So let’s talk about it for a moment. But can we do it in a calm and rational way?
Probably not. Because any frank discussion of the staggering quantity of abortions in the United States, or of its new forms, causes a firestorm of scorn and suspicion from organized pro-choice activists. Touch on the subject in any critical way, and one becomes anti-choice, anti-women and anti-progressive in a heartbeat. The New York Times‘ Maureen Dowd upped the ante this week by calling Republican pro-lifers antediluvian.
With all due respect to Dowd, there is a flood of bottled-up sentiment on abortion out there that has to be addressed. New selective abortion procedures beg for public discussion.
Abortion became law here in New York in 1970 — under a Republican Senate, Assembly and governor — three years before Roe v. Wade. Only four of the state’s 270 legislators were women at the time. One of the state senators promoting the legislation, a Manhattan Republican for whom I later worked, placed hangers on the chairs of every legislator before the vote. It was a symbol, which many in the chamber found abhorrent, of the back-alley abortions that had maimed and killed women who had tried to terminate pregnancies on their own over the years.
A swing vote in favor of the law came from a Republican state senator who said on the floor — I am paraphrasing — “I don’t like the idea of abortion, but if my daughter got pregnant, I’d like to know she could get one.” With that, the law, which few saw coming, was passed.
I don’t think anyone in that chamber could have expected what occurred in the ensuing years. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that since the Roe decision, about 50 million abortions have been performed in the United States.
The rest of this column is available at Newsday.com. Thanks for reading!