Abortion

ABORTION….Anne Lamott was on a panel about politics and faith recently, and everyone was nodding and agreeing and having a grand old time until the subject of abortion came up:

I knew what I was supposed to have said, as a progressive Christian: that it’s all very complicated and painful, and that Jim was right in saying that the abortion rate in America is way too high for a caring and compassionate society.

But I did the only thing I could think to do: plunge on, and tell my truth. I said that this is the most intimate decision a woman makes, and she makes it all alone, in her deepest heart of hearts, sometimes with the man by whom she is pregnant, with her dearest friends or with her doctor ? but without the personal opinion of say, Tom DeLay or Karl Rove.

I said I could not believe that men committed to equality and civil rights were still challenging the basic rights of women. I thought about all the photo-ops at which President Bush had signed legislation limiting abortion rights, surrounded by 10 or so white, self-righteous married men, who have forced God knows how many girlfriends into doing God knows what. I thought of the time Bush appeared on stage with children born from frozen embryos, children he calls “snowflake babies,” and of the embryos themselves, which he calls the youngest and most vulnerable Americans.

And somehow, as I was answering, I got louder and maybe even more emphatic than I actually felt, and said it was not a morally ambiguous issue for me at all. I said that fetuses are not babies yet; that there was actually a real difference between pro-abortion people, like me, and Klaus Barbie.

Then I said that a woman’s right to choose was nobody else’s goddamn business. This got their attention.

It’s nice to hear a few people of faith still willing to say this. I know it’s bad for elections and bad for liberal prospects in the heartland yada yada yada, but the hand wringing game eventually gets hard to play for those of us who don’t have the inhuman, talking points-driven self-discipline of the modern American politician.

In any case, I’m with Lamott. I don’t think nonviable fetuses are human beings. Terminating them doesn’t bother me, and it’s none of my business anyway. For all I care, women are free to use abortion as their standard method of birth control if they want to. Nor do I really care much if we reduce the abortion rate in America. Safe and legal is good enough for me. I don’t think abortion is a morally ambiguous issue, I don’t think getting one should be an emotionally traumatic experience, and no, speaking as a husband, I don’t think husbands should have any legal say in the matter.

So much for nuance. I guess I’m not going to be running for office anytime soon, am I?