Thursday, February 26, 2009


From the Denver Rocky Mountain News courtesy of Eschaton:

Lawmaker's HIV, promiscuity comments cause uproar

A Republican legislator's remarks about sexuality sparked a bitter volley Wednesday at the state Capitol, the second time in three days such comments have created controversy.

Though unwilling to publicly discuss the issue, a number of Republicans privately expressed dismay at the brouhaha, fearing the comments may hurt their party's image.

Sen. Dave Schultheis, of Colorado Springs, on Wednesday opposed a bill requiring all pregnant women to be tested for HIV, so that if they are infected their babies can be treated to prevent the transfer of the virus.

"This stems from sexual promiscuity for the most part, and I just can't go there," he said.

"We do things continually to remove the consequences of poor behavior, unacceptable behavior, quite frankly. I'm not convinced that part of the role of government should be to protect individuals from the negative consequences of their actions."

More here.

Back when I was a high school teacher, the topic of abortion would occasionally come up in classroom discussions. Working in what appeared to be a backward-ass right-wing fundamentalist community, I felt like it would be a bad idea to straight-up advocate abortion rights, so I tended to play Donahue, playing devil's advocate, instead, against both sides--I mean, I told my kids where I stood on the issue, unashamedly pro-choice, but I tried to let everyone know that it's okay to have a different opinion. I think all my students learned more about their own positions and how to defend them if needed.

One aspect of those discussions surprised me: several of my pro-life kids spoke about pregnancy in a very punitive fashion. That is, their anti-abortion point of view seemed to be fueled by the notion that getting an abortion somehow took away negative consequences of having sex, with the implication that having a baby is punishment. The only response I could think of was to point out that a new life coming into the world ought to be a cause for celebration, not condemnation. None of my kids really knew what to say to that, but it was obvious to me that these pregnancy-as-punishment kids were simply repeating what they had heard at home, and that their families' anti-abortion attitudes had a strong dose of anti-sex embedded within them.

Atrios over at Eschaton has been making this point for a while now: many, if not most, of these fundamentalist pro-lifers have taken an anti-abortion stance because they have strong ideological opposition to any sex of which they do not approve. Indeed. And this is really no surprise. Fundamentalists are in love with punishment. It's what the Bible says God is all about. I mean, okay, there's all this business about love, too, but the fundamentalists greatly minimize the love stuff so they can wallow in the blood and guts all over the Old Testament. For fundamentalists, God's love exists only so that we might have the "get out of jail free card" known as salvation, and for no other reason--sure, they give lip service to love, but what they really crave is hellfire and damnation for all human beings who aren't in the tribe.

In short, fundamentalists aren't really into condemning abortion in order to save lives--odds are such a baby fetus is going to hell, anyway, so why bother? Rather, they want women who have sex to suffer for their sins. Needless to say, that's really fucked up. And they would totally love it if they could make this point of view the law of the land. It's one thing to honestly believe that abortion is murder, and to want such killing criminalized; it's quite another to force your ideas about sex and punishment on people just because you think that's what they should get.

Increasingly, I find it difficult to take the pro-life movement seriously. I mean, I used to be able to respect what appears to be a principled stance that values life. But why do these life-lovers support the death penalty? Why do they oppose birth control and comprehensive sex education, which actually stand a good chance of reducing greatly the number of abortions performed every year? For me, this is really starting to no longer be about genuine disagreement. The fundamentalist pro-lifers don't seem to be really serious about being pro-life. Why should I take their rhetoric seriously if they don't?