Be The Change

Welcome to Week 48 of Be the Change!

I didn't write write last week about the overturning of Roe because I needed time to process the news. Well, this week I have some thoughts about so-called "pro-lifers" and the brutal hypocrisy of their beliefs. I also share a poem that was inspired by a wounded cricket I found in my kitchen.

I hope you enjoy and ask your friends to sign up too.

- Andy


I found a cricket in my kitchen, wounded, on its back,
little legs flailing as if it could walk upside down. I heard

no chirps, no yelps of pain, no cries for help;
I lacked the heart to crush him. Gently, I carried him

to my yard, left him, right-side up, wriggling, by a rose bush.
Hours later, I returned, and he was gone. I know not whether

he flew off, or, more likely, was eaten alive; whether it
would not have been better to kill and discard him

like so much plastic, dreams, ideas. O, when night
descends like locusts, I sit by the roses and breathe

in my godlike power: there’s the garden I cultivate,
there, the creatures at my mercy. And beyond, the

universe from which I hide my broken wings, reaching for
the old bucket of glue that can hardly hold itself together.
Pro-Life My Foot

Pro-Life My Foot

Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v Wade and left it to the states to decide whether a woman* has autonomy over her body, it's worth taking a peek under the hood of the "pro-life" viewpoint. For there are serious, well-intentioned intellectuals who are cheering the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organizationincluding David French, a contributing writer at The Atlantic. The day of the Dobbs decision he wrote an essay titled The Pro-life Movement's Work Is Just Beginning, in which he argued that "The entire legal and cultural ethos of the pro-life movement can be summed up in two sentences: A just society protects all life. A moral society values all life."

Noting that "Now is the time for gratitude and profound humility" about what comes next, French writes that "if the pro-life movement wants to end abortion, it has to do much more work than merely banning abortion." And his prescription for doing that? In short: giving families "monthly financial assistance even when a child is still in the womb" and vague notions of "fostering and adopting children...loving mothers in distress... sustaining and creating private institutions that provide shelter and assistance to women in need."

I don't doubt that people like David French sincerely believe it is incumbent on them to preserve the life of the unborn; but that doesn't excuse the utter lack of seriousness of what they're advocating, or the cruel and brutal implications of the victory they just won. The great George Carlin once observed, about anti-choice conservatives, the following:
They're all in favor of the unborn. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you're born, you're on your own. Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don't want to know about you...  No neonatal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you're preborn, you're fine; if you're preschool, you're fucked

If you read French's essay, you'll note that nowhere does he propose how to end rape and incest. Nowhere does he talk about expanding access to contraception and sex education so that fewer people have unwanted pregnancies, or the implications Dobbs will have for women who want to get pregnant through IVF. Nowhere does he talk about rape culture. Nowhere does he talk about ectopic pregnancies, or other instances in which the life of the mother is in danger. Nowhere does he address the morality of forcing a twelve-year-old child to give birth to, let alone care for a child. Nowhere does he address the stunning hypocrisy of calling for a social safety net program for the purposes of ending abortion when the conservative project over the past 40 years has been predicated on the erosion of the safety net. Nowhere does he talk about ending immigrant detention or reforming ICE (46 migrants were found dead today in a tractor-trailer, victims of our border war). Nowhere does he talk about gun violence, and the myriad innocent children murdered by handguns and assault rifles. (In fact, in 2018 he wrote an essay titled What Critics Don't Understand About Gun Culture, with the subtitle: "I carry a weapon--and it's tied me closer to my community.") Nowhere does he talk about climate change, which already kills millions of people worldwide and threatens the future of the living and the unborn. Nowhere does he talk about ending the death penalty. Nowhere does he talk about affordable housing and investing in education and tackling police brutality and racism and all the other things that, you know, would prevent the living from dying and enable them to live more beautiful lives.

So forgive me for not taking seriously all this talk about the life of the fetus. As an atheist and a feminist, I am infuriated that one religious viewpoint--that life begins at conception, which, let's be clear, is a religious, not scientific, viewpoint--of a subset of Christians now proscribes the bodily decisions of half the population, especially in a nation with a putative separation of church and state (though today the Supreme Court further eroded that bedrock Constitutional principle, ruling that a public school football coach had the right to lead a prayer on the field). A true pro-life agenda would look nothing like that for which David French and other conservatives advocate, no matter how earnest their claims. But that's because, as George Carlin also noted, most of these people are not pro-life--they're anti-woman.


* Some prefer to use the phrase "people who can get pregnant," but I intentionally do not do so. Yes, there are trans men who can still get pregnant and are therefore impacted by the overturning of Roe v Wade, but this is overwhelmingly an issue affecting women; if we are unclear in our language, we muddle the message. I of course respect people who prefer to use different language.
Thanks for reading!

- Andy