i have been reading a lot of the “new york times” editorials about the tucson massacre on january 8, even though they all say pretty much the same thing: “let’s bring a new civility to political discourse, & if politicians don’t use this as a wake-up call & start enacting tougher gun control regulations, that will suck.” nothing i really disagree with there, though i do sometimes find the language they use needlessly hyperbolic & naive. a lot of them say stuff like, “we need to have laws against people being mowed down by gun-toting lunatics in their local supermarket parking lots.” well…yes. but we already have laws against murder, you know? it’s not like someone who doesn’t mind committing murder is going to be deterred by the thought of using an illegal firearm. though i am all for making assault weapons more difficult for potential murderers to get.
anyway, paul krugman wrote an editorial calling for more civility in political discourse. i was reading along, kind of wondering to myself why he thought his editorial was entirely necessary after everyone & their dog’s uncle had already come out to say the exact same thing, when suddenly i got to this bit:
“In a way, politics as a whole now resembles the longstanding politics of abortion — a subject that puts fundamental values at odds, in which each side believes that the other side is morally in the wrong. Almost 38 years have passed since Roe v. Wade, and this dispute is no closer to resolution.
“Yet we have, for the most part, managed to agree on certain ground rules in the abortion controversy: it’s acceptable to express your opinion and to criticize the other side, but it’s not acceptable either to engage in violence or to encourage others to do so.
“What we need now is an extension of those ground rules to the wider national debate.”
really, dude? REALLY? i am struggling to think of a domestic political issue that has brought more violence to americans. let’s look at some stats on anti-abortion violence:
* since 1993, at least eight people working in some area of abortion services have been murdered by anti-abortion activists.
* since 1977, there have been at least 17 attempted murders of people in the abortion provider field by anti-abortion activists, along with nearly 400 death threats (that have been reported), over 150 incidents of assault or battery, & three kidnappings.
* one of the victims of attempted murder was dr. george tiller, who was murdered by an anti-abortion activist while standing in church in 2009.
* in 1998, a nurse lost an eye in a bombing that killed a doctor that provided abortion services.
* there have been 43 bombings directed at abortion providers, nearly 200 arsons, almost 100 attempted bombings or arsons, & over 600 bomb threats.
look, i could go on, but i think we all get the picture. this doesn’t even address the ways that women in need of abortion services have been impacted by anti-abortion violence. i would argue that anti-abortion legislation commits violence against women, because i think it is violent & horrific to force someone to carry a pregnancy against her will. this is the (sometimes outwardly stated) goal of legislation that imposes mandatory waiting periods, mandatory anti-choice counseling, parental notification laws, spousal notification laws, & a ban on life-saving late-term abortions. nearly 90% of women (including myself) do not have an abortion provider in their own county. pharmacist “conscience clauses” are inspiring some pharmacists to try to withhold potentially life-saving medications from women who have had abortions.
so…has there been another domestic political issue in the last twenty years or so that has caused more americans to be victimized by violence? i know the recession sucks & everything, but i haven’t heard of anyone being moved to plant bombs at their neighborhood medical provider’s office because of it. have you?
in a way, i’m not really surprised that krugman wrote what he did. anti-choice activists have certainly worked hard to create & adhere to a script that paints them as merely concerned protectors of innocent fetal life. politicians who support a woman’s right to reproductive choice have had to step carefully when publicly discussing the issue, because to paint the anti-choice faction for what they actually are (either woefully naive about the necessity of bodily autonomy or viciously hateful against women) is to suggest that you don’t like kittens or something. when krugman suggests that the larger political discourse would do well to learn from the discourse around abortion, he allows the anti-choice faction to carry the day by validating their spin.
& why not? he’s a dude. he’s never had to get an abortion. he’s never had to confront the terror of being faced with an unwanted pregnancy. he’s never relished the joy of becoming pregnant with a wanted baby, only to learn that something is horribly wrong with the fetus, & to be counseled to acquire a therapeutic abortion. he doesn’t have to live with the struggle of balancing reproductive choices for upwards of thirty potential child-bearing years. for him, the debate is just that–a debate. a hypothetical. policy discourse. it’s not real. it doesn’t really matter. it’s just a reference point to use when smugly aiming for the theoretical upper hand. fuck that noise.