If you're an avid blog reader of political blogs, then you probably already know what today is. You will see many posts on the same subject, each hoping to perhaps stake out a unique claim, find a new hook, win the argument once and for all. There will be earnest pleas, sentimental stories, harsh rhetoric, accusations of bad faith. Words will be misspelled. CAPS LOCK WILL BE USED. The exclamation may get a workout like it rarely sees.
All because today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
There's no other issue that gets the anger flowing quite like abortion rights does. It seems as though any mention of the word turns people who are normally sedate and moderate into ravening beasts, as they dig their heels into their positions and refuse to budge. I'm as bad as anyone on this front. When I get into an argument--rare, believe it or not, because I don't generally find it fruitful--my attitude toward the anti-abortion extremists is that they're either stupid or dishonest, and I don't much care which one they choose.
After all, I'm not going to be swayed from my position that the most personal choice a woman can make is whether or not she's going to give birth if she's pregnant, and that no one has the right to get between a woman and that choice. I'm all about discussing ways to reduce the number of abortions that are performed in this country--I'm in favor of increased access to birth control including emergency contraception, of better age-appropriate sex education, of social programs that can help economically disadvantaged mothers take care of babies they choose to have, like government-funded day care, and of course, universal health care. But the core of it, the sacred part of the debate, is that the individual woman has the right to choose what she does with her body and what's inside of it. If the other side isn't willing to give me that, then we can't have a discussion.
The darkly funny part of all this is that in almost every public discussion, when this debate shifts from airy abstractions about rights to real-life examples of pregnant women, the language of choice is the one that always dominates. That's the inevitable frame, and anti-abortion advocates know this. Remember the Republican convention, and the way the Palin family tap-danced around the issue? It was one of the best moments The Daily Show and Samantha Bee ever had.
The way those people did everything they could to avoid uttering the very word shows that they know, on some level, that they're walking into a rhetorical minefield, that in a real debate, they can't win. This is especially the case when, as is the case for the Republican party, you're generally arguing (dishonestly, I'd say) that government ought to stay out of your personal decisions. It's a contradiction that can't be skirted honestly, so anti-abortion advocates do everything they can to shift the debate onto ground more suited to their arguments.
Anyway, you'll get to see a lot of this today, definitely on political blogs, perhaps in your email inbox, possibly in the form of street protests depending on where you live. I'm actually dreading walking across the quad today because I assume someone will be out there with pictures of fetuses and I don't have the energy to mock them in the manner to which I am accustomed. Happy Abortion Day, y'all.