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In this Bloggingheads conversation between BeliefNet’s Steven Waldman and Slate’s William Saletan, two dudes demonstrate why two dudes should not film themselves talking off-the-cuff about abortion for an hour. They call the segment “Two Men, No Uteruses.” Waldman and Saletan putting their headsets together to figure out how to convince women not to be so aborty? I call it torture.
Broadsheet’s Amy Benfer sums up the low point of the dialogue, which begins around the 26-minute mark:
The topic, once again, is abortion reduction, a topic dear to both men’s hearts. This time, Waldman brings it back to wondering why women with an unplanned pregnancy aren’t cool with adoption. He starts off with a very good point: Most adoption policy focuses on incentives to adoptive couples, while virtually ignoring the women who will actually be carrying those children to term. He concedes that, “It’s an awfully big thing to ask the mother to carry a baby to term so that someone else can raise it.” Yep, glad we can all agree on that. But then he veers into outright lunacy. “I know this dangerous territory,” he says, “but I’ll just throw it out there.” OK, Steve, just throw it out there.
Waldman’s modest proposal goes like this: “Someone is three months pregnant, we say, ‘Just go another six months.’” Right. Just go ahead and go through that whole thing called pregnancy, with that thing called childbirth at the end. Hey, you can’t even get an associate degree in six months! Why not spend that time incubating another person’s child as a womb-for-rent? But, he acknowledges, there are problems: “You might have to drop out of school, drop out of a job, as well as taking a huge health risk.”
. . . And how much does he think that woman’s time is worth? “Maybe we should pay her, say, a thousand dollars. I don’t know what the right number is, because you don’t want to create a financial incentive for babies.” Because that would be baby-selling. Also, if we learned anything from the Reagan years, it’s that poor women will pop out children for cash given any opportunity. (Even if that incentive works out to a little more than $100 per month of pregnancy.)
This is too much, it seems, even for Saletan, who seems floored. (And for the record, though I’ve disagreed with him in the past, in this instance, he doesn’t really deserve to get tarred for Waldman’s display of pure idiocy). He points out, rightly, that Waldman’s proposal isn’t so far off from a kind of “national surrogacy policy.” But then he says, “It feels a little bit icky to me.”
Waldman agrees, “As the words are coming out of my mouth, they taste a little funny.”
Watching conversations like this probably won’t dissuade any women from choosing abortion. But it might just help those women realize that the people who claim to care most about what comes out of your uterus have no fucking idea what’s going on in there before the thing pops out.