Anti-Choice Zealots' Latest Bizarre Ploy
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For those of us who hoped that the attempts to sneak in bans on abortion, hormonal contraception, and IVF under proposed laws called “personhood amendments” would disappear after the first attempt at passing such a law on a ballot initiative was thoroughly trumped at the polls in Colorado, well, I hate to tell you, but the anti-choice extremists aren’t going away. The next new battlefield is Florida, where anti-choicers hope they can use the invisibility of most female reproductive processes to convince the voters that there’s little people lurking inside your neighbor’s ladyparts, even if there’s no biological evidence to support that proposition, and that this law will save the wee mythical people.
Obviously, there’s a good reason for pro-choicers to be alarmed when personhood amendments seem like they’re really going to get onto ballots. If they pass, that means that anti-choicers not only have a platform to issue challenges to abortion, but also that they have a chance to go after other anti-choice goals, namely pushing for bans on reliable, female-controlled contraception like the birth control pill and the IUD. Hey, we don’t know that female-controlled contraception doesn’t kill “babies”, since it’s all invisible behind that wall of flesh that separates the uterus from its proper Bible-thumping owners (a wall of flesh most of us call “the woman”), so better to be safe and ban the pill. Those doctors who say the birth control pill doesn’t work that way can’t be 100% sure, so we can discount their opinions entirely. Or, that’s the general gist of the argument, anyhow.
Clearly, a large scale challenge not only to abortion but to all of the most effective female-controlled forms of contraception is a very bad thing for women, on the grounds that anti-choicers might succeed and start forcing more women to bear children against their will. But there is a reason for cautious optimism when it comes to the personhood amendment push. Personhood amendments are a classic example of a political group overplaying their hand, and in this case, personhood amendments offer a great opportunity to take away the cover of fetus-concern that anti-choicers use to push their real goals of oppressing women and making sex fraught in the hopes people will have less of it.
Regular readers of RH Reality Check are no doubt familiar with the most taxing obstacle for the anti-choice movement in its goal to push its ideology into our laws, which is that they can’t be upfront with the public about what they believe without facing rejection. The organized anti-choice movement is hostile to contraception, and especially hostile to female-controlled contraception. This gives lie to their claims that they’re indifferent to women’s liberation and sexual behavior, and only interested in saving fetal life. Actual behavior indicates a pattern of hostility to sexual liberation, from the promotion of abstinence-only programs to the dishonest claims about the safety of the HPV vaccine. The public is willing to accept that an anti-choicer who is fascinated by fetus life is a good person with a legitimate claim. They’re not so sympathetic to people who just want to clap chastity belts on everyone and issue permission slips before you get to indulge your sexual desires.
The anti-choice tactic to deal with this problem is, to put it bluntly, to be two-faced. The face offered to the public is sentimental about fetal life, so that the public assumes that anti-choicers are well-meaning, if a big silly. The fact that there’s a larger anti-sex agenda is to be kept on the down low. As I’ve reported before, anti-choice protesters are trained to feign compassion for women and to dissemble about contraception in order to keep up this façade.