Jacob Weisberg, writing in the online Newsweek, thinks he’s got conservatives figured out, and he sees a contradiction at the heart of their so-called “family values.” For example, they are against abortion, but they also want stable nuclear families! What could be more ridiculous?
If you’re not quite seeing how contradictory that contradiction is, I think I understand what Weisberg is trying to say. See, those who have children when they’re married and when they’re financially able are healthier, wealthier, and wiser.
In fact, these two conservative social goals—ending abortion and upholding the model of the nuclear family—were always in tension. The reason is that, like it or not, the availability of legal abortion actually supports the kind of family structure that conservatives once felt so strongly about: two parents raising children in a stable relationship, without government assistance. By 12th grade, 60 percent of high-school girls are sexually active (or, as Reagan preferred, “promiscuous”). Teen pregnancy rates have been trending downward in recent years but, even so, 7 percent of high-school girls become pregnant every year. And the unfortunate reality is that teenagers who carry their pregnancies to term drastically diminish their chances of living out the conservative, or the American, dream.
Well, at least he recognizes that conservative = American. Get it? Conservatives should want “the model of the nuclear family” more than they should want to end abortion, because living the American dream is far more important than just living. How do these people even come up with such tangled thought processes?
But there’s more (there’s always more):
Forget the “Juno” scenario—in the real world, few unwed mothers give up their babies for adoption. If you do not allow teenage girls who accidentally become pregnant to have abortions, you are demanding that they either raise their children as single mothers or that they marry in shotgun weddings. By the numbers, neither alternative is promising. Unmarried teenage moms seldom get much financial or emotional support from the fathers of their babies. They tend to drop out of high school, go on the dole and are prone to lives of poverty, frustration and disorder. Only 2 percent of them make it through college by the age of 30. The Bristol Palin option doesn’t promote family happiness, stability or traditional structure, either. Of women under 18 who marry, whether because of pregnancy or not, nearly half divorce within 10 years, double the rate for those who wait until they’re 25.
Get it? Not allowing teenagers to have abortions actually condemns them and their children to a poor, hard life. They don’t get financial or emotional support from their baby daddies, and they don’t even go to college.
So Mr. Weisberg’s argument is that because these girls make a bad (even, gasp, sinful) decision, they should be able to kill the baby resulting from that sinful decision so that they can have more money. Makes sense to me…
This is nice: “But Palin’s pro-life purism is as ethically flawed as it is politically damaging to the GOP. By vaunting their pro-life agenda over everything else, conservatives are abandoning one of their most valuable insights, that intact, two-parent families are best for children and the foundation of a healthy society.”
Basically, according to Weisberg, these teenage girls and unwed women are going to get pregnant, no matter what the killjoy conservatives tell them, so the choice is reduced to one: support abortion or support “intact, two-parent families,” which are “best for children and the foundation of a healthy society.” (I can’t help wondering if Weisberg means two parents of complementary sexes.) It’s problematic because the families are not intact; some of their children have been taken apart by people with latex gloves and a vacuum. Initially, it seems like moral equivalence: abortion vs. stable, two-parent families. But Weisberg takes it a step further. Families are more important than the smallest members of those families.
But don’t worry, the absurdities have only begun.