OK. Fine. Right. Abortion, yeah?
I don't really like writing or talking about abortion, because...well, who does? Anytime you express an opinion on abortion you're likely to get someone calling you a monster or a Nazi or demanding to know how YOU would feel if you'd been aborted, and then you have to give them a lesson about logic and it goes on and on forever.
But look I've been thinking about abortion, and much like a mushroom sprouting from soil, an opinion has burst out on top of my head, so feel free to pick it.
The reason I'm thinking about it is because it's in the news a bit lately. Tasmania has introduced a bill to finally decriminalise abortion, and there is a bit of speculation swirling regarding the fact that in Victoria, the Liberals rely on the vote of rabid pro-lifer and perks-enjoyer Geoff Shaw, and that if Tony Abbott becomes prime minister he may have to rely in the Senate on the DLP's pro-life, pro-insanity Senator John Madigan.
So it's a bit topical. And really, it's always topical, because there are always people who won't let go, and keep trying to wind the clock back.
But here is the thing: I feel like a lot of the arguments go in the wrong direction, and they tend to go in the wrong direction because the anti-abortion lobby knows just which buttons to push. I think there is a line of thought which is not used often enough, and this is important because to me the real battle to defend abortion rights isn't in trying to convince pro-lifers to change their stance, but in the big middle ground of "don't-knows", the people who maybe haven't put much thought into it, but are ripe for the convincing by a pious-looking politician with a sincere-sounding speech.
First, we have to recognise that "pro-lifers" fall into two broad categories: real pro-lifers and fake pro-lifers.
The real pro-lifers are a minority - most "pro-lifers" are faking it. Real pro-lifers are the people who genuinely believe conception is the beginning of, not just life, but personhood. They sincerely believe that a foetus is a person with all the concomitant human rights that you or I have, and that aborting a foetus is the same as killing an actual child. They really believe the rubbish they spout about "the rights of the unborn child", and they won't listen at all when you point out that this is an oxymoron and there is actually no such thing as an "unborn child", given a "child" is someone who has been born. They also won't listen if you tell them that abortion can't be "murder" because murder is by definition illegal. Basically they won't listen to anything, so it's pointless to even try with these people.
And that pointlessness is, in fact, the point. The REAL pro-lifers are batshit insane. These are the ones who end up bombing abortion clinics and shooting doctors, and why wouldn't they? If you heard that down the road there was a government-sanctioned facility where doctors were shooting five-year-olds in the head, wouldn't you say some pretty extreme measures were needed to stop this? Wouldn't you, even if you lacked the courage to directly attack the child-killers yourself, heartily applaud those who did? How could you look negatively upon someone who stepped in to prevent children being slaughtered?
Well, that's how real pro-lifers see it. They are insane, and therefore their insane actions seem perfectly reasonable. And so naturally, there's no point trying to reason with them. They're fringe lunatics: we don't need to argue with them, we need to ignore them.
But then there are the fake pro-lifers. These are the ones who claim to be concerned about "the rights of the unborn child", but when faced with what is purportedly a nightmarish holocaust of kid-slaughter, say things like "safe, legal and rare", or demand that Medicare funding be removed.
I mean, imagine! Imagine believing that children are being murdered, but wanting it to be "safe, legal and rare"! Imagine saying, "Child murder is OK, but don't use taxpayer's money on it"! Come on.
Look at the debate that flares sometimes over instances of rape or incest. If you genuinely believed that foetuses were people, how could you make exceptions for rape or incest victims? "I don't think we should kill children except when their father's a rapist - babies need to be punished for that!" Please.
But a rape-incest exception, in fact, betrays a fake pro-lifer for what they are: a woman-punisher. The reason many "pro-lifers" are willing to entertain exceptions is because those exceptions deal with women whose pregnancy is not their fault.
And there is the key. The vast majority of "pro-lifers" are frauds who are simply out to punish women for having sex. They don't care about the "unborn children", or else they'd be marching with burning torches in the streets, storming abortion clinics daily. They will say their concern is for the poor dead babies, but then they'll go ahead and push for measures that allow abortion, but make it more expensive and difficult for a woman to access. Or they'll push to make it illegal, but exempt those women who came by their condition through "no fault of their own".
It is quite clear what these people are about. They are about ensuring that women don't "get away with it". They are about ensuring that if a woman DOES have the irrepressible audacity to have sex, she damn well better suffer for it. Either through a pregnancy or making abortions so difficult, expensive or dangerous that it turns her life upside down. The important thing is that women are made aware that their sin will not go unpunished. The important thing is that women NEVER feel free to enjoy sex without the threat of dire consequences.
And so what I say is, let's call these fake pro-lifers out. Every time a politician or a commentator or an activist claims they want to stop the killing of unborn babies, let's point out just how hypocritical they're being. Let's point out that if all they're willing to do is talk about it, call for cuts to funding or reductions in the numbers, they surely cannot be serious about considering these to be actual children.
And let's make sure those in-betweeners who haven't made their minds up and are just now looking curiously at the issue realise that the "pro-lifers" they see in the papers and on TV are full of disingenuous and malicious cant, and that if you want to be a pro-lifer, you can either join the lunatics or the liars.
Call 'em out, guys. The only way to make sure women retain control over their own bodies, is to make sure the other side doesn't get away with pretending that's not the field we're fighting on.