Thursday, April 7, 2016
Letter To Camille Paglia On Abortion
My letter to the divine Ms P on her abortion piece in Salon, linked below:
Dear Ms Paglia:
I love your journalism.
I read, enjoyed and am provoked by your recent Salon piece about the abortion mistakes of Trump and Clinton, then your brief tour through feminist thought on abortion and your contrast between the Catholic Church's invocations for life as against the rigid, somewhat lifeless reasoning of pro abortion activist/fanatics.
Where I fall off the train is your proclamation of favouring unrestricted abortion on demand even as you recognize the the "higher moral ground" of the pro life position.
I'd start from the likely unusual case of an abortion in the last trimester where there is no danger to the life of the mother, where incest or rape aren't the facts, and there is no devastating physical problem with the fetus-- all wrenching exceptions. In that case, I cannot see the grounds of your argument--women being more than mere child bearers, women not being necessarily subservient to nature, women's bodily autonomy--prevailing over the fact that there's near to a completely formed life at stake, whereas in the first trimester, or up to the point of independent fetal viability, that weighing and balancing comes out 180 degrees differently.
For me, those two examples form end points of a spectrum of moral reckoning. And what seems utterly grey to me, barring the usual wrenching exceptions to a pro life insistence, is the second trimester when at some point, difficult to be precise about, the aborning baby has too much of formed life about it to allow the case for abortion to prevail.
So, all that said, I can't understand an absolute position of unrestricted abortion on demand for the reasons you give, if I'm understanding your position correctly. And I find that in your holding that position, your recognition of how compelling the pro life arguments are doesn't make your position more admirably hard fought, tougher, more nuanced or more capacious. Rather, I sense in that recognition a quality of trying to avoid the untenable hook that an absolute case for unrestricted abortion on demand lands you on.