The Anti-Choice Backlash Is Cruelty Couched as Care OR “Repent Forever”
A great deal of evil is done in the name of protecting people from themselves. In Europe and America, religious conservatives fighting to stop women having abortions have realised they can’t rely on the language of sin and shame any more. Instead, anti-choice arguments are being couched in terms of care. Abortion, the rhetoric runs, hurts women - and women aren’t capable of making adult decisions about their own bodies. That’s best left to the church, or the state.
Last week, battles for the future of abortion provision gripped the news media on both sides of the Atlantic. Texas and North Carolina have become the latest US states to push for laws effectively banning abortion, and in the Republic of Ireland, a 20-year fight to grant women the right to terminate a pregnancy if they are literally dying on the table has been won to muted celebration. Ireland still has a constitutional ban on abortion in almost all circumstances, and the new bill brings in extra criminal sanctions for the thousands of women every year forced to obtain one without proper medical supervision.
Ireland’s murky anti-choice zealots, Youth Defence, favour the “protecting women” line of argument in public, with slogans like “Love them both”’ and “Abortion - kills one, hurts another”. On private message boards, though, the same old language of misogyny still rules: “witchcraft”, “baby killers”, “repent for ever”, and, as one charmer put it, “if u open your legs u better take care of that baby”.