Today as I was attempting to drive to Target in Arlington I was enveloped by a Pro-Life March: the marchers, the signs, their huge tourbuses trying to squeeze down old Cap Hill streets. I was feeling so annoyed because I had a child in the car who was starting to wonder if that trip to Target for Play-Doh was going to actually happen or whether we were going to sit in the car and look at the Capitol all day. I was annoyed at the marchers, at the DC police who can't seem to put up a sign--oh gee I don't know--maybe a block or so before the closed road so drivers can opt out of being caught in Freedom of Assembly Gridlock, and annoyed at myself for being such a moron and not checking the news like I usually do to see if a trip to the gas station will turn into a three-hour tour of Earth Day/Free James Brown/Confirm Alito/Smoker's Rights mayhem.
But if I'm honest I was mostly annoyed at the marchers, the march, and the signs that showed no understanding of anyone who apparently doesn't have the purity and spiritual blamelessness of these busloads of people. Yes, we lesser beings who support a woman's right to a private decision about her own body must learn from their pristine souls, right?
To be fair, the hyperbole occurs on both sides of the debate. And to be honest, I'm sick of both. The anti-choice signs said, "Justice for all: born and preborn." So now fetuses are "preborn?" And how far back is that going? Are my ovaries now housing "Unfertilized potential preborn human lives?" If a mass of cells the size of a pencil eraser can now have precedence over the life of the human making their existence possible, where are we seriously taking ourselves philosophically and morally? By the same token, anyone who claims that a 24-week old fetus is not that big a deal is not only appalling, but is going down that same road to insanity that calls a morning-after pill an abortifacient even though in the event that a pregnancy has begun -- that is, a blastocyst has implanted in the wall of the uterus -- the medication has no effect.
I don't know what the solution to this debate is. All I know is that there will be no middle ground if we let each of the "wings" try to settle it. We either have a police state for women wherein I can be compelled to carry to term and give birth to a child against my will regardless of whatever potentially horrifying circumstances accompanied the pregnancy, or we have a state where we have "abortion on demand and without apology." Neither makes sense to the majority of Americans, but if those of us in the perplexed, compassionate and deeply-torn middle don't wrest control of this issue from the zealots on both sides, it will continue to tear at us, personally and collectively, it will burn hours of time at Supreme Court appointment hearings, it will continue to dominate elections: funding, debates, primaries, everything.
It is such a painful issue for so many people for so many different reasons. Surely we ought to tackle it once and for all in this democracy? Because we are not a Christian nation, nor are we a value-free society. Choice and Life are only mutually exclusive because none of us has challenged the premise of the "preborn" and "on demand" dogmas. It's time. It's time. We can find a way out of no way to take this issue off the table.
After all, Deuteronomy didn't say "Compel Life" or "Legislate Life" or "Mandate Life For Others But Not Yourself, According to the Laws of Pat Robertson."
It said, "CHOOSE Life." *
*(I call heaven and earth to witness to you this day: I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life, so that you and your offspring may live.)