Thursday, April 06, 2006

Too cute to resist


At 9:26 PM, Anonymous Matt Schuh said...


I make this comment realizing this post is nothing more than a clever cartoon, but I do think it speaks to a larger problem we currently have in American politics. I don't see it as unique to one side of the political spectrum, so please don't take this as a criticism of your political views.

When we caricaturize the views of those with whom we disagree and pass that portrayal on as the view we are refuting, we do a real disservice to the ideal of democracy. You know as well as I do that conservatives don't oppose abortion because they "don't want women making their own choices." And I know as well as you do that liberals are not "out to kill babies." Let's stop casting those with whom we disagree as being on the fringe of society and instead take on the issues on their merits.

Again, I realize this is a lighthearted cartoon, so please don't take this as me "calling you out." Having said that, I've heard essentially the same argument made in a very serious manner, so I don't think my thoughts can be dismissed as purely speculative.

At 10:08 PM, Blogger Legal Ease said...


Thanks for your comment.

I'll give you the possibility that Bill Napoli's intent may not have been to disallow women to make their own choices. But it is undoubtedly an effect of his actions. (Just as, in the view of those who believe life begins at conception, killing a living being is undoubtedly an effect of abortion)

This is exactly the reason that I am pro-choice. I believe that women have the right to a reasonable level of control over their own lives. The ability to decide whether/when to have a baby is necessary to maintain that level of control.

I would prefer that we have a system where women have affordable, convenient access to reliable birth control and that abortion would only be a last resort when a variety of other preventative measures have failed. I also wish we lived in a society where economic considerations never had to bear on a woman's decision to carry a pregnancy to term or not. But that is not the society we have to work with.

So regardless of his motives - and given his comments about a permissible rape exception to the SD ban, I'm not so sure he doesn't want to punish women for having sex - I do feel reasonably certain that he doesn't mind that he's restricting women's choice.

At 5:48 AM, Anonymous Matt Schuh said...

"This is exactly the reason that I am pro-choice. I believe that women have the right to a reasonable level of control over their own lives. The ability to decide whether/when to have a baby is necessary to maintain that level of control."

I think 95% of people would agree with this statement, however I think it's entirely fair to differ over the meaning of "reasonable." It's a balancing of interests: on one hand the best interests of the woman and on the other the best interests of the child (if you believe there is one).

I think when the arguments (on EITHER side) only acknowledge there is one side to consider, the argument falls short of being at least somewhat misleading. To me the initial underlying question that needs to be asked is whether there is a "life" or not. If there's no "life" in question, I think the alliances on this issue will come out much differently. If you do fall into the camp that life begins prior to when the abortion in question occurs; and you believe the woman's interests are more important than the intersts of the child, that's fine...just say so. Same for the opposite side, if you value the life of an unborn child over a mother's personal choice, just say so, don't pretend there's no implications on a woman's autonomy. Whereever you come down, it's a balance that you've struck. To pretend there's only one side of it though is what has created our devolved state of American politics where we come up with 2-3 word phrases and shout them at each other. I think we're better than that!

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Sarah Molina said...

I agree that this is a balancing test.

I believe that "life" starts at conception. I also believe that the life in question does not possess the same rights as an adult woman. It is not a fully developed human child at the stages where the abortion debate is raging.

Personal autonomy is the essence of liberty and a woman must have the ability to make decisions about her own body. This is more important to me than the soon-to-be-human.

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous MMS said...

How is this a "disservice to democracy"? A bit sarcastic....yes. But, it is an effective communication technique. The cartoon got the point across without having to plod through any wordy editorials or blog posts. Seems to me that promoting thoughtful discussion, as this cartoon has done, is an essential tool of the democratic process.

At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Matt Schuh said...


If cartoons like this provoked thoughtful discussion in most cases, I'd completely agree with you. Instead what I fear they usually do is substitute the "catch phrases" (and I can't stress enough that this occurs on both sides) for the arguments themselves.

I was thinking about this on the way to school this morning and the best way I can describe what I'm trying to say is by referring to the Debate episode in the 3rd Season of the West Wing where President Bartlett is running against Republican challenger Governor Richey. After Governor Richey spouted off his party's line on one question, President Bartlett responded by asking "and what are the next ten words, and then the ten after that?"

I'm not saying I'm opposed to political cartoons, but we need to be careful we aren't substituting the 3 word phrases for the actual arguments themselves. By looking around, I don't think we're doing a very good job of that.

At 1:05 AM, Blogger Alex Berezow said...


I'll have to agree with my friend, Matt. Political debate in this country has devolved into a shouting match of bumper-sticker slogans. Whichever side remembers the most bumper-stickers slogans apparently wins the argument. I'm sure you'll remember the semi-delusional political "debate" show "Crossfire." It consisted of four otherwise normal people acting like lunatics for 30 minutes. No wonder Jon Stewart hated it. And no wonder it was finally, finally canceled.

Thus, I would have to agree that political cartoons, while cute and (occasionally) clever, help perpetuate our nation's inability to have an honest, clean debate.

Now on to the immediate issue at hand, abortion. Pro-abortion activists are amazing spin-doctors. Again, in agreement with Matt, both sides of the spectrum can do this, but I personally find the half-truths coming from the pro-abortion side to be particularly egregious. (That is my favorite GRE word; it even has the letters "gre" in it.)

People who support abortion are essentially advocating selfishness. The rights of the man, who presumably played some role in creating the child in the first place, are not even discussed. Not at all, actually. I find it very disturbing that this has become a "women's rights" issue, when the process itself inherently involves people other than women.

A second point to be made about this is that, in my mind, abortion is clearly a "HUMAN rights" issue. What is more important? The rights of a woman, or the rights of an unborn child, or the rights of the man? There are three humans to consider, and the only one that gets serious attention is the woman. Kudos to the pro-abortion movement for shifting the argument to something it is not; they certainly have the upper hand because of the national perception of the issue.

Finally, I would really be much happier if pro-abortion activists just came out and said what they really felt. And, in my opinion, what pro-abortion activists feel is this: "If I get pregnant and I find it inconvenient, that is, I don't want to disrupt my lifestyle or pay for the child, then I will have the baby terminated." The reason pro-abortion activists don't say this is obvious: It's chilling, and frankly, kind of cruel. Pro-abortion activists, again, have successfully steered the country away from focusing on this perspective, as well, and instead, gripe about incest and rape. The facts, however, disagree with these claims; even Planned Parenthood admits that 90% of abortions are due to "socioeconomic" reasons.

Summing it up, what the pro-abortion activists have done is successfully change the tone of the argument to make it about something it is not. It's like when we talk about border security. People who are anti-border security accuse pro-border security people as being "bigots and racists," thus changing the entire tone of the debate to something other than the issue at hand, namely national security and immigration control.


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