Blowing my mind: abortion quotes edition

So, I’m just nodding furiously and occasionally throwing horns at Alison McCulloch’s latest post on the abortion debate in New Zealand (where “debate” = someone accurately describes the tactics of antichoice douchebags and Karl du Fresne whinges about it) when suddenly my brain hits the brakes:

Or how about this curious classic from the RTL site: “No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg. No one has the right to choose to kill another human being.” (That first part about the ice cream and the Porsche is actually a quote from a U.S. anti-abortion activist. I don’t know if it says what RTL wants it to say, but then again I don’t really know exactly what it’s trying to say. Pregnant women as trapped animals? Porsches? Murder?)

The reason for my confusion was thus:  I am instinctively loath to question McCulloch’s word on anything when it comes to the history of the abortion debate, because she’s a badass prochoice historian of awesomeness.

But … isn’t that a pro-choice quote?

Isn’t it a refutation of the common antichoice line that people “just” have abortions for “casual” reasons?  Isn’t it saying “when a woman says she wants an abortion, she doesn’t mean it casually”?

Yet then I hit the Google, and lo and behold.  That’s a quote from Frederica Mathewes-Green, past vice-president of (eyeroll, I always do) Feminists for Life America.

According to this antichoice site, Mathewes-Green is talking about “the despair which leads [people] to abort”.  Um … and that isn’t meant to make us sympathize with them?  And their situation?

Nope, apparently

Returning to Mathewes-Green’s analogy of an animal gnawing its leg off to escape a trap, we see that abortion is actually an act of self-destruction. When pro-abortionists view a [person] in this desperate situation, their solution is to offer the [person] a clean, legal way of cutting off the offending leg — after all, they believe there are too many unfit “legs” in the world already.

I don’t think antichoicers know how to construct an analogy.  Because … yes.  If I saw an animal with its leg caught in a trap, desperate to get out, I would consider surgically and safely removing the broken leg a completely valid choice, hell, the most compassionate choice, because for the vast majority of animals likely to get caught in traps, if the stress and shock of me trying to pry open the trap didn’t kill them, they wouldn’t survive very long in the wild on a broken leg.  Infection, starvation or predators would get them pretty fucking quickly.

Apparently this is because, unlike antichoicers, I have rejected hope and turned to “one of Satan’s greatest weapons”, despair.

Oh, and also I automatically think there are too many “unfit” babies in the world, or something.  I’m all about the baby-hating.

… yeah.  I’m just confused.  And yet, somewhat enlightened about how antichoicers view pregnant people, and how fucking clueless they insist on being about the harsh realities of life.


  1. Moz's House

    I’m glad someone else was confused by that quote. My thought was that no, needing an abortion is very rarely as bad as being ready to gnaw your leg off. But then I thought of all the women who die from lack of abortions, and die trying to get one, or from getting a botched one. And I thought “yes, you’re right, that’s a great analogy. Now, why does threatening to imprison a woman who is in that position sound like a workable idea?”

    And for some reason many of my thoughts about these people are punctuated with “you stupid f**ks” instead of full stops.

    And of course, removing the trap appears not to be an option either… (yes, three of those punctuation thingies)

    • Chris Miller

      Thinking about it, it’s sort of like when I read texts in policy classes about neo-liberalism etc. Which are supposed to be sympathetic to it, as an ideology, and they explain how it (is supposed to) work(s) and stuff and I’m just sitting there going “but that sounds terrible, why would you want that?” My reaction is just completely the opposite of what they intend.

  2. AlisonM

    Thanks QoT, for following that quote farther down the rabbit hole than I was capable of going. (And for the kind shoutout.) I almost deleted it from my THM post because it messed with my brain. Then I went off the rails trying to explain it. Then realised I couldn’t explain it. Then backtracked. Then gave up. (BTW, Ken didn’t cite the source it in his original, either.)

    • QoT

      It was fascinating! Clearly one of those quotes which has just done the rounds so many times that it’s been completely deprived of context.

  3. Frank Macskasy

    “No one has the right to choose to kill another human being.”

    The most common refrain of anti-choice propagandists. And usually these are the same people who support the NRA, capital punishment, and sending young men and women off to foreign lands to shove “de-mach-krasy” down their throats – and engage up with body counts with lots of numbers.

    It’s like, the dividing cells/embryo/foetus is worthy of “protection” – but fair game once it’s born, for the Right to determine how it will die/be killed.

    • QoT

      Ah yes, the usual defence for being “pro-life” yet also “pro-death-penalty” is that criminals are evil and have chosen to give up their sanctified right to life by doing bad things. Which makes it OK for us to kill them. But of course, terminally ill people who really really want to choose to give up their right to life must be forced to endure because life is sacred. And war’s okay because God is a vengeful God.

      I really don’t know how some of these people keep everything straight in their heads.

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