Author: has written 5297 posts for this blog.

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

29 Responses

  1. a nut
    a nut January 23, 2006 at 1:58 pm |

    You know, I saw that one NYT’s op-ed, too, and thought the same things. Nothing in it was new, yet Saletan acted like it was a new concept he thought of all by himself. However, I did think it was a good read, just not necessarily one that should be taken seriously (which you proved why).

    If you think about it, lots of people, including anti-choicers, don’t realize Planned Parenthood offers a wide range of services outside of abortion clinics. The PP here only performs abortions on certain days whereas the Women’s Clinic performs them almost daily (the same 2 people picket it almost daily, too).

    Because the word *abortion* is so stigmatized, a lot of noise and controversay was stirred over the I Had an Abortion tshirts because it puts the “bad thing” out there for everyone to see, confronting our otherwise delicate sensibilities.

    On another note, I just hope this isn’t the last anniversary of Roe….fer real.

  2. Sara
    Sara January 23, 2006 at 3:23 pm |

    If I may whore it out a little, this all fits really well in-line with my Blogging for Choice post, if anyone wants to give it a gander. It’s not just abortion rights that are being eroded. The right and practical ability to make any reproductive choices is being attacked in all sorts of ways – choices limited by poverty or restriction on contraception, etc. Women need to have real autonomy and real power in all areas in their lives to make the choices about what’s best for them, and not just what makes their lives the least worse.

  3. philosophizer
    philosophizer January 23, 2006 at 4:49 pm |

    Thanks to you and BitchPhD, I decided to join in with my story too.
    I hope any readers enjoy it. I love this site and I’m sad to see Lauren go, but it inspired me to delurk.

  4. Kyra
    Kyra January 23, 2006 at 5:41 pm |

    Brilliant essay.

    Possibly off-topic, but I just thought of it: The anti’s say that the unborn have a right to life, but how can they legitimately say that they have a right to stay unborn?

    Seems to me that in the Utah–Rhode Island example, with Utah placing the fetus under protective custody and Rhode Island placing the woman under protective custody, the reasonable solution would be for the fetus to stay in Utah and the woman to go to Rhode Island.

    Everybody gets what they want. *smirk*

    OK, yeah, mostly sarcastic, but I just read again about Dr. Slepian, and I’m not in a generous mood now. Then again, it does solve the problem rather nicely.

  5. Alle Hall
    Alle Hall January 23, 2006 at 7:58 pm |

    While I agree with much of what you wrote. The problem is, ranting about the facts does not affect the voting patterns of those who COULD vote choice and instead vote “life” because they have been freaked out by the partial birth campaign. Saletan hits it right on the head when he writes that many will accept a morally frictive solution as temporary, but will ultimately reject it. We saw it with Affirmative Action. We will see it with Roe. UNLESS: we convince just enough voters who are uncomfortable with abortion to reallign. If we put out a prevention message that includes very importnat ideas such as access, we have a chance to change the minds of enough reasonable people currently voting “life.”

    If we continue to rant the same old rants and spew the same old facts, the Radical Right will continue to win the game. They framed it. They know how to play it. it is encumbant upon us to put a new game out there.

  6. Stephen
    Stephen January 23, 2006 at 11:01 pm |

    Offtopic, but can I say I love the planned parenthood redesign. It looks great. But whoever did the html…tsk tsk tsk. Why are there tables? Its 2005 people, there was no need…

  7. FertileTurtle
    FertileTurtle January 23, 2006 at 11:54 pm |

    Back in the day, before and just after abortion was becoming legal, the saying was:

    “If men got pregnant, abortion would be a rite.” Pun intended.

    I do not agree that abortion is bad; it is a procedure, which can be be used to good ends or misused.

    WIIIAI January 24, 2006 at 2:42 am |

    As long as blog-whoring is goin’ on, I’d like to put my own goods out on the street, to wit my post on Saletan’s op-ed:

  9. PartisanJ
    PartisanJ January 24, 2006 at 3:01 am |

    “…at least half of our unintended pregnancies are attributable to women who didn’t use contraception.”

    The pregnancies were ours, but the it’s the women who didn’t use the contraception. Surely the men used birth control, but it was no match for the women’s lack thereof.

    -Concerned Male

  10. Ezra Bramble
    Ezra Bramble January 24, 2006 at 5:12 am |

    Wonderful essay with great quotations. But, having come here based on Atrios’ Wanker of the Day award, I have to say I don’t find Saletan’s piece so outrageous. My dad performs abortions (hence I haven’t posted my real name) and I couldn’t be prouder of him. But over the years I’ve come to a strange place: I’m a strongly pro-choice, strongly anti-abortion atheist. Which is to say that, like Planned Parenthood, I will always fight for a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy, but I will fight harder to see that every possible form of birth control and counseling is available to her. I’ll fight the religious zealots who crusade for the souls of the unborn and expend little effort on unwanted and abused living children. But I will also cry for the potential humans gifted with the spark of life who will simply cease to exist… because there is no heaven, hell, or Jesus to receive them. There is nothing… If that makes me a wanker like Saletan, so be it.

  11. e p o n y m o u s » Blogging For Choice

    […] ere (cribbed mostly from previous debates both here and on other blogs), but then I hit up Feministe and found this: Yesterday was the 33rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade […]

  12. LivingInTheRealWorld
    LivingInTheRealWorld January 24, 2006 at 9:14 am |

    We DON’T have to agree that “Abortion is bad, and the ideal number of abortions is zero.” I would bet money that for 99% of abortions, the patient has NO moral qualms, any more than someone having their gall bladder removed. Every month that she has her menstrual period she loses the opportunity to have a baby, too.

  13. Zippy
    Zippy January 24, 2006 at 9:37 am |


    Your attack on Saletan’s article is misplaced. Sure, PP and NARAL and other organizatinos are well thought out… but (not to be obvious) do you think many prolifers look at their websites?

    The reality is that the prochoice movement is–correctly, I think–known mostly for it’s vociferous defense of the right to have an abortion by anyone, at atny time. I don’t recall any “right to contraception” marches in D.C. And it’s called the “prochoice” movement, not the “women’s health” movement.

    Saletan’s point is this: The prolifers think abortion is murder. You’re probably not going to convince them otherwise. (incidentally, I’d disagree with you about their primary motivation being one of control over women). But you MIGHT be able to convince them to suport abortion freedom more easily if it also included some way, some serious support, for reducing the overall numbers of abortion.

    Incidentally, I also think you and much of the prochoice movement is avoiding the argument. From the prochoice side, we’re always hearing about the poor abused woman who can’t afford an abortion; the welfare mother forced to have kids by her boyfriend; the teenager who is raped and doesn’t want to tell her parents.

    Sure, they’re sympathetic. They even might convince some prolifers on the fence that abortion is appropriate.

    Bit what I rarely hear the prochoicers discuss is a woman who has had three abortions, doesn’t use much birth control, and may have more. This woman (and she does exist; I know people like her) is the epitome of the problem from the prolife perspective. You need to develop more taliing [opints about HER instead of always bringing up the rape victim.

  14. TwoDems » Feministe » 33 Years After Roe

    […] Guest Bloggers

    January 24, 2006
    Feministe » 33 Years After Roe

    This article comes in response to Will Saletan’s op-ed in the NY Times […]

  15. TwoDems » Abortion and Opinion
    TwoDems » Abortion and Opinion January 24, 2006 at 9:45 am |

    […] About Zac
    Guest Bloggers

    January 24, 2006
    Abortion and Opinion

    This article comes in response to Will Saletan’s op-ed in the NY Times […]

  16. Lynn Gazis-Sax
    Lynn Gazis-Sax January 24, 2006 at 10:26 am |

    I would bet money that for 99% of abortions, the patient has NO moral qualms, any more than someone having their gall bladder removed.

    I wouldn’t. I suspect that rather more than 1% of abortions are chosen by women who were adamantly pro-life up until the time they had their unplanned pregnancies. (I’m not saying most abortions, obviously, just probably a non-trivial percentage.)

  17. Tex
    Tex January 24, 2006 at 10:42 am |

    Zippy,you seem to have slept thru the “March for Women’s Lives” about two years ago which explicitly tried to make a case for abortion being part of, yes, a women’s health agenda.

    As for your comment about talking points around multiple abortions, I recommend GFR’s much-discussed article on said subject from back in November.

  18. LivingInTheRealWorld
    LivingInTheRealWorld January 24, 2006 at 10:53 am |

    Not to argue with you but, yes, sure a lot of women mouthed “pro-life” opinions up until they had their own abortion but then afterwards, they had no moral qualms. Its not political; its human nature, the basic self-serving instinct.

  19. Mysticdog
    Mysticdog January 24, 2006 at 11:06 am |

    Here is the unvarnished truth about why the religious right is so anti-contreception, anti-abortion, pro-AID’s, pro-STD. They are stuck in the untennable position of trying to be christians while believing in a Mosaic god. They say they love Jesus, but they look to Exodus for their image of God – a god who has a chosen people, a god who appears to them daily, a god who will gleefully kill tens of thousands of his people for so much as complaining about the monotonous food (really, this happens in Exodus).

    They don’t believe in a god of mercy and forgiveness. They believe in a god of brutal punishment. And it drives them absoultely nuts that all of these people get to go around having sex, drinking, dancing, wearing slutty clothes, cursing, educating themselves with blasphemous science and literature, and generally ignoring their god while having fun. Because WHY ISN’T GOD KICKING THIER ASSES LIKE HE DID IN THE OLD TESTEMENTS?!?!?!

    Ohhh, but maybe he is. Loose women get STD’s and babies. Gays get AIDS. Whole towns and states sufer disasters because of the impurity of their citizens, like Sodom and Gamorrah of old.

    And having consoled themslves that god is kicking righteous ass, it drives them even battier that man is able to subvert God’s Holy Vengeance with contraception and medicine and seawalls and abortion.


    That is the only thing you even need to know about the religious right’s feelings on abortion. then substitute AIDS and GAYS. Then substitute NATURAL DISASTERS and CITIES.

  20. media in trouble
    media in trouble January 24, 2006 at 11:55 am |

    There is a fine book just released by NARAL’s Cristina Page: How The Pro-choice Movement Saved America .

    It covers the Pro-Choice movement and where we stand on reproductive rights in this country and how the pro-life movement really isn’t about stopping abortions or even reducing them.

    Its about women being baby factories.

    It would be wise to promote this book and review it and such.

  21. Fraser
    Fraser January 24, 2006 at 11:57 am |


    This line jumped out at me. Does this mean that if you “can” practice abstinence but have sex with birth control anyway, you’re a slut?

    Which is one thing that should be kept in mind, some of the religiout right aren’t just anti-abortion, the’yre anti-birth control and pretty much anti-sex (one of Operation Rescue’s leaders once described sex with your spouse while using contraceptive as being morally equivalent to renting a prostitute). Locally, plenty of people (and I’m sure my area isn’t alone) portray abortion as a way for women to escape the consequences of all that slutty sex they’ve been having.

    Another point, will overturning Roe really turn abortion rights back to the states? The religious right managed to turn the Terri Schiavo case into a national issue, and the Bush administration has actively pushed national laws over states on other matters (environmental law, for instance). I foresee a big push to stamp out the unspeakable evil of abortion rather than allow evil blue-staters to continue permitting women to have sex and not suffer for it.

  22. feckless
    feckless January 24, 2006 at 1:13 pm |

    The problem with this concept of outreach, and I agree it is the only way to preserve choice, taking a political stand to limit the number of abortions while absolutely preserving access, the same people who are “pro-life” are “abstinence only” (this can be seen in the red state school curriculars and the horrible abuse of our foreign aid under the W junta).

    I see a heavy overlap in the intelligent design, pro-life, abstinence only, poverty is a sign of moral failing crowd, this a hard voting 20% of the population, and they are just plain ignorant and mean.

    How do you convert these people back to sanity?

  23. Fraser
    Fraser January 24, 2006 at 1:21 pm |

    Screwed up my post: The line I reference was “abstinence for those who can practice it, contraception for those who can’t.”

  24. 21stCenturyMom
    21stCenturyMom January 24, 2006 at 1:30 pm |

    Thanks for this wonderfully written and long post. You have done a remarkable job of synthesizing a lot of important aspects of why we need to fight for choice.

    As for the Op Ed piece, I love this one

    at least half of our unintended pregnancies are attributable to women who didn’t use contraception.

    Never mind that those unprotected women were having sex with men who couldn’t be bothered to take responsibility for unintended conception and use a condom. It’s always our fault, isn’t it?

  25. Lauren
    Lauren January 24, 2006 at 2:36 pm |

    Bit what I rarely hear the prochoicers discuss is a woman who has had three abortions, doesn’t use much birth control, and may have more. This woman (and she does exist; I know people like her) is the epitome of the problem from the prolife perspective. You need to develop more taliing [opints about HER instead of always bringing up the rape victim.

    Zippy, doll, I’ll just point you here.

    Jill, this is, in a word, fantastic. The point that needs to be beaten on every drum:

    The reality is that, even if every single person uses contraception to prevent unintended pregnancies, there will still be a need for abortion. There will be extreme fetal abnormalities. There will still be life-threatening pregnancies. There will still be pregnancies resulting from rape and incest. There will still be contraceptive failures. There will still be mid-pregnancy personal tragedies that turn a wanted pregnancy into an impossible one. This is life. Abortion, like sex and pregnancy and childbirth and miscarriage, will always be a part of it.

    I have repeatedly detailed my experience with HELLP syndrome because a) it was traumatic and I like talking about the gristly details, and b) to bring us back to this point. Even if I am responsible, use birth control, and mark my next baby onto the calendar with a pen, there is the chance that my next pregnancy will kill me. A dead mother is no good to an existing family with children, and the reality is that a dead fetus — or the tragic abortion of a baby that was wanted by the parents — is a far lesser evil than a family abandoned because of draconian moral absolutes applied to medical law.

  26. Eric Martin
    Eric Martin January 24, 2006 at 3:58 pm |

    Fantastic post. I don’t have anything more profound to say than that. Oh, and nice to see another NYU alum in the ‘sphere. Keep up the good work.

  27. Alice M.
    Alice M. January 26, 2006 at 10:27 am |

    Thanks for this.

    I wonder if the part of the reason for the abortion debate being so different in the U.S. vs the rest of the world is because of the legal framework. Here in the U.K., if I understand correctly, abortion was legalised on a pragmatic basis – because too many hospital beds were taken up by women injured or dying from illegal abortions. (Of course hospital care is a matter of the national budget here because we have the National Health Service.) Whereas in the U.S. I think the legality comes from a ‘rights’ issue, which puts the arguments on a different footing.

  28. Lane
    Lane January 28, 2006 at 9:28 am |

    Never mind that those unprotected women were having sex with men who couldn’t be bothered to take responsibility for unintended conception and use a condom. It’s always our fault, isn’t it?

    Well, if women insisting on taking control of the abortion decision process (which is all that I’ve ever heard from pro-choicers: that only those with uterus’ can decide), then why shouldn’t they take the responsibility to protect themselves? If she doesn’t want to get pregnant, she shouldn’t sleep with someone who refuses to use a condom.

  29. Constance Reader
    Constance Reader January 28, 2006 at 10:53 am |

    “>Here’s my post as well, in which I make the argument that the absolute last thing the pro-life movement is interested in is life. I think that should be an important tactic for the pro-women’s reproductive choice to adopt: the pro-life movement has no real interest in life whatsoever.

    Maybe if enough of our blog posts get passed around, if enough of us wear the t-shirts and tell our stories, just maybe we can get past the fear and anguish at the use of plain English words and proper medical terms and actually have honest discussions of the issue.

Comments are closed.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.