Okay, so first off… abortion. Not a subject for the squeamish. You have been warned.
I was flicking through the religious channels yesterday as is my wont and I stumbled across a show that made every fibre of my being vibrate with pure untrammelled rage. It’s called ‘Defending Life’ and is a series of pro-life 30 minute shows made by the Priests for life organisation. Not, as one might hope, a group of Catholic fathers who all have the motto tattooed on their hairy upper arms and travel the states on Harley Davidsons spreading the good news… no, this is the work of one Father Frank Provone, a man who appears to like the look of his own face so much that it appears on everything ALL OF THE TIME.
So there I am, someone who believes that everyone has the right to choose what to do their own body. Someone who cares for women who are miscarrying as part of my job. Someone who has no idea what she would do if she had to make the decision to have an abortion herself and I was just absolutely appalled at the tactics of the show. There was a countdown of ‘global abortions’ whilst the programme ran, by their estimates there was an abortion every second. The numbers sat at the bottom of the screen ticking over whilst they talked about ‘pain in the unborn child’ and animated graphics of small, perfectly doll-like pink foetuses sitting in women’s hands looped in the background.
It was like being hit in the face. Repeatedly. With a big leather-bound bible. With the word ‘murderer’ on it.
So, yeah… I really wasn’t enjoying this. I actually couldn’t quite believe that this sort of heavy-handed, insensitive propaganda was being broadcast on a channel that identifies as religious but not extremist and in the evening but not late night and not with any warnings. It’s not something I’d want someone who was afraid and unsure to find whilst looking for guidance, regardless of their religious affiliation. It felt aggressive and unethical.
I thought a bit about why I was having such a strong reaction to the programme and the way that they were talking about abortion. Part of it was the techniques and language they were using. With something so emotive, if you’re trying to present your case as fair and balanced and logical (which they were, in theory) you should avoid nearly all of the techniques that they were using.
Who am I kidding though? This wasn’t logical skeptical me. I wasn’t appalled by the lack of basic media awareness and the misuses of semiology. This was a basic, deep-seated revulsion at this man and the things he was saying.
I have a problem with the Catholic church at the best of times. Their love of guilt and apportioning blame to women and minorities. The greedy, grabby, childlike way they consider themselves better than all others and judge other religious sects by rules that they have cherry-picked from a bible that they collated. The enforced chastity that, possibly, promotes inappropriate outflows of sexual energy. We’re just never going to be able to make it work. But I manage to spend most of my life having relegated them to a fuzzily non-threatening presence in the corner of my mind. Until I bump into something like ‘Defending Life’ and I remember that they’re scum.
I had a look online at some of the episode titles of the series and, well, yeah…
‘The abortion-child abuse connection‘ what the fuck?
‘Abortion survivor syndrome’ what the FUCKING FUCK?!
Hence the rantiness and the sheen of angry sweat on my slightly furrowed brow. More fool me, I also had a peek on youtube and found Father Frank peddling yet more ill-informed, dangerously unsupported and completely abhorrent anti-abortion dreck.
Really Frank? A cute little pink foetus with adorable tiny hands and a mime of pulling limbs off. You must really respect life if you can represent the blood and guts reality of the human body so bravely. I wonder how much medical experience he’s backing himself up with here? Oh wait, none. But he’s at least discussing the larger issues of why women have abortions in a sensitive and well researched wa…. oh, no. Not that either. Okay, well he’s taken off his dog collar there so he’s talking as a man, not a priest… that will mean that he can share why he has such strong personal opinions and thereby allow us an insight into his own priorities and prejudices… hmm, nope.
I’m sure I’ll return to all of this sooner rather than later… the main theme of that show was foetal pain and that set me off on a whole different angry path. For now though, I’m ranted out to the point of just making angry noises at the internet, so I’ll shush.
I must be a masochist though … I’ve only gone and sodding well series linked it on the Sky+… expect further vitriolic spewing. Hee.