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Your a Man, Why are You So Passionate About This? - nhpeacenik
Your a Man, Why are You So Passionate About This?
I've recently been commenting in other venues on the fact that supreme court nominee Sonia  Sotomayor is not on the record regarding the issue of abortion rights. I have suspicions that she is anti-choice, and I argue that the Senate needs to ask her point blank whether she would be inclined to overturn Roe vs. Wade. There is a tradition of avoiding questions to judicial nominees on the right of a woman to choose to terminate a pregnancy, and I argue that this must change. The murder of Dr. George Tiller, a physician who has been a steadfast and lonely champion of safe and legal abortion in Kansas, has shown that the steady weakening of the protections afforded by Roe vs. Wade has emboldened anti-abortion activists to extremes in their quest to outlaw all abortion in every state.

Denise asked me this morning why I, as a man, am so passionate about this issue. She asked whether I had known anyone who had an abortion, and I told her I had, referring to a woman I knew who went to Mexico to have an abortion in the 1960's, before Roe vs Wade was decided. She struggled with the decision and the moral and emotional issues of its aftermath, and she survived OK; a child at her stage in life would have crushed her dreams and would have made no sense.  I have also  known other women since who have made the choice either to bear the child or to abort and then gone on with their lives. I haven't known anyone who died as a result of a botched back-alley abortion, but I have read enough about these that I know that one is too many, and that they must not be allowed to return.

Nevertheless, that  personal connection is not at the root of my passion about this issue. The roots are twins:

1. As a man, I regularly make mistakes. I was sexually active in the 1960's and 1970's, and could theoretically be the father of an unknown number of children that the mothers never told me about, and the co-cause of a number of abortions that I never heard about. Growing into puberty in the 1960's and having my first sexual experience with a woman at the very end of that turbulent decade. I came to assume that women were using the "pill" and that venereal diseases could be cured. As the evidence of  harmful side-effects of taking the pill became public, many women stopped using the pill and looked for other means of contraception, leaving the question of contraception more open and fraught with dangers arising out of mistakes and mis-communication.  The arrival of AIDS in the 1980's made these issues ever more serious. Those who adhere to Calvinist Christian beliefs began to suspect that AIDS and unwanted pregnancies were signs of God's wrath, and that only the righteous would exercise perfect self-discipline and avoid the sins that led to death. I emphatically did not adhere to those beliefs, but to the more positive ones associated with "hippies", and the human potential movement. All men are not alike, any more than all women are alike. In the 1960's and 1970's I helped a few women escape from abusive partners to safe houses. I narrowly avoided being shot during one such incident. The very thought of a woman being hit and abused made me furious. I also fell passionately in love several times and sought the comfort of women I respected but did not love passionately at other times. Most of the time I was relatively solitary and self-sufficient.  Young men and women growing up now are also fallible, as I was and am; no matter how loving and good their intentions, they are bound to make mistakes. We must make sure that the damage done by these mistakes is not always permanent and irreversible, and we must not foreclose the potential of human love by hemming it in with fear.

2. As a world, we need to reduce the human population and human pressures on the environment. I became aware of the frightening facts of overpopulation, hunger and poverty in the 1960's and assumed I would not be intentionally bringing a child into the world (I changed that resolution and am now the proud father of one daughter). China's one-child-per-couple policy is demonstrably working to decrease China's share of world population growth,  Places in the world where girls are given access to good educational opportunities have reliably lower rates of population growth. This effect is dramatically enhanced by the addition of easy access to contraception and further enhanced by access to voluntary abortion as a last-ditch option. Failure to reduce population in a gradual and intentional, peaceful way will lead automatically to a sudden violent population reduction through war and natural disaster. My understanding of the need for world peace and an end to the senselessness of war is intimately bound up with my understanding of the need for human beings to adopt their numbers to the carrying capacity of an ecologically-sound environment.
The US is a major direct and indirect funder of NGOs and governments that have disease-control and population-control programs and education enhancement programs for girls. When the US places conditions on aid that forbids abortions and restricts contraceptives, it cuts the effectiveness of the synergistic programs that would make sense in many non-rich countries with high population growth rates. Further, the US example is powerful, and if the US made girls' education, the eradication of childhood diseases and population reduction its explicit policy, countries around the world would imitate the US, as they now imitate the authoritarian anti-choice rhetoric that came out of the Bush administration. For this reason, it is vital that the anti-sex, anti-abortion and anti-contraceptive rulings of US  courts in recent years be reversed. The supreme court is the place to start this process, a necessary first step. Putting an anti-choice justice on the Court would be a disaster with rippling effects on efforts to reverse runaway population growth and indirectly, global warming, the rise of terrorism and increasing poverty. I respect Ms. Sotomayor and would welcome her ascent to the high court if only she would reassure us  that, on this important  issue, she is on the side of women's rights and sanity in population policy, and not in thrall to authoritarian religion.

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