Why the Alt-Right Loves Abortion

And why it doesn’t really matter where they stand on the issue

The Schmendrick
May 22, 2019 · 10 min read

1973 was an eventful year for the United States; the Vietnam war had officially ended, the American Indian Movement occupied Wounded Knee, Billie Jean King defiantly shattered gender norms in the “Battle of the Sexes”, and for some reason, people still wore bell-bottoms. The seeds of liberal humanitarian values had already been planted by the civil rights and second wave feminist movements; values like tolerance that have sprouted into entire moral frameworks that guide liberals today. However, one 1973 event seems to supersede all others in its relevance to [very] contemporary legislative decisions: Roe V. Wade. This landmark ruling continues to this day to protect the liberty of pregnant women in their right to legal abortion.

Photo by Arvin Chingcuangco

I previously thought it impossible to understate the importance of this case. Little did I know, ignoring the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of 50.8% of the American population is easy — as long as you’re a lawmaker in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky and 11 other states who are proposing similar bills to restrict abortion. The 5 states mentioned above have already succeeded in signing their bills into law, which range from near-total bans to “heartbeat bills” (banning abortion once doctors detect a fetal heartbeat). The ancient debate on the questions “At what point does life begin?” and “Is personhood innate or acquired?” has taken a dystopian turn in the United States, which — justifiably so — has many Americans fearing for their democracy (not to mention their bodies).

Though this debate has unquestionable importance in the contemporary West, I will not be addressing these questions here. There are plenty of philosophers, scientists, and medical professionals who can answer such questions with far more insight than I will ever be able to in my caffeinated leftist stupor. Don’t get me wrong, issues of life and personhood are of no meek importance, especially in the context of abortion rights, and thus must not be overlooked. However, much of the left’s coverage on this legislative free-for-all has regarded the predominantly southern anti-abortion lawmakers as backward hillbillies who relish in torpedoing all semblances of women’s liberty as a fun pastime. Because of this ample coverage, I do not find it necessary to sing along with the choir of disgruntled liberals in Handmaid’s Tale costumes (though I do enjoy a good Margaret Atwood reference every now and again). Instead, it’s essential we take a look at everyone’s favourite perpetually-aggrieved political subculture: the alt-right.

Ever since Missouri senator Barry Hovis uttered the phrase “consensual rape” which reverberated throughout the nation, the discussion around many states’ new abortion laws has been going strong. However, in this discussion, we haven’t heard much at all about where the alt-right stands on this issue. Perhaps this is due to the controversy attached to alt-right figures voicing their opinions on major networks. Alternatively, it could be that many alt-right sects prefer not to overtly share their political desires for fear of appearing inaccessible to more moderate viewers. Regardless, the alt-right does generally (it is difficult to generalize such a loosely organized group) share a common belief about abortion; and it’s not what you think it is. You may want to take a seat for this.

The alt-right is pro-choice. Let me repeat; the white nationalists, the neo-nazis, the tiki-torchers and the confederate-comrades just love abortion.

“Well shucks, I was not aware that the alt-right cared so much about a woman’s right to choose,” said absolutely nobody. Because, as with most of the time on the alt-right, there is something more sinister at play here. The alt-right could care less about respecting women and their autonomy: the movement opposes everything feminism stands for. The reason many alt-rightists support legal abortion is not a feminist one, but a eugenic one. Many prominent figures of the alternative right, such as Greg Johnson of Counter-Currents, cite black and Hispanic Americans as carrying out the majority of abortions, thus slowing the growth of such demographics. Abortion is seen not as a threat to the prosperity of whites, but as a means to control and reduce non-white populations. Johnson himself has quite clearly stated his stance on the subject of abortion; that some [white] abortions should be banned while other [non-white] abortions are more than acceptable. In any case, the medical procedure is “never a matter of a woman’s choice”, according to the white nationalist (remember, the alt-right tends not to think very highly of women). Robert Hampton, a writer for Counter-Currents, summarizes this particular stance on abortion, pointing out that “Banning abortion won’t reverse white birthrates, and may actually exacerbate our decline”.

There are many things wrong with this statement; namely, it assumes the premise of ‘white genocide’ (the belief that the ‘white race’ is being destroyed through immigration, miscegenation, multiculturalism, etc.) which has been thoroughly debunked by many a scholar. The imagined ‘white decline’ of alt-right consciousness is fostered by liberal policies of inclusion, toleration and political correctness — and the construal of the policies as attacks on white people (mostly men). Thus, abortion serves as a solution to the imaginary problem of white decline, as it reduces the number of non-white people who need to be included, tolerated, and treated in a politically correct manner by whites. The alt-right is more than happy with this.

Though many on the alt-right are pro-abortion for its eugenic uses, it would be inaccurate to paint a picture of unanimity over the entire group. Different opinions exist within the radical movement, and this is important to acknowledge. Many on the alt-right are anti-abortion; namely the Christian alt-rightists (who are a minority given the mostly secular nature of the alt-right). However, the Christian alt-rightists oppose abortion for very different reasons than the usual “it’s against our faith” argument from scripture-quoting Republicans; the Christian alt-rightist argument is that abortion harms white Christians by limiting their possible births. Again, we see the ‘white decline’ argument used, just from a different angle.

Photo by James L.W

At an anti-abortion rally on May 10th, British Columbia Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Rich Coleman referred to the [white] abortion protestors as “the children of God”, fulfilling the narrative of white exceptionalism and supremacy. During the same rally, Christian Heritage Party leader Rod Taylor spoke about the treatment of pro-lifers as “second-class citizens” by anti-abortion activists. The Christian nationalist’s rhetoric appeases the conventional alt-right narrative of the “left-behind”; that white people are being forgotten by their government and country, in favour of more progressive societal changes. Taylor’s attribution may as well refer not only to abortion but to immigration, affirmative action, the MeToo movement, and the like. Autumn Lindsey, an activist from the pro-life organization studentsforlife, alluded to Holocaust concentration camps as analogous to abortion clinics, explaining that “We might not have train tracks behind our churches, but we have abortion facilities behind our homes, our grocery stores and our schools.” This analogy reeks of the pungent white genocide conspiracy, comparing the genocide of Jews and other persecuted groups to the practice of abortion (when the fetuses are white, that is). The repetition of the word “our” is of the utmost significance here, uniting the white pro-lifers as a cohesive, oppressed group. The voices expressed at this rally reflect several main positions of the alt-right; that white people are exceptional, that white people are oppressed, and that population control is immoral when used on white communities.

We have noted thus far that the alt-right’s stance on abortion varies. However, both ideological camps we have discussed here (pro-abortion for eugenic control, and anti-abortion for racial protection) hold one belief in common: that motherhood is a duty. Not a duty to God as Christian rightists believe, nor a duty to the family as traditionalists believe. This duty, instead, is a national one; to further the white race.

Mussolini’s fascist regime based itself on the idea that a strong state was a reproducing state, declaring on Ascension Day in 1927 that “force is numbers”. In order to reach his goal of growing the population from 40 to 60 million by the mid-century, women had to be controlled; not only physically but socially, as their roles would be fundamentally altered from the days of 19th century Italian feminism. The National Fascist Party was broadly anti-feminist, relegating the woman’s role to motherhood. Along with Mussolini’s “expand or explode” rhetoric (see historian Victoria de Grazia for a brilliant analysis on how this rhetoric affected women), the dictator’s pronatalist policies were promised to restore traditional morality, via pre-feminist gender norms. Though these policies were aimed at women predominantly, men were also targeted by propagandistic measures to equate fatherhood with manliness. Thus, not only were impotent men not valuable to the state, but they were effeminate. This false appraisal of masculinity led to the 1931 illegalization of homosexuality, as well as fatherhood being a prerequisite for many government positions.

It is worth noting the lack of reference to eugenicism in Fascist policy and rhetoric before 1936; this is due to the simple fact that Italy, at this time, did not have an ethnic minority problem. Italy’s population planning policy was unlike that of the Nazi’s, which was founded on notions of Aryan purity and Jewish degeneracy. However, when Fascist Italy colonizes Ethiopia, miscegenation begins to carry moral meaning, as the National Fascist Party aligns with the German National Socialist Party in their eugenic norms. Despite the racial mixing in Ethiopia, pronatalist policies in Italy remained strong (though their results were never quite effective). Policies such as the 1930 penal code’s “crimes against the integrity and health of the race” are very telling of the purpose of motherhood in a fascist, monoracial regime. Motherhood is a duty owed by women to their nation and race, according to the fascists; whether or not women desire motherhood is irrelevant.

Photo by Zulmaury Saavedra

In Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, we have seen how the ethnostate used women as pawns of the nationalist cause. In our current era of liberal capitalism (that is more likely to succumb to authoritarian leaders than we’d like to admit), the new abortion legislation proves to be worrying to the slightest of egalitarians. We should be wary, however, not only of toxic opinions on abortion but the reasons people hold them. The alt-right, though divided when it comes to abortion legislation, is steeped in an ideology of racial superiority and a narrative of ‘white genocide’. Moreover, though many on the alt-right do happen to be pro-choice, abortion as a whole appears irrelevant to them. Self-described identitarians, according to Robert Hampton, “are best served by not having a set position in this debate” and should remember “that this isn’t our fight”. As the alt-right sees it, the real problems of today’s society are rooted in the evils of Judaism, Marxism, Feminism, and all the other frequent recipients of alt-right blame. Small issues like abortion rights are of little importance in the context of the broader goals of the alt-right, such as the establishment of a white nation. In fact, the abortion issue has nothing to do with abortion (to the alt-right). Rather, it is about propagating an anti-feminist ideology that chains women to submissivity and reduces them to their fertility.

However, for those eager to understand and dismantle alt-right ideology, it is crucial to look at how the alt-right portrays themselves. Though the alt-right could care less about a woman’s right to choose, many alt-rightists are pro-choice. Though the alt-right by no means believes in traditional Christian values, many are pro-life. The alt-right is continuously looking for new ways to brand their radical movement into messages that are digestible to the average white American male. Because many are turned off by the harsh and provocative rhetoric of the movement, the alt-right needs to be able to appeal to regular people; men who feel disaffected but have not been radicalized yet. When figures on the alt-right espouse such stances as ‘pro-choice’ or ‘pro-life’, they enter into the sphere of socially acceptable discourse — and from that point, they can begin to plant the seeds of radical ideology.

Be wary of what opinions you hear, and to whom they belong. Whether you are for or against abortion — do not haphazardly absorb information without evaluating its source. Especially in the days of the youtube algorithm, you can be exposed to dangerous opinions, without ever knowing their underlying ideology. White nationalism is white nationalism; misogyny is misogyny; racism is racism; no matter how you brand it, the alt-right is wrong.

Photo by NeONBRAND

The Schmendrick

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I am a stupid, ineffectual fool. So are you, and that's okay. Join me in discovering the world - one flaw at a time.

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