It is an unfortunate state of affairs that the abortion debate has effectively obscured the actual nature of the problems faced by women and their families in this country and divided those with the willingness and ability to assist them into competing factions which have achieved little but a massively unproductive culture war. This failure must be attributed directly to the corrupting influence of the religious right over the so-called "pro-life" movement (perhaps it would be better referred to as "abortion rights reform,") which disdains practical solutions in favor of religiously-enforced ideology. If the impetus for the reform of abortion rights had come instead from a coalition of secular and religious progressives determined to address the abortion problem by improving the lives of women, then a solution might already be in place and the futility of the past twenty-five years could have been avoided. Witness the perverse obstinacy of the right-wing pro-life movement in action:
1. Focus on the Family opposes a possible breakthrough in the prevention of transmission of the human papilloma virus, which causes cervical cancer, because it might lead to promiscuity.
2. Tom Delay says that an "embryo is a person," citing the examples of Moses, Jesus, and Muhammed. If Tom Delay really believes this, then he should be horrified at the fact that thousands of embryos ("persons") all over America are being imprisoned in freezers! My God, they must be freed at once! Free the embryos to love and laugh as children should! Perhaps a celebrity benefit concert could be planned in support of this cause.
3. Mitt Romney, the governor of Massachusetts, vetoes a bill which would require all hospital emergency rooms in the state to provide emergency contraception to rape victims. First of all, I'm baffled and offended that any hospital emergency room doesn't already offer emergency contraception to rape victims, which speaks volumes about the depths of uncivility, the willful irrationality, of ideological conservatives. I mean, whether you disapprove of emergency contraception or not, we are talking about *rape victims.* Secondly, Romney's stated reason for the veto, the same reason offered by pro-life groups for their whole-scale opposition to emergency contraception, is that in some cases, the medication may work by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. In the minds of the pro-life movement, this constitutes an abortion - the equivalent of the cold-blooded murder of an infant. Let's take a moment to ponder this little piece of logic. Even if it is true that EC sometimes works in this way (and this is still unknown), is this really an abortion? Almost any physician would agree that until a fertilized egg has implanted in the womb, *a woman is not pregant.* The failure to implant of a fertilized egg is not a miscarriage, and the deliberate prevention of its implantation is not an abortion. The reductionist reasoning of the pro-life movement on points such as these simply boggles the mind. Such an argument claims that the primary goal of the medical team in this situation is to *protect the fertilized egg.* The goal of saving this egg from destruction vastly outweighs any other consideration: the physical and mental health of the rape victim, the pain and violence she may experience as the result of a pregnancy - not to mention, the awful situation that she and her fetus may be confronted with when she learns she is pregnant and has an abortion! In other words, we are supposed to believe that the goal of reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies by the thousands, including those resulting from rape, should be set aside for the sake of possibly saving a few unimplanted eggs, many of which will be later destroyed through abortion? This is willful insanity of the most pernicious kind.
These examples demonstrate that as long as the abortion rights reform movement is controlled by ideological right wing conservatives, no progress towards a solution will be made. Instead women and their families will continue to be punished and the problem of abortion will continue unabated.