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    Monday, March 20, 2006


    Garance Franke-Ruta, writing for the American Prospect, asks: Is The New York Times still pro-choice?

    The past two years have seen one of the most contentious and closely watched presidential contests in 40 years, the retirement of the first female Supreme Court justice, the appointment of two new justices, and an attempted Senate filibuster against one of them specifically because of liberal concerns about how he would vote on choice issues. And during that period, not one op-ed discussing abortion on the op-ed page of the most powerful liberal paper in the nation was written by a reproductive-rights advocate, a pro-choice service-provider, or a representative of a women’s group. ...

    A Prospect examination of the authors published between late February 2004 and late February 2006 found that 90 percent of writers -- including staff columnists -- who discussed abortion on the Times op-ed page over the past two years were male. These men wrote 83 percent of the op-eds that mentioned abortion.

    Even more surprising, more op-eds that mentioned abortion in the Times were written by pro-life men than by women of any belief system.

    I think Franke-Ruta does a great job here, but what she doesn't mention (mostly because it's not within her purview in this piece) is how NYT is part of a larger trend of, as she calls it with reference to particular op-eds, "abortion-ambivalence" among pro-choice papers, politicians, and pundits.

    I heard Barack Obama on This Week with George Stephanopolous going on about how morally complex the issue is and how we all really need to recognize and admit that. If we haven't been acknowledging the "moral complexity" ad nauseam for the past ten years or more, what the fuck have we been doing? It reminded me of Kerry equivocating in the debates and of the arguments on the blogosphere and within the Democratic Party about how willing we should all be to chill out on the whole abortion thing a little bit because, it should be legal and everything but it's kinda murder, and each and every woman who chooses an abortion will go through emotional agony which will last the rest of her life, bringing her to suicidal guilt every time someone passes by her with a pram, and how we certainly wouldn't want some women to "use abortion as birth control".

    If the question is, "Should abortion be legal and available to all women regardless of where they live, their race, their age, and how much money they make?" then, to me, this issue is not particularly morally complex. I tend to be a black-and-white thinker, I guess, but seriously- this is an easy question, folks. And, honestly, it insults everyone's intelligence when pro-choice people all of a sudden start pretending this thoughtful, WWJD concern over a fetus. It's either murder or it's not. It's not soooooooo morally complex.

    I think that, if the big concern is alienating the white "red state" evangelicals (who aren't going to be voting Democrat anyway ever, face reality people!) we're better off just acting like abortion is a given, Roe is a given. Rather than blah-de-de-blahing about "moral complexity", when asked if we're pro-choice, all of us pro-choicers should say, ever-so-matter-of-fact-ly, "Of course I'm pro-choice."

    After all, the majority of Americans agree.

    I am mystified by the idea that people are going to become more pro-choice if there's no one around being out-there pro-choice, standing up for women who don't want to carry pregnancies to term.

    I know I'm not saying anything original, but, these days, with South Dakota and all this other garbage, I'm seriously feeling so mad at everyone. I mean, anti-choice asshats like State Sen. Bill Napoli can go around saying things like this about the lack of a rape exception, due to the "life of the mother" clause:

    A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

    And we go: "this is morally complex and I really have to spend some more time with my minister thinking it over, but right now I'm kind of for abortion being legal since some religious virgin might get brutally savaged some time."

    Guess what? Being open to the "complexity" doesn't win you the war here. Hell, it doesn't even win you a battle.

    As for the New York Times, I don't even know anymore. That paper has become a total joke. Times Select, Maureen Dowd, David Brooks, John Tierney, terrible coverage of local politics, one *New Trend* story after another (Note: *New Trend* must have been going on for fucking years to be considered), and an obsession with online dating that just won't quit. The book reviews are so tired 9 times out of 10 I feel dead. I am trying to make myself read The Washington Post as my main paper, but I have knee-jerk, sit-down-at-computer-check-Times compulsion I need to heal.


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