Feb 14 2012

Valerie Tarico on Plan B and motivated beliefs

Remember the caring sensitive Mummy whose disabled daughter was raped and who decided not to let her have Plan B? Because “It’s about taking the life of an innocent child”?

Well Valerie Tarico has an excellent post on The Big Lie about Plan B.

Plan B doesn’t cause abortion. It stops or delays ovulation. No egg, no fertilization, no pregnancy – no abortion. It’s that simple.

Well then why did the caring sensitive Mummy say it did? Why did she get all maudlin about the innocent child whose life had to not be taken?

So why does the Religious Right keep telling us that post-coital contraceptives function by aborting teeny babies? Because in the minds of many true believers, when you’re on a mission from God the end justifies the means. That’s one reason religious belief has such inconsistent moral consequences, including wildly inconsistent effects on truth seeking and truth telling. Chris Rodda’s book, Liars for Jesus, focuses primarily on the way that Christian fundamentalists are rewriting history to justify theocracy. Katherine Stewart’s book, The Good News Club, sheds light on the deceptions fundamentalists use to woo grade school children for conversion. A NARAL investigation exposed a host of deceptions that are the stock in trade of Crisis Pregnancy Centers including the falsehood that abortions causing breast cancer. Different lies for different ends.

Not that they necessarily know they’re lies, Tarico adds. Self-deception is a powerful thing.


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  1. 1

    So why does the Religious Right keep telling us that post-coital contraceptives function by aborting teeny babies? Because in the minds of many true believers, when you’re on a mission from God the end justifies the means.

    Actually, I think a lot of them simply don’t understand the basics of human reproductive biology, believing instead in “sperm magic”. They think the meeting of sperm and egg happens more-or-less immediately after ejaculation, and they define this moment as “conception”. So they assume any post-coital contraception must be abortion, because they think conception happens at the moment the man shoots his load.

  2. 2
    Chris Lawson


    Much as I understand the distinction between lying and self-deception, there comes a point where they are functionally the same thing. The controversy around abortion and breast cancer is pretty much settled. The evidence is strong that abortion and breast cancer are not causally related (or if they are, the risk is too low to be measurable in large, well-conducted studies). The fact that anti-abortionists continue to spout this falsehood in the face of the evidence is, to me, prima facie evidence that they don’t give a damn about speaking the truth — and at that point, the moral distinction between lying and being mistaken has well and truly evaporated.

  3. 3

    The information provided by the maker of Plan B is very specific; it is emergency birth control only. It is NOT like RU-486 – it is not an abortifacient. And it will not work if one is already pregnant. People could easily know this if they wanted to.

    In this ‘information’ age there is no excuse for continuing to pass on lies when, with a few mouse clicks, one can easily find the truth. One can only conclude that the dissemination of disinformation is deliberate.

  4. 4

    Monty Python will have to update their song. Evidently, every egg is sacred, too.

  5. 5
    Ken Pidcock

    I find the persistence of the “religious liberty” issue, along with Rick Santorum’s ascendance, genuinely frightening, because I fear that a significant proportion of the populace has never actually embraced liberation from religious attitudes toward the place of women and sexuality. The opportunity to repent their tolerance in a time of economic upheaval might feel like just the ticket. That the majority of Catholic women have used contraception doesn’t mean much if, when they are older, they express regret and re-dedicate themselves to the ban. In Christianity, nothin’ beats repentance.

  6. 6

    You there! Are you menstruating? That’s practically abortion!

  7. 7
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    *hums “Every Sperm is Sacred” quietly*

  8. 8

    @eric: well the benefit of having lots of children is that you can sell them off later for medical experiments to pay the rent……

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