Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Abortion choices

I just listened to a disturbing little radio essay at NPR. The narrator is a young woman whose mother, in 1973, immediately after Roe v. Wade, made an appointment at the Laurel Clinic to abort her pregnancy. She couldn't go through with it, had the baby, and named her Laurel -- the same Laurel who is the story's narrator. So far, so interesting. Where it gets strange is where Laurel starts ruminating on choices. She says that, when she became sexually active as a teenager, her mother told her the story of the almost-abortion that gave Laurel her name. Here, I'll let Laurel tell this part of the story:

She didn't try to scare me with it, but she did use it to illustrate the obligation of sex. She explained that we all make choices, and then we live with our choices. She said she'd never regretted her decision to have me, but that she really would have liked to backpack through France before becoming a Mom. So I think a lot about what we mean when we say we have a right to choose. Choice isn't about doing the first thing that pops into your head, or doing what your friends tell you to do. Choice is about considering all the information at your disposal, and the honest feelings in your belly, and then making a decision. Choice is hard. Choice is about living with your decision, accepting responsibility for what you've done. If a choice is easy, it really isn't a choice. My mother chose to give birth to me, and accepted one set of burdens and gifts. If she'd had an abortion, she'd simply have had a different set of burdens and gifts.
Now, I'm fairly conflicted about abortion, and would rather have an honest debate than simply decide it on the rhetoric flowing right now -- especially the dishonest rhetoric coming from NOW and Naral. However, even with my one foot in the liberal camp/one foot in the conservative camp views on abortion, I found troubling this young woman's casual acceptance of the fact that her mother could have thought to herself "Baby? Backpacking trip? Backpacking trip? Baby? Ah, heck, backpacking's fun. Bye-bye, baby" -- and this internal dialogue would have resulted in a choice that was as morally valid as a decision to keep the baby in lieu of a backpacking trip. Really, when one thinks about it, this gets us right into the Dennis Prager territory of the danger of secularism, which allows one to elevate the "honest feelings in your belly," over any type of external morality. Am I reading too much into Laurel's little pro-choice riff? Or am I seeing a woman who sounds less self-centered but is, in fact, of precisely the same ilk as the woman who caused such a furor with her New York Times essay about aborting half of a twinset, simply because she couldn't envision going to Costco and buying bulk (sooooo unchic)?