Above I have posted two images. On top is a zygote I have named—in my weakness for alliteration—Zippy. Frankly, I don’t know whether Zippy’s male or female; he or she is microscopic, and I’m never quite sure where to look.
Still, for the so-called pro-lifers, at least the zealots whose mission it is to deny women the right their reproductive rights, Zippy is a person. For more about Zippy and zygotes, I refer you to an article excerpt taken from a pro-life web site. The excerpt is from a much longer piece by Dr. Donald DeMarco, professor of philosophy at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, and a member of the American Bioethics Advisory Commission.
“Human life begins at fertilization when the spermatozoon fuses with the ovum to form a zygote containing 46 chromosomes that bear a genetic code that is different from those of the new human being’s parents. Unlike the gametes from which it was formed, the zygote has the power to, and immediately begins to direct itself through a process of continuous development to become one day what it had begun to be from the outset, namely, a complete human person. “
Now, on the bottom, that’s Houston Tracy from Houston, Tex. Houston was born with a congenital, potentially fatal, heart defect. Surgeons saved his life in March 2010—but then his family’s insurance company refused to pay for the vastly expensive operation, because Houston had a preexisting condition; while Congress had just passed President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Health Act, which bans insurance discrimination on the basis of preexisting conditions, it would not take effect until September.
The Tracys were lucky, though. Through the intervention of Democratic state legislator Chris Turner, among others, the insurer was shamed into paid the claim.
Other babies—children, teenagers and adults—with preexisting conditions won’t be so lucky if the current incarnation of the GOP in Congress has its way. That is, the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Act—Obamacare, they call it—will be repealed, or at the very least starved or gutted.
So, the “pro-life” Republicans aren’t so high on the likes of Houston. But they’re way, way into Zippy. They’re on a rampage to protect the little guy/girl at all costs—even to the point of narrowing the definition of rape and incest in H.R. 3, their “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act. That sparked overwhelming outrage, and eventually they withdrew the language. But as Talking Points Memo’s Evan McMorris Santoro tells us:
“The controversy over “forcible rape” may be over, but now there’s a new Republican-sponsored abortion bill in the House that pro-choice folks say may be worse: this time around, the new language would allow hospitals to let a pregnant woman die rather than perform the abortion that would save her life.
The bill, known currently as H.R. 358 or the “Protect Life Act,” is an amendment to the 2010 health care reform law that would modify the way Obamacare deals with abortion coverage. Much of its language is modeled on the so-called Stupak Amendment, an anti-abortion provision pro-life Democrats attempted to insert into the reform law during the health care debate last year. But critics say a new section of the bill inserted into the language just this week would go far beyond Stupak, allowing hospitals that receive federal funds but are opposed to abortions to turn away women in need of emergency pregnancy termination to save their lives.?”
Got that? You take your wife or daughter to a hospital to save her life, and the “pro-life” surgeons are perfectly willing to let her die. Now, to be fair, a woman’s pregnancy almost certainly has to be much farther along than the zygote stage to require a life-saving abortion. Still, doesn’t anybody who’s not a religious fanatic see how nuts that is? If someone did that to my wife—well, that’s probably one thing that would drive me to “Second Amendment remedies.”
“Protect Life?” Bullshit.
I do, believe it or not, respect in general the pro-life position; abortion is a tragic, or at least painful option. I have no doubt that millions of Americans are genuinely emotionally invested in those zygotes. And, more plausibly, fetuses. Especially if they’ve had children, or perhaps a special needs child who might have been terminated.
But it is entirely possible to be pro-life and pro-choice at the same time–to allow women to make that decision themselves. My quarrel is with the zealots of the Christian Right—yes, as Markos Moulitsas wrote, the American Taliban, the radicals, the C-Streeters, who mean to foist their absolutist views on the nation. Who, essentially, strive to force women to bear children, even against their will. And the legislators– 173 of them, apparently– who would do so even if that woman was gang raped, or date raped, or a victim of forced incest. As long as there’s no bruising.
How can anyone with any soul force a rape victim to bear some monster’s child? Sharron Angle might call it turning “lemon into lemonade” but I call it sadism.
How can anyone allow a hospital to let a mother die a terrible death, rather than receive an emergency abortion?
Does anyone really believe all that fervor is entirely about protecting life—especially when many of those same legislators wouldn’t flinch at throwing little Houston under the bus—or the 45,000 Americans each year who die because they’re uninsured?
Do we really think the sight of Zippy up there gets John Boehner all dewy-eyed?
No, a good deal of this anti-choice zeal is bout two things:
1) Fear, or repression, of non-procreative sex—in particular, women having it. Doing it. Enjoying it. Notice how many anti-choicers are also against birth control? How many of them say abstinence education is the only answer?
2) Above all, religious fanaticism—and I am speaking of the fanatic here, not the reasonable and humane. Those who are under the spell of unyielding, unquestioning fundamentalism, the ultimate totalitarian mindset. Which is largely about covering one’s own ass. A lot of these “pro-lifers” don’t give a shit about babies—at least after they’re born.
I am reminded of a man—an Ohio man—I saw interviewed at a town meeting during the 2004 presidential race. He said he agreed with John Kerry on virtually every issue. But he just couldn’t pull the lever “because of abortion. These good folks’ priests and pastors have drummed it into their heads that if you even support a pro-choice candidate, you’ve sinned, and you’re going to hell. Or at least, you’re gonna have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.
I’m not “pro-abortion.” No one with a shred of humanity could feel otherwise. I don’t think this sad, anguished last resort should be taken lightly. My wife is as pro-choice as they come, but she has said that, unless it was medically necessary, she couldn’t bring herself to do it.
But with every shred of my being, I am pro-choice. Don’t take away a woman’s right to her own body, her own future. Don’t look at women as merely vessels, factories.
Don’t let the government invade women’s bodies.
I believe the expression is “Don’t Tread on Me.”
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