By Diogenes ( articles ) | May 09, 2005
Feel like a trip deep, deep into the Mordor of the Abortion Movement? Take a look at the letters to the editor of Conscience, the journal of Catholics for a Free Choice. This is territory in which Frances Kissling herself is a subordinate orc -- indeed, ideologically suspect on grounds of misplaced sentimentalism. Prof. Carole Joffe, e.g., scolds Kissling for implying that the butcher fails to respect the
I am surprised and disappointed that Kissling did not recognize the immense amount of "moral work" that goes on in the every day world of abortion provision. Having spent nearly thirty years studying abortion care, and having interviewed hundreds of providers, I can say with some assuredness that those who work in these settings are not "coarsened toward fetal life," and there exists countless examples of exactly the kind of "respect for fetal life" that Kissling claims is missing in the movement. Many providers routinely show the aborted fetal remains to the patient, if she so requests; many have told me of joining with patients in mourning or "farewell" ceremonies; in some facilities, such as the Women's Care Clinic in Wichita, Kan., which does later terminations, many for fetal anomalies, there is actually an on-site chapel, where patients have the option for a more formal mourning after the abortion, which can include holding the blanketed fetus in their arms.
"Aborted fetal remains." Nice touch, Carole. Your respect comes shining through your prose. And shining through my computer screen comes an image from Wichita's Women's Care Clinic you mention, of a couple standing in the chapel holding the blanketed result of a partial birth abortion at a "farewell" ceremony -- an odd wish, as most of us can't see how the honoree could fare at all well apart from the procedure that turned her from a baby into ... fetal remains. On the other hand, a person who can "say with some assuredness" that the "providers" of 40 million cadavers cannot be coarsened by their work obviously finds relish in her business.
On the same page, Kissling is rebuked by Prof Ros Petchesky for her " very narrow framing of the moral issues surrounding abortion." Petchesky declares, "I would be willing to enter into a serious moral conversation about how to make abortions less necessary or even rare, but that conversation has to include, front and center, ending the immoral conditions of poverty and lack of health care access, masculinist war and violence, racism, contempt for women’s equality and moral agency, and shame and stigma surrounding nontraditional forms of sex." In her response, Kissling concedes, "I agree with Petchesky that it is important to be clear that the strongest segment of the antiabortion movement is motivated not by respect for fetal life but by fear and loathing of women and sexuality."
And that, boys and girls, is what our partners in dialogue mean by the search for common ground.
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