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Whose Choice Should It Be?

By The Reverend Published: April 15, 2013

Those who consider themselves conservative and usually, if not always, vote Republican get upset when those critical of modern conservatism describe the right's policy positions on female reproductive rights as a "War on Women." That is completely understandable.

The "War on Women" talking point, which I have often used myself, rubs the wrong way. Apologists on the right disavow that their political party's policies amount to an open and sustained attack on women. From the right's perspective I suppose I understand how that makes sense. Even though conservative policies and legislation single out contraception, Planned Parenthood, and a woman's legal right to choose....for a slow death.....over and over again, the conservatives who push such an agenda actually believe they are making the right choice, the moral choice, for women.

And therein lies the problem.

"Choosing life", to conservatives is not simply a call for each individual to choose life over is, instead, a slogan derived from policies meant to replace who does the choosing. Fighting over contraception, Planned Parenthood and a woman's right to choose are all part of a larger issue. And that larger issue is whether government....federal, state or local.....should make these life-choices for women.

It does seem odd to this blogger that the same citizens, politicians and pundits who drone on about "Big Intrusive Government" and the "Nanny State" are the very same citizens, politicians and pundits who work so feverishly to make a woman's most private and intimate decisions....their own decisions.

The late Margaret Thatcher claimed that "there is no such thing as society".....a claim often echoed on the American right today as it moves to crush anything containing even a hint of collectivism. Yet, simultaneously.....that same American right wants our collective society, through the vehicle of representative government, to limit, to replace, to restrict and to eliminate reproductive choices for women. 

During the first three months of the year, legislators have introduced 694 provisions on these issues, and 93 have been approved by at least one legislative body.

About half (47 percent) of all reproductive health measures introduced in the first quarter of the year seek to restrict access to abortion.

Already in 2013, Arkansas and North Dakota have enacted legislation banning nearly all abortions beginning at some point in the first trimester of pregnancy. Similar measures have been introduced in four other states (Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Wyoming).

Legislators in eight states (Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas) have introduced provisions to restrict medication abortion.

I raise this topic again this morning because this week the Village is preparing to go full metal jacket Fox on the Dr. Grosnell trial. Dr. Grosnell's story is horrific. Dr. Grosnell's actions were illegal and criminal and he will be punished accordingly.

However, the story of Dr. Grosnell's crimes has been used by the conservative right, and will be used again this week, as a muddying agent to first: confuse Americans into thinking Grosnell's behavior is typical of all abortion providers, and second: because of the gruesome details, vindicate the right's view that government must step in and make reproductive choices for women.

I would argue that the Grosnell crime is exactly where the 694-provisions-limiting-a-woman's-right-to-choose-in-just-the-first-three-months-of-2013 are destined to drive more desperate American women. Restricting access to abortion, closing all state abortion clinics, defunding Planned Parenthood, humiliating women with invasive and unnecessary ultra-sounds and arbitrary waiting periods, redefining viability and "personhood" down to a fertilized egg, and fetishizing the Hyde Amendment which prevents one tax dollar from being used for abortion........all of it.....eventually leads to women seeking out alternatives just as they did before Roe.

Make no mistake here. Progressives, liberals, pro-choicers do not, and will not, defend the criminal actions of people like Dr. Grosnell. His actions were entirely unacceptable and he should be punished.

At the same time, anti-choice advocates who most loudly denounce the horrors of Grosnell's Philadelphia clinic.....are the same people who support the hundreds of anti-choice incrementalization laws already passed this year, the same people who would replace a woman's right to choose with the government's. Support of government intrusiveness which will inevitably drive poor and desperate women confronted with fewer and fewer choices, into the arms of people like Grosnell.



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