It’s been a doozy of a week, with edited videos and false charges against Planned Parenthood, combined with rampant misinformation about the use of fetal tissue for research, ricocheting through the media at warp speed.
Usually, these kinds of situations call for a focus on the very serious moral issues of our day, such as what a group of largely white, largely older, powerful men, who are certainly too important to shop for or change baby diapers, think is OK for women to do with our bodies. You know, like whether we can want to have sex without getting pregnant, consent to sex without consenting to pregnancy, say no and be believed and respected, want to use birth control without our boss’ permission, or want to keep our job even if we are pregnant. Those kinds of things. Based on a fundamental reading of the Bible, of course.
So it is really refreshing when a conservative commentator finally relies on science to explain to women who they are, what happens to them when they are pregnant, and what happens when they terminate a pregnancy.
Enter Erick Erickson, a regular Fox News contributor, editor of RedState.com, and guest host for Rush Limbaugh, who eschews that old Bible-thumping for real, hard science.
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As Media Matters for America (MMFA) reported in May 2013, for example, Erickson responded to a then newly released Pew Research study showing that women were the sole or primary breadwinners in 40 percent of U.S. households. Erickson was very dismayed, claiming that “biology” and “the natural world” dictate that men, not women, should play the “dominant role” as breadwinners.” And that those who defend single-parent families are “anti-science.” From MMFA:
When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and a female in society, and other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it’s not antithesis, or it’s not competing, it’s a complementary role. We as people in a smart society have lost the ability to have complementary relationships in nuclear families, and it’s tearing us apart. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 5/29/13]
Based on his deep knowledge of science and history, Erickson has also helpfully tried to explain that you really can tell when it’s “legitimate rape” or not, that homosexuality is a sin, and that children of either single or gay parents, (or—ruh roh—children of single, gay parents) are destined for the Big House because they can never beat the regular old heterosexual couple as parents.
Now, Erickson has reaffirmed his roots in science by reminding us that women who seek reproductive health care are “pregnant female animals” with no ability for autonomous thinking.
In discussing the heretofore wholly made-up charges about Planned Parenthood and fetal tissue, MMFA reports that Erickson called on companies to cease donations to Planned Parenthood, accusing donors of having “subsidized the brutal killing of animals.”
In a not even thinly veiled post on RedState, Erickson chided a long list of corporations for donating to Planned Parenthood and claimed that the “companies have contributed to an organization that takes pregnant female animals and pulls their unborn from them and crushes them. In numerous cases, the barbarians who do this procedure then take the organs from the small, crushed animals and give them to others for scientific research.”
Let’s think about this. “Pregnant female animals” would refer to the actual born women seeking abortion care at Planned Parenthood clinics. Said organization “takes pregnant female animals” because, of course, these animals cannot think on their own or act of their own volition. So we must guard them carefully, lest they stray. And, one gets the sense that Erickson thinks of Planned Parenthood as the local dog-catcher, running around and picking up stray women who happen to be pregnant and forcibly taking them in for abortions. Because women have no ability for complex thinking, no sense of rationality, and no idea what they are doing with themselves, they cannot possibly be deciding for themselves that it’s a sane idea to terminate a pregnancy they do not want, they cannot afford, or that is otherwise untenable for whatever reason. Planned Parenthood must be netting and dragging them into clinics. And, following Erickson’s theory, because they do not have the ability for complex thinking, women of course, also do not have rights. According to Erickson, women are just kinda like dogs in heat and we must protect them from both themselves and Planned Parenthood. (See Males: Dominant, above.)
To be sure, Erickson is not alone in this kind of thinking. The idea that women are not actual people with rights, and that any rights they do have are relinquished even before the pee stick turns red, is a pervasive core belief of people in the fundamentalist GOP anti-choice movement. This week, for example, I had several lovely people, including female photo’ed Twitter accounts, helpfully remind me that it is not my body, it’s the baby’s body.
— Deborah Untch (@stldebbie2011) July 21, 2015
The same sentiment was expressed by a man harassing women outside a reproductive health clinic who, speaking to a reporter from Lady Parts Justice, said that everyone has rights, except women.
Asked why he was protesting outside the clinic, this gentleman, identified by Lady Parts Justice as “The Christian,” stated “we are here to defend life, liberty, and property. The right for every person to have rights, in life. And of any age.”
Speaking of abortion, he continued: People want to say “it’s a woman’s choice. But who gave that choice to a woman? She had a choice to have sex or not, but once she became pregnant, she lost her freedom and her free will.”
I could go on citing others, but will just stop here to let this all sink in. This is one of the core pillars of GOP political theory, the other side of the white, male supremacy coin. Women are not people. Even if our own lives are at risk. We are merely vessels, pods, breeding animals. We are in service to and for the man. To Erick Erickson and his friends across the fundamentalist anti-choice movement, biology is destiny. Especially for us females.