The organized "anti-abortion" movement has never been about "saving the pre-born": it has always been about controlling women. Now this viciously misogynist agenda is coming out into the open more and more, as Cristina Page notes in the Madison Times (via the estimable Buzzflash):
Saturday, June 7, is the anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 Supreme Court decision that granted married people the right to use contraception. To mark the day, anti-abortion groups will take to their normal posts outside clinic entrances not to convince Americans to oppose abortion but rather to stop using contraception.
The national campaign is called "Protest the Pill Day 08'" and it is organized by several leading anti-choice groups including the American Life League and Pharmacists for Life. The groups' Web site is full of unscientific, medically inaccurate information.
Anti-contraception activism has been working its way up the priority list of the anti-choice movement in the U.S. in recent years and Saturday's campaign will be one of the most organized and visible displays of this broadening agenda. There is not one pro-life organization in the U.S. that supports contraception. In fact, the multi-pronged attack against the right to use contraception is led entirely by anti-abortion groups. Their initiatives include opposing health insurance coverage of contraception; urging pharmacists to deny women's birth control prescriptions; and attempting (with no scientific rationale) to reclassify the birth control pill, and all other hormonal forms of contraception, as abortion methods with the goal of banning them. This represents an important and frightening shift in focus by the anti-abortion movement.
Despite the fact that contraception is the only proven way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and reduce abortion rates, anti-choice groups would forgo these benefits, and even risk dramatically increasing abortion rates, in favor of a larger, more insidious goal: changing Americans' sex lives. As the American Life League, the nation's largest pro-life educational organization, explains in its materials, "The American Life League denies the moral acceptability of artificial birth control and encourages each individual to trust in God, to surrender to his will, and to be predisposed to welcoming children."
Buoyed by their success in rolling back abortion rights, these groups seek nothing less than a complete American lifestyle makeover: Sex can't ever exclude the possibility of procreation.
As Page notes, this is indeed frightening. But it is hardly surprising. It is part of a worldwide war against women that has been waged with increasing repression and brutality across many cultures in recent years. George W. Bush has been one of the leaders of this war, adopting policies that have led to the unnecessary deaths of thousands of innocent women and children around the world. There is no doubt that John McCain will continue this savage conflict, for the same reason Bush has taken it on: to win the support -- and money -- of Christian extremists. As we noted earlier today, this is one of the few areas of profound difference between Obama and McCain.
This war is not confined the United States, of course. Bush, McCain and the Christian extremists have made common cause with their ostensible enemies in the Islamic world to throttle the lives of women -- sometimes literally so. As I noted in a piece from 2003 (which still holds true today):
The defining issue of modernity is control of women's fertility. It is this question – more than religion, politics, economics or the "clash of civilizations" – that forms the deepest dividing line in the world today. It is a line than cuts through every nation, every people, from the highest level of organized society down to, in many cases, the divided minds and emotions of individual men and women.
Control of fertility – and its active principle, sexuality – has always been an organizing principle of human society, of course, but modernity has presented the world with a revolutionary concept that overthrows millennia of received wisdom and tradition: namely, that an individual woman should control her own fertility. This notion destabilizes state structures and religious dogmas, and uproots cultural mores whose origins reach back to prehistoric times. It is a profoundly disturbing development in the life of humankind.
Little wonder, then, that anxieties over fertility and sexuality are the chief engines driving the frenzied and increasingly violent fundamentalist movements now sweeping through the world. It is here that extremists of every stripe make common cause against modernity. Almost every other aspect of "the modern" – science and technology, high finance, industrialization, etc. – has been absorbed, in one form or another, by the most "traditionalist" societies. But what today's fundamentalists – from Osama bin Laden to George W. Bush to Pope John Paul II, from the American-backed warlords of Afghanistan to the anti-American mullahs of Iran – cannot accept, at any cost, is the freedom of a woman's body.
This frenzy, this primitive fear – understandable perhaps in the face of such a wrenching upheaval – does not in itself make a fundamentalist an evil person. But it can – and does – lead them into evil: sometimes blindly, in ignorance and panic; but sometimes knowingly, with eyes wide open, a willing embrace of primitive emotions to serve selfish and cynical ends.
And so: last month, George W. Bush quietly cut off funding for a highly praised AIDS program for refugees from Africa and Asia. Why? Obviously, to keep his helots on the Christian Right frothing with passion to do battle for him in 2004. He has already given them control of American social policy, particularly in international negotiations, where they routinely form alliances with Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and other repressive states to derail treaties on women's rights.
But what was his public reason? Bush says he gutted the program because one member of the non-profit consortium running the project is also working with a UN program that was falsely accused of colluding with China's policy of forced abortions. That charge was investigated not once but twice by Bush's own State Department, as well as by the UN, and was shown each time to be completely untrue. The only "evidence" produced to support the slander was an allegation that in a single office in a rural Chinese province a few years ago, the desk of a UN official touched the desk of a Chinese Health Ministry official. That's it. The truth, of course, is that the UN program, and all the non-profit organizations associated with it, are trying to end China's forced abortions.
Of course, this heinous practice that has never stopped Bush from granting massive trade benefits to the "baby-killing Communists." Nor has it ever disturbed the orgy of investment in China's repressive regime by the corporate barons of the U.S.-China Chamber of Commerce, headed by that genial old aristocrat, Prescott Bush Junior – known as "Uncle Prescott" to the current president. Naturally, any punishment for China's forced abortions must not fall on the Beijing government itself – not when Uncle Press has choice deals on the line. No, instead it must land – like a ravening MOAB – on the poorest of the poor, in Angola, Congo, Rwanda, Somalia, Eritrea, and other poverty-stricken areas where the Bush family has no investments.
Not content with slapping AIDS-stricken refugees around, Bush has also cut off all U.S. funding to countless family planning services in the poorest regions of the world....Many of these clinics provide the only maternal and post-natal care available for millions of destitute women and their children. They are the only place where the world's most downtrodden and uneducated women can receive information about reproduction and birth control, or treatment for AIDs, genital mutilation and rape. All across Africa and Asia, these clinics – including many run by Bush's beloved "faith-based organizations" – are closing up as they lose their American funding. Yet this funding itself is a mere pittance from the war-fattened federal purse – less than one day's spending on Bush's rape of Iraq.
It is simply a fact that thousands of women and infant children will die needless deaths in the coming years because of Bush's edicts. He could have saved them; instead he has killed them. He has chosen to stand with terrorists and tyrants in the fundamentalists' war against women.
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This story was published on June 10, 2008.