The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. - Wm. Blake

Monday, January 22, 2007

Why I blog for Choice

Actually, I haven't much, if at all, but choice is a central political value of mine. Many others have said it better, so I'll simply say this: the right of adult humans to determine thier own fates is the THE central right - it's life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and the wellspring of every other right. And the right not to gestate, bear, and raise another human is critical to making those other rights meaningful.

And as for all the threadbare retorts that demagogues use to respond to my assertions above, well, I used them too, once. As some of you know, I was once a devout Catholic and quite conservative (although with minimal racist, sexist, and homophobic tendencies - at least no more than any other unenelightened, privileged white son of the Reagan Era). And part and parcel of that was effortless confidence in the wrongness of abortion. After all, a fetus is so obviously human - what else could it be? - and the injunction against murder is so definitive, there could be no debate.

And frankly, in the op-ed pages, that simplistic analysis gets you pretty far. Because the one thing that rarely gets mentioned in the op-ed pages is the hard reality: abortions will happen. No matter what. You can outlaw it, you can restrict it, you can make it expensive and humiliating, but you will never prevent it. And it was having this simple, obvious fact laid out for me that sent the whole edifice crashing down. After all, what use, what sense, is an absolutist moral system that flies in the face of reality?

It was this realization - that conservatism, the creed that claims for itself "realism," as opposed to the naive idealism of liberals, was hopelessly out of touch with reality - that set me on the path to liberalism. Because if there will always be homosexuals, no matter how loudly bigots preach; if there is racial injustice, no matter how rotely bigots cite selected excerpts from Dr. King; if sexism remains pervasive, no matter how many individual women achieve success, then we need to face up to the reality of our world, and respond humanely towards it. That means taking seriously the claims of the oppressed; that means knocking down barriers of prejudice, whether enshrined in civil or religious law; and that means fighting, tooth and nail, for the right to choose for all women.


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