Abortion Foes Don’t Care About Women’s Rights or Civil Rights

Rick Santorum
Rick Santorum

Recently in Philadelphia, a doctor was charged with eight counts of murder, including the death of a woman in a botched abortion, and seven babies that were born alive, according to the D.A.’s office. Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69, his wife and eight others allegedly turned their clinic, the innocuously-sounding Women’s Medical Society into “a house of horrors” that performed “botched and illegal abortions.” Containers in the West Philly facility were purportedly filled with fetal body parts, and the office reeked of cat excrement. Be forewarned that the 281-page grand jury report is not for the faint of heart.

Typically, the women who went to Dr. Gosnell’s office were women of color, some immigrants, and poor. They had no other choice. And the heinous criminal acts Dr. Gosnell is accused of committing really amount to the proverbial and anecdotal “back-alley” abortions women often faced before Roe v. Wade was decided 38 years ago. Anti-choice proponents will use such opportunities to double down against a woman’s right to choose. They will even invoke slavery and civil rights when discussing abortion. In reality, the problem is that women need more access, not more restricted access, to safe, quality reproductive services. And the Christian Right cares little, if at all, about women’s or civil rights.

“Abortion is a legal common routine medical procedure. Yet for 25 years, the state of PA has banned Medicaid funding for abortion,” said Susan Schewel, Executive Director of the Women’s Medical Fund. The group raises money to provide abortions to women who have chosen to have one but cannot afford it. Schewel believes the answer is not singling abortion providers for new regulations, but public funding for the procedure. “Abortion is the only routine medical procedure not covered by Medicaid. This prohibition on Medicaid payment for abortion leaves desperate women vulnerable to sub-standard providers,” Schewel added.

The Women’s Medical Fund took a look at its own records, at the women they helped in that West Philadelphia neighborhood over an eight week period in 2010. These were six women with an average monthly income of $503. Four of whom were on Medicaid, and two of whom were uninsured. And two were unemployed. One was a rape victim, while another was a domestic abuse victim with a protective order. Five were mothers, including a homeless woman.

Meanwhile, the ultra-right tends to grandstand and demagogue on the matter of a woman’s right to choose. Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) – who could not hold his Senate seat yet is planning a 2012 presidential run – recently told CNS News that it is “remarkable for a black man” like President Obama to support abortion rights. After all, who is more qualified to speak on what black men should or should not think than Mr. Santorum? “For decades certain human beings were wrongly treated as property and denied liberty in America because they were not considered persons under the constitution,” Santorum said. “Today other human beings, the unborn of all races, are also wrongly treated as property and denied the right to life for the same reason; because they are not considered persons under the constitution. I am disappointed that President Obama, who rightfully fights for civil rights, refuses to recognize the civil rights of the unborn in this country.” It is a common strategy of abortion foes to compare abortion to slavery, even a “black holocaust,” and create a false moral equivalency between abortion and the civil rights violations against African-American slaves.

Meanwhile, theocratic GOP members of Congress are proposing the crudely worded “The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” Current law allows for federal funding of abortions only in the case of rape or incest. If enacted, the new legislation would limit this exemption to victims of “forcible rape.” Victims of statutory rape and incest victims over 18 would be on their own, presumably because they “asked for it,” as the cold-blooded callousness of the bill suggests. This is what happens when Taliban are allowed to write the laws. Chances are that it won’t reach the President’s desk. But the bill leaves a distinct chill in the air.

I dare say that conservatives such as Santorum just don’t like black people or civil rights. As a senator, he received a 25 percent rating from the ACLU, indicating a strong anti-civil rights record. Santorum also received a 27 percent rating from the National Education Association, as someone who is against public schools. And he said as much himself: “Mass education is really the aberration,” adding that “It’s amazing that so many kids turn out to be normal considering the weird socialization they get in public schools.”

In addition, Santorum earned a 25 percent from CURE (Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants) as an anti-rehabilitation lawmaker. He voted to limit death penalty appeals, and to increase penalties for drug offenses. It seems he had little concern for the civil rights of blacks and Latinos who are caught up in an unfair, racially skewed criminal justice system.

If Santorum had cared so much about black people, he would have taken action to deal with the gun violence and murders that are disproportionately affecting communities of color. Yet, he voted to loosen license and background checks at gun shows, and voted to sell guns without trigger locks. Santorum also voted to prohibit lawsuits against weapon manufacturers.

Of the victims of Hurricane Katrina he said “[Y]ou have people who don’t heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving.”

Santorum voted against food stamp eligibility for blind or disabled legal immigrants. He also opposed a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits for people who exhausted their state jobless benefits.

David A. LoveAnd not surprisingly, Santorum received a 0 rating from NARAL, a completely anti-choice voting record. As a U.S. Senator he voted no on allocating $100 million to reduce teen pregnancy through education and contraceptives. Yet, the Christian Coalition gave Santorum a perfect 100 pro-family rating. We have to wonder what warped sense of family values they had in mind.

Those who invoke race when denying a woman’s right to choose would shut the door on the rights of poor black and brown women. As the Christian Right preaches family values, they advocate for the most atrocious policies for women, their families and their communities. For all their talk about the sanctity of life, they are very selective when it comes to the type of life they deem worthy of protection.

David A. Love

Republished with permission from The Black Commentator.


  1. Bill Gibbons says

    @Sikivu, Abortion is not a “human right.” It is an act of pure evil. first off, if some women are so irresponsible as to end up with an unwanted pregnancy, then they should be prepared to pay for the abortion themselves. You want to have your fun? Then use a contraceptive device. After all, there are plenty of them to choose from. You want to have the life sucked out of your body? Then pay for it yourself. Why should my tax dollars go to pay for the destruction of an innocent child? Mind you, with 70% of black children born in the USA out of wedlock, then all you are doing is supporting the destruction of your own race. And, as the majority of children aborted are female, then you are supporting the destruction of your own gender to boot. Great going there!

    Let’s talk about racial identity for a moment. “In the 1960’s you were “negroes” or “coloreds.” Then in the 1970’s you were “blacks.” Now you are “African Americans.” Just when was the cencus taken among the 40 millions blacks in the USA that led to the ever so politically correct “African American?” I’ve spent three decades exploring Equatorial Africa. As far as my African friends are concerned, you “African” Americans are just Yanks, plain and simple.

    Mr Love, you wrote, “If Santorum had cared so much about black people, he would have taken action to deal with the gun violence and murders that are disproportionately affecting communities of color.”

    So why is that HIS job? Are “communities of color” made up of imbiciles? Or doesn’t individual accountability work in “communities of color?” Why don’t you blacks – er – “African Americans” take charge of your own lives for a change? Why don’t YOU do something about that 70% illegitimate birth rate, black-on-black violence, and public school drop-out rate?

    As for the “fascist Christian right,” why don’t you move to Africa? Sounds to me that you and David A. Love will be a lot happier there among your own “kind.”

    Oh, I forgot, thety don’t have abortion clinics and their welfare ain’t so good.

  2. says

    Excellent commentary. It’s heartening to see an AA male commentator write so trenchantly on this subject. The fascist Christian right wants to turn back the clock to medievalism. Abortion is a human right. The Christian right is too craven to insist that women who have abortions be criminalized, jailed and forced to have babies by the state, but this is what their fascist edicts essentially translate into.

  3. marie says

    It is not always that easy to prove incest and forcible rape, before the fetus is getting to mature for a simple abortion.
    And a homeless pregnant woman, what can she offer her child? It would be different if she could be admitted to a healthy surrounding where she can go through her pregnancy and delivery and her baby could be adopted by responsible people, instead of it going from one social institution and foster-home to another.
    Even worse if the mother has been on heavy drugs, almost impossible to find adopting parents.
    Being raped is one of the horrible dangers homeless women are exposed to.
    Those law-makers in their high offices are stuck on their own ideology without understanding of the real life situations.
    If they want to tackle this abortion-problem, they first have to start with a roof above those women’s head and a job-income that can provide at-least the minimum necessities.
    And then all those teen-pregnancies… Now-a-day’s movies, TV and advertisement is rubbing it in those kids face that sex is the great thing to experiment with. Almost necessary to prove that they are real men and women. Self-control is not popular.
    Let those law-makers focus on prevention of these unwanted situations, instead of forbidding people to try to choose what in their situation seems the best solution to prevent more suffering.

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