Barack Obama invented abortion

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, October 20, 2008 15:56 EDT
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I have to admit that I’m somewhat shocked that the McCain/Palin campaign—in addition to running with the “Obama is a terrorist” lie—has picked up the “Obama supports infanticide” lie, and are putting it out in their robocalls. As John Cole says, here’s the results:

It’s interesting, because the infanticide slur is so obviously bullshit. I mean, so is the stuff about him being a secret Muslim or a terrorist, but at least in that case, you can say, well, terrorists exist and so do Muslims, and Obama has known many Muslims. (So has George W. Bush, though.) But people who think infanticide is an acceptable form of birth control are pretty much non-existent. Not to say that it doesn’t go on, but when it does, it’s usually inspired by extreme poverty and/or desperation (such as that shown by high school kids who’ve had abstinence impressed upon them so thoroughly that killing a baby seems like a safer bet than admitting they aren’t virgins anymore), and looks like babies dumped in dumpsters, not babies killed in hospital settings. (In the U.S., but the motivations—poverty and desperation—are stable everywhere infanticide happens.) And it’s a well-documented fact that women would rather not get pregnant in the first place, but if they do and they choose to abort, they prefer to get it done as soon as possible—which is why the 30 year trend shows that women get abortions earlier on average than they used to, as new technologies make that possible. The bill Obama voted against was a bill aimed at banning abortion, at least the late term ones that are done for health reasons, and was presented by a group of people who consider not jut abortion, but also contraception, “anti-life”. When they act indignant about being accused of trying to ban abortion, remember that they don’t even try to pretend otherwise, even when they’re acting indignant. That’s like me getting in a huff because you accuse me of wanting women to be men’s equals. It’s not even hypocrisy at that point, but being willfully stupid in order to introduce noise and confusion to a debate, because you know you can’t win if people understand an issue clearly.

But the lie that’s really working my last nerve is this one about how Obama was talking about abortion when he said he doesn’t want his daughters “punished with a baby” if they have sex as teenagers. He was talking about the need to teach comprehensive sex education. I cover this in this week’s podcast, and it’s not even unclear that he was talking about sex education—I play back the relevant parts of his speech, and it’s not only clear that he’s talking about sex education, you would have to be a level of stupid beyond the capabilities of our modern technology to measure in order to think he was talking about anything else. And yet, Sarah Palin keeps talking about how horrible “pro-abortion” Obama is in her stump speech and making reference to this quote of his regarding sex education. And the mainstream media is picking it up and running with it without pointing out that she’s lying. It’s this year’s “invented the internet”.

The only thing I can conclude from this is that “pro-lifers”, including Sarah Palin, think even hearing about how to use a condom is having an abortion. I fail to understand how Palin can reconcile that with her claims to be for contraception, if she thinks even having the discussion is tantamount to abortion.

But what really puzzles me about this whole lie is why it’s offensive to say that babies aren’t punishment and shouldn’t be used as punishment. What part of that offends anti-choicers? Do they hate and dislike children so much that they can’t imagine them being anything but god’s punishment for fucking? I’m sure if you asked someone why this is supposedly offensive, they’d say, “Because I love children, and babies are a joy, not a punishment.” The problem with that is that’s exactly what Obama was saying. Or at least, he was saying that babies should be a joy, not a punishment, but anti-choice policies (in this case, refusing to teach teenagers how to use contraception) makes babies a punishment. Anti-choicers shy away from the word “punishment”, demanding that pro-choicers use euphemisms, so maybe that’s the source of the offense, that Obama refused to use a euphemism like “consequences”, which is hardly a euphemism anymore, because when it comes to sex, “consequences” is almost never used in a neutral manner, but almost always in a way that’s synonymous with “punishment”.

Honestly, I think that’s it. The source of the offense is that Obama refused to coddle their bullshit and described it for what it is. It’s certainly not that he thinks babies are punishment—he said the opposite—but that he said a) babies should not be punishment but b) anti-choicers treat them as if they are. It’s the latter that is so offensive, because anti-choicers feel entitled to a public discourse where people tip-toe around and refuse to speak the truth about them. And why shouldn’t they? The media kow-tows to anti-choicers all the time, lacquering on all sorts of euphemistic prettiness to make their ugly beliefs look nicer than they are. They get to be called “pro-life”, as if there was any relation between trying to prevent women from controlling their own fertility and respecting life. (It’s somewhat easier to believe if you don’t think women have lives worth caring about, which is why McCain made clear when he put women’s health in air quotes.) They get to be described as “values voters” as if misogyny were a value worth respecting. And then there’s the general ass-kissing even from many pro-choice people about how morally gray this whole situation is, as if there’s anything close to reasonable about valuing fertilized eggs over women. No wonder anti-choicers think that they are entitled to coddling and euphemisms, since they get it from most people most of the time, even when they’re screaming “baby killer” at you.

Which does cause one to wonder: When Obama exposed them for using abstinence-only as a way to set up teenage girls to be punished for having sex with pregnancy, do they think that was in and of itself abortion? Like saying the words “contraceptive education” out loud can cause a ripple in the air that infiltrates nearby wombs and causes miscarriage? Let me put it this way—we are dealing with people who believe that Satan is real and he has the time to follow every person on earth around and tempt them to sin. So maybe they do think that “contraception” is a magic, abortion-causing word.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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