Ross Douthat's Must-Read UPDATED

Totally tied up with work obligations today but wanted to put Ross Douthat’s must-read column before your eyes today, for discussion:

The American entertainment industry has never been comfortable with the act of abortion. Film or television characters might consider the procedure, but even on the most libertine programs (a “Mad Men,” a “Sex and the City”), they’re more likely to have a change of heart than actually go through with it. Reality TV thrives on shocking scenes and subjects — extreme pregnancies and surgeries, suburban polygamists and the gay housewives of New York — but abortion remains a little too controversial, and a little bit too real.

This omission is often cited as a victory for the pro-life movement, and in some cases that’s plainly true. (Recent unplanned-pregnancy movies like “Juno” and “Knocked Up” made abortion seem not only unnecessary but repellent.) But it can also be a form of cultural denial: a way of reassuring the public that abortion in America is — in Bill Clinton’s famous phrase — safe and legal, but also rare.

Rare it isn’t: not when one in five pregnancies ends at the abortion clinic. So it was a victory for realism, at least, when MTV decided to supplement its hit reality shows “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” with last week’s special, “No Easy Decision,” which followed Markai Durham, a teen mother who got pregnant a second time and chose abortion.

MTV being MTV, the special’s attitude was resolutely pro-choice. But it was a heartbreaking spectacle, whatever your perspective. Durham and her boyfriend are the kind of young people our culture sets adrift — working-class and undereducated, with weak support networks, few authority figures, and no script for sexual maturity beyond the easily neglected admonition to always use a condom. Their televised agony was a case study in how abortion can simultaneously seem like a moral wrong and the only possible solution — because it promised to keep them out of poverty, and to let them give their first daughter opportunities they never had.

UPDATE: It seems to me that we really have to do a better job of championing mothers who choose to have their babies knowing they will allow them to be placed in adoptions. In this MTV special, the mother says–as too many do–that she could not bear the pain of carrying a child to term, and then giving it up, and that fortifies her decision to abort. We need to help these women understand that if knowing that they are separated from their living child is a grief to them, that grief is compounded when they are separated from that child by death, a death wrought by their permission.

The “I can’t carry to term then allow someone else to raise the baby” notion is a fundamentally flawed bit of moral reasoning–one that flourishes because, in this age of moral relativism we are discouraged from teaching sound moral reasoning. The dictatorship of relativism must be defeated.

Read the whole article and then read Kathryn Jean Lopez, writing on the same issue.

And then, discuss! Please remember that if you don’t embed your urls, you’ll be thrown into moderation or spam and I’ll be too busy to be able to fish you out quickly. You can learn how to create a link via this simple tutorial.

Related: David Mills on The “Cosmo” life

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  • http://www.daveinboca.blogspot.com daveinboca

    Sorry I’m in a rush too, but haven’t the national polls slowly been moving past 50% DISAPPROVAL of abortion without the lamestream media noting it in its print and electronic manifestations? What are the Gallup numbers, even though they may be prejudiced towards the pro-abortion killers?

    [In the end poll numbers don't really matter...the number of abortions matter, and regardless of the polls, the numbers aren't going down much.-admin]

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  • pro life4the living

    isn’t just funny and not very surprising to see how chritians , conservatives ( for most part) promoting this non sense ?
    they would cry out so loud for every unborn and in the same fill their mouth with neo con bs talking points when bush crime family killed and mamed thousands of Iraqi babies and complicit with the death of thousands american soldiers .
    no WMD ? oh well
    babies are chritians ? oh well
    chritians mom can’t support the baby ? well she better toughen up!!!
    got raped / knocked up / drugged and preg. ?
    tough!!
    the baby would prob be out of love , deprived of basic needs and will end up in a shelter or a correction facility ( yea, u can whip up T Bo since he’s such an everyday example)
    I can go on and on but I know it’s pointless . mirrors should be on walls and reflect only your shallowness

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  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    I think the lack of glorification of abortion on TV and movies proves just how inherently immoral it is. The whole notion of abortion repulses me. I feel pity for the women that regret a decision to abort and disgust for anyone, male of female, that go on with their lives after an abortion as if they just had a bowel movement. But the most anger and disgust goes toward the doctors that perform them. They are morally reprehensible and I hope there is a special place in hell for them.

  • Sturgen

    When faced with a surprise pregnancy some 19 years ago, I had choices. I was young, under-educated, poor and ending a relationship with the Father. It would have been the easy way to put the whole thing past me with an abortion wouldn’t it?

    Yeah, being one of those stupid, impassive, unyielding Christians, I chose to keep my child. I struggled on Welfare for 5 years and went to college to earn a degree. I got a job that paid more in taxes the first year than I got on welfare.

    That child whom many think would’ve been better sucked out of the womb will be graduating from High School this year.

    The thought that any option is easier than other is patently ridiculous. I’ve known friends who had given their child up for adoption, others who have aborted, and others who have raised their child. Each Mom has thought about their choices and asked themselves if it was the right thing.

    At the moment of conception I became a mother. The question was not whether or not I wanted to BE a mother, but what kind of mother would I be. Was I a Mother to kill my child out of convenience, a Mother who felt her skills was such that another person would be a better Mom than I, was I a Mother who could get it together and BECOME a good Mom.

    I chose the last one, and I’m not ashamed of it.
    What ticks me off is the sterotype that Christians have no idea of what it takes to raise a child as a single parent; that we are unfeeling as to the plight of a woman. Well, I WAS THAT WOMAN!!

    I remember a time when I did not have enough $ to get all the things I laid out on the checkout belt. The lady behind me gave me $1.25 to buy the Dawn dishsoap. Her comment, “I’ve been there once.” I could’ve cried.

    We all know, we all care and to think that we don’t is preposterous brainwashing.

  • zmama

    I’d like to ask prolife4theliving what you have done in your life to help one woman in a crisis pregnancy? I am so sick of people saying pro-lifers don’t do anything to help when every day unknown (purposely by the MSM) people run the hundreds of crisis pregnancy centers throughout the country-which DO NOT abandon the mother and her child at birth but continue to assist these young mothers with housing, parenting skills, assistance in furthering their education. I know because my family has been one of those families that have taken into their home pregnant women in need and helped them until they could get on their feet. So try researching all the crisis pregnancy centers and shelters for women AND their children. You might just be surprisingly enlightened.

  • Anna Barrie

    I read through the comments following Ross Douthat’s article. I am so frustrated at the response of the abortion rights supporters. Ross is a man so has no right to speak on the matter (does this mean that child-less or infertile women have no right to speak on the matter either?), a two-month old fetus is not conscious so has no rights, animals slaughtered for food have more intelligence (can we call a new-born conscious? Sentient? Aware? Is a cow more valuable than a new-born?), and on and on. The arguments for abortion all boil down to one really – I want what I want when I want it, and no one and nothing can get in my way, not God, not the law, not the father of what’s growing inside of me, and certainly not a baby.

  • Anna Barrie

    By the way, the same goes for infertility treatments and surrogacy – I want a baby now and I will get one any way I can.

  • KellyO

    Thank you for always being a voice of reason for me. You put into words what I feel but don’t know how to express. In 1990, I placed my newborn son into an adoptive home. It was excruciating to know that I spent 9 months carrying this baby and couldn’t experience any of his life. It was a pain matched by no other. Yet, I can offer up my pain knowing that I gave life to this boy and that he now gets to experience pain, sadness, love, and joy. Sometimes pain (physical and emotional and spiritual) is necessary and redemptive to growth. We are all so afraid of being inconvenienced and burdened with pain and so we insulate ourselves from anything remotely uncomfortable. How sad!

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    To Sturgen – God bless you. You are a real hero!

  • Tonestaple

    I must second Sturgen: there are 3 choices, abortion, childbirth with raising, childbirth with adoption. Only one is wicked, but they all have serious downsides. Speaking from my personal experience, I am going to recommend adoption every time if the mother is not married. In this day and age, the birth mother is in the driver’s seat and can pick exactly the parents she wants for her baby and insist on an open adoption if she wants, although I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing for the child. Yes, I think about my child every day. It was a closed adoption so I have no way of knowing what she’s like or if she is even still alive. I just have to assume she is and hope that all is well. I hope she sings.

  • Justin

    It’s important to keep in mind that the issue is multi-dimensional, and complicated in every which way. It is easy to say there is only one morally acceptable answer, but that gets complicated within all the mental, emotional, and spiritual stress that can come with a pregnancy, let alone an unwanted pregnancy.

    I guess I’d like to think that it’s not an easy decision for many people – economic costs, social costs, especially the stigma – and especially when you’re young.

    You must pray, and support, but regardless, set aside the disdain and always show compassion, no matter which decision is made.


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