Some of my readers may not be familiar with Joe Bob Briggs, drive-in movie critic extraordinaire, who may be the greatest living American satirist. Yes, his central schtick is reviewing really, really bad movies. And yes, he truly loves really, really bad movies.
But also, nearly every one of his reviews starts out with some biting—and very funny—social commentary. And his free-standing essays outnumber his movie reviews.
He's also the author of my single favourite pro-choice debunking of the pro-life movement, included in his 1990 collection The Cosmic Wisdom of Joe Bob Briggs. As a service to the world, I am reprinting it here.
Now that the Fetus Fans have won their court battle, I'd like to suggest some measures we can take to make the next eighteen years sufferable. You don't have to worry about any time after the next eighteen years, because by then entire armies of feti will be swarming across the country, and they'll be able to vote. Of course, many of em won't make it. By that time the death penalty will apply to six-year-olds and up, and many of these orphaned feti will be killing one another, in a kind of retroactive birth control.
Anyhow, here's what I think we should do. From now on each fetus should be registered. In the past all you had to do was say, “I don't want no fetus in my bod.” What we should have women do now is go down to the post office as soon as they get pregnant, get a computer number for the fetus they don't want, and then go over to the courthouse steps, like you once did when you went there to say, “I will no longer be responsible for my wife's debts.” Only this time you say, “Come get this here fetus.”
The county agent searches the crowd for a moment, looking for volunteer parents.
The next day somebody gets a call:
“Mr. Randolph C. Bisselman? Glad I caught you. We have a homeless fetus here and we've run a random computer matchup from a list of Pro Life activists. Congratulations! We'll be sending over Fetus No. 4789542. You might want to write that number down for your records. And I'm sure that your political, social, and religious views will shape this young fetus into a fine human being. By the way, if you'd like the view the fetus, we'd be happy to order a sonogram as soon as we locate the mother. She works, you know.”
Wouldn't this work? Why not? I am not being facetious. Let's look at all of the possible objections.
1. “That child is not my responsibility.”
It's not this lady's responsibility either. She wanted sex, not a baby. In fact, this lady can't even pronounce “responsibility." If she gives birth to the baby, she'll probably only change its diapers once a week. This lady is the kind of lady who should have children taken away from her. Surely you don't want her to do the job?
2. “Okay, it's the government's responsibility.”
You think the government is gonna take this fetus to McDonald's or buy it a GI Joe with a kung-fu grip? We got to have a human being here.
3. “Okay, a social worker should do it.”
Most of em are gone—spending cuts. I've got a sister in Little Rock who runs a privately supported foster home. She's full all the time, tending all the little yard monsters she can handle. And so is just about every other foster home. Nope. We've got to have some individual human beings.
4. “I don't have the money.”
You've got more money than the mommy.
5. “I have my own kids to take care of.”
Kids adjust to anything. It's your attitude we've got to work on.
6. “It's not fair.”
Now you're talking.
7. “A baby is a full-time job, and I'm not ready for that commitment in my life right now.”
8. “At the very least I should get some money from the government for the time I'll spend raising that baby.”
Point well taken.
9. “Nobody can do this to me!”
Very good. Very very good. You've finally reached the emotional point of view of a poor single woman who just found out she's pregnant.
Don't worry, though, we'll all pitch in, help you out, buy the fetus a baseball bat. You just think you don't want it. Later it'll become the most precious thing in the world to you, because of what the two of you went through together. Trust me.