Thursday, April 02, 2009

40 Days of Lent: Day Thirty Seven

Lake of Fire

I recently watched Lake of Fire, a documentary about abortion in America. The movie takes pains to be balanced, though in my biased opinion, it's not hard to side with those who admit that, unfortunate as abortion is, it would be worse to remove the control over her body from a woman and insist that she carry a child she doesn't want to term. The pro-life side in the film seems close-minded and controlling (why are all these single men so obsessed with telling vulnerable women what to do) and while the pro-choice side completely disregards the fact that it is a human that they are terminating, at least they acknowledge that it is a bad situation without any easy answers.

Yes, it is a human that is being killed. There are some graphic abortions in the film (thank God the director used black and white rather than color) and despite pro-choice propaganda, what comes out of the mother is not just a clump of cells. In fact, the doctor has to piece together the aborted child to make sure it is all there. Otherwise they need to remove whatever is left in the mother's body. So we see scenes of arms, legs, part of a head with eyes being reassembled in a metal pan. It is horrifying, which is the point. This is basic mammal biology: big things prey on and kill little things. It's not fair and it's not nice, but as Noam Chomsky wearily points out in the film, it's hard to take the opinion of those who obsess over unborn babies seriously when they don't seem to have the same concern or compassion for the suffering of other human beings who live in poverty or political repression.

I think woman have an interesting relation to abortion, which is that it is unfortunate, but it's just one more d*mn thing that they have to put up with in this world. This is brought out in the final sequence in the film, in which a woman goes for an abortion, admitting that it is just not the time for her to be having a child. After the procedure, she confirms that she made the right decision...and then breaks down and cries. But it's the men who are actively pro-life that amaze me. They don't just seem to worry about women having control, though there is part of that. Listening to the men in this film get emotional as they talk about how they have to save the babies, and obsess over the innocent babies, a different dynamic seems to be present. The men seem to be hung up on being heroes - life has given them little other opportunity to save anyone or make a real difference, so by preventing abortions, they think of themselves as having saved human lives. Trying to help others is certainly not a bad impulse, but the fact that it is so misdirected (not to mention misogynist) is truly tragic, especially when it manifests in murdered doctors and destroyed women's health clinics.

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