EVERY SPERM IS SACRED
by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- This is the column I never wanted to write.
I suppose the anti-abortion contingent is dancing in the streets at Judge Samuel A. Alito's confirmation to the U. S. Supreme Court, but it leaves me numb.
It also leaves me confused.
I could get behind any movement that takes as its starting point, "Thou shalt not kill." But these anti-abortion folks are the same ones who treasure capital punishment. They're the ones who scorn those of us who seek rehabilitation as well as retribution.
They call abortionists "baby killers" and support those who have the nerve to kill them, their secretaries and their patients. And if they don't themselves kill, they are the ones who hide the killers when they're running from the law and bring food to them in the woods.
Then there's the war-mongering. It's hard to take the Christian right seriously about being pro-life when the one thing they seem to agree upon is the right to bomb the hell out of Muslim countries - mothers, babies, fathers, dogs and cats - whether it's for oil, natural gas, religion or just because they have a different skin color or language. If the pro-life people were leading the anti-war movement, I would be a bit more reassured.
The general joke about pro-lifers is that for them, "Life begins at conception and ends at birth." That's when the poor, the disenfranchised, the overworked, the overloaded and the undersupported women without access to good health insurance have to start raising these unwanted children.
In 2001, an article in Harvard's Quarterly Journal of Economics, John H, Donahue III and Steven D. Levitt concluded that: "Crime began to fall roughly 18 years after abortion legalization... Legalized abortion appears to account for as much as 50 percent of the recent drop in crime."
While this theory was immediately attacked, its ramifications are interesting. More studies could have been done on the positive effects of abortion - if the climate had not been made so emotionally charged that even suggesting there were positive benefits was seen as something akin to supporting child rape.
There's something self-righteous about pro-lifers, something sneering as well as controlling. They have the same kind of credibility with me as racist senators who are later found to have fathered illegitimate children with their African-American servants. There's a whiff of hypocrisy in the air. I would bet that some of the most fervent abortion foes have had abortions - or their wives and/or mistresses have had them. And if abortion is criminalized in this country, they will still have them. Anyone with money for an airline ticket will have access to abortions, because some states will permit them and many other countries provide them.
Clearly, I feel passionate about a woman's right to choose what happens to her own body. Still, I, too, think abortion is a tragedy. I think women who get pregnant should, if it is at all possible, have their children and care for them lovingly. I despise the idea of using abortion as a form of birth control.
But I also remember Barry, my first husband's best friend. When his girlfriend got pregnant - and this was before birth control pills were widely available and before abortion was legal - they were terrified. They were barely 20, both in college, both living with their parents.
So I became involved in the underground abortion movement and helped them find a doctor in Puerto Rico instead of a back-alley guy with a bent coat hanger.
A few years later, when abortion became legal, I thought it was a good thing to have it around. I still do. I'm pragmatic. Around the world, men and women are always going to be having sex. Women are always going to have unwanted pregnancies. How many do we want to see die while trying to abort?
There are easy, common sense ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies: good birth control and sex education, for example. So why is birth control the next target of the Christian right?
We've all heard by now about pharmacists all over the country who are refusing, out of "conscience," to fill birth control prescriptions. Many confuse contraception with abortion, which doesn't inspire confidence in their degrees.
Their actions are in direct contradiction to the Pharmacist's Oath, which states "I will apply my knowledge, experience and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal drug therapy outcomes for the patients I serve... I will maintain the highest principles or moral, ethical and legal conduct." Unless I've missed something, it does not say, "I will foist my unwelcome religious beliefs on other people and stand in the way of their receiving moral, ethical and legal medication as prescribed by their doctors."
So what's going on here? For one thing, to me it looks like many of these Christian right-wing anti-abortion people are, basically, anti-sex. And not anti-sex for men, either. A contraceptive pill for men was created back in the Sixties, so you figure out why it's not on the market today.
We're back to the domination of women, aren't we? About getting us back into the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, so men are not challenged by our talent, our wit, our abilities and our gumption.
The Monty Python comedy troupe was making fun of this belief in their song, "Every Sperm is Sacred": "Every sperm is sacred/Every sperm is great/If a sperm is wasted/God gets quite irate."
With the elevation of Samuel A. Alito to the Supreme Court, I'm not sure it's funny anymore.
AR Correspondent Joyce Marcel is a free-lance journalist who writes about
culture, politics, economics and travel. She can be reached at