Abortion Dialog

by digby

Chris Matthews says we have to find middle ground on abortion. Apparently, he just read Lord Saleton's most recent screed in the NY Times and was very affected by this:

Eight years ago, the Alan Guttmacher Institute surveyed over 10,000 American women who had abortions. Nearly half said they hadn’t used birth control in the month they conceived. When asked why not, 8 percent cited financial problems, and 2 percent said they didn’t know where to get it. By comparison, 28 percent said they had thought they wouldn’t get pregnant, 26 percent said they hadn’t expected to have sex and 23 percent said they had never thought about using birth control, had never gotten around to it or had stopped using it. Ten percent said their partners had objected to it. Three percent said they had thought it would make sex less fun.

This isn’t a shortage of pills or condoms. It’s a shortage of cultural and personal responsibility. It’s a failure to teach, understand, admit or care that unprotected sex can lead to the creation — and the subsequent killing, through abortion — of a developing human being.

Matthews let fly with his interpretation that "the problem is that we have a lot of abortions, a lot of them, in cases where the person is having sex and not doing anything to prevent getting pregnant and that they have no intention of taking to term. What do we do about those people who have sex and have no intention of taking the baby to term?" [Burn them! --- ed]

Ken Blackwell replied that science has shown that human life begins at conception whether it's brainwaves or fingerprints. Yep.

Lord Saletan of Will added that mating is the engine of history.

And then Matthews railed some more against women for just having sex without taking any precautions, and just figuring they can go get an abortion if they get pregnant. He said, "I want these little bitches to think!" (Ok, he didn't call them little bitches,he said "people," but the meaning was clear.)

In the whole exchange about responsibility and birth control, not one person mentioned the other person involved in the sexual act -- the man.

And one couldn't help but wonder, considering the direction that conversation was taking, whether or not this new "liberal" approach by Saletan really could result in some common ground. Since both sides already agree that these unwanted pregnancies are the result of lazy, irresponsible Jezebels fucking for fun without giving a second thought to the consequences, perhaps we can agree to keep abortion legal and simply punish women for having unprotected sex some other way that forced childbirth. Talk about consensus.

In fact, I could see a whole bureaucracy set up to investigate and judge women as to whether or not their abortion was justified and find some good way to sanction this shallow, irresponsible behavior. Since they obviously just love getting pregnant and having abortions, there must be some better way to teach these braindead twits that there are consequences for their unbridled lust.

Seriously, is there a more offensive (and increasingly sexist) commenter on this subject than Will Saletan? He really seems to think that if only women understood that they were committing murder, they would take birth control pills and solve this problem once and for all. It's incredibly insulting to think that women don't take this seriously, even those who "thought they wouldn't get pregnant" or "didn't expect to have sex." Does he honestly think that because they said this was how their unintended pregnancy happened it follows that they didn't understand the consequences? Of course they did.

Sex is the most primitive human desire there is. Telling women they need to "think" before they have sex is excellent advice. (Good advice for men too.) It always has been. Churches and parents and every other authority figure have probably been saying it since humans figured out the connection between mating and reproduction. But there are always going to be situations where they don't. It's not called a drive for nothing. (And truly, if mating were left to rational decision making the human race would not have survived.)

Maybe Chris Matthews and Will Saletan think that lecturing women about murder and responsibility will make a big difference, but it won't. All women except the youngest or the mentally disabled understand very well the ramifications of unwanted pregnancy and if there's is one woman who fully understands the consequences of unprotected sex, it's the woman whose period is late. To have a bunch of men piously lecturing them that pregnancy is something they need to take seriously is pretty absurd.

The abortion rate could probably be reduced by offering comprehensive sex education and easy access to birth control among the young and poor. (And here's an idea --- maybe we could have the pharmaceutical companies put as much effort into the development of the male birth control pill as they put in to the male boner pill too.) But no matter what they do, the fact is that there are always going to be unintended pregnancies because people will continue to throw caution to the wind sometimes when it comes to sex. You can marry girls off at the age of 13, you can criminalize abortion, you can shun the jezebels, you can perform female castration so they won't feel any pleasure and a thousand other things and it won't change it. It's just the way it is.

And incidentally, it would be really nice if people could stop solely blaming females for being stupid, irresponsible sluts, in this particular argument especially. Condoms are cheap and available everywhere and I really doubt it's women who are forcing their men not to use them.