7:08 PM Jun 20, 2003

by Rob Ritchie

I received the email below from an acquaintance, one recipient among what appears to be her entire address book.

If you believe we have the right to choose, please click the link and protect that right. If you don't then tell me why a man has the right to choose to walk away from a child without any moral obligation and a woman doesn't?

 We need a million signatures! Tell a friend about the commercials and the petition - click here: http://xxx.org/xx/xx/xx

 I responded as such:
Not to put too fine a point on it, but a man doesn't have a right to walk away from a child without any moral obligation...the courts have repeatedly enforced a woman's claims against the man she accuses as the father of their children (even when DNA evidence has proven that the man is not related to the kid).

Also, since when can a woman not walk away from a child? There is such a thing as putting a child up for adoption, you know.

I am not trying to get into a debate about the rightness or wrongness of abortion. I'm just pointing out that the premise of your argument is without basis. Not that that will make any difference to your target audience.

Of course, this did become a debate about the rightness and wrongness of abortion, and in the course of several email exchanges (which I’ll mercifully spare you the pain of reading) I found my opponent resistant to the point of obstinacy in her apparent willful misunderstanding of my points. Below, I reprint my last post in this entertaining, but frustrating, exchange (suitably redacted to eliminate names and personal remarks).

This is the closest I’ve ever come to articulating my position on abortion.

The fact that there are people in the world who want to end abortion does not make them evil people. It makes them people with a different conception (no pun intended) of what constitutes a life, and with a horror at the unjust killing of unborn children. The do not want to usher in a police state; they just want to stop the killing of babies.

The fact that there are people in the world who want to retain the hard-fought legal rights that people have to end pregnancies does not make them evil people. It makes them people with a different conception of what constitutes a life and with a horror at the damage that can be wrought upon a person by an unwanted pregnancy. They do not want to usher in a police state; they just want to free people from the rigors of this part of biology.

People who conceive a child through casual sex with uncommitted partners are foolish people who have put their own pleasures ahead of their own responsibilities and well being. They are also doing evil, in that they put their partners at risk by possibly causing life-long connections to unplanned-for children, and those children at risk of poverty and abuse. Whether the person is the woman or the man, they are equally negligent and at fault.

Women, since they personally are biologically responsible for the child, bear responsibility for the decision as to its fate. Ideally, the father is involved, but I realize that this isn't usual in the cases we're discussing. Because of this fact of reality, women bear most of the burden, and so have the greatest say in what happens. This is what both the courts, and common sense, dictate.

I believe that the ready availability of abortion has led to a lessening of the sanctity of life in our society; that people are coarsened emotionally and morally to pregnancy and abortion in general; that promiscuous men and women, supported by easy abortions, have elevated dishonorable behavior to a higher level than it ever has before. And, as a consequence, demand for abortions has reached a level never dreamed of by the very people who fought to make them legal.

I believe that a society can prohibit a form of infanticide without shaking the foundations of legal abortions. I believe that those who demonstrate against these changes are deliberately clouding the issue for the purpose of maintaining their relevancy and their power base. They do so entirely to maintain their political power, and do not care one whit about whether or not women are free to kill their babies late in their pregnancies. In fact, it seems monstrous to me that anyone would advocate such a horrible thing, yet we have people sending me emails telling me I need to do something to preserve a woman's precious right to murder a baby so late in the pregnancy that most women would have named their child by that time.

I believe that all persons have the potential to change the world for good or ill, and that the circumstances of a person's birth do not dictate their worth or future. I believe that we are doing irreparable psychic damage to our society by condoning the behavior that drives women to choose to destroy their children. And I can't help but reflect that those whose futures are snuffed out, had their mothers made different choices, might have become wonderful people who bring much of value to their societies.

I would remind you that you started this by forwarding to me some stupid little political-action email that you no doubt received from some other like-minded post-feminist. The reduction of the feminist movement, so successful in so many material areas in our society, to a single-minded pursuit for the maintenance of abortion, is perhaps one of the most tragic stories of our times. A movement that, in it's origin, strove to bring equality of opportunity and equality before the law to BOTH sexes, and to end unlawful discrimination, has devolved into shrill, fear-mongering voices solely in favor, not of improving the lives of all people, but instead the medical elimination of an entire, inconvenient, generation.