It’s Labor Day weekend, and where I live, that is a big deal, and the big deal takes up a lot of space and makes a lot of noise, so I’m kind of hiding in my apartment for most of the weekend to avoid the crowds who take up the sidewalks and the random motorists who don’t know how to get to the mall. Right? Right. Meanwhile, Representative Roscoe Bartlett, from my very own state of Maryland, is not thinking very clearly about the way he answers questions regarding abortion rights:
“Oh, life of the mother – exception of life of the mother, rape and incest. Yeah, I’ve always — that’s a mantra, you know, I’ve said it so often it just spills out,” he said. “If you really – there are very few pregnancies as a result of rape, fortunately, and incest — compared to the usual abortion, what is the percentage of abortions for rape? It is tiny. It is a tiny, tiny percentage.” …. [I]n terms of the percentage of pregnancies, percentage of abortions for rape as compared to overall abortions, it’s a tiny, tiny percentage,” Bartlett said. [...]
“Most abortions, most abortions are for what purpose? They just don’t want to have a baby! The second reason for abortion is you’d like a boy and it’s a girl, or vice versa. And I know a lot of people are opposed to abortion who are pro-choice,” Bartlett said.
I think that a pregnant woman who “just [doesn't] want to have a baby!” has a very good reason to have an abortion. I want babies to be welcome family members to invested, enthusiastically consenting mommies and their partners.* If a woman gets pregnant accidentally and simply doesn’t want the child, she is not a moral failure for getting an abortion. The fewer women who have babies just because they forgot their birth control, the higher percentage of children born to parents who actually want to have children, and therefore put a bit of thought and effort into taking care of them, the fewer children who are neglected or abused. In this regard, abortion is not a tragedy, much less is it a crime. Abortion prevents tragedy. It is much easier to say to new parents, “You have a baby, now take care of it” if they actively decided to bring that child into existence.
The second “reason” is just bunk. Sex-selection is not a major problem in America. Where sex-selection is an issue, it’s in cultures that value boys more than girls, and where girls’ lives are, let’s face it, kind of shitty. Where pregnant women don’t have the option of aborting female embryos, their daughters are up against infant exposure, abandonment, malnutrition and medical neglect. This is a much bigger problem than what their mothers want. It’s also about their fathers and grandparents, as well as the other families around them. People like Roscoe Bartlett seem to think that a society will somehow become less misogynistic if women are told that their lives have no value except for making ALL THE BABIES. People like me seem to think that if a culture views daughters as equally valuable children as sons, then terminating pregnancies just to avoid having girls will no longer be an issue. With that in mind, we seem to think that if those daughters are allowed to decide what to do with their grown-up lives, including how many children to have (if any), that will do a lot more for women’s place in society than just forcing women to give birth to daughters when their in-laws are violently determined to have grandsons.
His final sentence is just nonsense. “Opposed to abortion who are pro-choice”? No. You’re making shit up. You’re just opening your mouth and letting noise come out. If abortion is not an option, there is no such thing as pro-choice.
*And gay daddies. I think fertile young women should not be coerced into continuing their unwanted pregnancies for the benefit of any couple in want of a child. But if a woman decides to make a baby for a gay couple, or any infertile couple that wants a baby, that’s awesome. What’s important is that babies have families that really want them.