It's not compassion — sadism and control is what's driving anti-choice extremists

Anti-choicers bully women and call it compassion, so of course Robert Dear thought he could do the same

By Amanda Marcotte

Senior Writer

Published December 10, 2015 3:28PM (EST)

  (AP/Mark Reis)
(AP/Mark Reis)

During his court appearance Wednesday for allegedly shooting up a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood in a massacre that killed three people, suspected gunman Robert Dear defied his fellow anti-choicers' hopes that this would all turn out to be anything other than the politically embarrassing act of anti-choice terrorism that it was.

"I’m guilty, there’s no trial. I’m a warrior for the babies," Dear yelled in a deranged outburst. He also insulted his lawyer, who was clearly pushing to find Dear too incompetent to stand trial.

The New York Times called the outburst "bizarre," but there was nothing even remotely surprising about any of this to pro-choice observers. On the contrary, self-righteous posturing about "babies" is standard operating procedure for the men who kill to stop women from controlling their own bodies.

Scott Roeder, the man who murdered Dr. George Tiller during the doctor's church services in Kansas in 2009, argued in court that he should be let off the hook because he believed he was saving babies. Eric Rudolph, the bomber of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, who also bombed two abortion clinics and a lesbian bar, wrote a gloating confession where he argued he would have drawn a hung jury because of the righteousness of his cause.

(Considering that many in law enforcement believe Rudolph was shielded for years by anti-choice sympathizers, one could see where Rudolph would get the impression that conservatives secretly adored him.)

Of course, if you actually start digging into these men's backgrounds, their claims to be gentle souls moved only to violence because of their deep love of "babies" fall apart like tissue paper in the rain. On the contrary, what emerges is a picture of men who have serious issues with women and are hungry for control, generally.

Far from being gentle souls who love all the babies, they are often men who are careless with children. Dear fathered two children out of wedlock, as well as the ones he had with his wives, a string of carelessness and indifference to the needs of his own kids. Roeder spent years sending self-pitying letters to the son he abandoned, trying to explain why daddy's time was better spent being some semi-homeless tax dodger than a loving father to his son. Rudolph was blessedly childless, but we can surmise his actual indifference to the well-being of children from the fact that he bombed a public park in a place that could have killed children.

And, of course, all these men committed crimes that left children bereft of parents and grandparents.

Of course these men developed the idea that you can bundle up your hate, your sadism, and your loathing of women, call it "saving babies," and then pretend you are therefore morally superior to the rest of us. They learned that directly from the anti-choice movement that wants to eschew them as politically inconvenient.

While obviously most anti-choicers don't take it to the level of murder, the basic formula is still the same: Take your anger and bitterness and hostility towards women, wrap it up in a bundle of "saving babies", and voila! All your worst instincts, your sadistic urges, your loathing and jealousy of other people, and your desire to control women is now reborn as a godly mission to save the very "babies" that you lose all interest in the second they actually become babies by being born.

As anti-choicers twist themselves into pretzels trying to maintain the illusion of compassion while actually being hateful people who want to punish others for having sex, the cold, hard facts remain indisputable. The conservative movement that pushes anti-choice ideology is the same conservative movement that slashes the social safety net, undermines the Black Lives Matter movement, and pushes for unnecessary wars like the Iraq War to satisfy their warrior urges. All of these positions lead to the starvation, suffering, and deaths of actual children.

Nor is there any indication that the anti-choice movement is interested in preventing those abortions they claim to hate so much. In the face of overwhelming evidence that contraception prevents abortion, the anti-choice movement has doubled down on its anti-contraception efforts, demanding government defunding of contraception services at Planned Parenthood and repeatedly suing to try to stop women from accessing contraception on their insurance plans. This is because, and this should be screamingly obvious by now, that the anti-choice movement is not and never was interested in "babies," but in making sex as fraught and dangerous a choice as possible for women, with the dim hope that this will convince then not to have it (or, in lieu of that, punish them for doing so).

The ugly sadism lurking under the veneer of compassion is best exemplified by the clinic protest movement. Anti-choicers claim they linger around clinics to pester women (and doctors and staff) going into them because they are "sidewalk counselors" who are just trying to help. It's a disingenuous pose, the equivalent of a churchy person saying "I'll pray for you" as a condescending way to flip you the bird.

Women who have to push past protesters to get into clinics definitely don't feel loved and cared for. Instead, they feel terrified and often cry. (As a clinic escort writing for Buzzfeed points out, these supposedly charitable Christians get especially excited and celebratory when they make someone cry. Women's tears excite them.) As Jill Filipovic of Cosmopolitan discovered when she interviewed clinic protesters in Boston, the claim to be "helping" women is paper thin, and it's quickly evident that what draws the protesters there is the sadistic pleasure of shaming women for being sexual.

The anti-choice movement didn't invent the art of concealing your hatred in a costume of feigned compassion — the sneering "I'll pray for you" bit of churchy condescension predates Roe v Wade — but they certainly have perfected the art. The Supreme Court struck down a law requiring protesters to give patients a little breathing room walking into clinics back in June, in part because the plaintiff presented herself as a sweet little old lady just trying to help. But in reality, those sweet little old ladies are anything but sweet. They're far more closer in the old lady taxonomy to Dana Carvey's Church Lady, all pursed lips and judgement at young girls these days for not keeping their legs shut.

"If women want careers and education and everything and they don't want children," one of those old lady protesters told Filipovic, "what are they doing having sex?" You can feel her desire to bring the ruler down on some knuckles, so much anger just bristling under the veneer of compassion.

The anti-choice movement is a movement of people who want to harass and punish and want you to congratulate them for their Christian compassion for it. Because of all this, it is the least surprising thing in the world when an anti-choicer goes off, kills someone, and then expects everyone to see him as a godly man who deserves accolades instead of jail time. Hurting people and wanting to be called good Christians for it is what the anti-choice movement is all about.

Planned Parenthood Shooting Suspect: 'I'm a Warrior for the Babies'

By Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Marcotte is a senior politics writer at Salon and the author of "Troll Nation: How The Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set On Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself." Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMarcotte and sign up for her biweekly politics newsletter, Standing Room Only.

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Anti-choice Movement Anti-choice Terrorism Aol_on Domestic Terrorism Planned Parenthood Robert Dear