No women in this picture

posted by Jason Kottke Nov 06, 2003

No women in this picture.

Reader comments

BradNov 06, 2003 at 12:32PM

The absense of a women does not mean that partial-birth abortion shouldn't be banned.

There are plenty of women who think that any form of abortion is murder.

Whether there were any women signing the the papers is irrelevant.

EmilyNov 06, 2003 at 12:41PM

Brad, is that you on the left in the photo? He looks a little trollish...

Thanks for the link, jk -- i think all the women in the room were fleeing for their lives...

dooceNov 06, 2003 at 12:43PM

total and utter fucking lunacy.

i don't think the link implies that just because a woman wasn't in the picture partial-birth abortion shouldn't be banned. it's about the ridiculousness this picture implies.

don't you think, Brad (a man, right?), that it's a TINY bit ironic that a law affecting only women, what they can or cannot do with their body, is being signed into effect by a group of primarily white MEN? just the tiny, tiniest bit??

Skippy McGrawNov 06, 2003 at 12:46PM

So what's the deal... Someone who has a different viewpoint than you makes a comment and he's automatically branded a troll? That's just sad. Why not debate the issue instead of attacking the person? Oh wait... Nevermind. That would require a brain.

SchmeldingNov 06, 2003 at 12:59PM

The argument that it's the woman's body, and therefore the woman's choice is invalid. If the woman is pregnant with a male child -- whose penis is that? Wasn't the baby (embryo) at one time part of the male partner's body? So it's his body too, right?

As far as the picture is concerned, there are plenty of lawmakers, writers, aides, assistants, constituents, and so forth, who were women working on the bill. Should I be offended that I wasn't in the picture, even though I called my senator's office in support of the bill? Obviously not. More illogical liberal-slanted tripe.

SchmeldingNov 06, 2003 at 1:01PM

PS: Right on, Skippy!

EmilyNov 06, 2003 at 1:03PM

*Sigh* -- I'll elaborate, Skippy. The troll call was not based on an obviously differing view of abortion, it was based on Brad's assumption that the link and/or link title indicated an opinion one way or the other about the propriety of the new law. He jumps all over Jason for something his truly neutral tagline doesn't indicate, and clearly wants to start a flame war about abortion rather than, as dooce says, the towering irony of the photo itself. Ease up -- I could've called Grammar/SpellCheck.

EmilyNov 06, 2003 at 1:07PM

Oh holy fuck, I give up -- "whose penis is that?" Are you for real? "Wasn't the baby (embryo) at one time part of the male partner's body?" Did you ever take a science class, or do you believe in some kind of ancient Mayan creation mythology? Hmm, I'm starting a flamewar myself here, so I think I'll bow out...but it sure is clear now who has the brains and who has the...ah, hever mind.

BobNov 06, 2003 at 1:09PM

No Democrats, either.

SchmeldingNov 06, 2003 at 1:15PM

Emily, did you have a valid counterpoint to make? Did YOU take a science class? Last time I checked, "it takes two to tango," if you know what I mean. This is the usual liberal debate methodology: Attack the person, not the problem.

(I neglected to mention before that over 70% of Americans were in support of the bill.)

Skippy McGrawNov 06, 2003 at 1:16PM

Emily -- No easing necessary. The irony, whether you like it or not, implies a viewpoint regarding the law. If there was no viewpoint behind the title, there would be nothing ironic about the picture itself. The irony here is created by the intended meaning. Oh, and go ahead and call "Grammar/SpellCheck." I don't believe I presented myself as an English major.

dooceNov 06, 2003 at 1:17PM

schmelding: i'm not going to sit here and argue about whether or not abortion should be legal. my side and your side will never agree.

let's just say, in a purely imaginary world, that a female president decided to pass a law outlawing men from wanking their penises or fondling their balls, because she and all her advisors and plenty of lawmakers, writers, aides, assistants, constituents, and so forth, who were men working on the bill, decided that it was morally reprehensible.

what man in his right mind wouldn't wince at a picture of all women signing into a law a bill that prohibits him from wanking his own penis?? those are your balls!

i'm not trying to equate abortion with masturbation, but a little female representation in that whole ceremony would have made the whole thing at least .00001% less offensive.

spygeekNov 06, 2003 at 1:24PM


Without taking a position, because I don't need to be called bad names today:

Schmelding, while a man contributes DNA in the form of sperm to fertilize a single cell in a woman's body, the woman nourishes and protects the zygote/embryo/fetus, and is responsible for its growth. So, in reality, not a single cell of the embryo was ever a part of a man's body.

SchmeldingNov 06, 2003 at 1:34PM

dooce: Thank you for focusing on the issue. My response would again be, that your argument stems from the "it's the woman's body issue." I understand your hypothetical position, but I see all forms of abortion as murder, and not as trite by comparison as masturbation, therefore a more serious subject.

As far as women being on the platform (which is really the topic of this mini-forum), you used the word representative, and that is appropriate. We have a representative form of government. If the voters want to see more posing for the picture, the voters need to put them there.

spygeek: Then try to make a baby without one. (And I would never call you a bad name. :D )

megnutNov 06, 2003 at 1:37PM

As I recall, it's the woman who dies in childbirth, not the man. And given that this new law doesn't even allow for an exception when a woman's health is in danger, makes this photo all the more outrageous.

SchmeldingNov 06, 2003 at 1:43PM

In partial birth abortion, the labor is induced and baby is already partly born before it is killed. Therefore, a mother in danger of dying in childbirth would still have the same level of risk. A "mother's health" exception (clause) would be irrelevant.

megnutNov 06, 2003 at 1:44PM

[Ed. note @ 3:28 ET: megnut did not post this comment.]

I would also consider the photo to be a fairly bad photo (photography-wise). I mean, look at the lighting for crying out loud!

BradNov 06, 2003 at 1:47PM

What else could be meant by the tagline?

Law affecting women? Isn't it obvious that it affects men as well? Doesn't it affect the baby? Good grief!

I am a father of four boys. I was there at each of their births. Every one of them was an absolutely amazing experience. I honestly can't see any reason to ever end a pregnancy unless it is in the extremely unlikely event that the mother's life is in jeopardy. Any other reason boils down to selfishness. If you don't want to have a child, then please take the proper measures not to have one. If for some reason beyond your control, you have one, there are plenty of people wanting to adopt him/her. Just don't kill them.

To answer your question, no, I don't look like any of the people in the picture, I'm much more handsome. Yes I am male and white. But what does that have to do with anything?

I wasn't trolling. I was stating my opinion. The last time I checked, I'm still free to do that. Unless the liberals have finally succeeded in converting America to communism. Did I miss something?

SchmeldingNov 06, 2003 at 1:48PM

You tell 'em, Brad!

SchmeldingNov 06, 2003 at 1:49PM

Oh, did I mention that 70% of Americans were in favor of this bill? I did? Okay, just checking.

Skippy McGrawNov 06, 2003 at 1:51PM

Just what I suspected. Regardless of the politics or viewpoint, Brad has actually made the most reasonable and well-stated argument so far and without resorting to name calling, swearing, etc. let the name calling begin!

SchmeldingNov 06, 2003 at 1:52PM

Shut up Skippy, you *@&#^$!!!. Just kidding. You rawk.

EmilyNov 06, 2003 at 2:04PM

Dang, I can't resist...too much training on MetaFilter. Skippy, first of all I never said boo about your major, I was talking (facetiously) about the usage in the first post, i.e. Brad Whom I Called A Troll. As for the irony, I take your point to a certain extent: it's a reasonable leap from a point about women's media representation in a ceremony for a law that applies to women, to a point reflecting a probably more likely than not pro-woman, not to say feminist, stance on abortion. That said, I disagree that without a "viewpoint" of some kind there's no irony -- it's still ironical to see a group of men signing a bill dealing with pregnancy (let's think of it that way for a moment, shall we?), no matter what one's politics.

As for Schmelding, I guess you were trying to make the point that pregnancy (try the happy fallacy again) is not only to do with the female but also with the male part of the "equation," or the "tango," as you said. I don't think anyone anywhere (with the possible exception of the Raelians) is trying to argue that women should *solely* govern human reproduction. Because of the simple mechanics of the process, though, there is an inherent inequity between the male and female parties to a pregnancy, and I just do not agree that, as you put it, "it's his body too." It's my strongly held belief that the government has no right to limit the basic human agency, let alone privacy, of women by instructing them to subject their bodies to x, y, or z. Feel free to click onto my blog for further explication.

And as for "the usual liberal debate methodology: Attack the person, not the problem," you might want to call your comrade Skippy on the carpet too, for insinuating I lack a cerebral cortex. Nope, sorry.

purplebootsNov 06, 2003 at 2:20PM

ya know - read this article please about partial birth abortions and tell me how anyone thinks the procedure of abortion makes any sense at all - and the audacity of the "mothers" to be able to "mourn" for the children they have just killed or about to kill!!

I happen to be a woman, by the way, and I don't care who stands around a table and signs a law into effect that protects the rights of unborn children from pure irresponsibility and selfishness of the people (that would be both a woman AND a man). They are REPRESENTING what they perceive are the views of the people they represent. Thank God we finally have a president who has enough balls to do this. Now if we can only get a Supreme Court who has the balls enough to make all abortions illegal.

For cryin' out loud - let's step back 50 years and think about this...

EmilyNov 06, 2003 at 2:20PM

Brad, thank you for clarifying your position a bit. I would like to respond, though to this point: "I honestly can't see any reason to ever end a pregnancy unless it is in the extremely unlikely event that the mother's life is in jeopardy. Any other reason boils down to selfishness." It's great to hear your family is filled with happy, healthy birth experiences, but unfortunately that is not the case for everyone. There are in fact medical reasons to end a pregnancy -- the D&X procedure which was outlawed yesterday is *rarely* used (that's a direct quote from the assoc. of obstetricians, see acog.org for more), usually in cases where the fetus is found to be acephalic (i.e. developing without a brain and will die at birth), or has already died in utero. I actually know someone who went through a nightmare scenario like this, after two health children and a lifelong opposition to abortion. Had the procedure not been done, she faced probable infection, complications, and possible death -- all to deliver a child who would not survive in any case. I wouldn't call her selfish for what she did, would you really do so? And I must reiterate -- the law passed yesterday has NO exception for the woman's health status. Thus even if my friend faced imminent death without this procedure, she could not have it. Whatever happened to "smaller government"?!

steveNov 06, 2003 at 2:23PM

Brad said I honestly can't see any reason to ever end a pregnancy unless it is in the extremely unlikely event that the mother's life is in jeopardy.

So, Brad, let's say your wife is raped, becomes pregnant with another man's child, and her life is not in jeopardy ... would the birth be as amazing an experience as the birth of your four sons?

purplebootsNov 06, 2003 at 2:28PM

I have known 2 people who had an acephalic children, and both knew this from about 5 months into their pregnancy. However, knowing this, and the baby was still alive, she carried the baby until almost full term and went into labor naturally and the baby died *naturally* just before delivery. Emotionally hard, you bet your ass. Physically hard, you bet, but was her life in danger because she continued to carry the child - no, not at all.

BradNov 06, 2003 at 2:30PM

Believe me, I don't like the government telling me what to do any more than the next person. By and large we would all be better off if they would stay out of everybodies affairs. However, in order to protect ourselves from harm, and to provide services, the government is necessary.

Is not ending the life of a human being murder? Would it be ok if somebody murdered you because you might be an inconvenience?

Of course not.

Then why is it ok to end the life of a baby?

The answer is that it is not ok. It happens 4000 times a day though.

The sad thing is, that America seems to have forgotten the concept of the value of life.

If you want to talk about irony...how about the thought of a mother killing her own child.

EmilyNov 06, 2003 at 2:31PM

purpleboots -- so what you're saying is, it was your friend's CHOICE to continue with that pregnancy, right? the government didn't instruct her to terminate it, right? interesting.

dtettoNov 06, 2003 at 2:33PM

The fact that 70% of Americans are in favor of this bill is evidence of no more than the fact that most Americans fail to entirely understand it. Not that that has ever stopped democracy before, but...

Partial-birth aborition is not a pretty thing -- and no one is saying it is. It is not a matter of whim or a last minute change of heart. It is a rarely used procedure in exceptional circumstances such as when the mother's health is indeed at risk -- the comments that it is "extremely unlikely" that a mother's life be in danger as well as the comment suggesting that, as birth is induced, it is just as dangerous as a natural birth to the mother just serve to place those comments clearly in the camp of those who misunderstand the procedure. You can object to it on moral grounds all you want, but don't make assumptions or false assertions.

All that has been accomplished is that women's options are limited. And, with that in mind, the picture twinges indeed with irony.

Skippy McGrawNov 06, 2003 at 2:35PM

Emily -- It wasn't my intention to start a diatribe on the meaning and usage of irony, but I think you are just flat wrong on this point. Maybe you look to another source, but I think Webster's has it right: "An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning."

It's not just about making a "reasonable leap." Irony simply cannot exist without an intent of some kind. To your point, the reason you think a group of men signing a bill dealing with pregnancy is ironic is precisely because of some preconception YOU have about the role of a man in that setting.

megnutNov 06, 2003 at 2:35PM

First, someone's posting as me. I never made the post about the quality of the photo.

Second, Schmelding claims that a, "'mother's health'" exception (clause) would be irrelevant" because labor is induced during the procedure. There are situations in which carry a baby *to term* jeopardizes a woman's health, hence the decision to abort before that point. The fact that a woman (with most likely her husband/partner) and her doctor are no longer free to make such an important decision because the government thinks they know better marks a sad day for individual rights in the United States. Now if only the President had the balls to care for all the children who've already been born.

Purpleboots: Step back 50 years? Do you mean to a time when women were treated as second-class citizens in the US? When women couldn't attend the best universities because they weren't yet co-ed? When women were expected to be nurses and secretaries and leave the real jobs to men?

EmilyNov 06, 2003 at 2:39PM

again on purpleboots' post: i just realized a "big picture" part of this whole argument, thanks to your emphasis on "*natural*" death for the acephalic fetus. it seems the divide between the anti and pro camps here can be defined as a differing understanding of the role of agency in these life and death matters. another way to speak of "natural" death is to say "it's in God's hands," or it was "meant to be." those who would advocate medical intervention -- i.e. pregnancy termination -- in this case, are putting the act in the hands of the mother and her provider. i think maybe this is what really rubs people the wrong (or right way). again, interesting.

dj blurbNov 06, 2003 at 2:39PM

It's always the uptight white guys wanting government out of our lives yet right on up in the uterus...

As an expectant father, I'm opposed to both bad photography and stupid laws. I'm also opposed to pollsters and those who use them to bolster an opinion.

Also, if I elect a woman, she's just going to be recalled by sore loser conservatives who are threatened because their world is changing and they just can't take it any more.

BradNov 06, 2003 at 2:40PM

Alright Steve, tough question. If my wife was raped and she was in good health, it would be a rough emotional ride. I would feel bitter and would most likely hold some resentment.

However, that doesn't mean that the resultant baby is not human and doesn't deserve to life.

The circumstances might be difficult, but it doesn't change the fact that we are dealing with a life. You can't just end it because you don't feel good about it. Again, it boils down to selfishness.

EmilyNov 06, 2003 at 2:48PM

Skippy, you win the Unintentional (i think) Pun Award of the Day! i have a "preconception" about men signing a law about abortion? classic! but seriously, you're right, this is an inflammatory issue for a reason and i think we are *all* operating from our personal beliefs to an extent. do i think all federal laws having any tangential relationship to women should only be debated, passed, and signed by female lawmakers? hell no -- though what i wouldn't give for a female President these days...but it is at least, at *least* notable that the group photo reflects the simple fact that none of those lawmakers will ever be directly, personally, individually, *in their very bodies* affected by the law they are signing! and before you jump all over me again with the "abortion is murder and it hurts us all" high heeled shoes, i'll preemptively disagree once again.

SchmeldingNov 06, 2003 at 2:54PM

Megnut: FYI (without my opinion post): Actually, the bill does include a "life of the mother" clause. The lawmakers felt the word health was too ambiguous.

purplebootsNov 06, 2003 at 3:04PM

Emily - yes, she chose to carry the baby to term, or as long as she could - she did not choose to kill it just because it wasn't going to turn out right anyway. So, yes, i am saying that she left it in God's hands. The 'right' to kill babies is different than the 'right' to choose not to!

And megnut- 50 years ago, it seemd people valued life more than they do today. Today we can choose to terminate life if it's an inconvenience, if we didn't plan it that way, we can and do terminate life if the guy ahead of us on the highway pisses us off. We live in a throw-away society, full of 'single-serving' experiences and for that reason we can't fathom a society in which people think about the ramifications of their choices - we just do it and go on, never thinking twice or looking back. 50 years ago, yea, women were nurses, secretaries, whatever. Might I take the stand and say that it is my opinion that women should not work anyway,a nd be at home to take care of her home, husband and children. (OHMYGOSH! What a thought!) So for me the 'rights' that women have earned in the last 50 years are not, in my eyes, completely beneficial for the advancement of women. Maybe I should have said 100 years ago, when women were truly valued as an integral part of the household, entrusted with the most valuable task of raising children and supporter of her husband. It is because of the advancement of the women's rights that really, our rights have been sadly diminished.

philNov 06, 2003 at 3:07PM

glad to see so much respect for the sacred nature of life! all in favor of healthcare and gun control, right? environmental controls to protect against birth defects? Keep the government from telling you who you can or can't marry? Low emission vehicles? OH? just abortion? Neat.

i would love to know how many of the smug guys in that picture lost their virginity as a teenager while pressuring their girl that "condoms don't feel good" or some complete and utter bullshit. You want an end to abortion? Give out condoms in school. Get all those christian boys to masterbate instead. Educate kids. It is really easy.

jkottkeNov 06, 2003 at 3:09PM

Oops, did I leave comments on for this post? Silly me.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.