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Monday, July 11, 2005

"That's between them and God"

posted by bitchphd
Via Roni at Goddess Musings and as seen on Feministe a fascinating, short video (download) of interviews with anti-abortion protesters on the question: "what do you think should happen to women who have abortions."

Aside from snark, I find it very heartening, actually. The video suggests that a lot of anti-abortion protesters do not think that abortion should actually be illegal; the interviewees want abortion to be "illegal" in a rhetorical sense because they want it to be socially disapproved of. There's a conflation of two senses of the word "criminal": the literal sense and the metaphorical. It's sobering, of course, to think that it could actually become illegal because people mistakenly think that anything they dislike should be "against the law" without actually considering what that means; but it's reassuring, to me, to hear people say that no, in fact, they don't think abortion should be something women are punished for. One woman actually says that she thinks that "it doesn't seem like it's being done that way," in a context that seems to me she doesn't think women think about fetal life before they have an abortion. Even the two women interviewed who do say that they think having an abortion should be punished with jail time seem quite uncertain about really wanting this argument to be carried out; their initial reaction is that women who abort are punishing themselves, that they need counseling and "help." I find support in these reactions for the argument that getting people to think about how seriously women take pregnancy and childbirth would go a long way towards weakening the anti-abortion argument.

The video suggests to me that even the seeming extremists who stand out on street corners with signs (some of the people interviewed claim to have been doing this for two years) are less extreme than we think they are: they dislike abortion and want to protest it as an act, but they don't, when push comes to shove, think it should be criminalized.

Of course, the trick is getting people to recognize that distinction.
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