An Antichoice Freudian Slip

Some will just dismiss this story (per HuffPost’s Laura Bassett) as an example of progressives jumping on a malapropism uttered by a random conservative state legislator, but I’d say it’s more like a Freudian slip:

A pregnant woman is just a “host” that should not have the right to end her pregnancy, Virginia State Sen. Steve Martin (R) wrote in a Facebook rant defending his anti-abortion views.

Martin, the former chairman of the Senate Education and Health Committee, wrote a lengthy post about his opinions on women’s bodies on his Facebook wall last week in response to a critical Valentine’s Day card he received from reproductive rights advocates.

“I don’t expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive,” Martin wrote. “However, once a child does exist in your womb, I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it.”

After the Facebook post got some attention, Martin amended it to change “host” to “bearer of the child,” which I guess is marginally less insulting.

But this is the standard RTL position, and why most antichoicers oppose “rape and incest” exceptions other than as a matter of tactical flexibility. Once a zygote exists, it’s a person and a baby and has rights equal to (if not superior to, because of its “innocent” nature) the mother, or the “bearer of the child,” or the “host,” or however you want to put it. No interest of the woman in terminating the pregnancy (or even preventing it, if that happens after fertilization) other than preservation of her own life can possibly trump that “right to life.”

I’d say “host” perfectly captures the position of women in the antichoice moral universe, if not “slave.”

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.