Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, February 17, 2012

Choice And Consent

TBogg gives us a good look at exactly what our authoritarian leaders want to do to force women to submit to their anti-abortion authority. If those little sluts are willing to let a man in their vaginas, then obviously it's perfectly fine to force something into that vagina.

You know who agrees with them? That's right, our Princess of Painful Penetration, our Pro-Vaginal Violation Virago, our Libertarian Lemming, Megan McArdle.

In the comments of McArdle's post Why Did Susan G. Komen Pull the Plug on Planned Parenthood? I and others pointed out the incoherency  of her irresponsible abortion "moderation."

John Dolan 2 weeks ago
When will Megan move to Fox? Because this "I'm a moderate" thing is a joke. Every column has the same structure: "Although I'm a reasonable, moderate person, I just happen, by chance as it were, to agree with the far right on this issue." It's as if the weather reporter in Bangkok started every broadcast by saying, "Oddly enough, by pure chance, it was hot again today."

McMegan 2 weeks ago
So the only way I'm allowed to be pro choice is to think that PEOPLE WHO ARE PRO-LIFE HATE WOMEN AND ARE EVIL!!!, is that it?

Being pro-choice is not being "moderate" as you put it. I think I'm an abortion moderate, because I'm in between the "always legal" and "always illegal" poles that dominate the respective movements. As it happens, the majority of Americans seem to share my squishiness. So I'd say the moderate opinion is the one that I've outlined: Susan G. Komen has a right to do this, and people who support Planned Parenthood have a right to open their wallets to the organization.

susanoftexas 2 weeks agoin reply to McMegan
You are pro-choice. You think women should be able to kill their babies. How is that moderate? The child will not be half dead, or kind of dead, or moderately dead. Just like abortion in the case of rape (dead baby) or incest (another dead baby).

There is no moderate here. This isn't tax policy. Either it's murder and should be outlawed or we pass a law saying that abortion is a private matter of individual conscience, which we did. The middle ground is not "abortion should be legal but the mother should feel really really bad about it."

McArdle:" I think that abortion should be legal, but I also think that it should be a last resort, and I'm all for the government using any non-coercive methods it can to encourage women to carry their pregnancy to term, including things that will make them feel bad about aborting. I think, for example, that sonograms should be mandatory before termination, I'm in favor of waiting periods and parental notification laws, and I'm agnostic on spousal notification."

McMegan2 weeks agoin reply to susanoftexas

I think there's a gray area, that almost no one on either end of the spectrum actually believes what they claim to (that fetuses somehow become babies at the will of the mother, or, alternatively, that abortion is actually morally equivalent to murder.) I'm sorry that makes you uncomfortable, but there you are; it's an uncomfortable topic, on which there is never a happy answer.

just julie2 weeks agoin reply to McMegan
Seriously, you think that women are so stupid about what is in their wombs that they should be forced to have an invasive vaginal ultrasound before they can get their legal abortion?

Ever had one?

I have, 19 years ago, worst experience in an OBs office I ever had. Think sex toy but of terrifying proportions.

SPQR92 weeks agoin reply to just julie
Where the heck did you get that from her comment?

McMegan2 weeks agoin reply to just julie
Ever had an abortion? Considerably more invasive than a trans-vaginal ultrasound. In fact, there are lots of worse things that happen in women's health clinics; be glad you haven't experienced any of them.

moonshadowkati2 weeks agoin reply to McMegan
I'm sorry Megan, but making someone feel bad about getting an abortion is not the answer. You should be fully supported no matter what you choose. Making a patient wait and trying to rob her of the ownership of her decision is a firm step backwards in any situation.

jackson932 weeks agoin reply to McMegan
I think it's interesting that you don't think the government should require Catholic hospitals to buy health insurance that covers contraception, but you do think the government should be allowed to require women to pay for and submit to any number of procedures or counseling to discourage them from having an abortion.

Also, are you okay with making a rape "feel bad" about aborting? What about a woman whose life or health is threatened by the pregnancy?

I am pro-choice, but I would like to see as few abortions as possible. I just have concerns that a legally mandated "guilt" approach to discouraging abortion could be quite damaging to some women who are already in a very difficult and heartbreaking situation.

ajwpip2 weeks agoin reply to just julie
For most people who have had kids and are under 50 they or their spouse have. My wife didn't enjoy it but it looked more pleasant than a colonoscopy.

You don't have to make everything associated with pregnancy scary and fearful to defend pro-choice positions.

susanoftexas2 weeks agoin reply to McMegan

Isn't the definition of an extremist his depth of belief? Do any people believe fetuses become babies at the will of the mother? And yes, many many people sincerely believe that ending a fetus's life is killing a child. The extremities of the spectrum are extreme because of what they are driven to do by those beliefs.

I am not at all uncomfortable with others' decisions and beliefs because I believe that each person has the right to freely make her own choices rather than having them imposed on her by government or religion.

McMegan2 weeks agoin reply to susanoftexas
Well, I don't think it's precisely the same as killing a baby; if I did, then I'd be pro-life, obviously. I also don't think it's the same thing as removing a melanoma.

When my pro-choice friend lost her pregnancy at 5 months, she didn't say, "the fetus spontaneously aborted", she sobbed "I lost the baby". Similarly, any of my pro-choice friends would be extra-horrified if a pregnant woman they knew was mugged and beaten in a way that caused her to lose the pregnancy--horrified over and above the fact of the beating.

Yet all also support the right to have an abortion at 5 months. What that implies is that you think it is a baby only as long as the mother wants it to be a baby. I don't think that they actually think this--I think that they resolve the contradictions by not thinking about them, just as pro-lifers who allegedly believe that abortion is murder to not, in general, actually support jailing the mothers.

moronuki2 weeks agoin reply to McMegan
Well, once I was having this argument with a staunch pro-choicer (I am much of a mind on this topic with you), and I brought up these same kinds of examples (I miscarried once at 8 weeks, and I still said, "I lost my baby" and grieved about it), and she said, "well, that's because you felt like it was a baby, but if other mothers don't, then it isn't." So, at least one person literally thinks this and yet sees no need to resolve that issue in her mind.

Did I mention she was a vegan, too? I have never figured out how pro-choice vegans reconcile what, to me, seems like an awful lot of cognitive dissonance, but I guess they manage somehow.

moonshadowkati2 weeks agoin reply to moronuki
The difference here is that we are sad because the woman wanted to give birth, have a baby, become a mother. In that situation, when someone is in grief, they say they have lost their baby because they have just lost their chance of successfully having a baby, that growing sperm-egg combo that would have developed into the baby they already knew they wanted. When a woman wants an abortion, it's because she doesn't want to give birth, have a baby, and become a mother. In that situation, it is comforting to know that the lump of sex cells which has been steadily dividing and growing is not yet at a stage where it contains the essentials of what we would call human life, and that in getting the abortion they were able to prevent said lump from growing into a baby that would be born into a world they did not intend for them. There is a time for both sentiments, they are not mutually exclusive.

SPQR92 weeks agoin reply to McMegan
There is an extraordinary amount of depth in the way you've expressed that dichotomy. One of the reasons you are a better writer than I.

JoshINHB2 weeks agoin reply to McMegan
Well said,
That's about how I see this issue too.

susanoftexas2 weeks agoin reply to McMegan
Well, I don't think it's precisely the same as killing a baby; if I did, then I'd be pro-life, obviously.

Not necessarily. Some people realize abortion is ending a life but choose to leave that decision to the individual instead of the government or religion. I thought some of these people were called libertarians.

What this implies is that we have agreed to not prosecute abortions no matter what we personally feel about abortions, not that "a baby is a baby only as long as the mother wants it to be a baby."

texan991 week agoin reply to susanoftexas
Even libertarians don't necessarily advocate leaving it to a murderer to make the personal decision whether to murder someone else. A libertarian who believes a fetus is a person may well oppose abortion as vehemently as she opposes any other kind of murder. A libertarian who believes a fetus is an unimportant clump of cells probably will object to the government getting involved in the issue. Someone who believes it's scarcely possible to resolve the issue whether a fetus is a person or a clump of cells may think the best response is to let each person deal with his own conscience on the issue, and therefore perhaps be labeled a libertarian.

susanoftexas1 week agoin reply to texan99
Megan McArdle: "Abortion is something done for the benefit of the mother, for which the child who will not be born pays the ultimate price. Trying to elide, sugarcoat, or invert this is morally bankrupt. It seems to me not only reasonable, but fundamentally right that society should force women to confront the tragic cost they are asking someone else (even if only a legally hypothetical someone) to pay for their freedom, and evaluate whether the benefit they are gaining is really worth that cost."

So she does think that abortion is murder. But she has also said that one can't tell if it's a fetus or clump of cells. But she is pro-choice. So she thinks that abortion is a matter of individual conscience. But she wants the mother to feel bad about having an abortion, which is not leaving it up to the individual conscience. You can't make sense out of incoherence, or someone who tries to take both positions at the same time.

texan991 week agoin reply to susanoftexas
Your point seemed to be that it was a failure of libertarian principles not to leave the decision whether to end a life via abortion to the individual instead of to government or religion. My response is that a libertarian will approach the appropriate role of government in this issue differently depending on whether she believes a fetus is a human being, because if so, abortion appears to be murder, and libertarians often are quite comfortable with government intervention to prevent or punish murder. Megan is unsure enough of the answer that she will decide only for herself and not interfere in the decision of others. That is an equally libertarian stance.

Your quoted passage doesn't suggest to me that Megan believes abortion is murder. I'm considerably more anti-abortion than she is, and even I am not sure abortion is murder. I do believe it's wrong, and that approaches to abortion that attempts to sugarcoat the reality of the life that's being ended are adding cowardice to wrongness. I don't believe there's any inconsistency between obligating people to face facts, on the one hand, and leaving issues up to the individual conscience, on the other. In fact, I have great difficulty understanding why drawing attention to facts that other people consider to be morally neutral can in any way be construed as interfering with their individual conscience. If it's jump a clump of cells, why wince and shy at pictures of it? How is that "trying to make people feel bad"? That's where I believe the real incoherence lies. "It's meaningless! Don't make me look!"

What really amazes me is doctors who believe that being required to show women ultrasounds of their fetuses is a violation of their free speech. It's a picture. Where's the speech? The doctor isn't being required to interpret the picture as a person. The mother isn't being required to interpret the picture as a person. They can both gaze at it and tell each other, "What an unimportant clump of cells; this is going to be the moral equivalent of blowing my nose," and the law will be fully satisfied. And yet there's an explosion of outrage over this attempted mind control, as if the only way to preserve the opinion that a fetus is a clump of cells were never, on any account, actually to look at it. [my bold]

This woman is not pro-choice. She doesn't have the faintest idea of the meaning of consent. Authoritarian children seldom do. They were forced to obey then and they are still obeying now. All these libertarian children play at politics, telling themselves that they are principled, that they are socialy liberal but fiscally conservative. They are neither; they are obedient children who refuse to accept repsonsibility for their own choices. They will elect leaders who destroy the economy they so cherish and take away all the freedoms they constantly demand. They are frightened, angry and resentful, and they are determined to make others suffer as they think they suffer.

The sight of someone free to make his or her own choice makes them livid. How dare the left reject the one true God, the absolute authority of the father, the social mores imposed by the priests! Liberals are bad, bad people--we read it over and over in rightwing sites. Liberals do not respect the authority of God or men. They are all weak women whether male or female, they are bad and dirty and they must be punished. So while we try to defend individual freedom they try to eliminate it--and us. God is love, obedience is freedom, dogma is truth. Megan McArdle, a supposed libertarian, believer in absolute personal freedom, cannot even begin to understand the concepts of choice and consent. She is a child and should be treated as one; patted on the head and sent home to Mother.

By showing libertarians and conservatives respect we are only encouraging them. They think they are winning the battle for control over the disobedient because we give in, submit to their authority. Every time anyone accomadates the right they give them hope and encouragement and support, spurring them on even harder than before.

ADDED (via Charles Pierce):

Virginia Democrat Del. David Englin, who opposes the bill, has said Gilbert's statement "is in line with previous Republican comments on the issue," recalling one conversation with a GOP lawmaker who told him that women had already made the decision to be "vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant." (I confirmed with Englin that this quote was accurate.)

Therefore any man who's ever had a rectal exam has agreed to be raped.


Tommykey said...

I came up with a pithy bumper sticker slogan:

Abortion is not a problem that needs to be solved.

And I refuse to call anti-choice activists "pro-life". They're forcer birthers. A real pro-life agenda would support contraception access, would support a strong social safety net to help low income women who choose to carry a pregnancy to term. A real pro-life agenda would support policy initiatives to improve the lives of children and their parents.

What I see from the forced birthers generally falls under "Fuck you, you made your bed, now lie in it."

Tommykey said...

My other bumper sticker slogan:

A Woman's Uterus Is Not A Public Domain.

Susan of Texas said...

Where are the Republicans who are trying to get rid of condoms and STD treatments? Why do our insurance companies pay for venereal disease treatments?

Tommykey said...

Where are the Republicans who are trying to get rid of...STD treatments?

But that would be detrimental to the health of Republican men!

cynic said...

Virginia Democrat Del. David Englin, who opposes the bill, has said Gilbert's statement "is in line with previous Republican comments on the issue," recalling one conversation with a GOP lawmaker who told him that women had already made the decision to be "vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant." (I confirmed with Englin that this quote was accurate.)

Oooh... can I play? Can I play?

"If you have ever had your temperature taken, you have already agreed to let anyone shove their dick into your mouth!"

"if you have ever had a vaccination , you have agreed to be stabbed with a knife"

See how easy that is?

Jim Norris said...,14393/

This would be a perfectly legitimate exercise of government power in the view of noted libertarian McMegan.

Anonymous said...

tommy, i like no choicers better than forced birthers. just personal preference.

i saw an "Atlas shrugged, Jesus didn't" bumpersticker the other day.

Anatole David said...

Nice post. The assault on women's reproductive rights is always enabled by the Democratic Party. Obama's, and his Party's, shameful capitulation in ACA, by including The Stupak(D) Amendment--never allowing tax dollars to fund Abortions(keeping Hyde Amendment alive). Dems and Reps are bipartisan in that regard. The mainstream Democratic party is like Megan McArdle--"they're pro choice, but..god forbid any tax dollars go for those irresponsible women who need abortions". They can vote funds for wars, drone strike assassinations, etc, but Abortions, too far.

Of course the Republicans, after having the Hyde Act enshrined in ACA thanks to Stupak(D,) are just pushing for more "success",in many states they've been very successful. Democrats have been a disgrace on this issue too. Particularly spineless except for outrage over comments made by a major donor for Santorum, and protesting the make up a House Hearing on Birth Control--they talk the talk in front of TV cameras---in back rooms they walk away from defending women's reproductive rights by capitulating to "blue-dogs" in the "spirit of compromise". In this issue, a woman having sole rights over choices concerning her health and reproductive rights, there should be no compromise.

(Pardon the rant, this shit is as upsetting as the warmongering---Dems are awful there to--authoritarians love war, assassinations, the death penalty but GOD FORBID women have rights to their bodies, including, gasp!, their reproductive system!)

BTW Societies with better access to birth control services, even abortion, have lower abortion rates, lower infant mortality, lower death rates of pregnant women---but why let allowing the best outcome for everyone concerned(women, children) influence the debate? "Men are talking".

Mr.Wonderful said...

I don't see how this forced ultrasound thing can be advanced with a straight face. If abortion is legal, it's legal, and that's the extent of the law's concern. If it's not, it's not, period. If there are gray areas, then those are to be parsed by experts, legislators, and court cases.

This "it's legal, but it's not nice, so we want to you have to think twice about it" is inherently infantilizing. It arms the state, not with handcuffs or a gun--which law enforcement is sanctioned to use when a law is being broken--but with an attempt at moral handcuffs and moral strong-arming.

That anyone who once called herself Jane Galt should accede to this is laughable--which is to say, laughable, but not funny. Such a "libertarian" is just as Susan describes: a child who, having been given privileges by Daddy, thinks she's an adult, and swans around proclaiming as much--except when Daddy puts his moral foot down. Then she's on his side. She has to be. He's Daddy. He provides access to all the treats and neat stuff.

When my kids were little, on the rare occasion when I had to rebuke one, the other would say, satirically, "I'M good, Daddy." It was funny. But they were children. What's Megan's excuse?

Gretchen said...

I'm so tired of forced birthers using the "5-month" fetus argument, as if those women were just pursuing their "lifestyle" and shopping for shoes before finally getting around to that abortion. Nobody, and I mean nobody, waits five months to have an abortion. People get 5-month abortions because of serious health problems in the mother, or baby, or both. These are wanted pregnancies gone wrong. Of course, all the waiting periods and roadblocks do make women wait until later in the pregnancy than they otherwise would, so if one has qualms over aborting a 12-week fetus over a 5-week fetus, and McMegan seems to imply, then waiting periods and roadblocks are counter-productive.

zuzu said...

Some women do get 5-month abortions because they missed the window for the first-trimester abortion -- most likely due to a combination of not confirming they were pregnant until half that time had passed, then having to scrape together the money, the transportation, the child care and the time off work to travel to the one clinic in their state, where they would be told to come back in some period of time mandated by the state.

If they miss the window for a lower-cost, available-in-every-state-albeit-barely-these-days first-trimester abortion, then they have to scrape together *more* money, and *more* time and *more* child care, and travel to one of the states, such as New York, that allow second-trimester abortions.

But, no, as you said, no one just wakes up after five months and walks into an abortion clinic because it's on their to-do list between shopping and pedicures.

Batocchio said...

The horrible Englin line, just as with Foster Friess' aspirin bullshit, really captures their misogynist world view: wimmin who have sex without their permission are sluts, and a slut is a woman you can't take home to mother, and you can do with those women whatever you like. They have it coming. They "consented" to their own abuse when they dared to disobey conservative social dogma (which the law should reinforce).

As to McMegan herself – the layers of her self-deception are many. She's a fairly conventional dumb, lazy aristocrat, but plays at being an intellectual, and desperately wants to be viewed as one. She flees to glibertarianism to give her unfailingly class-privileging positions some cover. However, she also seems desperate to believe that, rather than being astonishingly cloistered, she is a woman of the people. She wants to convince us of this, of course, but I think she really does want to believe it herself. Thus, black DC residents reach out to her on the bus to talk about how blacks ruined the city, and she knows first, err, second-hand, about scary women's health clinic experiences... just as she knew all too well the "horrors of war" after 9/11, leading to her sneering blood rage about smacking war protesters with the 2 x 4 beam jutting out of her own eye.

Meanwhile, if McMegan had the strength of her convictions, she would be a proud and unapologetic conservative. (I've suggested for years that she's really anti-choice, based on her exchanges with Hilzoy.) But she wants to be liked, by some people at least (the guys at Reason), and she wants to be admired by all for her thoughtful and insightful intellectualism. In terms of fitting someone in a good profession for their strengths, she really is a stunningly awful failure (akin to George W. Bush). Granted, she's paid to write propaganda, but if she was yet another wingnut welfare recipient at a conservative think tank, I think she'd have less exposure and get skewered less often. Plus, I think (perhaps unfortunately) critics would be less incensed – the fact that she's pretending to be a journalist and editor at the storied Atlantic really does up the stakes, stoke the fire, etc.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but I'm always struck by McMegan's double standards. Expecting Goldman Sachs to be honest with its customers or open its books to the government is tyranny, but mandating that women be forced to see an ultrasound and be penetrated by a painful probe is a good thing. (Dahlia Lithwick and others have made the obvious rape comparisons.) Why, it's almost as if McMegan has no objective principles and just argues for her own privilege and preferences. (Also: how many of the male conservatives pushing this crap have vocally opposed TSA full-body scans and groping? I'm curious.)

Susan of Texas said...

Botacchio, that's a good point about the body scans. We constantly hear about how intrusive the government is, yet the right thinks it's fine to physically invade women's bodies.

McArdle complains a lot about conservatives being kept out of academia and I think that she wants the best of all worlds--to be respected by both liberals and conservatives, to be part of the mass media, to be above everything and everyone. Yet she also wants to be lazy and ideological.

The sad part is that she'll never be happy; she'll never be smart enough to be an intellectual, respected for her hard work and fairness in journalism, or high enough socially. Always striving, never reaching her goal, always dissatisfied.

Phil Perspective said...

McArdle complains a lot about conservatives being kept out of academia and I think that she wants the best of all worlds--to be respected by both liberals and conservatives,

She is respected as a serious thinker by Yglesias, Ezra Klein and others. Basically the youngins that want to be the next Broder.

dave™© said...

Here's my bumpersticker:


Available soon via

Kathy said...

There is also the fact that in the early months of a pregnancy the fetus doesn't look like much. The woman isn't going to see a chubby little cherub when she looks at the ultrasound, and change her mind.

The vaginal ultrasound is just to torment the woman, not make her "realize what she's doing".

Narya said...

Exactly, Zuzu. I know someone who got a second-trimester abortion, in part because she had not one but TWO false negative pregnancy tests, and, by the time it was finally confirmed, she was past the 12-week point and had to find a place to have it done. She didn't face as many of the other barriers as some people face (e.g., she could afford it, and she lived in a city where the service was available), but still. She didn't wait until the second trimester because she was busy buying shoes.

Kathy said...

Many women are told, after have a blood test, the the fetus may have Down's. I was, my sister was, a couple of friends got the horrible new by phone.

And every time the blood test was wrong.

But if one waits for the amniocentesis test to confirm, you'll end up past the 3-month mark.

lovewaits said...

Seriously? It's the right who opposes a strong safety net for low income women? Just recently the state of Texas decided to give their funds to qualifying, non abortive aids and guess what the Obama Administartion, the Democratic party did? They refused to give money to Texas unless they gave to abortion mills! The left is the one who doesn't want to help women! They just want to tell women that abortion is the easy way out and then where are these mills when women realize what they did and suffer emotionally for it? And the reason the pro life movement is not aggressiively for birth control is because many contraceptives are abortive. And really, "forcer brothers"? What's next, people don't want to suddenly take care of their newborns, the same baby that was just days before considered not a human, so they neglect it and have people such as yourself calling the government "forcer brothers" for prosecuting? So now we just shouldn't have laws that make us tend to our responsibilities? Is that the American dream? To lavish ourselves in irresponsibility? The pro life movement is not telling women they must have a baby because they are not saying you must have sex. Pregnancy is a result of the freedom that the left has given us to freely have sex. If you don't want a baby, don't have sex. Simple as that. It really is not a hard concept to grasp, but for some who lack self control, or impulse control, it is. If you're going to take contraceptives know that they DO fail. At least if you're willing to take that chance, take responsibility for your actions!