I don’t write much here anymore. That’s probably pretty obvious. There’s a complex of reasons. For one, I have writing output in other places, for other purposes. Also, my belief that online “discourse” is valuable declines rapidly as each new outrage and crisis rises and falls (so we’re talking about, oh, every 36 hours or so). I mostly think that anything I write will be so decontextualized, I’m not sure how valuable it will be to anyone. Thus… I don’t come here often.


Roe v. Wade got overturned. So I’m here.

I have to admit, I did not think I’d ever think we’d see “here.” I am on record in this space as being against elective abortion for a variety of reasons. But it just seemed like, despite the fact that many, many or even (in various polls at various times) most Americans have been deeply uncomfortable with the kind of maximalist approach to abortion that our country has had, we would never see anything change. There definitely have not been enough Americans to expect a Constitutional amendment, which feels like what would be necessary to overthrow a Supreme Court decision. I did not foresee the Court flipping on the issue.

Of course, there is historical precedent for exactly that happening. Both slavery and segregation were defended as institutions by the Supreme Court… until the Court reversed itself. We sort of forget that that happened. I know I never really thought about it as a possibility on this issue (and, apparently, neither are Very Angry Pro-Abortion people). But… here we are.

I always hoped that we would one day recognize, in this country, that abortion is a moral evil. I don’t think you have to be Christian or even theistic to believe that. So my hope was that we would come together and decide we cannot abide its existence. The fact that we have arrived here is, therefore, a surprising gift and also disappointing. No longer is abortion viewed as a federally protected Constitutional right. Nor do I think it should be. Plenty of progressive, pro-choice legal minds (not all, probably not most, I hasten to add), acknowledge that Roe v Wade as a legal decision, was shaky at best and probably just bad. I think it’s good that we’ve come around to that legal argument. What’s unfortunate is that we very clearly do not agree, as a people, that not only is this not a legal right, but it is a moral evil. I don’t need to provide evidence for the assertion that we don’t agree.

So here we are. On fire. More of the same. Emphasis on the “more.”

Typically, I’m quite amenable to being a listening ear, a sympathetic ear, for my more progressive friends and family. Probably, to many people, I appear to actually, at times, be a progressive. I was very openly opposed to the celebration of President Donald Trump (before and after having the title). Yes, I still am, even on this side of Dobbs. That makes me out to be a liberal to many people. And I am still quite happy to continue to listen to my progressive friends. It’s mostly because I have been listening that I want to write today.

I am really, really tired of what I’ve been hearing.

To be clear, I really do understand and have sympathy for people’s anger and fear. That seems completely understandable to me. For half a century, a significant portion of Americans have been repeatedly told, over and over again (and in increasingly totalizing terms), that abortion is morally acceptable, often good, and is their legally protected right, which ensures a more just world, especially for women, especially poor women. If you believe that wholeheartedly, this decision is a disaster. And since it was unimaginable, it’s scary that this disaster could happen. That is completely understandable and I have a lot of sympathy for that anguish.

What I have a problem with is the slander. I know that slander is justified by everyone, left and right, as long as you pick the correct target. I personally hate that. I spend a lot of time calling out the slander from the right, because the people on the right are generally my people. But I’m really, really tired of the ***slander from the left right now. Because I do think it is so obviously aimed at trashing people’s reputations and character with easily false and disproven claims. It’s also so grating how these same few talking points have become a kind of liturgical confession by the Very Online segments of the left. I have read, I swear, the same few statements from hundreds and hundreds of different people. It’s the confessional Litany of Our Anger right now.

Line 1: “They don’t care about life. It’s about control.” Perhaps there’s a cabal of men (and women, I guess?) who really just care about women being under the control of men. I do not know a single anti-abortion person that actually thinks or feels this. Now, I am entirely willing to grant that systems can be constructed along these lines and work this way without the emotional support or affirmation of the people in them. I get it! But you also have to listen to the actual people that you are saying are doing this. And maybe MAYBE for most anti-abortion people (I’ll grant you this term and not use “pro-life” anymore), their substantive argument is NOT about the sexual behavior and choices of women. It is about the fetus. There is zero acknowledgement of this concern. Anti-abortion people are, again and again, saying a fetus is a human life that should be protected. Pro-choice people (see? I will let them have their term in a spirit of fairness) do not even engage this argument. They just say, “This is about me doing with my body what I choose.” Can I suggest why I think that is?

Most pro-choice people have no ability to answer the anti-abortion argument where it is being offered. And I’ll be perfectly frank: I don’t think it’s a matter of training. I think it’s because there is no answer to the objection.

I absolutely support and affirm the right of a woman to have control and autonomy over her body. I want that for all women everywhere. And I absolutely acknowledge that that right has been in question for a lot of women in a lot of places for most of history. It’s a legitimate concern! A woman should be able to do what she wants with her body.

Abortion does not happy to a women’s body. Abortion happens inside a women’s body. But the procedure itself happens to the fetal body and results in, not the removal permanent portions of the woman’s body (the placenta is removed, of course), but the removal of the contents of her womb, which is not her body.

Now the crux of the thing is the claim that her rights extend to the fetus because the fetus is inside her own body. And I recognize that that condition absolutely forces a more complex ethical conversation than most anti-abortion people are willing to concede. But there has to be an acknowledgment of absolute, inarguable fact: the fetus is a living human. It’s scientifically not up for debate. That organism is definitely alive (it has a metabolism and cell growth and internal biological processes and etc., etc.) and it is definitively human and it is definitively NOT the mother. All of this is inarguable.

Living humans get human rights.

That’s the crux of the anti-abortion claim. And it’s a pretty strong one. It is not crazy or controlling or misogynistic to see that claim, to see those facts, and act to protect the barest minimum of human rights: the right to not be killed. It is incumbent on the pro-choice side to explain that the correct belief is “Most living humans get human rights.”

No one even tries. Instead… slander.

Line 2 “If it was about life, then it would be about universal health care and paid leave and etc., etc. They’re not pro-life. They’re pro-birth.” First of all, “pro-life” does not universally equal “GOP.” Let’s be clear about that. Roman Catholics are staunchly pro-life and Catholic social ethics are very much NOT GOP. And it’s not just the Catholics, thank you very much. My last blog post here was a plea for pro-life people to push for these kinds of policies. I hope that Senator Romeny’s latest proposal will be speedily advanced and then quickly built upon. I’m all for it.

I think it’s completely fair to be angry about a lack of social help from the GOP. I think it’s fair to insistently ask, “How are you going to care for these people?!” It’s a good question, a fair question.

But come on. This is an argument in bad faith.

If I were to magically grant you ALL of the federal programs you asked for (many of them are good, but to assume that the federal government is going to be the best for all of the things that end up on this list… that’s quite a leap), would you then be likely to say, “This is acceptably pro-life now. It’s lovely that you want to end abortion. I concur”? No, of course not. People like me could grant you the whole wish list and the argument would still be, “Abortion should have no restrictions.”

People spouting this line generally don’t care if anti-abortion advocates are consistent. They care if they oppose abortion and don’t advocate for these other social programs. But if you do the latter and not the former… that’s the only way to find acceptance.

Let me be clear: I think our society is grossly antagonistic to vulnerable people. Not just the unborn, but the vulnerable of any category. I think we should advocate for programs, even *GASP* government programs, that help make this society more hospitable and receptive to the powerless and not so completely hellbent on profit. And yes, “hellbent,” is the right word.

But I’ll take advances towards that end anywhere I can get them. A better system of immigration? Yes, please. An expanded social safety net for poor mothers? Please do. Financial incentives for having families? Do it!

End abortion? Yeah. Now. I don’t need everything to be in place across the board. Politics doesn’t work that way. Better is better.

This is better.

Line 3: “Ectopic pregnancy requires abortion! Miscarriages require abortions! Septic pregnancies require abortions!” Let me tell you why this is slander:

I knew all of that stuff in high school. The morally correct choice (I believe) for an ectopic pregnancy is an abortion. When your choice is “one person dies” or “two people die,” you choose the former. I’ve known that since I was 16. I don’t know any anti-abortion person that does not know that.

Are there potentially badly-written laws in states that might criminalize a DNC after a miscarriage? I don’t know. Are there? Really and truly? If there are, those laws should be amended. Obviously. And every anti-abortion person I know would agree on that! Some abortions actually are medically necessary to save the life of a woman. That exists! We know that!

One: They are the vast minority of all abortions performed in this country. You can get that from Planned Parenthood’s own statistics. Two: Elective abortions, not truly medically necessary ones, are what are in view here.

Pretending like anti-abortion people are too dumb to understand ectopic pregnancies or do understand them and want women to die is… slander.

If you are adamantly for abortion rights, I am not saying you’re not allowed to be angry and afraid. Not at all. I get it. But hysterical name-calling and lying about each other (and yes, “pro-life” people do this too) is bad for all of us. It doesn’t help a thing. Slander is bad for our neighborhoods and our communities and our nation. You do not like being slandered. I don’t like being slandered. Let’s treat each other like we’d like to be treated ourselves.

Let’s find points of common interest. I want a society where far more people look at the prospect of pregnancy and say, “I can do this. My society encourages me and enables me to do this.” I think pro-choice people want that too. There are probably a number of things we can agree on and we ought to work together on those things. Planned Parenthood wants things I do not want. But they want some things that I do as well. Could we work together on those things?

I think we would be much better off if we were able to imagine such scenarios and begin working together on them. I hope all of us can more often imagine such a world and actually work it out between us.

God help us in this country as we figure this out. If we don’t figure it out, there is very likely even more turbulence ahead. I hope none of us want that.

I hope.

***A commenter (below) I think made several good points about why this is not the correct word. Slander requires more intention than what is likely present for the vast majority of people. The comments feel slanderous because of their inaccuracy, but I think people so rarely know others different from them, that the may actually believe they’re representing them correctly. That’s not slander. It’s incorrect, but not slanderous. So I should not have used that word. I’m leaving it in the post so it doesn’t feel like I erased my errors. The (bad) decision was mine and you should be aware of that. I do hope we can move towards communities where people actually do understand one another, even when they deeply disagree. I think that’s a much healthier place to be.