From “lost faith” in pro-lifers to blind faith in government: Libby Anne responds

Last month, Live Action did a series of posts refuting Patheos blogger Libby Anne’s sweeping hit piece on the pro-life movement. My entry focused on her claim that pro-lifers encourage abortion by opposing the policies that would allegedly make having children less of a financial burden.

This week, Anne responded. Well, “responded” isn’t exactly the right word, since she ignored much of the information I cited and spent half the piece attacking not me, but a cartoonish straw man of her own creation. But considering how much illumination of the pro-choice mindset she’s already given us, it would be a shame not to take another look.

First, Anne objects to my assessment of killing children to save money as ghoulish:

I’m the one saying that we need more social and financial support for raising children so that women aren’t forced to terminate pregnancies due to lack of a funds. How in the world is that “putting money above basic human compassion”?

Really? Is how “sorry sweetie, but letting you live would be too expensive” fits the bill not self-explanatory?

And beyond that, many women who abort for financial reasons are doing so because of compassion – they don’t think it would be right or fair to a child to bring him or her up in their situation or environment.

Oh, so it’s a mercy-killing, and Anne possesses sufficient foresight and authority to judge whether her unborn son’s or daughter’s life would be worth living (lest you think I’m exaggerating, the next day she lauded someone for arguing that God wants us to do exactly that). It’s quite the presumption to suggest that any of us knows enough to deny another innocent person his or her very future, and it’s the height of hypocrisy for Anne to suggest that by not wanting babies killed, I’m the one hurting them.

While it’s an article of faith on the left that children unwanted by their birth parents have only a life of hardship and futility to look forward to, reality says otherwise. We know from example that children can overcome far worse than poverty; many don’t, but to Anne, they don’t deserve even the chance to try. Adoption can help those odds considerably; the kid gets a shot at a better life than an unwilling mother can provide, and the mother doesn’t bear the crushing financial burden Anne devoted two columns to. Maybe that’s why the word “adoption” doesn’t appear in either of them?

Sure, that argument only works if you don’t consider a zygote, embryo, or fetus a person…

Bingo! If we were talking about a toddler, the monstrousness would speak for itself. There’s no serious debate in this country over whether financial concerns would have justified Casey Anthony or Andrea Yates in sending their reproductive choices back for a refund. This whole conversation is peripheral to the real issue: if the unborn have unalienable rights and intrinsic value like the born do, then no economic rationale would justify their destruction; if they don’t, none would be needed.

When Anne gets to my counterpoints, the results are underwhelming. She ignores entirely the matters of government subsidizing the very abortions she blames on us and increased funding for Planned Parenthood “prevention” not having her intended effect, dismisses the rest of the information I present as “conservative political talking points” (while neither refuting it nor grappling with its implications for her original argument), and hinges many of her complaints on the premise that the programs I oppose giving blank checks to reduce abortion rates, even though the evidence doesn’t back it up – see my original response, as well as here, here, and here.

Instead of digging into the policies and their results, she spends the next few paragraphs “mov[ing] from the abstract to the concrete” by explaining how a married graduate student with two kids “literally could not afford a third child.”

In other words, she’s arguing by anecdote as a way to avoid discussing the overall effect of her chosen policies (not to mention how the big picture undermines the caricature she presents of conservatives’ positions). It simply won’t do to argue that “my personal situation is x, therefore national policy should be y.” The art of politics is determining the totality of a policy’s effects for everyone it touches.

And while I wish Anne the best of luck in her personal life, let’s not forget that what she’s talking about is the entirely predictable result of choosing to take on two expensive life paths – family and higher education (which she presumably hopes to improve her lot in the long term) – simultaneously. By all means, do whatever you like to (non-lethally) alleviate hardship, but for reasons I explained and she so dutifully ignores, the liberal impulse to insulate people from the consequences of their own actions simply doesn’t work.

Which brings us to Anne’s main problem with me: I dared to mention the relationship between actions and consequences. Characterizing that as “women must pay for sex!,” she writes:

Perhaps the most astounding thing about the comments on my post on losing faith in the pro-life movement is the number of people who stepped in to confirm exactly what I said – that the pro-life movement is about ensuring that women face consequences for choosing to have sex[.] … Freiburger seems to see these very children as simply a form of punishment meted out to poor women for having sex when they couldn’t afford children.

An unhealthy percentage of all pro-choice thought is directed toward conjuring up persecution fantasies about right-wingers out to control their sex lives and/or make sex as difficult and unpleasant as possible. To merely note that consequences usually result from willful actions and suggest that the one facing them should think more about his or her power to prevent them is all the evidence necessary for a pro-choicer to sound the alarm.

I think I can safely speak for most pro-lifers in expressing my utter lack of interest in Libby Anne’s sex life (personally, liberals in the bedroom is a subject I’d rather never think about). Is “since you consider pregnancy such a punishment, here’s how you can avoid it without killing anyone” really that obtuse? Is “don’t kill babies” really so hard to understand that people like her must see something ulterior in our arguments for that position?

Of course not. I’ve written before how pro-choicers need to believe that their opponents have sinister motives to draw attention away from the moral stench of their own advocacy of executing unborn babies, but for many, something else is at play. Modern radical feminism is animated in large part by a visceral anger at the fact that biology gives their sex an unequal share of the work in procreation and is obsessed with leveling things out…no matter the human toll. To question that obsession makes one a misogynistic agent of the patriarchy (as if pro-lifers think only women should have legal responsibility for their offspring), and to suggest that exercising basic responsibility is more sensible and humane than extinguishing another’s life is absolutely taboo, even though in most other areas of life we understand that responsibility is one of the basic necessities of adulthood. And yes, Libby, making (not “suggesting that”) Person A pay for Person B’s mistakes is wrong.

Many pro-lifers who read Libby Anne’s original article thought it was suspicious that someone claiming to have been so passionately pro-life could have so fully and unquestioningly embraced so many unfounded assumptions and stereotypes against a cause she once took seriously, with her arguments reading more like rationalizations that came after the fact. Her inability to rebuke scrutiny without appealing to misdirection and emotionalism only heightens that suspicion – as does her insistence that she’d “like to believe” that pro-lifers care about women, but “just can’t.” The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

  • Basset_Hound

    Calvin, you’re right. Life is about choices and choices have consequences. If someone doesn’t want a hangover, they don’t drink. If someone doesn’t want to become obese, they eat a healthy diet. Gaining weight or getting a hangover isn’t a “punishment”, but a consequence of a choice. The ability to weigh options in and evaluate long term outcomes is part of being an adult. When an adult makes a choice that goes awry, she puts her interests aside for the sake of another, particularly if the only other alternative involves hurting an innocent person to extricate herself from embarrassment. But when someone suggests that the same principles apply to avoiding unwanted pregnancy or dealing with the consequences of an unintended pregnancy, the howls of protest commence.

    • KayJay

      Yes, actions have consequences, however, just as the unborn baby didn’t have a hand in its creation and doesn’t deserve death, it also didn’t have a hand in choosing its mother and father, and the circumstances of its birth, and doesn’t deserve to grow up in squalid conditions. That is the purpose of funding programs to help impoverished mothers; the child, not the mother. The mother is a by-product of the fact that she is the one usually doing most of the care giving, just as the mother is doing all of the care giving in pre-birth.
      It is a huge hypocrisy to demand women become mothers but offer no tools to deal with that reality. Now, since I don’t believe in killing babies, that means I believe in giving them those tools. Why are connecting these dots so difficult for most pro-lifers?

      • Gee, if only I had written about whether those policy prescriptions actually had your desired effect….and maybe linked to the supporting evidence in nice blue text so it’s nice and noticeable…….

      • Basset_Hound

        It is a huge hypocrisy to demand women become mothers but offer no tools to deal with that reality. Now, since I don’t believe in killing babies, that means I believe in giving them those tools. Why are connecting these dots so difficult for most pro-lifers?”

        There are plenty of church groups and private charities that give families “the tools” to care for their children. Our church sponsors several school supply and food donation programs as well as mentoring programs for elementary school kids.

    • Steve Farrell

      I don’t think any pro-choicer disputes the fact that “choices have consequences,” BH. In fact, what pro-choice is about is giving women the control over dealing with the consequences as they see fit. To use your analogy, the person who doesn’t eat healthy shouldn’t be denied heart surgery merely because he should have known his eating habits would cause health problems later on.

      • Basset_Hound

        To use the analogy properly, the person who doesn’t eat properly affects only himself. But a mother’s “dealing with the consequences as she sees fit” should not involve killing her unborn child (who had nothing to do with creating the situation) to mitigate the consequences for herself.

        • Steve Farrell

          BH, I was only using the analogy to illustrate the problem with pro-life cynicism about women having to “deal with the consequences.” The consequences should be theirs to deal with, and we should respect their choices.

          • Basset_Hound

            We should respect the choices that respect BOTH lives involved, A choice to kill a helpless child (born or unborn) is NEVER a choice that should be “respected”

          • I’d love you to “respect” womens’ reproductive rights, but thankfully those rights don’t require your respect. They just require the rule of law.

          • lovethink

            True AStra, just like slavery was legal and killing Jews was legal in Germany. Abortion is legal but wrong.

      • lovethink

        Your side is about aborting as many of the ‘unfit’ as possible. Our side is about helping mom’s choose life for her baby. Help mom, help baby. I bet you are one of those libs that thinks your vote is charity without every giving anything personally :) ever look up how much Gore, Biden and Obama gave to charity and compare it to Romney? Heck, the whole Democratic Congressional Caucus combined probably gave less than Mitt. Since it’s obvious prolifers ACTUALLY give more to help women and their babies and it’s obvious the unborn are human, why do you REALLY need to defend abortion?

      • You mean …What pro abortion is all about is giving the woman an option to negate the consequence as they see fit… TO WHICH THEY HAVE NO RIGHT…

  • lovethink

    Pro-lifers ARE the one’s giving women the ‘tools’ they need to deliver a live baby (PRCs nationwide, churches,e tc), what tools does Planned Parenthood offer? Abortion. Another insight into how little the left, Dems, pro-aborts care about the poor is how little they give to charity this is just one survery others confirm that libs view their vote as charity without being able to realize that they are just taking from others without giving anything personally. No wonder libs can’t recognize the science of when human life begins.

    • just someone :)

      i don’t think it’s so much they can’t recognize the science of when human life begins, it’s that they won’t recognize it.

  • Amen great piece, strong logic… THEY HATE THAT…