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Laura Carroll

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An Inconvenient Abortion Truth

Posted: 08/31/2012 5:04 pm

On Tuesday, the 2012 We Believe in America Republican Platform was approved. It supports a human life amendment to the Constitution, which would ban all abortions, even in the case of incest and rape. The problem with this part of the platform is that presidential candidate Mitt Romney disagrees with this position. He says he is in "favor of abortion in cases of rape, incest and the health and life of the mother."

How do pro-Romney voters who favor of a human life amendment reconcile that Romney's position is in opposition to this amendment? A bit of cognitive dissonance is at work here. Cognitive dissonance occurs when we "hold two or more conflicting cognitions (e.g., ideas, beliefs, values, emotional reactions) simultaneously." To reduce the dissonance, we can do a variety of things, including "altering existing cognitions," or "adding new ones to create a consistent belief system."

The Daily Show's Samantha Bee's interviews with GOP convention delegates shed light on ways people reduce the dissonance and rationalize Romney's stance in this case. With regards to Romney and his abortion position, examples of what interviewed delegates said include:

"If that's the choice he made, that's his choice."

"He is allowed to choose."

"We live in a free society. We live in America. It is up to any human being to choose, to decide what is best for themselves."

"Who are we to tell someone how they should act."

"I do not believe for a second he's made this decision lightly."

"It's hard to make that decision unless you're the one in that situation."

"It's not for me to judge."

"The government has a purpose, and we lose sight of that. The purpose of government is to protect your individual liberties."

"That's what our country is -- the individualism. We get to be who we are. Everybody gets to choose the path they choose because it's their choice."

"Personal liberty is the hallmark of our civilization."

What's the irony in these kinds of responses? I am sure you already see it.

These rationales are exactly what a pro-choice platform stands for. Pro-life proponents making these kinds of comments actually make the case for a pro-choice position. The pro-choice position gives us the freedom to choose what is best for us and our lives. It is what protects our individual liberties. It is the position that upholds "the hallmark of our civilization."

Now, some say that when it comes to abortion, all freedom and liberty bets are off because abortion is murder, and that is why we need a human life amendment. But then we're back in cognitive dissonance pickle if we want to vote for Romney.

If we believe that life begins at conception and abortion is murder, how can we justify voting for a candidate who approves of murder in cases of incest, rape, or when the mother's life is in jeopardy?

To The Daily Show and Samantha Bee, thank you for smartly pointing to this inconvenient truth -- if Romney can "choose" his position on abortion, every woman should retain the right to do the same.

Laura Carroll is the author of The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction Will Create a Better World.

 
 
 

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