[No babies were harmed in the making of this metaphor, but one was fed a few tiny marshmallows to keep him quiet.]
You know what I love? Babies.
I am totally down for the babbling and the obnoxious cooing and the soft baby whispers into baby’s ear and OH MY GAWD, THE TINY BABY HAIR, MUST KISS. I will change diapers and make bottles and play peekaboo and watch a baby rock in one of those perpetual motion machines that apparently runs on babies - I’m totally down for all of that. I took care of Ty Ty during his first 24 hours outside of the hospital, because his mother had a medical emergency. I learned how to wrap him up in the little comfort swaddle and laid him on my chest and we slept in between feedings and diaper changes.
Babies? LOOOOOVE THEM.
But if someone came to me and said “Garland Grey, since you love babies so much, I’m going to build a machine that takes zygotes, incubates them and then shoots them out into the loving arms of an adoptive family or at least a social worker,” I would say:
“So you want to build a baby cannon?” “Yes! Of course! Because babies are so great!” “No, don’t ever do that. Stop doing that this instant.” “What, you don’t like babies? You don’t want to manifest babies at every available opportunity?” “No! What about the babies that don’t get caught?” “Oh, they’ll get caught! They won’t hit hard pavement moments after being born! People love babies!” “Yes, but what happens when everyone who loves babies has already caught as many as they can?” [Mumbles something about adoption.] “What about the babies that aren’t adopted? What about the babies that aren’t going to be landing in the soft arms of noble caretakers?” “Sex has consequences, Garland.”
Because that’s what it always comes down to, isn’t it? Four decades of slut shaming, disguised as concern for babies. We talk a lot about developmental stages when we talk about abortion - conception, the formation of certain anatomical structures, the audible heartbeat, the quickening, and then, of course, the final dimension: birth. The question I’ve always had is: what is so goddamn special about birth that makes a child worthless to conservatives? Why are they in favor of a fetus until it is born, at which point they make public statements about poor children needing to starve so they don’t multiply like stray animals and hunger being a great motivator?
Conservatives want to exist in this extra-moral bubble where none of us are allowed to notice that if they really, truly wanted to reduce the numbers of abortions, they would fund comprehensive sex education and contraceptive programs. But babies - precious, magical, subject of many a chain e-mail babies, the very reason they think they occupy the “high moral ground” - are significantly less important than making sure no one gets off without being punished. They know that teen pregnancy rates are highest in states with abstinence-based sex education programs and yet they are more interested in giving teenagers ultimatums about chastity than lowering the abortion rate.
We support legal abortion because we know that illegal abortion is too high a price to pay to let conservatives control Reproductive Rights. We know that life is more complicated than screaming when you don’t get your way and pretending it’s discourse. We know that a group of people that loves fetuses but doesn’t care about babies would gladly accept half a baby in a maternity dispute than deny it was their’s and save its life.