Thursday, October 15, 2009

Undermining Choice.

I've been thinking about choice lately. Choice was the rallying cry of women across the country who wished to take control of their reproductive rights. So-called "pro-life" advocates countered that God was the decider of when a woman should have a child and that choice was not a woman's to have. By wishing to kill her "child," a woman was entering into the "culture of death" that came from turning away from God.

Now choice in dying, the rallying cry of Death with Dignity advocates, is being countered with the same anti-choice rhetoric. A comment on the CardinalPole blog (from my prior post) this evening regarding end of life issues in Australia gave me pause:

"I'm sick of "choice" as a principle," wrote Louise.

The blog comment led me to Bill Muehlenberg's recent rant about "abortion junkie," a response to a new book out, Impossible Motherhood, that chronicles a woman's "addiction" to abortion. Muehlenberg writes:

She’s still pro-choice. She still thinks it is fine to kill her own children. She still believes the lie that the most important thing in life is “in exercising our right to choose”. Sorry sister, I am not buying it. Is that how we absolve ourselves of every crime ever committed: I was just exercising my right to choose?

Hey, folks, let me clue you in on something: Hitler was exercising his right to choose. Stalin was exercising his right to choose. Pol Pot was exercising his right to choose. We have become so mentally disfigured and so morally obtuse, that we make absolutes out of something which was never intended to be an end in itself.

What we choose and why we choose is certainly important, but not the mere fact of choosing. If choice were an end in itself, then any old decision would do. I could either help an old lady across a busy thoroughfare, or push her in front of an oncoming truck. Hey, at least I exercised my right to choose.

Obviously, I don't deem abortion as murder because a fetus is not a child. Because I don't, I can't say I have much issue with the writer's 17 abortions. (Muehlenberg, for effect, almost sounds like if she had had one or two, all would be fine, but we know he wouldn't, which of course is the impossibility of compromise regarding the issue of abortion.)

If something isn't wrong, an inordinate amount of it isn't wrong necessarily. Those 75-hot-dog eaters are weird and unhealthy, I agree. But they're still legal.

Abortion is a legal service that the author can avail herself of as she chooses. I do however agree that she has serious issues. Abortion is no beautiful walk in the park and anyone who goes through it so many times should be addressed by a physician, psychiatrist, husband, family members, etc. I sympathize with a woman whose reproduction is so harmfully tied to that of her spouse and I hate it that her case and book are giving "pro-life" groups cause for "speechlessness" as Muehlenberg obviously exaggeratingly claims.

What does bother me is the disregard Muehlenberg has for a woman's choice, for a person's right to control their own body. He can equate Hitler's choice with a woman's choice for an abortion, or even with a terminal cancer patient's choice to hasten their death, all he wants but it's still a legal. Because he is morally opposed to abortion, I suggest he stay out of the clinic.

His odd equation of Hitler and others who have made evil, harmful, fatal choices to those who choose when to be mothers is ridiculous. And it echoes an email I received a few days ago from Liz Wheeler regarding my use of "anti-choice":

Your use of the term “anti-choice” is very misleading, and shows a significant misunderstanding of the term.

The term anti-choice by definition means “one who opposes ALL choices”, no matter what the topic of choice be.

Beyond the patronizing assertion that I don't know what anti-choice means, Wheeler is disingenuously trying to stop the use of the terms choice or anti-choice. Because it works. Because women - and most of us - respond to choice as a good thing, as our right. By undermining the legitimacy of that right and the use of the term, "pro-life" groups show that they fear personal choice or being labeled anti-choice.

Liz Wheeler, by the way, turned out to be an anti-abortion blogger.

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