Underneath the Planned Parenthood controversy is the great and savage fight in this country over the morality of abortion itself. And we're not going to settle this easily - if we can settle it at all - because it's rooted in our most deeply-held beliefs about what makes a person and when human life begins.
Liberals like myself tend to believe personhood comes from consciousness. Until the human brain develops, which is late in the pregnancy, the thoughts that make one a human are impossible, and therefore the woman's rights over her body take precedence. We also believe people living below the poverty line exist.
Conservatives approach this differently. They believe - often for religious reasons - that human life begins at the moment of conception and after that point the woman's rights must make way for the equally valid rights of her unborn. They believe just as strongly that someone making below $12,000 a year ($11,770 to be exact, or $24,250 for a family of four) is not really a person even in the theoretical sense.
Anti-abortion activists have claimed the recent videos of Planned Parenthood officials prove they are illegally selling fetal organs and tissues for profit. The evidence is deeply suspect - taken by an extremist group that may have itself violated the law by posing as a biomedical company, the footage shows two representatives who repeatedly say the organization makes no profit on the procedure, merely recoups costs. Liberals say we'll need to know more about this situation before we cut hundreds of millions of dollars from a group that provides the poor with tests for STDs, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases, as well as helping them get access to birth control and other healthcare services. Conservatives don't think cutting this out of the budget is a problem, because it simply doesn't hurt people. Not real people anyway, because to conservatives real people are in the middle or upper class, and they don't live in dirty places where they have to go to the whore-clinic.
A liberal sees a person with a pregnancy she didn't anticipate as someone whose life might well be ruined. She might lack the resources to care for a baby and forcing her to carry her child to term will be cruel to both of them. You want to be careful about denying personhood to a being who can think, but you have to weigh this concern against the very real harm that unintended pregnancy causes to people living in poverty, and that's before we even discuss issues like rape, incest, or the health risks causes by complications. A conservative, on the other hand, believes that the issue of personhood is clear. The moment a child is conceived it is a real human being with full rights. And it keeps those rights until nine months later when it's born into a home in which no one has a decent job, and it'll be beaten up or left in a dumpster or whatever, but by that point it won't matter, because there will be little chance it will grow up to work in an office and vote Republican.
The irony is that both liberals and conservatives agree on a key issue: A low-income pregnant woman represents one human being and one human being only. They just disagree on exactly which one that is. But that kind of person is going to get someone elected. Someone who counts.
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Danger: Diabolik (1968) Pressbook - Here's one for Mario Bava fans, from the Italian comic series Diabolik. Comic book reader version: Download Danger Diabolik Pressbook (and see more pressbo...