jeudi 16 octobre 2008

The Body Politic


Why is this issue still on the table?

First of all, I am as pro-life as the next gal and also staunchly pro-choice. However, I refuse to allow people who want to tell me what to do with my body and my life to usurp the term "pro-life," implying as it does that I and others who defend the right of an individual to choose are somehow anti-life. Sorry, but no. I am pro-life, too.

It has always astonished me, however, to note that those who are opposed to abortion are generally also opposed to sex education, the use of contraceptives and financial and social assistance to the women they would force to bring a baby into the world and the foetus they are calling a person and forcing to be born. In fact, I think it is important to look at all the premises underlying their position.

The premise of the first part of their argument is that life begins at conception. Unfortunately, the premise of the second part of their argument is that it apparently ends at birth.

Passionate concern for the unborn + total indifference for the born = Not really pro-life at all, but definitely anti-choice.

Frankly, I would like to see this divisive issue taken off the American political table once and for all. It is clear that overturning Roe v. Wade is about as likely as revoking the right to bear arms. It is just not going to happen. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to accept the fatality of both in American life and just move on? Maybe those who are against guns (I personally abhor guns, but I realize our gun culture is deeply and historically ingrained) could focus exclusively on making gun ownership more difficult and safer for the accidental victims of someone else's need to own one. And those who are opposed to abortion could focus exclusively on making sure that girls who find themselves in the family way have someone to turn to as they face this difficult situation. Adoption could be actively promoted and made much simpler. Abortion, if this option is chosen, could be done as early as possible. After all, China and Guatemala are no longer viable sources of adoptable babies for Americans.

Obama answered the question last night as well, as compassionately and as pragmatically as it can possibly be answered. I am proud of him for owning the pro-choice position. In contrast, McCain decided to channel Sarah Palin and started babbling about partial live births.

Here is what Obama said:
"This is an issue that—look, it divides us. And in some ways, it may be difficult to—to reconcile the two views. But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, "We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby." Those are all things that we put in the Democratic platform for the first time this year, and I think that's where we can find some common ground, because nobody's pro-abortion. I think it's always a tragic situation. We should try to reduce these circumstances."

McCain, who went first, used the question as an opportunity to attack Obama:
"Sen. Obama, as a member of the Illinois State Senate, voted in the judiciary committee against a law that would provide immediate medical attention to a child born of a failed abortion. He voted against that. … Then there was another bill before the Senate judiciary committee in the state of Illinois not that long ago, where he voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion, one of the late-term abortion, a really—one of the bad procedures, a terrible. … I don't know how you align yourself with the extreme aspect of the pro-abortion movement in America. … It was clear-cut votes that Sen. Obama voted, I think, in direct contradiction to the feelings and views of mainstream America."

As a reminder, and in case you had forgotten, this is the Maverick who reaches across the aisle and brings people together on issues.

With all due respect, Senator McMaverick, I believe that mainstream America wants to just move on move on and talk about the things that matter to Americans as a people: the economy, ending the war in Iraq, energy, jobs, education... Mainstream America knows this is an issue that divides us and that will never be resolved to anyone's satisfaction politically. Mainstream America knows that public policy on this issue needs to be pragmatic and not polemical. Mainstream America knows that if we let people choose to own guns or not, then we need to allow people to choose parenthood and not impose it as a punishment for bad judgement or lack of self-control.

Mainstream America knows that if we don't solve the immediate problems that face our nation--as opposed to pontificating on private matters that face men and women--then it is no use forcing women to bring babies into the world or forcing gun nuts to put their weapons down. Where once there was life, there will be only desolation.