My name is Winston Hearn, and I am interested in life. Life in all its glory, horror, and mundanity. I read a lot in the interest of living an examined life, and this blog is where I post links I want to reference later and thoughts stemming from recent readings.
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On Saturday Freya and I went to a library book sale here in Nashville (that happens every second Saturday!). One of the books I picked up on a whim was a small hardback by Mr. Keillor (of A Prairie Home Companion fame) entitled Homegrown Democrat. Out of curiosity I started reading it immediately, and in the middle of a section about what Democrats have done for America, I found this passage that struck me. I imagine it’s controversial, but it’s something I’ve had stirring in me for a long time and I was glad to see it put to words.
Legal abortion is due to Roe v. Wade, not to Democrats, but we have defended it, even those of us with moral reservations about it. As the teen pregnancy rate declines and the abortion rate along with it, we can see the day approaching when this angry issue recedes, and we pro-choice Democrats can reconcile with our natural allies in the Catholic Church. The church is morally offended by abortion and it is also offended by poverty and social injustice in ways that Republicans could never be: to oppose abortion, as they do, and also promote low wages and harass welfare mothers and hack away at public services–this is moral dishonesty that staggers the mind. This is stepping on the drowning woman’s hand as she grabs onto the gunwale.
As long as we have pregnant girls of 12 and 13 and 14, there will be abortion. For them, and for others, the prospect of parenthood is grim beyond words. A 13-year-old girl is too young to be a mother, and if she is living in poverty with an angry drug-addled mother of her own, she doesn’t stand much chance of bringing up a healthy child and having any decent life herself. So, rather than leave her to suffer the consequences of her behavior, we allow the drastic and merciful step of abortion of the embryo. The pro-lifers who demonstrate at Planned Parenthood clinic and hold up pictures of bloody fetuses should rather hold up signs with the number of hours per week they’re volunteering for child care, and then we’d take them more seriously.
We live in a culture that so exploits sexuality that little kids grow up in a red-light district, even suburban and small-town kids. Kids get wired early on into sexual roles, girls of 9 and 10 dress like streetwalkers, and it isn’t left-wing academics who are selling this to them, it is corporate America, and it’s the symbiotic link between puritans and pornographers (similar to that between prohibitionists and bootleggers) that makes the game go round. Janet Jackson’s right tit, exposed on national TV at the Super Bowl, was the talk of the nation, more in bemusement–after all, the woman had products to promote–but the usual voices of shock and dismay were raised, thus raising the promotional value. Why do Republicans not get this? Their sulfurous views about sex, their obsession over it make the prize more attractive, and so, in the United States, girls under 15 are at least five times more likely to get pregnant than girls the same age in Old Europe where sex is viewed as an ordinary part of life and nothing to huff and puff about. A little secularism might help. If your daughter were 15 and pregnant, scared to death, weeping, angry at herself, embarrassed, you would do whatever you had to do to do right by her. You would not send her to the Rev. Falwell. You would not throw her to the winds to drift into depression and despair and deliver her child in a toilet and leave it in a Dumpster to die. And you wouldn’t want anybody else’s daughter to drift that way either.
The whole book is worth the read. Here’s a link.