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Huckabee on Abortion on The Daily Show

June 19, 2009

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

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 19, 2009 9:33 am

    I watched the interview and had to refrain several times from throwing a newspaper at the TV. If the heartbeat starts at 21 days, is he OK with abortions prior to that?

    Huckabee went on-and-on about the sanctity of all human life, as if the argument about when life begins has been settled. Death row inmates have heartbeats, too. As Governor of Arkansas, Huckabee executed more people than any of his predecessors. That was his “tough on crime” stance when he was campaigning for President. This hypocrite doesn’t deserve another minute of our time.

    • June 19, 2009 9:48 am

      Thank you for your comment. I was definitely sitting there with my mouth hanging open for some of his comments, although I didn’t have a newspaper to hand.😉

  2. June 19, 2009 2:38 pm

    Great post. Anti-choice folks make my blood boil.

    • June 20, 2009 11:41 am

      Thanks for your comment – wanted to let you know I’ve been lurking at your place a bit lately.🙂

  3. MomTFH permalink
    June 19, 2009 3:20 pm

    I was studying in the bedroom pretending not to listen through the open door, and yelling out random arguments to the living room, where my husband was watching.

    I don’t know if I can handle the whole unedited version.

  4. Kay permalink
    June 20, 2009 11:20 am

    I can not enjoy the late nigt talk shows. I can not get over the fact that none of them are presented by a woman.

  5. June 27, 2009 10:38 pm

    Ugh. Thanks, Rachel, for catching me up on the common culture scene. Stopped watching Jon Stewart a few months ago…went into a blog explosion about it. Though smart, clever, there’s a tastelessness that he promotes that’s beyond irony. His discomfort with his own aging seems to lead him lower and lower on the comedy chain to get attention from his very young audience.

    Kay is right: too few women late night–or early–or in Congress–or working on health care legislation. But I go on!

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