Pro-choice Argument Gone Awry
Recently the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the stewardship of Kathleen Sebelius overruled a finding by the FDA that the “morning after” pill could be sold over the counter to anyone who wanted it. The morning after pill (also called Plan B) is used to hedge against pregnancy after sexual intercourse. The FDA based its finding on safety evaluations. HHS apparently overruled the finding based on skepticism of these same evaluations as it applies to younger consumers. To the chagrin of the pro-choice contingent, Barack Obama weighed in by saying that the overrule was just common sense and he used his young daughters to justify his own caution about the drug’s availability.
I support the HHS overrule and I am particularly troubled by one bit of rhetoric surrounding the controversy. I’ve heard many opponents of the HHS ruling refer to its impact on “young women”. Look folks, we’re talking girls aged 11 to 16. They are not young women. They are children. The President’s remarks were called by one pundit “paternalistic”. Well damn straight it should be paternalistic. Just how far have we lost our way in this country that we think an 11 year old girl should be able to walk into a pharmacy and grab a drug to prevent a pregnancy when she shouldn’t be engaging in sexual intercourse in the first place. I’m not one of those who advocates abstinence only education regarding pregnancy prevention but have we really gotten to the point where we readily accept our 11 and 12 year old daughters having intercourse? Have we really flipped so far off course that we believe parents should not be aware of their children’s contraceptive choices?
Sorry, pro-choice lobbyists and feminists in general, you can sling arrows at me all day long. My child becomes a “young woman” when she can put a roof over her own head and pay her own rent. Until then you’re damn right I’m going to be paternalistic and I’m going to be involved in her purchase of contraception.
This week at the age of 62, author and raconteur Christopher Hitchens died of esophageal cancer. Whenever I tuned into a TV show and learned that Hitchens was going to be a guest my heart quickened a little and my mind buzzed with anticipation. To say Hitchens had a way with words would be like saying Julia Child could throw together a pretty good meal. Just reading his last contribution to Vanity Fair, I had to look two words up in the dictionary and I consider my vocabulary better than average (the words were inanition and etiolates).
But Hitchen’s final article for Vanity Fair also illustrates his penchant for killing sacred cows. He takes on the notion of “what does not kill me makes me stronger” and notes quite matter of fact that the treatment to kill his cancer had left him much weaker, not at all stronger. An avowed atheist, Hitchens had no problem attacking the sacred and leaving controversy in his wake. In The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice he portrays the much revered nun as guilty of terrible optics (photo ops with the wife of Haiti’s Baby Doc Duvalier) at best and a cunning religious propagandist at worst. One phrase from the excerpts I read jumps out at me, that Hitchens wished to judge “Mother Teresa’s reputation by her actions and words rather than her actions and words by her reputation.” Hitchens takes on God Himself in the book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
Based on these works, one could simply label Christopher Hitchens a flame thrower enjoying controversy for its own sake. But there was a gravity to Hitchens’ analyses. He wasn’t flippant. He could in one breath recognize the stupidity of a man (George W. Bush) and in the next breath castigate those who might judge Bush who were not worthy to do so. Watch the following two exchanges, one from 2000 and the other from 2006.:
(You can watch a fuller version of the second video here.)
It might appear at first that the two videos contradict each other. However they are completely consistent. In the first, Hitchens criticizes Bush’s lack of curiosity, his mental laziness. In the second, he criticizes the mental laziness of Bill Maher’s audience who rejoice in the “easy shot” at Bush’s IQ. He calls them “frivolous” and points out that calling Bush dumb doesn’t make you smart.
Whether or not you agreed with everything Christopher Hitchens said, there was no denying that the man did not have a lazy mind. When he spoke or wrote he invested a finely tuned intellect and he challenged you to invest the mental energy to understand him, and if need be, challenge him. In a world of stupid soundbites and knee jerk partisan rhetoric, Mr. Hitchens will be sorely missed.