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In Which I Solve William Saletan’s Problems For Him. AGAIN.

Here is a shocking confession: I kind of love Slate contributor William Saletan. This is not because I think he is “smart,” or “interesting,” or even “a particularly good writer.” No, my reasons for loving him are far more complex. I love him because he is always asking DEEPLY STUPID QUESTIONS, in such a way as to imply that he thinks he has blown your mind with his amazing brain-teasing skills. “We all like to eat pancakes. But would you like it if a pancake… ate you?!?!?” Such is the level of the typical Saletanian inquiry.

It is especially fun when Saletan writes about reproductive choice! He has spent a lot of time thinking about it, he would like you to know, and is eager to pass around the rich, sticky juices produced by his mind-grapes. Here is his lead, this week:

Would you abort a fetus just because it wasn’t yours?

Um, maybe? That sounds like a pretty decent reason to abort, as these things go. But wait, maybe William Saletan has tricked me with his crafty prose stylings!

The question sounds crazy. How could it not be yours? If it’s in your body, you must be the mom, right?

OMG, SO CRAZY! He’s totally right! There is no way I could have a fetus that is not my own in my uterus! Except, you know, science, and surrogates, and… no, no, he’s right. This is SO CRAZY!

Wrong. Through in vitro fertilization, you can get pregnant with somebody else’s fetus.

Damn! Fooled again! Well, Saletan, I guess you’ve won this round…

OK, so now that we know William Saletan (a) assumes his audience is so deeply stupid that they would be willing to read an article about in vitro fertilization without even knowing that such a procedure exists, and (b) is out to blow ya mind, we can proceed to the moral quandary in question, which is: some Japanese lady went and got in vitro. The doctors accidentally got another lady’s fetus stuck up in her babymaker. She aborted it.

The scary scenario is the one you never expect: going through IVF and discovering, weeks into your pregnancy, that your doctor put the wrong embryo in your womb.

If you think this can’t happen…

And it totally can’t, right, Saletan? I mean, you just confirmed for me that I think it can’t happen! There would be no reason for you to assume that on my part, unless…

… I have bad news: It just did.

BLAM! Another twist! Classic Saletan!

So, anyway, Saletan wants you to ponder this little quandary: if there’s a bun in your oven, and you don’t really want it for whatever reason, do you have the right to a safe and legal abortion? Maybe not, huh? (Saletan also calls himself a “liberal Republican,” which would seem like another indication that he is operating at 75% brain capacity at best, or just enjoys tossing random words together to create the illusion of cleverness.)

It’s generally understood that if you hire a surrogate to carry your embryo, she, not you, gets to decide whether to abort it. It may be your baby, but it’s her body, and that’s the legal trump card. A woman who’s carrying your child against her will, as in the Japanese case, presumably has an even greater right to end the pregnancy. But what about you? You didn’t sign a surrogacy contract. You made that embryo so you could give it life yourself. The doctor picked it because it looked like a good candidate to become a child, and the subsequent pregnancy proved him right. A healthy child, your child, was terminated without your consent, consultation, or knowledge. Is that right?

Oh, OK, Saletan. I see that you are legitimately confused. I mean, why else would you resort to question marks, unless it was to make some disingenuous and ineffective rhetorical point? (These are the same Saletanian question marks employed in the article about whether women might actually enjoy rape – “are women inherently less autonomous in this sense?” – for the record.) Fortunately, I have five free minutes to spare this afternoon, so I’m willing to solve this one for you.


(1) An undesired pregnancy is taking place within that woman’s body.

(2) Women are human beings, whose bodily autonomy is not to be compromised against their will; forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term is a violation of her human rights.

(4) As fully autonomous human beings, women have the right to terminate pregnancies taking place within their bodies, regardless of whether anyone else approves of said termination.

In conclusion:
(5) Yes, for fuck’s sake, women have the right to have abortions, how stupid are you?

Be sure to stay tuned for our next installment, when William Saletan asks whether it is morally right for a woman to have a job when he so clearly needs someone to keep house and make him sandwiches. He particularly likes Reubens!



  1. Becca wrote:

    “We all like to eat pancakes. But would you like it if a pancake… ate you?!?!?”

    I actually snorted ^_^. He sounds like an asshole.

    (Hi btw, I’ve never commented before – found your blog through Shakesville)

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 4:06 pm | Permalink
  2. BonnieBelle wrote:

    What happened to item 3) ? And yeah, this guy is a moron. That’s nearly the same argument a guy makes when his gf turns up pregnant. “But it’s my baby tooooooo! Don’t I get a say??! Wahh!”

    This also brings up the question, if she had carried it to term, would she get to keep the resulting baby if she wanted to? Or would she, by law, have to hand it over to the original bio parents? Obviously, this happened in Japan, so same laws do not apply. But I’m wondering how US law would handle it.

    I’m theorizing some sort of settlement would take place, perhaps a retroactive surrogate-type deal? Money paid for carrying it to term, money paid for emotional trauma of it not being yours, money paid for emotional turmoil of being forced to wait nine+ months longer to try and carry your own child.

    Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 2:02 am | Permalink