A Question for Women's Groups

I don't have any particularly intelligent analysis of the SCOTUS's upholding the constitutionality of a partial birth abortion ban, so I won't offer any.

However, I have a question for women's groups.  Groups like NOW support the federal government's constitutional right to ban breast implants,and in fact call for such a ban on the NOW web site.  Simultaneously, they oppose the federal government's constitutional right to ban partial birth abortions.

My question is:  How can you reconcile these two views?  Aren't these two procedures similar enough (both are elective medical procedures that are invasive of a woman's body) to be Constitutionally identical?  I understand that from a social conservative's point of view that the abortion procedure might warrant more legal attention if you believe there is a second life (ie the fetus) involved here.  But how do you justify that the feds should have more power to regulate and ban boob jobs than they have to ban one type of abortion?  And please, don't justify it because you think abortion is serious but breast implants are frivolous  Those are legislative and political arguments about what should and should not be done with the fed's power, not Constitutional arguments about what that power actually is.

The women's groups' application of their "its our body" and "pro-choice" positions have always struck me as incredibly selective.  It's a woman's choice to weigh the risks and benefits of an abortion, but apparently it's the government's choice to weight the risks and benefits of breast implants.  I wrote more about this selective libertarianism when I made a plea for applying the privacy and choice logic of abortion supporters to all aspects of government regulation.  I criticized NOW for another instance of selective libertarianism associated with government and women's bodies when NOW supported having the government limit a woman's choice to use Vioxx to relieve pain.


  1. dearieme:

    What a very good point. It could be extended to many health and safety laws, drug regulation and so forth. Here's the risk, ladies; you choose whether or not to take it.

  2. JoshK:

    Well said.

  3. Tim:

    I am assuming you already know the answer to this question but I would like to sumarize it the way I see it. NOW is anti-abortion because they see it as fighting against the gender stereotype that they are supposed to be mothers. NOW is anti-breast implant for roughly the same reason. A woman shouldn't WANT to make a choice to subscribe to the male dominated gender order by enlarging her breasts and making herself more attractive to men. Therefore she should not be ALLOWED to make that choice.

    In reality both their slant on abortion and their slant on breast implants is the same, it's not pro-woman, it's anti-man.

    It is really a shame but when the women's rights movement largely accomplished all their bullet points, they went home. Unfortunately, that left the organization's apparatus available to the most angry and dissaffected men-haters.

    NOW is at least predictable, find how you can spin a point of view to be anti-man and you have determined the NOW viewpoint.

  4. CRC:

    In reality I find that people are often terribly inconsistent in their overall political/cultural/social philosophies. Often the "left" (I am increasingly unwilling to call them "liberals") are all about liberty in one particular area of life or culture and adamantly opposed to it in another. Often they don't even see it. Same goes for the other end of the political spectrum.

  5. garble:

    NOW is interested in improving the lives of women. Since breast implants are elective surgery that help women fit societies idea of beauty; It's bad. Abortion should be a decision entirely up to the mother. So it should be protected.

    Through in overlapping interests of a 'typical' now member (i.e. big companies bad, Christians = morons, granola good, capitalism ooooh scary) and it's slam dunk.

    At this point in time most of the levers of power in the US are in the hands of men so NOW wants the government to offset this systemic (and historical) disadvantage. Not limited government.

    I will say that the rhetoric of NOW et. al. annoys the hell out of me and I'm glad that NOW isn't more powerful. But I think their positions are internally consistent.

  6. Lincoln Beachey:

    I went to the NOW web site to understand their position. Unless I missed something, NOW is against silicon implants only (not saline) taking the position they are not safe based upon the medical evidence. Setting aside the larger issue of whether aborion should be legal at all, the Supreme Court's decision outlaws a procedure which in at least some cases is safer than the alternatives. I am no fan of NOW, but in both cases they are taking a position they believe to be in the best interests of women's health. You can argue that they are wrong on both issues based upon the data but the positions seem consistent to me.