Because, folks, it's all about the mother. Everything. Always. Oh, and one's feelings. So insists Mary Elizabeth Williams:
the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s
a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up
looking like death-panel-loving,
kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can
be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose
body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her
circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of
the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.
When we on the
pro-choice side get cagey around the life question, it makes us
illogically contradictory. I have friends who have referred to their
abortions in terms of “scraping out a bunch of cells” and then a few
years later were exultant over the pregnancies that they unhesitatingly
described in terms of “the baby” and “this kid.” I know women who have
been relieved at their abortions and grieved over their miscarriages.
Why can’t we agree that how they felt about their pregnancies was vastly
different, but that it’s pretty silly to pretend that what was growing
inside of them wasn’t the same? Fetuses aren’t selective like that. They
don’t qualify as human life only if they’re intended to be born.
we try to act like a pregnancy doesn’t involve human life, we wind up
drawing stupid semantic lines in the sand: first trimester abortion vs.
second trimester vs. late term, dancing around the issue trying to
decide if there’s a single magic moment when a fetus becomes a person.
Are you human only when you’re born? Only when you’re viable outside of
the womb? Are you less of a human life when you look like a tadpole than
when you can suck on your thumb?
We’re so intimidated by the
wingnuts, we get spooked out of having these conversations. We let the
archconservatives browbeat us with the concept of “life,” using their
scare tactics on women and pushing for indefensible violations like
She later writes:
belief that life begins at conception is mine to cling to. And if you
believe that it begins at birth, or somewhere around the second
trimester, or when the kid finally goes to college, that’s a
conversation we can have, one that I hope would be respectful and
empathetic and fearless.
But, hey, pro-lifers are the "wingnuts" and irrational zealots! Good grief. Rod Dreher writes, on the American Conservative site:
conceding that the unborn child is a human life, it seems to me that
Mary Elizabeth Williams endorses infanticide. At least she’s not
hypocritical about it. But it sure is ghoulish. If the fetus is fully
human, why does the mother have the right to end the life of a human
being, for any reason at all (which is Williams’s position). If the law
recognized Williams’s view that the fetus is fully human, then it would
call abortion a form of murder, almost by definition.
think of another situation in which fully human beings lived under
conditions in which their master had the right to kill them with
impunity, because there were nothing more than property? Of course you
can. Nice historical company Mary Elizabeth Williams keeps.
Sure, Rod, resort to logic and historical precedent. Don't you know these sort of complicated questions should be settled with angry rhetoric and infantile namecalling? [Sarcasm, stop.] The positive here, of course, is that the complete absurdity of Williams' stance should be obvious to anyone with half a brain and a quarter of a soul. But perhaps I'm naive on that point...