Konopacki 6/12/19

In many ways, the current fad in red states to pass unconstitutional laws banning abortion, even for rape and incest victims and the threat to a pregnant woman's life, is nothing short of disgusting.

Making it even more disgusting is that these laws in Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Louisiana and elsewhere have been spearheaded mostly by men who, despite the myriad of unique circumstances involved in pregnancies, feel they have the right to force a woman to bear a child for which members of their gender are 50 percent responsible, but bear no consequences.

For sure, there are many abortion foes who sincerely believe that to abort a fetus is an intolerable sin. But, also for sure, there's a vast swath of so-called "pro-life" advocates and lawmakers who are nothing but hypocrites.

They feel they should be able to force their views and religious beliefs on every one of us. But their concern for life stops there. While they piously insist that all babies need to be born, for too many of them, their "respect" for that new life ends right there.

How many of these "pro-life" grandstanders turn their backs when many of those unwanted children live in poverty or their families need help to buy enough food to keep them nourished? Just here in Wisconsin, you could fill a book with the names of legislators who insist a fetus is a human being and then oppose anti-poverty or children's health programs for those — many of them unwanted — who are?

A former strident anti-abortion activist, Rev. Rob Schenck, made that point in a recent op-ed in the New York Times.

Explaining how he had organized thousands of protests in front of abortion clinics — and was even arrested in 1992 by the Secret Service for thrusting an aborted fetus at then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton — the evangelical minister described how his views on Roe v. Wade have changed dramatically.

"I've come to believe that overturning Roe would not be 'pro-life'; rather, it would be destructive of life," he wrote. "I have witnessed firsthand and now appreciate the full significance of the terrible poverty, social marginalization and baldfaced racism that persists in many of the states whose legislators are now essentially banning abortion. If Roe is overturned, middle- and upper-class white women will still secure access to abortions by traveling to states where abortion is not banned, but members of minorities and poor whites will too often find themselves forced to bear children for whom they cannot adequately care."

"What is 'pro-life' about putting a woman in a situation where she must risk pregnancy without proper medical, social and emotional support?," he asked. "What is 'pro-life' about forcing the birth of a child if that child will enter a world of rejection, deprivation and insecurity, to say nothing of the fear, anxiety and danger that comes with poverty, crime and a lack of educational opportunities?"

These kind of questions are cavalierly dismissed by the anti-abortion zealots who keep insisting that abortion is nothing less than murder and needs to be punished.

"This is what Christian rule looks like in America," countered Debra Nussbaum Cohen in the Jewish online newspaper Haaretz. "The evangelical crusade making its way from Alabama to the Supreme Court will force American Jews to submit to their distinctly Christian anti-abortion dogma."

The Alabama law refers to an "unborn child," a distinctively evangelical Christian description of a fetus, she points out — while other religions, including Judaism, legally consider a developing fetus an appendage of the woman.

Besides, as Annie Reneau points out on Scary Mommy, abortion bans don't work, and in fact, in countries where it's illegal, abortion rates tend to be higher. The data show that the only things consistently proven to reduce abortion rates are good health care for women, comprehensive reproductive education and easy access to affordable contraception.

Ironically, a significant number of pro-lifers oppose those programs, too. If they're so concerned about bringing unwanted kids into the world, why don"t we see them marching, demonstrating and advocating for anti-poverty programs and initiatives? Where are their favorite politicians on these pro-life issues?

Unfortunately, I'm afraid, they're really not pro-life at all.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com608-252-6410 and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.  

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to tctvoice@madison.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

Sign up for Cap Times newsletters: