Caught in the middle
by Andrea Elizabeth
I’m in the middle of Wendell Berry’s “Caught in the Middle” which I think is a very good title for a reason that came to me that I’ll talk about further down. I am starting to agree more with his comments about the role of government, but not completely the ones about abortion, which is the first half of the article. I am more against abortion than he is. This is because, for one reason, he doesn’t see abortion as affecting a man’s body. Well, a man’s body started it, and paternity is a real thing, not just an imagined or optional one, fitness or access aside. This neglect of the man’s role is pervasive through the whole process. Who is confronted by anti-abortion picketers? Women. If men don’t want to be marginalized in the rearing of children, then they shouldn’t be marginalized from the public discourse of the products of and including conception. This absence of the father is the biggest reason, imo, for abortion in the first place.
Wendell Berry also carries the pro abortion mentality that a baby can in some circumstances ruin a woman’s life. This argument evens the playing field in that either the woman or the baby will be destroyed so what difference does it make? It is very rare nowadays for a baby to really endanger a woman’s life. What they’re talking about is her hopes and dreams. This is the American propaganda of the right for the pursuit of self-determined happiness being equal to life itself, and the threatening of that legitimizing killing others, such as in the Revolutionary War. I’ll grant that more than anything, becoming a parent completely sinks that boat, or it should. But that’s life; anything else is a delusion. When you get pregnant, yes a baby stands in your way. That little bundle of life is blocking the door to freedom. He’s caught in the middle (see what I did there?) and trapping your access to self-determination. But I’ll wax Biblical and say that he who seeks to save his life shall lose it. If you sacrifice another’s life for your own you will die as the person you were supposed to be and become selfish and ruined instead.
Mr. Berry also appeals to his gut instinct that he would sooner aid a woman in getting an abortion than murdering a born person. Is he totally anti-war and self defense? And again, how big is the threat to the mother’s life, and not just her dreams of happiness and success? Will she really starve to death if she has to quit college? Will she really die if she has to rely on her parents or others in the community to help her through it?
I am however coming more in agreement with him about the role of government in legislating morality. And my gut tells me there is a difference between a pregnant woman and a mother of born children. Do we want the government invading a woman’s body to determine what is going on in there? Should the developing baby in that private place become a ward of the state? But neither should it be placed in the hands of some detached profiteering doctor with a curette. The pro abortion people think he’s saving her from self-inflicted wounds with a coat hanger. Can we save all people from suicide with a razor blade? No, but the advocates for the right to commit suicide are considered more fringy. This is probably because the instinct to protect onesself is felt stronger than the instinct to protect one’s unseen baby. This is why 3D sonography is a more effective abortion deterrent.
So if a person is blocking your door number 1, are you allowed to scratch and claw him till his pieces are too small to remain in your way? No, but all belittling does this to some extent, Lord have mercy. It is really sad when the government gets involved, especially in domestic cases, but if we can’t regulate ourselves…. I think what has saved America from being as indecent as Europe, especially with pornography, is that we do have a protective instinct about guarding children from indecency, even if it should be even stronger. It is mothers who will complain to the company about indecent billboards on the highway, for example, and who will voice their opinion and boycott against objectionable material. I think the right to complain and to boycott are perhaps enough to change bad behavior without supporting a police state regarding some moral issues, maybe including abortion, if it is indeed more private than murder.