Uncomfortable Territory

Weekly Standard. Breitbart.

This is difficult territory. But someone I deeply respect, whose background is evangelical, said he saw abortion in about any circumstances as deeply wrong; he’s also voting for Obama. The schism between sides may mean he hasn’t been exposed to audios like those linked above. Or he doesn’t want to know. So, this is difficult because that Illinois hearing and its transcripts define an in-your-face position.

I consider Obama’s position important – it weighs in my decision. I consider him extreme – I suspect few share his extreme (and harsh) postion. My feelings about abortion are mixed: I understand the long and intense commitment to raising children and the even greater and longer one to raising children with needs. Many of my friends are strongly anti-abortion. I think they have the better of the argument, but I would hesitate. My responsibilities are also to the living. I’ve been lucky and if I spout off with rather unhinged regularity, I have sufficient impulse control to see ahead to responsibilities. People don’t tell me about their abortions – or else my acquaintances also plan. They sense my confusion; we usually go to people at such times we can trust (knowing well what they are likely to say) and they would have no way to know how I’d respond since, to be honest, I don’t know myself. Still, we understand rape, incest, the health of the mother are reasonable exceptions – these categories may be more elastic than some want and not as elastic as others do, but we recognize them.

I suspect among Chicagoboyz feelings are varied and freighted – they certainly are across the nation. Many of us have had to consider much since Roe v Wade. One is early viability – I know proud grandparents of children delivered after six months of gestation; we get e-mails of babies gesturing “Gig ’em” in quite early stages. Another is with maturity I’ve begun to see that consequences of our actions are often best accepted and understood rather than eliminated. And we see in India and China the result of gender selection in abortion and suspect that ending is not going to be good.

Perhaps the strongest factor in my growing doubts about the nature of abortion is the extremity – if vagueness – of its proponents. Whenever a flock of euphemisms gather, we sense the buzzards are circling a dead argument. At least, we know it is intellectually dishonest if strongly felt.

The natural rights arguments against slavery had validity in the 1850’s and the pro-slavery arguments, often clothed in terms that did not face the true nature of slavery, set a pattern we see repeated. But after 1820 these arguments also became more extreme and defensive. It’s hard to be pro-abortion; it was hard to be pro-slavery. And this hesitation, this restless stretching to change the terms, is not the sign of an argument that believes clarity will buttress its position.

Obama’s arguments in the legislative give and take make obvious what so many debaters – and his later speeches – want to cloak. While most of us see Akin (asked by the Romney camp as well as the Missouri one to step down) as beyond the pale, doesn’t the majority, surely the large majority, find the arguments from Obama’s mouth, extreme?

I realize many – certainly Obama – would treat Winthrop’s great speech with irony; still, in 1630, as they stepped from the Arbella, they must have cherished the conclusion to that great old sermon – Let us choose life. And this seems the choice I’d like my country (and my president) to make.

Being positive may be the theme of the week – it is a far better argument to make. Romney on Chris Wallace: from his father to his son to his grandchildren was enmeshed in bourgeois domesticity. But we didn’t meet Obama four years ago in a thoughtful way. So we are fighting battles that should have ended then – and with the emphasis the Democrats have put on Akin, they assume did.

15 thoughts on “Uncomfortable Territory”

  1. I am pro-choice because I have seen women who had illegal abortions or self induced abortions before it was legal. I think it is important for anyone who thinks as I do to understand that abortion means killing the fetus and the fetus is a human being. I was taught in Catholic school that the mother should be allowed to die rather than perform an abortion but that did not appeal to me at the age of 10. It seemed silly since the mother could have another child.

    On the other hand, I once operated on a baby girl who weighed 1 pound 10 ounces. She had duodenal atresia, a lethal anomaly if untreated, and she survived amazingly well. We had none of the infant respirators and other means of support of small preemies that exist now. She was in an incubator and had a feeding gastrostomy tube going up to the top of the incubator cover where the nurses would give her a few drops of dilute formula every hour or two. By the time she weighed 3 pounds, she was kicking herself around in the incubator. A year later some guys in Florida operated on a 2 pound baby and got world wide publicity. We just didn’t know what we had done. It was 1967.

    What can I conclude for this ? I dunno.

  2. I was offered the opportunity for an abortion by the Air Force nurse who told me that I was pregnant – of course, by that time (1979) the military hospital where this took place, abortions were no longer performed. She would have written out a referral to the Japanese women’s clinic downtown which routinely performed them if I had asked for that option.

    The curious thing – and which I have always been grateful for – was that I had that opportunity to make a choice. Honestly, I didn’t know, going in to that appointment, what I was going to do if I was pregnant. I was afraid that I was, since my period was overdue by a week and I was feeling very wierd and ill. But as soon as she said that she could send me to that clinic, I said, “Oh, no – I’m going to keep the baby.”

    It was instant, and certain. I hadn’t even known my own mind about it, until that very second.

    But it wasn’t very easy, after that moment. I lost a lot of professional respect in the unit, (although some of the guys were totally magnificent and supportive about it!), my parents were terribly disappointed in me, and the relationship with my daughter’s father disintigrated immediately, and I was pretty much an emotional mess for at least a year or so afterwards. (Possibly longer, opinions vary!)

    It’s a hard decision. A

  3. Hmm… something hiccuped in the system before I could finish the above.
    It’s a hard decision – yes, it’s about a beating human heartbeat, from the time that the prospective child is about the size of a mouse. I have cried with friends over their own choices, some of which went the other way from mine … but in some ways, it was easy for me: I was healthy, my pregnancy wasn’t the result of rape, incest, or an abusive relationship, I was in my twenties, had a job with medical care and a college education, good relationships otherwise with the men in my life. I could make it all work (and I did, although I think the long-term military career plans did suffer …)

    With all of this, I am left on the shores of ambivilance. No – I do not approve or encourage abortion … but I can very well see how some women can see it as a solition. I am saddened by this, personally … but I can sympathize with a heartbreaking choice, and acknowledge that other women may make a different choice.

  4. The people that Obama is getting his philosophical justification for his current position have generally moved on. They are currently preparing the ground for the legalization of infanticide. Anybody who is pro-life will instantly bridle at the thought, be horrified frankly. A lot of conventionally pro-choice people are going to peel off too. But you have to ask them, because some of them won’t. They’ll follow the same voices, the same philosophers and move on to the next step in their cause.

    I do not know which way Obama will jump. I do not know of any journalist who would ask the question who will get a chance to. But somebody ought to.

  5. Links to those audios are going out on the various Knights of Columbus local e-mail lists.

    This election is all about identity politics, and the Roman Catholic Church is going all in against Obama this 2012 election cycle the way Black Chuches went all in for Obama in 2008.

    There are a lot more practicing Roman Catholics than Blacks, many of them voted for Obama in 2008, and won’t in 2012.

  6. I think Republicans should not be drawn into this debate but concentrate on who pays for it. That is a debate they can win. Obama wants you to pay for others’ irresponsibility.

  7. Abortion is old hat. A settled issue. Tomorrow’s topic will be euthanasia. And if you support abortion, how can you deny the benefit of euthanasia when nursing care is $10,000 per month and we’ve got indigent boomers whom doctors can keep “alive” for almost ever as far as the eye can see?

    And abortion is really progressive eugenics with a smiley face. But nobody has figured that out, either.

    As a geriatric parent I had to resist the pressure from all sides to abort an inconvenient child. It isn’t easy rearing a teenager in your 60’s. But I can’t imagine how less full my life would be without him.

  8. Ginny,

    This issue aside, what are the things that draw this individual toward Obama? Strongly pro-Obama evangelicals, at least among white people, don’t seem all that common.

  9. Michigan is in play.



    But the Romney campaign has also been highlighting two other issues that have particular resonance in Michigan. One is the administration’s contraception and abortifacient mandate, which hurts the president with the socially conservative Reagan Democrats in such places as Macomb County. There are 2.4 million Catholic voters in Michigan, and Obama’s assault on religious liberty has alienated many of them. In May, the Michigan Catholic Conference filed suit against the Obama administration over the Health and Human Services mandate — and Catholic priests will be preaching against it in parishes across the state between now and Election Day. Look for Romney to underscore his opposition to the HHS mandate — and his endorsement by Lech Walesa — with these Catholic voters, many of whom are of Polish and Ukrainian descent.

    Democratic identity politics cuts both ways.

  10. A purely political point: In the last few days I saw – and I can’t remember just where — the argument that voters don’t like discussions of abortion, and that they tend to turn against whichever side raises the issue.

    I’m inclined to think that’s true, though I haven’t seen enough evidence for it to be sure.

    (But I may think that because it fits my own experience. I was moved from a fairly pure pro-abortion(or, if you prefer, pro-choice) point of view by the arguments made by that side. Now, like the average American, I am somewhere in the middle.)

  11. Mike_K,

    What can I conclude for this ?

    For starters, there’s hardly anybody that thinks a woman with an ectopic pregnancy should be left to die from it. The rare exceptions are, well, rare and yet somehow they’ve been used as ammo by people who want to make it perfectly legal to abort a one-day-pre-partum baby.

    I agree with Tim about focusing on “who pays”, but I am just as interested in separating the issues of instances of rape or incest and actual threats to the mother’s health from the issue of very-late-term abortions.

  12. It’s complicated … the whole issue is, as Kirk pointed out. And it’s deeply personal, which was my take on it. I’d just as soon that the whole issue be taken off the table, politcally, but being made to pay for it is the sticking point. That may be the place upon which we can come to an agreement.

    We don’t approve of abortion, but having it legal with certain considerations, is something that we can accept. What is unacceptable, is being forced to pay for it, willy-nilly, over our reservations, with public monies.

    What a sad thing that doctrinaire, capital-F feminism has come down to – abortion on demand, without reservation. That is all that it is about, seemingly. Nothing else matters, no other pressing issue to do with women’s concerns matters, other than that. How sad.

  13. Part of what’s going on is that there are so many shades of opinion on these topics among Republicans/Conservatives that those people (especially women) who are of a generally liberal outlook are tending to hear the most extreme voices. If a Republican candidate says he’s opposed to late-term abortions, then the voter is likely to be thinking about *other* Republicans who favor banning ALL abortions. If a Republican candidate who is a churchgoer says he’s opposed to REQUIRING insurance plans to pay for contraception, then she (the voter) is likely to be thinking about *other* churchgoers who believe all contraception is wicked, and even of those nine-sigma cases who think it should be legally banned.

    The idiot Todd Akin’s comments about rape and pregnancy have done great harm, and may well result in the reelection of Barack Obama. Patriotism should have required him to have dropped out of the race by now, I guess his ego was more important.

  14. Last Wednesday I was in a social situation with three acquaintances who are Democrats. Two of them were gleefully repeating talking points about Romney and Akin and the Republican Party platform. I didn’t have the presence of mind to point out that Obama’s position on abortion is at least as extreme as is Akin’s, and that Obama is president rather than an obscure House member whose remarks have gotten him ostracized by his own party.

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