Katha Pollitt is awesome
She continues to be the main reason I subscribe to the Nation. Check out her most recent column about abortion rights, "Prochoice Puritans", and a really interesting letters exchange she had at Slate (the latter discovered via Atrios).
In "Prochoice Puritans" she argues against what she sees as a dangerous trend of people who are supposedly prochoice continuosly emphasizing how morally disgusted they are by abortions in the name of political framing and how they aim for "zero abortions". A few select quotes from the piece (read the whole thing, though, it's not that long).
Do you think abortion is tragic and terrible and wrong, that Roe v. Wade went too far and that the prochoice movement is elitist, unfeeling, overbearing, overreaching and quite possibly dead? In the current debate over abortion, that makes you a prochoicer. As the nation passes the thirty-third anniversary of Roe, it is hard to find anyone who will say a good word in public for abortion rights, let alone for abortion itself. Abortion has become a bit like flag-burning--something that offends all right-thinking people but needs to be legal for reasons of abstract principle ("choice"). Unwanted pregnancy has become like, I don't know, smoking crack: the mark of a weak, undisciplined person of the lower orders.and
Fact is, there will never be zero abortions. Half the women who abort are using birth control already--there are no perfect methods or perfect people, except maybe Laurie Gigliotti. Even in small, tidy, prosperous Sweden and the Netherlands, there are abortions. So how can there be zero abortions in America, with our ramshackle healthcare system, our millions of poor people, our high school graduates who can't even read a prescription information sheet?and
these answers don't suggest to me that injecting more antiabortion moralism into the debate will help keep abortion legal and accessible. I'd say it is too moralistic already.Hear, hear. As Atrios adds:
It's basically a Bill Bennett version of the world - use public shaming, if gentle, to make those bad girls behave. Sorry, not going to sign up for that. I have no desire to make women feel any worse about abortions and the circumstances surrounding them than they already do.
It just comes back to the same issue - choice. Whatever its utility as a political slogan, which I admit is probably somewhat mixed, it is still the underlying issue. I want a society where women can make choices about what to do with their uteruses without subjecting themselves to a public scolding by annoying males deciding which are good abortions and which are bad ones.