This is a bit difficult for me to write. I've just had a conversation with a good friend of mine. We regularly compete as to which of us is a bigger liberal, but he ceded yesterday that I would probably win because he is anti-abortion (that is to say, anti-choice). We were just texting, and I didn't want to get into it with him, so I just asked him to clarify: "Are you against abortion in all cases, or do you think it should be legally permissible for women who are raped, victims of incest, or whose lives are threatened?"
His answer below the fold.
He told me that he was against abortion in all cases except those in which the mother's life is threatened.
This did not sit well with me.
However, as I said, we were texting and I didn't think that was the best way to have a debate, so I didn't pursue it.
This evening, however, we went to go get ice cream with a mutual friend, and afterward, on the way to a store across the street, our conversation from yesterday came up. I told him that I would bring up the topic of abortion with him another time, but that now wasn't it. He said, essentially, bring it, let's talk about it now.
So I posed the question that had been on my mind for the past day. It is necessary to know that he has been dating a girl -- call her Rose, though that's not her real name -- for almost two years now, and I believe that each is the other's first boyfriend/girlfriend. Although their relationship isn't perfect, they are extremely well matched. It wouldn't surprise me at all if they ended up married. So I asked:
"If Rose was raped and became pregnant as a result, would you force her to have the child? She cannot be an exception to the rule. If you had the ability to determine unilaterally the circumstances under which women can or cannot have abortions, would you stick with what you said yesterday and force her to bear the child or would you allow her the choice as to have an abortion or not?"
He said he would force her to have the child. This surprised me, and it visibly upset our (female) friend who was with us. We did not continue our conversation, however, out of respect for the people in store we had just entered.
Personally, I am pro-choice, but like many of us with that position, I cannot see myself in a position in which I would choose to abort my child in circumstances that did not include rape, incest, or my own (or another bearer's) life.
That is a BIG exclusion though. And frankly, if his convictions are that strong, he either a) wasn't taking me seriously because of the hypothetical nature of the question, or b) is more honest than I knew and has stronger convictions than I knew. Either could be the case. But even if it was the latter, that small amount of respect he gains in my eyes for being that forthright and frank is absolutely and completely eclipsed by the realization that he would force his first and as-of-yet only love to bear a child she had had forced upon her because of an insistence on adherence to dogma instead of compassion for a victim of one of the most ruthless experiences a woman can endure.
Although it has little to do with the question of moral righteousness, the fact that he is a pretty jealous boyfriend made it even more surprising to me that he would not or could not see beyond his own notions and attempt to appreciate the horrible sentence he would be administering to someone he alleges to love.
We did have time before entering the store to have one last quick exchange. He stated as we got out of the car that this belief of his stemmed from his view that life began at conception. (He was raised Catholic and went to a Catholic high school, though he is now agnostic at the least. Perhaps that could be the root of this misconception?) I was perhaps a bit insensitive to this, though, having read Kali Joy Gray's post The Personhood Amendment: Rights for eggs but not for women yesterday, and went the ad absurdum route by pointing out the getting of one's driver's license at 15 years and 3 months or buying alcohol at 20 years and 3 months, but before we could continue, we were in the store and our conversation was over.
I know, even within our own community here at DKos, people are bound to disagree about some things. But it is always shocking to me to find out that someone with whom I have lampooned right-wing logic and ideology countless times bases such a huge personal interpretation of morality around such a cornerstone piece of right-wing ideology. I thought that, maybe, if I presented him with a scenario closer to home, it would ground him a little bit and make him realize what he would be condemning thousands of women, if not more, to, by making him consider what he could be condemning his own love to as well. I guess I was wrong.
Perhaps I should just hold onto the fact that it was all hypothetical. "Rose" is one of my very good friends, too, so I would never, ever wish on her or any other woman that this thought experiment become reality. But perhaps for people so ideologically entrenched, the only thing that can elucidate the right decision is to have to make it in real life. If that's the case, I'd rather him live in ignorance. But I certainly hope that our conversation gave him something to think about, so that he can see it from my and Rose's and every other blindly condemned woman's perspective without having to ever come face to face with this ugliest of possibilities.