pro-life

The Ephemera Around It

So what gets to me about the “outrage” surrounding Indiana Planned Parenthood’s announcement that it will offer gift cards for its services is how manufactured it all is.

I don’t believe it one bit. Unless all the folks wringing their keyboards about it are way stupider than I think they are, they’ve got to realize that Planned Parenthood offering gift certificates is going to do absolutely nothing to increase the rate of abortion (which they ostensibly care about lowering). As I mentioned in my post on Ladyblog Tuesday, only about 3-5 percent of PP services are abortion-related anyway; the majority are actually aimed at preventing abortion (by preventing unwanted pregnancies), with the rest devoted to basic women’s health services (mammograms, pap smears, etc.). If anyone is actually going to purchase and give out Planned Parenthood gift cards, it will probably be, say, women’s shelters and charitable organizations that want to help low-income women obtain contraception, STD testing, or basic gynecological care.

To which I was told: silly girl! All this feel-good talk about contraception and reproductive health care is just a front for Planned Parenthood’s black-baby-killing, statutory-rape-promoting, ABORTION ALL THE TIME agenda. Did you miss the dead fetuses on the PP gift card packaging? These are licenses to kill, lady! [in so many words, or course]

Now I get that people have an irrational hatred of Planned Parenthood (not saying I get why, per se, just that I get that it’s there). But anyone who thinks about if for 14 seconds would have to see how unlikely it is that anyone is going to be using these cards to procure abortions. First—if someone were going to pay for someone else to obtain an abortion, why would they bother with the gift card? Why not just cut the patient, or Planned Parenthood, a check?

But furthermore—who cares how they pay? If Person A is paying for Person B’s abortion regardless, is it somehow worse if Person A gives Person B a gift card instead of forking over cash? The net increase in abortions is still zero. Or are they worried about a rash of perfectly happily-pregnant women receiving Planned Parenthood gift cards (perhaps from nefarious PP staffers themselves) and deciding, oh, what the hell, I was going to carry this pregnancy to term, but I’ve got this gift card now and I already had my yearly gyno visit so I might as well get an abortion? I mean, seriously, what is the real fear here?

Like I said, I suspect there is none. I suspect that the people penning op-eds for the Los Angeles Times and Washington Times and writing most of these blog posts and so on have to realize all of the above blatantly obvious things. They have to realize the option of PP gift cards will do nothing to increase abortions in the state, and could actually do a bit to prevent them. But they also know that it’s a really easy news item to hook some sensationalism and hysteria on.

Does it matter? Freddie said something in the comments that I found interesting [emphasis mine]:

… most of you … keep posting stuff about abortion, acting as if people have abortion thrown in their face again and again, somehow, they’ll say “Oh! Let’s get rid of abortion.” It seems like every post is “can you believe this about abortion?” But it’s all just circular reasoning. You begin from the position that abortion is immoral, and seem to think that talking about the various ephemera around it will convince people that it’s wrong. But most people don’t begin from that assumption, and while most Americans favor some restrictions on abortion, a large majority believes in a right to obtain an abortion within the first two trimesters.

This case is kind of the epitome of The Ephemera Around It. This is really a non-issue (and I sometimes feel silly for even giving however many words I’ve just given to things like this). I guess I’m less confident than Freddie about the effects of these sorts of manufactured controversies. This story is getting play in major newspapers and news sites. Some, like the LA Times one, pretty much scream Gift Cards for Abortions!, and only explain that that’s not exactly the case a few paragraphs in. The casual reader might get to the first paragraph—Planned Parenthood of Indiana offers gift cards for abortions—and stop reading, thinking they’ve gotten the gist. The casual reader might have form a casually negative opinion of the organization. The casual reader might be that much more likely to believe it next time they hear Planned Parenthood is a white supremacist organization, or feel that much less sympathetic when a clinic gets bombed, and so on and so forth … The net increase or decrease in abortions remains unchanged, but what about the net increase in (unfounded) public ill-will?

On Zebra Cones, the Palins, and Choice

Let’s pretend you and I have serious disagreements about soft-serve ice-cream. I think zebra cones with chocolate sprinkles are the best; you insist pure chocolate with rainbow sprinkles is the only way to go. One day, we happen to find ourselves at a Creamy Whip together. True to my long-held ice-cream convictions, I order a zebra cone with chocolate sprinkles. Having witnessed this, you’d have to choice but to order the same, conceding that, yes, chocolate-sprinkled zebra-cones are the best, that, in fact, every type of soft-serve other than chocolate-sprinkled zebra-cones should be outlawed.

Wait, no? It doesn’t work that way?

Then can someone please explain to me how this argument makes any sense?*

First Sarah herself is asked, in the early stages of her pregnancy with son Trig, whether she would like to abort him because he had Downs Syndrome, and now her 17 year old daughter who could have very easily aborted her child without her mother’s permission … chooses to bring her baby to term. I’m pretty impressed. She and her family are dealing with the very real effects of choosing life, of rejecting abortion. She and her family are taking responsibility and showing the rest of the country how its done.

How problematic is it going to be for someone like Biden to hit Palin on the issue of reproductive freedom? She can just easily say, listen…”both me and my daughter have been faced with the option to abort our children rather than suffering through the undeniable harships of raising a disabled child or being teenage mom. We were both lucky enough that our family supported our choices.

I feel I am uniquely qualified to speak on the subject, Mr. Biden. After all, I made the choice myself.”

The fact that Sarah (and, putatively, Bristol) Palin hold deep-seated beliefs that abortion is wrong and thus, when faced with difficult pregnancies, decided not to abort makes them not hypocrites. It makes them morally honest and, sure, even strong, or brave. It does not, however, prove in any way that they are “right.” And it cannot really be seen as evidence that the other side is wrong. That’s just not how choice architecture works.

* Using E.M. Zanotti’s post as a stand-in for the many places I’ve seen this argument.