We know that conservatives like to attack Planned Parenthood because they provide abortions, and abortions are evil because life begins at conception. However, there’s a hypocrisy here that few have noticed. It proves that their targeting abortion is more about controlling women and their sexuality than it is about protecting life. Fertility clinics that do in-vitro fertilization are also guilty of destroying tiny, unborn babies. Conservatives don’t target them with the same fervor that they target anybody who performs abortions. Why?
Margo Kaplan explains it perfectly in an op-ed for the Washington Post. Fertility clinics make a far less attractive target for anti-choice conservatives because they’re helping women attain motherhood, rather than helping women maintain total independence and bodily autonomy. Fertility clinics help women stay in their place in society as wives and mothers. Abortion clinics do not.
Kaplan writes that she and her husband conceived both their children through IVF. Because of this, she knows that most couples produce more embryos than they’ll ever use in IVF. What the clinic does with these embryos is up to the couple. Kaplan writes:
[C]linics cryogenically freeze them until patients choose to use them in another IVF cycle, dispose of them, donate them to scientific research (which results in their destruction) or offer them to an infertile couple. After two years and careful thought, we chose to donate ours to research. We hope our choice will help doctors find cures for debilitating and fatal illnesses such as Huntington’s disease and ALS.
Yet, there is far less outrage from conservatives over this. Life only begins at conception when it’s a woman terminating a pregnancy. Yes, we have had some controversy over stem cell research, and George W. Bush actually banned federal funding for embryonic stem cell research for a time because of this. That, however, was far less vitriolic than the controversy over Planned Parenthood and abortion.
Republicans have tried to skirt Roe v. Wade in every way imaginable. Women have to endure waiting periods. They have to endure invasive, medically unnecessary ultrasounds. They have to listen to lectures that are sometimes medically inaccurate. What do couples who want to donate their embryos to science, or simply dispose of them, have to endure?
In contrast, all my husband and I had to do was sign a form. Our competence to choose the outcome of our embryo was never questioned. There were no mandatory lectures on gestation, no requirement that I be explicitly told that personhood begins at conception or that I view a picture of a day-five embryo. There was no compulsory waiting period for me to reconsider my decision. In fact, no state imposes these restrictions — so common for abortion patients — on patients with frozen embryos. With rare exceptions, the government doesn’t interfere with an IVF patient’s choices except to resolve disagreements between couples.
Then Kaplan went on with this truth-bomb:
The disparity between how the law treats abortion patients and IVF patients reveals an ugly truth about abortion restrictions: that they are often less about protecting life than about controlling women’s bodies. Both IVF and abortion involve the destruction of fertilized eggs that could potentially develop into people. But only abortion concerns women who have had sex that they don’t want to lead to childbirth. Abortion restrictions use unwanted pregnancy as a punishment for “irresponsible sex” and remind women of the consequences of being unchaste: If you didn’t want to endure a mandatory vaginal ultrasound, you shouldn’t have had sex in the first place. [emphasis in the original piece]
In the end, it is about controlling women, their bodies, and their behavior. Look at Mike Huckabee. He’s said that insurance shouldn’t have to cover birth control because women should just control their libidos. There is no corresponding demand on men. Nobody jumps on men for not wearing condoms when they get a woman pregnant. Society doesn’t tell a man who’s trying to get out of taking responsibility for an unwanted child that he shouldn’t have had sex in the first place. These are things that women commonly hear, though. The double standard is amazing.
And it’s evident when it comes to the difference between a fertility clinic and an abortion clinic, and between IVF and abortion. The whole piece puts the truth about the abortion “debate” into a very harsh and uncomfortable spotlight, as well it should. This is how we know that the whole pro-life crowd is far more concerned about controlling women than it is about protecting unborn life.