Abortion, the issue that just won't go away
Abortion, is the issue that just won't go away, no matter how much we wish it would.
I remember saying in a class with a majority of young women once, "Why the hell are our politics captive to this issue? An alarming number of voters make their choice among candidate based solely on his/her position on abortion. I mean, how many of you are planning to have an abortion?"
There arose an indignant howl around the room, "But it's about the choice!"
This is one of those things I'm in the mushy middle about.
Interestingly, I read some time ago that the plaintiff in Roe v Wade now describes herself that way. (And who incidentally, didn't get that abortion - by the time the case was decided the baby was born and adopted out.)
By mushy middle I mean, I'm not too concerned about an early first-trimester abortion when the fetus has a central nervous system something akin to an earthworm's.
(And don't tell me about its "potential" for becoming a human being. Lot's of things have potential for becoming something else. The fact is - it isn't, at least not yet.)
In the second trimester I'm starting to get worried at the state of fetal development. (And please, keep in mind that this timeline is very vague, I'm not an embryologist.)
When my wife was pregnant with our first, we never considered abortion. We wanted the baby very much. But just because I have a morbid streak as wide as my back, I had to ask her, "When did the idea of abortion become impossible for you?"
She replied, "When I first heard the heartbeat."
By the third trimester I'm very nervous about the difference between a late-period abortion and a 6-7 month preemie saved by heroic medical efforts.
And as for "partial-birth abortions," if some skillful propagandist hadn't invented that term, we wouldn't even be having this debate. A "partial-birth" abortion is infanticide that just misses being legally murder because the "doctor" shoves the baby partway back in while killing it with an icepick to the brain.
("Doctor" is in scare quotes because I'm convinced that like surgery is said to be a profession that sometimes attracts sublimated sadists who realize on some level that they have to channel their fascination with gore into something useful - or wind up facing Jack Ketch on a scaffold some day, one who practices "partial-birth abortions" may be a sublimated serial killer. More on that later.)
(And don't bother writing in to accuse me of tarring all surgeons with that brush. I said "attracts," I didn't say "all" or even "many.")
Interestingly, in one of my classes in Bulgaria, composed of eighteen intelligent young women, I quoted a woman on this issue who told me, "A woman has a right to an abortion five minutes before she goes into the delivery room."
"Yeah, that's right!" they all said.
(Never mind that an abortion that late is technically called "a Caesarian section.")
So I started to describe the partial-birth abortion process. Within one minute they were begging me to stop.
Like a lot of things, my opinions on this issue have changed as I got older and my circumstances changed.
When I was a young man who, as young men will do, spent a lot of time chasing tail - and mostly not getting any, I kept company with a fair number of women who the idea of marrying gave me cold shivers. If you've ever been a young man, you know what they'll put up with to get laid.
Of course, back then I was foursquare in favor of abortion under any circumstances. To put it bluntly, I wanted an out if I ever got that bad news.
Now that I have children of my own... the idea of abortion doesn't look so good to me.
Of course, if I ever become fabulously wealthy and keep mistresses, it might start to look good again.
Abortion is one of the issues that deeply divides libertarians. I remember at one of our English camps in Lithuania the subject came up. My son's godmother told us that she'd had an abortion forty years before.
She hadn't wanted one, but had lost fifty pounds during the pregnancy and the doctors told her it was either the baby - or her and the baby.
She said, "It may sometimes be a necessary choice, but don't ever let anyone tell you it's an easy or trivial one."
A young lady standing nearby said, "Thank you."