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Member since: Fri Aug 1, 2008, 07:40 PM
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AZ's abortion law & My wistful advice to fellow Pro-choicers

With governor Jan Brewer's signature, Arizona has adopted the oppressive anti-choice law I've ever seen. Here are the provisions, care of Dailykos:

• It sets the gestational age as beginning on the first day of a woman’s last period, rather than at fertilization. Which, in practice, means that a virgin can get pregnant and instead of barring abortions after 20 weeks as the law states, actually cuts the time to 18 weeks.

• Medication abortions (by pill), usually done at home or a clinic within the first nine weeks of pregnancy, must now be done by a medical provider who has hospital privileges within 30 miles of where the procedure takes place. The law also mandates outdated protocol that Nash says may cause confusion. The provision is an attempt to shut down medication abortions altogether. North Dakota and Oklahoma are in litigation over similar provisions in their laws.

• Sex education is not mandated in Arizona, but any such education must now prioritize birth and adoption.

• Health-care facilities must put up signs warning against abortion "coercion."

• The state health department must set up a website focusing on alternatives to abortion and displaying photos of fetuses.

• "Counseling" is required for women aiming seeking abortions because of fetal abnormalities. Such counseling must include perinatal hospice information.

• Previous requirements are reiterated for a notarized parental consent form for minors and a mandatory ultrasound screening 24 hours before having an abortion.

No, this isn't from The Onion. It's real, but it's still a joke, and jokes like this are being told in state laws all across the country now. I'm sure 300 years from now they'll be laughing at Arizona. Right now, however, if you're Pro-choice you should be gaping instead of laughing. This law, and others like it, are a horror show.

The Pro-choice, Pro-reproductive rights is in in full retreat now, and it better change strategies fast. What's so sad here is, the Pro-choicers have squandered a winning position (just as NORML did in the '70s) because from NARAL on down they were afraid, yes, afraid, to find their message and stick to it. I suspect they thought they couldn't win the argument on moral principles, or maybe they thought they couldn't put their message simply enough. The fact is, they can do both.


What I suggest first: stop accusing the other side of misogyny and/or chauvinism.

Yes, it is their real the motive. They show it repeatedly with their proposals and with their Freudian gaffs. However, accusing them of hating women is a losing strategy socially and politically.

Why? Misogyny appears to be mostly an unconscious motive. Therefore, by definition, Anti-choicers can neither acknowledge it as their main drive, nor change it without serious psychiatric treatment. Despite the fact that we can see why they're doing it, they don't and they can't. Moreover, since they don't, it means other people often can't either. Those people take the anti-choice message at face value, and if they see misogyny, they see it like a necessary evil or side issue and not the cause. Therefore, the Anti-Choicers arguments will have sway with the populace, as long as the message is simple enough and it follows principles of propaganda. "Life begins at conception," is as simple as it gets, even if it's total nonsense.

Stop deconstructing anti-choicer motives. This gains nothing except praise and agreement from other Pro-choicers, who already see the ulterior root. This amounts to discussion among friends that feels like activism but isn't.

Instead, we have to start meeting and beating Anti-choicer's propaganda with a simple counter-argument. Here it is: "A zygote is not a child, not a person. A fetus is not a child, not a person." Say that enough and point to this simple evidence: "You take a fetus out of the womb, it dies. You put a child in the womb, the child dies." You could follow it with things like: "If the fetus were a person, your duty would be to rescue it from the womb."

You could say other things to counter the religious argument. Such as, "God is not going to punish our nation for abortion." He hasn't done it to any other nation.

And keep it as basic and simple as their slogan: "Life begins at conception." As nonsensical as that statement is, its construction and circulation has followed the Goebels propaganda textbook. Besides its simplicity, they repeat it year after year. They make variants on it. Over time, unopposed, it has gained and rallied converts and believers.

You might cite scientific evidence when you actually debate, because the science is on the our side, too, but remember get back to the basic message and just repeat it. That's what's important.

Remember, you're not a therapist. You can't do anything against their unconscious motive, but you can disarm it by attacking the conscious rationalizations. Misogyny can't gain a political foothold without a conscious cover story like protecting "the sanctity of life." Stay on topic. Start trying to meet and beat Anti-choicers own arguments.

Remember, we have the moral high ground because the notion that zygotes and fetuses are people is a ridiculous fantasy. That has always been the weak point in the Anti-choicers' argument. Attack it there, and don't stop. It might not gain ground immediately, but over time, it will chip away at their power and turn back their victories.

The two sides have been talking by each other now for two generations. The Anti-choicers make moral arguments based on the factual error that a zygote or a fetus is a person. Instead of meeting that head-on, Pro-choicers have attacked the other side's ulterior motives. The Anti-choicers simply ignore or deny them, and go back to their moral arguments. Unopposed, those arguments have been winning. Their side has a message, our side has an ineffective attack. We've been losing with it for almost forty years.

That's my major suggestion. I also have a minor one: if I were a young woman, I would leave Arizona, Oklahoma and other states making these laws. Abandon Mississippi for goodness sake, which only has one abortion clinic that lawmakers are busy trying to put out of business. I suggest hetero- and bisexual women do this in protest. Definitely, don't have sex with men in states passing laws like Arizona's or Oklahoma's. That will at least keep the issue in the forefront.

All is not lost yet, but we've lost so much now. Fellow Pro-choicers: please get your act together. Start taking responsibility for a socio-political contest that, since 1973, has been yours to lose. Don't go NORML.

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