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Substituting The Word “Nature” For “God” Doesn’t Make Your Argument Less Religious, Anti-Choicers

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 13:43 EDT
[Image via Flickr user VCU CNS, Creative Commons licensed]

Feministing has a post up about Bob Marshall, who is running for Congress in Virginia. Marshall thinks children’s disabilities is how his god punishes women for their sexual decisions.

In 2010, at an event calling for an end to state funding for Planned Parenthood, Mr. Marshall suggested that women who have abortions are more likely to face “vengeance” from “nature” in children with a greater likelihood of having developmental disabilities.

“The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion who have handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the firstborn of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” Mr. Marshall said.

He’s kinda, sorta backtracked a little, saying, that he thinks disabled children “are special blessings to their parents.” But I would maintain that is not a backtrack at all, because “blessing” is sentimental Christian right code for “punishment”. They are always on about how children are a blessing, but if they believed that, they’d support contraception and abortion so that people could welcome these blessings into their life when they are able to provide the blessed live the blessings deserve. Anyway, calling children that you clearly see as a punishment to inflict on women “blessings” is just a bunch of Christian right babble, like saying, “I’ll pray for you,” when they mean “Fuck you”. I wouldn’t take it seriously. Judge them on their behavior, not their euphemisms, and their behavior is that of people who primarily see children, disabled or not, as a way to punish women and control human sexuality. It’s a grim view of children. I famously don’t have much affection for children being noisy in my space, but I can definitely say I don’t think of them as punishments. They should be wanted, not endured, which is why I’m not having them.

More to the point, I think it’s worth remembering that this is the kind of thinking that fuels the anti-choice movement. It’s a religious movement that tends to think in terms of sexual sin, punishment, and redemption. They know that they need to make their arguments sound “secular” to avoid the obvious First Amendment implications of inflicting their specific religious dogma about gender and sexuality on women through law, but the attempts to do this are paper-thin. Such as saying “nature” does this to women, when clearly he means “God”, since how would nature know that having an abortion is naughty and how would nature know to punish it? Nature is amoral, and it certainly isn’t interested in enforcing Christian sexual ethics on people. Nor is nature particularly interested in “life”. Nature doesn’t have a mind and is generally opinion-free.

Incidentally, I have an interview with Beth Presswood and Matt Dillahunty up at RH Reality Check you should check out on this issue. We discuss a group called “Secular Pro-life”, which, from what I can tell, exists mainly as a fig leaf to cover for the religious leanings of the anti-choice movement. I do think there are deconverted Catholics banging around in there, they also have outright religious members, because finding enough non-religious people to run an anti-choice organization is basically impossible. Even if making what you claim are non-religious arguments against abortion is your mission. As Beth and Matt point out astutely, all they do is what Marshall is doing here, which is to take the same old arguments about how the Christian god has a plan for women and a purpose for embryos, and substituting the word “nature” for “God”. As they point out in the interview, this actually weakens the argument, because nature cannot intend things, but God sure can.

Anyway, the language of punishment and sin is never far from the surface when it comes to the anti-choice movement. Marshall was just a particularly ham-fisted version of that. But this theology that holds that sex is a sin and rejecting motherhood is something the Christian god punishes with magic shouldn’t be substituted for public policy based on the health care needs of a diverse citizenry, many of whom don’t even believe in this Christian god that hates women so much that he will make children disabled just to punish them.

Confirmed: “Men’s Rights Activism” Is For Misogynists Without God

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 10:20 EDT

“Men’s rights”, a code word for opposition to women’s rights (usually women’s right to be free of violence, to be autonomous in their sexual and relationship decision-making, and to be treated as equals in education and labor ), is a popular topic on Reddit, and recently the forums dedicated to it decided to survey their members to get a demographic picture of them. Stephanie Zvan has a summary. Most of it is unsurprising. As with…


Game of Thrones Makes Its Audience Complicit

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, April 14, 2014 17:19 EDT

Last night’s Game of Thrones was a masterpiece, it really was. (SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT.) It worked even more perfectly than I guessed it would have, having read the books and known what was coming. I’m going to leave the in-depth recapping aside—Scott does a great job of it…


Orange Couch Recaps Mad Men: S7E1, “Time Zones”

By Amanda Marcotte

Mad Men is back, which means so is the Orange Couch! Last night’s episode was masterful. Unlike the big “reveal” of the season six premiere—that Don was cheating again—this reveal felt like an actual shocker. It seems that what Don needed to get good at his job again was to…


Political Junkies Segment On Equal Pay

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, April 10, 2014 15:21 EDT

I’m running a bit behind in my work this week, y’all, because of taxes (which yes, I should have done sooner) and going on the internet TV. But you can enjoy this quite satisfying panel I was on for HuffPost Live’s show “Political Junkies”. There’s been so much back-and-forth and…


Neal Boortz Reports, More In Sorrow Than In Glee, That Female Brains Are Simply Inadequate

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 15:23 EDT

Neal Boortz really has mastered the art of mansplaining in 140 characters. What does it say about women voters that they’re so easily fooled and manipulated by the Democrats asinine “war on women” rhetoric? — Neal Boortz (@Talkmaster) April 8, 2014 Democrats to women: “Hey, we know you’re not, nor…


Bill O’Reilly Is Aggrieved At Your Grievances

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 11:05 EDT

Bill O’Reilly is aggrieved. (What’s new?) He’s aggrieved that other people—people who are not older white men—are aggrieved.  Older white men are the only one allowed grievances, because the only grievance really allowed is to be aggrieved that younger, more female, and more racially diverse people do not accept your…


Captain America: Winter Soldier Is A Political Parable About The Security State

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, April 7, 2014 10:19 EDT

Well, since Scott handled Game of Thrones, I guess that gives me the go to write about Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which I  saw on Friday. Go see this movie! It’s very nearly perfect as an entertaining action movie, except for the part where we’re supposed to believe that…


Don’t Call it Normcore. Call It Brokecore.

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, April 4, 2014 12:58 EDT

Oh boy, the New York Times has discovered the “normcore” trend. Next Time will do something on it, and it will be considered passé in record time, like rising and falling in the space of two months. Not that people will stop dressing this way, of course. But calling it…


Fox News Wages War On The Young

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, April 3, 2014 10:05 EDT

Oh no, fun! Make it stop! So Fox News has fully embraced its status as a channel devoted to titillating and outraging its audience with the “news” that young people are young. Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel mocks the channel for devoting a huge chunk of airtime to anchors pretending…

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