Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion overturning Roe v. Wade appears to have unleashed a mania that leads many otherwise decent, kindly people to vigorously support the murder of children in the wombs of their expectant mothers.
It seems to me that the anger many feminists have expressed about Justice Alito’s position has misled their unquestioning supporters. A case in point is my friend, whom I will call Brenda, a woman who couldn’t be kinder or more helpful to others. I’ve known Brenda since we were in a doctoral program together 45 years ago. In my experience, she was and is someone who never failed others in need of help.
A few weeks ago, when the uproar against the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe was at the peak of its pre-midterm rabid fervor, Brenda was talking about Justice Alito with enmity in her heart. I, in turn, suggested that he was doing his job and following his conviction that abortion is a species of murder. But then I took a step too far for Brenda. I referred to her stance as an instance of what feminism had become: a vicious ideology. She turned on me after this and pronounced that she didn’t want to talk or correspond with me any longer.
I wrote back that this seemed unhelpful, that she and I would do better to continue our discussions if only in the cause of strengthening our positions. Brenda’s response was to tell me to blank off. Besides being rude, this seemed ironically counterproductive. After all, were I to act on her suggestion with another woman, I might yield another child to the less-than-tender mercies of Planned Parenthood and company. But Brenda didn’t want to listen to my reasoning. And so, until now, I have held my counsel. But I think that was and is a mistake.
Before going further, I want to reemphasize Brenda’s decency. She loves my children and treats them very generously. She also asked me once what I thought about her having a child on her own, as a single mother. I was not encouraging. She had a male partner whom I supposed didn’t want a child, having already had two with his estranged wife. (Brenda denies having asked me about this, but at the time, I found it so striking and unexpected that it has remained fixed in my memory ever since.)
Now Brenda complains of me that I’m mean-spirited. But this makes me wonder whether mean-spirited is the right word to apply to someone who objects to killing children, or—as Brenda insists on calling them—fetuses.
What I’m getting at is this: some people who are otherwise good now find themselves beholden to a murderous policy. As a feminist spokeswoman, Naomi Wolf—who reports that she had two abortions herself in her 20s—long ago reminded us that abortion requires murdering the fetus in the womb. Killing a child, that is. For her simple honesty, Wolf is still viewed as a traitor to the feminist cause. Like many ideologies, feminism doesn’t allow for differences of opinion.
I am a Catholic and, as such, an opponent of the pro-abortion folk, but let me add that I do not support barring abortion in all cases as a matter of law. I believe that abortion is sometimes the right and necessary thing to undergo. For example, I know two other women who have had ectopic pregnancies, a development that has a high incidence of fatality—both for the baby and the mother. In such a case, abortion is the only sensible, if sad, choice.
I wish Brenda hadn’t been blinded by her feminist commitment, but I’m afraid she has been. I further think that no more reasoning from me, including what I am writing here, will change her outlook. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to state my case.
My daughter tells me that I just shouldn’t discuss abortion with women. She’s probably right. So, with her advice in my ears, I will stop here.