Armchair Psychologist to the Conservatives

Over at Tiny Cat Pants, Aunt B. has a post up about a new law in Oklahoma, which requires women seeking an abortion to submit to an ultrasound prior to the procedure.

Go read it.

Considering this legislation passed in Oklahoma, I feel I should mention that Tennessee has a similar bill floating around the legislature (introduced by none other than Rep. Stacey Campfield.)

Of course, there’s probably no reason to cry foul just yet. In order for the bill to move, it would have to overcome two rather large obstacles:

(1.) The ultrasound, whether abdominal or transvaginal, would not be considered medically necessary – declaring it “legally” necessary doesn’t make it so. No argument can be made that the procedure would benefit the welfare and safety of the general public. (Lfe which is unformed, in utero, and therefore not self-sustaining doesn’t count as general public. So, let’s not even go there.) I don’t think such a state code would hold-up under judicial challenge – so the bill is a big waste of time. Surely, someone will point that out.

(2) The proposal was crafted by Campfield. Love him or hate him, you cannot deny that his name appearing on the Byline of a bill is a fairly good indicator said bill will be quickly maneuvered to legislative “never-never-never ever” land.

Nevertheless, another lawmaker, who lacks the Capitol Hill Jinx Campfield carries, could introduce another version of the bill and be successful in bringing it to a vote. Not likely given the vote would probably split along party lines and die in committee: but it’s possible.

So – FOUL!

Look, it’s not that I don’t understand where these poor misguided lawmakers are coming from because I do.

Hell, I was raised in a Southern Baptist, conservative Republican home and launched into the world not very different from Stacey Campfield. I thought most issues were right/wrong, black/white, no shades of gray and no exceptions. I also thought Michael Jackson was misunderstood and all Buddhist Monks were probably going to Hell for not accepting Jesus.

I know. Don’t say it. I assure you those crude teenage political beliefs have since been refined a bit.

Of course, like most people in the Elephant pen, I am still innately Pro-Life. I believe that any abortion, regardless of the circumstances, is a tragic loss – whether it be loss of life or the loss of possibilities (I tend to go with the latter.)

Where I stray from the herd is I separate my personal beliefs from my political views. In doing so, I reject the idea that any state, government, leader, court, man or woman has authority over the area beyond my bloomers.

You know, as a woman, there are few things I control in this world, but I’d damn well consider my reproductive “parts” among them – so you’re out of your jurisdiction. Seriously, ya’ll don’t know me like that.

For this reason, I oppose a great many of the bills the Rep. has cooked up. I do give him credit for being persistent.  I even respect his sincerity.

I also do not believe he’s coming from a bad place.

You know, I’ve heard the theories on how Campfield and some of these other conservative lawmakers must subconsciously fear/envy/hate the mysterious life-giving powers of the female woo-woo . I find these theories entertaining: but I don’t buy them. I don’t think they hate anyone. I think they’re old-fashioned, conservatives and as such, are too simplistic to warrant analyzing.

As far as most conservatives are concerned: women have a choice. They choose if they will or will not have sexual intercourse: they choose if they will or will not use birth control. If they chose poorly, they face consequences. If they refuse to accept responsibility and fulfill the basic obligations of womanhood – then they have failed.

But there’s no hatred here. No blame even. In fact, conservative men accept that we, as women, have a tendency to be flawed in this way and have wearily resigned themselves to picking up our slack. I mean, clearly, without their firm guidance, we will be as we have always been: shallow, weak-minded, easily-tempted, unable to maintain moral integrity and quick to choose the easy way out. So what other choice do they have but to step-up and appoint themselves defenders of defenseless fetuses.

Unfortunately, when they step-up, they wear blinders and earmuffs.

They never see the shades of gray. They never hear these women, for whom abortion was not the easy choice.

You know, I’ve no illusions that women, who seek abortions, must be immune to those feelings of loss or somehow value the possibility of new life less than I do. I’ve met too many women, who are struggling with this decision and facing life-situations so horrendously messed-up that even I cannot think of an alternative and be convinced it is right.

So, I no longer believe there is one single right answer for all people. If there is, none of us possess the wisdom or moral superiority required to provide it.

A blanket judgment will not work here: and neither will this law.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, don’t you have to question the delivery and effectiveness of this law? Don’t you have to consider the possibility that it may do more harm than good?

You know, the message delivered by this mandatory ultrasound is clear: “Hey morally-blind or stupid woman, we want you to see what you’re doing here because you didn’t deliberate on it long enough before you arrived. Or maybe you did but you saw no other option, and we’re not really giving you other options but we are willing to spend some money on this attempt to make you confront reality. Oh, you’ve thought about that already? It’s emotionally difficult for you? Well, our unnecessary violation, which may be tantamount to state-sanctioned psychological torture, probably isn’t going to help — but it is the law. So (pat, pat) hop on this table, put your feet in the stirrups and let’s get started… you irresponsible whore… oh, did I say that aloud? Oops. Sorry. “

In order for this kind of message to make any difference, we have to first assume women either (a) do not fully grasp the procedure to which they’ve consented, (b) haven’t given the decision enough thought – no, I mean really, really thought about it and are therefore apt to change their mind or (c) are so callous and unfeeling, they’ve opted to terminate their pregnancy on a whim. Yep, they just woke up one morning and thought – Oh, I’ll walk the dog, buy some new lipstick and maybe pop over to the clinic and have an abortion because I really don’t look good in my fitted t’s anymore.

Get real.

A majority of women, who seek an abortion, do so because they are facing something in their lives so seemingly unsurmountable it landed them on the doctor’s table. Will delivering this message change whatever those circumstances? Probably not. So, it is not likely to change the decision – and I don’t see any point other than to punish women by piling-on mental anguish.

Hell, for the sake argument – let’s consider those women who view abortion as a last-ditch method of birth control. I know those women exist. I agree those women could use a good epiphany… or a preacher. But will this procedure alter their decision?

You might think so if you were using chick-flicks or soap operas as some point of reference. Only then would you believe a first trimester ultrasound creates some mystical. instant, warm and fuzzy mother-child bond. Perhaps you imagine that when a mother gets the first glimpse at the shadow on the screen, she will get teary-eyed, the heavens shall open up, beautiful music will flow forth and warmth of maternal bliss will surround her… uh well – it doesn’t happen like that.

You expect it to happen. You might even want it to happen, but unless you’ve done this “pregnancy” thing a few times, really all you get is a serious case of self-doubt because you’ve looked at the blip on the screen, and it just looks like a blip. Therefore you assume there must be something terribly wrong with you because you think your baby looks like a tadpole and you truly can’t tell which end is up. So, you look shamefaced at the tech and admit:

“I don’t see it. Where? There? There? No, there? Oh there!? Well, kinda. Oh. (Sigh) Not really.”

So, if this law isn’t going to change anyone’s decision, it isn’t going to help improve their situation or provide other options: what does it accomplish? Cruelty for the cause?

You know, Pro-Life and Pro-Choice are never going to come to a complete agreement on this issue. For most pro-life folks, this is black and white, right and wrong, non-negotiable. Okay, but would it still make more sense if both sides founds aspects of the issue they do agree upon – and worked from there? What if both sides focused on the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, educating women as to the options available to them, and offered these women support and compassion? Isn’t it possible that this might achieve the same desired outcome – and be more effective than constantly attempting to shove through legislation that seems as if it were drafted by Desalvo.

So, Conservatives? How do you feel about this possibility?

How do you feel?


Are ya’ll listening to me?

(Sigh) Damn earmuffs.


8 thoughts on “Armchair Psychologist to the Conservatives

  1. Pingback: Additional Musings on the Oklahoma Abortion Ultrasound Law « Women’s Health News

  2. Pingback: Things I Think Are Applicable to Other Things We’ve Talked About « Tiny Cat Pants

  3. As far as most conservatives are concerned: women have a choice. They choose if they will or will not have sexual intercourse: they choose if they will or will not use birth control. If they chose poorly, they face consequences. If they refuse to accept responsibility and fulfill the basic obligations of womanhood – then they have failed.

    I would be more impressed by this description of the conservative mindset if so many of the same people making it more difficult to obtain an abortion weren’t also making it more difficult for kids to get accurate information about sexual intercourse and birth control, and making it more difficult for unmarried people (and some married people, too) to have access to birth control.

    I mean, I’m sure there are many whose mindset is as you describe it (complete with the overbearing overtones you point out of the ways they try to compensate for our terrible tendency to make bad choices), but there are even more, it seems to me, who are seriously devoted to making women suffer if we have sex for fun.

    Very thought-provoking post, though.

  4. I really think I would prefer being hated to this sort of amorphous paternal disappointment you describe. At least hatred is an emotional response to someone you see an an equal.

    Also, I think that abortion is an easy choice for some women, I know that it was for me, and that that is okay too. Just because one option is more difficult it does not mean that difficulty equals right. If someone told you that you had a choice between going to a movie or setting yourself on fire there is no reason to believe that you would pause later, perhaps during your popcorn eating, and wonder if you should have immolated yourself because going to see the movie was the easy way out.

    Thank you for your post, it was very though provoking.

  5. Thank you all so much for the comments.

    To nm: I do believe there’s hatred rooted in the patriarchal belief system, which conservatives have inherited. I don’t think they recognize it as such. They believe they are upholding morality and working to create a better and “righteous” world. They’ve given very little thought as to how or why women get continuously screwed in their version of righteousness.

    Ease access to birth control and provide children with information about safe sex? Are you kidding? They can’t do that. It would condone – perhaps even promote premarital sex, which is also immoral.

    See, the thought process here is circular. You cannot sway a true conservative with logic or fact because they will always revert back to the “moral” argument. This is why most attempts at discussion leaves one feeling as though they’ve bashed their head into a brick wall (and somewhat relieved these people aren’t still stoning us to death.)

    to bellacoker: I agree. Direct hatred would be much easier to identify and move beyond. This moral superiority, however, is so entrenched in the conservative psyche I think the daughters of our daughters will still be trying to bump them from the hamster-wheel of godliness inside their head.

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