At a Duane Reade checkout counter this morning, the young Asian woman behind the register asked me in halting English if I'd like to donate a dollar for cancer, gesturing with her eyes to a flier. I saw a familiar blaze of pink, then the Komen Foundation logo, and said "no." As my receipt ticked out, I thought of saying something about abortion and quickly nixed that, thinking that my co-transactor might very well be against abortion herself. What came out was, "that group defunded Planned Parenthood." The woman made a vague noise of probably-feigned comprehension, and that was that.
Walking out, I wondered vaguely whether this woman might believe that abortion is murder, and the thought train quickly turned abstract. I thought that if you do believe that, it would be intellectually consistent to make an exception for the life of the mother but not for rape (as many have pointed out since the Akin brouhaha). And then I wondered: has there ever been a group, professing both abortion-is-murder and gender equity, that's proposed compensating women who are forced to bring a child of rape to term, and providing a full support system for either adoption or raising the child?
I realize that you'd create a real incentive challenge with adequate payouts for carrying a rape pregnancy to term. There would have to be unpleasant verification requirements to ensure that the payout was for a pregnancy that was the product of, pardon the expression, "legitimate" rape (i.e., rape legitimately so-deemed). And personally, I'm in favor of, to balance ugly expressions, abortion on demand. This uncontrolled association chain was simply chasing in search of an intellectually consistent anti-abortion position that respects the interests if not the rights of women subjected to sexual violence.
I am always a bit fascinated when I can catch, in immediate retrospect, a chain of association. In all human minds, thought moves fast and ranges far. This is not a very good example of the latter -- but often, if you turn around fast enough, you can catch how one thing triggers another apparently unrelated and far-distant memory or thought. Uh...that's why there's poetry and fiction.
The Myth of the Smug Liberal
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