“It rhymes with shmashmortion”: enough talk about exceptions

27 October 2012

In the film Knocked Up (2007), when Ben (Seth Rogen) tells his stoner friends that his one-night stand Alison (Katherine Heigl) is pregnant, they offer up a wide range of responses — from congratulations to hoots. Only one of them expresses skepticism about the whole thing. And he can’t say the word.

Jonah: You know what I think you should do? Take care of it.
Jason: Tell me you don’t want him to get an ‘A’ word.
Jonah: Yes, I do, and I won’t say it for little Baby Ears over there, but it rhymes with shashmortion. You should get a shmashmortion at the shmashmortion clinic.

That’s the thing, you see: no one’s willing to say it these days. Thus, let me proclaim it loud and clear: WE NEED ABORTION. And I’m really sick of hearing about exceptions. (And watching films in which the woman always chooses to keep it.)

It’s a campaign year, so our politicians are full of new and creative ways to denounce abortion. The latest and greatest, of course, is the Todd Akins and Richard Mourdocks who seek even greater restrictions on abortion by redefining rape as, alternately, God’s gift for impregnating the ladies OR God’s way of preventing pregnancy. (Yes, my head hurts, too.)

As easy as it is for me to get sucked into that conversation, like I did the other day, the real problem is that they’ve succeeded — they’ve skewed the conversation away from a question of “choice or no choice?” to a question of “how many abortion restrictions can we pile on to an America that’s already restricting abortion at every turn?”

What’s really going on is two separate ideological movements– one about eliminating abortion and the other about redefining rape — merged into a single conversation intended to distract us.

We need to stay focused on the fact women seek abortions, whether it’s legal or not. Given that fact, the only way to ensure anything resembling equal rights in this country is to ensure that abortion is safe and legal and private. Women who live in states with radically restrictive abortion practices are already flooding into Mexico to purchase abortifacients even if they don’t understand how to take that medication. One might also say that the only way to raise a healthy young population of children is to ensure that they are loved and wanted and live with families that can afford another mouth to feed. But most of all, women need the abortion option because the men they have sex with are morons — as well illustrated by the aforementioned Knocked Up. Ben’s friends ride him for not wearing a condom:

Jonah: I can’t believe you didn’t fucking wear a bag. Who does that? 
Jason: Why did we go to Costco and buy a year’s supply of condoms if you weren’t gonna use ’em, man? 
Jonah: I can’t believe you did this. You fucked everything up. 
Jason: The real point is not to get yourself into this position, that’s what you have to realize. You gotta know all the tricks like, for example, if a woman’s on top she can’t get pregnant. It’s just gravity. 
Jonah: Well that’s true. Everyone knows that. 
Jason: What goes up must come down.

ARGH. These are the guys who grow up to become Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin, people. They can’t say the word abortion aloud. But they want to tell you all about their crackpot theories — whether it’s about sex or God or pregnancy. (Their scene, holding forth on pregnancy, floats virtually every one of the Mourdock/Akin theories, BTW.)

The time has come to tell them to stop. This is terrifying — and not just for women who are raped or whose pregnancies might kill them. This is about women’s rights.

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9 Responses to ““It rhymes with shmashmortion”: enough talk about exceptions”


  1. While I will never see this movie, for so many reasons, you bring about a great point regarding abortion. When I watch old episodes of Maude and current tv and movies, I’m exceedingly sad at how far backwards we have gone regarding women’s health and rights to govern their own bodies. Sorry, as you can see, I’m a bit snarky today.

    • Didion Says:

      It’s amazing to see how much people spoke more openly about abortion in the 70s & even the 80s. As I was writing this post I remembered that campaign entitled I HAD AN ABORTION that asked women to come forward to speak about their abortions (and, in some cases, they even wore t-shirts with that slogan). It was a mixed bag — although many women felt it made abortion less of a stigma, it also brought on new levels of hate and recrimination.

      I get so depressed about these facts — I truly am beginning to feel that the bad guys are winning, and the next thing we know, we’ll be barefoot and chained to the stove like it’s 1880. For heaven’s sake.


      • It is dreadfully amazing how far backwards we have gone since 1980! There are days it takes everything I have not to give into despair. Robert and I own all of Maude and Sonny and Cher–wow, what a contrast to where we are today.

  2. Servetus Says:

    Every time I hear an attack on Planned Parenthood, I want to start an “I was a Planned Parenthood patient” campaign.

    • Didion Says:

      Yeah, and I wonder whether the attacks on contraception and Planned Parenthood and all manner of women’s health might prompt a more clever pro-woman kind of campaign?

  3. eteokretan Says:

    They’ll gain the ability to say “abortion” out loud when they start talking about banning it. But only then.

    • Didion Says:

      I keep wishing young women would see this as a reason to fight, but although of course some of them do, many have been influenced by the previous 30+ years of anti-abortion campaigning by the religious right. It’s just so formidable.

  4. phylly3 Says:

    We complain about the Taliban, but the religious right has almost as much power in the West.


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