Of Guns and Fetuses

February 28, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my expectation that social conservatives would make a renewed push this year to try to enact legislation to achieve longstanding goals, such as significant restrictions on abortion and reproductive rights in general.  This is one case where I wish I had been wrong in my predictions.  Unfortunately, I appear to have been all too accurate. 

Presumably, most everyone is aware of the pending federal legislation that directly or indirectly would deny insurance coverage to women for abortion procedures. And, of course, the House recently enacted a measure that would defund Planned Parenthood’s contraceptive and cancer-screening services. The measure was a punitive one, not based on any inefficiency in delivery of services, but rather Planned Parenthood’s support for legal abortions.

But the action is not only at the federal level. For example, Virginia has just adopted legislation that would subject abortion clinics to regulations applicable to hospitals, including detailed specifications about the width of hallways. Specifically, the hallways must be made wide enough to handle two gurneys side-by-side, even though most clinics have only one rarely used gurney on site.  Other regulations could require clinics to change the size of their rooms, redo landscaping, and have on-site food facilities.  None of these changes are medically necessary for the services to be delivered.  However, they may require each clinic to spend over a million dollars in remodeling—money which they don’t have.

The transparent motive behind these new regulations is to shutter as many abortion clinics as possible. Similar measures in Texas and South Carolina caused the number of abortion providers to drop from twenty to four and from fourteen to three respectively.

Those who want to force women to carry a fetus know they cannot constitutionally impose such a requirement, so they try their cleverest strategies to achieve a substantially equivalent situation in which there are few, if any, providers for safe, legal abortions. Oh, sure, a woman can obtain an abortion, provided she has the means to take a 500-mile trip to obtain one.

Retaking control of women’s reproduction has been the fantasy of the Religious Right for years—even before Roe v.Wade . Social conservatives were horrified by the 1972 Eisenstadt decision which ruled that the State could not ban the sale of contraceptives to unmarried individuals. With the influx of Tea Party adherents both in Congress and state legislatures, the decades-old dream of turning back the clock has never seemed so close to realization.

Having referenced the Tea Party, I know I am likely to receive some comments criticizing me for lumping together Tea Partiers with social conservatives. Again, as I said a couple of weeks ago, I recognize there is a libertarian element within the Tea Party that focuses primarily on economic issues. But more and more surveys indicate social conservatives dominate in the Tea Party. A recent Pew Forum survey found that not only were most Tea Party members social conservatives, but they looked to religion for guidance on key social issues such as abortion.

However, it may be unfair to describe social conservatives and their Tea Party allies as “anti-choice,” because they are not anti-choice in all things. Sure, a woman should not be able to determine whether to bear a child or not, but she should be perfectly free to buy an automatic weapon anytime she has the urge to do so. The Pew Forum survey I just referenced found out that Tea Party members overwhelmingly—by 78% to 18%—are more concerned with protecting the right to have a firearm than in controlling gun ownership.

I recommend they try to connect these two important goals in the minds of the voting public. May I suggest a poster with a fetus holding a Glock 9mm (with an extended magazine, of course)? Perhaps the Religious Right should push for federal subsidies to all women who carry their fetuses to term: they and their children will receive discounts at a firearms dealer near them.

Guns and fetuses have been the perennial obsessions of social conservatives. Unfortunately, it appears these skewed priorities will be driving our political discourse and shaping our legislation for some time.


#1 doctormarje (Guest) on Wednesday March 02, 2011 at 2:30pm

“Perhaps the Religious Right should push for federal subsidies to all women who carry their fetuses to term. . .” They don’t need to push for federal subsidies; that subsidy is already in place. Standard deductions increase up to $5800 on federal taxes if you have a dependent child. Despite overpopulation, we’ve been paying people to have children for a long time.

#2 BigBadMarv on Wednesday March 02, 2011 at 3:59pm

That’s so funny that you’re upset that here should be “regulations” when it comes to killing babies. Where were you when everyone had to install handicap doorways and ramps? Killing clinics should not have to fork out money to come up to code? They make billions of dollars killing human babies. You know they do! 50,000,000 human babies are dead and you’re crying about remodeling a hallway?

But what’s really funny is your title. The 2nd Amendment protects Americans from a government that gets out of hand. It wasn’t written for duck hunters. Nowhere in the Constitution is there anything about abortion. But you’re more upset about stopping abortion, a recently discovered “right” than a Constitutionally guaranteed right. You liberals just don’t see the hypocrisy.

Instead of pictures of babies holding Glocks (haha hilarious) maybe we should show real pictures of aborted babies. An honest person would be revolted by them. But then, you’re not intellectually honest. You’re just towing the liberal line.

#3 Mrs. Chili on Wednesday March 02, 2011 at 4:20pm

I have long wondered about the clear hypocrisy of those who would deny a woman an abortion yet wouldn’t DREAM of regulating assault weapons.  Is a life only sacred in their eyes until it’s out of the womb?

#4 Cathy (Guest) on Thursday March 03, 2011 at 6:44am

I don’t really see how the two topics are related and you make a poor attempt at humor to connect them. Meh. I definitely don’t agree with denying a woman’s right to abort if she wishes. It’s something I personally couldn’t do but that doesn’t mean everyone else should be forced to make the same choices. It’s called freedom. Making safe abortion clinics hard to find means more botched abortions in shady clinics. Those for this kind of thing obviously don’t know(or don’t care) that abortions were still done before Roe vs Wade and even if it ever was overturned they would still be done after…only with much more risk. It’s a stupid thing to try to get rid of abortions. Not gonna happen!

As for guns…whole different issue. People need to stop being so afraid of them. Funny thing is if these “assault rifles” were baby blue or hot pink instead of black there wouldn’t be anywhere near as much fear of them. Black=scary!!! lol Maybe those of us with the brains to learn about guns and use them properly and legally should all paint our guns pretty colors so we don’t scare you. Please gain the foresight to see restricting gun purchases isn’t going to protect you. Criminals DO NOT get their firearms from the same places law abiding citizens do. I’m sure you don’t know this as you’ve obviously never purchased a firearm…but there’s a system every wanna be gun owner must be put through before the sale will go through. If they have any kind of criminal history, documented mental illness, etc they will not be sold the firearm. Some people are denied simply because their name matches too closely with someone elses who has any of those issues. You can’t just walk into a store and walk out with a gun without them knowing who you are. Truly if people in this country would stop fearing guns so much and gain real knowledge about them rather than acting like they’re gonna jump up all on their own and kill people…we’d all be and feel much safer. The crazies who shoot up places, they know you’re afraid. They know you’re an easy target. If everyone in this country carried a gun on them for protection I bet you anything these shootings would stop. Dead

“An armed society is a polite society” ...grow some balls and stop fearing an inanimate object. When some crazy madman starts shooting at you and a fellow citizen who is carrying their own firearm shoots them and saves your life, maybe then you’d stop being stupid enough to want to take guns out of the hands of the average American.

#5 M 1 on Thursday March 03, 2011 at 2:51pm

How unfortunate. I came here hoping to find a site that was dedicated to science and reason, and instead the place looks a lot like any other leftie website. Sure there is some good content (Shook’s articles look promising), but articles like this guarantee I’ll never click that Donate button.

The Republican fascination with religion and their opposition to abortion has been pushing me further and further from the party, but I find even less value offered by Democrats. I was saddened by the almost immediate conservative takeover of the Tea Party, but it was inevitable, as the liberals are incapable of reconciling their position with the Tea Party’s original theme.

From a quick skim of Mr. Lindsay’s other articles, I suspect I won’t find any particularly negative commentaries about the left wingers here. So much for “reason.”

As for this particular article, Cathy does a fantastic job of summing up my position in the comment above. Today, American citizens are dead in Germany, a nation with some of the toughest gun ownership laws in the modern world. Laws don’t prevent crime, they can only define it, and punish it after the fact.

#6 Eliava (Guest) on Thursday March 03, 2011 at 3:56pm

Can you be a critical thinker and/or an athiest and be against gun control and abortion?

I’m just curious if this kind of person fits in to your site’s dogma or not.

#7 Mrs. Chili on Thursday March 03, 2011 at 4:03pm

“Can you be a critical thinker and/or an athiest and be against gun control and abortion?”

You can certainly try, Eliava, but in order to be a critical thinker and be against gun control and abortion, you’ve got to be able to come up with strong, supportable reasons for those positions (in order to be a critical thinker, one has to be willing to investigate and support one’s positions, regardless).

#8 Val Esman (Guest) on Sunday March 06, 2011 at 12:23am

Excellent column.  I sent the link to the article to my Democratic Club.

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.