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Anti-choice? Anti-life?

My preceding post on Michael Moore's rhetoric reminded me of a conversation I had with my sister Sunday evening. We were at a family barbeque at my brother's house. The main topic of conversation was his recently being diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), which I'm sure I'll be talking more about in the future. But we cannot get together without talking about a wide range of subjects, which always seems to include politics.

Somehow we got on the topic of abortion and Lisa candidly admitted that she was anti-choice: she believes abortion should be outlawed. In response, I admitted to being anti-life, at least in the sense that I am opposed to the murder of doctors who perform abortions. That got a good if somewhat sad laugh. In truth, my views are similar to those I believe most people in this country hold. I also said I'm with Dan Quayle, who is pro-life but said he would support whatever his own daughter chose in such a situation. That got a laugh too, but isn't really accurate1. I personally oppose abortion, believe it is wrong and, to the extent I might ever have had any choice of my own, I like to think I would not have recommended it. But at the same time, I do not believe it is anyone's right to impose this belief on [adult] others, whether by law or by any other means.

Ultimately however, it is not a laughing matter. Real people and real lives are profoundly affected by relevant laws, court rulings and personal decisions. But somehow we've reached the point — actually we reached it long ago — where it seems most of us are happy to conduct our political discourse using marketing terms like pro-life, implying that anyone who opposes us opposes life in general, and like pro-choice, alternatly implying that anyone who opposes us opposes freedom of choice in general. So despite falling in the latter camp, there is something vaguely pleasing about being able to admit that, in some small2 way, I am anti-life.

1I don't agree with his position on Roe v. Wade: "I continue to support an amendment to overturn Roe vs. Wade today." [Source: Associated Press Jun 14, 1999 via]

I do agree with his position on giving permission to have an abortion to his daughter: "Obviously I would counsel her and talk to her and support her on whatever decision she made," responding to Larry King's question of how he would react if his 13-year-old daughter sought permission to have an abortion. (CNN, July 22, 1992) [Source: World on the Web]

2Not at all do I mean to imply that the killing of doctors is a small thing; it's only small in the sense that it's rather more peripheral than central to the overall issue of abortion. In itself, it's murder, plain and simple. The vast majority of "pro-lifers" would agree.

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