A billboard on Interstate 25 in New Mexico is drawing plenty of attention. The handiwork of pro-choice group ProgressNow, it states: “Rape is about power and control. So are abortion bans.”
In an interview with local news station KRQE, ProgressNow director Marianna Anaya said it was important to use any message necessary to put abortion on the ballot in 2020.
“2020 will be a decisive year for the future of abortion access, and it’s critical that we defeat the agenda of anti-abortion groups and lawmakers and expose them for what they are — extreme, violent and cruel,” she said. “For any of us who are survivors of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence, we’ve been told over and over that these forms of abuse take place because the abuser wants to assert power and control over our bodies… so in the same vein we know that politicians and anti-abortion extremists are trying to assert control over our bodies by banning abortion.”
It’s pretty astonishing that anyone would correlate rape with a political stance against abortion, but it is unthinkable that someone who has actually BEEN raped would do so. Either this is just public posturing meant to shock voters into taking note of the billboards, or these people really have a screw loose in their heads. Contrary to their proposed viewpoint, if you’re going to make a comparison of one violent act to another, abortion itself has much more in common with rape than the pro-life stance.
Perhaps this is a failing of the pro-life movement and the Republican lawmakers who represent it in the halls of power. Maybe more needs to be done to demonstrate an outpouring of compassion and love on this divisive topic. Maybe we need to position more female leaders to take up the mantle and sidestep these simple-minded “look at all these men with control over my womb” arguments that short-circuit critical thinking. While polls still show America sharply divided down the middle on issues of abortion, we can’t help but think that something has gone wrong as it pertains to messaging and strategy. It can’t be THAT difficult to convince a nation that killing unborn babies is wrong.
Thankfully, for the time being at least, it feels like the momentum is on our side. Legislatures all over the country are challenging long-held beliefs about the state of Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court is set to decide on a controversial abortion clinic law. And the stage is set for the high court to potentially take up the very foundations of federal abortion law itself.
Perhaps, with feminist groups comparing the anti-abortion position to literal RAPE, we should take their hysterical exaggerations as a sign that we’re winning.