InkWell reader “Jessica” e-mails to protest my take on a monster-length three-part series in the Washington Post (click here, here, and here) that purported to track a new “social syndrome”: the slaying of expectant or new mothers. (See Maternal Homicide Hype, Dec. 22.) (The hook for the story was obviously Scott Peterson’s conviction for killing his 8-month-pregnant wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner–plus Lisa Montgomery’s alleged murder of pregnant Bobbie Jo Stinnett so she could pass off Stinnett’s baby as her own.) My post highlighted Slate editor-at-large Jack Shafer’s dissection of the Post reporter Donna St. George’s numbers to conclude that the number of pregnancy-related homicides had been likely greatly exaggerated, and I added a thought of my own: since more peripartal women are slain annually than die of complications of pregnancy and childbirth combined, the whole rad-feminist idea that pregnancy is a dangerous condition forced on women by men is so much hoo-hah. But Jessica says:
“I normally enjoy and agree with InkWell, but ever consider that maybe the WaPo is right on this and you’re wrong? Or at the very least, you’re taking this ridiculously lightly? I don’t care if it is five pregnant women a year killed by a partner; it shouldn’t be dismissed as a some ultra-feminist creation. Simply because only a handful of cases are given attention does not mean they are the only ones that occur. For one thing, as the Post pieces pointed out, we don’t even actually have a true number of these occurrences because most states don’t require that maternal status be reported in crime or death reports.
“The writer even said that if the numbers in Maryland held true nationwide, then it would be (I believe) 295 murders of pregnant women nationally. The piece did not say that was the number, but that if the pattern held, it would be, but the truth is we don’t know for sure.
“Furthermore, I don’t understand how InkWell can turn this into some feminist screed for abortion when in these cases, most of the women had decided to keep their babies, and that is why they were killed. No men forced them to have them. In fact, the exact opposite is happening; they are being killed for keeping them. This is hardly a feminist argument. If it were, the presentation would be more like this: Woman has abortion; man kills woman for having abortion. As for your mockery of the anecdotes, shame on you for being so hard-hearted! I cried at some of the accounts, and what if others didn’t want to tell their story, and these were the few that did? The Post actually does something right, and you beat them up for it. Go figure!”
First of all, Jessica, I did not engage in “mockery” of the anecdotes of young mothers killed before they had a chance to see their babies walk. Those are all sad stories (and I said so), but St. George, for whatever reason, couldn’t find many of them–because even with the most generous reading of her figures, they account for perhaps 300 out of the 15,000 or so U.S. homicides annually. Furthermore, as Jack points out, although the anecdotes involved men in the mothers’ lives as the killers, suggesting that this sort of slaying was the most prevalent, the homicide figures themselves cover a wide range of homicides that include drive-by shootings where the victim just happens to be in the wrong place. We know even less about the motives of the slayers: whether they killed their victims for “keeping” their babies or for a whole host of other possible reasons that could include jealousy over rival men, drug deals gone sour, resentment of the victims’ families, or simply a fit of drunken stupidity. Furthermore, as Jack also notes, St. George offers no comparative statistics to prove that expectant and new mothers are at greater risk for homicide than other female groups, such as frail old ladies or younger women who don’t have children.
My point was, in short, that pregnancy in the early 21st century is not an inherently dangerous condition. This might have something to do with abortion, but it bears more pertinently on the larger larger claim by radical feminists that motherhood is a form of male oppression. Let me make it clear, however, that I regard every slaying of an expectant or new mother as an odious crime, which is why I support the death penalty for the remorseless Scott Peterson.
Inky reader B.H., on the other hand, agrees wholeheartedly with our assessment of the National Organization for Women’s troglodyte denunciations of President Bush’s proposals for Social Security reform. (See my NOW’s Social Security Scare Tactics, Dec. 21, and also the IWF’s official press release on our home page.) The ladies of NOW seem to assume that most U.S. women are too stupid to do the math on the pending bankruptcy of the current Social Security Ponzi scheme or to figure out how much they would benefit from a partial privatization that would allow them to keep and make grow their contributions.
“NOW is a liberal, socialist organization and will never embrace anything that detours from more government, regardless of the outcome. I have been watching NOW for several years now and have come to the conclusion that they fit in just fine with the extreme liberal socialist left. They pick and choose support for only those things that redistribute other citizens’ tax dollars for feel-good or entitlement programs. But as during the Clinton administration, they also only support people who hold their views(Clinton) and abandon and slander victims of sexual assult because it would tarnish their hero. I have no respect for such two-faced hypocrites.”
I loathe two-faced hypocrites myself, B.H., so I’ve got to agree, and not just on the Social Security issue. Note the the dead silence from NOW on Scott Peterson, convicted of the most ghastly form of wife-abuse imaginable. But we’re not hearing a word from our radical sisters on that crime, because Laci and Conner’s law, which allows killers like Peterson to be convicted of two crimes, not one, is a rad-fem no-no.