Pro-Life Advocates Don’t Actually Care About the Life of a Fetus

I’ve been thinking about the fight for women’s healthcare a lot lately, mainly due to the influx of messages we’ve been getting to Skepchick in the past month virtually throwing a temper tantrum about Rebecca’s video “Planned Parenthood is Not Selling Baby Parts, You Fucking Idiots.” Although I am firmly on the pro-choice side, I always try to understand those who have opposing views to my own and in the case of abortion I understand why people who truly believe that a fetus = baby would be upset that abortions exist. I certainly get very upset over the idea of baby murder, but since I do not believe a fetus is the same as a baby and science backs me up on that point, I consider abortion to be merely a medical intervention to prevent a future baby. Someone who truly believes that a future baby is the same as a currently existing baby would obviously feel very differently.

However, the more I wade into the debate over abortion the more it is obvious that pro-life people do not actually care about the life of fetuses nor do they believe that killing a fetus is equivalent to killing a baby. In fact, the whole debate over abortion doesn’t seem to have anything to do with fetuses at all.

Nothing the pro-life and right-wing conservative movement does actually protects the life of fetuses. If the pro-life movement really cared about reducing abortions they would support comprehensive women’s healthcare, science-based sex education, contraception services, and anti-rape legislation and education. Instead, they spend their time and energy doing things like attempting to remove funding from planned parenthood clinics, which provide women with education, contraception and healthcare services, support abstinence-only sex education, which has been shown not to be effective in preventing teen pregnancy, and fighting “affirmative consent” legislation. All of these things increase the number of unwanted pregnancies which in turn increases the number of abortions, so they seem like strange policies to back if you actually believe that abortion = baby murder.

These policies only make sense if the true purpose of the pro-life movement was to stop women from having consequence-free sex. I know I’m the one millionth person to point this out, but the ultra-conservative pro-life wing of the conservative movement is far more interested in controlling the bodies and sexual lives of women than the lives of fetuses. Being forced to carry a baby to term and then birth that baby and raise that baby for the rest of your life is merely punishment for daring to have sex without the express purpose of procreation.

The claims that abortion = baby murder, that planned parenthood is selling baby parts, that women are naive and stupid and “tricked” into abortion by evil abortion doctors, that abortions are used as genocide against black Americans, and other claims by pro-life advocates are just a smokescreen to make people believe that pro-lifers actually care about the life of a fetus when all they really care about is punishing women for daring to have sex just for their own enjoyment.

Featured photo by Fibonacci Blue on Flickr (CC with Attribution License). 

Jamie Bernstein

Jamie Bernstein is a data, stats, policy and economics nerd who sometimes pretends she is a photographer. She is @uajamie on Twitter and Instagram. If you like my work here at Skepchick & Mad Art Lab, consider sending me a little sumthin' in my TipJar: @uajamie

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  1. I’m sure there’s some cognitive dissonance there, I mean no one has a funeral when they miscarry. Yet I think the idea that all anti-choice people are just lying to everyone (possibly including themselves) about their beliefs is oversimplifying. It is suspicious that they tend to be against sex outside of committed relationships. But people conform their actual beliefs to line up with other beliefs all the time to reduce cognitive dissonance.

    Their being against contraception isn’t necessarily a contradiction. Assuming a contradiction here is assuming that they follow consequentialist morality. When talking about conservatives, that is a very naive assumption.

    1. People do have funerals for miscarried or still born babies. If they are past a certain gestational age, some states require funeral. I am pro life, I was raised in a liberal family, but they were all prolife as well. I chose not to have sex outside of marriage by I saw what can happen, with a sister having a baby at 17, and another who she gave up for adoption and another she left with the father, and my brother getting having one girl after another, then calling crying be he said he loved them. Their lives suck now, mine not so much.

      I understand having sex out of marriage happens, but promiscuous behavior is what causes more problems in the poorest communities, the gay communities and children that are endlessly observing liberal talking heads and Hollywood tell them it’s ok, no consequences. When is the last time you saw a movie when they stop to put in a condom?

      I believe in gay marriage for this reason as well. I really want the best for everyone, and sex anytime and place, doesn’t give happiness.

      Pro life people like myself, actually look at statistics. 97.3% of all abortions are for “oops” reason and “lifestyle”. 1.3% for medical reasons, and 1.4% for rape/incest. This isn’t a big surprise that they never report the actual numbers. By PLanned parenthood doesn’t profit from the truth. I don’t know if you know;who, what, why, PP was founded. I will let you read up on that if you don’t. I cannot believe we have let this org continue to distort the truth on fetal development, stats, and fetus parts sold without parents consent. They have their hands in pushing “sex for anyone all the time”, their hands all over government officials who believe in the PP founder’s vision of utopia. It is sick all around.
      You are right, it is cognitive dissonance, but it is in your side bc you refuse to see anything that doesn’t jive with your beliefs. I can give stats and testimonies of ex abortion docs, clinicians, moms who have aborted, fathers who had no say, and the actual reason why we have so many clinics in minority(african American population has not increased since the PP’s founding still at 15%) and, poor,or disadvantage communities, and the overwhelming abortion percentages due to Down syndrome. We all should want to reduce abortions, why doesn’t planned parenthood and its supporters? Bc it sucks for profit and it sucks for the utopia they want to create.

      1. Your reply covers a lot of ground, so I won’t try to address everything you said. I’ll believe you when you say some people have funerals when they lose a pregnancy. I doubt many people do so with very early pregnancies, even if they believe humanness starts at conception–especially since a large portion of conceptions miscarry without the woman even knowing.

        Whatever you think of promiscuity, I am skeptical that the “cure” has ever been better than the “disease.” Policing of sexuality has been a heavy burden on people that has weighed most heavily on women. Something else that hasn’t been so good for women? Teen pregnancy. It’s gone down quite a bit recently. In the beginning of your comment you lay all the blame for unwanted pregnancies on promiscuity and give no credit to contraception, then later you imply that fewer unwanted pregnancies in black communities is somehow sinister and blame Planned Parenthood (as if helping people not get pregnant who don’t want to is blameworthy). Can you see the inconsistency there?

        1. “all the blame for unwanted pregnancies on promiscuity and give no credit to contraception,” I mean credit in reducing the rate, which it has.

      2. No states require a funeral for stillborn babies (or anyone else for that matter). You might be thinking of a death certificate.

        I don’t know what you’re talking about when you say that Planned Parenthood and its supporters aren’t reducing abortions. Organizations like Planned Parenthood — which fight to make contraception accessible, which provide education about sexual and reproductive health in classrooms and on the Internet — are preventing abortions from happening in the first place, unlike their counterparts at crisis pregnancy centers.

        The U.S. anti-abortion movement, on the other hand, is fighting tooth and nail against access to birth control and scientifically accurate sexual health information. If Planned Parenthood truly wanted to profit off of abortion, they would oppose access to reliable birth control and fight to keep people ignorant about how their bodies really work.

  2. Assuming a contradiction here is assuming that they follow consequentialist morality.

    Well then, I must be one of them consequencing whatcha macallits, but I don’t think “morality” is defined by pleasing someones/something else, or oneself, but mandates that the end result has to benefit society, and others, which includes myself as a consequence of the benefit, in some clear, tangible, testable, unambiguous, and not self contradictory way.

    They seem to think they can win the morality war, as they always have, since the dawn of all the silly, “God would cry if you did that!”, nonsense, by defining arbitrary, often contrary to reality, vague, imprecise, and even harmful, actions and ideas, which one “must accept”, in order to bring the world closer to some delusional utopia, as “morality”. The same people would, in Victorian times, have been protesting the suffrage movement, or hiring thugs to break up unionists, or further back, chasing brown people around the middle east, in an attempt to “save the holy land” in a crusade. Its all about some “golden age” mythology for them, in which, if you do everything right (which means not thinking bad things, or doing certain things, or acting in certain ways, or reading certain books, or saying certain words, or… then somehow the universe will magically right itself, and you’ll get lambs lying down with lions, and such. Funnily enough, the when that does work, its not because of any of the stupid BS they did, its because the lion isn’t terribly hungry at the moment, or, maybe, their instincts to be far better mothers than some of these jokers can be, overrides their desire to eat sheep, at a critical moment. Not because someone held a, “Sheep are friends not food.”, meeting at the local lion equivalent of a Christian seance (err, sorry, service… Funny that…).

    1. I’m a consequentialist too. I’m just saying that if you’re NOT, then being against both contraception and abortion isn’t a contradiction. Conservatives prefer virtue ethics because it makes it easier to call someone a bad person, and deontology because it exalts traditional authority.

      1. Ah.. Virtue ethics.. Sort of like “family values” then. lol Seriously though… The sort of thinking they apply to ethics and morals is, well maybe not surprising since they are often the sort that refuse to look at alternative ways to discipline children either, and the favorite method seems to involve a damn lot of fear, but… victim logic – if I do it right, he won’t hit me next time. Since I got hurt, I must have done it wrong, so next time, I have to do just do it right.

        “virtue” ethics isn’t ethics, in other words, its an attempt to escape punishment, for imagined sins, from someone who will keep doing bad things to you, no matter how hard you try to please them. The fact that its the bloody universe doing this, not “god”… just makes it even worse, because there is nothing to please, thus no method, other than shear, arbitrary, guessing, along the lines of a primitive trying to work out why the great spirit was displeased with the bit of red ocher taken from a mile up stream, and gave the tribe a bad hunt, rather than the patch from a half mile down stream, or.. maybe it was the feathers from the wrong eagle, or drawn on the wrong cave wall, or…

        There is no way to create any sort of sensible idea of what to do with that sort of logic. The best they have ever managed is a silly book, and no one bothered, once the book was written, to edit out the stupid bits, so that they didn’t fall right into arguing over will bit pleased their god, which bit he didn’t care about, or they didn’t understand, or they didn’t quite follow right, or, the best one. “Was meant for the really dumb folk, back yonder, but we darn well know better now, so can sort of laugh at how silly they was back then!”

        Also, the perfect example of why many of us feel that faith doesn’t not function well with science. The more of the former you have, the less capable you are imho, of abandoning, “Gosh, let me wildly guess at what did this, and if it seems to work next time, its confirmation!”, and embracing “You might have done it wrong both bloody times, you need someone else to confirm it, repeatedly, to be really sure.” And, of course, the less stuff you take the former route with, and allow cargo cult/virtue style thinking to, the harder it is to fall into the trap of assuming you **know** why something happened, just by instinctively “knowing” it, or because someone, merely says they know it.

        That its possible to “function” between these the two polar opposite ways of thinking, and do some sort of science (usually a specific field of it) is no more, it seems to me, sensible than arguing that drunk driving is OK, because you are a) “only a little drunk” and b) “you only drive the vehicle you are most familiar with, when doing so”.

  3. Silly or not, the Bible makes a clear distinction between fetus and person. An injury causing miscarriage is NOT equivalent to an injury causing the death of a person.
    Exodus 12:22
    ‘Abortion=murder’ is a coinage without justification in the Big Magic Book.

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