Thursday, April 29, 2004

Annie Banno about Silent No More at last weekend's March.

And Peter Nixon reflects on his activist days on both sides of the fence.

Look, I don't want to piss off certain of you. I really don't.

But what disgusts me about the leadership of "abortion rights" activism is the fact that they will never acknowledge one thing everybody knows, regardless of how they think abortion should be treated in law. Abortion is awful, something you wouldn't wish on anyone you know; even if they argue it's necessary in a bad situation, situations so bad one might contemplate it ought not to occur so often in a decent country.

1.3 million abortions per year is a hideous, terrifying number. Let's say that 1.3 million women were going to clinics each year, say, to cut off their right hands and sell them to alleviate financial need. We would be horrified and try to figure out a way to order society so that women aren't driven to that extreme. Why does nobody (exception for crisis pregnancy centers and the like) seem to offer anything at all that would address the problems that lead so many women to undergo invasive surgery to dismember a living being in utero?

Even if you don't share my conviction (and I believe the arguments are on my side) that this is the death of a human person deserving protection, you must acknowledge that something has gone awry with a society in which one out of every four women eventually has an abortion. Maybe you think the best answer is the right kind of sex education, or financial care to women who want to bear their child, or a better organization of the adoption system, or something totally different. But you have to admit that 4,000 abortions every day represents a problem that we are ignoring. And NARAL and Planned Parenthood refuse to do this, and they lobby against anything that might have an effect (say, parental notification) because to try and address a problem requires a public acknowledgement of its existence.

I realize that the following objection can be made: "We all know abortion is a bad thing, and that it happens way too often. But to concede these facts in the public sphere is to give ground to those who would criminalize all abortion immediately. And even you would have prudential concerns about that policy."

Concealing the truth, particularly if it's one that many people recognize, is never an effective strategy. In this case, it's positively callous. And stupid, too: if there was ever any devotion to the last of the "safe, legal, rare" trio, it would probably cut down on the squeamishness of most America that causes a majority to identify themselves as "pro-life" rather than "pro-choice". Abortion had more popular support when it could be portrayed in just the extreme cases, rather than as the way for a 20-year-old creep to cover his tracks with a 15-year-old girl, or as the "only choice" for a woman who feels she'll be fired if she's pregnant.

So in the long run, it's a good thing that Planned Parenthood refuses to question the main source of its income. People are starting to realize that the rhetoric of theirs being the compassionate side isn't much more than rhetoric. My generation, I hope, will be ready to look for better responses to bad situations than doing nothing and later "providing" an abortion. I know we can do better, and it's not a moment too soon.

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