Absurd Notion, Or Forward-Thinking Feminism? Auster Responds To One-Eye

In a comment to our recent post about artificial wombs, I quoted some remarks by Lawrence Auster about the ongoing contraception brouhaha. In his post, Mr. Auster had written that liberal/feminist thought understands the issue along the following lines:

1) Society is a collection of equal persons, all having the right to equal freedom.

2) But remaining traditional social arrangements still render women — half the human race — significantly less free than men.

3) Therefore the attainment of sexual equality — equality between the sexes with regard to everything in life, particularly with regard to sex itself — is society’s highest priority.

4) In order for the sexes to be equal with regard to sex, women should be at no more risk of pregnancy and its inconveniences than men are.

5) In order for women to be at no more risk of pregnancy than men are, society (whether in the form of Georgetown University, or some health insurance company, or the taxpayers) must provide all women in America with free birth control.

Our resident gadfly The One-Eyed Man predictably took issue with this, and commented:

I have read a lot of commentary about this issue, and I had yet to hear that contraception ought to be included as a basic element of health insurance because of the absurd notion that “women should be at no more risk of pregnancy and its inconveniences than men are” – until [Auster] came along. If he wants to argue against the mandate, then he ought to try to refute the case for it, instead of fabricating a straw man.

Lawrence Auster has now posted a response, over at his place. Read it here.

14 Comments

  1. the one eyed man says

    One of the great – or perhaps not-so-great – things about the Internet is that no matter how ridiculous an argument may be, you will quickly be able to find someone who espouses it.

    The fact that a single obscure lecturer in East Anglia makes the case that pregnancy is an injustice to women proves that … well, it proves that there is someone in East Anglia who is untethered to reality.

    There are cogent and convincing arguments for the contraceptives mandate which have nothing to do with Anna Smajdor and her silly thesis. It is regrettable that instead of discussing why Auster feels these arguments are invalid, he has instead decided to find an oddball view and posit it as being the justification behind including contraception in health insurance plans.

    Posted March 8, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    You waved it off as an “absurd notion”; Auster said it represented actual feminist thinking, and quickly found a telling example from a major university.

    Just another of your “no serious person says…” non-arguments. The fact is, this is how far gone the intellectual Left actually is these days (see also this), but you just don’t want to believe it (which is to your credit, in a way, I guess). What’s your “true Scotsman”, non-”oddball” threshold for pulling your head out of the sand here, Pete? You need three links? Ten?

    Anyway, don’t tell me, tell him.

    Posted March 9, 2012 at 12:08 am | Permalink
  3. the one eyed man says

    I did. I sent him an email last night.

    You have a recurring habit of taking any crackpot idea which any stray individual expresses and proclaiming it as proof positive that this is what “the Left” actually thinks. If Noam Chomsky says something, then everyone else on the Left must necessarily believe in the very same thing, from the New York Times to Rachel Maddow to Barney Frank. In this case, the writings of a single individual shows “how far gone the intellectual Left actually is these days.”

    This is, of course, complete nonsense. If there are ten million Leftists and one, or a hundred, or a thousand, believe that the moon is made of green cheese, that does not indicate that it is a Leftist position that we have fromage verte in our solar system. It is as fatuous as saying that all conservatives are wild-eyed conspiracy theorists because Pamela Geller thinks that Obama is Malcolm X’s love child, or Glenn Beck thinks that American “uber-liberals” are conspiring with “Islamicists” to form a “new caliphate” in the Middle East.

    In this case, “the Left” is the Institute of Medicine, HHS, and the 27 states which already mandate insurance coverage for contraception. The mandate is based on the practical and reasonable grounds that it takes costs out of the system, reduces unwanted pregnancies, lowers the abortion rate, and so forth. Unless Auster is willing to man up and confront the actual reasons why the mandate is a desirable thing – rather than concentrating on something which is completely exogenous to the reasons why the mandate is desirable – his argument is irrelevant and uninteresting.

    Posted March 9, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink
  4. Severn says

    Since “the one eyed man” insists that the explanation given by Auster is incorrect, perhaps he will explain what the true justification is is for demanding that women get birth control on the taxpayers dime.

    Posted March 9, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink
  5. Severn says

    The mandate is based on the practical and reasonable grounds that it takes costs out of the system, reduces unwanted pregnancies, lowers the abortion rate, and so forth

    There is not one iota of evidence that widely available contraception – much less “mandated” contraception – takes costs out of the system, reduces unwanted pregnancies, lowers the abortion rate, or so forth.

    Buy your own rubbers, you blasted parasite.

    Posted March 9, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink
  6. the one eyed man says

    This has nothing to do with getting “birth control on the taxpayers (sic) dime.” It concerns whether health insurance which is paid for by Georgetown University students and subsidized by the school should include birth control.

    Contraception doesn’t reduce unwanted pregnancies or lower the abortion rate? Perhaps you are unfamiliar with what contraception actually does. It prevents unwanted pregnancies, some of which terminate in abortions.

    And as for rubbers: I don’t use them. Hefty trash bags and duct tape work fine for me.

    Posted March 9, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink
  7. Severn says

    It concerns whether health insurance which is paid for by Georgetown University students and subsidized by the school should include birth control.

    No, it does not. It concerns whether the US government should dictate the particulars of what is covered by health insurance. It is not at all obvious that the government should mandate that your health insurance must include ninety “free” condoms per month. You have not even attempted to make the case that it should.

    Contraception doesn’t reduce unwanted pregnancies or lower the abortion rate?

    No, it does not.

    Perhaps you are unfamiliar with what contraception actually does.

    Perhaps you are unaware of the copious historical record on this topic. Twenty-two percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) currently end in abortion. The widespread availability of contraception does not reduce abortion – though I’m unclear as to why you should care whether it does or not. Isn’t abortion just the removal of a clump on unwanted cells?

    Posted March 9, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink
  8. the one eyed man says

    You are completely wrong.

    You wrote that “women get birth control on the taxpayers (sic) dime.” They don’t. Whether or not “the US government should dictate the particulars of what is covered by health insurance” has absolutely nothing to do with who pays for it.

    When a couple would like to have sex and they don’t want a baby, they use contraceptives, which prevent the woman from getting pregnant. Voila! No unwanted pregnancy. Must I explain these things to you?

    Your statement that “twenty-two percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) currently end in abortion” has absolutely nothing to do with the “widespread availability of contraception.” As noted above – this is important, Severn: pay careful attention here – birth control prevents women from getting pregnant. Pregnancies occur when no birth control is used or it fails. So guess what? If a woman doesn’t get pregnant in the first place, she doesn’t need an abortion! Pretty simple, huh?

    Posted March 9, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink
  9. Malcolm says

    Peter, obviously there is a spectrum of views on both Left and Right. You’ll stop short of hard-core socialism, just as I will part company with creationist evangelicals. But having large numbers of both shifts the center of gravity on both sides, and often what were once fringe views — free contraceptives for all, for example — become mainstream as the ideology of the hard-core base exerts its gravitational pull.

    For the Left in particular, major centers of that gravitational pull are the colleges and universities. A lecturer in ethics at a major English university is not a “stray individual” — and I don’t doubt that ideas such as Anna Smajdor’s are propagating throughout the ethics and women’s studies departments of academic institutions all over the West. Indeed, as artificial wombs become technically feasible, and hold the real promise of, um, “delivering” women from the demands of pregnancy, how could they not?

    Huxley saw this coming, clear as day.

    Posted March 9, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink
  10. Malcolm says

    I’ll be on the road all day, so won’t be able to join in until tonight or tomorrow.

    Here and here, by the way, are two blog-posts (from the site The Big Questions, with a hat-tip to Dennis Mangan) that offer a fairly neutral examination of the contraception issue.

    Posted March 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink
  11. Severn says

    Your statement that “twenty-two percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) currently end in abortion” has absolutely nothing to do with the “widespread availability of contraception.”

    “My statement” has something to do with the topic under discussion.

    The widespread availability of contraceptives does of course have something to do with the frequency of abortion, just as the widespread availability of automobiles has something to do with the number of people killed each year in automobile accidents. More people having more sex equals more abortions. The data on this point is not open to debate. It may be open to denial, which is your characteristic response to facts you don’t want to hear.

    When a couple would like to have sex and they don’t want a baby, they use contraceptives, which prevent the woman from getting pregnant

    That’s the intent, but not always the result. Liberals always seem to have problems with this important distinction.

    You wrote that “women get birth control on the taxpayers (sic) dime.” They don’t.

    No, I actually wrote that “perhaps [you] will explain what the true justification is is for demanding that women get birth control on the taxpayers dime”.

    The “(sic)” was your own pathetic attempt to appear intelligent for a change.

    The students at Georgetown do NOT pay for their own healthcare. If they did pay for their own healthcare than Sandra Fluke would not be complaining to Congress about the healthcare which Georgetown is providing for her and other women. Specifically, she would not be complaining that GWU does not spend enough money on giving her contraceptives.

    The connection between healthcare and contraceptives is a tenuous one at best, but that’s a different matter. What is not open to debate is the following. Sandra Fluke wants Congress to pressure insurance companies – which are nominally private actors but which under Obamcare are wholly controlled branches of the state – to provide her and other students at GWU with “free” contraceptives.

    You seem to object to use of the word “free” in all this, but if Fluke and company are in fact willing to pay for contraceptives, there is nothing preventing them from doing so today. So the entire point of Flukes appearing before Congress was not the availability of contraceptives, it was the cost of them.

    Posted March 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink
  12. Severn says

    From Wikipedia.

    Before Fluke enrolled at Georgetown University’s law school, she researched the college’s health plans for students, and discovered that contraception was not included. As of February 2012, she has spent the past three years lobbying the school’s administration to change its policy on this issue.

    In other words, this 30 year old “student” enrolled at GWU solely to further her professional activist cause.

    That cause, as her testimony to Congress makes clear, is that all health insurance, even that which is nominally “private” or “religious”, should be commanded by Congress to provide contraception for women. The cost for this is to be picked up by other people.

    From her own testimony before Congress.

    Without insurance coverage, contraception can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary.

    In other words, Flukes tuition at GWU is already being paid by people other than herself. So she is not currently “paying” GWU for anything she receives there – not for the classes she attends, not for the healthcare she receives. Her request for contraception covered by insurance is not a request for “more bang for her buck”, because she does not actually pay any bucks. It’s a demand for free stuff to be paid for by somebody else. At the end of the day, that somebody else is the taxpayer.

    Posted March 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink
  13. Severn says

    Further excerpts from the Deep Deep Thoughts Of Sandra Fluke, “Law Student”.

    “Forty percent of female students atGeorgetown Law report struggling financially as a result of this policy. One told us of how embarrassed and powerless she felt when she was standing at the pharmacy counter, learning for the first time that contraception wasn’t covered, and had to walk away because she couldn’t afford it. Women like her have no choice but to go without contraception. Just last week, a married female student told me she had to stop using contraception because she couldn’t afford it any longer.”

    I just went over to Amazon dot com, where I found that you can purchase name brand condoms for about thirty cents apiece.

    Are we really supposed to believe that forty percent of students in one of the most upscale universities in the country (there is actually a website dedicated to “The Insanely Expensive Cars That GWU Students Drive” – check it out) are so flat broke that they have to have sex without contraception for lack of a thirty cent condom?

    If I was in Congress I’d ask Miz Fluke to produce that alleged “married female student” on pain of being held in contempt.

    Posted March 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink
  14. Kevin Kim says

    This is perhaps irrelevant to the discussion at hand, but as a loyal Hoya, I must ask the discussants in this thread to refrain from referring to my alma mater with the abbreviation “GWU.” Those three letters refer to the landfill up the street at Washington Circle, not far from the State Department.

    Posted March 14, 2012 at 12:12 am | Permalink

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