Several readers wrote in today to tip us to a video of Beliefnet's Steven Waldman and Slate's William Saletan discussing the idea of paying pregnant women to carry their babies to term in order to give them up for adoption.
The video, which is currently being hosted on the New York Times site, features Waldman and Saletan discussing the idea of promoting adoption over abortion by providing a financial benefit to women who choose not to terminate an unplanned pregnancy. The conversation, part of the "Bloggingheads" series, is meant to appear quite casual and off the cuff, but one gets the sense that both men knew exactly what they were going to say beforehand, especially Waldman, despite his "I'm just coming up with this now" routine that he pulls before making statements such as this:
"Now I wonder, I know this is dangerous territory here, but I'm just kind of thinking out loud...I wonder if we should start thinking about financial incentives or help for women who decide to carry the baby to term."
"So maybe we ought to be saying to them, if it's officially important for us as a society to reduce the number of abortions...maybe we should pay her a thousand dollars, uh, I don't know what the right number is, because you don't want to create a financial incentive for, uh, making babies."
Right! Because it's only money that women are after, and it's only money that causes women to terminate a pregnancy. I'm really glad these two men could sit down and figure this out for us.
Jill at Feministe has a few choice words on Waldman's proposal: "The whole thing is so infuriating I'm having trouble coming up with a coherent response. Steven Waldman from Beliefnet suggests paying women some amount of money to not have an abortion - not just because women who continue pregnancies often undergo tremendous financial strain, but as an incentive for her to give the baby up for adoption. Nowhere does he suggest that maybe we should provide economic support for all women, before and after birth, so that they can choose to maintain their pregnancies and raise a child if they wish; the whole idea is to bribe women into giving birth so that they'll give the baby to a nice family."
The conversation takes a creepier tone when Saletan compares Waldman's idea to surrogacy, and Waldman says, "exactly." When Saletan calls this idea, "icky," Waldman then backtracks a bit, and again mentions that "if you make the amount too much, women might get pregnant, in order to get payment." He then continues to push the idea that if we "help out" birth mothers financially (good luck with a thousand bucks, btw), we'll save the world from women and their abortions and everyone will end up a winner.
In five minutes, Waldman pretty much sums up everything that is wrong with the anti-choice movement: he's all about the fetus, treating the mother as a carrier who can be appeased or paid off in order to fit his agenda. And as Jill notes above, he never once mentions continued financial support after the child is actually born. He then makes a point to mention—twice—that some women might just start having babies for the money, and we can't have that! Women can only choose to have babies if it fits Waldman's view of what the "right" thing to do is. So to sum up: women's choices are always influenced by cash, and nothing else.
Thanks, New York Times! It's always great when two men get to discuss what's best for the ladies. And to think, all this time walking around with an actual uterus didn't give me or any other woman in the universe the insight that Steven Waldman and William Saletan could provide.