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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Of Babies and Bathwater

Earlier this week, the Republican congressional majority tried to push through an anti-abortion bill that would have banned any federal funding for abortion services in the case of rape. Faced with an uproar, they then changed the wording to specify that they would allow for exceptions in the case of forcible rape, "under the theory," as Gail Collins acidly noted, "that there was a problem with volunteer rape victims." The GOP backed off on that bill, too, but their latest iteration of anti-abortion legislation, sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) is probably worse: It would allow hospitals--as a matter of "conscience"--to deny emergency abortion services, even when these services were necessary to save the life of the mother.

Seriously, what is wrong with these people?

Years ago, we were in a play. One of our fellow cast-members was an ultraconservative anti-abortion zealot--highly unusual among actors, whose general liberalism is slightly to the left of Karl Marx. At any rate, one evening we overheard him engaging in a debate with one of the women in the crew. She asked him if he opposed abortion in the case of rape. He said he would. His logic? That the fetus conceived as a result of the rape should be considered a "gift"--something good to come out of a horrible experience. We were too gobsmacked to come up with an apt reply at the time.

(DIGRESSION: Gobsmacked (adj.)-A wonderfully evocative British expression indicating utter shock and disbelief, as of one being smacked in the gob [mouth]. EOD)

Later, in a perfect example of esprit de l'escalier, we realized what we should have said.

(DIGRESSION: Esprit de l'escalier (noun)-A wonderfully evocative French expression, literally "spirit of the staircase," referring to a perfect reply that occurs to you too late--for example, after you have left the party and are on the staircase heading home. EOD)

We should have said, "So, if a woman is raped and contracts a disease, she should consider the virus a 'gift' and allow it to rampage through her system rather than seek a cure?" Are we comparing a fetus to a virus? Well, yes, we suppose we are; it's no more offensive than diehard "pro-lifers" implicitly (overtly?) comparing pregnant women to incubators.

(DIGRESSION: Pro-life (adj.)-A disgustingly tendentious appelation adopted by the anti-abortion movement, who seem overly concerned with "life" only until it comes out of the womb, after which, you're on your own, baby! EOD)

To Rep. Pitts and his ilk, we say, If you love fetuses so much, why don't you marry one? Of course, we suspect that these folks would be all too happy to lavish affection on fetuses--if only they didn't come connected to anything so distasteful as an actual living woman.

"The Siege of Planned Parenthood"
Talking Points Memo


  1. I find it amazing that, even with learned gentlemen like yourself, the Right STILL dictates the terms of the discussion.
    Once and for all, can the voices of reason adopt... and make explicit... THERE IS NO PRO/ANTI-ABORTION argument in this country! That's only the way the Right has described it. The argument was, is, and will ALWAYS, ONLY be: Pro/Anti- CHOICE!

  2. It IS all about choice. I mean, I can't stand babies and yet I had 5 because I chose to. Well, that didn't sound so good. I USED to like babies. And I still do as long as I don't have to take care of them.
    The Feminist movement has always been about choices, being able to make the same choices in our lives that men do. If men could get pregnant, abortion would state funded and available at a clinic on every street corner.