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Santorum Baits Race and Gender in Anti-choice Commentary

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In an anti-choice fit of pique, Senator Santorum revealed both his race and gender politics in wonderfully efficient rhetorical fashion.

The former PA senator expressed surprise this week that President Obama, a black man, would "deny civil rights to fetuses."   He goes on to claim that abortion is still legal in this country because fetuses are considered "property"--and that based on that legal caveat alone, fetuses are "denied the right to life." One can see the racist code from space.

Let me parse Santorum's language for a moment: Obama must comport himself as a former slave? Conspicuously bear in mind the civil rights movement? Be grateful that a man like him can become president? From these tacit and unsubtle race-inflected critiques of the president Santorum concludes: because black people were brutalized and denied civil rights as slaves, women should not be allowed to seek abortions.   Gotcha.

Further because white guys like him owned slaves, largely ignored the civil rights movement and routinely rise to power, they should control women's bodies.   The yawning disconnect between Santorum's own race and gender privilege and the civil rights' legacy to which he seeks to tether himself reveal s itself here .

A slave's body was not her own; it belonged to her owner, who could compel labor, sex and all manner of service and suffering entirely against her will.   Senator Santorum would compel women to use their bodies in ways that are against not only their wills but also their own best interests and the interests of those they love.  

Santorum's argument cynically conflates pro-choice and racism: if you allow abortions, you must be cool with turning back the clock on civil rights.   He also treats women like "property"--objects without inherent value or feeling, used to enrich, in this case, a white man's political cache.

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Feminist blogger, educator, author.
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