My son and I were hunting for books in the children’s section of the local library recently when I noticed a book entitled Asking About Sex & Growing Up (subtitled, A Question and Answer Book for Kids). When I saw the saw the author’s name, Joanna Cole, I did a double take. Ms. Cole, I realized, is the author of the popular Magic School Bus Series of children’s books. My son had taken a few of the seemingly ubiquitous texts home from his school library, so I was familiar with the brand.
Curious about what Cole had to say to children, I had my son pursue his literary interests independently and began reading. I was struck by the humorless quality of the writing, and several sections contain questionable assertions. However, the book’s most objectionable aspect is the way she pushes pro-abortion propaganda at young readers.
Answering the question, “Does everyone agree that abortion is okay,” Cole summarizes pro-abortion and anti-abortion viewpoints, beginning with the latter. Here’s how she describes the views of Americans who oppose the 1.2 million U.S. abortions performed each year, the vast majority having nothing to do with protecting the life or physical safety of the mother, a figure that also includes a significant number performed on fetuses that have reached the second trimester and beyond: “Many people in this country believe abortion is wrong. Some people are against it for religious reasons. Others feel it goes against nature to end a pregnancy.”
Hold the horses. Why not just tell inquiring minds why people believe abortion is wrong? Citing “religious reasons” doesn’t do the job. Ms. Cole could have easily explained that opponents of abortion contend that it is immoral, cruel, and inhuman to destroy developing human life. She could have said that many people feel abortion is tantamount to killing innocent human life. Deep philosophical or theological thoughts aren’t necessary to explain anti-abortion views. Ultrasound pictures of the fetus at various stages of development, on the other hand, as well as a discussion of exactly what an abortion does to a fetus, would be illuminating. Finally, Ms. Cole’s claim that some people oppose abortion because they “feel it goes against nature” is a non-explanation that allows her to avoid revealing pro-life arguments to her young readers.
The book’s dead-on-arrival presentation of anti-abortion arguments ends with this statement: “There are organizations that are trying to make abortions against the law again, the way it used to be.” Some clarity is needed: The organizations she ominously alludes to don’t oppose abortions necessary to protect the mother’s life. Such procedures had always been legal, including in states that had maintained traditional prohibitions against elective abortions in the years leading up to 1973, when an activist United States Supreme Court divined a constitutional right to an abortion, usurping the political process and opening the abortion floodgates.
Anti-abortion arguments don’t get heard in Joanna Cole’s court, but if pro-abortion arguments are hidden behind equally non-descriptive labels, ones that don’t give a voice to pro-abortion arguments, no harm, no foul. Such a non-description might look something like this: “Many people in this country believe that abortion is not wrong. These people support abortion because of secular reasons, including various political viewpoints and moral values. There are organizations who oppose efforts to limit a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion.”
This is not the tack Ms. Cole chooses, of course. “Other groups”, she writes, “believe that woman have a right to make choices about their lives and their bodies. They do not think that anyone should be able to tell a woman that she must have a baby because she has become pregnant. They feel that this decision is a private one and should be up to the woman and her doctor.”
And the winner is: Joanna Cole and the liberals! She prevails, of course, only by dragging the other side onto the culture war battlefield totally immobilized, vocal chords removed, unable to articulate any anti-abortion arguments, while she launches a brief but full throated attack. But these are trifling details compared to the need to indoctrinate young readers in the mythology that abortion opponents are waging a war against women.
Even Ms. Cole’s description of an abortion as “a medical procedure to end a pregnancy before a baby is born” looks touched up to reduce the chance that impressionable readers might start thinking about the reality of the procedure. It’s even less descriptive than: “induced termination of a pregnancy with destruction of the embryo or fetus” (American Heritage Dict. of the English Language, Fifth Ed.); “the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy” (Random House Unabridged Dict., Second Ed.); “any deliberate procedure that removes, or induces the expulsion of, a living or dead embryo or fetus” (Webster’s New World College Dict., Fourth Ed.); and so on.