What’s interesting is that some of the pro-lifers are admitting to the truth about the Partial Birth Abortion ban (PBA ban) — truths that leaders of the pro-life movement have been blatantly lying about for years. In this story, pro-lifers admit:
- That a PBA ban will not prevent a single abortion.
- That the alternative procedures are more dangerous for women.
- That some alternative procedures doctors will use now are if anything more brutal from a fetus-centric point of view.
- That PBA bans have nothing to do with reducing abortion and everything to do with fundraising and Republicans winning elections.
It’s refreshing to read pro-life leaders finally (albeit temporarily) telling the truth.
The most appalling quote comes from the vice president of Focus on the Family, Tom Minnery, arguing in favor of the PBA ban. It’s nothing we didn’t already suspect, but it’s amazing that Minnery was careless enough to say it in pubilc:
“The old procedure, which is still legal, involves using forceps to pull the baby apart in utero, which means there is greater legal liability and danger of internal bleeding from a perforated uterus. So we firmly believe there will be fewer later-term abortions as a result of this ruling.”
For years pro-lifers have been pushing the same lie: they’ve claimed1 that a procedure that involves inserting forceps into a woman’s uterus as many as a dozen times over (a standard D&E) has no greater chance of causing injury than a procedure which requires only a single insertion (a D&X, which is more-or-less the procedure that’s been banned by the Partial Birth Abortion ban).2
Now Focus on the Family’s man in charge of policy not only admits that was a lie, but suggests that increased risk to women is a benefit: the “greater danger of internal bleeding from a perforated uterus” is good, because it might discourage some “later-term”3 abortions.
As Scott at Lawyers, Guns and Money writes:
As you can see, most anti-choicers (despite the bad faith Congressional findings that 2+2=171) don’t really think that these bans on a safer procedure protect women’s physical health. They simply believe that women can’t be trusted to make judgments about their own lives, and if this causes some women to be seriously injured that’s a feature, not a bug. It’s almost impossible to overstate how disgusting this legislation is, and how deeply entwined outright misogyny is with the American “pro-life” movement.
Although Minnery is correct to say that the ban he and his movement favor puts women in danger, I doubt there will be any less abortion as a result. Chuck Donovan of the pro-life Family Research Council is probably right when he says “there may not be even one fewer abortion in the country as a result” of the PBA ban — but note that he’s only admitting that now that the PBA ban has been made law. For years, contrary to what Donovan now admits, pro-life leaders have been claiming — ridiculously — that the partial-birth abortion ban would save little baby lives (all the better to pry open the wallets of the pro-life rank and file). And the vast majority of pro-lifers in this country, who are either totally amoral about lying or complete dupes of their leadership, have been content to let them get away with it.
Now some in the pro-life movement — although no one as major league as Focus On The Family or the Family Research Council — are complaining about the constant lying about this issue by pro-lifer leaders. From “An Open Letter To James Dobson”:
Dr. Dobson, you mislead Christians claiming this ruling will “protect children.” The court granted no authority to save the life of even a single child…. Your correspondence department… told us that with this PBA ruling, “The U.S. Supreme Court made it illegal for women to have an abortion in the last trimester.” Online at KGOV.com, we also document other pro-life media outlets misrepresenting this vicious ruling. Following your example, many national ministries have spent years using the PBA ban to motivate financial donations, all the while misrepresenting the legal effect of the ban. Today millions of Christians, including your own staff, have been deceived. …The court explicitly stated the PBA ban “does not on its face impose a substantial obstacle” to “late-term” abortion (p. 26). And since this ban cannot prevent a single abortion, of course, it imposes no obstacle, and neither does it “protect children” (your words) or ban “abortion in the last trimester” (words offered by some of your staff).
More pro-life dissidents, quoted in the Washington Post article:
Rev. Bob Enyart, a Christian talk radio host and pastor of the Denver Bible Church, said the real issue is fundraising. “Over the past seven years, the partial-birth abortion ban as a fundraising technique has brought in over a quarter of a billion dollars” for major antiabortion groups, “but the ban has no authority to prevent a single abortion, and pro-life donors were never told that,” he said. “That’s why we call it the pro-life industry.”
In Rohrbough’s view, partisan politics is also involved. “What happened in the abortion world is that groups like National Right to Life, they’re really a wing of the Republican Party, and they’re not geared to push for personhood for an unborn child — they’re geared to getting Republicans elected,” he said. “So we’re seeing these ridiculous laws like the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban put forward, and then we’re deceived about what they really do.”
But despite this deep split within the pro-life movement, rest assured that there are some things that they all have in common. For instance, the way that virtually all of these pro-life spokespeople are men. For another, the way that none of them ever express the slightest concern for women’s health or well-being. So you see, they agree on the fundamentals.
More blogging on this story: Our Bodies Our Selves, Feministing, Balkinization,A Foolish Consistency, Dizzy Dayz, Political Animal, and Ryoga. And the aforementioned Mahablog and Lawyers, Guns and Money. And (edited to add) The Debate Link, The Thinkery, Fattmixx, Bligbi, RH Reality Check, Pseudo-Adrienne, The Carpetbagger Report, Obsidian Wings, and Pandagon.
- See, for example, the text of the Federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban, which explicitly claims “partial birth” abortions are never safer. [↩]
- This article, via Mahablog, describes other ways doctors are experimenting with possibly less safe procedures in order to avoid breaking the new law. [↩]
- In fact, as Mahablog points out, most uses of the now-banned D&X procedure take place pre-viability, and would be more accurately described as “mid-term” than “late-term” abortions. [↩]