R. Elisabeth Cornwell on Republicans’ “War on the womb”

March 21, 2012 • 4:24 pm

Read it at the Washington Post’s “On faith” section.

And there’s still more madness from Republicans:

Wisconsin state senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) said “unwanted or mistimed” pregnancies are the “choice of the women” who should learn “that this is a mistake.”

A Wisconsin representative says that battered women who seek divorces are “bad mothers.”

21 thoughts on “R. Elisabeth Cornwell on Republicans’ “War on the womb”

  1. Cornwell’s phrase “invisible burkhas” is a gem!
    It’s a perfect description of what the Repubs are trying to do to us.

  2. I find all this stuff too depressing to read about anymore; but I’ve very grateful for those who are writing to expose and condemn it.

  3. I wonder if, as America’s power in the world is challenged by China and other rising economies, this sort of desperate clinging to patriarchal ideas will grow more hysterical and more popular. I hope not but I suspect it may. Of course old men are always going to feel that the world was a better place when they were young and virile, and thus have the urge to go back to it.

    1. “I wonder if, as America’s power in the world is challenged by China and other rising economies, this sort of desperate clinging to patriarchal ideas will grow more hysterical and more popular.”


  4. I’ve been seeing this film in a lot of Facebook feeds lately among my anti-abortion friends:


    The film is interesting to watch. It seems pretty likely that the filmmaker wants it to be used as anti-abortion/anti-embryonic research propaganda. At around 5 days in development the film pops up the phrase “Yolk sack still feeding baby.” Baby? If that is a baby, I’m a pizza. It has 0 organs. Baby? That’s when you know for sure this is a propaganda film.

    If anyone still doubts the propaganda purpose, he helps clarify by saying: “How do we have this biological mechanism within our bodies? How do these instruction sets not make mistakes as they build what is us? It’s a mystery. It’s magic. It’s divinity”

    How do they not make mistakes? Surely even the woo infected can not be so blind that they think mistakes are not made. What are those 20% (minimum) of pregnancies that end in miscarriage? And one only needs to very casually thumb through “Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation” to see that among the survivors, mistakes are made!

    Maybe this film has already been addressed by this blog sometime. If so, forgive the redundancy. This is the first I’ve seen of it.

    1. “How do these instruction sets not make mistakes as they build what is us?”


      There’s dumb, and there’s dishonest, and then there’s this.

      Holy shit.

      No mistakes? No birth defects, ever? No miscarriages?

      I had a niece who was born with lungs that couldn’t breathe air. The process that built her didn’t involve any mistakes?

      1. It wouldn’t have caught my attention, anti-abortion films are commonplace, except that it was in a TED talk, a forum I do not normally associate with anti-abortion rhetoric. I think of TED talks as being geek oriented mostly, but I guess there is quite a range.

        Anyway, it is also notable because it’s a little bit stealth about it’s anti-abortion message. Although the guy says the things I quote in his talk, it comes at the end of a lot of other stuff, and calling a 5 day embryo a baby was literally flashed on the screen very briefly.

        I was also struck by the job description at the beginning. He goes out of his way to say that he was a professor in the medical school at Yale. Taking it all in together, I think this is an attempt to add unwarranted medical cred to his pronouncements. His actual bio is difficult to find, but from what I have been able to locate he seems to be an artist who taught himself programming and got involved in medical visualization somehow. Nothing wrong with that, of course, and no doubt he’s a smart guy. But that’s very different from being a medical expert. I worked on the human genome project in the capacity as a programmer. That did NOT make me a geneticists (I have since repented and studied some biology formally, so I might qualify now). Several faculty members in our group were computer scientists who, like me, knew almost no biology at the time. We were hired for our technical abilities, not our biological knowledge. Our profound ignorance was tolerated because they needed our technical skills. The general public probably has no idea that it’s possible to be a faculty member in a medical school without knowing ANY medicine, but it is. So the whole thing reeks to me of stealth anti-abortion propaganda cloaked in inflated credentials.

        And that’s how it was presented to me on Facebook: Look, here, this guy from Yale medical school telling us that human development is a literal miracle. See, the experts have spoken.

    2. Even if the video merely asked “How do these instruction sets *rarely* make mistakes as they build what is us”, it would still be ignorant to draw the conclusion that it’s magic or divinity.

      Evolution by natural selection of course is the answer. Instruction sets that make frequent mistakes would simply not thrive, and be quickly lose out to less error-prone instruction sets. A world of competing replicators predicts exactly what we observe: replicators who make rare replication mistakes.

      What would be truly magical and divine is if our instruction sets (and only ours, i.e, humans) actually make mistakes all the time, such that 99% of humans have some birth defect: down syndrome, conjoined twins, cleft palates, etc., and yet still we dominate the earth.

  5. As a biologist I sometimes wonder if extreme religiosity serves as a reproductive strategy for men who are otherwise unable to find partners or to relate in a spontaneous way with other persons because they are too screwed up in matters sexual. ‘In the wild’, they would immediately be recognized – and discarded – as the pathetically unattractive persons they are. But religious groups provide them with an environment – or refugium – where the rules are inverted and the unattractive bigots and zealots can thrive.

  6. Isn’t it funny how the people who think they know the best, are MEN? Never having been in the situation, of COURSE they’re the best qualified to pass judgement.

    I almost want to get biblical on their ass…

  7. Quit making Wisconsin look bad or I’ll cut off Chicago’s supply of cheese. We’ll see how long you last without your cheddar and havarti.

    Skip in Madison

  8. The other white elephant in the room (see what I did there?) with all these bills is that not a single one of them takes any effort at all to hold the men who impregnate the women, and should share the responsibility, in the least bit responsible.

    Not. A. Single. One.

    No going after the men for support after the women breeders are forced to carry the spawn to term….nuttin’.

  9. How wicked these people are. Let them do what they want but to impose their evil views on others is wrong.
    I was born an atheist in to a jewish background and my favourite food is a bacon sandwich.
    I would like to meet any man ,or woman, who could dare to say to my face I must do as they say they would be in for a big surprise.
    I would like to preach to them ‘just get lost’.

  10. I haven’t read the entire report that State Sen. Grothman’s bill is probably based on but this is probably the source. I typed in ‘single parent’

    see page 26

    “Children living with their married biological parents universally had the lowest rate, whereas those living with a single parent who had a cohabiting partner in the household had the highest rate in all maltreatment categories.”

    Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4): Report to Congress, January 2010

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