The most amazing thing happened yesterday. It was a small miracle.
I was walking to work. I happened to be taking a different path than normal. I found myself passing by Iowa City’s Emma Goldman Clinic. And I noticed two protesters. One looked like a preacher with a Bible in his hand and the other was a younger guy with a sign that told everyone to repent.
I couldn’t help myself. I told the preacher-looking guy that countries that ban abortions on average increase the abortion rate. He said that wasn’t true. I told them that studies have shown it to be true. Then he did the most amazing thing in all the world.
For a brief moment, he was honest. It wasn’t just that he was honest with me, but that he was also honest with himself. Though it was just a flicker of honesty, I was almost shocked.
He told me that, “It’s irrelevant.” So, decreasing the abortion rate and saving the lives of fetuses is irrelevant. Good to know his actual position.
He then got straight to the point. His only concern was my soul. His ‘pro-life’ stance has nothing to do with the actual lives of people with actual bodies. You could be tortured horribly to death and that isn’t what he worries about. No, the only life that matters is the Everlasting Life of the afterlife.
This explains why fundamentalists simultaneously claim to be pro-life while supporting policies that lead to more people being miserable and dead. They have higher support for war, capital punishment, torture, etc. And lower support for anything that makes people lives easier such as welfare and healthcare, the kind of healthcare provided by women’s health clinics.
He worships an evil God of hatred and fear. Then he tries to use emotional bribery to say that he can save my soul from the torture and damnation his evil God is threatening me with. And fundamentalists wonder why most Americans have turned away from such extremist views.
This guy was an extreme example of an extreme position. But it is the same basic mentality of even many moderate conservatives.
They aren’t just against abortions. They are also against all the policies that would decrease abortions by decreasing unwanted pregnancies—besides women’s health clinics and family planning centers: birth control, sex education, etc. And if a pregnant woman (especially if single) goes to term, they are against anything that helps her and her child.
Their concern is punishment and social control. The last thing they want to do is support anything that promotes self-determination and freedom of choice, which happens to be the very things that improve people’s lives in concrete practical ways. If you don’t act according to their beliefs, you should be punished. A single woman who gets pregnant, from their perspective, is being punished. A woman’s only role is to be a wife and a mother. That is what they consider ‘family values’.
Abortion was the first issue that got me to more fully understand the conservative mindset. It helped me develop my theory of symbolic conflation. I was surprised again and again that self-declared pro-lifers wouldn’t change their views even in the slightest when told that banning abortions doesn’t decrease abortions, doesn’t save lives. I finally realized it never had anything to do with life. It was symbolic ideology, obscuring and pointing away from some deeper issue.
Conservatives see the only way to create their ideal world is through punishment, either through divine threat or through laws. Everything in the conservative worldview comes down to social control. Occasionally, a conservative will be honest enough to admit this.
This is why those who claim to be pro-life are really just anti-choice.