an After abortion

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Anne Lamott is a Christian writer who has had several abortions. She recently spoke at a conference of progressive Christians. A man in the audience asked a question about abortion and as the progressive Christians nodded their heads and spoke in hushed tones of the moral ambiguities surrounding abortion, Anne Lamott became very angry. She writes about this in an op-ed column in the Los Angeles Times, The Rights of the Born.

Other bloggers have written about her piece: Amy Welborn, Dawn Eden, and Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly, who says:

In any case, I'm with Lamott. I don't think nonviable fetuses are human beings. Terminating them doesn't bother me, and it's none of my business anyway. For all I care, women are free to use abortion as their standard method of birth control if they want to. Nor do I really care much if we reduce the abortion rate in America. Safe and legal is good enough for me. I don't think abortion is a morally ambiguous issue, I don't think getting one should be an emotionally traumatic experience, and no, speaking as a husband, I don't think husbands should have any legal say in the matter.
Most of Kevin's 400+ commenters agree with him but agree as they might, they haven't been able to make women grasp that their abortions shouldn't be emotionally traumatic. It's that old "women: the weaker sex" vibe going on in Kevin's subconscious, if you ask me.

Please read those other bloggers for discussions of Anne Lamott's conclusion that it is wrong to inflict life on innocent human beings. No...wait. It is wrong to inflict life on innocent non-human beings, or human beings who are really small, or...well, it's confusing.

What I'd like to address in Lamott's piece is the amount of anger that roars up in her when abortion is brought up. Notice her self-descriptions:

EVERYTHING WAS going swimmingly on the panel. The subject was politics and faith, and I was on stage with two clergymen with progressive spiritual leanings, and a moderator who is liberal and Catholic. We were having a discussion with the audience of 1,300 people in Washington about many of the social justice topics on which we agree — the immorality of the federal budget, the wrongness of the president's war in Iraq. Then an older man came to the mike and raised the issue of abortion, and everyone just lost his or her mind.

Or, at any rate, I did.

I sat there simmering, like a samovar; nice Jesusy me. The moderator turned to me and asked quietly if I would like to respond. I did: I wanted to respond by pushing over our table.

Also, I wanted to wave a gun around, to show what a real murder looks like. This tipped me off that I should hold my tongue, until further notice. And I tried.
That's a lot of anger, and it does not reflect the calm resolve of someone who is in a place of peace about her past. Far from it.

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