I just got done reading this article by Eyal Press called My Father’s Abortion War, which was in the New York Times Magazine on 1/22/06. For those of you who do not have a subscription, it is also here. Many of you may already know that this hits close to home for me for many reasons. First of all, I am a fervent pro-choice believer. Secondly, I am from Buffalo, NY, home of these crazy protests, namely Operation Rescue. Thirdly, a close friend of mine in high school used to attend rescues with her parents, and she and I used to debate the issue. Fourthly, Dr. Slepian, the doctor who was murdered in Buffalo for performing abortions, was my friend’s gynocologist. The list goes on.
In part, I was blind to some of these issues, espcially in their inception, partly because I was in elementary school at the time. But as Randell Terry came to Buffalo leading his rescues, I was in high school. I actually lived in the suburb Cheektowaga, so I didn’t see the protests firsthand, but I recall the news articles and I recall talking to my friend about these rescues. It disgusted me then as it disgusts me now.
I’m not sure what to say here other that Eyal Press does a very good job of capturing the mood of the time, and he eloquently explains the issue. For those who believe that pro-choice folks are single issue voters, the article should be able to depict the intricacies of why it is not. Press does not step by step explain those intricacies, but they are bound up in a society that forces individuals to live in fear. Religious fanaticism is not positive, and if we as a nation are willing to condemn it overseas, we should be willing to condemn it on our own shores.
Sometimes I wonder if we have the hard-headed religious zealots that we do because of the need in the seventeenth century for people to have religious freedom, that there were “fringe” groups in England, and so they came to be “free” to practice their religion, thus cultivating a a new continent of fringe religions. I have never lived in Europe, and while Catholicism seems to have a stronghold in Europe in many places, it does not seem that there is the same intensity of religious fanaticism. Perhaps I am wrong.
I’m teaching Julius Caesar to my kids now, and a student asked why the plebeians don’t think for themselves. While I had a teacherly answer that we are all plebeians, and at times we all do not think for ourselves, we get swept up with the group, I don’t have a true answer. Why don’t they (the Julius Caesar characters or simply people) think for themselves? Let me rephrase, why don’t we think for ourselves?