Althouse | category: birth control



a blog by Ann Althouse

"The elk problem is really interesting. I do feel that there has to be population control both on the part of humans and animals."

"Now, the available methods of contraception for animals are not always good.... But humans and animals have to limit our own population growth in order for the world to be minimally just. With the elk, there are things that have been tried: shooting them in cold blood; some kind of population control;  introducing wolves to tear the elks limb from limb. People say that’s better because it’s nature. I don’t like that argument. For the elk, a bullet to the brain — if the person knew how to shoot, which a lot of hunters don’t — would be a lot better than the wolf’s tearing them apart...."

Said Martha Nussbaum, quoted in "Do Humans Owe Animals Equal Rights? Martha Nussbaum Thinks So" (NYT).

"Now... I don’t think that predatory animals are doing anything wrong. I don’t think they should be deprived of their way of life. We also don’t know what terrible imbalances will be created in the ecosystem if we start protecting all the antelopes from getting killed. We do know that with our companion animals we teach them substitute behaviors. People who let their cats go outside try to stop them from eating little birds and to teach them, well, they can scratch a tree. If they’re indoor cats, they can have a scratching post. They want morally acceptable ways of getting the satisfaction of their predatory instincts. But wild carnivores aren’t going to stop being predators. That’s what humans have done over the centuries...."

"I was so angry and just irritated at seeing man after man — you know, typically, male politicians — grandstanding about abortion."

Said Gabrielle Blair, quoted in "Gabrielle Blair Would Like a Word With Men/After 16 years of making a name for herself as a blogger and home decor expert, Design Mom has written her manifesto — about reproductive health" by Kase Wickman (NYT).

The NYT article seems to be a reaction to the fact that a book Blair created out of a 64-post-long Twitter thread has debuted at No. 2 on The New York Times’s paperback nonfiction best-seller list.

Here's the Twitter thread, and here's the book: “Ejaculate Responsibly: A Whole New Way to Think About Abortion.” 

Now, my readers may be saying tough luck for Althouse. She could have written a book called "Don't Be a Splooge Stooge," but Blair got to the best-seller list first. Of all my unwritten books, that's the one I'm least sad about not devoting a year of my life to.

Blair's point isn't exactly the same as mine. I was responding to the argument that men — because they don't have the right to choose to end a pregnancy — shouldn't have to pay child support for children they didn't want. I said both men and women have a right to decide what happens within their own body, and, anatomically, for men, the right ends when he ejaculates. You need to exercise care and control while you can. You can't extend your power into the sovereign domain of the woman's body, and, if your child is born, it deserves the economic support of both of its parents.

Blair addresses opponents of abortion. She's mad at abortion opponents who are male and who go after women for failing to adequately guard their body from pregnancy. Men need to focus on what men can do, which is to insure that they never impregnate a woman. If you had to never impregnate a woman, you could, she says. Read the book — or the Twitter thread — to see her advice in full. In short: Unless you want to create a new life — or unless you've had a vasectomy — you should never ejaculate into a woman's vagina.

She does not address the one circumstance that led to my "splooge stooge" series: The woman retrieves a used condom from the trash and uses it to impregnate herself.

By the way, Blair has 6 children. The first tweet in her "ejaculate responsibly" series is:

I’m a mother of six, and a Mormon. I have a good understanding of arguments surrounding abortion, religious and otherwise. I've been listening to men grandstand about women's reproductive rights, and I'm convinced men actually have zero interest in stopping abortion. Here's why….

Why is she "convinced men actually have zero interest in stopping abortion"? Because they keep ejaculating into women's vaginas!

What should male abortion opponents do?

Stop protesting at clinics. Stop shaming women. Stop trying to overturn abortion laws. If you actually care about reducing or eliminating the number of abortions in our country, simply HOLD MEN RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS.

It gets really intense and punitive. I was just saying men owe child support. Blair says:

What if there was a real and immediate consequence for men who cause an unwanted pregnancy? What kind of consequence would make sense? Should it be as harsh, painful, nauseating, scarring, expensive, risky, and life-altering… as forcing a woman to go through a 9-month unwanted pregnancy?

In my experience, men really like their testicles. If irresponsible ejaculations were putting their balls at risk, they would stop being irresponsible. Does castration seem like a cruel and unusual punishment? Definitely.

It's a thought experiment.

But is it worse than forcing 500,000 women a year to puke daily for months, gain 40 pounds, and then rip their bodies apart in childbirth? Is a handful of castrations worse than women dying during forced pregnancy & childbirth?

Put a castration law on the books, implement the law, let the media tell the story, and in 3 months or less, tada! abortions will have virtually disappeared.

This argument also works as a cure for all sorts of misbehavior. The government could cut off the hands of thieves and execute tax evaders. But, obviously, Blair isn't really coming after you with pruning shears.

Can’t wrap your head around a physical punishment for men? Even though you seem to be more than fine with physical punishments for women?

The "punishments for women" come from nature. We're the ones with the self-punishing anatomy (if you want to characterize pregnancy and childbirth as punishment).

Okay. Then how about this prevention idea: At the onset of puberty, all males in the U.S. could be required by law to get a vasectomy.

Reverse your vasectomy if and when you decide you want to be a father. There's your right to choose. I mean it would be if you were choosing the vasectomy, but Blair envisions forced vasectomy.

Again, it's a thought experiment. Blair is trying to come up with ideas that lie within the power of men, to give something for men to do instead of trying to control women. Men can get a vasectomy. But she wants to express anger and outrage at men for directing their efforts at the things women do to their bodies, so she's jacking up the aggression and visualizing cutting off men's testicles and forcing vasectomies on little boys.

And there is a market for this book, so some people are finding these visualizations interesting, funny, or exciting.

"Some people in the US are rushing to get sterilized after the Roe v. Wade ruling."

That's the headline at CNN.

The evidence: "several gynecologists tell CNN they've seen an increase in people requesting tubal ligation." So... several gynecologists. Noted.

But there's an anecdote about a woman who's finding it difficult to get the surgery:
DeAndra Childress, 33, told CNN she has tried several times to get her tubes tied. But she said four different doctors refused to perform the procedure on the grounds that she may regret the decision later in life.

"I was told I was too young, no kids, not married, may get married later, and I should wait til I have a husband," she said. "All methods to control my body. It infuriates me."
That is, it's not that the doctors are overbooked and you can't get an appointment. It's that the doctors have an ethical problem fulfilling the request for sterilization. Is it harder to find doctors willing to sterilize than willing to do abortions? Both procedures can result in regret, but with sterilization, you've changed the body of a person who will keep on living and may have regrets about herself. Abortion stops a change to a woman's body and completely destroys the body of the unborn child. The never-born child can have no regrets, and the woman's regrets, if any, are not about her own body, but about this entity that cannot regret. 

Anyway, there's a "vocal movement of young women and non-binary people" pushing sterilization as the best form of birth control. That may mislead some people into surgery that they will regret, but it's probably effective political speech. If you were anti-abortion, maybe now you should worry that the young women of America are just going to turn their back on motherhood. It's a strong political gesture to sacrifice your body for the cause. But the logic is: They're trying to appropriate my body for their cause!  

(It's not a complete sacrifice. You can still conceive using IVF.)

"One day I hope to become a mother. But for now I have sex just because I like it. Sex is fun. For the puritanical tyrants seeking to control our bodies..."

"... that’s a problem. This radical minority, including the right-wing faction on the Supreme Court, probably won’t stop at banning abortion. If we take Justice Clarence Thomas at his word — and there’s no reason not to — the right to contraception could be the next to fall. Why? Because many in this movement are animated by an insatiable desire to punish women who have sex on our own terms and enjoy it.... They are part of a movement intended to curb the hard-won freedom to pursue careers and joys outside the confines of wifehood and motherhood.... In the America where I came of age, I was told my life was worth more than my ability to have babies. And my sexuality was nothing to be ashamed of.... Later, when I was a student at the University of Michigan, the movement for sex positivity was thrilling and liberating. We learned that pleasurable sexual experiences between consenting adults of all genders and orientations were to be celebrated.... " 

Writes Mara Gay, in "The Republican War on Sex" (NYT).

"Patients were typically confused when presented with a clinic that looked mostly like a house and a little like a church."

"They described to me how anti-choice protesters would prolong and exploit this confusion to keep patients away from medical care for as long as possible, employing medical misinformation or simple guilt. When a car did make it into the clinic parking lot, the protesters could not physically approach whomever got out of it without trespassing, so they just yelled at them. They had an elevated platform for this purpose, built right up against the clinic’s property line...."  

They chose to talk about sex a lot. They tended to be opposed to birth control and were fond of explaining 'God’s plan for human sexuality.' One woman illustrated this plan with unasked-for details about her virtuous married sex life. She felt that abortion and hormonal birth control were murder, and that condoms were undignified. Her husband learned to suppress his sexual urges, she said, and they now had sex only for procreation.... 
I was confused by some protesters’ opposition to birth control and focus on virtuous motherhood. Because I was raised by blunt and truthful people, I first assumed the weekly standoff at the clinic was caused by an honest difference in opinion about abortion. This didn’t jibe with the protesters’ hatred of contraception.... 
All of society was telling me I was part of a cultural conflict over the question of when human life begins, but my experience was showing me the conflict was broader. The protesters appeared to want sexual expression and gender roles to be governed by conservative Christianity.... 
Publicly they claim the goal of saving unborn children. I sense that just below the surface there is a more ambitious dream: conservative Christian dominion over human sexuality and gender."

These are important questions: Is opposition to abortion really about saving the lives of the unborn? Or does opposition to abortion really come from a different place, a desire to control sexuality? Everyone can see the problem of killing the unborn, even those who want abortion to be available. The argument Skinner makes — and I've seen it before — is that what really puts you on one side or the other on this issue is whether you believe that society should channel people into expressing their sexuality within traditional marriage.


And WaPo, get the word editing right: It's not "the protesters could not physically approach whomever got out of it." It should be "the protesters could not physically approach whoever got out of it." Isolate the phrase that begins with the who/whom word — "whomever got out" — and the mistake is easy to see.

"If we can’t safely go out and have sex and know that we will have a choice after that, then why should we be expected to?"

Such a crazy question, asked by Caroline Healey, "a 22-year-old event coordinator," quoted in "Sex Strike! Abstinence trends on Twitter in wake of Roe v. Wade ruling" (NY Post).

It's not just on Twitter. The Post encountered Healy at a protest. She also said:

“I think it’s absolutely valid for us to be withholding the Holy Grail that men seem to think is important... Why shouldn’t we withhold it if we’re always worried that they’re not going put a condom on, that they’re going take one off after we ask them to...."

Well, first of all, if you're "always worried that they’re not going put a condom on," you're conceding that you have been using abortion as a form of birth control! You should have more secure birth control, something more than a condom. And why are you having sex with men who can't be trusted to use a condom? And why don't you look to see if they are using a condom and refuse to have sex if they don't? You should always have been "on strike" about the failure to use a condom! 

All right. With that appalling argument out of the way, let's look at what's left of the idea of a sex strike. It is premised on the idea that the woman wants to have sex when she is not having sex because she wants to have sex. 

I would say you should NEVER have that kind of sex, whether you have access to abortion or not. Of course, sexual activity has harsher potential consequences for a woman, and abortion rights may take some of the burden out of the activity, but that doesn't explain why a woman would give sex to a man because he wants it and not because she wants it.

Where did Healy get the idea that — while Roe lived — women were having sex because they were "expected to"? That's not feminism! That was subordination all along. It's abuse if someone with power over you is expecting you to give sex when you don't independently want it. And if you feel you are choosing it — you just want to "go out and have sex" — but only because it's "expected," then it's self-abuse. Respect yourself!

To say "it’s absolutely valid for us to be withholding the Holy Grail that men seem to think is important" is to imply that you don't put the same value on sex, that what's exceedingly precious to the man is just a form of currency for the woman. 

Of course, it's also perfectly obvious that these sex-strike organizers are doing exactly what social conservatives want: abstaining from sex unless they are open to the gift of life. And what a kick in the head it would be if it turned out that what makes sex as valuable to a women as it is to a man is this potential for creating a child. 

"It’s the main reason why I worked so hard to keep Robert Bork off the Court. It reflects his view almost — almost word — anyway."

"Look, the idea that — it concerns me a great deal that we’re going to, after 50 years, decide a woman does not have a right to choose within the limits of the Supreme Court decision in Casey.... But even more equally as profound is the rationale used. And it would mean that every other decision relating to the notion of privacy is thrown into question. I realize this goes back a long way, but one of the debates I had with Robert Bork was whether — whether Griswold vs. Connecticut should stand as law. The state of Connecticut said that the privacy of your bedroom — you — a husband and wife or a couple could not choose to use contraception; the use of contraception was a violation of the law. If the rationale of the decision as released were to be sustained, a whole range of rights are in question.... who you marry, whether or not you decide to conceive a child or not, whether or not you can have an abortion, a range of other decisions — whether or not — how you raise your child — What does this do — and does this mean that in Florida they can decide they’re going to pass a law saying that same-sex marriage is not permissible, that it’s against the law in Florida?"

 Said President Joe Biden yesterday.

"Where was men’s outrage while women were poisoning themselves with pills and scarring their reproductive organs with IUDs and abortions?"

"Answer: They were bystanders. Most men, other than dedicated pro-lifers, weren’t about to protest. If women were willing to terminate their pregnancies, male culture was, like, Okay, honey, whatever you want. It’s your decision. So, forgive me if the sudden rush on vasectomy clinics fails to bestir my gratitude. Too much water under my bridge, I guess, but I wonder: Are men really acting out of concern for women who might suffer without Roe v. Wade? Or is it because, as documentary filmmaker Jonathan Stack ('The Vasectomist') let slip, 'The quality of life for millions of men will be adversely affected if this (abortion) right is taken from women'?... So, step right up, you Men-Who-Love-Your-Wives: Have a vasectomy if you like.... But it does seem to me that nature’s life force is flickering a bit these days. When manning up means terminating one’s ability to reproduce — and woman’s power resides in the destruction of her unborn — you have to wonder, wherefore art we?"

Writes Kathleen Parker, in "Men want to have vasectomies now? What took them so long?" (WaPo). She's reacting to that article from a few days ago: "Men across America are getting vasectomies ‘as an act of love’/With the right to abortion under threat, men say they want to play a role in reproductive planning to support their partners" (WaPo). You may have noticed that, and you may even have noticed my failure to blog it. My reaction to the "act of love" framing was more cynical than I was in the mood to type out. So I was glad to see Parker do the work.

"We want to have sex, not children.... Having a child or not is our choice to make and our fundamental right. We don’t need anyone to tell us how to live."

Said Zhou Muyun, a 23-year-old copywriter in Guangzhou, who was turned down by 2 different hospitals when he tried to get a vasectomy, quoted in "In need of a baby boom, China clamps down on vasectomies" (WaPo). 

Eventually, he found a doctor who would do the vasectomy, but "Even on the operating table, the doctor tried to discourage him from going ahead." We're told that Zhou and his girlfriend Han Feifei, who live together, "wanted to maintain a 'DINK' — double income, no kids — lifestyle."

Another man "Jiang, 30, who works in customer service at an Internet company, visited six hospitals in his home province of Fujian before finding one more than 1,200 miles away in Chengdu in Sichuan province that would perform a vasectomy." He said: "I felt like I had finally gotten rid of this huge burden.... Those around me who are married and have kids have nothing that makes me envious."

ADDED: I hadn't seen the term "DINK" in a long time. I have never used it on this blog — which is nearly 18 years old — and it's the kind of thing I tend to blog. I remember it from the 80s. I think that's because the 80s were a time for bragging about how much money you made — actually lording it over others. That went out of style.
"The elk problem is really interesting. I do feel that there has to be population control both on the part of humans and animals."

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