Unfair to Lorrie Moore
When Isthmus provided a platform for a frustrated, bitter voice to launch a personal attack on a hard-working writer because she is both successful and moving on to greener fields, you were complicit in the kind of narrow-minded sniping that reveals both a lack of editorial responsibility and a passion for controversy at any cost: If it bleeds it leads ("Lorrie Moore vs. Madison," 3/8/2013, "For and Against Lorrie Moore," 3/15/2013). This one really has me ashamed for my friends and colleagues who work at the paper. Lorrie Moore pays taxes too - doesn't that buy her some public space?
Everyone who tries to think carefully and compassionately about abortion deserves an honest broker in an honest debate, but Ruth Conniff's piece in the Feb. 1 issue ("Back to the Stone Age") does not contribute to such a thoughtful exchange.
Consider, for example, one of her key punchlines: "The jury is in on whether using birth control helps you not get pregnant." Most readers will have noticed the illicit shift Conniff makes in first misportraying Wisconsin Right to Life director Barbara Lyons' assertion, and then pivoting to what is actually an unrelated, minor technical declaration of fact. Lyons was not saying that birth control does not prevent conception. What she did say was that the use of birth control does not reduce the abortion rate, which is true.
The reason is simple: While contraception is very effective at preventing pregnancy in individual instances of intercourse, those who use contraception are actually much more likely, overall, to abort their children whenever they are conceived (whether through contraceptive failure, or neglecting to use contraceptives in the first place). Of the 12 million women in the U.S. who are on hormonal birth control, approximately one million become pregnant each year. These unwanted pregnancies are overwhelmingly more likely to end in abortion, even though, as Conniff points out, the use of the pill makes it statistically much less likely that a single act of sexual intercourse will result in conception.
I think we can all agree that the abortion debate should take place on the merits of the case, and not by using uncharitable rhetorical subterfuge.