Friday, December 28, 2007

Morgentaler's Auschwitz: a drama in two parts

The Protest

This afternoon, on the way to work, I happened upon a curious sight: an anti-abortion march. It caught me off guard, and my initial reaction was to laugh. Out loud. Still incredulous, I then turned my bike around to take photos.

I'm not really sure why. I guess I've never seen an anti-abortion march before. I mean, I've seen a block-long poster session along Bank Street (which I didn't consider worthy of a photograph), and I've seen that guy who sits on the lawn in front of Parliament Hill with photos of a distended foetus, (which I did). But never a march.

It must have been the surreality of the participants. Six people, all white, all over 60 years of age. Four were male, two female, and all marching peacefully and silently.

It must have been the one in the back that got to me. Don't be fooled by the purse or the fur coat--it is a man. His sign--"Abortion is Murder"--was the icing on the cake. I'm so used to the stereotypical "Fur Is Murder" protest slogan that I just couldn't help but be amused by the sight of a man holding a "______ is murder" sign while wearing a fur coat.

The "Morgentaler clinic is Sparks St. Mall's Auschwitz" sign was also quite audacious. Many a letter-writing campaign has been sparked simply because someone used the word "holocaust" to refer to any genocide other than "The" holocaust, so I'd expect a much grander outrage at the term being used to refer to a mere abortion clinic. Maybe the backroom censors combing through my blog for anti-semitic sentiments can tip off the Political Correctness League on these folks?

I can only assume these people are making the connection to Morgentaler, who himself survived Auschwitz in World War II (according to Wikipedia), and aren't simply making a facile hyperbolic assertion.

The Reaction

I reacted to the protest by laughing. But what might a sane, logical reaction be?

To that, I turn to a radio interview on CHUO's The Train with Andrew Nellis from July 19, 2007. I managed to download the hour-long podcast back while it was still available on the Internet Archive (I'd re-post the CC-licensed podcast here if it weren't 30 MB).

In the interview, Andrew made some tremendously logical arguments in a number of moral and philosophical areas based on his anarchist philosophy. Thus was his opinion on abortion, which begins halfway into the recording (my transcription and emphasis):
[0:30:11] Now I'm probably going to get in trouble here, but, you know, I have to tell you, I don't like abortion. I think abortion is a very selfish choice. But you know what? I'm never going to have to have one, and I will fight for any person's right to have one, because that's their choice. [Abortion] may be a wrong choice, but it's their wrong choice to make--not mine.

I'll tell you something else: when I see anti-abortion protesters out there, I go over and I shake their hand, because if these people really believe that it's murder occurring in these clinics, I don't understand why there aren't millions of people out there protesting. You know, I think it's alarming, I think it's absolutely damning that these people think murder is occurring and they can't even be bothered to go out and do anything about it.
-- Andrew Nellis, Ottawa, July 19, 2007
I certainly had this near the front of my mind when I saw that protest, but I was too overtaken by the protest's whimsical self-parody to let it bother me. I respect these people's right to protest, but I would never shake their hand: all too often, abortion opponents aim to remove--as Andrew puts it--the right to make a "wrong" choice.

(Personally, as I've never been in the position to consider having one, I see no reason to take a position that all abortion is necessarily a "right" or "wrong" choice.)

- RG>

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