Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Humanizing Anti-Choice Folks

Via Megan at Jezebel, More magazine’s extremely humanizing profile of South Dakota anti-abortion activist Leslee Unruh is fascinating. The author, whose uncle was an ob-gyn killed by an anti-abortion fanatic, managed to make friends with Unruh, who was the driving force behind South Dakota’s abortion ban that was overturned in 2006, and who is working on a campaign for another abortion ban on the ballot this fall. Megan, who was surprised by Unruh’s charisma and the fact that she didn’t condemn the author’s uncle to hell, asked if there was an Unruh for feminists and the left. But Unruh is fascinating because she’s unique.

There are thousands of women who are the equivalent of Unruh on the other side, including the author of the profile. It’s because she’s a fervent activist against abortion and for chastity (or its modern equivalent, “purity”) that Unruh is unlike almost any American today. Guttmacher Institute research shows that nearly all Americans (95 percent) have sex before marriage, 98 percent of women use birth control during their reproductive lives, and the majority (nearly 60 percent) of Americans believe abortion should always or usually be legal. The abortion ban that Unruh fought for in South Dakota in 2006 was defeated by 10 points. That’s not a small margin.

In other words, Unruh’s fervent campaigning against sex, birth control, and abortion makes her one of the biggest outliers in America. Unruh is the face of a campaign that’s marginal in nearly every sense of the word. Although many people who want to protect reproductive choice fear the power that anti-choice activists have gained in recent years, it’s important to remember just how strange these people are. They’re not monsters, damning everyone who has sex to hell, but they do hold views that are extremely different from everyone else’s.

We don’t have to look far to find an Unruh on the left. Nearly everyone knows one.

Cross posted at pushback.

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