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It’s Annoying Abortion Contrarian Day!


Will Saletan has many of the annoying tics of the blue-state male abortion “centrist” that dominates editorial discourse on the topic, such as viewing national elections as referenda on abortion, and originating policies that prominent pro-choicers have been advocating for decades. His latest entry into the field (via A Bird and A Bottle, which has excellent commentary) returns to one of his favorite tactics, trying to infer unassailable moral premises from scientific facts (or, in some cases, “facts”) that don’t in fact lead to any particular moral conclusion. Today, he defends state-coerced ultrasounds for irrational, capricious women who otherwise just don’t know that abortion is a serious decision:

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.

Um, what do you mean “we,” contrarian pundit? One the first point about putting women back in there place, don’t take my word for it; take the Supreme Court’s, and then ask why the ways in which abortion regulations are actually written and enforced are inconsistent with protecting fetal life but perfectly consistent with regulating female sexuality. As for the second point, “science” does nothing to resolve the moral and political debate here. Most women are, I think, aware that fetuses are alive. As for whether this fact means that fetal life should trump a woman’s reproductive freedom, this is neither here nor there. After all, “pro-lifers” have access to the same ultrasound data and are certainly aware that fetuses are alive, and yet most of them aren’t willing to act as if abortion is taking a human life, so I’m not sure what I should. To top it off, Saletan argues that if we force women to obtain ultrasounds we can “trust” women to be rational, which seems to mean “agreeing with William Saletan:”

Now the Supreme Court has echoed that equivocation, ruling that one way to “inform” women of the evil of partial-birth abortion is to criminalize it. 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.

Or, you know, we could “trust” the woman by allowing her to make reproductive choices based on the information she sees fit to use, some of whom might actually reach different conclusions than Sage Saletan. Anyway, my question: I assume in his next column, Saletan will argue that men should have to watch explicit videos of liver transplants before they’re allowed to obtain one? After all, they’re totally gross to watch, which must mean they’re immoral! I would trust that men will do the right thing and not obtain them once given the appropriate guidance from the state.

…UPDATE: More from Jessica and Echidne.

…and Zuzu.

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