So we have a new commenter by the name of A Woman of No Importance who contributed to the thread (still going!) about Asshole Patriarchs. I’ll let most of that stand where it is, but one piece is something that I think should be talked about, and that’s this:
One thing that bothers a lot of moderates on both sides of the issue, which I almost never hear addressed, is this: Why do we need a million abortions a year when birth control is cheap, readily available, easy to use, and mostly works? We should be living in a world in which there are no new AIDS transmissions since it is widely known how to have sex without transmitting the virus, and the same thing applies here. People know how to have sex without making a baby. It’s entirely predictable what may happen if you have sex without precautions. So, if you don’t want a child, maybe the time to decide that is before you decide to have unprotected sex.
Now, AWoNI is in favor of abortion on demand until “sometime in the second trimester” when personhood attaches to the fetus. This isn’t someone who is reflexively opposed to abortion, and AWoNI can of course clarify, but it appears from context that she places herself among the moderates.
That’s important because assuming all that is true, it says quite a bit that a moderate is repeating right-wing extremist assumptions that sex is an entirely predictable thing and people are irresponsibly “choosing not to choose” until after they become pregnant and that, to use AWoNI’s language:
birth control is cheap, readily available, easy to use, and mostly works
Except birth control is not necessarily cheap, it is not always readily available, and “mostly works” is not the same as “it works”.
Further, this is something that is addressed literally all the time. Local schools try to make condoms available to prevent AIDS transmission and pregnancy, then local anti-contraception, anti-sex extremists scream about how a cereal-bowl full of condoms on some school nurse’s desk is killing god and inviting the Chinese Communist Party to rule over the good white folk until the end of time.
Seriously, there’s a huge panic with lots of news stories every time a school tries to increase access to contraception or even simply to good information. And when those news stories are not happening, epidemiologists from the CDC and NIH are producing regular reports about access and information, all of which are available to anyone, including AWoNI. It’s truly bizarre to me when people say that “no one is X” when we have entire industries of people whose job is to study X and put out good, peer reviewed information about it.
Is AWoNI reading that stuff? Evidently not. Could AWoNI read it? Sure could. Accessed through libraries it’s “cheap, readily available, easy to use, and mostly works”. Laws and policies are written all the time using such information and research and professional opinion.
The problem is not that there is no good, non-hyperbolic information. It’s certainly not that no one is discussing these things. The problem is that one side is actively trying to suppress that information through abstinence only education which we know from those same researchers results in more disease and more pregnancy.
And thus the irony: AWoNI is pleading for reasonable discussion, while repeating the assumptions of the people who have, as a significant goal, the squashing of reasonable discussion. Worse, the conclusion that AWoNI comes to is that
if you don’t want a child, maybe the time to decide that is before you decide to have unprotected sex.
And, again, that’s the extremist position of one side: you don’t need the “choice” of whether or not to remain pregnant, because you already had the “choice” of whether or not to become pregnant.
This dovetails with something Alito (or his ghostwriters) said in their draft Dobbs opinion: which is that there’s no such thing as involuntary pregnancy, since anyone who doesn’t wish to be a parent can simply give the child up for adoption.
There can be other posts about ways in which we don’t necessarily have the choices asserted because of x or y. Also too, VASECTOMY, MOTHERFUCKERS. But mostly what i want to say here is that it’s disingenuous to claim that we have so many other choices we don’t need this one, when the person making that claim is simultaneously working to also remove those other choices.
AWoNI has entirely typical views on abortion for a woman in the US — there should be some period where it is an option, then another period where it isn’t, and we should just have a good, productive discussion about when the dividing lines between those periods should be and get this abortion thing solved. It would be silly to blame her or look down on her or think less of her for being an entirely typical woman.
But just because AWoNI is entirely typical doesn’t mean that we can’t notice how the disingenuous communication and even outright lies of extremists end up determining the expectations of the reasonable middle. “Teach the controversy” is another example more familiar to the readers of Pharyngula, but “Sex is predictable, we already have choices at other stages of reproduction, therefore abortion isn’t necessary” is a particularly pernicious one.