22 July 2004

barbara ehrenreich reminds me today of just how long it's been since i've seen a newspaper column deal with an issue that is actually difficult. it's pretty easy to love/hate paul krugman (depending on your side of the political fence), but it's hard to debate him. ehrenreich fearlessly brings up reproductive rights, a topic that seems to have gone missing from most editorial pages for quite a while.

she brings up a rather ugly corner of the debate: how do we feel about abortions where the fetus has been found to be "defective?" i know how i feel: ever so slightly queasy. unlike abortions that occur because the woman can't support a baby or is too young to be a mother, abortions that occur because of potential birth defects are somehow "about" the fetus. there is a certain lack of personal accountability there, a certain blame-shifting. i was surprised, for a moment, to hear that folks find such elective abortions more morally acceptable than others. after all, as ehrenreich points out, these fetuses are not all anencephalic or catastrophically damaged. some of them are deaf. some have down's syndrome. some are dwarves. having known lots of healthy, happy, productive disabled folks, that makes me a little nervous.

ehrenreich is right: this is about honesty and accountability and not being ashamed to have this right and use it. within certain very broad bounds, an abortion is an abortion is an abortion. this is why i fight like hell to keep *all* abortions safe and legal -- from PABA to pre-roe is not actually very far at all. it is why others fight like hell to make them illegal, put them back in the alleys -- an abortion is an abortion is an infanticide, or so they say.

the debate over which abortion is more moral too often centers on the issue of which abortion is less chosen. that can't be a good situation for actual, substantive choice.