No Fancy Name
Friday, July 23, 2004
amy richards, and being pro-choice
I've had this story nagging at me for the last week or so, because it raised all sorts of issues that, to be honest, I never have to deal with....but I couldn't get it out of my head. I barely go out into the world, let alone engage in debate about the fundamental rights of all people, and what not; I have my set of opinions, and they're on the liberal side of the fence. But I don't particularly hate/think are evil/want to exile to an island those on the other side of the fence. "Hate" and "evil" are really, really strong words. Sure, I use them all the time, as in "I hate this client" or "That particular marketing manager is evil and needs to die", but that's work-related, not real world. Anyway, the point is that I'll listen to and consider any well-reasoned, "this is my opinion and I'm not trying to force it on you", respect-laden argument. That being said, it doesn't matter if it's a liberal spouting off or a conservative -- I'm not going to waste my time listening to or participating in a "discussion" consisting of personal attacks and judgments, with poorly-formed arguments at its core.

[NOTE: read the story if you want any of the rest of this to make sense; summarizing the story doesn't work]

But it's the former type of discussion (well-reasoned, respectful) and not the latter (vitriol) that one finds (for the most part) in the comments going on in Hugo Schwyzer's blog, namely these posts:
    - Crying with rage at Amy Richards
    - More on Amy Richards
    - One more on Amy Richards, and "Choice for Men"

Some of the well-done posts with good discussion, from the pro-choice side, are (note, these are just the ones I've read and I'm sure there are plenty more):
    - When Is An Abortion Okay, and Who Gets To Decide? (from Trish Wilson's blog)
    - Regarding Amy Richards & Abortion (from alas, a blog)
    - Freedom of Choice -- But Only On Certain Terms (from alas, a blog)

The question Hugo originally posed was "Anyone on the pro-choice side want to make a case that what this woman did was morally defensible?" Hugo is pro-life, as are most of his readers, but the ensuing discussion was a heart-felt one from both sides. I didn't jump into the commenting fray, primarily because I didn't have a good argument. I am pro-choice, and believe Amy Richards has the right to choose. But, given what was related in the story -- and possibly because of how the story was told -- I couldn't defend her on moral grounds. Or maybe I could, but I didn't want to. Sure, I could legally defend her, as in "she can legally choose, and she did", but I found the story distasteful.

Not "wrong", not "evil", not "immoral," but distasteful. Selective reduction happens frequently, such as when the health of the fetuses is an issue, or the health of the mother. I'm sure it happens (more frequently than the Amy Richards example) when the parent(s) just "can't", for whatever their reasons, deal with multiple births. What made this story distasteful to me were the proper nouns thrown into the story -- Staten Island, Costco, Boston Pops, Symphony Hall. As in "I'm going to have to move to Staten Island" and "I'll have to start shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise" and "I had just finished watching a Boston Pops concert at Symphony Hall," the is irrelevant to the tale of selective reduction except to highlight one more material thing valued by Amy Richards, that I personally read as "and I'll have to give up my symphony tickets, too."

I don't know what Amy Richards was trying to accomplish by telling her story (and that's what it was, as the byline reads "By Amy Richards as told to Amy Barrett", although I'm not sure what would have been different had it been a written essay, except perhaps longer). If it was to simply say "I'm a woman, I can choose", well, that's just dandy. You can, and you should be able to. If it was to make people think, well that's certainly happened although I fear it may have polarized the camps more than anything, because the story seemed so...callous.


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