In the 10th grade, my English teacher shared with the class what she considered to be some good advice. This good advice was rather simple: one should not talk about the death penalty, abortion, and possibly even politics in unknown company.
And though I have learned that not heeding this advice can get you called things like a “commie treehugger” (though by someone who has clearly never met either type of person), I still have always hated the advice. Hated the thought that there were topics that couldn’t be rationally discussed by grown up people.
And so for better or worse, in this space I’ve decide to broach the topic of abortion. My position on the topic is for another time (and possibly place), though surely some will consider what follows to be an established position.
Anna Quindlen, a well-known columnist for Newsweek, last week has this to say about the taboo A-word:
Buried among prairie dogs and amateur animation shorts on YouTube is a curious little mini-documentary shot in front of an abortion clinic in Libertyville, Ill. The man behind the camera is asking demonstrators who want abortion criminalized what the penalty should be for a woman who has one nonetheless. You have rarely seen people look more gobsmacked. It’s as though the guy has asked them to solve quadratic equations. Here are a range of responses: “I’ve never really thought about it.” “I don’t have an answer for that.” “I don’t know.” “Just pray for them.”
She goes on to argue that this question should be the central one for those looking to make the procedure illegal.
I found this both interesting and timely, as here in Colorado, a group has garnered some attention for trying to make an entirely different question central to the debate. Here, a group that calls itself Colorado For Equal Rights is making an attempt at a ballot initiative that would define any fertilized egg as a person, and thus entitled to equal protection under the law.
Both of these arguments pose interesting questions on the topic. Because of its freshness (at least to me) I found Quindlen’s more worthy of attention, but I couldn’t rightly ignore the other.
Both possibilities have the potential to close the political debate. Though to think that such a thing could happen is probably slightly optimistic, if not outright naive.