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作为研究反堕胎运动的人,一年中的这个时候始终具有特别重要的意义。昨天是最高法院在 Roe 诉 Wade 案中作出裁决以来的 48 周年。一年一度的生命三月将于下周末举行,尽管今年人们将在线聚集,而不是华盛顿特区。

除了考虑罗伊诉韦德的遗产以及正在进行的关于生殖权利的辩论之外,我还一直在考虑反堕胎运动在最近事件中的作用。在上周,我开始看到详细介绍抗堕胎活动分子参与 1 月 6 日国会大厦活动的文章。一位代表描述了反堕胎活动分子在叛乱中的存在。另一位代表指出,参与暴动的西弗吉尼亚州议员开始骚扰堕胎诊所。还有一位代表解释了该运动的长期极端主义历史。显然,反堕胎运动不是国会大厦暴动的主要动机,许多亲提升者都谴责了它。仍然有足够的相似之处和交叉点来解决这个问题。反堕胎极端主义的历史是我非常熟悉的 —— 作为一名研究生,我写了关于反堕胎恐怖主义的第一篇研究论文,随后研究了该运动的直接行动策略的升级,最终导致了 20 世纪 80 年代末救援行动的大型示威。1990 年代初。反堕胎运动中有一些令人不安的先例 —— 预示着我们 1 月 6 日看到的暴力以及不受控制的煽动性言论的后果的言论和策略。鉴于该运动自身的暴力、恐吓和煽动性修辞的历史,一些反堕胎活动分子热情地参与了国会大厦的活动,确实不足为奇。我们可以追溯到几十年前的历史。1980 年代,反堕胎运动受到挫折。他们帮助选出了亲生冠军罗纳德·里根,但尽管取得了一些立法胜利,但堕胎仍然是合法的。Roe 诉 Wade 一案没有被逆转,所有关于增加禁止堕胎的宪法修正案的立法都失败了。该运动中越来越多的人正在转向非暴力直接行动,以更果断地反对堕胎,或许对变化的缓慢步伐感到沮丧。

围绕堕胎的言论也在加速。弗朗西斯·舍弗尔对人类发生了什么事?向观众展示了关于堕胎对社会的影响的严酷形象和可怕的警告, 并使他们相信迫切需要采取行动.反堕胎活动分子在这种言辞上加倍,并经常将堕胎与大屠杀进行比较。如果你将堕胎与大屠杀进行比较,那么使用任何必要的策略,就很容易为停止堕胎的升级行动辩护。在这个讲话中,提升权者是最正义事业的正义捍卫者。再加上据称被堕胎的可怕图像和大量的错误信息,这种言辞加剧了许多运动中许多人的紧迫感。

部分原因是这种激烈的言论,诊所的直接行动很快让位于 1980 年代和 1990 年代更严重的暴力行为,甚至是爆炸诊所以及对医生和工作人员的暗杀。爆炸和谋杀是大消息。实际上,这些行为是多年来小规模暴力行为的高潮 —— 纵火、故意破坏、骚扰和跟踪等。有一个夏天,我在档案馆里花了几个星期的时间在全国各地的计划生育馆和其他妇女诊所阅读医生和工作人员的报告和第一手证词。他们的证词说明了他们每天面临的危险、诊所和家中的骚扰、纵火和其他破坏行为以及由此造成的创伤。再次,与该运动有联系的人在六日在国会大厦找到了合理的方法也不足为奇那天的行动。反堕胎运动及其支持者长期以来一直依赖煽动性言论和错误信息。而且,一些活动分子经常用这种言论来为暴力辩护。这是一个令人不安的遗产 —— 需要面对和应对。有一种倾向是否认而不是真正审查该运动的言论和战术如何跨越界限并助长暴力。对于运动中的许多人来说,目的总是证明手段是合理的。

我长期以来一直以为反对堕胎的人将这种政治立场用作一种免监狱的卡片-只要一个人在这个问题上持 “正确” 的立场,没有别的事情真正重要。该运动的支持者争辩他们的动机纯洁和事业的正义性,但却忽略了他们的言论如何导致暴力和极端主义在该运动的许多地方遗留下来。

Allison Vander Broek

Allison Vander Broek is a historian of American religion and politics. She recently graduated from Boston College with her doctorate in history. Her dissertation, Rallying the Right-to-Lifers: Grassroots Religion and Politics in the Building of a Broad-Based Right-to-Life Movement, 1960-1984, explored the origins of the right-to-life movement in the 1960s and its rise to national prominence.

14 Comments

  • RLG says:

    Wow, Allison. What an article and what an insight. This takes us right back to the Holy Wars of the past (recent and distant), often with Christians of different stripes facing off against each other but also including large populations of different religions fighting for dominance. Isn’t it good to be a Christian today? Maybe so, maybe not. Thanks Allison for shining a light into the dark corners of Christianity. “Onward, Christian soldiers!”

  • Gloria McCanna says:

    Thanks for this history lesson on the actions and beliefs surrounding the so called right to life movement. A good one to keep on file.

  • Nolan Palsma says:

    Alison
    The last paragraph sums it up for me. “I’ve long thought that people opposed to abortion have used this political position as a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card — nothing else really matters as long as a person has the “correct” stance on this one issue. The movement’s supporters argue for the purity of their motives and the righteousness of their cause, but overlook the ways their rhetoric can lead to violence and the legacy of extremism in many parts of the movement.”
    That one issue is an obsessive for some. It is mind boggling! I get the sense that some of those who are against abortion feel that it is only contraception. There is more to the story. Thanks for the article!

  • Tom says:

    Just one thing I would appreciate knowing from Allison: are you pro-life or pro-choice? You might say it doesn’t matter, but to my mind that fundamentally affects the lens through which I read this piece and others you’ve posted.

    Then, a couple of comments – I could go on a very long time, but won’t:
    + 65,000,000 human lives snuffed out seems like a apt comparison to the Holocaust. Based on the simply arithmetic, you might say it’s 10 times worse.
    + Abraham Lincoln and John Brown were both right about slavery even if John Brown’s approach to resolving the issue was both wrong (probably) and ineffective from a practical political perspective.
    + you paint with a very broad brush here; be careful. Unless you are ready to apply the same thinking to this summer’s racial justice uprisings and the associated rioting.

  • Pamela E. Adams says:

    Allison, I agree with you and I am a strong anti-abortionist person. I have one adopted child and half of my grandchildren are my grandchildren through adoption. One of my biological sons has adopted four children in addition to his five biological children. That makes eight of sixteen grandchildren. I agree that abortion is wrong but so are so many other things in this world. We are doing many sinful things but to just focus on one and to exclude other actions is WRONG from a Biblical view point. Let us fight against abortion but also fight against the other sins that are predominant in our culture.

  • Ronald Dykstra says:

    Allison,
    Your title speaks volumes. “The Legacy of Antiabortion Extremism”. Broad brush is an incredible understatement. How about checking the bio’s of those arrested for involvement with the pro-life movement before labeling the entire event as pro-life extremism? And amen to Tom’s comment on the comparison of the Holocaust with our horrific abortion numbers. My heart aches for the thousands of patriotic people mis-labeled and mid-judged by this article.

  • Mary Jo Liesch says:

    Thank you! I am so grateful to all the writers in this blog.

  • Ken says:

    Allison, your title is apt despite the naysayers. You were faithful in looking at the extremism of a position.
    Further, I find it sad that those who are outraged by the 3,000/day deaths by abortion too often cannot muster any outrage about the complete failure of our nation to deal with the coronavirus, which at the moment is taking 4,000 lives per day. Ditto the outrage regarding issues like gun control, capital punishment, war, and so on.
    And, finally, I’d be curious what the gender breakdown is regarding extremists opposing abortion. Are they predominately male, as were the capitol extremists?
    Oh, and if it matters, I’m pro-choice/pro-life. I strive to live my life in such a way that people will choose for life, in any and all circumstances.
    Thanks for your column.

  • Steven Skahn says:

    I share your revulsion at those who use the anti-abortion issue to justify violence. But I think that a weakness in your discussion is that it fails to identify the real problem. Having strong feelings about abortion is not the problem. Nor is thinking that the issue can be in some ways can be compared to the Holocaust. I think Francis Schaeffer did a wonderful thing in awaking the evangelical community to the importance of this issue. The problem is not that developing strong feelings about abortion is getting on some slippery slope that leads to violence. The problem is arises when we fail to–using a sermon title of Schaffer’s–do “The Lord’s Work in the Lord’s Way.” Those who use justify violence in opposing abortion have stopped following Jesus.

  • Gary VanHouten says:

    Thank you, Allison.
    “The antiabortion movement and its supporters have long relied on inflammatory rhetoric and misinformation.”
    Boy, you got that right!

  • Dean Koopman says:

    This article firmly establishes the paradoxical minimization of humanity that has engulfed all sides of the abortion argument.
    One side (pro-abortion) invalidates the humanity of children up to and now beyond childbirth while the other (pro-life) rejects the humanity of those who would do and support such acts. All the while our government diminishes our liberties in the name of domestic tranquility while enraging all of us through a teeter-totter of conflicting Executive memorandums a the political parties rise and fall in approval.
    One final corollary to the paradox.
    How has no contributor to this blog not questioned the reduction of Francis Schaeffer’s scholarship and preaching to mere “rhetoric”?
    Apparently for humanity to be devalued, everything else must have been devalued first.

    • Tom says:

      Agree with you wholeheartedly Dean! I did not mention in my comment above because then the ‘comment’ becomes an entire essay, but three other things occurred to me while reading this.
      First, the rule that when the tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail – translated to this essay, I guess if you’ve invested much of your life into investigating the wrongdoings of the pro-life movement, then you see those wrongdoing expressing themselves everywhere no matter how far the stretch – this case is a major stretch; just guessing that the “articles that detailed antiabortion activists’ involvement” appeared in left-leaning, pro-abortion publications (unless someone can prove me wrong).
      Second, she acknowledges the frustration of the pro-life movement in accomplishing change in the 1980’s, but does not acknowledge that it was the Supreme Court that took the issue out of the political process in a poorly reasoned decision; thus the powerlessness that results in an extremist response.
      Third, abortion and the value of life IS the fundamental moral issue of our time, just as slavery was in the 1800’s. I have long felt that one of 30 to 40 years from now, we will find ourselves in one of two situations: either we will value human life and abortion will have been, perhaps not abolished, but much diminished; or, it will have become normal to kill off the old and sick, euphemistically telling ourselves that it is for their own good when the reality is there’s just too much trouble and cost in caring for them. We will not be somewhere between those extremes, and if you think this cannot happen, then pay some attention to what is already happening in Canada and in parts of the United States.

  • Ann Conklin says:

    Thank you for your research and insight, Allison.
    To those using the term “pro-abortion” in the comments, I would ask you to reconsider your word choice. Words matter. I am aware of no one who is pro-abortion. Many faithful people are, however, pro-choice AND anti-abortion. The two are not mutually exclusive.

  • Michael says:

    Can someone point me to thoughtful, fact-filled, resources on the faith community’s conversation on abortion? Because typically, either side is so bent on scoring points, there’s mainly a lot of heat and little light shone on this fraught subject. Do we agree on the statistics in these days of alternative facts? Are there places where one can find accurate abortion numbers; when in the pregnancy they are done (by percentages); do anti-abortion laws enacted help curtail abortions or do they simply drive them underground (and make more dangerous); where is the conversation on when “life” begins (from the moment of conception or ??? and who holds to these different views and why); do abortions go down more in Democrat or Republican administrations; and so on. Is there a relatively straight-forward, non-biased place a discerning Christian can get this kind of information? Please?

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