Sunday, April 29, 2007

William Saletan: Women Just Don't Know Their Minds (But I Do)

Is it possible for the reproductive rights collective to stop William Saletan from representing himself as "pro-choice" in media outlets everywhere? He's becoming the "pro-choice" version of the "Joe Lieberman democrat."

For someone who claims to be supportive of keeping abortion legal the man seems to be following in Justice Kennedy’s thinking that women really don’t know enough about what abortion is when they choose it. His Slate/Washington Post column today states that asking forcing women seeking abortions to view ultrasounds isn’t so bad. In fact maybe they should be forced to feel guilty about what they are choosing to do.

Pro-lifers are often caricatured as stupid creationists who just want to put women back in their place. Science and free inquiry are supposed to help them get over their "love affair with the fetus." But science hasn't cooperated. Ultrasound has exposed the life in the womb to those of us who didn't want to see what abortion kills. The fetus is squirming, and so are we.
Really Saletan? We are?

Critics complain that these bills seek to "bias," "coerce," and "guilt-trip" women. Come on. Women aren't too weak to face the truth. If you don't want to look at the video, you don't have to. But you should look at it, and so should the guy who got you pregnant, because the decision you're about to make is as grave as it gets.
Like other grave decisions in our lives we women need to be lectured by males that we’re not taking this process seriously enough. We're "strong" enough to hear the bad news like big girls.

Are ultrasound pushers trying to bias your decision? Of course. But of all the things they do to "inform" your decision, this is the least twisted. Look at the Senate's "Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act." It would order your doctor to deliver a 193-word script full of bogus congressional findings about your "pain-capable unborn child." Ultrasound cuts through that kind of garbage. The image on the monitor may look like a blob, a baby, or neither. It certainly won't follow some senator's script. All it will show you is the truth.
And what truth is that pray tell? Most people can’t interpret what the images are on an ultrasound without a fully-trained technician to tell them what they are seeing. Interpretation of what pregnancy is and means to the individual is the heart of what being pro-choice is.

Saletan then gets awfully cute with his moralizing.

If I were a legislator, I'd offer four amendments to any ultrasound bill. First, the government should pick up the tab. Second, the woman should also be offered a six-hour videotape of a screaming 1-year-old. Third, any juror deliberating whether to issue a death sentence should be offered the chance to view an execution. Fourth, anyone buying meat should be offered the chance to watch video from a slaughterhouse. If my first amendment passed but the others failed, I'd still vote for the bill.
Again, because women don’t really know what their minds are until some authority figure helps them out. (And nice way to conflate abortion with "slaughter" and "death penalty" Bill.)

But the clash between ultrasound and the partial-birth ban is ultimately a choice between information and prohibition. To trust the ultrasound, you have to trust the woman.
Really? You don’t seem too, Bill.

With all this talk about how women are supposed to feel guilty over having an abortion Saletan doesn’t seem to ask why a woman should feel guilty about her choice, regardless how how the procedure is performed. Because clearly he's as conflicted as Justice Kennedy is over how abortions procedures are described. So since he's conflicted we all should be. Therefore it doesn’t seem incongruent to him to use measures that associate guilt with abortion. Because, he's essentially saying, as long as she’s sorry for what she’s about to do, a woman can have her abortion. But she must be very, very sorry about it.

Because let’s not forget women are children who need to be lectured at and told how to feel about their reproductive choices. Frankly, considering how irresponsible us women are with our vaginas, its surprising anyone lets us run around with them.

No comments: