Attitude evolution

November 27, 2009

A few years ago I met a kind of in-your-face reporter, not my favorite to work with, but common in the crisis cases I worked on. Still, I kinda liked him.

Once the crisis ended, we kept in touch with occasional lunches. After he was laid off this year, lunches became breakfasts. And we had one a couple weeks ago.

We talked about everything: writing, politics, life, spirituality, Catholicism.
And abortion.

I’ve been thinking about abortion for a very long time, so it was good to have my thoughts challenged by someone smart, with strong Catholic convictions. But the discussion made me uncomfortable, because it forced me to articulate what I think. And what I think is complicated.

Here’s the thing. Today, we know so much more than we did back in the days of Roe v. Wade.

Today, there are no easy answers to the choice issue.

Only hard questions.

Such as: What is viable? And here’s a good one: when does the soul enter the body?

Like we could quibble about it. Like anyone would even know the exact answer to that question.

Back in the Roe days, we didn’t know what we know now about fetal development. Expectant moms didn’t have ultrasounds. We couldn’t see the fetus moving on a screen. Face. Fingers and toes.

Babies under 7 months gestation didn’t stand much chance of coming out of the womb without a serious disability. A life-threatening one. Neo-natal medicine was in its very early days.

And, our socio-cultural attitudes toward disability were a lot different.Parenting a child with Down Syndrome was a horrifying thought. Life in a wheelchair was unthinkable.

So abortion was an easier decision to make. Don’t get me wrong. It’s never easy. I don’t want to minimize it. Because I know this first-hand.

But today, it’s got to be much harder. Much.

I think we have to understand that even strongly held convictions can evolve with time and more information.

I am a proud feminist. But I am not sure I could make the same decisions I made in my 30s. In fact, I know I could not.

I do know this. There are way too many crazies involved in this topic. Usually men. People who think it’s ok to kill doctors who perform abortions.

I don’t like the term pro-life. It smacks of manipulation. Propaganda. Because even women who believe in choice are for life. It would be wrong to think otherwise.

Have you run into those people who hand out little fetus feet pins? Awful.

I’m not sure why this subject attracts extremists and crazies.

But today, the anti-abortion side would stand a much better chance if they used reason, instead of hysteria and fear.

Because today, so many of the facts are on their side.

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