How the Ruling Class Uses the Abortion Issue to Divide-and-Rule
by John Spritzler
January 28, 2017
The URL of this article for sharing it is https://www.pdrboston.org/abortion-issue-framed-to-divide
Note: the links in this article all worked when it was written, but over time links sometimes stop working and I apologize for any in this article that may have done so.
A wise person once said, "Sometimes that which goes without saying goes better said." In that spirit, let me say, before getting into the topic indicated by the title of this article, that I acknowledge that women have been discriminated against for a long time, including in the area of reproduction, and that this discrimination against women is wrong and must end; women must have the same civil and human rights as men. Please note that this article is about how the argument in favor of a woman's right to have an abortion should and could be made more persuasive, and how Big Money works hard to ensure that this more persuasive argument never sees the light of day.
The Pro-Choice versus Pro-Life split on the abortion issue in the United States is as close to right down the middle as could be:
The issue is clearly extremely divisive: pro-lifers think pro-choicers are pro-murder; and pro-choicers think pro-lifers want women to needlessly suffer from an unwanted pregnancy against their will. This makes the issue perfect from the point of view of the ruling class: divide-and-rule, with half the population against the other half. What makes the issue work so well for the ruling class is that each side views the other with utter contempt, as having a fundamentally immoral position.
There are two things that the ruling class does to deliberately (click here to see why I say "deliberately") ensure that the abortion issue will be maximally divisive.
Firstly, it uses the Supreme Court to make the entire American population be ruled by the same abortion law, saying whether it is legal or not, so that people cannot "agree to disagree" by having the law say one thing here and a different thing there. If the law on abortion could vary from place to place, people who felt very strongly about the issue could move to a location where the law was suitable in their eyes. This would reduce the intensity of the mutual anger between the two camps.
Secondly, the ruling class uses its enormous wealth and hence power to ensure that the most divisive arguments of each side are heard, and that the arguments that foster mutual respect (even if not agreement) are seldom heard. Here's what I mean.
The fundamental disagreement between the pro-choice and pro-life sides hinges on the question whether a fetus is something the killing of which is murder. Were it not for this disagreement, there would be no conflict worth talking about.
If the pro-choice argument were made in a manner designed to minimize mutual contempt between the two sides and maximize mutual respect (even if not agreement) between them, it would make the following kind of argument:
"Let's define 'personhood' to mean the property of a living organism that makes it properly protected from being killed by our laws against murder. The question, then, is whether a fetus at some specified stage in development has personhood. The pro-choice position rests on the view that there is a continuum of "personhoodness" that ranges from zero when a human egg is not yet fertilized to 100% personhood when the fetus is an unborn baby that is independently viable, and middle degrees of personhoodness in the inbetween stages ranging from zero to 100%.
"Analogously, the degree to which it is morally murder to kill a living organism (the degree of "murderousness") depends on the degree of personhood of the organism. Murderousness ranges from zero in the case of killing an unfertilized human egg to 100% murder in the case of killing an independently viable unborn baby, with middle degrees of murderousness in the inbetween stages ranging from zero to 100%.
"A woman's decision to have an abortion is a decision to obtain a benefit for herself at the expense of some degree (between zero and 100%) of murderousness of the fetus. It is not unreasonable, morally, to abort a fetus when the degree of murderousness is very small and the amount of benefit to the woman is very great.
"Good and reasonable and moral people can disagree about the difficult judgment call about how small the murderousness and how great the woman's benefit must be to make an abortion both moral and legal. While people will no doubt make different judgment calls, there is no reason for them to view those who disagree with them as immoral people."
But the pro-choice side does not make this kind of argument. Instead, it makes arguments that deny that there is any moral issue, any risk of committing murder, at all.
Here are some of the slogans (for sale as bumper stickers online) that the pro-choice side uses. Note how they implicitly deny that there is any moral issue with abortion; they rely on the idea that it's just a question of whether a woman should be allowed to do what she wants to do.
DON'T TREAD ON ME
NOT YOUR UTERUS? NOT YOUR BUSINESS
IF IT'S NOT YOUR BODY IT'S NOT YOUR DECISION
KEEP YOUR THEOLOGY OFF MY BIOLOGY
AGAINST ABORTION? GET A VASECTOMY!
KEEP YOUR ROSARIES OFF MY OVARIES
MY BODY, MY CHOICE
Here's a typical pro-choice blog article, titled:
"If You Don't Like the Idea of Abortion, Don't Get One."
To see the effect of this kind of pro-choice campaign, based on a "logic" that denies that there is a moral issue at all, imagine if the issue were murder itself, not abortion. How would you feel if people told you:
"If You Don't Like the Idea of Murder, Don't Murder Anybody"
You'd be furious! Right? Well how do you think the pro-life people react when they see the pro-choice slogans?
The refusal of the pro-choice camp to acknowledge that abortion entails any degree of murderousness whatsoever (as opposed to arguing that it is justified when the degree is small enough and the benefit to the woman is great enough) leads logically to a defense of infanticide. A major journal of medical ethics has an article in which the authors--quite seriously--employ the pro-choice camp's "there's no moral issue at all" logic to argue in favor of the right of a woman to kill her perfectly healthy baby after it is born for any reason whatsoever including the mere personal convenience of the mother.
The article is titled, "After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?" It posits: "A serious philosophical problem arises when the same conditions that would have justified abortion become known after birth. In such cases, we need to assess facts in order to decide whether the same arguments that apply to killing a human fetus can also be consistently applied to killing a newborn human."
People in the pro-life camp intuitively know where this pro-choice "logic" leads, and they are understandably appalled by it.
Likewise, people in the pro-life camp are understandably appalled by a bill in the Virginia House of Representatives that, as the sponsor of it affirms in this video, would permit aborting a healthy baby (call it a fetus if you insist!) when the mother is dilated and about to give birth to it at the end of a full third trimester, merely out of concern for the mental health of the mother.
More to the point, how do you think the ruling class reacts when they see the pro-choice camp doing the equivalent of sticking their tongue out at people who are concerned about preventing murder and yelling the slogan equivalent of "Fuck you, I'll murder if I want to; if you don't like murder then don't murder anybody." The ruling class laughs all the way to the bank, enjoying watching their divide-and-rule strategy humming along nicely.
The Hand of the Ruling Class
How come the pro-choice organizations don't use the argument I presented above or something similar? It would clearly reduce the animosity between the two camps, and make it possible for them to work together in solidarity on other important issues such as, well, class inequality and being ruled by a dictatorship of the rich.
The explanation is that the big pro-choice organizations don't want to offend the ruling class. NARAL ("Pro-Choice America"), for example received funding from the TIDES Center, which is a conduit (as explained in detail here) for Big Money funding from the Ford, Rockefeller, Heinz and similar ruling class-controlled foundations. The 2017 Women's March, which, while officially about resisting racism and sexism and homophobia and xenophobia and not about pro-choice, stressed a pro-choice theme in its signs (with the same kinds of slogans that I cited above) and even denied pro-life organizations their request to formally participate in the march: it turns out this march was organized by organizations funded by the billionaire George Soros.
The major pro-life organization is also tied closely to Big Money. The largest pro-life organization, the National Right to Life organization, is very tight with the GOP. This is why the pro-life slogans, just as the pro-choice ones, maximally polarize the two camps against each other: murderers versus people against murder!
Large organizations in the United States invariably depend on Big Money backing. This is why they carefully avoid offending Big Money. This is why they don't frame social issues in a manner that would maximize the ability of a large majority of ordinary people to unite against Big Money and minimize their real but secondary disagreements.
Big Money uses social issue advocacy organizations to make us think that we are hopelessly divided right down the middle on fundamental moral questions. This way, Big Money hopes we will not realize that the vast majority of Americans are in fact united in wanting to remove the rich from power, have real--not fake--democracy with no rich and no poor. As long as we feel so hopelessly divided, we won't have the confidence to remove the rich from power. But we can remove the rich from power. Www.PDRBoston.org is all about that; please visit it.