The rights of unborn children, or the rights of women. And sometimes, the rights of men. But we forget that pro-life advocacy isn't just a Republican fight here in the United States.
So, consider these two stories that help broaden our perspective of this fight. Well, one story will broaden our perspective. The other one may actually shrink it.
Fetal Rights In the Lone Star State
Right now, Texas appears to be the front line in the abortion war, with the Texas House just approving a new 20-week legal abortion limit and sending it on to the state Senate, where even its foes admit it will pass. For one thing, this vote can't be delayed by a filibuster, like it was the last time. But in addition to everyone in the Senate's Republican majority intending to vote for it, a lone Democrat from "the Valley," the southern border region of Texas next to Mexico, is going to vote for it, too. Eddie Lucio has been vilified by some of his fellow Democrats for siding with the Republicans against abortion, but hey; Lucio knows where his votes are, and they're in one of the most heavily Hispanic, Roman Catholic districts in the Lone Star State.
The Texas legislation is fairly aggressive, and contains two major provisions that particularly provoke the ire of pro-choicers. It stipulates new medical care standards that will effectively close most clinics in the state that provide abortions, since those clinics will likely not want to retrofit their existing facilities to comply with those new standards. It also chops two weeks off of the state's previous legal deadline by which an abortion can be performed. Two weeks isn't a long time, but it could mean the difference between life and death for some unborn children.
Those two weeks, plus the new medical care standards that most abortion clinics won't likely adopt, are enough to provoke fear in the libido of a political science student at the University of Texas who, writing for Burnt Orange Report, complains that limiting abortion availability could reduce his opportunities for casual sex.
Seriously! In a piece he wrote last week, entitled Bro-Choice: How HB#2 Hurts Texas Men Who Like Women, Ben Sherman worries that "making abortion essentially inaccessible in Texas will add an anxiety to sex that will drastically undercut its joys." And then the native New Yorker slams all women everywhere as mere sex toys when he adds, "and don't be surprised if casual sex outside of relationships becomes far more difficult to come by."
Now, admittedly, the Burnt Orange Report, or "BOR" for short, makes no apologies for being a liberal rag written by bloggers loosely affiliated with the school. And you'd have to be a pretty sheltered person not to know that, particularly on university campuses, casual sex is rampant, along with the boorish frat ethos of women as mere playthings. But to have somebody - on a website that likely makes a point of otherwise enshrining women's rights - come out and lend credibility to the idea that it's wrong to punish a guy for trying to get all of the irresponsible sex he can get profoundly discourages me.
So, irresponsible behavior really is at risk if abortions are restricted? Isn't that what pro-lifers have been saying all along? And that frightens people like Sherman? Instead of going by "BOR," the Burnt Orange Report is really a BOOR.
As if that wasn't enough, as conservative backlash has built against the egregious sexism of his first article, Sherman has tried to fight back with another essay today in which he relies on the defense that everybody's doing casual sex. Obviously, his mother didn't tell him the one about jumping off bridges when he was growing up.
"The smear that women use abortion as 'birth control' is an attempt to distract from Republicans' efforts to curtail access to birth control or make it economically feasible for women to raise a child." That's his argument. But I had to read it several times to realize he isn't joking - or making any sense.
In his prior piece, in which he worries that women will be less interested in having casual sex with him if their access to abortions is limited, Sherman claims to prove the very offense he tries in his second piece to accuse conservatives of making: that abortion can be used as birth control.
He even goes so far as to insinuate that men who do the impregnating have no responsibility in paying for the raising of any children they produce with women. Sherman's audacity is astounding, and his willingness to expect women on the UT campus to buy his schtick even more so. Of course, if he was afraid the loose women on campus would be turned off by his opinions, he likely wouldn't have posted them online, which says even more about the messed-up mindset of both male and female pro-choicers.
Indeed, so far, logic hasn't been something that pro-choicers have been able to use to their advantage in the abortion war. At least Sherman's juvenile debauchery provides consistent proof that women really are being victimized by pro-choicers, along with their unborn children.
Fetal Advocacy In a Tiny European Nation
Räsänen, herself a medical doctor, and the married mother of five children, challenged such legislation with the notion that Finns "have to consider whether we have the courage to act in the face of general public opinion or norms, peer pressure, and sometimes even the law, if these contradict the word of God."
After her remarks were broadcast over Finnish television, over 900 Finns in one day went online to disassociate themselves from the Lutheran Church. On average, about 50 Finns a day leave the state church.
Such notions might sound bizarre in America, where pro-life advocacy is expected from religious people, but in Finland, oppressively "progressive" liberal policies have been the norm for decades now. Couple the concerted effort of Finns to embrace modern social agendas with the fact that Finland has an official state church, which is funded through taxes, and you can see why pro-choicers in this small Scandinavian country are upset. They don't want their state church taxes - which amount to about 1% of their income - going to support an organization that officially supports life!
No stranger to controversy, Räsänen advocated against gay marriage in 2010 during a live television debate on the topic, prompting approximately 40,000 Finns to leave the state church in the weeks following the broadcast. Her Christian Democratic Party is relatively small in Finland, and appeals more to the country's recently expanding population of immigrants than native Finns. Its ideology is called "centrist," which is what we Americans would call moderate, and while they're big on environmental protection, on social causes, they're notably conservative.
Granted, Räsänen's brave stance has little bearing on the abortion war here in the States, but it does serve to remind us that the pro-life cause is bigger and broader than we may remember it being. So often, getting bogged down in city-by-city demonstrations and state-by-state legislation can make abortion seem like a distinctly American evil. Perhaps being able to stand up and view similar struggles going on in countries like Finland, of all places, helps with the perspective that being pro-life isn't an entirely Republican cause.
And, if that doesn't help, how about remembering the fallacious arguments pro-choicers keep trotting out? Like Ben Sherman's excuses for being unwilling to take responsibility for the sexual freedoms he insists are only natural?
As if what happens inside the womb isn't.