Abortion Foes Have a Very Strange Way of Helping Women

Article excerpt

MAIL FROM THE anti-abortion camp arrives regularly on my desk. Many of the letters begin or end with "ABORTION IS MURDER" in bold-face letters, as if I could miss the point.

Some include clippings, pseudo-scientific articles about "post-abortion syndrome" or botched abortions. The tone of the letters is by turns threatening, patronizing, furious and holier-than-thou. The letter-writers often conclude by promising they will pray for me. Out of common courtesy, I still read these letters, even though I consider them to be a time-consuming, ulcer-forming exercise in repressing rage. Sort of like this year's legislative session.

It is not the anti-abortion ideology that bothers me. I don't like abortion either, and I understand why others don't. But I have always felt that women, as sentient human beings, have a basic right - not to mention a constitutional one - to choose in private whether to terminate a pregnancy. A woman's decision to have an abortion or have a baby is strictly her business, not mine or yours.

What rankles me is the presumption that I am unable to think for myself, and that repetitive harangues and photographs of dismembered fetuses will somehow enable my clouded brain to think more clearly, i.e., as they do. This same presumption lies behind the abortion "counseling" bill, which Gov. Mel Carnahan wisely vetoed Thursday.

The "counseling" bill, as most of you know, would have required women seeking abortions to get "counseling" about other options first, or be required to sign a certificate stating they had declined "counseling." Carnahan called the bill "offensive and demeaning to the women and families who must face the difficult question of whether to end a pregnancy."

I would hasten to add that the politicizing of the abortion issue is offensive and demeaning in far broader terms. It is offensive and demeaning to the taxpayers of Missouri, who deserve better than to have their lawmaking body drained of its time and energy over an issue that is none of their business.

Predictably, one of the chief lobbyists for the bill, Louis DeFeo, denounced Carnahan's veto, and promised to work to override it. DeFeo is a lawyer and lobbyist for the Missouri Catholic Conference. The governor, DeFeo said, is more concerned about the "abortion industry than he is about caring for and supporting these women. …