Kathleen Parker is not one of my favourite Washington Post columnists. There is so much in her article that I disagreed with, that I converted it to an interview format. Her article of 02 May 2010 is entitled: "Women should be informed before they abort."
PARKER: When Bill Clinton said in 1992 that he wanted to make abortion safe, legal and rare, many Americans applauded. Even if one dismisses this as rhetoric, it is a sentiment shared by the large middle and provides nearly everyone a thread of hope.
HOTEM: I don't know what percentage of Americans applauded *rare* abortions, but the majority still want abortion legal--and without harassment of those seeking abortion services. More than 80% of Americans "say an abortion should be legal to save the woman's life, to preserve her health, or when the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest. A smaller majority, 54 percent, supports legal abortion if there's evidence the baby will be physically impaired." --
Let us not forget that most white Americans sixty years ago were opposed to racially integrated schools and 90% were in favour of punishing gay people. Just ten years ago, most Americans were absolutely opposed to legalising marijuana.
Today, 95% of Americans are in favour of racially integrated schools, and the majority are in favour of legalising marijuana. 58% of young people (below 30) favour same-sex marriages. Just because a majority of idiots and bullies are opposed to rational public policy and equal human rights, does not, therefore, justify supporting irrational public policy. Laws aimed at controlling women's bodies are irrational, unjust and cruel.
My wording would be: "Safe, legal, and completely up to the woman when and how many abortions she wishes to have." Women who are opposed to abortions shouldn't have one.
PARKER: But how does one get to "rare" in a sexualized world where choice is a sacrament?
HOTEM: Oh really? Is Parker saying that freedom of choice should not be a top priority?! "In a sexualized world . . . " Excuse me Ms Parker, the world has always been sexual--that's how we got here. Parker seems to think that this would be a "nice", Calvinistic world without sex and sexually-oriented advertising; that babies come from Heaven and are delivered by a stork. But that's not how I got here.
PARKER: The only plausible answer is through education, but of what should that education consist?
HOTEM: In this case, "education" is harassment meant to make *exercise of choice* the reason for punishment. Denying a woman abortion on demand is punishment.
PARKER: Most everybody over the age of 10 knows how to apply a condom these days.
HOTEM: Give me a break! When a woman is raped, is the man wearing a condom? Is the methodology of using a condom taught in Catholic schools? Is this taught in Republican Michele Bachmann's district? If it's the case that kids learn from other sources, then this also applies to knowing what a foetus is. (For those who don't know, Michele Bachmann is Minnesota's Number One Embarrassment. serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. Think of all the idiots that voted for her TWICE. Yeah, democracy isn't easy, but dictatorship is worse.)
PARKER: And moral education -- the kind that might suggest remorse over the ending of a life -- is frowned upon.
HOTEM: Moral education is remorse over bringing to term a child that will not be supported by a woman who is not ready to spend the next 18 years raising a child. So often, it's the single mother without a partner. But, even married couples may not be ready or willing to raise a child. Some may have more important goals in mind: such as getting higher education. I knew a couple in Washington, D.C. who enjoyed a rewarding life traveling around the world. Having even one child would have prevented this. To the foetus worshippers, this lifestyle would be considered *selfish." It is not. Besides, the lifestyle that couples choose is none of anyone else's business.
PARKER: My own view, both pro-life and pro-choice, has been that abortion truthfully presented would eliminate itself or vastly reduce its numbers.
HOTEM: This blows my mind! There is very little truth coming from the self-discrediting anti-Choice crowd. Parker is over-bearingly arrogant. She insists that those who have abortions are ignorant.
PARKER: Once a pregnancy is viewed as a human life in formation, rather than a "blob of cells," it is less easy to terminate the contents of one's vessel.
HOTEM: Women have abortions because they KNOW they cannot support the child. This is particularly the case when it involves teen-age girls. Forcing a woman to bring the foetus to term is the Christian's way of punishing the young woman for having sex.
PARKER: An unwanted pregnancy isn't any less inconvenient, but humanizing a fetus confounds the simplicity of choice. Alternatively, dehumanizing as a means of justifying an action from which we prefer to avert our eyes is a well-traveled road that history does not view charitably.
HOTEM: Wrong. Humanising or dehumanising is not the issue. We MUST deal with the human after birth--which anti-Choice bigots deliberately shun. We MUST take the broad picture into consideration. We have too many people on earth. We MUST remember that tiny little infants eat and deposit wastes--including worn-out clothes and broken toys. When they become adults, they buy cars and consume thousands of other things that further global warming.
Already too many people are looking for jobs that cannot exist because we are already consuming so much that shouldn't made in the first place. Too many people are crowding out forests and wildlife, and are emptying the lakes and oceans of mammals and fish. Already more than ONE BILLION people are malnourished. Parker apparently loves seeing little children suffering from kwashiorkor.
Seven billion people not only need to eat, they need water. Nations go to war over limited water supplies. War means that people are dehumanised and kill one another. This is what Kathleen Parker enjoys. Now how responsible and humane is that?
PARKER: Such considerations recently have taken the form of legislation in several states where lawmakers want women considering an abortion first to view an ultrasound. Oklahoma passed a law a few days ago that would require women to have an ultrasound, though, contrary to early reports, they are not required to view the images. They would have to hear the doctor's description of the images on the screen under the law.
HOTEM: This is oppressive. This is an example of harassing women and doctors for a religious aim--to get them to bring the foetus to term--and put it up for adoption. Even if successfully adopted, it's still an additional human in an already overcrowded planet.
PARKER: Florida passed its own legislation Friday, and Louisiana is considering a similar bill.
HOTEM: Oh well, if these conservative states are passing repressive laws, this must be the right and moral thing to do.
Reaction to the Oklahoma law has been predictable. Pro-lifers think it's too weak; pro-choicers think it's untenably intrusive. Were women required to view the images of their fetuses, I would have to side with the pro-choicers on this point. It is still vexing that a woman must deliberately look away from the image, which adds some heft to the intrusive argument and could be viewed as intimidation.
That said, I can't muster outrage over what can be viewed as both medically pragmatic and morally defensible.
HOTEM: Am I understanding this correctly? On the one hand, Parker admits that forcing a woman to view a foetus she wants to terminate is intrusive and intimidating, but still this is "medically pragmatic and morally defensible."
PARKER: A well-informed patient should always be our route to safe and legal. Is it unacceptable that a life-preserving decision might result from greater knowledge?
HOTEM: Life preserving? Parker is failing to look at the broad picture of wars over limited resources because of overpopulation.
PARKER: Anyone considering, say, gall bladder removal will be told each and every detail of what will happen, what is likely to be the result, what consequences might be expected and so on. Doesn't it make as much sense to provide women with a view of what's going on inside their bodies before they take the leap that can't be undone?
HOTEM: This is no analogy. When I had a navel hernia repaired in August 2000, I certainly did not want the doctor providing me any details. Actually, my doctor did and I passed out and fell to the floor. I have no stomach for these details. After recovering, I told the doctor "Don't tell me about it, just do it."
PARKER: Obviously, pro-lifers are trying to curb abortions through this legislation. The pro-life Bioethics Defense Fund drafted Louisiana's S.B. 528 at the request of its sponsor, state Sen. Sharon Broome, and the Louisiana Right to Life Federation. Call it a tactic, if you will. But is a woman's changed heart such a terrible result?
HOTEM: Yes it is a terrible result in the same way signed confessions under torture is a terrible result.
PARKER: Wouldn't such a result bring welcome numbers to the "rare" in Clinton's equation?
HOTEM: No! I don't want abortions "rare." I want abortions on demand for whatever reason!
PARKER: In testimony before the Louisiana Senate Health and Welfare Committee, women who had had abortions recounted being told they were ridding themselves of "tissue," only to learn later, often during ultrasounds with subsequent pregnancies, that they had destroyed fully formed fetuses. From what I can tell based on my own conversations with post-abortive women, this is a common event and is often the point at which formerly pro-choice women switch sides.
HOTEM: Now wait a minute. Parker wrote: "Most everybody over the age of 10 knows how to apply a condom these days." Wouldn't the same apply to most every woman over the age of 10 knows that what is being aborted is a fully formed foetus? Good heavens, there are millions of billboards all over the country paid for by "pro-life" groups describing when a foetus has fingerprints, a tongue, at what week the heart starts to beat, etc. So Parker needs to make up her mind here.
PARKER: The testimony in Louisiana included the story of one woman who suffered both physical and emotional trauma after an abortion. She didn't see an ultrasound but did see the remnants of her abortion on a tray beside her and was told "they" had been twins.
HOTEM: So, do we make laws based on one woman's reaction? What about the many women who have had abortions who did not suffer any traumatic reaction? There are many. I met some of them myself. However, we're not going to be hearing from thousands of women who have had abortions and suffered no ill-effects afterward. But we should be hearing from the millions of women who had an abortion and are glad they made that choice. And were glad that they HAD that choice to make.
PARKER: Well, enough of that. We all know what abortion is, and, thanks to some of the sign-toting anti-abortion protesters -- who do their cause no good -- we know what abortion looks like. Shouldn't pregnant women also know what their healthy fetuses look like before they hit delete?
HOTEM: Had I been that woman, I would have said to myself: "I would have been burdened raising two children!"
Parker said: "We all know what abortion is . . . " But Parker also said that it is common that many women don't know what a fully formed foetus is. And another consideration: What if their foetus is not healthy? Well, the answer is that the anti-Choice fanatics will still do everything possible to prevent abortion. No exceptions.
Life is tough enough without physical handicaps. Unhindered abortion marks the qualities of an advanced civilisation. This allows for the elimination of defective human--defects that won't be passed on to the next generation. I see no reason to bring a child into the world with impaired vision or one that is mentally retarded. But Christians (and other religions) think that their "god" of perfection imposes challenges upon babies, so that the Almighty can see them struggle through life with one or more handicaps. But their god is omniscient and will already know everything about the painful struggle of the handicapped person. Therefore their god is a cruel god.
PARKER: This is a question lacking in sinister intent. What is sinister is the proposition that ignorance is better -- and the implied hope that women won't choose to reconsider.
HOTEM: How condescending! This is made worse by the fact that Kathleen Parker has such contempt for her sisters. Although just as unacceptable, this line of "reasoning" coming from a man would be more understandable.
On the problem of forced "instruction". If you don't accept my religion, then it's because you don't understand. So let me instruct you again until you do accept my religion. Likewise, if you insist on having an abortion, then obviously I didn't instruct you well enough to change your decision about having an abortion, so let me instruct you more. If you tell the doctor that you don't want instructions, the doctor will be required to remind the woman that this is the law. Again, the woman and the doctor have no choice.
PARKER: I can't speak to the efficacy of these bills. Let the doctors and lawyers hash that out. But as an advocate for informed choice, I can't rationalize ignorance or denial as preferable options for women in need of sound counseling.
HOTEM: First of all, there should be no legislative bills on abortion. Abortion should be an absolute right, a decision to be made by the pregnant woman only. The father's decision doesn't count.
I hear men arguing "Well, it's my baby too, don't forget!" But it's not your body. Besides, men have the long-held reputation of not following through with their support for the 18 years for their child's life. This burden falls on the woman in 99% of the cases.
Women ARE intelligent enough to make a decision to abort an unwanted foetus. Parker is like your typical male: Women are dumb and need the guidance from those who know better.
To the reader: Beware of incorrect terminology used by slick anti-Choicers: "Babies" are not being "murdered" in women's clinics.
PARKER: Or for a nation that wants to make abortion rare.
HOTEM: I'm part of that nation and I want all forms of contraception, including abortions, to be undertaken by more women. Abortion is good. Unwanted children and overpopulation are bad.
What this world needs is not for people to emulate Kathleen Parker, but to stand up for their full freedom and full rights in all matters concerning women. Women have been progressing against male oppression since before Emma Goldman, but so much more work needs to be done.
Your comments are invited--both in support of or opposed to my article.
From the blog owner: This is what happens when you say no to abortion
*Hotem Dajenid, originally from Turkmenistan and now living in Minneapolis, MN, is a guest writer for this blog.