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Well, now he’s just doing it to piss me off. For lo, another week is upon us, and it brings with it another column by liberal Republican pro-choice choice-hater William Saletan. In this week’s installment: William Saletan totally supports your right to have an abortion! Also, ladies are getting abortions, and it’s terrible!

If you’re angry about the AIG scandal or Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme…

Oh, and I am! So angry! GRRRR. Tell me where to unleash my rage, Saletan!

…check out what’s happening to the infertile couples and surrogate mothers involved in a California womb brokerage. It’s a familiar tale of vanishing funds and defaulted obligations. But this time, the potential loss is bigger than property. It’s pregnancy.

Um, I would maybe rather have a miscarriage than be homeless? Keep in mind, however, that I am an unnatural woman, kept barren though foul Trojan arts, and do not therefore lactate the milk of human kindness.

Anyway! Turns out that some ladies paid some other ladies to carry their fetuses to term, but paid that money into a company by the creepy and weirdly science-fictional name of SurroGenesis (“We thought we could make the babies better! Stronger! But they’ve turned on us! AIEEEEEEEEEEEEE”) and then that company went totally bankrupt and lost all its pregnancy-funding money. So, now, the surrogates could conceivably choose to abort their pregnancies! Just like they could, you know, before any of this happened!

Thousands of women have hired themselves out as gestational surrogates. If you’re the child’s genetic mother, you can put a clause in the contract stipulating under what circumstances the surrogate can abort the pregnancy. But no court will enforce that clause…

Damn the courts! Is there no way they can be forced to override a woman’s legal right to terminate a pregnancy? Justice, why art thou blind?

…because you aren’t the one who’s pregnant. The surrogate is. She can choose abortion unilaterally. All you can do is stop paying her for carrying the child.

But what if it’s the other way around? What if you stop paying her first? If you had hired her to sew booties for your kid, she could respond to your nonpayment by halting work on the booties.

Hmm, that’s true! I guess it really is just a question of paying for the booties to be delivered. I am absolutely confident that there is no way this detour into a discussion of the ethics of booty purchase and manufacturing could be turned against me. After all, it’s Saletan we’re dealing with here.

But her job wasn’t to deliver booties. It was to deliver the kid. If she responds by halting work on the thing you’ve stopped paying for, that thing is your child.

BLAM! The patented Saletan Curveball, once again!

Reader, please note that the preceding two paragraphs of Saletan’s column have both ended with the word “child.” Not “fetus,” child. Please also note that the article is illustrated with a seemingly disembodied pregnant belly and some breasts, sans face or any identifying features. These things are not unrelated! For, you see, when you and I look at a pregnant woman – indeed, perhaps even a woman carrying a surrogate pregnancy – we see this:

Whereas William Saletan, liberal Republican and poser of ethical quandaries for these modern times, sees this:

Or, perhaps more accurately, this:

The reason that Saletan missed the boat last week – by focusing on the feelings of the “mother” whose fetus was implanted in the wrong uterus, then aborted by the uterus-haver in question, rather than the feelings of the woman who thought she had finally managed to get pregnant with her own child, only to find out that, thanks to her idiot doctor, she was wrong – is the same reason he misses the boat here, by focusing on undeniably wealthy folks who can pay for a surrogate pregnancy rather than women who agreed to get pregnant, under the condition that they would receive appropriate care and recompense, only to find that they were up a very expensive – and, I hear, physically unpleasant! – creek without a paddle. He doesn’t care about the pregnant women. He barely even recognizes them as people. What he cares about are people who (he assumes, never having spoken to them) oppose abortions, and the fetuses who (are quite literally, due to the fact that they possess nothing which resembles consciousness or personhood, unable to) love them. The women, with their damnable autonomy and legal rights and whatnot, are just in the way.

For, you see, William Saletan loves the little children, and suffers them to come unto him. Just so long as they don’t turn out to be girls.

Anyway, it’s all worth it for the correction, which goes as follows:

Update, March 24: I originally invited readers to contact Vorzimer if they wanted to help the surrogates complete their pregnancies rather than abort them. In an email this evening, Vorzimer clarified that “there are no situations in which a surrogate has elected to abort because of this financial scandal.”

Ha ha, WHOOPS.


  1. Eloriane wrote:

    I love all your take-down, but I have to say, I found the comparison photos particularly, uh, enraging. I guess I’ve become too used to randomly-beheaded lady-bodies because it didn’t occur to me how fucked up that pregnant belly glory-shot was until I had it right next to, you know, a normal picture of a pregnant woman. What a huge difference it makes to have the actually person around the uterus included, too!

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Permalink
  2. Jen wrote:

    “Keep in mind, however, that I am an unnatural woman, kept barren though foul Trojan arts…”

    This. HILARIOUS. Gods I love your blog.

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Permalink
  3. Sady wrote:

    Eloriane: Oh, my God, Saletan LOOOVES those images. Check out the image on his “apology,” or “clarification,” or whatever it is:

    And the cover of his BOOK! ON! ABORTION!

    I also love how the faceless pregnant ladies are always 8 months and 29 days pregnant, as opposed to earlier along, when people would have a much harder time arguing for the personhood or viability of the fetus as a being separate from the pregnant woman, which also happens to be WHEN ABORTIONS ACTUALLY HAPPEN.

    These images play directly into the same images always used by the anti-choice movement, wherein a full-grown baby is ripped out of a lady’s womb, takes its first breath, says “Mommy,” and is promptly thrown into the wood chipper, as opposed to the decidedly less cute and cuddly bundle of rapidly differentiating cells that gets removed during most abortions.

    I don’t know how much of a role Saletan personally has in selecting these images – I am thinking, lots! Because they seem to recur so often! – but they do seem miraculously in tune with his desire to write about “pregnancies” and “embryos” and whatnot whilst barely addressing the fact that those things happen inside a real, live, individual person – a woman or a trans man, no less! – who has a life and needs outside of that bodily process.

    It’s not just disingenuous and manipulative, the way he elides the actual pregnant women in these stories: IT’S FUCKING WEIRD. I could write a whole book about his use of pronouns; “you,” the reader and/or subject you are being blatantly manipulated into identifying with, are always the person in need of a surrogate, or the person whose fetus got implanted in someone else. “You” are never actually pregnant. (“You” also always have the anti-abortion sentiments of one William Saletan; he doesn’t actually speak to the people he writes about to solicit their perspectives, as this latest error makes tragically clear; they might get in the way, so he just projects onto them freely.) It’s a very male, male-privileged perspective; it reads, over and over and over again, like the work of someone who can’t imagine an actual pregnancy taking place in his body, but feels the need to own and control the pregnant bodies of others.

    I dunno, maybe his college girlfriend got an abortion or something, and he was peeved that she didn’t want to give birth to the first of the Mighty Sons of Saletan. That makes as much sense as anything else.

    Thursday, March 26, 2009 at 7:37 am | Permalink
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    I love the pan-out picture you gave with the pregnant lady’s face and all. It’s like “Oh, look! Someone whose personhood actually ISN’T debatable!”

    Also, I did not realize just HOW pregnant the lady in the picture was until you pointed it out. What a manipulative assbag, Gah.

    Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 1:20 am | Permalink