Amanda Marcotte launched into an expletive filled tirade against the anti-abortion movement. She argues that this is not even a matter for debate anymore than racism or homophobia is worthy of debate.
Yes, we should, as freethinkers, not shy away from “difficult” topics and have freewheeling discourse about them, but it’s not like anti-choicers have suddenly farted out a bunch of new crap arguments to pick apart. They’re still pooping out the same old crap argument they’ve been using for the past forty years—that an embryo or even fertilized egg that has no brain has more human rights than the woman who has been drafted into growing it against her will—that’s been debunked a million billion times.It gets much juicier below the fold.
There has been a big uproar in the atheist/freethought community after one of their own said that abortion was not as clearcut as popularly believed in the community. David Silverman, the guy who unsuccessfully tried to get a booth at CPAC this year:
“I will admit there is a secular argument against abortion,” said Silverman. “You can’t deny that it’s there, and it’s maybe not as clean cut as school prayer, right to die, and gay marriage.”Marcotte was reacting to this post by Greta Christina, who also believes that abortion should not even be a matter for debate.
Let’s discuss the secular arguments against abortion, and talk about how the issue isn’t as clear-cut as issues like school prayer or same-sex marriage — David Silverman. Let’s give space in our blogs to the secular arguments against abortion, with no comment on their complete and utter lack of merit — Hemant Mehta. Let’s talk about how anti-abortion arguments are so provocative, and how although it may be an unpopular view, it’s very important that we try to discuss questions like abortion in an open way, because these debates are essential for the spirit of inquiry — James Croft. (UPDATE: James Croft has changed his mind on this, and has apologized and offered a retraction.) Let’s talk about how the people in these debates are engaging in freethinking, and how the anger being expressed about the debates is a sign of intellectual timidity — Ed Beck (in comments). Let’s get defensive and pissy about how people who expressing fury about this issue are being reckless, and treat people who supposedly misunderstood our statements as irresponsible, rather than apologizing for our poor communication and the damage caused by it — David Silverman again.Christina, however, has nothing on Marcotte. First, she accuses the anti-choicers of arguing in bad faith:
And then, perhaps, we can have another panel at another atheist conference about why there aren’t more women in the atheist movement.
...if wasting time typing that shit out amuses you, knock yourself out. But don’t pretend that you’re advancing the cause of free thought while doing so. That’s because rational, free discourse is predicated on the understanding that everyone involved in the debate is arguing in good faith, and I can assure you, after years of dealing with this issue, that anti-choicers are not arguing in good faith.She explains:
Similiarly, the reason anti-choice arguments are a bunch of half-baked, never-changing nonsense that they cling to no matter how frequently it’s debunked is simple: They don’t want to speak their real argument out loud. Their real argument is something like, “I strongly believe in gender essentialism, and people who violate my beliefs about what women and men should do and be like scare me. In particular, I find the notion that women might be lascivious and/or non-nurturing at times to be frightening, because those qualities belong to men, and so I am eager to punish women and force nurturance on them to restore order to the world.”Addressing the argument that if we would just give women better choices like better daycare, more maternity leave, living wages, and flexible work schedules, Marcotte really warms up:
Well, let me just put a stop to this shit right now. You can give me gold-plated day care and an awesome public school right on the street corner and start paying me 15% more at work, and I still do not want a baby. I don’t particularly like babies. They are loud and smelly and, above all other things, demanding. No matter how much free day care you throw at women, babies are still time-sucking monsters with their constant neediness. No matter how flexible you make my work schedule, my entire life would be overturned by a baby. I like my life how it is, with my ability to do what I want when I want without having to arrange for a babysitter. I like being able to watch True Detective right now and not wait until baby is in bed. I like sex in any room of the house I please. I don’t want a baby. I’ve heard your pro-baby arguments. Glad those work for you, but they are unconvincing to me. Nothing will make me want a baby.Notice she doesn't dictate someone else's choice here. She continues:
And don’t float “adoption” as an answer. Adoption? Fuck you, seriously. I am not turning my body over for nine months of gaining weight and puking and being tired and suffering and not being able to sleep on my side and going to the hospital for a bout of misery and pain so that some couple I don’t know and probably don’t even like can have a baby. I don’t owe that couple a free couch to sleep on while they come to my city to check out the local orphans, so I sure as shit don’t own them my body. I like drinking alcohol and eating soft cheese. I like not having a giant growth protruding out of my stomach. I hate hospitals and like not having stretch marks. We don’t even force men to donate sperm—a largely pleasurable activity with no physical cost—so forcing women to donate babies is reprehensible.She asks if the anti-abortion movement is simply another way to extract cheap labor from people.
This is why, if my birth control fails, I am totally having an abortion. Given the choice between living my life how I please and having my body within my control and the fate of a lentil-sized, brainless embryo that has half a chance of dying on its own anyway, I choose me. Here’s another uncomfortable fact for anti-choicers: Just because a woman does want children doesn’t mean she wants them now. Maybe she’s still got some fun-having to do. Or maybe she has a couple already and, already well-educated about the smelly neediness of babies, feels done with having them. Either way, what she wants trumps the non-existent desires of a mindless pre-person that is so small it can be removed in about two minutes during an outpatient procedure. Your cavities fight harder to stay in place.
So, reading those three paragraphs above? I bet at some point you recoiled a bit, even if you don’t want to have recoiled a bit. Don’t I sound selfish? Hedonistic? Isn’t there something very unfeminine about my bluntness here? Hell, I’m performing against gender norms so hard that even I recoil a little. This is actually what I think, and I feel zero guilt about it, but I know that saying so out loud will cause people to want to hit me with the Bad Woman ruler, and that causes a little dread. Why do we feel this way? What kind of training and socialization did we receive that made us think there’s something terribly wrong about a woman who is hurting no one and is actually pretty nice but wants what she wants in her private life and doesn’t apologize about it? Is there a reason that we should bully women into pretending that they’re more interested in being selfless and eternally nurturing than they actually are, even at great cost to themselves? Would we be even remotely close to as upset with a man who said he’s too invested in his bachelor lifestyle to consider having a baby? Is the pressure that’s dished out to women to serve at great cost to themselves just oppression, an attempt by society to extract labor and other goods out of women without giving them compensation and respect for it? Or is there some rational justification for it?There is nothing wrong with the government facilitating adoption, creating better daycare alternatives, pushing for better maternal leave, or creating temporary foster care. We all have different life experiences. Some people don't believe that abortion is the moral thing to do, but a sudden financial reversal means that adoption is the only alternative. Someone else might decide that abortion is the best alternative given an unplanned pregnancy and that they cannot provide the quality of life that a child deserves to have. Creating true choice in the event of an unplanned pregnancy or a sudden life crisis during pregnancy involves facilitating every possible option, including adoption, foster care, daycare, abortion, and carrying the baby to full term. But the First Amendment requires the government to stay out of religion. That is why any reproductive health plan that does not respect the right of someone to choose to have an abortion or even one that implies that abortion is somehow a less worthy moral choice than other alternatives should be a non-starter.
Is it OK for the Catholic Church to promote their anti-abortion position based on 2,000 years of church history? Sure -- what they teach their people to do is none of the government's business. But what you and I think is the moral thing to do and what is appropriate for the government to be doing are two different things. For instance, nobody is arguing that all people should have to go to church on Sundays. The Constitution does not give any rights to people until they are "born in the US" according to the 14th Amendment. Therefore, in order to get rid of abortion, the anti-abortion movement has to pass an amendment repealing the 14th and stating that all life begins at conception. But then that will have its own unintended consequences. The demand won't die, so millions of women will get abortions anyway, creating a massive black market similar to prohibition and the banning of pot. The government will have to create a massive police state far beyond even what the NSA is doing now in order to enforce such a ban.