For years, I’ve followed the advice of the late talk show legend Jerry Williams, who repeatedly spelled out why he didn’t discuss abortion on his show. His decision was based on a few facts I find hard to dispute:
1) Everyone already has an opinion;
B) Nobody is interested in having their opinion changed by anything someone else has to say;
III) Nothing of substance has been added to the debate in at least a couple of decades.
I’ll add my own d): almost every abortion “debate” I have ever heard or witnessed has boiled down to a chance for people to shout at each other.
So I’ve used that as my guide (and, to be honest, my excuse) for literally years and avoiding any discussion of the matter. I even went and had a certain surgical procedure several years ago partly to avoid having to deal with the whole matter personally.
Well, no more. I’m going to lay out just what I do think about abortion (when I can’t dodge the subject), why I believe it, and why I use the term “squishily pro-choice” to describe my position.
In a nutshell: “a pox on both your houses.”
(In the interest of fairness and clarity and politeness, I’m going to use the terms for each side that they have stated they preferred. There will be no reference to the “anti-choice” and “pro-abortion” sides, or any other such terms.)
To the pro-choice crowd, I say this:
At what point do you recognize that the product of human sexual reproduction, coming from reproductive cells of man and woman uniting, is in fact enough of a human being to merit the same sort of legal protection you’d accord Jeffrey Dahmer or Timothy McVeigh or Charles Manson? At one point does that proto-person enjoy the fundamental legal right to exist?
At what point do you think that the people of the United States, through their chosen vessel of the expression of their political will, have a right and a vested interest in protecting that proto-person who, through no choice of their own, are full dependent on a woman for their ongoing survival? Indeed, in the vast majority of those cases, that proto-person’s very existence is the product of the choice of the woman involved to engage in certain pleasurable activities without taking sufficient precautions to avoid procreation.
That’s the mild one. The pro-life side won’t be getting off so easily. That’s because my heart sides with them, but simply can’t reconcile a lot of their positions with annoying things like reality.
First up, let’s say you get your way and abortion is declared illegal. Congratulations.
It’s often a failing of liberals, to think that simply passing a law declaring something illegal makes the problem go away. It’s not exclusively their domain, however. How’s that war on drugs going?
So abortion is illegal. How you gonna administer that law? Who will be charged, and with what? What, precisely, will be the penalties for violating it?
Going by the rhetoric that abortion is murder, then the doctor who performs the abortion should be charged with murder, and the woman with murder for hire. In most states with death penalties, those are capital offenses. It is here in New Hampshire. So, do we execute the two of them?
My problem with that is that I think capital crimes should be motivated by malice. In this case, there really isn’t any malice. The woman is motivated by desperation and fear, and the doctor is likely motivated by compassion or financial gain or a sense of duty. In brief, there is no “I WANT TO KILL THIS FETUS!” element here.
My solution to the matter is typically middle-of-the-road, wimping out, mushy non-answer that we moderates are infamous for: let’s not make it an absolute thing.
I’m no lawyer or legal scholar, but Roe V. Wade has to be one of the worst-written Supreme Court decisions ever. It depends on appallingly vague language and sloppy thinking and naked rationalizing, and the justices who signed off on it should have been ashamed. Regardless of anyone’s position on the issue, if they’re honest, they will admit that the ruling is atrocious on its face.
I would like to see Roe V. Wade overturned, and the matter turned back over to the Several States. Let all 50 states all hammer the matter out in their legislatures, where the people can most influence the decision. Let each state make its own rules governing the matter, then revisit them every couple of years when the people get the chance to toss out those who made the then-current laws. Let’s turn this nation into 50 independent legal laboratories, all constantly revisiting and revising and reversing their policies.
Yes, this is “punting” the issue. This is simply taking the argument off the national agenda, and moving it to a statewide level. But, at the very least, it will change the whole thing from a bunch of pseudo-intellectual and faux-moral masturbation and hysterical screaming, and move the whole matter closer to actually being settled.
But maybe, once the discussion is brought a lot closer to everyone by making it a matter for their state legislators, they’ll stop their temper tantrums and actually work on finding a solution that the majority of voters can live with.
Because I am too fucking fed up with the assholes who head up NOW NARRAL and Planned Parenthood and Operation Rescue and the National Right To Life Committee getting in my face (or on my TV) and shouting their absolutist rants at me, knowing full well that the vast majority of Americans see them and say, “will you shut the fuck up already?”
There. You got me to go on the record, folks. That’s where I stand (or, more fairly, teeter), and I am egotistical to think that I speak for a lot of others when I say the above.
Feel free to try to change my mind and pull me to one side or the other. It won’t happen. The only thing you might be able to do is get me to reconsider some aspects of my solution, if you can find some pragmatic problems or more practical solutions, I’ll listen.
But spare me the hysterical rhetoric. Believe me, I’ve heard it all, from far more persuasive people, and I didn’t buy it then.