Monday, June 4, 2018

Irish pro-choice landslide should resonate in the supposed land of the free

Hydra and Kali by Damien Hirst

     Simple question:
     When facing choices, do you prefer deciding yourself or letting someone else decide for you?
     What kind of choices are we talking about? Doesn’t matter. Could be something trivial: what flavor of ice cream to order. Or more important: what color to paint the living room.
     Or even something truly significant: what political party to join. What religion to follow.
     Got your answer? Good. Set it aside.
     This isn’t a trick. I’m not going to condemn you if you answer, “I want others to make decisions for me.” Many people do. They join fraternities, the military or other organizations where following directions is tantamount. Nothing to be ashamed of. There is a pressure in making decisions, a weight in assuming responsibility for your choices.
     Some alternate. I, for example, generally like to make my own decisions — chocolate chip cookie dough, white walls. Sometimes I yield to decisions made by others long ago: my parents were Democrats and Jews, so I’m sympathetic with the idea that government should help those in need and in no hurry to embrace unfamiliar faiths that seem even more contrived and arcane than my own.
     Sometimes I want someone else to decide: “Honey, which tie goes better?”
     So I understand, and even sympathize a little, with those who would offload their choice regarding an issue as significant as abortion, surrendering to a higher power: to the government, or some religious authority. It has to be a wrenching decision, to snuff about this tiny, aborning life, and if you could remove it from yourself, or from others, and decide it with permanent finality and unwavering certainty, you are free from the stress of deciding. As are they.

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  1. It would seem that I have some skin in this game in that I was a miracle baby (married in April, born in June) in 1942 when abortions were not only illegal, but virtually unattainable except by the very rich. There is a possibility that my mother and her mother would have decided to end the very inconvenient and embarrassing pregnancy had they imagined it possible to do so. And that my six siblings and I would never have been born. And perhaps my mother, who died pregnant at 39, would still be alive at 97. Which leaves me the perennial mugwump, praying for the unborn when asked to do so, but not at all sure what choice I would make or advise a loved one to make if faced with the personal or policy decision of abortion.


    1. John--

      Don't believe that "virtually unattainable" is historically accurate. There were plenty of illegal back alley abortions, and Cook County hospital jammed with injured, infected women. There are always abortions -- the question is, should they be legal and safe, or illegal and dangerous?

    2. John--It's also true that you wouldn't have been born if your mother had used birth control or refrained from having intercourse with your father. It's unclear what you would have us do to cover those circumstances.

    3. Exactly Bitter Scribe. Why do the " but I wouldn't have been born if my mother had an abotuon " ( with the implication that this is a reason why there shouldn't be abortion) never seem to think "But i would not have been born if my mother didn't have sex at that time"

  2. As noted in Neil's column, the so-called "pro-life" people do a good job of pretending that their primary concern is about "unborn babies." But every once in a while, the mask slips and the truth comes out.

    Years ago, I was reading some publication by the Moral Majority or some such, and there was an article decrying how abortion clinics are allowed to advertise, as though they were, you know, furnishing a legal service or something. I'll never forget the headline: "She'll Go Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig."

    On another occasion, some minister or other was trying to describe his opposition to abortion: "It gives the woman an out she wouldn't have had otherwise."

    An out. As in escape. From punishment.

    Seeing a pattern here? This is all about punishing women. It's why "pro-lifers" continually insist, against all experience and evidence, that abortion results in psychological trauma, breast cancer and all manner of ills.

    They want that punishment. And it's not enough that women who have abortions will, by their lights, spend eternity in hell. They want their punishment now, eternity be damned, and the law had better give it to them.

  3. I've been annoyed for a while with the concept that abortion and birth control are about womens' reproductive health. It's always been about controlling women. The ruling class (men) long lost their ability to control black people when (egads!) they started demanding their rights as guaranteed in the constitution. They know (or I could be wrong here) that they can't go back to poll taxes and literacy tests to restrict voting, so now they impose nonesense voting restrictions. By "they" I mean Republicans; they know they'll never win elections with the changes in our demographics. So all they've got left is controlling women and their lives. I realize many women are pro-birth, but legislators are still predominantly men.

    And please, can we dispense with the term "pro-life"? These people are pro-birth. Once these kids are born, often to poor women or women unable to support a child, they don't give a shit. They certainly aren't going to provide food or medical care or good education to these kids. Once these kids are born, you're on your own, lady.

  4. What's the title of the painting at the top of the woman tied up & I guess murdered for something these men don't like.

  5. How soon we forget. During a Wisconsin town hall meeting (March 30, 2016, in Green Bay), our Fearless Leader stated that women need "some form of punishment" for having an abortion. I forget exactly what form of excruciating torture he demanded, but who the hell really cares? Isn't just deciding to go through with the procedure punishment enough, Unca Donald? Or haven't you ever bothered to asked any of the women you've impregnated (and paid off) how they felt? It's not a casual thing for a woman, like going to a clinic to have a wart removed, or having a root canal. Ask the man who knows, first-hand. Don't want to elaborate any further. This isn't the venue for it.

  6. As a pro-lifer, I understand why others think that it's a case of religious people of a particular bent trying to force everyone else to live according to their beliefs even when they don't do it themselves. There's a lot of truth in this statement. Evangelicals have abortions and the pro-life movement would probably disappear if you took the religious folks out of it. That's why I think that selling out to Trump to get judges who will rule the "right" way is the wrong thing to do. Instead, we ought to encourage alternatives to abortion including making contraceptives easily available and do all that we can to encourage women to not have an abortion. The early Christians were notorious among the pagans for rescuing infants exposed in nature and raising them as their own. Why can't we do the same? Why can't we offer to raise the babies who would otherwise be aborted? At the very least, can we get supposedly pro-lifers in Congress to stop trying to whack programs like Medicaid which help take care of babies both before and after birth?

    On another note - why is "Google Account" the only option for posting a comment?

  7. Until quite recently, maybe a month ago, it wasn't the only option. You could just choose a username and post under that, as I was doing, or post anonymously. All comments had to be vetted by Mr. S, as they still do. I'm guessing the change was initiated in order to reduce the number of trolls and other problem children. So I shrugged and opened an account. Didn't hurt a bit. Seems like a small price to pay for retaining the privilege of posting comments here.


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