In his dream, God's voice rolled through Ross's mind.
"Yes, God? It's me, Ross," dream Ross answered.
"I know that, Ross. That's why I called your name. Ross, I have a mission for you. It's come to my attention, being omniscient as you know, that women are still having sex without my permission. This must stop."
"I'm trying, God! I tried to tell women to stop having abortions but they ignored me. Then I tried to get them to stop taking birth control but they ignored me again. Why does everyone ignore me?" Ross mumbled.
"Ross, you need to tell women to stop having abortions and using birth control. If that doesn't work, try to get on their good side. Find something that both sides can agree on, something moderate. Women want to get married, right? They read wedding magazines and go to romantic comedies and wear pink dresses and have babies. Tell them that birth control kills babies, Ross! Save the eggs, Ross, and save the world!" God thundered in unconscious imitation of Heroes, which He was currently watching on Netflix.
"I'll do it, God! I'll tell those women to submit to my, I mean your, will!"
You almost have to admire the stupid son of a bitch. He just doesn't give up. When the anti-contraception attack on women's freedom backfired, Ross Douthat decided that "safe, legal and rare" had to be winning argument. At last! The magic words that will bring the right and left together to control all those sluts who are having sex without holding God in between their legs like the proverbial aspirin!
The ‘Safe, Legal, Rare’ Illusion
By ROSS ["Every Egg Is Sacred"] DOUTHAT
AMID the sound and fury of the latest culture-war battles — first over breast cancer dollars and Planned Parenthood, and then over the White House’s attempt to require that religious employers cover contraception and potential abortifacients — it’s easy to forget that there is at least some common ground in American politics on sex, pregnancy, marriage and abortion.
And we all know that sound and fury signify nothing, don't we? So let's watch Douthat set up a convenient straw man to put in between clean, sex-free Ross Douthat and all those harlots who want to have sex.
Even the most pro-choice politicians, for instance, usually emphasize that they want to reduce the need for abortion, and make the practice rare as well as safe and legal.
Oh Ross. We are so disappointed in you. Guess what is missing from your missive? Gone from your Goliad? Vacant from your Vitae? Women. The people who are actually affected by Douthat's distaste for sex. We don't care what politicians think or say as long as they leave these decisions to the individual.
Even the fiercest conservative critics of the White House’s contraception mandate — yes, Rick Santorum included — agree that artificial birth control should be legal and available.
Douthat can't write two paragraphs about women's naughty parts without lying. Rick Santorum does not want birth control to be legal and available.
Candidates often say things when polling in the single digits that come back to haunt them when they start leading the polls. Last October, Rick Santorum gave an interview with an Evangelical blog called Caffeinated Thoughts, in which he said contraception is “not okay,” and that this would be a public policy issue he would tackle as President. In particular, he said he would “get rid of any idea that you have to have abortion coverage or contraceptive coverage” as a government policy.
Heck, let's let him speak for himself.
One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.”Fortunately His Frothyness will never be president. Back to Douthat:
It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also [inaudible], but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. And if you can take one part out that’s not for purposes of procreation, that’s not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can’t you take other parts of that out? And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure. And that’s certainly a part of it—and it’s an important part of it, don’t get me wrong—but there’s a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special.
Again, I know most Presidents don’t talk about those things, and maybe people don’t want us to talk about those things, but I think it’s important that you are who you are. I’m not running for preacher. I’m not running for pastor, but these are important public policy issues. These how profound impact on the health of our society.
And both Democrats and Republicans generally agree that the country would be better off with fewer pregnant teenagers, fewer unwanted children, fewer absent fathers, fewer out-of-wedlock births.
We also think the country would be better off with fewer wars, fewer give-aways to banks, fewer broken laws and fewer bombings, but sadly we don't seem to have any choice in those matters.
Where cultural liberals and social conservatives differ is on the means that will achieve these ends. The liberal vision tends to emphasize access to contraception as the surest path to stable families, wanted children and low abortion rates.
No, the liberal vision is a world in which celibate or nearly celibate men are not crouching between our legs, terrified that women will get to control their own lives instead of letting men control them.
The more direct control that women have over when and whether sex makes babies, liberals argue, the less likely they’ll be to get pregnant at the wrong time and with the wrong partner — and the less likely they’ll be to even consider having an abortion. (Slate’s Will Saletan has memorably termed this “the pro-life case for Planned Parenthood.”)
No, liberals argue that our sexuality is nobody's business but our own.
The conservative narrative, by contrast, argues that it’s more important to promote chastity, monogamy and fidelity than to worry about whether there’s a prophylactic in every bedroom drawer or bathroom cabinet.
To the extent that contraceptive use has a significant role in the conservative vision (and obviously there’s some Catholic-Protestant disagreement), it’s in the context of already stable, already committed relationships.
Here we can see the creaky wheels of Douthat's head turn as he tries to avoid saying anything that might turn off his audience while also trying to convince his audience to support his sexual hang-ups. Douthat hopes to tell everyone that the Catholic Church doesn't really care all that much about condoms because the Church said that it's a worse sin to infect a sexual partner with a disease than to use a condom. That would not fool a small child, if Douthat happened to lecture a small child about contraception, which he probably has. Douthat gives the men in the audience a wink and a nudge, saying that it's kind of okay for men to use condoms but those
Monogamy, not chemicals or latex, is the main line of defense against unwanted pregnancies.
Married women don't want to be breeders either. Married women use birth control and have abortions. Poor Douthat; he is fated to eternally flounder around in the hope of finding the magic word that will stop all that screwing around. "Monogamy" seems like a winner, right? Who could knock that?
The problem with the conservative story is that it doesn’t map particularly well onto contemporary mores and life patterns. A successful chastity-centric culture seems to depend on a level of social cohesion, religious intensity and shared values that exists only in small pockets of the country. Mormon Utah, for instance, largely lives up to the conservative ideal, with some of America’s lowest rates of teenage pregnancies, out-of-wedlock births and abortions. But many other socially conservative regions (particularly in the South) feature higher rates of unwed and teenage parenthood than in the country as a whole.
Mormons are sure are conservative! (Say, isn't that Mitt Romney feller a Mormon? ) But married Mormon women use birth control too.
Early church leaders took strong stances against the use of birth control, but that position has progressively softened until now the membership is counseled to make its own decisions (Heaton& Calkins,1 983). Members have been encouraged to control fertility only for "unselfish reasons," such a s the health o f the mother, and to avoid the more worldly excuses, such as finances ( Burr, Yorgason, & Baker, 1982). The most recent official pronouncement from the First Presidency of the church was sent to the local church leaders in April, 1969. It said in part:
Where husband and wife enjoy health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity, it is contrary to the teachings of the Church artificially to curtail or prevent the birth of children. We believe that those who practice birth control w ill reap disappointment by and by.
However, Mormons are just as likely as the national population to use birth control to space their children, though they use it less frequently and start later (Heaton & Calkins, 1-983).
Now that Douthat has set up his strawman, he lets it fight his mighty battle against screwing.
Liberals love to cite these numbers as proof that social conservatism is a flop. But the liberal narrative has glaring problems as well. To begin with, a lack of contraceptive access simply doesn’t seem to be a significant factor in unplanned pregnancy in the United States. When the Alan Guttmacher Institute surveyed more than 10,000 women who had procured abortions in 2000 and 2001, it found that only 12 percent cited problems obtaining birth control as a reason for their pregnancies. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of teenage mothers found similar results: Only 13 percent of the teens reported having had trouble getting contraception.
At the same time, if liberal social policies really led inexorably to fewer unplanned pregnancies and thus fewer abortions, you would expect “blue” regions of the country to have lower teen pregnancy rates and fewer abortions per capita than demographically similar “red” regions.
But that isn’t what the data show. Instead, abortion rates are frequently higher in more liberal states, where access is often largely unrestricted, than in more conservative states, which are more likely to have parental consent laws, waiting periods, and so on. “Safe, legal and rare” is a nice slogan, but liberal policies don’t always seem to deliver the “rare” part.
What’s more, another Guttmacher Institute study suggests that liberal states don’t necessarily do better than conservative ones at preventing teenagers from getting pregnant in the first place. Instead, the lower teenage birth rates in many blue states are mostly just a consequence of (again) their higher abortion rates. Liberal California, for instance, has a higher teen pregnancy rate than socially conservative Alabama; the Californian teenage birth rate is only lower because the Californian abortion rate is more than twice as high.
That's one powerful strawman, Ross! It's just too bad that Douthat's imaginary argument is an irrelevant issue that has nothing to do with individual choice and freedom from religious control.
These are realities liberals should keep in mind when tempted to rail against conservatives for rejecting the intuitive-seeming promise of “more condoms, fewer abortions.” What’s intuitive isn’t always true, and if social conservatives haven’t figured out how to make all good things go together in post-sexual-revolution America, neither have social liberals.
And since nobody is perfect and Douthat has convinced the world that the Catholic Church never wanted to eradicate birth control, those liberals better be a little more humble towards their conservative brethren, and let the Pope tell them what they are and are not permitted to do.
At the very least, American conservatives are hardly crazy to reject a model for sex, marriage and family that seems to depend heavily on higher-than-average abortion rates. They’ve seen that future in places like liberal, cosmopolitan New York, where two in five pregnancies end in abortion. And it isn’t a pretty sight.
(How can Douthat bear to live in that den of sin, with women aborting their babies right and left before his very eyes? Or rather in the privacy of their doctor's office after making their very personal decision?)
By golly, as long as even one woman has an abortion, the left had better shut up and do what it's told. And by the left, Ross Douthat means the women.
Douthat really is the Tim Tebow of punditry. He should get the Times typeset shop to make him a little symbol of a man piously kneeling and praying, to insert into his prose whenever he lacks evidence or a logical connective.
Having lived in Utah, Mormon college age students were as sexually active (even at BYU according my friends) as the other states i am familiar with
If god didn't want women to have sex all the time she would have had us go into "heat" once a year. Then, the menfolk could just lock us up or knock us up.
... Wonderful opening sentence, Susan. Wish I'd written it.
...like a particularly annoying type of thunder.
This is where I come in, right?
P.S. Here's a David Brooks take-down that you might enjoy.
...the Californian teenage birth rate is only lower because the Californian abortion rate is more than twice as high [as Alabama's]
California's clinic arson rate is also a fraction that of Alabama's. Coincidence?
Liberal California, for instance, has a higher teen pregnancy rate than socially conservative Alabama
How can you paste the term liberal on one of the largest states in the country, in both size and population, when it has its fair share of conservative regions like Orange County? It also has a much larger immigrant population than Alabama, including Latinos who have higher birth rates. (And the disparity in Latino population rates is even greater since so many Latinos have recently fled Alabama due to the harsh anti-immigration laws they adopted).
Good stuff. A few things leap out: liberal blogs such as C&L were reporting on that interview and Santorum's views back in October when it happened. I'm glad Time caught up (no pun intended), but that doesn't always occur. The MSM is often behind the curve on this stuff.
Douthat, like Brooks, deliberately lies to pretend that a Republican/conservative is not as extreme as he really is. (If one wants to quibble, he's either lying or bullshitting, because if he doesn't know the truth, he doesn't want to know, because it would spoil the propaganda. But considering Santorum's statement came up in a Republican debate, Douthat probably knows.) He also doesn't touch the stats on abstinence-only sex ed and what that does to the teen pregnancy rates.
Lying that liberals are more extreme than they are is often key as well, or there's just setting up a straw man. "No, liberals argue that our sexuality is nobody's business but our own." Exactly. Douthat has to pretend "both sides" are reasonable and worried about pregnancy, rather than the issue being woman's autonomy and choice in general.
Lying about the scope and focus of the "debate" is the set-up for Douthat's preferred conservative solution, masquerading as false "centrist" wisdom. I particularly like his closer ("They’ve seen that future"), as if the anti-choice brigade really gives a damn about empirical evidence and finding the most effective programs. (Rick Perry sure didn't, and he's typical in that regard.)
“Monogamy, not chemicals or latex, is the main line of defense against unwanted pregnancies.” That is the most ridiculous statement I ever heard, the only way that has any meaning at all is if the person you are with is sterile.
"Ross, it's God again."
"I want you to go undercover to the Hellfire Club, and report back to me."
"B-but, isn't that a club for homosexual f-fornicators, God?"
"Ross, as long as you have the goatee, you've got nothing to worry about."
"Yes, it's me. Did you do as I asked?"
"Of course, Your Godness."
"And what do you have to report, Ross?"
"What's a cubit?"
so Ross has discovered that states that have largely maintained access to abortion have a greater occurrence of abortions than states that have thrown up roadblocks and made it as difficult as possible to obtain one?
That's quite an intellectual achievement.
“Monogamy, not chemicals or latex, is the main line of defense against unwanted pregnancies.”
Yeah, like when Ralph comes home from drinking at the bar all night and rolls on top of Alice to do his thing while she's sleeping.
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