Not Eudora   By Harry Welty
Published Feb 5 2004

Where have all the Fetuses Gone


Where have all the fetuses gone? Twenty years ago they populated billboards on every major highway but it’s been years since I saw my last fetus on a billboard. They’ve been replaced by babies. The billboards explain that hearts begin beating a month after conception but they won’t show a one-month-old fetus any more. In fact, the babies they picture all look to average about six months of age.


The Pro-Life movement has become a savvy advertiser having learned their lessons the hard way. When abortion was largely illegal the Pro-Life movement was really more a teach-those-bad-girls-a-lesson movement. Botched back alley abortions were seen as a fitting punishment for any girl unlucky enough to get pregnant. This cold blooded impulse backfired badly and an entire generation of women grew up resentful toward religious zealots who preferred to see them dead rather than in bed.


When it became apparent that the public was not that concerned about the “reproductive freedom” inaugurated by Roe vs. Wade the Pro-Life movement was repackaged to downplay the fact that it was all about sex. Rather than complain about free love it complained about judicial activism. It retired slogans like: “if you’re gonna play you gotta pay” with the argument that life begins at conception. Originally that meant showing fetuses on their billboards. The problem with a fetus, however, is that until the end of the last trimester a human fetus looks pretty much like a fetal pig, dog or cat. Even if you call it a baby it’s hard to relate to. So now the Pro-Life movement displays babies on their billboards, adorable babies, babies many months past birth.


But it’s still all about sex. That’s why the movement has continued to be hostile to all forms of contraception, the surest way to end the avalanche of abortions they fulminate against. In other western nations where contraception is readily available abortions are a fraction of those performed in the United States . These nations may tolerate a lot of immoral sex but, as Pro-Lifers would put it, they murder a lot fewer babies. I can only conclude that preventing murder is a much lower priority for the Pro-Life movement than preventing sex.


You have only to look at Pro-Lifers insistence on teaching abstinence in sex education classes with its sometimes disastrous results. A recent evaluation of Minnesota 's abstinence-only sex Ed programs found that sexual activity among junior high school students in these classes doubled between 2001 and 2002. Fortunately, however, these young people haven’t been taught anything about contraception. When the girls get pregnant they will have abortions guaranteeing that the Pro-Life movement will live on.


I may be a little sensitive about abortion having been called a “baby killer” at various Republican conventions. I was once roundly booed at a convention when I suggested that my Party’s preoccupation with the Pro-Life agenda would be better received if the Party worked harder to protect children after their birth. One of the delegates I offended told me that if it had been up to me his mother would have aborted him. But, alas, the Republican Party is also the anti-tax party and taking care of kids costs money.


Someday Pro-Lifers may decide to put their money where their mouth is and they may fight to guarantee that all children receive housing, good nutrition, health insurance and well funded schools. Until that time they will continue agonizing about the unborn while turning a blind eye to the post-birth abortions that afflict so many children.


It may be a long wait especially for the Planned Parenthood employees who have to keep a watchful eye out for the vigilantes incited by Pro-Life rhetoric. Who can forget the Minister who called on God to strike down Pro-Choice politicians or the Catholic Bishop who has forbidden Pro-Choice legislators from partaking in communion? This later decision is entirely and properly a church’s prerogative as is the decision to offer communion to priests convicted of molesting choir boys. Perhaps it’s only heterosexual sex that the Catholic Church finds unpardonable. After all, choir boys can’t get pregnant.


Harry Welty is a small time politician who lets it all hang out at: www.snowbizz.com