Via Erin Matson, I read this interview with Vice President Joe Biden about abortion choice, in which he makes a fairly common argument among Christian lawmakers that he personally doesn't support abortion but doesn't feel compelled to tell other people to agree with his view. In the familiar parlance, he is personally anti-choice but politically pro-choice.
But then he goes on to argue that there is room for anti-choicers in the Democratic Party:
"I'm prepared to accept that at the moment of conception there's human life and being, but I'm not prepared to say that to other God-fearing, non-God-fearing people that have a different view," he said.I have a problem with this.
He added that there is room in the Democratic Party for people who believe abortion should be illegal.
"Absolutely, positively," he said. "And that's been my position for as long as I've been engaged."
Being personally against abortion, as in you'd never get one, cool. (Although I certainly have thoughts about cis men who will never, ever, face the possibility of wanting or needing an abortion even espousing a personal opposition to abortion.) Making room for people who want to criminalize it? Fuck that.
Fuck that because abortion policy isn't just about personal abortion beliefs. It's about one's beliefs regarding individual agency and religious freedom.
Fuck that because making room for anti-choice policy is making room for the state-sanctioned enforcement of religious belief and control of pregnant bodies.
This idea that we can wrench apart abortion policy from the human beings affected by limited abortion access is full-tilt garbage. You aren't anti-choice in a vacuum. You are anti-choice in a world where that has social and personal consequences for human beings.
It's so easy to say "I'm against abortion" and avoid saying "I'm against individual agency and freedom from religion." And it's so easy because we talk about abortion as an abstract thing, rather than a choice made by human beings whose social value is affected by access to that choice.
"I'm against abortion" means, in practice, "I'm against granting agency, autonomy, respect, dignity, and religious freedom to pregnant people." (And people who may become pregnant.) All the protesting in the world that's not what you really mean, or that isn't your intent, doesn't matter. That's what anti-choice policy means IN PRACTICE. And the only way to argue you don't mean that is to write human beings who want/need abortions out of the equation.
Abstract abortion policy is mendacious horseshit that allows policymakers to disappear the people affected by that policy.
Abstract abortion policy allows a deeply dishonest conversation in which its participants conspire to pretend that criminalizing abortion merely means limiting access, and doesn't also mean limiting the social value and rights of all people who can get pregnant.
That our Democratic vice-president thinks there's room for that limitation in his party is appalling. And the only way he gets away with it is because we allow rhetoric that divorces abortion access from human value conferred by agency.
Irrespective of whether I ever get an abortion, whether I have the right to get one defines the boundaries of my agency. And the boundaries of my agency define the value and completeness of my humanity, under the law.
So, no. There is no room for anti-choice policy in any political party who wants me to believe my comprehensive humanity is respected.
Abortion policy cannot be separated from the value of the bodies that are affected by that policy.
And if Vice President Biden thinks I would cast a vote for anyone who doesn't understand, or elides, that reality, he needs to think again.