On August 22, 2015, the satanic temple of Detroit showed up at a peaceful pro-life protest of Planned Parenthood in order to engage in self-described political theater, shown in the video linked above. Overall their counter protest is relatively lackluster. Sure, the wasting of milk has some shock value. The wearing of clericals and carrying of a crucifix just shows the lack of creativity involved. I am underwhelmed.
Beyond the basic lack of creativity in their costuming department, they employed an argument that I find basically preposterous. Well, “employed” is probably strong language for what actually happened. They just held up a sign that said “America is not a theocracy. End forced motherhood!”
The first statement requires relatively less space to discuss: What does theocracy have to do with whether or not it is immoral to rip babies up in the womb? You don’t have to believe in God in order to oppose abortion. And even if the pro-lifers did support the idea of theocracy, how on earth does it follow that they are necessarily wrong about their conclusions regarding the morality of pre-born baby destruction?
The second statement is what caught my attention, however, and has held it for several days. “End forced motherhood!” What a statement to make. Almost as naive and wrong-headed as then-Senator Obama saying he didn’t want his daughters “punished with a baby.”
Now, last I checked, forced motherhood was not a rampant problem in America. I do not here mean that there is not some abusive situation in which a woman is being forcibly impregnated against her will, and any such situation should certainly be put to an end, and the man or woman responsible should be summarily punished. However, I do not think that these protesters were responding to this human puppy mill-esque scenario. I think it a much more reasonable inference that they are saying that women should not be “forced” to have unplanned children.
I think, however, that this use of the word “forced” is entirely wrong-headed. It ignores a basic fact of biology: Sex makes children. Why is our culture okay with pretending like sexual reproduction isn’t a thing until we want it to be? Sex is, in the big picture, primarily a method of procreation — of a man and a woman passing on their DNA. The vast majority of men and women who participate in sex do so with the knowledge that his sperm and her egg might make their child. Therefore it seems that unless the woman is being forced into having sex then she is not being forced into motherhood; or, in other words, anyone who freely participates in sex also freely potentiates the production of their own child.
Once that child has come into being, at conception, there is no reason to call the state that results from a free choice “forced.” By way of an analogy, if you freely choose to over-eat on a regular basis, could you say that you were forced to gain weight? Conversely, if you go and work out a lot, who forced your excellent physique on you? If you regularly choose to smoke, who forced your lung cancer upon you? It does not make sense to accuse an external agent of force if you are the source of the decision which brought about your consequences. Even if the consequences are unpleasant due to circumstance, or if they are unplanned and inconvenient, you cannot accuse others of bringing them on. If no one forced you to become a mother, you are not experiencing forced motherhood.
But perhaps the accusation is not that others have forced them to become pregnant, but that society expects them to stay pregnant. Good! I would count it as a sign of health when a society expects parents to fulfill the obligations they have toward their children, including not allowing someone to rip their newly formed arms from their trunk or cut apart their faces to retrieve their brains for sale. It does not seem unreasonable to expect a parent to care for their child apart from extremely extenuating circumstance.
When would this ability to escape so-called forced motherhood end? When the child was a year old? Perhaps little Timmy has become a nuisance at a year and a half, with all the walking. What about a mouthy nine-year-old? Can we start freeing all of those women forced to continue mothering all the way through high school and beyond? And does forced grandmothering also fall in this current wave of liberation? This is a new level of absurdity.
As we can see, the whole idea of “forced motherhood” is empty rhetoric. Unfortunately this is a case where bad argumentation is fatal: Over 700,000 lives have been lost to abortion in 2015 so far, and that’s just the babies. We cannot indulge this kind of nonsensical thinking any longer — not at the cost of millions of infant lives. We must all take steps every day to make abortion something we speak about in the past tense, with sorrow and trembling and cries for forgiveness that we ever allowed it to go on this long. We must end abortion in our lifetime.