Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Monday, November 30, 2009

God's Little Handmaiden

I don't blame Megan McArdle for going to the abortion well again. Writing about economics is hard and you have to read a bunch of stuff and look up other stuff and ask questions and who the hell do they think she is, an economics reporter or a blogger whose finely-tuned instincts invariably reveal the perfectly obvious answer to every question? Abortion posts always get a lot of traffic and that's all the boss wants, so as long as our heroine is able straddle the line between being against choice in private and for choice in public she's a happy blogger. Let's take a look at McArdle's latest effort. It's not like we want to discuss Dubai either.

As the Senate moves to debate the Senate health care bill, we're seeing another stream of opinion pieces that fall into the broad category of "Oh my God! Who would have thought that a government run health care plan would make coverage decisions based on political considerations?"

Oh my God! Who would have thought that McArdle would rely on breathless squealing instead of argument and debate? Not us! Nope!

McArdle doesn't mention that the political will the public wants to see imposed is the public's political will, not the political will of those wacky politicians, some of whom appear to be trying to set up a theocracy from the Best Little Whorehouse in DC. Which is quite an achievement considering the White House is there too. After all, the majority of the country wants Roe v. Wade to stay the law of the land, and while they might not mind making poor women jump through hoops to get what they can easily provide for themselves, they still want that ability to have an abortion.

Most of them seem to come from feminists who blithely assume away concerns about the personhood of the fetus, and the staunch political opposition to subsidized abortion from those who lean towards the "person" side.

Well, now we finally know where Megan McArdle stands on the feminist and abortion issues. She thinks men should be able to make women's decisions for them. She definitively outs herself as a typical conservative woman with typical conservative opinions regarding a woman's place, herself excepted of course. McArdle's opinion is exactly the same as Mrs. Heartland or Mrs. Alaskan Hockey Mom, or Mrs. Tuscaloosa Teenage Mother--women should let men write the laws that determine their medical choices, and make it illegal for the woman to make her own medical choice. Miss Mary Margaret Catherine O'Leary McArdle, who swears by the blood and soul of her lobbyist daddy that government interference in your health care will kill millions of people, wants--nay, demands!--that in this one special little instance, for this one special little reason, in this one special little body part--there the government can control and enslave!!!11!! your body. All man parts are off limits, of course, only female parts can be subjected to government control. Of course.

This allows them to spend 1,000 words or so having a completely irrelevant discussion of the disparate effects of the Stupak amendment on poor women, arguing that women's reproductive health care is too real health care, and similarly unrelated side points.

So much for actually addressing the issues brought up by the other, liberal, feminist side, the side that Megan McArdle has thoroughly proven that she rejects in favor of Ann Coulter and Phyllis Schlafly and all those other elderly, bouffant-ed women who shoot guns and walk behind their man, unless their man is Dick Cheney with a gun, in which case they'll crawl real close to the ground and hope he doesn't think they're a quail trying to hobble away on its clipped wings.

Memo to authors: you could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that women's health care is important, that this has a hugely disparate impact on women, that it will result in more women carrying unplanned pregnancies to term, etc . . . and that still wouldn't make a majority of the country want to pay for other peoples' abortions out of their tax dollars.

Then it's a shame that conservatives, of which McArdle is one, effeed up the economy and lost the election and now don't get to nominate Baby Jesus to the Supreme Court.

Moreover, there is near-perfect overlap between the group of people who most fervently desires a national health care system, and the group of people who are "strong" supporters of abortion rights (don't want them to be illegal at any time for any reason). This group thus has zero bargaining power, because at the end of the day, they are not going to walk away from this bill. The pro-lifers can and will.

Yes, that's a splendid idea. Tell your constituents that you're going to reject health insurance reform and let them get dropped when they need coverage because the Pope thinks every sperm is sacred.

(And no, you cannot get around this by arguing that the Catholic Church/evangelical liberals should care as much about the people who die from lack of health care as the fetuses killed by abortions. Last time I looked, there were over 1 million abortions a year in the United States. The most methodologically shoddy, activist-induced statistics on the number who die from lack of health insurance is 44,000, and the real number is much lower. The abortion statistics, on the other hand, are carefully collected numbers from a pro-choice group. Even if you only value a fetus as 1/20th of a person, the fetuses win.)

See, if we stack up 20 fetuses and compare them to one young woman dying for lack of care, the fetuses win! And all the people who cared about the young woman don't count, because we were able to force a bunch of young woman to give birth to babies they didn't want. So rather than being forced to pay a couple of hundred for an abortion, we are now forced to pay tens of thousands for the mother's medical care, delivery, and support for the child! Because typical conservatives like McArdle just love to give their hard-earned dollars (or easy blogging dollars) to the poor!

(By the way, someone might want to tell the American Journal of Public Health that a "journalist" with a large audience is calling their work "shoddy, activist-induced statistics." I'm sure their lawyers would love to have a word with the Atlantic's lawyers if the latter's writers are going to libel them in the national press.)

Moreover, abortion rights aren't really a good reason to walk away from this bill. The women who genuinely can't afford $500 bucks for an abortion are the women closest to the poverty line. Those women will be covered by Medicare, and they won't get abortion coverage anyway in most states. The women who will be buying insurance on the exchanges presumably mostly do not have health insurance now, and thus are losing nothing if their new insurance doesn't cover abortions.

The Joint Committee on Taxation does estimate that approximately 3 million people will exit employer-based health insurance for the exchanges, but almost certainly the majority of them will be people who are unlikely to be in need of abortion services, which are overwhelmingly consumed by a minority of women in a pretty narrow age band. Right now only 13% of abortions are currently paid for by private insurance.

See, the only people getting screwed are poor women, so it's okay. Really. Miss McArdle says so. Oh, wait--maybe some middle-class women will get screwed over too, but that's okay. It's only 13%. It's not like McArdle will ever need an emergency D&C to save her life, and if she does, well, I'm sure the percentage of such deaths is very small, and McArdle's death will be statistically irrelevant. Much like her life.

If insurers do take abortion services out of their coverage, then according to the model used by the CBO and the JCT, that will reduce the price of insurance, and that money will flow back into paychecks.

Because businesses love to let money flow into paychecks. Can't wait for that Abortion Surplus Bonus Money!

Obviously, I am not saying that feminists shouldn't worry whether women will be denied access to abortion if this passes.

Wow, that's a neat trick. I wonder if I could pull off such a brilliant 3-point maneuver? "The death penalty is wrong. I will not pay for executions. Obviously, I am not saying that we should end the death penalty." Damn! It just sounds stupid when I do it. It must be because I'm not being paid by a prestigious magazine to practice punitification before the eager public.

But the number of people who are going to lose access that they currently have, and therefore be forced to carry a pregnancy to term, is not likely to be all that large. We're mostly talking about a modest number of women who will have to hand over several hundred dollars that they would really rather spend elsewhere. The very small number of women who currently have access to abortion services, and will lose them, and cannot get together a few hundred dollars for an abortion in time--those women can easily be taken care of if everyone who is outraged by this makes a small donation to Planned Parenthood.

You could have had an abortion if you didn't buy that expensive handbag or go to Paris on vacation, you slut. Now aren't you sorry you didn't practice financial planning as well as family planning?

So I don't get the outsized reaction to all this--I mean, outside the professional interest groups, who of course are contractually obligated to get outraged about everything. Fears that women will lose their current access to abortion often seem to be muddled together with frustration at not being able to expand access to abortion. But anyone who was not seriously entangled in an opaque ideological cocoon could see that using government funds to help expand access to abortion was never. going. to. happen. More people are against it than for it, and they're in a stronger bargaining position.

I wouldn't mind the complaining so much except for one thing; it's actually absorbing the energy, and media attention, that should be used to debate a real setback for women's reproductive health: the current Senate bill apparently does not include routine gynecological care in its basic package of required services.

Yes, why should women have equal access to care when the insurance companies can just decline to pay for any health care that's woman-related or that they deem immoral? Who could possibly argue with that kind of manipulation and bigotry? You're just ideological if you don't agree with McArdle's ideology!

Regular pap smears are the reason that cervical cancer is no longer a leading killer of women, and the exams can also help detect other problems that menace women's health and fertility. Most of the women who leave their employer plans for the exchanges won't be getting abortions--but most of them should be getting annual exams. Why not focus the movement's energy on something with a prayer of actually changing these bills for the better?

Because one is under attack and the other isn't?

Well, at least we all know where McArdle stand now. She's Kathryn Jean Lopez, elongated and with a non-Catholic degree. Poor thing. McArdle wants so badly to be a hip and trendy and intellectual member of the Smart Set, but it's the one thing she cannot buy.


satch said...

The only small disagreement I have is the assumption that it's men who want to control the abortion debate. At the risk of dating myself, in 1966 I was a freshman at a small, church related but progressive (by the standards of the day) college in central PA when I attended a colloquy on women's rights. As a naive but curious 19 year old, it never even occurred to me that women should not have the right of choice, and what astounded me was the fact that, in that group of women, more were outspokenly anti choice than pro, and the main rationale seemed to be that if a woman "fooled around", she deserved what she got. The speaker, Ti-Grace Atkinson, was considered beyond the pale to these young college women. In fact, more of the small number of men present were receptive to her message than were the women. Now granted, those men may have had some selfish concerns with not having their budding college careers complicated by a shotgun wedding, but even today, after all those years, the number and tyrannical vehemence of anti choice women never fails to amaze me.

Susan of Texas said...

Some women actually think they'll lose power if they are equal, not gain it. And some know you can make a buck by working for The Man, literally in this case. A lot just agree that they are inferior because they've been told that all their lives. Brainwashing works very well.

Clever Pseudonym said...

Maybe the reason so many "blithely assume away concerns about the personhood of the fetus" is because they have no reservations about the issue of whether or not a fetus is a person? There's a reason why it's called a fetus and not a person in the first place.

I have to admit, I got such a headache from Megan's awful writing and regurgitation of the same stupid argument, that 1/4 of the way through, I just started skipping to your parts, Susan.

DocAmazing said...

McArdle wants so badly to be a hip and trendy and intellectual member of the Smart Set

Yeah, she's a regular Stupak Shakur.

satch said...

It's a rainy day here, so I spent some time wading through Megan's comments. Good there an argument more disingenuous and at the same time more essential to libertoonian "thinking" than: "I don't want my tax dollars to pay for someone else's [insert benefit-program-strawman here]"? I can actually understand the appeal of that has a sort of superficial truthiness to it, while minimizing wear and tear on the brain cells, but it makes these people sound like they honestly believe that a modern, technologically advanced democracy will just spring up spontaneously out of the primordial ooze if only markets are unregulated and free.

Kathy said...

The autonomy of the Female Body is a scary concept a lot of stupid and malicious people isn't it?

Just how is "Personhood" defined, anyway? Just having human DNA and being alive? Because under a definition like that cancer cells could be considered "people", or fingernails, hair, and so on.

Megan is too stupid to cross the street alone.

Larkspur said...

One of her commenters makes the tenuous assertion that it's men who mostly pay for abortions anyway:

" pay for most abortions, either the presumed father(s) or male friends.

"this is of course never mentioned by pro-choice folks, but actually bothering to ask girls who get abortions where the money came from reveals this again and again...."

Okay, it's not tenuous, it's stupid and delusory and irrelevant.

But it reminds me once again how the anti-abortion faction fetishizes pregnant girls. It's almost always a young girl, whether she is a poor little lamb who's gone astray, or a skanky slut. (When it isn't a young girl, they can't permit themselves to perceive "lost innocence", and fantasies about rescuing grown-up poor women aren't so titillating.)

I keep wanting to yell at them that any woman capable of reproduction may find herself pregnant when she doesn't want to be. That includes a lot of young girls, but a hell of a lot of women throughout adulthood and into perimenopause. I would love to see them tell a 44 year old woman with three teen-age children that she should have this unplanned, possibly at-risk baby and then give it up for adoption.

And satch is right: just because a human being is a woman does not mean she's your friend, much less your ally. Women are 100% bona fide human beings, and human beings are capable of a lot of stuff.

Unknown said...

Not that libertarians are strangers to hypocrisy, but being pro-life is almost completely incompatible with the freedoms they allegedly worship. You should be able to sell your kidneys, but you can't kill a fetus? Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
And you et an account on Twitter?

Susan of Texas said...

Yes, you can quote my blog.

I'm much too boring to twitter.