Governor Charlie Crist’s veto of a measure requiring women to see an ultrasound before getting an abortion was a blow to pro-life forces in Florida.
Anti-abortion advocates and Crist’s Republican critics in the Legislature immediately pounced on the decision. John Stemberger, head of the Florida Family Policy Council, called the veto “profoundly disappointing” and said it’s now “crystal clear that he’s pro-abortion.”
But one good thing to come out of the debate leading up to the veto and the national attention the measure garnered was that it made people think about abortion, talk about abortion, and examine what an ultrasound really is. Even some pro-abortion people were forced to examine what they were really opposing—mothers being required to look at ... a picture of a baby.
I was impressed with the level of self-examination and honesty in “pro-choice” advocate Mary Elizabeth Williams’ commentary at Slate:
But the tactic, despicable as it is, does raise an uncomfortable issue. Abortion is a deeply personal enterprise riddled with conflicting emotions, one few women take lightly. Among those of us who are pro-choice, I’ve long considered my own simple belief that life starts at conception a verboten topic. And I’ve been disappointed when I’ve heard friends taking the convenient semantic dodge of referring to an abortion as a decision regarding “a clump of cells” and then calling a planned pregnancy at the same stage “the baby.” Aren’t a wanted and unwanted fetus made of the exact same stuff, even if the Times quotes a Birmingham clinic patient saying, “You almost have to think of it as an alien”?
Did you catch the part where she admits a belief in the fact that life begins at conception? It’s just that she stops short of valuing that life enough to protect it from those who would destroy it. I am astonished by both her clarity and coldness:
It’s not for me to tell anyone else what defines personhood. I’m just pretty confident it isn’t one’s desire for it to be so or not. The fight over ultrasounds starkly shows exactly what anti-choice forces have glommed onto, and what unnerves some of us on the other side so deeply: that having a choice and seeing that choice are two different things. Because, uncomfortable as it may be for many of us to acknowledge, a human heartbeat is a powerful thing.
So. Williams isn’t ready to say that she has any kind of authority to define personhood, but she is firm in her belief that women should “have a choice” without “having to see that choice.”
In that case, may I propose a new feminist mantra? More freedom! Less information!
We’re grown women. We know it’s a baby, but no one has the right to make us think about the fact that it’s a baby. Stop bothering us with all those pesky facts and education.