10.07.2021

Ignoring Christian Extremism Complicates Efforts to Understand Opposition to Reproductive Rights

pro-life flags in Ontario

If x is really bad (i.e., something almost everyone detests), I suppose that trying to build an association between x and whatever else we don't like is an understandable impulse even if it isn't rational or justified in many cases. What often puzzles me about this is that the thing we are desperately trying to connect to x, we'll call it y, is often already pretty bad on its own. Concocting a weak connection from y to x seems like a waste of time in these cases. And what's worse, doing so can be discrediting. Either the person doing it fails to appreciate how bad y is on its own or is so desperate to paint y in an even more negative light that they are willing to distort reality to do so.

For the last decade or so in the United States, a widely used x for this sort of thing is racism. I've seen recent efforts from some of the pro-choice groups to connect theocratically driven efforts to restrict reproductive rights to racism. But is that really necessary? Isn't it enough of a problem all by itself that Christian extremists want to strip women of their rights? Shouldn't that be bad enough? I don't disagree that restrictions on reproductive rights have a disproportionate impact on BIPOC. That seems fairly clear. They are bound to have this effect on groups already faced with inadequate access to affordable healthcare. I'd also not disagree with claims that many of the forced birthers are racists; it is just that I'm not sure their racism has much to do with their desire to punish everyone involved in abortion.

It seems to me that Christian extremism gets us much closer to a cause for the attacks on abortion than racism does. And yet, it is one we rarely hear about from the national organizations defending reproductive rights (though we do sometimes hear about it from national secular organizations). Why do you suppose that is? It is not that racism or misogyny are irrelevant here; it is just that they seem much less relevant than Christian extremism.