What Roe V. Wade Is All About

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no as a principle?
DONALD TR-MP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: For the woman?
DONALD TR-MP: Yeah, there has to be some form.

                                                                                              —From an MSNBC townhall, 3/30/2016

Language is crucial.

Mike Pence, our lying theocrat-in-waiting, told CNN that he still wants Roe v. Wade to be overturned even if he didn’t bother asking Brett Kavanaugh about whether he would in fact overturn the 45-year-old ruling or just chip away at it, like Republicans have done for years now, until it is gone for most women. But listen to the language Pence, who once said Roe should be “consigned to the ash heap of history,” used in the CNN interview (my emphasis):

I’m pro-life. I don’t apologize for it, and I’m proud to be part of a pro-life administration that’s advanced pro-life policy.

A pro-life trifecta. All in one sentence. He later said:

As I said, I stand for the sanctity of life. This administration, this president [sic], are pro-life….What I can assure people that voted for us is that this will continue to be a pro-life administration. From early in this administraion…Tr-mp has taken decisive steps to advance pro-life values at home and, frankly, in foreign aid around the world.

The fact that liars like Pence are, despite their language, pursuing decidedly anti-life policies, like cruelty toward migrants for instance, isn’t the point here. The point is the language that Pence purposely employs is so familiar to us that we hardly notice what is being hidden by its use.

Oddly and depressingly, I often hear pro-choice people use “pro-life” as a term for people like Pence. Journalists almost always use the term, presumably out of fear of being criticized by the right. In fact, I can’t recall hearing any straight news reporter on television, or reading one in print, who refers to people like Pence as what they are: anti-choice. But the awful truth is they are more Image result for women punished for abortionthan that, more than just people opposed to reproductive freedom for women. That’s just one side of the coin. They are advocates of government coercion every bit as cruel as what we have seen these past weeks as Tr-mp and his de facto deportation force thoughtlessly separated children from their parents and incarcerated them in separate locations without adequate means to reunite them.

Thanks to Vox, we know that Pence is about as extreme as they come when it comes to supporting the cruelty of government coercion of women. Not content with the radical Hyde Amendment’s prohibitions against using federal funds for most abortions, Pence sought through legislation to change the definition of rape, so that more women who were victims of male violence would also become victims of government violence through forced pregnancies. Pence also sponsored a bill that would have, through theocratic magic, turned a zygote into a constitutionally protected “person,” which would not only have made any and all abortions illegal, but criminalized some forms of contraception that the zealots deem abortifacients. And on and on.

A few months ago, Pence said the following at the Susan B. Anthony List & Life Issues Institute Luncheon in Nashville:

And so I urge you on, but I do so with confidence — with confidence that good news is around the corner in America.  I have boundless faith in the goodness and decency of the American people.  I have boundless confidence in that President [sic] that you elected and the pro-life majorities in the Congress of the United States and in states all across this country.  And I have boundless confidence in Him who said, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”  (Applause.)

And with faith in all those leaders, faith in all of you, and faith in God, I know that, together, with you, we will once again live in an America that chooses life from our hearts.

This is theocracy advocacy. This is cruelty advocacy. This is pregnancy-by-government-force advocacy. Because what Pence, and others aligned with him, are actually saying—far from wanting “an America that chooses life from our hearts”—is that an unsupportable claim in an Iron Age book should be the guiding star on the use of government violence against pregnant women.

If you reject the term “violence” in this context, then consider this: what Pence et al. are saying is that the government should have the power to force women into months and months of service to a religious dogma, whether they believe the dogma or not. It’s not just a one-time deal but months and months of subjugation. Months and months of subjugation at the point of a government-owned gun. That’s what the debate over Roe v. Wade is all about. It’s not about whether deceptively named “pro-life” people will get their way if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed. It’s not about a “win” for Tr-mp or for Pence’s prayer warriors.

It’s about the power of the state and whether the government will sooner or later claim absolute sovereignty over every uterus in America.

Next Post


  1. I wrote an Op-Ed on this subject back in 2015. It was published but then strangely disappeared from the Globe’s database. (Probably divine intervention.) But here’s an excerpt from my book “Pondering Pogo’s Enemy – One Op-Ed at a time,” Chapter 5.7, Pro-Life or Pro-Birth, that might be pertinent to this discussion”

    “At the Iowa State Fair a few weeks ago, CNN reporter Dana
    Bash asked former Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential
    nominee Mike Huckabee, about his position on abortion.
    Not surprisingly, it is unequivocal. Huckabee opposes abortion
    even in cases of rape because “we can’t discount a human life.”
    When asked about the 10-year old girl in Paraguay who
    was raped by her stepfather and denied an abortion by the state,
    Huckabee said that case is “horrible,” but it doesn’t justify taking
    the life of an innocent child. “I just come down on the side
    that life is precious, every life has worth and value,” he said.

    Well, not ‘every life.’ Huckabee also thinks capital punishment
    is ‘a necessary part of our criminal justice system.’ As
    Governor, he oversaw 16 executions in his state—the most of
    any governor before him. So, Huckabee and his ilk have a problem.
    They are paradoxically both pro-life and pro-death at the
    same time.

    . . . . .

    To qualify as a pro-lifer, or at least be consistent, it seems
    to me such a person should also be anti-capital punishment,
    anti-armed conflict, and anti-women’s privacy rights. Likewise,
    a pro-lifer should be pro-stringent gun control, pro-universal
    health care, and pro-expanded family welfare programs. To
    that point, Christopher Hale, executive director for Catholics
    in Alliance for the Common Good, wrote in a January 22, 2015,
    article in “Time Magazine,” called “Pro-Life Is More Than Being

    ‘To be truly pro-life, we cannot simply support a child’s right to be
    born, but also the right of the mother to expect substantial support
    from her community and from her government. We can’t be pro-life
    and anti-woman. It doesn’t work. And we can’t be pro-life and anti-
    government. It doesn’t work.

    ‘If today’s anti-abortion movement transforms into tomorrow’s pro-life
    movement, it can transcend the ideological divisions that plague our nation
    and proclaim a simple truth that can bind our people—especially the
    young—together: that everyone deserves a life, a family, and a future. But
    to do so, this pro-life generation must protect every person’s right to live,
    not just be born.’”

    To which I say, amen.


    • Herb,

      Yes, the anti-choice people are pregnant with hypocrisy, that’s for sure.

      I guess my biggest problem, other than the blatant government coercion involved in the matter, is that those who oppose abortion are, for the most part, not consistent. On the one hand they say that a “human life” is involved and abortion is the taking of that human life, the equivalent of murder. On the other hand, most of them make an exception for rape, incest, and a threat to the mother’s life. That is simply not morally defensible, if one grants that “abortion is murder.” There are, of course, people who are consistent and would outlaw abortion for any and all reasons. And it is those people who make clear just how ridiculous their position really is when examined. In the end, I just don’t want the state to make the decision one way or the other. I trust the women.


      Liked by 1 person

  2. ansonburlingame

     /  July 12, 2018


    This is a topic upon which you and I .have agreed and I certainly support your views expressed above is terms of being “pro-choice”. Actually I support it because I believe LIBERTY is at stake. Ultimately, the decision to give birth to a child should be the absolute choice made by both the father and mother of that child. (OK, what if the father say’s yes and mom says no? I differ to the choice of the mother).


  3. Ben Field

     /  July 12, 2018


    Trump, Pence and the entire GOP just want to MAGA, back to the days of overt racism and red-lining African Americans, internment camps for brown people instead of Japanese, “coat hanger abortions” in back alleys, pre-existing conditions in healthcare, poisoning the environment, like before 1975 when psychiatrists deemed LGBTQ as a mental disorder, and literally dozens of other issues, we thought as a society, we had progressed beyond.

    This is where the god bothering GOP is taking those mentally deficient enough to accept such insanity. White nationalists run as Republicans and win their primaries in Illinois and Virginia, and are emboldened to run in the highest numbers in history with the Imperial Wizard as president. What’s next, debtor prisons so it can be tapped for the free labor?

    Trump said we would all get tired of winning, it appears he meant regressing. The regression won’t stop until the anxiety from white cultural loss Trump supporters feel subsides, or the complications from the regression are greater than the anxiety that feeds the regression. This country was founded by immigrants and cultural change is a given, so until Trump’s snowflakes accept the cultural change, we keep going backward

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ansonburlingame

     /  July 12, 2018

    Sorry. I hit send too soon.

    The details are none of anyone’s busy, but I have been involved in two very personal decisions along these lines. To believe that you, or God forbid, the “government” should have played ANY role in those two “choices” is a belief in the right to “power by government”, ANY GOVERNMENT, that is completely beyond the pale of any agreement on the “right to liberty”. I might well take your personal views, expressed as a friend, etc., into my own consideration, but the ultimate choice MUST be mine (and the agreement with the mother of course with her views prevailing no matter what I want).

    This is a case where my own “moral outrage” is freely expressed and in agreement with you.



    • Anson,

      I must say that it is refreshing that we agree on this most important issue. I know you have felt this way since we’ve been interacting more than nine years now.

      There simply is no way I could assent to the idea that the government should use its coercive powers, powers of force, to make a woman give birth against her will. It is a highly personal decision and a decision no woman (or the family involved) takes lightly, despite the nonsense coming from the anti-choice side. As I told Herb, I trust those women in your family and women in other families to make the right decision in their specific cases. The alternative is to have the Mike Pences of the world force their religious ideas down the throats of millions of women, which in so many states these days they are already doing. Sadly.

      I remind you that a vote for any Republican in today’s politics (or a non-vote or a vote for a third party) ultimately means a vote for government coercion of women. This fight over the Supreme Court we knew was coming. And so many people ignored what was at stake for whatever reason.



  5. ansonburlingame

     /  July 14, 2018


    Yes, a vote for a GOPer is, generally, a vote that could cause more restrictions on, even elimination of, abortion. Tough choice, but a comfortable one for me. I also note another major issue in which you and I are in agreement. It is strict Gun Control by government and, yes, a decidedly “anti-liberty” position on my part. However confusing that may sound, it makes sense to me. It is an attempt on my part to make personal decisions on major issues related to where to put the “boundaries of liberty” in place.

    One major reason I continue to claim my political “position” as “independent” is these two issues. No way can I support the general GOP platforms in any given period as they are “anti choice” in abortion and strongly “pro choice” in who can carry a gun.

    Now go to other huge political issues, ones that, professionally, I dealt with and thus have some experience. One of course is foreign policy/defense issues and the other is “labor/management”. You and I will rarely agree on those two issues, particularly the latter one. I would (and did) manage a workforce in dramatically different ways than you would have done had you been in “senior executive” position responsible for the entire organization, not just the “labor” part of same. I was personally responsible for how BOTH labor and management meshed to achieve the goals in a single organization, a nuclear powered ship or an old, tired (and dangerous) former nuclear weapons manufacturing facility. If either side did poorly I was responsible for “fixing” either one or both of them. Sure, unlike me, you held “senior executive” positions (and may still do) but again, only on the labor side. That narrows perspective and ultimate responsibility, just as “partisan politics” does the same.

    Details beside the point, I generally vote for GOP candidates because their “general” positions on such issues make far more sense to me than do the positions of Dems.

    I don’t try to defend trump, herein or in other interactions with others. I am decidedly anti-trump, no doubt. BUT generally I believe he is making some progress on matters where others have failed, miserably, for extended periods of time, particularly in geopolitics, but even in some things domestic. HOW he is trying to do so is nuts, But I certainly strongly support getting “Europe” to carry more of the burden and getting NK to “join the civilized world”, just to name a few. I also would sit with Putin to try to find some common ground while holding a strong line in the areas where Russia and America (not just Putin and trump) may agree or disagree.

    Sorry for lengthy response but it is a quiet Sat. afternoon and I enjoy “rambling” at this moment. For what it is worth I offer another book for you and General to consider along the lines of genetics. As previously mentioned, “Sapiens” is a great book. But “The History of Everyone that Ever Lived”, by an English geneticist named Rutherford, is equally interesting. It is all about just what DNA (“science”) can “tell us” but more important, what it (science) cannot explain in terms of human behavior. One key point he makes, “scientifically”, is there is no such thing as race (in science or human behavior causations).

    Politically speaking, such a view explains my reactions to President Obama. He did not do (or not do) ANYTHING because of his race. But at least in my view he did lots of bad things because is a (GD) Socialist!!! Thus my (strong) objection to the Obama Presidency and equally strong objection to trump Presidency as well. Both had (have) “free will” and both made and are making bad choices, terrible choices.



  6. Anonymous

     /  July 17, 2018

    One question for the conservative in the room…Does a US President taking the word of a former KGB agent and leader of Russia over the findings of US intelligence agencies, refusing to act on those findings, and equating our country as complicit as well, constitute treason?


    • (Responding as a former conservative) — You’re damned right it does. Yes, I know this was intended for Anson, but I served my time (before getting “religion”) as an advocate for the one of the other GOP traitors. No, not George W. Bush. No, not Ronnie. The other one: Dick Nixon.


  7. ansonburlingame

     /  July 18, 2018

    I am awaiting Duane’s “blast” following Summit meeting press conference. But given General’s participation in last question from “Anonymous” I will join herein.

    Short answer, NO, his words did not rise to the level of treason. Stupid, even “crazy”, add whatever else you like about trump’s behavior, go ahead. But I would leave out “treasonous”.

    I have written and erased several more paragraphs to back up my answer, but …….. Whatever I write will not change your minds for sure, so why try. Maybe, after Duane launches a well researched diatribe calling for “treason” will I, maybe, try to rebut him.

    What I won’t rebut however, is my emerging view that trump should now just quit!!!! He is tearing the country apart and should leave, period. But when/if he does such, I will join the chorus in an attempt on my part to prevent an equally crazy and destructive socialist form of government in America.

    Bottom line, I am deeply afraid of and disgusted with BOTH political parties and have zero faith that either one can effectively govern America on their own terms.



    • Anonymous

       /  July 18, 2018

      I just wanted to get a conservative opinion, that wasn’t NRA compromised, to go on record as to Trump’s newest, lowest possible assault against the intelligence community, and against Reagan’s vision of America as “a shining city upon a hill” (which he appropriated from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount). My Lord, what have conservatives done to this country?! Personally, I think you should follow the advice of another former Republican (now supposedly Independent) James Comey that suggested for the good of the nation, everyone should vote Democratic, but I won’t hold my breath.


      I appreciate your remarks and passion. I agree as well, treason as a result of kompromat on Trump with the Russian banks, as admitted that would destroy him if found. Rep. Mark Sanford wants now to examine his tax records. Anson knows financial misconduct by stupid people eventually gets uncovered, as evidenced by his heroes of the Joplin tornado.


  8. ansonburlingame

     /  July 19, 2018

    Giving Duane more fodder as he remains silent, I offer the column in today’s Globe by Rachel Marsden as food for thought. She very concisely hits on “good news” (maybe) coming from the two hour meeting of the two men, trump and Putin.

    trump cannot do it, implement “rapproachement” with Russia and Dems won’t do it as it interfers with their political agenda to return to single party government in America. It is an old geopolitical term that Kissinger, et al, used for decades. and goes along with an equally old term, real politics, which the Left hates. Find common ground and build on it while admitting continuing disagreement (who is spying on who) is a fundamental tenant to avoid war.

    I write all this strictly for consideration by Duane and General. Obviously the “anonymous” comments above are from the ever vitrolic Fields character. No rapproachement attempts there from me.



    • Anson — you’ll get no both-sides-ism pass from me. Wake up. Trump is a traitor on many, many, many, many, many, many levels. The only upside from the 2 scoundrels meeting in Helsinki is that it exposes both to quick and decisive failure. Trump has accomplished exactly nothing good for this country and/or the world in his 18 months of scorched earth lunacy. Save for the utter and irrevocable corruption of the GOP, he, Pence, Sessions, McConnell, Ryan, Bannon, T-Jr, Kushner (and his wife Ivanka), Hannity, the balance of his unbalanced cabinet, Huck Sanders, and too many more to mention would be well into their prison terms by now. His contribution to history is that the US Constitution can and should be amended in order for this to never happen again — and in the event that it does the crisis can be addressed earlier and more decisively. A plague on the Republican Tea Party and the band of thieves that fund it. My dad fought in a war against fascism. If we don’t fight against it now history will judge us lazy cowards.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ansonburlingame

         /  July 19, 2018


        I had two uncles and a father that “fought against facism”. I “fought” against communism for 23 years (plus four years in uniform in college learning how to so “fight”). If I could start all over as an 18 year old today, given my family background involving military experience, I would choose to learn how to “fight against socialism”.

        As I recently wrote in a column in Globe (and quoted de Toucville in that column) democracy is a system to advance liberty and socialism is a system to advance dependency on and restrictions by government. While a milder, less cohercive form of “big brotherism”, it is equally despicable in terms of promoting conformity to government rather than individual liberty as the other two above. I shudder to think of a future, socialistic form of American government. That is exactly where the Democratic Party is trying to lead America and that is exactly why so many people voted for trump.

        Before writing the mentioned column, I struggled for about a month trying to understand the fundamental cause of the huge division in America. To me, as expressed in the column, it is a fight between liberty and socialism, freedom and conformity to an all powerful government. Believing as such, it is a very easy choice for me to make, within limits. “Pro-choice” whenever possible is my choice. Conforming to a “government choice” I am generally against, within reason, my reasoning at least, again. Note my own reasoning supports strict, very strict, gun control, today, an “anti-choice” position. But the morality of abortion is very much an individual decision and thus I find no internal conflict deciding where to stand on both issues.

        You like government controls. Do you like how the VA operates? You would be nuts if you did based on personal observation of seeing that bureaucracy at work. You would be, or get, madder than hell if you saw it up front and personal. Want to see how the military-government complex really works then go spend two years in the bowels of that stinking bureaucracy and see how you would like it. You would come out of such an experience spitting and fighting for all you were worth, if what you write in here reflects who you really are, which I give you credit for so doing. Pile on to those examples an indepth understanding of how the federal government (and contractors) dealt with manufacturing nuclear weapons for 50 years and the untold $Billions required to try to clean up the mess left behind. Scary is too mild a word. Inept and highly dangerous is more like it.

        Almost everything government does is too bureaucratic, too costly and rarely is anything done smoothly, with sound financial underpinnings, etc. Microsoft “invented computers” and Apple did same with other remarkable applications. Had government tried to do either or both of those efforts we would still not have Job’s first computer and cell phones would blow up in your face!! Exaggeration, yes, but my view of government ineptness, proven time and again. Yes, government “invented” the internet. But left to its own we would be typing morse code to one another over such a “net” today!!!

        If you and Duane get your way with big government running the show this country will sink into the oblivion of inept bureaucratic bungling, not any better that communism under Stalin, etc. What “progressives” are trying to do in America today is akin to Mao’s “Cultrual Revolution”. Well when Maxine Waters, et al (or Fields) try to accost me in a restarurant or gas station for my beliefs, well come ahead. No you and Duane would never do that. So I can try to have a dialog with you two, at least.

        I have written it before and continue to firmly believe it is the correct view of today’s America. It is a “dumbell” politically with far too many deplorables on either end of the spectrum. The center is barely holding the two ends together today and things are getting worse.



        • Anson — Here’s a thought for you from Robert Reich:

          “Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki was a betrayal of the nation he has a sworn duty to protect.

          Under Article III Section 3 of the Constitution, the crime of treason is defined as “giving aid and comfort” to enemies of the United States. Trump has betrayed the American people in 5 ways we already know of:

          1. He ignores attacks on our democracy. According to American intelligence, there’s no doubt about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. And no doubt they’re continuing to attack, and planning further attacks, on our democratic institutions and even our energy infrastructure.

          Yet Trump casts doubt about the conclusions of the intelligence community, blames past presidents, and turns a blind eye to safeguarding America from current and future attacks.

          2. He publicly undermines U.S. intelligence officials – taking the side of Putin, a former KGB officer, when Putin claims Russia didn’t interfere in the election. And Trump accuses his own government officials of being part of a so-called “deep-state” conspiracy out to get him.

          3. He attacks our closest allies, weakening America’s standing in the world and playing into Putin’s hands. During his trip to Europe, Trump insulted German Chancellor Angela Merkel, mocked British Prime Minister Theresa May, and was rebuked by the French President. His unreasonable demands on NATO – that members increase their military expenditures to 4 percent of their GDPs – have frayed our most important security alliance.

          4. His campaign knowingly sought help from a Russian agent. In June, 2016, senior members of Trump’s campaign, including Don Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort, met with a Russian lawyer who, before they met, had promised them damaging information on Clinton.

          5. Then in July 2016 Trump publicly encouraged Russia to meddle in our election, asking Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s email server and release the emails to the public. That same day Russian operatives initiated their cyberattack, and weeks later released the emails.

          Never before has a President of the United States so brazenly sided with a ruthless dictator intent on destroying American democracy.

          If this is not treason, what is it?”

          You don’t get a pass because your relatives fought against fascism. What are YOU doing about it? Not a damned thing as far as I can tell.


          • ansonburlingame

             /  July 20, 2018

            It is nice for Duane to let us use his blog to carry on our own conversation. But having said that I will not into a full scale debate over the merits of accusing trump of treason. If you feel that way, go ahead and so accuse him and rally people to in fact indict, try and convict him of same.

            I prefer that the American government actually govern however, something we have failed to do since 9/11. But given the strong opinions counteracting each other I can only, for now, hope for stalemate, not enacting new laws or actually enforcing some we already have in place. As Ben Franklin said, “If in doubt, do nothing!”

            Of course I have little doubt about what to do in many cases just as you seem pretty doubt free. Let the conversation continue until we reach some form of consensus, which I suppose is democracy in action.

            As to what am I currently “doing”, the answer is not much now, as is to be expected, given my age, etc. But I will continue to insert views herein, as I have done for some nine years in an attempt to “try” to get progressives to at least consider other ways. That, my infrequent now columns in local press, voting and having a few quiet discussions with friends is about my limit now.



  9. Ben Field

     /  July 19, 2018


    I am only vitriolic towards those those that support policies that run counter to my beliefs, exhibited by the NRA, GOP, and con men. Mark Twain said, “Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool”. David Wallace, Woolston, Huff, and Rohr played you like a drum, and you kept wanting more. It’s the same with Trump, follow the money, that’s what drives men like this. The Generalist is absolutely right, you have immortalized your support of them in your writing, and historical records will reflect such to your descendants. The fact is there are only two parties that rule America, and copping out as an “pox on them both” independent is cowardice.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark Twain said, “Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool”.

      It’s not clear that he said that, though Voltaire, in a letter to Frederick II of Prussia, said something that comes close:

      May one not return to those scoundrels of old, the illustrious founders of superstition and fanaticism, who first took the knife from the altar to make victims of those who refused to be their disciples?


      • Ben Field

         /  July 20, 2018


        There is no audio/video or proof of either statement, the attributed quote was just a segue to call attention to Anson’s previous misjudgments about proven con men. Voltaire’s quote wouldn’t work, as unlike Frederick the Great, Anson is certainly no fan of mine.


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