Abortion, abortion, abortion…

[Somewhat rushed piece…overwhelmed with work, but trying to stay in the habit of writing, and it’s been a long time. I’m sure it’s full of typos and other problems, but at this point, it will have to do]

I’ve spent a bit of time talking about abortion and abortion rights since Hitting Bregma started (notably here and here). I’m fascinated by it as a topic because it’s so meaningful to so many people, that I honestly see it as the number one guiding issue in our politics today. I don’t have any scientific evidence for this at all, and I would enjoy being shown that it’s not true, but I think the abortion question actually drives many people in one direction or another, and then the other partisan issues take hold. It’s easy for me to imagine somebody being appalled by abortion, leaning toward a particular political identity because of that, and then slowing assimilating with all the other beliefs of that political party. It seems like a key reason, for instance, why a deeply religious Christian would so predictably care about small government, about maintaining strong borders, about a super powerful national defense, about implementing the death penalty, about low taxes (especially for the wealthy). On the flip side, it’s puzzling to me that advocacy of abortion rights does such a good job at predicting where somebody stands on raising taxes on the wealthy, on being against the death penalty, about working hard for minority rights and environmentalism, and about government services for the poor. Of course, there are plenty of folks out there who don’t fall into those more predictable positions. I know plenty who are deeply religious, and guided by this to be sickened by abortion, but put this aside to otherwise favor liberal politicians who are anti-death penalty, pro-helping the poor, pro-helping immigrants, and willing to tax people to make that possible. It would be a silly straw man fallacy to say that I’m implying that this applies to everybody equally, but I find it interesting to see how many people seem to find their political identity by following the pro-choice or anti-abortion trail to the rest of the stuff.

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Some thoughts on abortion

Abortion is a very difficult and divisive issue in today’s cultural and political landscape (that might be an understatement). I am strongly in favor of abortion rights, so I do not come to this with a neutral perspective. On the other hand, I care about people, and many people I know and love are emotionally traumatized (and I do not think that is an overstatement) by abortion. In the worldview of these people, abortion is literally the voluntary, cruel, painful, disgusting murder of a child, a child unable to defend him/herself. I think all of us who support abortion rights need to remember that, and, for those of us who actually care about other people, need to imagine how it would feel if we knew that millions of children were being killed. Imagine there was a foreign country in which babies (make them two months old for the example to work) were being taken to a hospital or doctor’s office and being killed without anesthesia, for no reason other than they were too much of a burden on the parents. That is how it looks to some people who are anti-abortion. Although I do not view abortion that way, I know what it feels like to learn that children are dying, and I can imagine the outrage that I would feel if I did see abortion that way. I think that’s critically important to keep in mind. It’s that recognition that has driven me, for the past twenty years or more, to try to imagine a compromise. To be honest, I’ve put a fair amount of thought into this, but not as much as I could have for two reasons: 1) I am fairly certain there is no compromise, and 2) even if I thought of one, I have no power to implement it. That second one isn’t as meaningful as the first, because, as anybody who reads anything I post knows, it doesn’t stop me from opining on pretty much everything else that matters to me.

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Life as a male feminist

This isn’t a story of my whole life, and it isn’t even about part of my life (even though the title might give that sense). It’s about a recent experience, and some recent discussions I’ve had, all about women in the workplace and some of the issues we face as a society. I’ll start this with a small glimpse into what drives me to care about this, and it comes down to one thing. I want to live in a world that feels fair. Period. I guess I’d settle for a country that feels fair, or maybe even a state or maybe even a community, but I want to be somewhere that feels fair. I know the saying “Life isn’t fair,” but I disagree. I think we define fairness differently, especially when bad things happen, but I think in many ways, life is, or could be fair. And I am happier when things seem fair. I recently attended a workshop on women in STEM. It included an excellent lecture and some good discussion after. I didn’t count, but I think there were about 40 people in the room, and about three of us were men. That’s unfortunate, but not the point I’m about to make: after it ended, and a few of us (me and three women) stood outside and talked more, at least four women leaving the room looked right at me, ignoring the others I was talking to, and gave me an enthusiastic “Thank you for coming to this.” I appreciated the acknowledgement, but was taken aback that nobody thanked the women I was talking to for coming. And I’m certain that I benefited more from the lecture than the speaker did. The speaker already knew everything she was saying. I got some new information from it, and from the discussion after. But the “thank you” comments didn’t end.

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