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"First, we have to acknowledge that the legalization of abortion in 1973 and the birth control pill broke the long historical and cultural linkage between sex and procreation. For the first time, it was possible to have sex for the sake of something other than procreation" -- Nameless rightwing hack brought onto BBC's "World Have Your Say" to represent American conservatives, July 23, 2013
Ok, BBC World Service programmers, I tune away whenever the cheapo programs like "have your say" come on. They're the radio equivalent of CNN reading tweets to themselves, except that you start it with Rolodex journalism by grabbing two names to represent "sides" of the debate. So, today you have someone from No Labels up against a nose-talking patrician accented female creature espousing repressive points of view that a caricature librarian soaked in alum wouldn't endorse. Yeah, great stuff.
John Bauer's illustration of a troll butting its head against a tree.
A Cato Institute troll proves that wood is softer than a righteous idea.
The main problem is that this line. . . tossed out by Pat and Bay Buchanan, by Catholic League and idiots by the score . . . is not merely wrong, but it is so obviously wrong that the people who say it are either very, very foolish or liars.

First, let's start with recognizing that official histories are filled with official sources, and official sources are frequently euphemistic or willfully obscurantist. The 1930 Roman Catholic Church admitted, grudgingly, that married sex could be pleasant and that pleasure in sex was guiltless, but that was nearly as far as the RCC would go. As late as that, the Roman Catholic Church was having a hard time imagining that the pleasure of sexual organs was actually a desirable end instead of a sort of bribe to get a baby made.

As for abortion and its purported "birth control," is there anything to say, really? Has anyone ever offered up the imaginary anecdotal illustration for abortion-as-contraception? Implied in this "abortion disrupts the sex and procreation" argument is that all sexual couplings should produce babies, unless God or Nature's God terminates them (at least 27% and up to 80% of the time), but also implied is that the volition of a woman is being placed above nature or the divine, and a woman, or many women, are having abortions of convenience.

Well, Guttmacher has a study on whether contraception use has any linkage, positive or negative, on incidence of abortion. It's an interesting question. However, the people who claim that women use abortion as contraception either argue that they're "philosophically" the same thing (Priests for Life), which is true only after granting the question in the first place, or that, well, of course they do! Further, the latter, who rely upon what "everybody knows," also think it's time for shaming all these women alike.

Eastern Mockingbird, taken with a telephoto lens.,
One bird hears a sound, and the other hears its reaction.
So, the 1960's are to blame in this combined, synoptic right wing narrative. The Pill came out, which turned women into prideful harlots, and then Roe v. Wade occurred, which allowed them to be even more impudent and "throw away" "babies" without regret. This synoptic gospel of right wing decline needs a moral backing where sex = baby if God says so. If God does not say so, then you need to walk it off.

Let's start with one simple fact:
The disruption of the link between sex and procreation was always already broken.

The condom broke the link between sex and procreation. It was and is easy enough for a man to wear one. No, nobody likes them, but if the choice is all or nothing, "all" wins. Furthermore, the condom is not recent. Please, anyone, I dare you to read James Boswell's London Journals. He has sex with prostitutes thirty or more times, writes down the encounters, says he "took her in armour" to indicate the condom, caught the clap twice in one summer, and had no compunctions about it whatsoever. He is like a frat boy with unlimited money on spring break for a whole summer. (I really do recommend reading it, but readers should borrow the Yale UP edition from a library if they haven't a good grounding in the history.) Boswell's is an age of great moral probity as well.

The condom was known earlier. In the Restoration (1660 - 80) in England, "rakes" (male libertines) were able to couple frequently and sire seldom.

A sponge dipped in vinegar also worked as a prophylaxis for women. Prostitutes had some incentive to get pregnant and more to avoid it, and they had the means to control their fertility.

All that happened with The Pill was that women had the freedom to spontaneity. They no longer had to rely on the man's promise to have a latex condom of recent and quality manufacture. They no longer had to plan ahead for intercourse.

Abortion has nothing to do with procreation. It is about legal personhood.
In today's blog post, "The Never Ending Story," Charlie Pierce makes the point that the anti-choice forces will never stop. When they win, they come back for more.

if you hand Texas Republicans a steak, they'll send it back for sauce. . . . The simple fact is that American women have a right that these people do not want them to have. Period. (That right is based in a right to privacy that most of these people believe is at best a constitutional confection and, at worst, an outright lie. The target always has been Griswold, not Roe.) They do not want that right exercised and they will do anything they can to keep it from being exercised, and they absolutely...will...not...stop.
The right to abortion is a right based on whether or not a collection of cells inside a woman is a legal person. Whether those cells vibrate, move, or do anything else is neither here nor there: are they legally a person separate from and equal to the mother? The mother has full human rights as a person. Do those cells have the legal (not moral, not ethical, not philosophical, not medical, and not scientific) quality of person? If they do not, then they are part of her body, and she can say what befalls them.

Procreation is birth. As long as nature is whimsical and vicious in dealing out accidents to birth, no "unborn" fetus can be treated as a given person. The Protestants that share the anti-choice gusto typical have a belief in individual providence as well. They tend to believe that each person is "called" to a job and to a mate. They point to passages in the Bible when great prophets were called and tacitly assume that they are just as important as an Old Testament king. Convinced of each cell in their bodies being part of a "plan," they dismiss chance from God's universe.

I think Charlie Pierce is right: the target is Griswold. I think, though, that they believe that they are trying to "right" the world by making women subject themselves to chance, which they regard as holier than humanity.

Originally posted to A Frayed Knot on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 11:38 AM PDT.

Also republished by Pro Choice, Abortion, and Community Spotlight.

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