Agnostic writes in The Pro-Life Movement (TM): Just another branch of victimhood feminism:
Certainly if you believe that abortion is murder, then the pregnant woman is at least an accessory to murder. Perhaps you wouldn’t punish the woman as much as the doctor, but to not only let her off scot-free, to righteously command everyone to look the other way about what she did, is sacrilege.
But it’s The Current Year, and shaming people hurts their self-esteem and makes them feel excluded, so everyone who does something wrong is actually a victim of circumstances and only needs our compassion, not our attempt to guide their behavior in a better direction.
Christians are not even allowed to appeal to Jesus’ command to “Go and sin no more” — sinners aren’t really sinners, but victims of someone else’s plots. We’re supposed to feel sorry for the pure innocent victims, and try to foil the plots of the truly wicked. That is actually a far more primitive worldview, akin to one where all bad things are due to witchcraft, rather than our own inner sinful nature.
…its central claim, that “abortion is murder,” was flatly contradicted by their total pardon of the pregnant women who seek out abortion.
This assessment is hard to argue with, but Agnostic has the motivation wrong. It isn’t that the leaders of the pro life movement don’t sincerely believe that abortion is murder. This is I should note the obvious conclusion nearly everyone will draw when seeing the pro life outrage to the proposal that women be punished in some way for obtaining illegal abortions. It was in fact my own (initial) gut reaction to the outrage.
The correct explanation however is even uglier and harder to fathom. It isn’t that the pro life movement doesn’t believe that abortion is murder; it is that even when it comes to Christian women murdering their own unborn children the fear of calling out sin in women is simply too much to bear. As outrageous as this would seem, it fits with a well established pattern. Faced with the problem of women coveting men’s role as warriors, conservative Christians created a fantasy world where women have been forced to join the military because men refuse to fight (see here and here). This same fear drives a long list of similar contortions, from cartoonish chivalry and inventing the feminist sin of servility, to claiming women’s sins are actually virtues. A wife denying sex contrary to 1 Cor 7 is therefore presented as channeling God’s will through her vagina, and an unhinged wife is said to be submittting to her husband by throwing a “godly tantrum”.
This fear is pervasive, but it is shrouded in denial backed up by a common misconception that conservative Christians are fervent antifeminists. No one thinks to check to see if conventional wisdom is true because Christian conservatives as woman hating meanies is too good to check. It is somewhat similar to the way everyone knows Malthus was predicting capitalism would lead to famine, even though he was actually writing about the dangers of the welfare state and the dreams of various leftist utopians. Neither the left nor the right want to confront, let alone process the fact that Malthus was not a Malthusian. This would require changing the way the pejorative Malthusian is applied, and neither side wants to go back and rework all of their arguments. So the misconception endures. Likewise, confronting the fact that conservative Christians are pandering to feminist Christian women would require a rework of the entire debate, and neither side has any motive to undertake such a massive task.
Yet the evidence of conservative Christian terror of upsetting women is all around us. Matt Walsh laughed off the claim that he was carrying feminist water when he argued that women who have abortions are only victims:
As nonchalant as Walsh pretends to be he knows very well that the women in his audience are in reality extremely feminist, and he fears them punishing him by withholding their approval:
…what disturbed me more than the inevitable Attack of the Trolls, were the literally hundreds of people who told me they agreed with the message, and thought it constructive and urgently necessary, yet I “lost them,” or they “stopped reading,” or they “changed their minds about me,” because of one three word sentence halfway through my rather lengthy post. Here is that decisive phrase: “I’m no feminist.” There goes the whole heartfelt and sincere piece about loving, protecting, and being loyal to women; apparently negated in the minds of many because I didn’t give myself the proper label.
As absurd as it seems, the leaders of the pro life movement really do believe that abortion is murder. They are just too afraid of being scolded by the women in their lives (and audience) to act as if they believe it is murder when a mother kills her own unborn child.