"Slarrow" refers to the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" from Hamlet's soliloquy. Here are the chronicles of such darts and whatever attempt there may be to take arms against such a sea of troubles.

Location: Ozarks, United States

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Where The Future Is Being Killed Today

The local chapter of Planned Parenthood has been up to their old tricks again. Earlier I posted an item on the teenage couple who caused a miscarriage through the boyfriend beating the girlfriend's stomach with a mini baseball bat. A columnist from my local paper mentioned it here, and the public affairs director for the local Planned Parenthood wrote an editorial chastising him for linking this incident and abortion. She's written disengenous stuff before, but she really shouldn't have called him "intellectual and morally dishonest with his readers." I've had my own tussles with the man, but he in no way deserves that. Besides, her argument was dangerously ridiculous, so I penned the following and sent it to the editor. Maybe it'll get printed. (Of course, since this is my blog and there's no word count here, I can expand it to be a little snarkier.)
I see Kellie Rohrbaugh objects to Brian Lewis’s column. He called a man beating his pregnant girlfriend with a miniature baseball bat to cause a miscarriage an “unorthodox abortion” that he didn’t think was “any less barbaric than any other abortion.”

I agree with Ms. Rohrbaugh. There is a clear difference between a clinic where a woman receives accurate medical information and, with the assistance of doctors, aborts her fetus and a bedroom where a man hits his teenage girlfriend in the stomach with a baseball bat to induce a miscarriage: the clinic is cleaner. And has pamphlets.

Otherwise, the situations seem pretty analogous to me. A young woman decides her unborn baby is actually unwanted and inconvenient tissue, so she and her boyfriend just choose a do-it-yourself abortion. Of course, if that young woman had just walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic to eliminate her child with professional help, everything would be all right!

But that's okay, because it shows that Planned Parenthood trusts women to make the best decisions! It's all about women and empowerment and making sure that inconvenient unplanned babies don't get in the way of a sex life! Tee hee!

Still, it is important to work together to find common ground, and Ms. Rohrbaugh is soliciting practical solutions to the complexities of family planning. So just this once I’ll set aside my concerns on appropriate government spending and suggest reinstatement of the publicly funded programs she mentions. Let’s even send some of it to her chapter to assist them in providing “information, education, and services” for family planning.

Of course, once a child is conceived, the planning stage is over. Since we’re beyond the planning phase, it seems fair that the money trail should stop here too. So, to be fair and to keep the books separate, any Missouri entity providing both family planning and abortion services should spin off its abortion clinic as a separate entity with no legal, physical, or financial connection to the original company (including referrals) and with no claim on state funds.

If family planning is truly as important as Ms. Rohrbaugh claims, then uncouple it from the antiseptic death rooms and let it stand on its own. Then those vital services will be insulated from the abortion question, and she won’t have to threaten the loss of family planning and hurl around “anti-choice” epithets every time someone states a pro-life position.

Finally, if the clinics were spun off, they’d need a new name. Given the intellectually and moral dishonest decision to call abortion “choice”, I suggest Orwell Laboratories, Where The Future Is Being Killed Today.
I am serious about splitting the clinics, actually. I think much of the heat in the debate about abortion comes from conflating too many issues. I think Planned Parenthood (as a matter of deliberate strategy) has bundled abortion into family planning in order to claim that its opponents are anti-woman. Broadly speaking, though, "pro-choice" is about sex and "pro-life" is about babies. The merits and demerits of sexual behavior and contraception have little to do with the morality and efficacy of abortion, and it's about time the other side stopped the dishonest practice of bundling it all up like some omnibus Congressional spending bill.

UPDATE: Hey, they printed it.

UPDATE: I had a response from someone in the area who didn't like what I wrote. Since I can't respond directly to the letter in the paper (editorial policy), here are the text and my thoughts. My opponent said:
A simple, safe medical procedure like a first-trimester abortion is no different than a man hitting a pregnant woman in the stomach with a baseball bat to cause a miscarriage? Does [slarrow] really hate women this much?

Has he ever even been inside an abortion clinic? Has he ever talked (in person) to a woman who has had an abortion? Does he know anything firsthand about the complexity of abortion experiences for women --anything he hasn't read on bumper stickers or on hateful, erroneous and ignorant Web sites? Would he equate having his teeth knocked out to having them extracted by a dentist?
First, the writer seems to think that I approve of one behavior or the other; at least, that's where I get the notion that I must "hate women." But I view both of these actions as essentially violence against women (as well as the unborn.) I don't want women to be hit with baseball bats, but neither do I want women to surgically cut out their children and throw them away.

An original weakness of my published piece was that the readers might not be aware of all the facts in the original case and thus might not know that the teenage girl consented to being beaten to cause the miscarriage. Once that's known, though, the parallel is strong: the choice to abort has been made by the woman, and the end result is a terminated pregnancy. All we're talking about then is the means, and the difference between the baseball bat and the vacuum tube is the degree of temporary pain and the risk of infection. These are not, I argue, moral considerations if the practitioner is not forcing the method upon the patient.

I found the teeth analogy to be particularly illuminating. If, indeed, I chose to have someone remove a tooth with a punch or a pair of pliers instead of letting a dentist do it, the only difference is my desire to choose the more painful route. In either case, I want the tooth removed, the tooth gets removed, and the tooth is thrown away (or worth a couple of bucks from a particularly generous Tooth Fairy.) Again, how interesting that my opponent here reaches for an analogy that likens an aborted baby to a disposable tooth.

Of course, the real reason this kind of analogy must be attacked is because there is still an emotional, visceral response to an induced miscarriage through beating that is absent from a mere surgical procedure removing unwanted tissue. The other side cannot allow some of the horror to bleed through to the operating room lest they lose that thin "public support" they claim in trying to marginalize their opposition.

As for being inside an abortion clinic and talking to the people there--no, I haven't, and I don't expect to. I expect the employees to be good at their jobs at removing the hassle from removing the hassle, as it were. I also haven't talked to a woman about her own abortion, although I don't know why that should change the moral calculus of the issue. The premise, I suppose, is that I should let sentiment shut me up about the moral issues involved. (Oh, and since she doesn't like my position, I have to be stupid or ignorant.) Again, this taps into one of my pet peeves: this is a call for surrender on the issue, not for more reasoned dialogue.

My final point on this (for now): I think everyone is horrified at the notion of a back-alley abortion. I do find it distressing, though, to discover that while my side is horrified that an abortion occurred, the other side is just horrified that it took place in the back alley.

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