Politics & Policy

Abortion On The Air

One radio show's disturbing abortion contest.

Word has it that Howard Stern’s radio contract only has about six months left to it; so he might be relegated to cable. But there’s someone to take his place. Elliott in the Morning on D.C. 101 Radio provided a jarring wake up call last Tuesday morning. In response to the reports of a new abortion study that reveals more women are having repeat abortions, Elliot hosted a call-in contest for women who’d had the most abortions. Far from exploring the tragic nature of the act, Elliot laughed and joked with his callers as he commended them for their abortions.

Unfortunately, this probably won’t fall under the interests of the Federal Communications Commission since, in the FCC’s terms, it’s neither obscene nor indecent. But listen to the stories of the callers from a recording of a nine-minute segment of Tuesday’s show. If anything, they make the case against abortion even stronger. Despite–or perhaps because of–widespread access to contraception, they demonstrate the tendency to use abortion as an expensive contraceptive. So much for safe, legal, and rare.

Don’t take my word for it: Check out a few of Elliot’s conversations with his callers.

First, there’s the woman who had a forced abortion when she was 13.

Caller: “Yeah, hi, you’re, you’re uh talking about abortion.”

Elliot: “Yes. Just having a little contest.”

Caller: “Yeah, I was uh 13 and dating this guy for like six months. I got pregnant by him.”

Elliot: “At 13?!”

Caller: “Yeah. And I don’t really know my mother’s side of the family that well.”

Elliot: “Right”

Caller: “So we went to one of his family get-togethers and I recognized the lady that turned out to be my grandmother.”

Elliot: “Pardon me?”

Caller: “And it turns out that he was my second cousin”

Elliot: “Sweet.”

Caller: “I was like two months pregnant and my father forced me to get an abortion.” Laughter.

Caller number four was Theresa. She was calling to talk about her “son’s father’s mother” and her abortions. After explaining that the now deceased woman had had ten abortions, one of which she performed upon herself–Elliot volunteered to give her a posthumous award–Theresa asked, “Is there any way that I can get a t-shirt?” Theresa, there are easier ways to get a t-shirt…

Interestingly, of the eight callers during this segment, four were men. One asked, “Hey, um, does me givin’ one count?” Naturally, Elliot’s interest was perked: “Are you a doctor?” The caller laughed, “No, I’m a dude. Just an average Joe.” As he recounted the story, it had something to do with the girlfriend of a friend. Elliot replied, “Alright. Ok. No, no. There’s part of me that wants to know this story but I think, I think, it’s probably a bad idea.” And they all laughed–a perfect setup for the next caller who identified himself as “K-dog.”

K-dog: “I got all these people beat. Between my first wife and my second wife, uh, 16 [abortions]. And I got five kids.”

Elliot: “Are you lying just to get on the radio?”

K-dog: “Naw. Swear to God.”

Elliot: “Oh. But wait a minute. You. That’s very funny. You didn’t personally get 16 women pregnant.”…

K-dog: “I got two women pregnant 16 times.”

Now, with his five surviving children, that makes at least 21 pregnancies for K-dog, who finished the first part of the call by asking, “What’s the prize? Is it a shop-vac?” When asked why he didn’t use an apparently less expensive method of birth control like a condom, K-dog shrugged it off. After all, as Diane, the second host chimed in, “Insurance pays for it [abortion].”

K-dog was followed by another man who had been responsible for eight abortions in ten years. He thought he’d gotten ripped-off since he’d had to pay $500 for each abortion rather than K-dog’s approximate $300. Then Mrs. K-dog called in to laugh about her abortions. Turns out she also has four children who weren’t aborted and her name, by the way, is Linda. She doesn’t mind your knowing.

Keep in mind that Elliot in the Morning is a morning drive-time show. This conversation took place live, around 8.30 A.M., when even school children could hear it. Chances are, most of us wouldn’t want to stumble across it. Even granting First Amendment rights, we don’t usually expect them to apply to a situation which so grossly devalues human life. Imagine a call-in contest for the most Abu Ghraib prisoners abused, or for the most women raped. And yet, Elliot’s show was encouraging and applauding the senseless slaughter of the most innocent and most defenseless among us. He offered one couple a “spotlight dance” and said that their combined eight abortions were “tremendous.”

Only the most strident abortion supporters could tolerate a conversation like the one last Tuesday morning. Not a single case presented could be described as difficult. They certainly don’t fit into Senator Clinton’s new take on abortion. For each caller abortions were a way of dealing with the failure to make good decisions in the first place.

Elliot is not D.C. 101’s first notorious host. On June 29, 1982, a popular host was fired after he had joked earlier in the year about the crash of the Air Florida flight into D.C.’s Fourteenth Street Bridge. Perhaps D.C. 101 could extend the same practice toward Elliot and give listeners a less disturbing way to ease into the morning on our way to work and school.

Pia de Solenni is the director of life and women’s issues at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.

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