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Hi and welcome back! Recently, evangelicals made some stunning concessions regarding their ongoing war against human rights. Yes, they finally understand exactly what they’re doing in fighting against legalized, accessible abortion care. I suppose they’ll soon be dropping their entire culture war against abortion now that they understand how important bodily self-ownership is, right? .. Right? Um, guys..?

confusing talk about abortion

(For a whole variety of reasons, I do not consider anti-abortion culture warriors to be ‘pro-life.’ Instead, I call them forced-birthers, because that is all they’re trying to do. They want to force women to gestate unwanted pregnancies. They have literally zero interest in literally any other factors, nor in any other causes that really would improve anyone’s actual quality of life. I didn’t invent this term and don’t know who did, but it really fits.)

(Related post: I Still Belong to Me.)

Abortion Care Involves a Lot of Human Rights.

When we talk about reproductive rights, we’re talking about a whole host of human rights all coming together in one little package. Here is the full list of those rights, from Human Rights Watch:

  • Life (of the mother)
  • Health and health care
  • Information
  • Nondiscrimination and equality (men who oppose abortion do not ever, after all, consider their own rights on the chopping block)
  • Freedom from cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment (ask women who need therapeutic abortions about this one)
  • Privacy
  • Deciding on the number and spacing of one’s children
  • Security of person
  • Liberty
  • Enjoying the benefits of scientific progress
  • Freedom of conscience and religion

This is why countries that try to outlaw abortion accomplish exactly two things:

  1. They become hellholes of oppression, corruption, and systemic sexism
  2. And they succeed only in making abortion care more dangerous

It’s no wonder that back in the 1970s, evangelicals tried really hard to find a culture-war cause that’d get the flocks agitated — before lighting at last upon abortion.

The Sheer Perfection of Abortion as a Culture-War Cause.

Abortion must have looked like a perfect culture-war rallying point to those social engineers. It literally cannot be wiped out entirely. Firstly, because therapeutic abortions are still a thing. And secondly, because desperate women will reliably take their fates into their own hands when facing an unwanted pregnancy.

So this is one culture war evangelicals literally will never and can never win. But it’s one that they can invent endless hand-wringing moralizing about to shock and titillate their eager flocks.

Plus, as noted, forced-birther men literally never consider what impact their own opposition to abortion will have on their own human rights. Misogyny makes it easy for these men to strip rights away from women. Then, they go all Surprised Pikachu when someone discusses, for example, how this opposition opens the door to forcing men to donate organs against their will (as nearly happened to David Shimp).

And so their culture war continues. At this point, the flocks are so whipped up into anti-abortion fervor that it’d be impossible to pull them back from howling zealotry even if evangelical leaders wanted to try. They don’t even want to try, though.

So This Happened in Evangelicals’ Ongoing War on Abortion.

I spotted this post a while ago on the subreddit r/BlackPeopleTwitter:

abortion shouldn't be controversial
‘Making an informed choice regarding your own body shouldn’t be controversial.’ Also: Tucker Carlson’s face froze like this years ago. He’s incapable of any expression except ‘a dog watching a magic trick.’

And it made me realize that almost all of the arguments that evangelicals are offering right now regarding their COVID denialism draw upon the exact arguments they reject regarding abortion care.

We see these arguments constantly. They show up in a vaccine hearing in Hawaii from a guy repeatedly asserting his religious-based objections to the vaccine (p. 35):

A notification, it’s not a request. I’m not begging for permission for my rights. It’s my body. It’s my body and body of my children. The state has no business over it.

We also see this objection raised in a few different ways in this critical post from Australia:

Others still claim they are entitled to autonomy — “My body, my rights” — and freedom of conscience. This argument is closely related to moral objections concerning the genesis of the vaccine.

And we see it also in this call-in show that specifically was discussing evangelicals’ refusal to get the vaccine. A comment beneath it by “Janet Graham” begins this way:

OWN? I want to own me.

Over and over again, we see evangelicals refusing to vaccinate themselves and their kids by specifically invoking their rights to self-ownership. We might see it phrased, as here and also here, as ownership by their imaginary friend Jesus. It amounts to the same thing.

Their body, therefore their choice to vaccinate.

“My Body, My Choice”: A Curious Inconsistency.

I’m sure not the first person to notice that evangelicals are curiously inconsistent about their messaging. Here’s a July article from Vogue referencing that same inconsistency:

The first time I saw a photo of an anti-vaxxer with a sign that read “My Body My Choice,” I was sort of puzzled. I thought perhaps the photo editor had used the wrong image to accompany the story—but then I saw that the sign also included a picture of a mask with a red line across it.

But part of being evangelical involves completely compartmentalizing one’s thinking. Their opposition to abortion lives in one compartment. Their opposition to vaccination lives in another. In their minds, both causes are completely congruent with each other.

So yes: when it comes to protecting themselves, their families, and society at large, they can be selfish ratbastards with ratbastard filling, and thereby cause untold misery and death through their anti-intellectual denialism and belligerence. But they can also persecute and harass women’s clinics (real ones, of course, not their fake versions) and endlessly stigmatize a perfectly natural medical procedure that their Dear Leaders have taught them to view as evil.

Even Robert Jeffress, a well-known evangelical pastor, has expressed discomfort with this compartmentalization:

What really bothers me is the number of evangelicals I’ve heard adopt this mantra: my body, my choice. That’s what the pro-abortion people say.

But I don’t think his stern admonitions will impact much. Evangelicals are well aware of what human rights are, and they will invoke them at any time they want to avoid showing love for their fellow human beings.

Interestingly, I don’t see governments responding to vaccinations in the same way that evangelicals want governments to respond to legalized abortion: by peeling away anyone’s rights over their own body. In fact, they want the opposite here!

Cognitive Dissonance vs Rules for Me, Not for Thee.

What I’m describing here is cognitive dissonance. That’s the discomfort people feel when they hold two very conflicting opinions at the same time. For me in my Pentecostal days, it was literalism in one box and acceptance of evolution and an impossibly-old Earth in another. I believed both ideas at once, somehow. My compartments were well-built. I don’t remember them jostling together much, but they did sometimes!

It’ll be interesting to see how evangelicals’ discomfort with cognitive dissonance will progress with their hypocrisy regarding abortion and vaccination. I hope we keep riding them about it. If they really want to adopt a human-rights approach to their denialism, then let’s let ’em have both metaphorical barrels on that score. Their cognitive dissonance might be able to compartmentalize, but not when they’re constantly confronted with it.

My body, my choice. It applies to both vaccine denialism and abortion.

The government may not override my consent over my own body’s usage, even if doing so would literally save someone else’s life. No one else gets a say over my decisions. However, people can refuse to associate with me if I’m not vaccinated, and privately-owned businesses can refuse to allow such deniers onto their property because they’re allowed to deny service to any legally-unprotected group they wish.

See how that works, evangelical culture warriors?

no shirt no shoes no vaccine no dice
Everything we needed to know, we learned from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

No shirt, no shoes, no vaccine, no dice.

NEXT UP: LSP! See you tomorrow!

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(VACCINE STATEMENT: Mr. Captain and I are both fully vaccinated and plan to get all boosters as needed. We practice all preventive measures supported by real scientists and medical authorities.)

Human rights are curious things. They govern the conduct of people that we disagree with, mostly. Nobody needed to fight for Fred Rogers‘ right to free speech; everything he ever said was loving and kind — and well-received. It’s George Carlin, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, and Bob Guccione who need(ed) to push hard to assert their rights. That’s why vaccination mandates and abortion alike can be such thorny questions. People don’t have to like abortion. Many don’t. That’s fine. IDGAFF. It’s still the expression of many human rights. Like it, hate it, whatever. It still needs to stay legal and accessible for all our sakes.

ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...

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