I really wonder sometimes if Will Saletan is my father’s long-lost bastard child. Because he’s got the exact same talent Dad had for telling you what you already knew in a manner that made it clear that he thought he was a genius and you were benighted and in dire need of his instruction. Even where he is hopelessly, utterly wrong — or at the very least, just not getting it in the name of being “contrarian.”
I have noted this similarity once before, comparing Will’s stunning revelation that greater access to contraception will tend to decrease abortion (not to mention his belief that he just thought of this all by himself) to my father’s being full of advice about the use of the microwave that everyone else in the house had already been using for 10 years before he deigned to figure out how to turn it on.
Will’s latest offering from the “No shit, Sherlock” files reminds me very much of my father’s solemnly informing me that there are nine Justices on the Supreme Court. Mind you, I was in college at the time. Poli Sci. I kinda knew that. But Dad was a white guy, and that made him an Expert.
What’s the latest pearl of wisdom from Lord Saletan? Women just don’t know that they’re aborting fetuses, and we have to make sure they know this!
In its April 18 ruling, the court treated abortion like an obscenity—something that could be done, but not out in the open. Partial-birth abortions, the court reasoned, could be banned because they occur outside the woman’s body. Other abortions need not be outlawed, since the womb conceals them.
Ultrasound dissolves this distinction. It offers to make every fetus and every abortion visible. It forces the court to renounce either the partial-birth ban or the right to abortion.
Oh, my god! Who knew that these were human fetuses that were getting aborted??? Sweet gibbering Jesus, were it not for ultrasound technology, we would never, ever know what goes on within the black box of a woman’s body!
It’s hard to accept if you see abortion as a woman’s right. But it’s even harder to accept if you see abortion as the taking of a human life. That’s one reason why pro-lifers are turning their attention from partial-birth abortion to ultrasound, from the fetus outside the body to the fetus within. They’re trying to open, in their words, a “window to the womb.”
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.
Around the country, ultrasound bills are all the rage. Most of them require clinics to offer each woman an ultrasound view of her fetus. Mississippi enacted a law on March 22. Idaho followed April 3. Georgia’s legislature passed a bill a week ago; South Carolina’s is about to do the same.
Quick! Better lobby your state legislature for an ultrasound bill! All the cool kids are doing it. It’s all techno.
Plus, you don’t want to be a pussy, do you?
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.
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.
Look at the pretty pictures!
You know, that little line about “the truth” reminds me of that scene in A Few Good Men where Tom Cruise has Jack Nicholson on the stand: “I want the truth!” demands Tom. “You can’t handle the truth,” sneers Jack.
I just love how Saletan decides that women don’t know “the truth” about abortion, and that ultrasounds are just the ticket for telling them that they have a human life in their wombs. That fetuses MOVE!
Uh, they know that already, Will. That’s why they’re getting abortions. Because they know that if the embryo or fetus is left there, chances are it will be a baby after nine months, the responsibility of someone who doesn’t want to have a baby. They don’t need to look at an ultrasound to know that. Of course, anti-choicers remain convinced otherwise:
To pro-lifers, ultrasound is a test of pro-choice sincerity. “The same people who scream that women must always be told ‘all their options,’ including abortion, balk at allowing women to see whom it is whose life they are about to take,” says Mary Spaulding Balch, NRLC’s state legislative director. “They are petrified that women will change their minds after seeing their babies.”
So, uh, you gonna pay for this, Mary? Because requiring ultrasounds — which are not cheap — is going to raise the price of abortions and force even more late-term procedures as women have to get the money together. Which, of course, is the point here: throw up as many roadblocks as possible, raise the costs, make it as difficult as possible to obtain an abortion, and maybe a few of those sluts will change their minds. And if they don’t want to look at the video, they’re weak and can’t handle the truth.
Actually, given how many obstacles are put into womens’ paths, particularly in Bible-belt states, it’s a wonder anyone goes through with abortion at all. I’ve never had one, but if I ever needed one, I live in a state with incredibly liberal abortion laws. I can’t even imagine scraping together the money, traveling to a distant clinic, going through mandatory waiting periods, having to sit through bullshit disclosures about the procedure, running the gantlet of the protesters outside (not to mention all the security inside due to the terrorism directed at women’s clinics), and then having one more goddamn thing thrown at you: “Look! It’s your baby!”
That so many women do make it through this whole procedure is a real testament to the fact that they know the truth already and they will do what they need to do. Which is something that needs to be added to the list of things Saletan Just Doesn’t Get. Because this is how he closes his piece:
To trust the ultrasound, you have to trust the woman.
If you trusted the woman in the first place, you wouldn’t force her to view an ultrasound.
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