Many years ago, I was acquainted with a woman who was the very model of a proud Progressive. Fiercely liberal, she would refer to herself as a “hyper-feminist”. She was a non-observant Jew who wrote erotic fiction when she wasn’t serving food at a local pub. I can still remember the sheer joy she experienced when one of her stories was published in Playgirl, a magazine to which she subscribed (proving that there’s at least one woman who “reads” it, I suppose). She was a sexual libertine who talked openly of her conquests, and who viewed marriage with deep suspicion, if not outright hostility. She was a child of committed liberals, and she had these views so deeply ingrained in her it was highly probable that she’d never been exposed to the other side (I knew better than to ever discuss politics with her). When she was in her early 20s she’d had an abortion, something that she talked about with a sense of pride because it gave her the opportunity to expound on her pro-choice views. She viewed the abortion as a good thing. If she had kept the child, she once explained, her life would have been entirely different. I said nothing, but wondered why a somewhat promiscuous waitress who wrote girlie porn on the side and hung out, often alone, in bars was really that reluctant to have a different life. I think of Elaine in Seinfeld saying, when told that getting married would change her life, “It’s three-thirty in the morning. I’m at a cock fight. What am I clinging to?”
Regardless of her views, we got along well. She was certainly a nice enough person. She was forceful in her political beliefs but rarely strident about it, at least to me. We talked about music, movies, and other non-controversial things mainly. When she talked politics I nodded wisely and held my tongue.
One evening, after she’d had a few drinks, she casually mentioned someone named “John” to me. I was pretty familiar with her friends, and this name was unfamiliar so I asked who that was. “That’s the name of my son,” she replied.
The story that followed was surprising to me at the time, though from what I understand now it’s really quite common. “John” was the boy child she had aborted. She’d mentioned him because that day was the anniversary of the due date for the birth. She then proceeded to tell me about how she often had dreams where her son was alive, that she thought about him every year on this date that would have been his birthday. She told me how when she saw children of the same age she thought about the boy she had named in her head, though never on a birth certificate. At the time, “John” would have turned seven years old. She told me how the previous year she’d driven past a bus stop and seen little children lined up for their first day of school, and how the experience had devastated her. She confessed to me that “John” crept into her thoughts almost every day, mostly fleetingly, sometimes lodging in her brain and refusing to leave. Those days were the hardest, she said. Those were the days she felt empty. She described it “feeling sometimes like you’re missing a limb”.
It’s these ghosts that I think about on this day, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that enshrined abortion as a Constitutionally protected right. Not merely the ghosts of 55 million babies that never got to see their first day of school, that never knew what it was to celebrate a birthday, or graduation, prom night, marriage, children of their own. I think about the ghosts of the women like my acquaintance. She paid lip service to the liberal pieties, forcefully demanding her “right to choose”, but at the end of the day she was hollow inside, a woman with no self-respect. Her abortion had torn something deep inside of her, and she lived her life unable to get through the day without thinking at least a bit about a boy she never got the chance to know.
To be pro-choice, especially in 2013, requires a denial of basic biological science and gross contortions of logic. The science is there for all to see. With the increasing use of 3D sonograms those old blurry black and white pictures are now seen in sharp relief, and it is clearly a baby that appears in the womb. Not a fetus, or an embryo, or any of the scientific terms that are used to camouflage reality. It’s a baby. We all know it, deep down inside. The science is clear. As early as the moment of conception, there is the creation of an organism that did not exist mere moments before. That organism is human. The word is “embryo” but that is really just the scientific term for the first eight weeks of development. The talking point that this is only a potential human life is nonsense. It is a human life in the earliest stages of development. It has the “potential” to be nothing else, because it already is. It exists. Sexual intercourse has the potential of creating a life, but once fertilization occurs that potential is fulfilled. The life has been created.
We know this instinctively, which leads to the logical contortions required to be pro-choice. We mourn at a miscarriage because we know that it is a loss of life, not merely the discharge of cells. We cringe in horror when we read the news accounts of pregnant women who have been assaulted or killed, because we know that it is also a baby that has been victimized. We shed copious tears when a woman delivers a stillborn child, even as we debate whether the woman should have the right to have destroyed the same baby mere moments before the delivery. On the other side of the coin, we smile when we feel “the baby” kick. No woman ever refers to the child in her womb as “my fetus.” People play music (preferably Mozart, so I’m told) to their in utero child, and they stop drinking caffeine and alcohol, and stop smoking cigarettes. They do this because it affects the frail life inside. The human life.
Too many people hold the position that it doesn’t matter what the expectant mother does. Her body, her choice. But this is cowardly. It relies on the poisonous notion that the worth of the child is entirely dependent on whether the mother wants to give birth. It puts aside both the science and the concept of consequences for personal action and, by doing so, is a failure of the fundamental belief that we need more liberty and freedom for all. By relegating the child to this lowly status, it denies the inherent right to life to the unborn child. The unborn child, the unborn human, becomes nothing more than a possession to be disposed at will. It gives women the power of tyranny over the life inside them, and over the objections and arguments of fathers. Is this what libertarians and Progressives seek when they talk of ensuring the most freedom for all people? A true libertarian would argue that the choice to have sex resulted in a consequence for two people (mother and father) and the creation of a third, unique, person in an early stage of development. The rights of that third person can not be denied, which requires both mother and father to make another choice. They can keep the baby, or give the child up for adoption. That is the position that guarantees the maximum freedom for all parties. At a minimum of coherent thought, libertarians should be unanimously opposed to Roe v. Wade on legal grounds, keeping in mind that overturning this atrocious decision would not ban abortion, but merely return the control of the law to the states, where the people could decide whether this was a policy they wanted enshrined in law.
For Progressives, abortion is the one sacrosanct tenet of their political faith. Progressives will concede on tax cuts, on spending cuts, and even make some concessions to entitlement reform. What they will never compromise on is abortion. It has been the cornerstone of Progressive politics since Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger pushed for legalized abortion and birth control as a way of promoting eugenics and the eventual eradication of what she called "bad stock" (i.e., blacks and the disabled). Many politicians make the claim, first popularized by Progressive Catholics like Mario Cuomo, that they are "personally opposed" to abortion, but can not push their beliefs on others. This has become the fallback position for gutless politicos for decades as they try to thread the needle between pro-life and pro-choice. But those contortions of logic don’t go away with this position. They multiply.
For starters, Progressives love nothing more than to push their beliefs on others. It’s part of their DNA. But what these profiles in courage never talk about is why they are personally opposed. Is it because they believe that life begins at conception? Yes, when they’re cornered that’s usually what they say. But how does one go from believing "I believe abortion is murder" to "but if you don’t believe it, then you should feel free to murder"?
If you believe abortion is the taking of a human life, the only real justification for being opposed to it, you are morally obligated to speak out against it. If you do not believe it is the taking of a human life, there is no reason at all to be opposed to it. There is no reason to make it "safe, legal, and rare" as Bill Clinton once said. Nobody speaks this way about any other type of elective surgery. There is no talking point in the DNC to make nose jobs "rare". Why should it be rare?
People all over America were shocked and rightfully horrified by the school shooting in Newtown last month. Committees were formed, executive orders were signed, new laws and regulations were debated. In the past 40 years, in hospitals and clinics across America, there has been the equivalent of nearly 200 Newtown massacres every single day. Over 55 million children have been slaughtered. We have traveled the road from debating abortion to debating infanticide. Illinois State Senator Barack Obama voted in favor of a bill that would allow doctors to starve babies to death if they had somehow survived the abortion procedure. Not embryos, not fetuses, but real babies living outside of the womb. United States President Barack Obama appointed John Holdren as his senior advisor on science issues. John Holdren was also a supporter of forced abortions and sterilizations.
It’s my belief that even the most committed pro-choicers understand on a gut level that there is more to this than a simple, elective surgical procedure. Ask my old acquaintance, haunted by the ghost of her son. Rhinoplasty, breast enhancement, and liposuction are done every day without comment, criticism, or complaint. What makes abortion any different? The answer is as simple as the nose on the face in a 3D ultrasound.