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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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46 Responses

  1. Amanda
    Amanda January 3, 2011 at 2:09 pm |

    It sends shivers down my spine to hear someone reminisce fondly about the pre- roe v. wade / post war era in Women’s Rights and adoption. The desire for white babies and lack of a woman’s autonomy led to coerced and even forced adoptions, as you said. It also was a time where babies were literally illegally trafficked (e.g. the infamous adoption worker Georgia Tann). How black women and their children were treated was horrific as well.

    And he thinks this time in history is where we need to be?

    What he fails to acknowledge is that babies born to mothers who are not prepared to care for them also have rights. They are not commodities to be passed along to the more deserving.

    Noticing how many unintended pregnancies occur vs. how many struggle with infertility is one way to look at it: if one wants to use women’s bodies as commodities. But one could also look at the desire there is to adopt vs. the over 120,000 adoptable children in the U.S. foster care system who need homes, who year after year, don’t get them. Instead of making women feel obligated to reproduce for others, why aren’t we focusing on the needs of those who are already born and really do need parents to care for them?

  2. Kymba K
    Kymba K January 3, 2011 at 2:21 pm |

    So he wants to be Socialist/Communist with MY unused uterus, but heaven forbid we talk about redistributing money or ceasing to worship corporations. At least he’s consistent, individual desires, interests or rights don’t count for spit. Nice guy.

  3. ozymandias
    ozymandias January 3, 2011 at 3:04 pm |

    What Douthat doesn’t seem to realize is that pregnancy is hard. It’s stressful on your body, it’s a pain in the ass to deal with and it sometimes leads to death. It is a lot to go through to bear an unwanted child to fulfill someone else’s dream. Not to mention the complete lack of empathy for rape survivors (nine months of constant rape reminder, how fun).

    Also, I’m glad to see that black, disabled and non-infant children (who might have problems! That their mom might have to help them with! OMGNOEZ!) are as valued as ever. Kyriarchy yay.

  4. Lori
    Lori January 3, 2011 at 3:08 pm |

    Anyone who hasn’t, should read “The Girls Who Went Away” by Anne Fessler on those “good old days” before Roe v. Wade…and how great it was to be treated like a walking (shameful, hussy) womb…
    http://us.penguingroup.com/static/rguides/us/girls_who_went_away.html

  5. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz January 3, 2011 at 3:36 pm |

    Okay, I read Thernstrom’s article. And she has to actually spend money essentially getting someone to do what Douthat thinks poor women should be doing for free! It’s like she thinks that pregnancy and childbearing is valuable and is willing to compensate someone (multiple someones!) to achieve that.

    At least she’s ahead of Douthat on that count.

  6. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin January 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm |

    I’d kind of want to be born to a parent or parents who wanted me. Seems a bit healthier that way, to me, since it’s not like all births were ever treated equally.

  7. Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » The Push Is On

    […] btw, it is worth pointing out that aside from Douthat’s usual drivel, he still has not managed to figure out that those unborn babies he so cherishes all reside in, you know, actual people who might just have […]

  8. figleaf
    figleaf January 3, 2011 at 5:32 pm |

    First of all, Jill, your first paragraph is priceless and to the point. If I hadn’t already quoted Amanda Marcotte on the matter I’d have quoted you.

    And Douthat’s a monster for believing that it’s a tragedy that “only 1% of young white women” who don’t terminate their pregnancies “relinquish” them to their elders and betters. (Hmm, and he says he’s opposed to both contraception and abortion for moral reasons!)

    One quibble though. Pregnancy really is close to ten months, not nine. But most people overlook what Vikki Iovine (of all people) called the “4th trimester,” a.k.a. the roughly three months it takes to physically recover. It might be slightly easier physically if you’ve been forced to “relinquish” the baby. But even if you’re not nursing and you’re getting enough sleep and you didn’t need a c-section and you didn’t tear the biology of restoration is pretty complex. And time consuming. Definitely not something you want to go through to term and beyond just so someone else can pick up their newborn on the way home from work.

    fl

  9. Bushfire
    Bushfire January 3, 2011 at 6:12 pm |

    I doubt this dude has actually thought about it as much as you did. Your analysis is great, but I wouldn’t expect that guys who write articles like this even have any idea of any of the context they’re writing in.

  10. Cthandhs
    Cthandhs January 3, 2011 at 6:21 pm |

    Aside from the physical aspects of pregnancy, there are also very serious social aspects as well. My high school had a huge drop out rate due to pregnancies. Many of these young women, even if they did choose to have their child adopted, would have a difficult time finishing their high school education and getting into college, adding another difficult struggle onto an already difficult time in life. I knew two young white women in that situation. Both had planned to attend college. One had her child, got married to the guy and never fulfilled her plans. The other got an abortion, went on to college and has a successful career. Pregnancy is not just physically trying, it will literally change a woman’s (and a man’s) life forever.

  11. UnFit
    UnFit January 3, 2011 at 6:45 pm |

    I also like how he just conflates “women who have abortions” with “women who are pregnant out of wedlock”. Just, duh.

  12. Post-holiday news roundup. « ’NYC Unrated & Unfiltered

    […] has inspired some heated (and well-written) responses […]

  13. April
    April January 3, 2011 at 7:15 pm |

    It’s not just about abortion. It’s about a return to an idealized, gender-inegalitarian, racially divided and socially stratified time. It’s about making sure women know that their place isn’t just at home and in the service of their husbands, but also in the service of “better” families.

    Indeed. He seems to forget why anyone was fighting against these things in the first place.

  14. William
    William January 3, 2011 at 7:22 pm |

    Douthat neglects to recognize that there’s a woman involved

    I think you’re giving him too much credit. Its not that Douthat fails to recognize that women are involved, its that he sincerely and passionately believes them to be irrelevant. The Catholic position is that pregnancy is for procreation, that God decides who has babies when, and that the desires of individuals human beings involved are not only irrelevant but selfish and inherently immoral if they run contrary to God’s plan and commandments.

    Douthat isn’t ignorant, he understands exactly what he’s talking about and exactly the competing values involved. He’s a religious extremist who believes that the strictures of his faith ought to apply to others and that both social coercion and legislation are valid means of enforcing those strictures. He is the representative of a group of people who vehemently believe that their interpretation of the words of men several thousand years dead ought to be applied to others through violence. The “abortion debate” isn’t a conversation between two groups of well intentioned people who essentially agree on most things but have reasonably come to differing opinions on this one matter. It is a fight between the modern secular world’s belief that human beings have a right to decide how, when, and by whom their bodies will be used and the bitter remnants of a failed authoritarian system. Just because they happen to be white and haven’t begun flying planes into buildings (yet) doesn’t make them any different from any other religious terrorist.

  15. karak
    karak January 3, 2011 at 7:54 pm |

    There are actually millions of American children waiting to be fostered and adopted. Unfortunately, since they’re not infants, not white, and often have emotional and mental health issues, they’re not worth having. Not to mention all the children out there with physical and/or developmental disabilities who need adopting by a family. Nice white married heterosexuals shouldn’t have icky broken children. After all those children aren’t REAL people–like fetuses are.

    And I love how he pretty much comes out and says what a shame it is women keep their children. My mother was teenage mom, and I have NEVER wished I’d been adopted or raised by someone else. I believe my upbringing was one of the happiest that I’ve ever heard of, and I don’t appreciate some smarmy asshole coming along and telling me my mother didn’t “deserve” to have me.

  16. orgostrich
    orgostrich January 3, 2011 at 7:58 pm |

    What’s strange is that he seems to fully understand and sympathize with the struggles of women who want to get pregnant but are infertile, in both medical and economic terms. It’s only those “unwed mothers” (read: people who make life decisions he disagrees with) who don’t get his sympathy.

  17. Andrea
    Andrea January 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm |

    I’m gonna repeat my comment from April’s post at Ethecofem, because I’m still giggling at the guy’s idiocy in this one particular paragraph.

    Today, just 1 percent of babies born to unwed mothers are adopted, and would-be adoptive parents face a waiting list that has lengthened beyond reason.

    This throws me off, because he cites Roe V Wade as a cause for a drop in the number of babies born to unwed mothers being adopted out.

    Babies being born to unwed mothers are not being aborted (duh!) so Roe V. Wade doesn’t even enter into it. To invoke an overused colloquialism – Fail. It’s like asking where you bury the survivors.

  18. Athenia
    Athenia January 3, 2011 at 9:21 pm |

    “waiting list beyond reason”

    Actually, I would have to say that waiting list is very reasonable. Because you deserve a white able-bodied infant because you are white and rich? Logic actually doesn’t work like that.

  19. Athenia
    Athenia January 3, 2011 at 9:23 pm |

    Also, where are the men’s responsibility in all this?

    *sigh* If only men wanted babies and get married young, rich white women wouldn’t have this problem! Alas!

  20. Andrea
    Andrea January 3, 2011 at 9:25 pm |

    Athenia: “waiting list beyond reason”Actually, I would have to say that waiting list is very reasonable. Because you deserve a white able-bodied infant because you are white and rich? Logic actually doesn’t work like that.  

    Not to mention.. it’s likely the waiting list for ‘new healthy white babies’ that he refers to – I’m sure people who are open to adopting older children or children of a different ethnicity or children with special needs, because you know, they just want to care for and raise A CHILD, ANY CHILD probably don’t find the waiting lists so bad.

  21. Miss S
    Miss S January 3, 2011 at 10:14 pm |

    I’m confused. Is he suggesting that the reason adoptive parents face such a long waiting list is due to a lack of children who need homes?

    I’m sure people who are open to adopting older children or children of a different ethnicity or children with special needs, because you know, they just want to care for and raise A CHILD, ANY CHILD probably don’t find the waiting lists so bad.

    In my aunts experience, no. She’s black and wanted to adopt a black child and the waiting period was still incredibly long.

  22. Anonymous coward
    Anonymous coward January 3, 2011 at 11:01 pm |

    My wife is Chinese, so it’s easy to account for our daughter’s not looking like me, without actually explaining that she doesn’t because we adopted her, to strangers and faint acquaintances. But it’s not difficult to see why strictly white adopting couples would rather not have that conversation every day for the rest of their lives. Or why they wouldn’t seek out a special needs kid. Most people’s lives are hard enough.

    Which is why abortion is important to begin with–most lives are hard enough without devoting a year (and taking substantial medical and social risks) to carrying someone else’s child.

    Anyway, not sure why it follows that Feministe commenters ought to slap around potential adoptive parents they adjudge to be insufficiently selfless, just because Ross Douthat is Catholic.

  23. Andrea
    Andrea January 4, 2011 at 7:56 am |

    In my aunts experience, no. She’s black and wanted to adopt a black child and the waiting period was still incredibly long.  

    In fairness, wanting to adopt a black child is not the same as being open to adopting any child. It’s still being restrictive and is still going to result in a longer wait.

  24. Shannon Drury
    Shannon Drury January 4, 2011 at 9:03 am |

    I have friends who are in the adoption pool for an infant–I assure you, the wait is extremely long. It would be easy for me to say “well, why don’t ya adopt an older kiddo,” but I couldn’t, as I had two biological kids. Why didn’t I adopt ones in the system? Ironically, one of my kids has those scary “special needs” that frighten people like me away from such an option. Hmmm.

    I must repeat the suggestion that everyone read Ann Fessler’s “The Girls Who Went Away.” One women who had both an abortion AND a child surrendered (actually taken away) for adoption said the physical pain of the former is nothing like the ongoing, constant psychological trauma of the latter. I cried on every other page.

  25. Adoptee
    Adoptee January 4, 2011 at 11:13 am |

    Shannon, I understand what you’re saying. For me, when I ask people to adopt from foster care, it is not because I am dismissing their struggle of what they’ve lost by not being able to birth a child as they would have liked to. I do it because I believe in pointing out that adoption needs to address the needs of children above and before any one elses’ needs of preferences. Adoption, historically, has always tried to replace providing women and their children with adequate support to stay together. Even in this day and age as the number of couples trying to adopt vs. available infants skyrockets, adoption is pushed as a solution, rather than providing support to families, because society and policy makers still think that adoption is the solution to having to support mothers in need. Many times, the best way to help the future child of an expectant mother is to support and preserve their family. The best way to help children in foster care, is through adoption.

    Fessler’s book is excellent. I would also recommend “Wake Up Little Susie…” by Rickie Solinger. It is a thorough study covering the era described in Fessler’s book and has put a lot of public policy and sentiment on infant adoption, abortion, welfare, race, and rights in perspective for me.

    http://www.amazon.com/Wake-Up-Little-Susie-Pregnancy/dp/0415926769/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1294157495&sr=8-2

  26. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe January 4, 2011 at 11:41 am |

    This is the paradox of America’s unborn. No life is so desperately sought after, so hungrily desired, so carefully nurtured.

    You got that right, Ross, if only in the context of the fuckwit politicians you support. They sure as hell don’t carefully nurture “life” once it’s born.

  27. underbelly
    underbelly January 4, 2011 at 11:50 am |

    as if it hasn’t been said enough, Douthat is a chauvinist asshole who has absolutely no grasp of pregnancy or of women’s lives, for that matter. I am shocked that the NYT continues to let him write there.

  28. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub January 4, 2011 at 12:06 pm |

    His column gave me the impression that he thought it was unwed or somehow disadvantaged and pregnant women’s obligation to supply potential adoptive parents with babies. Which is simply gross and dehumanizing. That’s demanding a lot from women–pregnancy takes a toll on your body and health, and there are significant risks. It’s downright arrogant and entitled to expect them to take on such risks. Not to mention the fact that giving up your children for adoption can have very high emotional and mental health costs.

  29. andrea
    andrea January 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm |

    Anonymous coward
    Anyway, not sure why it follows that Feministe commenters ought to slap around potential adoptive parents they adjudge to be insufficiently selfless, just because Ross Douthat is Catholic.  

    I’m not sure where you get that I’m slapping around prospective adoptive parents. I’m saying A) Douhat is probably referring to healthy white babies rather as opposed to all children in need of adoptive parents, mainly because in his first paragraph he DOES refer to healthy white babies; and B) If you are more open to special needs kids, children of a different ethnicity or older children, then logically, your wait is going to be shorter. Not short, shorter. Nowhere did I make a value judgement about people who aren’t open to these options, thanks.

  30. Jim
    Jim January 4, 2011 at 12:28 pm |

    Athenia: *sigh* If only men wanted babies and get married young, rich white women wouldn’t have this problem! Alas!

    Nicely put, since Douthat’s drivel is as whiny, self-serving, dehumanizingly clueless and drenched in entitlement thinking as all that drivel in the 80’s and early 90’s about “commitment-phobic” men.

    Andrea: Not to mention.. it’s likely the waiting list for ‘new healthy white babies’ that he refers to – I’m sure people who are open to adopting older children or children of a different ethnicity or children with special needs, because you know, they just want to care for and raise A CHILD, ANY CHILD probably don’t find the waiting lists so bad.

    It has only been recently that bars to white couple adopting black children have begun to be questioned. There are still laws preventing the adoption of Native American children by non-NA parents. These rules were put in place for good reasons.

    International adoptions are a whole other ball of snakes. Adoptive parents are not the problem, but they feed the problem, unscrupulous adoption agencies and operators. Country after country has had to shut down or restrict foreign adoptions because of abuses, and it’s the children first and then the adoptive parents who suffer for it.

  31. Niki
    Niki January 4, 2011 at 12:37 pm |

    You referenced SATC and I’ll do the same. In the epi where Miranda debates an abortion while Charlotte is experiencing fertility challenges, Carrie tells Aiden about her friends’ pain and he (thoughtfully but ignorantly) asks, “Can’t Miranda just give Charlotte her kid if she doesn’t want it?” Carrie eloquently responds with “It’s a baby, not a sweater.”

    Indeed, Mr. Douchehat. It is not a sweater.

  32. Miss S
    Miss S January 4, 2011 at 4:06 pm |

    In fairness, wanting to adopt a black child is not the same as being open to adopting any child. It’s still being restrictive and is still going to result in a longer wait.

    You’re absolutely right. For some reason though, people think that adopting black children is a quick and easy process compared to adopting white children. It may be quicker, but adoption is an incredibly long, expensive process regardless.

    I do it because I believe in pointing out that adoption needs to address the needs of children above and before any one elses’ needs of preferences.

    Well, no. The needs of the women and men adopting children are just as important. If someone doesn’t want an older child, or a special needs child, or a minority child, they shouldn’t adopt one. Just like if someone doesn’t want to give birth, they shouldn’t have to.

    /slight derail
    Doesn’t the fact that there are more mixed race people now (people with multiple ethnicities in their background) mean that more people will be interested in adopting mixed race or minority babies? So… wouldn’t the demand for white babies decrease at some point?

    The idea that it’s the responsibility of poor women to supply other women with babies is creepy.

  33. Toxic Paradox
    Toxic Paradox January 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm |

    Douthat’s ideal world (wherein a woman that cannot have a child is sort of ‘given’ a woman that can, and therefore gains a child through some sort of weird, coerced surrogacy) has been portrayed in terrifying eloquence by Margaret Atwood in the novel ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’.

    Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it certainly seems like he is suggesting that young fertile women content to be childless should offer their wombs out to rich white folk, right?

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  35. William
    William January 4, 2011 at 7:52 pm |

    The idea that it’s the responsibility of poor women to supply other women with babies is creepy.

    Its only creepy if you believe in human equality and the individual value of human agency. If, on the other hand, you believe in a hierarchical world where it is just and morally right that human beings be seen as sheep in need of a shepherd whose sole purpose is to satisfy the whims of an all powerful god or be justly tortured for their refusal…well…then it starts to sound pretty damned appropriate. Clearly the rich white women have been good and pious and deserve a baby, so God reached down and placed it in the womb of a whore (because all women who get abortions are whores) with the intention of carefully guiding it to the hands of it’s pious and virginal mother (or some such dreck). To violate that plan by having an abortion is to compound sin upon sin and deny the rich what woman the baby she (or, more accurately, her husband) is entitled. Sure, they might be a lot of talk about the meek inheriting the Earth, but the reality is that there is a hierarchy and the higher up you are the more entitled you are to the bodies and souls of those lower down.

  36. Lyn
    Lyn January 4, 2011 at 9:32 pm |

    I’m sorry, I just can’t believe no one has called him douchehat yet.

  37. Bridget
    Bridget January 5, 2011 at 12:15 am |

    Lyn, I was thinking the exact same thing! That was my instant nickname for him.

  38. What We Missed
    What We Missed January 5, 2011 at 8:59 am |

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  39. Lynnsey
    Lynnsey January 5, 2011 at 12:22 pm |

    Lyn: I’m sorry, I just can’t believe no one has called him douchehat yet.  

    My milk just shot out of my nose. Ahhhhh! That was great. Need to wipe off my computer now…

  40. marie
    marie January 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm |

    I think the main point of “The Unborn Paradox ” is that there is an certain irony in the IVF programs and the abortion statistics.
    I do not subscribe to the agenda that adoption is the best solution but whether we like it or not, and I do understand all the complexities of having a child and providing for it fairly, there is no doubt that if the social conditions were better for all mothers and their born or unborn; society would be better and every life might achieve its potential whether a few hours after conception or after birth.

  41. sabrina
    sabrina January 5, 2011 at 5:53 pm |

    Niki: You referenced SATC and I’ll do the same. In the epi where Miranda debates an abortion while Charlotte is experiencing fertility challenges, Carrie tells Aiden about her friends’ pain and he (thoughtfully but ignorantly) asks, “Can’t Miranda just give Charlotte her kid if she doesn’t want it?” Carrie eloquently responds with “It’s a baby, not a sweater.”Indeed, Mr. Douchehat. It is not a sweater.  

    A FUCKING MEN

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  43. anonymous
    anonymous January 8, 2011 at 12:05 am |

    It’s a good illustration of the value placed on women when a Supreme Court justice says that women are not covered by the 14th amendment of the Constitution that refers to “citizens” and “persons”. Apparently many still think women are neither. It’s pretty pathetic.

    The latest example of forcing women to undergo treatments they don’t want comes from Kentucky http://thinkprogress.org/2011/01/07/kentucky-abortion/ .

  44. cece
    cece January 8, 2011 at 10:53 pm |

    Douthat, AKA Do That, treats women and embryos/fetuses as objects. He’s clearly troubled that in his social circles, white supereducated east coast wealthy, women have more control over their bodies unless it comes to those who have infertility issues, and then there is a shortage at the baby store. While I sympathize with the shortage at the baby store…..why is it wrong to want a baby that looks more like the parents even if it is through adoption….treating women as objects is no way to solve the problem.

    Does Mr. tell us what to do support insurance covering infertility treatments? Does he tell the Vaticant (yes, I mean that) that they are wrong about their position on invitro fertilization? Does he actually support women in their choice to try and have a baby from their own body by any means necessary? Or does he subscribe to the “good old days” where women had to go away, hand over a baby, and move on somehow while their live object is elsewhere?

    Put your opinion where your heart is Mr. Douthat. Oh, I guess you already did. Too bad for all of us.

  45. Nandalal Rasiah
    Nandalal Rasiah January 11, 2011 at 2:09 pm |

    Jill,

    I’m not sure Douthat is a ‘gov’t, stay out of my business’ person. Remember the book he wrote with Reihan Salaam in 2008? A good portion of it details how to achieve a paradigm of family life with which many here may disagree but it would all be done with subsidies, spending and other wealth transfers facilitated by the government. Douthat’s tone and nostalgic evocations of reproductive eras long gone do distract–he is more than willing to spend public money to achieve his ideal of the prosperous two-parent family.

    http://www.amazon.com/Grand-New-Party-Republicans-American/dp/0385519435

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