Illegality, Abortion, and Jail

I had always assumed that “pro-lifers”, who freely call women having abortions ‘baby killers’, and talk about abortion as a holocaust, would be very happy to throw women in jail for very long terms if they have abortions, as is done in El Salvador. So it never would have occurred to me to think that it would be interesting to ask clinic protesters what penalties women should get for having abortions. Turns out I was completely wrong. There’s a fascinating video, discussed by Anna Quindlen, that consists of just such questioning. It looks like protesters have never even considered the issue. As The F-Word points out, this is yet another manifestation of their failure to actually think about the woman involved. On the other hand, once they are forced to think about it they actually show some compassion for women, and in a way that reveals they don’t really think that women who have abortions are murderers. They think murderers should go to jail, but that the women should “be treated with love”, “be prayed for”, hopefully “feel sorry” for what they’ve done. One interviewee does concede that the women should go to jail, when pressed on the consequences of her views, but she’s clearly really uncomfortable.  This looks like a really interesting line to pursue when debating abortion.  The video is here.

Trans issues and Language

I just received an email from the National Geographic Channel about their upcoming series “Taboo”, sent because of our posts on trans issues. It pointed my attention to a particular video clip, described as follows:

One of the topics covered is transgenderism, and NGC has just posted this clip sharing the life of a pre-op transsexual, who has everyone confused about what it means to be a man, but herself.

And here’s the video clip:

Many things struck me about the email, after viewing the video-clip. (1) The man in the clip has had surgery to remove his breasts and his uterus, so he’s not pre-operative. But clearly the email’s author is focussed on the lack of a penis. He doesn’t express any interest in getting a penis, so he doesn’t seem to be pre-that-op either. (2) I don’t see anything at all confusing about this man’s description of his life– I’d expected him to do something like reject both gender identities, but he’s very strongly identified as a man. (3) The email’s author persists in using a feminine pronoun, which does indeed generate a confusing sentence. It really seems to me like most of the confusion is generated by the way the clip is described.