very carefully coded language to disguise their true or alternative purposes. A tiny pamphlet for Dr. Martel’s French Female Pills asked “What ailment can so worry a suffering woman more than to have her menstruations painful, irregular or suppressed?” The pamphlet suggests that the pills could be used to “prevent irregularities,” and may have been intended as a form of birth control as well as an abortifacient.
The pure food and drug act of 1906 was one of the actions that brought these medicines under scrutiny, and since most of them were sold through the mail, they also came afoul of the Comstock Act of 1873, which prevented the sale of “articles of immoral use” through the postal service.
Today, despite all the rhetoric and protests, abortions in America are still high. Contraception is not always covered by insurance and many states do not have comprehensive sex education. As for Maternal health, America has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, especially among women of color. Out of 41 countries, the US is last in how much paid parental leave is provided for new parents at zero days. Our abortion rate is 11.4 per 1000 women.
The abortion rate in the Netherlands is the lowest in the world, at 5 to 7 per 1000 women. They take unplanned pregnancy very seriously as a public health issue. Changes in industry and society have also changed family values. The National Institute of Health article proceeds:
Factors facilitating the rapid transition to a contraceptive society in the Netherlands were a voluntary family planning movement, fear of overpopulation, role of general practitioners in providing family planning services, and inclusion of family planning in the national public health insurance system. Acceptance of contraception preceded liberalization of abortion. Society accepts abortion as only a last resort.
The sexual sterilization rate is higher than that in other European countries (25% vs. 0-23%). Special family planning programs in the Netherlands target groups at risk of unwanted pregnancy, particularly teenage pregnancy. Almost all secondary schools and about 50% of primary schools address sexuality and contraception. Sex education has largely been integrated in general health education programs. The mass media address adolescent sexuality and preventive behavior.
Very large scale, nonmoralistic, public education campaigns that are positive towards teenage sexual behavior appear to be successful. Teens have wide access to contraceptive services through general practitioners who maintain confidentiality and do not require a vaginal exam and through subsidized family planning clinics.
So now let's look at some of the reasons why abortion needs to stay legal.
It protects women from those life-threatening complications – even some of my friends in college understood this.
It acknowledges the right of women to make choices regarding their own bodies – it has never been good to be a woman in America (or in many other parts of the world) and it amazes me how a bunch of old men are afforded (by way of votes) the right to dictate what women do with their own bodies. And let's not forget, a fetus is part of the mother's body until it can function on its own. The fetus is using the mother's body to make one for itself. If this is not something a woman wants to have happen to her, she has the right to put a stop to it.
“But she knew that pregnancy was a possibility when she had sex.” OK, even if I concede this point from the standpoint of logic, let's not forget that more than half of unwanted pregnancies are the result of women taking active steps to prevent it. And as for the other half, I don't care if you have unprotected sex and you know what can happen. Please refer to my previous point. She still doesn't have to let this very tricky, potentially life-threatening, and flat out unwanted thing to just happen to her. Period. I don't like the idea of abortion as birth control but it's not my decision to make. I cannot impose my morals on someone else.
Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.”
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her dissenting opinion in Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) that undue restrictions on abortion infringe upon “a woman’s autonomy to determine her life’s course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature.”
Legal abortion saves lives – viable, autonomous, thinking, feeling, human lives. Abortions performed to protect the mother in cases of conditions like ectopic pregnancy would lead to an insane number of deaths if abortion is made illegal across the board. Funny how “pro life” advocates don't seem to think this matters. The hypocrisy here is overwhelming.
And let's not forget that abortion is fated to go underground again in states that ban it outright. This will lead to more deaths. Preventable, unnecessary deaths.
Long-term abortion-related health issues are a myth – there are no verifiable long-term physical complications associated with legal, competent, clinically-based pregnancy terminations. None.
A peer-reviewed study published by Obstetrics & Gynecology reported that less than one quarter of one percent of abortions lead to major health complications.
Another study in Obstetrics & Gynecology found a woman’s risk of dying from having an abortion is 0.6 in 100,000, while the risk of dying from giving birth is around 14 times higher (8.8 in 100,000). The study also found that “pregnancy-related complications were more common with childbirth than with abortion.”
The American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated “Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States.” They also said the mortality rate of a colonoscopy is more than 40 times greater than that of an abortion.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI), the American Cancer Society (ACS), and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all refuted the claim that abortion can lead to a higher probability of developing breast cancer.
A fertility investigation of 10,767 women by the Joint Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found that women who had at least two abortions experienced the same future fertility as those who had at least two natural pregnancies.
Women who have abortions don't have as many mental health consequences as the anti-choicers want you to believe – in fact, the mental health consequences of being denied an abortion are much higher.
Abortion allows women to choose not to carry fetuses with profound abnormalities to term – this also alleviates various medical resources that some people born with severe and handicaps that will need for their entire lives. And I'll go right on record: if I had to choose between existing (not living, existing) inside a body that will never allow me to have any quality of life and not existing, I would absolutely choose the latter. If I can't enjoy life and do the things that most people can with mine, what's the point?
Abortion contributes to a higher quality of life for many women - Women who are denied abortions are more likely to become unemployed, to be on public welfare, to be below the poverty line, and to become victims of domestic violence.
“A University of California at San Francisco study found that women who were turned away from abortion clinics (because they had passed the gestational limit imposed by the clinic) were three times more likely to be below the poverty level two years later than women who were able to obtain abortions. 76% of the “turnaways” ended up on unemployment benefits, compared with 44% of the women who had abortions. The same study found that women unable to obtain abortions were more likely to stay in a relationship with an abusive partner than women who had an abortion, and were more than twice as likely to become victims of domestic violence.”
Abortion prevents numerous problems suffered by unwanted children – many unwanted children experience a poor quality of life either at the hands of abusive parents or spend their lives passed around to foster homes that leave them with no real sense of self, low self-image, and low self-worth. When a child “ages out” of the foster care system, they also have a much higher probability of needing public assistance and, when those benefits are denied, often turn to crime to survive.
Abortion reduces the number of people on public assistance – and with so many states funneling welfare money into crisis pregnancy centers, this is good news on a number of fronts.
Abortion is a justified means of population control – by terminating pregnancies, women contribute to the betterment of humanity in many of the ways we've already mentioned. It reduces the load on public assistance worldwide, it prevents conditions like hunger, homelessness, and reduces instances of violent crime. With 55 million abortions performed worldwide each year, just imagine what would happen in already impoverished, high-crime areas if in the next 10 years there were a HALF BILLION MORE PEOPLE around contributing to every socio-economic problem known to humanity.
And, again, where are the anti-choicers in the midst of all this? If they want to do away with abortion entirely, how do they intend to deal with any of the problems we already mentioned. Here's the answer: they don't. Because they aren't thinking that far ahead. They aren't trying to save babies. They aren't trying to better society. All they are trying to do is control women's reproductive lives without the first plan on how to deal with the lives they're fighting so hard to “protect.”
How about protecting people from lives of having to depend on other people for all their needs whether by way of poverty or disability? How about protecting children from abusive, resentful parents who never wanted them in the first place? How about not making a child hop from home to home until they're 18 and then being cut loose with few viable options outside of homelessness and lives of crime?
And don't get me started on the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse that runs rampant through the foster parent system or the people who literally treat foster parenting like a business pocketing the money given to them to care for the children under their guardianship.
How about protecting the lives of women who are likely to DIE if they carry a fetus to term? Why is this so one-sided? The “life” of the fetus matters but the life of the mother doesn't. Why is this kind of blatant hypocrisy taken seriously in the first place?
So if you're an anti-choicer my question to you is simple: what's your plan? Every single time I pose this question to one of you, you skirt it, redirect the conversation, or just start quoting Bible verses. None of these things help unwanted babies have better lives. None of them bring back mothers who die in childbirth at the end of risky pregnancies back to life. None of them alleviate domestic violence. All they do is reveal the hypocrisy of calling something so blatantly anti-woman “pro life.”
Bottom line: if you're going to call yourself pro-life, you need to hold yourself accountable for the quality of the lives you “save.” You need to concede that sometimes it's necessary to terminate a pregnancy to save the already viable life of the mother. You need to do things that ensure a healthy society on a whole, not one with huge numbers of people crippling public assistance and committing violent crimes that also lead to unnecessary deaths.
If you were to be honest about it, those of us who want to see abortion laws stay the way they are are far more pro life than any anti-choicer. We care about the lives of women. We care about the quality of life that people experience. And these things are greatly diminished when abortion becomes difficult or impossible to obtain.
Again, I have my misgivings about abortion on various levels, but I do understand the good it does, regardless of a woman's reason for getting one. Sometimes it's necessary to see all sides of an argument and concede that even if you don't like something, that doesn't mean it's wrong or bad for society. And when given a laundry list of reasons why the laws staying the same do good and why changing them do bad in society, one must see the need to keep abortion accessible.
Taking yourself out of the equation in situations that involve others and not us is not just a good idea, it is necessary. I admit that I struggle with this one. I admit that I see certain black and white right and wrong issues with the entire abortion debate, but I also understand that everything we talked about tonight leads to the same conclusion: abortion and access to abortion do far more good than harm and the laws need to stay the same. Take the time to consider what you've heard here tonight. Some of it may be hard to swallow. Some of it might make you uncomfortable. But if you're at least willing to see both sides and consider which one does more to help society than harm it, that's a sign that you're at least on your way to getting and staying Unbound.