The Left

Who Needs Logic?

War on Women
War on Women
Aisha Bain, 25, center, of New York City, joins thousands of fellow protesters in Washington, D.C., during the "March for Women's Lives," a pro-choice rally held on the National Mall. | Photo: Nikki Kahn | War On Women, Contraception, Abortion,

Consistency is not a hobgoblin for right-to-lifers.

Over the years I've come to the conclusion that many right-to-lifers think of abortion like a purple unicorn. It's so completely, utterly different from anything else that the rules we'd normally apply can't possibly be considered relevant.

Take for example, one of the basic beliefs many right-to-lifers'or as they've been sometimes described, the forced-birth movement'profess: Government funding for abortion is wrong, because their tax dollars shouldn't be spent on something they don't approve of. Under the so-called Global Gag Rule, for instance, organizations receiving US family-planning funds can't even recommend an abortion or tell a client where to find one (Obama happily axed this rule, but conservatives are still trying to reinstate it).

The thing is, I've yet to see any indication forced-birthers actually believe "taxes shouldn't go to things taxpayers are morally opposed to" as a principle. Lots of people oppose the death penalty and believe it's murder, yet plenty of conservatives support the Global Gag Rule and the death penalty both. For that matter, forced-birthers don't seem terribly upset about the 34 states that funnel money to "crisis pregnancy" centers. The centers advertise themselves as a kind of women's health clinic, but their primary goal is to preach against abortion with inaccurate talking points (emergency contraception is abortion, every woman who has an abortion regrets it, etc.).

I certainly object to my tax money being spent on this, yet I have a strange feeling the anti-abortion movement doesn't think my objections matter.

And then there's taxes. The standard Republican mantra on tax deductions is that they're a good thing, giving us back our own money ' except when it comes to abortion. Currently, a taxpayer who spends money on abortion can take a medical-expense tax deduction, just like ob/gyn visits or any other surgery. So she's just getting more of her own money back, right? But Republicans in Congress who want the write-off banned insist on describing it as "federal dollars" going to abortion. By their logic, tax cuts for the rich are a massive hand-out for the 1 percent.

Abortion Protest
Abortion Protest

Protesting the right-wing's perceived attempts to apply beliefs stemming from religion to politics and women's rights. |
Then there are the conscience clauses that pop up in various states and at the federal level, guaranteeing pharmacists or doctors can refuse to participate in abortions, prescribe birth control or write birth control prescriptions without getting fired. Some versions of the rule have allowed hospital staff to refuse to even schedule an abortion appointment; a pharmacist in Idaho refused to write a prescription for a woman suffering uterine bleeding on the grounds it might have been caused by abortion (apparently his conscience was fine with her uncontrolled loss of blood).

Once again, this seems like a special exception rather than an actual principle. It only works one way, for instance: A pharmacist whose conscience tells him to give a rape victim emergency contraception doesn't get any protection if his employer objects. The global gag rule doesn't have a conscience exemption for pro-choice doctors. And I'm pretty sure many people who support the clauses would be outraged if their own medical treatment was blocked by someone else's conscience ("As my church believes in faith healing, I can't ring up these antibiotics. Come back tomorrow when the other cashier is on duty.").

The truth, of course, is that these policies aren't about government spending or conscience or any principle. Except, of course, the principle that anything making it harder to get an abortion is a good thing (for many forced-birthers that applies to contraception too), regardless of how much they have to contradict themselves. As long as fewer and fewer women get the option to control their own fertility, it's okay.

When the only thing that matters is winning, I guess little things like logic and consistency shouldn't get in the way.

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Updated May 10, 2017 12:29 PM EDT | More details

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