The Washington Post editorial board has published a brain-teaser for its readers. The article is called “Ken Cuccinelli’s ‘personhood’ travails.” A better title would have been “Riddle: Are we fools, or are we liars?”
Quick background: WaPo really, really doesn’t want Ken Cuccinelli to be the next governor of Virginia, and the staff there know that the best way to oppose a pro-life politician is to start screaming about “social issues.” Here, the febrile WaPo insists that personhood legislation (which Cuccinelli has supported in the past) “provide[s] an opening to prohibit common methods of birth control, including the pill and intrauterine devices.”
As the editorial board puts it:
The practical effects of “personhood” measures, including the one in Virginia to which Mr. Cuccinelli affixed his name, would easily include banning the most popular forms of contraception. This is because the pill, as well as other forms of birth control, work partly by preventing the implantation of eggs in the uterus wall after they have been fertilized. If the “preborn” are protected “from the moment of fertilization,” as the 2007 bill demanded, then contraception — which defeats a fertilized egg’s chances of becoming a living being — could be prohibited. In fact, the legislation seems to demand it.
If the article’s comments are any indicator, WaPo’s regular readers have no idea how problematic this paragraph is.
First of all, consider WaPo’s use of parenthetical dashes. If they wanted to say that only some contraception prevents implantation, the sentence would read as such:
If the ‘preborn’ are protected ‘from the moment of fertilization’ … contraception that [not 'which'] defeats a fertilized egg’s chances of becoming a living being could be prohibited.
But instead, the editorial board opted for the dashes – with the clear meaning that contraception per se “defeats a fertilized egg’s chances of becoming a living being.”
So does WaPo seriously think that condoms (easily among the “most popular forms”) and other barriers allow fertilization but prevent implantation? Or is the august editorial board trying to terrify its pro-choice readers into turning out against Cuccinelli by hyperventilating over a fictitious ban on all contraception? (Option number three is that the WaPo can’t comprehend basic English grammar, but that can’t possibly be right.)
This isn’t just a grammatical punctilio. On the contrary, it destroys the Post‘s entire argument, because it hits the heart of what contraception actually is.
To make this clear, take the WaPo’s nauseatingly euphemistic language, like “fertilized egg” and “defeats … chances of becoming a living being.” To spell it out, a “fertilized egg” – itself a nonsense term – is a human being, with his own individual human DNA, meeting all the criteria for an independent living organism. So to keep that zygote from implanting in the uterine lining doesn’t “defeat” a “chance” of “becoming a living being.” It kills a unique human. It is an abortion, and the “contraceptive” that effects said abortion is in fact an abortifacient.
This is the whole point of personhood legislation, which the Post tries so hard to skirt in this ridiculous piece. The fact is, the phrase “contraception that prevents fertilization” is redundant, because the whole point of contraception is to prevent conception. And “contraception that prevents implantation” is an oxymoron, because there’s no preventing conception that has already occurred.
As Lila Rose mentioned earlier today, personhood advocates like Ken Cuccinelli are explicitly against the willful destruction of a unique, innocent human life. Contraception, properly understood, does not effect such destruction. This means that the people who oppose personhood legislation based on fear-mongering about “outlawing contraception” are in fact championing abortifacients, and thus abortion.
For people who pay attention to what words actually mean, none of this is revelatory. The grammar-challenged, science-challenged, and ethics-challenged Washington Post, on the other hand, seems to be having a hard time. Small wonder that no one volunteered to affix his name to this farce of an article.