From Abortion to Gay Marriage: The Right to Life and Human Sexuality (Part I)

img_1481.jpgAbortion, stem cell research, birth control, abstinence and the legal definition of marriage: viewed separately all are equally polarizing and divisive issues, but they are not separate issues. A single strand connects them all, and when examined in this light a potentially sinister picture emerges.

The 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion, drove a wedge through the very heart of this country, and from this decision many grassroots organizations were birthed. Originally, these organizations focused only on the issue of abortion and the definition of when human life begins. However, in the last 30 years as these “Right to Life” organizations have grown, so too has their agenda. Today, the Right to Life Movement (RLM) is well organized, well funded, and very influential, specifically in the world of politics. With the mapping of the human genome and the subsequent research into stem cells, the RLM once again finds itself engaged in a bitter ideological debate that rivals abortion. The impact of this debate is far reaching; potentially into our every day lives and relationships.

Today, many of the same arguments used against abortion are now being applied to the field of stem cell research. Opponents of stem cell research consider the destruction of human embryos, no matter the reasoning, to be murder just as they consider abortion to be murder. This stance represents not only an expansion of focus, but also the unification of the RLM’s philosophy. Where the abortion issue is often associated with the image of a human fetus and slogans such as, “Abortion stops a beating heart”, which created some ambivalence as to when life begins, the RLM is now able to confront an issue from the onset with their belief life begins at conception. We are no longer talking about a fetus, but one or two cells. And with the FDA’s decision last year allowing Plan B to be sold over the counter the conversation is expanding.

In 2006, the FDA ruled that Plan B, an emergency birth control pill, would be sold over the counter to anyone at least 18 years of age. Controversy soon followed. Pharmacists around the country are refusing to sell Plan B to women even when they have a prescription. Their strongest objection is that Plan B alters the walls of the Uterus and may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb. (Implantation). To them, using Plan B is no different than having an abortion, and in fact many in the RLM refer to it as the “abortion pill” although it is not the same as RU-486 (The actual abortion pill). But some pharmacists did not stop with Plan B; they are also refusing to give out prescriptions for the daily birth control pill as well, objecting on the same “moral” grounds. In many respects, this is a watershed moment in the history of the Right to Life Movement.

For years, a debate has raged over hormonal birth control. Many within the RLM consider hormonal birth controls to be “abortifacients”(A substance that may prevent Implantation), and want these forms of birth control banned. The controversy surrounding Plan B and the fact it contains the same synthetic hormone as other forms of birth control (Levonorgestrel) makes it a lightning rod, allowing the RLM to more easily address all hormone based birth control. However, this once again brings the RLM into direct confrontation with the Federal government. (Under U.S. law, pregnancy does not begin at conception but at implantation). Their only hope, as is the case with abortion and stem cell research, is to get the Federal government to change existing law. Many tough battles lie ahead, but their agenda is coming full circle.

In the “No Child Left Behind Act” of 2002, a provision was included that prohibits the use of funds for sex education unless the curriculum emphasizes abstinence. It also prohibits schools from distributing birth control and/or information on how to obtain it. This provision addresses long-standing concerns within the RLM that sex education encourages young people to have sex. Abstinence before marriage is viewed by many in the RLM as the final solution to the problem of abortion. If society, specifically young people, embraced abstinence then logically the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions would decrease. It was seen as a victory, albeit a small one, and further galvanized President Bush’s support from the RLM emboldening him to take on gay marriage in 2004.

After a great deal of pressure from the RLM, President Bush publicly called for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. His speech reflected the sentiment of his constituency; gay marriage presented a threat to the very core of civilization, the family. He called on all Americans to rally together in defense of our most “sacred institution” At long last the RLM had one of their own in the White House, and this “coming out” by Bush was widely celebrated as an opportunity to finally deal with the “gay agenda” once and for all.

In the Bible, homosexuality is considered “abomination”. Homosexuals cannot procreate, and are perceived as hedonistic and deviant. (Lust is one of the Seven Deadly sins). The growing acceptance of homosexuality, especially in popular culture, presents a threat not only to the family, but also to the RLM’s message. By legally defining what is or what is not a “legitimate” relationship, the RLM hopes to marginalize homosexuals, therefore at least minimizing the “temptation” of the gay lifestyle. How is this issue relevant? It is relevant because, as we are seeing, there is more to this debate than simply the protection of “innocent” life.

Part II


~ by fairlane on September 21, 2007.

17 Responses to “From Abortion to Gay Marriage: The Right to Life and Human Sexuality (Part I)”

  1. Yes, good post – all these topics are part of a contiguous whole as far as the wingnuts are concerned. It’s not about saving life. After all, many of the people who are “pro-life” are “pro-death-penalty” for felons – isn’t it a more terrible thing to kill a sentient human being who has lived and experienced the world, no matter what that person has done?

  2. Good work. it always strikes me when the gay debate and the BIBLE/religion come up. Back in the old biblical days homosexuality was just as prevelant. The difference? The guy on the recieving end was the one considered gay.
    That fully explains the wingnut(did i just use that term?) agenda. As long as their doing the fuckin…..

  3. This entire issue gets me fired up. People often assume that because I am Catholic I am pro-life, anti-choice, anti-stem cell, etc etc.

    Don’t make assumptions I say, please.

    For the record, one of these days I will write a post about abortion. It is a hard one to write for many reasons. Here is my point – I get to CHOOSE to not have one. It is my choice. Well, at 50- not so much of an issue.

    Having never had one, I can’t imagine what it is like. It must suck to have to choose… oh there is that word again, choose this path.

    If this path is taken away bad shit will go down. I was in HS when Roe v Wade passed. I recall girls who had to “go away” and so forth, before it was legal.

    This becomes an economic issue- women with money will always be able to get abortions. It is women without money…the one’s most likely to go down the path towards it, who are screwed completely.

    This ridiculous stem cell issue is horrible. This will save lives, enhance lives. Problem please? There is no problem.

    In the meantime – as Legal Eagle mentions above – is the moral inconsistency of it all.

    I once recall hearing someone say “Oh let’s get ’em born and then we’ll find ways to kill them!” in response to some draconian asshole.

    A woman I know here in the Northeast was a social work student in the deep south in the 90’s. She is a very liberal north east type. She came across a group called “Pro Lifers for the Death Penalty”.


  4. I got kicked out of the campus republicans rally when in college for saying that “the right to life ends at birth.”

    Odd they did not like that.



  5. “Opponents of stem cell research consider the destruction of human embryos, no matter the reasoning, to be murder just as they consider abortion to be murder.”
    But yet they march in lockstep to support the Fuhrer’s war!

    This movement became much more militant when Newt Gingrich led the Christian Coalition to power in Congress, in 1994.

  6. LE- Not to mention that they screw up, and convict the wrong person, as DNA evidence has demonstrated.

    It’s so thinly veiled I can’t believe people even listen to them anymore.

    David- “Wingnut” describes them so perfectly. I had qualms about using at first, but now I’m “Wingnut this,” “Wingnut that,” “Wingdingaroo” etc etc.

    I find their obsession with gay people rather strange. And as we’re seeing a lot of the most obsessed are turning out to a tad on the “Sweet Side” themselves.

    Humans are so boring some times.

    Fran- One of my good friends is one of those “Pro-Life, Kill the Criminals!” types.

    He’s tried to explain the reasoning to me before, but I must admit I didn’t quite understand.

    A lot of Catholics are the only consistent ones when it comes to the “Pro-Life” stance.

    The former Pope condemned abortion, stem cell research, the death penalty and the war in Iraq.

    Ten- You know how much they hate the truth. They’re “Social Darwinists” (The Irony surrounding these people is incredible).

    “Let’em get borned so we’s can kill’em r’selves.”

    I’m sure somewhere in the Universe that makes perfect sense.

    Future- Again, I’ve had the “reasoning” behind that explained to me, but like I said, I must be stupid because it was beyond me.

    Good old Newt. He’s “Reformed” and “All Grown Up Now.”

  7. Yeah, there are a lot of things at work. Religion of course – which is based on superstition at its best and historical power grabs and misogyny at its worst.

    Most socially-democratic nations (including Canada) have supported women’s rights, gay rights and minority rights – even while the religious right and conservative political parties howl. This is even true in some Catholic nations such as Spain (first to legalize gay marriage).

    Perhaps America’s moralistic past, militaristic culture and mythology of conquering (nature, Indians and so on) reinforce the fears and the religious bigotry.

    Great blog by the way. I’m listening to Elvis Costello while I type this, by opening it in 2 windows…nice.

  8. question

    did Barbie and Ken mate?
    is that where Mitt came from?

  9. Gary- I definitely think it has to do with our past, and the American belief in “Manifest Destiny.”

    I also think it has to do with ignorance. Americans are notoriously under-educated despite our vast wealth.

    Glad you enjoyed.

    DCNY- I’ll have my team of scientists look into it. That is an interesting question, and potentially could explain a great deal.

  10. Fairlane, very well done. You totally covered the waterfront here in a way that was comprehensive yet concise. I’ve tried and tried to get at some of the stuff you wrote here but have always failed.
    I guess that’s because I was raised by atheists and have only lived in big cities. I can barely see let alone FEEL the other side of any of these issues.

    I get that the connection between religion and abortion is about SEX and CONTROL because the religious right is so desperately against non-chemical birth control such as condoms, caps, diaphragms, etc. Plan B, of course, is a non-brainer for them. In my naivete about the USA outside its big cities and college towns I had always assumed that the USA was a CAPITALIST COUNTRY and the self-enforcing mechanism of capitalism would ultimately prevail in this realm. Make a product that people want and make money. How naive could I possibly have been? This more than anything else has led me to my current belief that the USA is a fascist state verging on a National Socialist state, albeit one which has some capitalist FEATURES.

    That pathetic 25% of the American electorate which controls this debate is by virtue of its superstitious folkways so ashamed and twisted up about the very things that make us human that my feeling range from pity to anger to confusion to a stew of the three. So many times I just want to say to one of them: I’M AN ATHEIST JEW WITH MONEY AND I LIVE GREAT. YOU ARE A PATHETIC PIECE OF SHIT DOOMED TO A LIFE OF DESPERATION AND MISERY. YOU GOT WHAT YOU DESERVE SO FUCK YOU. But my humanity, my upbringing and my — yes — sense of some of the more relevant teachings of Marx and Jesus and the “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” Camus, Sartre and Derroda prevents me from doing that.

    And all of this madness about stem-cell research just reinforced that point of view. Americans are insane. Full stop. No doubt. I hear that everyday down here in Panama and I full throatedly agree with them. In stem-cell research you have biotech that CAN RESTORE DEAD NEURONS! It’s full potential unleashed will extend the life span of the average American by 10 years within 20 years of research and by at least 6 months immediately. This is humanity at its most brilliant, yet it’s CONTROVERSIAL? It’s easy outside the US to bury oneself in one’s work and forget this. Thanks for the reminder.

    To anyone who’s against spending whatever it takes to pursue this line of biology as far as the path leads, I can only wonder “why not just kill yourself now?” At the very least, if you are to be consistent, the next time some part of your body itches you, you fucking well better not scratch because you are killing far more cells than anyone studying the medical potential of stem cells.

    Having abandoned the monkey house, living somewhere where all of the science is accepted and none of this poison exists in the political debate, I have TOO MUCH LUXURY to comment and have it MEAN anything.

    It’s up to all of you to fight these battles as much on behalf of the Wingnuts as yourselves.

  11. K- I’ve wanted to say those same things, and actually I have, but it doesn’t help.

    It’s all about control, which stems from our own hearts. They project their desire to control onto the outside world.

    None of it makes sense logically or morally.

    From what I understand (At least this is what I heard) Pharmacists no longer have to give out prescriptions that offend their “moral sensibilities.”

    Soon people won’t have to sell cigarettes or booze or candy bars because it “offends” them.

    Those Pharmacists should be fired, and banned from the business.

  12. You heard right, buddy. In the time between Bush’s signing of the executive order and when I left the US, four times I was picking something up at the pharmacy and there was a MARRIED WOMAN ahead of me in line screaming at the pharmacist to fill her birth control pill scrip because she and HER HUSBAND had a flight to catch that evening. Each time the pharmacist refused.

    Where were these pharmacies you ask? LOWER FUCKING MANHATTAN IS WHERE!

  13. But on the lighter side…actually, if the stakes weren’t so goddamned high, I’d really get maximum pleasure at these fuckers’ obsession with homosexuality. It really is a big laugh seeing them all twisted up and full of shame and crazy when just a cursory glance at the Merck Manual or DSM will tell them that “gay” is but one perfectly natural style of “normal.”

  14. […] Abortion, stem cell research, birth control, abstinence and the legal definition of marriage: viewed separately all are equally polarizing and divisive issues, but they are not separate issues. A single strand connects them all, … …more […]

  15. I think if your not ready to have a baby and you only want to have sex with your partner,you have to use a condom so that you will avoid being pregnant,you can also take a pills..

  16. […] of you who remember, I’ve written about this issue before, and you can view my old posts here, and here, if you’d […]

  17. […] of you who remember, I’ve written about this issue before, and you can view my old posts here, and here, if you’d […]

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