Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Reality vs. Anna Quindlen

1. Faulty claims about illegal abortion (a standard ingredient)
2. Accuse judges of coming into bedrooms (I know it's a rather old and stale ingredient but Anna likes it anyway)
3. Act as if it was surprising that the Supreme Court's action of overturning laws in 50 states, based on nothing resembling the Constitution, didn't shut up those pesky citizens and their state legislatures. (a new twist)

Stir well for 2 minutes and presto! You've got Anna Quindlen's most recent column for Newsweek.

And it was hard not to wonder: wouldn't (Alito's) confirmation process be more illuminating if abortion were taken out of the public realm and put back where it belongs, in the private one?

I love who pro-choicers want abortion removed from the courts after a court decided that abortion should be legal throughout all 50 states. Isn't that so convenient? I'm also wondering if Quindlen would use that same statement when it comes to tax-funded abortions for poor women?

I think the confirmation process would be a lot more illuminating if the public at large and pro-choice groups understand what the role of a judge was.

But even when it was illegal, it was widespread. As Cynthia Gorney noted in her definitive history, "Articles of Faith," reliable statistics were hard to come by. One national conference held in 1955 put the number of illegal abortions each year at somewhere between 200,000 and 1.2 million.

Anyone who honestly believes there were 1.2 million illegal abortions a year before Roe knows absolutely nothing about abortion statistics pre-1973. After abortion was made completely legal in 1973, there weren't a million abortions on the national level for a couple of years according to the Centers for Disease Control and the Alan Guttmacher Institute. How are we supposed to believe that more than a million unsafe, illegal abortions were being performed annually pre-Roe when there weren't a million legal abortions until a couple of years after abortion became legal? It's just amazing how unpopular abortion became once it was legal, isn't it? I guess women just must have liked the thrill of the illegal abortion back in the day. Not convinced? Yeah, neither am I.

The list of methods was long and various: quinine and Lysol, pencils and garden hoses, slippery elm and castor oil, and on and on and on.

Those might have been the abortion methods of 1955 but by 1972 the methods of illegal abortion had become much more similar to the legal abortion techniques used today. But maybe those methods are the "on and on and on." Anna, of course, wouldn't want her readers to know that those dangerous illegal abortion techniques of yesteryear are fairly similar to the "safe and legal" techniques of today.

But Roe v. Wade had a curious long-term effect. Instead of fostering an atmosphere in which government was agnostic on the issue, it fomented one in which it became activist.

Why would anyone think that Roe v. Wade would make prolife citizens and their prolife state legislatures agnostic towards abortion? How can government ever be agnostic on an issue where one branch of government (the judiciary) has implemented a policy based on nothing but the personal opinions of Harry Blackmun?

The result has been a weirdly distasteful amalgam of gynecology and nuts-and-bolts legislation, most notable when members of Congress took to the floor with anatomical diagrams to illustrate the evil of so-called partial-birth abortion.

Now what's really distasteful? Making the public aware that such a procedure exists and showing them what it is? Or the procedure itself?

It all sounded a bit as though the judges had wandered off the bench and into someone's bedroom.

Yes, the necessary "judges in the bedroom" line! Oh the originality accuracy absolute lameness!

We're in a real mess here, trying to fit a profound and intimate matter into a system more suited to tax codes and property issues, like trying to solve the mysteries of literature using formulas in math class.

I again wonder if Quindlen felt the same way about Blackmun's hyper-legalistic trimester framework? For some reason, she can't seem to recognize that "the mess" (which, by the way, has only become a mess because Bush is the one nominating judges) we're in is because of judges usurping power from state legislatures.

That's because abortion is unlike any other matter and pregnancy is different from any other state of being. The situation in which an embryo is permitted to grow over time into an independent human in the body of another is just not comparable to anything else.

So the reasoning here seems to be "Pregnancy isn't comparable to any other state of being. Therefore, abortion is a very complex issue." To me that seems like a greater reason for the issue to be about to voters and their state legislatures, not nine lawyers.

What does Quindlen mean by "independent?" Does Anna mean "independent" in the sense that they can care for themselves? Because I know a bunch of teenagers who aren't "independent" from their mothers even though they've enjoyed the luxury of more than a decade outside the womb.

Imagine how it could transform the landscape if somehow abortion were absent from government intervention or interference. Those who believe it is a moral wrong could fight through hearts and minds, not laws that would resurrect the Lysol and the garden hose.

By absent from government interference, Quindlen doesn't mean get rid of Roe v. Wade, she means absolutely no abortion restrictions whatsoever. Third-trimester abortions? Twenty-five-year-old men taking their 14-year-old girlfriends for abortion? Abortions in unsanitary conditions? No problem - just as long as there's no government interference.

And we all know that working to pass prolife legislation prevents prolifers from changing hearts and minds. Talk about a false dilemma.

Mentioning garden hoses again? What happened to the coathanger? Is the age old symbol of the pro-choice movement no longer en vogue?

And judges could return to those issues that lend themselves to jurisprudence instead of puzzling out the singular fact patterns of the womb.

Anna now admits that judges shouldn't be making abortion decisions. So then is she for overthrowing Roe? Nope, because then the state legislatures would have a crack at it and we all know that the only human beings who should be involved in an abortion decision are a woman and her doctor.

Oh wait. Maybe I'm forgetting someone.

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