Fundie Richard Land: Women who have abortions are mentally ‘impaired’

There is an infamous video of clueless anti-choice demonstrators who are asked what punishment a woman should be subjected to if abortion is made illegal. Most make lame excuses — it’s a “crime” but the “perpetrator” should go unpunished. Actually, it’s worse than that — most of them say they never thought about the issue. Planned Parenthood and the National Institute for Reproductive Health have launched a campaign to ask pols the question “How much time should she serve?”

The protestors are clearly underinformed. But what about the anti-choice establishment? Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has an even more ridiculous answer — only the doctor should be punished, because the woman who seeks out the abortion is too “impaired” to be responsible for her actions.

This drivel is almost painful to read:

[I]f abortion were made illegal and he were a state legislator, Land said, “I would probably charge voluntary manslaughter for the abortionist. If [a doctor] were convicted, he would lose his medical license for two years and spend a year in prison with the first offense, and with the second offense, he would lose his medical license for life. At which point it’d be very difficult to find a doctor who’d do them.”

Such a legal stance is tantamount to “ignoring or infantilizing women, turning them into ‘victims’ of their own free will,” [Anna] Quindlen wrote. “State statutes that propose punishing only a physician suggest the woman was merely some addled bystander who happened to find herself in the wrong stirrups at the wrong time.”

Land doesn’t deny that women who have abortions might be addled, but he, along with Yoest, Earll, and Gans, takes exception to them being described as bystanders — or as enlightened women making free, educated choices.

“It’s not demeaning to assume that any person who is a mother who could make the decision to do this must be suffering from some form of psychological impairment because of the crisis of the pregnancy or because of societal demeaning of human life,” Land said.

Clearly women are just too damn irrational to be able to control their own body and destiny because of those damn hormones. Daddy The State has to be in charge of the womb.

Pastor Dan of Street Prophets says this:

Look, one either has moral agency or one doesn’t. If there’s agency, then an illegal act is a crime. If not, then not. But to write off an entire class of women as mentally ill – if only temporarily – because they make a decision you don’t approve of? That doesn’t fit any moral framework I’m aware of. Nor does the outmoded idea that estrogen makes you crazy or the risible theory that society brainwashes women into killing their children.

My question — what happens to women that have multiple abortions — are these repeated delusions? Should she be forced into state-approved mandatory therapy to “correct” her thinking so she doesn’t head to the clinic again? No one is saying abortion should be encouraged; it should be safe and rare, but that’s not the point of this argument. The right already has its sights on making contraception more difficult to obtain, and continues its push for abstinence-only education.  Jill at Feministe asks, where then, are the boundaries:

What about pregnant women engaging in behaviors that are risky for the fetus? Can she be prosecuted for child abuse or negligence if she, say, drinks coffee while she’s pregnant? If she eats tuna? If she smokes? What about if she goes skiing? What if she didn’t know she was pregnant, but should have known, and she does something risky– like goes binge drinking every night and survives off of Cheetos? Willful blindness? Neglect? What if she miscarries, and perhaps you can attribute it to something she did — negligent homicide?

And what about the male partner in this equation? What if he agrees with the woman in question that she should have an abortion — is he then an accessory to the crime, or is he temporarily insane as well?

All of this is madness; what it does do is pull back the curtain of the real agenda of the anti-choice crowd — controlling the sexuality of women by insinuating they are not capable of ethical, moral or practical decisions about their lives. Obviously, we need the bible-beaters to instruct us on such matters.

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  • ACTUALLY there is a great deal of argument…your 70% number is of course 100% false.
    As for your “tropes” as you call them are not false most are statements of opinion and could be true. “IT COULD ruin your life” That’s a possibility but not an absolute.
    “There are plenty of people that want to adopt, but sadly, if it’s not a healthy white newborn adoption prospects DO become scarce.
    Your final one is actually 100% true. Abortion IS a safe and easy procedure that carries virtually no health risks. IF you are claiming this is false, when it is CLEARLY true, and coupled with your incorrect claim at the beginning that 70% of women that have abortions experience “significant, haunting psychological trauma” I can only conclude that you’re not making mistakes, you are intentionally lying.
    My question is why? What purpose does your lying serve?
    Finally, as to the long told “back alley deaths” perhaps it was not tens of thousands, perhaps it was only a few dozen…but really, how many women would HAVE to die in such a way when they have the right to choose abortion and should not have to resort to such risks.
    That’s the fact that people seem to keep missing…abortion is a right because it SHOULD BE. The crux of Roe was that a woman’s right to abort is and should be protected and laws against it are OVERREACHING and invasive into an aspect of the woman’s life that, to be frank, the STATE has no place in
    That’s how it is, how it SHOULD have always been, and how it shall remain.
    Stop lying about the effects of abortion on the mental health of women…the EXPERTS do not support you.
    STOP insinuating that abortion is somehow a RISK to the woman’s health when the FACTS, the EXPERTS, and the NUMBERS show it is wrong.
    MAYBE you’re just trying to do some good…maybe you’re not one of “those people” the controllers…but if you’re trying to do some good then explain how you can do that by lying?

  • Clipper7

    Although it was inarticulately phrased, there is little argument that over 70% of post-abortive women experience significant, haunting psychological trauma as a direct result of their abortion (speaking of “underinformed”…). Also, the argument against “societal brainwashing” would be risible, if it were not so deadly serious; it is precisely what happened to me. Yes, the decision to follow through was ultimately mine, but on what could I have based my decision as a college student: “a baby at this age will ruin your future,” “there aren’t enough people who wish to adopt a child,” “abortion is a safe and easy procedure carrying virtually no health risks.” We now know that these, and many other similar tropes are utterly false, but I sure wish I had known it then; I may not be continually haunted by my decision. I also can’t help but notice that you make no reference to the admission that the “tens of thousands of back-alley illegal abortion death” used as the crux of the Roe vs. Wade argument was an invention, and that the same “expert” now claims that the real figure was “surely fewer than a dozen.” This is the problem with the debate: if, as is often postulated, we are “capable of making our own informed decisions,” what could it hurt to present the undistorted facts?

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