Huckabee on Abortion on The Daily Show
On The Daily Show last night, former Governor and Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was interviewed by host Jon Stewart, and although the interview was heavily clipped, the bulk of the conversation aired focused on abortion.
I hope to update more later with further commentary after rewatching/watching the extended version online. However, but two things stood out that I want to comment on now. Please note that the “quotes” below are not direct transcripts, but the best of my recollection.
Huckabee said something, when talking about work to convince women not to have abortions, to the effect of “if we can get them to realize, that’s a heartbeat, that’s a life.” He also refers at some point to young women and his thinking that most of them must have been coerced into having abortions. Regular readers know that this type of language and approach makes my skin crawl, because it depends on an assumption that women are just too stupid to know what they’re doing when they choose abortion.
Relatedly, Huckabee also said, “there’s a heartbeat at 21 days,” which is a technically correct, popular line I assume is meant to make people think that a 21-day embryo is just a tiny, fully formed human, which I think really misrepresents that developmental stage – here’s an illustration from MayoClinic.com, and another from the Visible Embryo (which uses Carnegie Stages instead of weeks of gestation, but I think I’ve aligned the two correctly).
Huckabee also noted that “93% of abortions are elective.” In other words, most abortions aren’t those scary ones in desperate situations with wanted pregnancies that are threatening a woman’s life that some people think are okay that Dr. Tiller performed. So maybe won’t don’t really need access to them. However, this figure does nothing to represent the reasons (very large numbers of) women do choose abortion, or to make an argument for taking that elective choice away – it simply paints women as frivolous and irresponsible.
Similarly, Huckabee spoke of his time as a pastor and counseling women who wondered what their lives might have been like had they not aborted a previous pregnancy – as many others have often said, while some (but by no means all) women may feel some regret following abortion, that is their choice to make and live with, as are so many decision points in our lives. Protecting women from worrying their pretty little heads is not a compelling reason to take away choice.
Huckabee also compared abortion to children electing to withdraw care from their elderly parents because it’s expensive or a drag to visit them. No, really. Stewart skimmed the edges of the ethical distinctions between those dilemmas by noting that, “But in that case, you’re not living inside your children.”
Finally, I just want to note that these two gentlemen referred at least once to the much-touted “common ground” on abortion. I couldn’t help noting that, when I think about the necessary perspectives to reach any common ground about abortion, I don’t think about two white dudes in suits as having the diversity of perspectives necessary to truly achieve any such thing. /cranky