Posts Tagged ‘Carhart’

What About the Women?

August 30th, 2009 1 comment

In my previous post, I wrote about the protests being staged against Dr. LeRoy Carhart, a self-claimed abortionist who’s one of the few doing late-term procedures. Now the anti-abortion forces are met by an equally passionate and committed pro-choice group, led by the National Organization for Women. The two sides converged in an angry Tower of Babel reenactment in front of Dr. LeRoy Carhart’s clinic. While Operation Rescue presents the pornography of dismembered fetuses, a counterprotester reminds us that “women are not an incubator….They’re not little vessels for men to plant their seeds in.”

My position is that abortion must be safe and legal, and that, morally, the cases range across a spectrum that I’m loathe to second-guess without the facts that I don’t (and shouldn’t) have access to. But I continue to despair at the miserable level of discourse and the lack of nuance that seems endemic to the abortion issue.

We know that abortion is a chilling, fraught act. Showing dismembered bodies does nothing but sensationalize and, in its way, trivialize the issue. On the other side, reducing the anti-choice forces to women-clubbing cavemen who believe that women are “vessels” disrespects those for whom abortion is a terrible, and unjustified taking of a precious human life. To oppose the practice is not (necessarily, anyway) to equate women with incubators.

Consider the women coming to the clinic. The anti-choice crowd has made it their practice to cow these women into changing their position, whatever their circumstances. Heedless of the women’s mental and emotional health, their brow-beating tactics have inflicted substantial harm that they disregard. I’m more sympathetic to the counter-demonstrators, because they are in evidence to show support. But their presence, supported by whatever good intentions, feeds the circus atmosphere. I’d guess that these women want and need support from counselors, friends, and family;  not from national, political organizations.

Please don’t lecture me about the First Amendment. Assuming that no one is blocking access or intimidating anyone (not always a valid assumption in the case of Operation Rescue), both sides can continue firing their angry salvos. But there’s more at stake here than legal rights, or even — yes — the honestly held and fervently  defended views on both sides. There are also actual women coming to the clinic, looking for answers to questions that have none. What about them?

“Abortion is an”

August 28th, 2009 2 comments

The quote that forms the title for this post was plastered on a truck driven by a member of Operation Rescue. The vehicle also sports a poster of a fetal hand on a coin. They’re not going for subtlety.

The vitriolic protests against abortion providers continue, this time with Dr. LeRoy Carhart filling the late Dr. George Tiller‘s role as the focal point for the anger. Carhart, you may recall, led an unsuccessful challenge to the so-called “partial birth abortion law; the sharply divided Supreme Court ruled that Congress could constitutionally rule out one form of late-term abortion as long as it permitted another means of accomplishing the same task. Justice Kennedy’s opinion for the majority misunderstands both medical practice and public health principles, and, as Justice Ginsburg noted in dissent, won’t actually save the life of a single fetus. (At most it will put doctors at risk of liability for making on-the-spot decisions on how best to perform the procedure.)

Carhart’s public stance, courage, and notoriety explain may why he’s now been targeted. And yes, he does some (but very few)  late-term abortions; as evidenced by the back-and-forth I had with Andrew Sullivan a couple of months ago (see here, here, here, and here), as well as the many testimonials he published on the issue, these abortions are the ones that get people the most worked up. (Maybe they shouldn’t, though, because most of these abortions are to terminate the life of the most seriously deformed fetuses, many of whom wouldn’t even be born alive. But this post isn’t going to revisit the issue.) Given what happened to Tiller, and the willingness of Operation Rescue to refortify the ramparts so soon after his murder, Carhart understandably fears for his life. If anything does happen to him, the principals of that group will express ritual disapproval, but not remorse.

Also of interest here is the use of the now-familiar “ObamaNation” (read: abomination) slogan and its purported connection to everything that’s thought to be wrong: taxes; health care reform; now, abortion. But what has Obama to do with abortion? The practice has been legal continuously since 1973, yet the anti-abortion forces feel,  with some justification, that they have a kindred spirit in office during Republican administrations. Democrats allow this, well, abomination to continue, and don’t even have the decency to mount a rhetorical struggle against it. So violence and the threats of it escalate, dramatically, during Democratic presidencies.

I still haven’t accounted for the “.com” at the end of the slogan.  Now we’ve got something concrete: is the url for a group that is dedicated to stopping what it sees as an Obama-led black genocide; black fetuses are aborted in disproportionately high numbers. (Here’s the organization’s page with data supporting that point; I haven’t checked out the underlying reports.) But in a larger sense it “Obamanation” stands for everything that’s wrong, and for the poor sap who happens to be at the epicenter of it all.