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The Anti-Abortion Movement’s Conformist Bent

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, November 18, 2013 12:39 EDT
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The anti-choice movement, at its core, is primarily a movement motivated by authoritarianism and conformity. The argument of pro-choicers—that people should have the right to determine for themselves things like whether or not to become pregnant or bring a pregnancy in their own body to term—makes them deeply uncomfortable for a very simple reason: If people have choices, they may make difference choices! And difference is scary. (Which is why being anti-choice is correlated with being uncomfortable with racial diversity and, of course, authoritarian religions that wish to use the force of law to push their beliefs on everyone else.) The deep urge to force everyone to be the same and to have a cookie cutter family life is on full display in this disgusting article by Mollie Hemingway at the Federalist where she determines, having watched a six minute video of a couple talking about their abortion experience, that she knows better than they do that it’s time for them to have a baby. And since they disagree, of course, they should therefore be required by law to procreate.

Marni says she and her fiancé looked at the pros and cons of allowing the unborn child to continue living or aborting it. They looked at “the health of our relationship” (presumably good enough to be engaged and knocking boots without effective birth control other than abortion), “how long we’ve been together” (presumably long enough to be betrothed to each other), and “do we have enough built as a foundation to create a loving happy healthy family” (John is sitting right there when she let’s this line just hang there, uncomfortably).

Marni says they considered their self-employment and variable paychecks. For what it’s worth, even if they both only made the median income for males and females in Austin, which is doubtful considering their careers, that would put them in the wealthiest 3 percent of the global population, with an income 20 times the typical person.

At the end of this magnificent and compelling case for the violent act of abortion, John says, “For all the reasons Marni described, this was absolutely not the right time for us to have a child.”

Did I mention she’s 37 and he’s 43? Is this really the best case abortion proponents could put forward to tug at the heart-strings of abortion moderates? A financially well-off, educated, older couple who might be witnessing their last chance at conceiving a child?

She also quotes herself on Twitter, explaining further that she believes it’s obvious that one should look at Marni Evans and John Lockhart—just look at them, since she doesn’t bother to do something icky like talk to them—and determine that they should be required, under threat of imprisonment if they don’t comply (after all, that’s what happens when you criminalize abortion—people go to jail for it), to have a baby.

This is the anti-choice movement in a nutshell: Nosy, judgmental assholes whose discomfort with diversity is such that they can’t even allow you to self-determine such personal things like how to conduct your relationship. Hemingway can’t see this lovely seeming couple as discrete individuals who have complex and personal reasons for their decisions. Nope, she has a predetermined model of what all people should aspire for: Get married and have kids at a young age. She even clearly has an idea of how long you “should” be allowed to date before you get to procreating. If you’ve been together “long enough”, then you have to settle down and have babies, whether you like it or not. Anyone who elects to do different is offensive. Your life choices, even the choice to give life, should be determined strictly by whether or not your difference from Mollie Hemingway makes her uncomfortable. Reading this, you get the distinct impression Hemingway thinks she should be able to put a camera in your bedroom to make sure even your most private sexual choices conform to her notion of how things “should” be.

To which I clearly say fuck the fuck off. It is not obvious to decent people who know how to mind their own business that this couple “should” have a baby right now. Here’s how mature adults who know how to stay in their own lane respond to that video: “They seem like a nice couple. It’s terrible that some stupid law is making life so difficult for them right now. I’d really hate it to have a bunch of people who don’t know me or my life trying to come in and meddle with it as these folks have been meddled with.”

There’s just an amazing lack of imagination on display here. I don’t want kids but I can easily imagine some reasons someone might. It’s really not that hard to put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a minute. And even if it is, isn’t it more work to give a shit and try to control them and force them to conform than simply say, “Huh” and move on? I realize the excuse is “life” here, but it’s clear that’s just tacked onto her real concern, which is that someone out there is making different choices than her and she can’t stand it.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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