When facing choices, do you prefer deciding yourself or letting someone else decide for you?
What kind of choices are we talking about? Doesn’t matter. Could be something trivial: what flavor of ice cream to order. Or more important: what color to paint the living room.
Or even something truly significant: what political party to join. What religion to follow.
Got your answer? Good. Set it aside.
This isn’t a trick. I’m not going to condemn you if you answer, “I want others to make decisions for me.” Many people do. They join fraternities, the military or other organizations where following directions is tantamount. Nothing to be ashamed of. There is a pressure in making decisions, a weight in assuming responsibility for your choices.
Some alternate. I, for example, generally like to make my own decisions — chocolate chip cookie dough, white walls. Sometimes I yield to decisions made by others long ago: my parents were Democrats and Jews, so I’m sympathetic with the idea that government should help those in need and in no hurry to embrace unfamiliar faiths that seem even more contrived and arcane than my own.
Sometimes I want someone else to decide: “Honey, which tie goes better?”
So I understand, and even sympathize a little, with those who would offload their choice regarding an issue as significant as abortion, surrendering to a higher power: to the government, or some religious authority. It has to be a wrenching decision, to snuff about this tiny, aborning life, and if you could remove it from yourself, or from others, and decide it with permanent finality and unwavering certainty, you are free from the stress of deciding. As are they.
That said, I’m not so sympathetic for those who insist on making the choice, not only for themselves but for everybody else, too. Who, having enjoyed the freedom to look within their hearts, their faith, and come to their own decision, now want to force that decision on everybody else, through law if necessary.
This question — who makes the hard decision? — is really what the abortion debate is about. Not babies — there are no babies, that’s just a genius bit of advertising cooked up by men who no longer found success in the old standard strategy of forcing women to do what they’re told. No babies, no murder, certainty. It’s just strong words they use.
This is about choice. Who makes the tough moral decision? The woman involved? Or some other person who doesn’t even know her?
That’s actually not much of a dilemma for most.
Most people reject the idea of others making their important choices. I don’t think America, roiling with its constant crisis in Washington, gave enough notice at the end of May when Ireland voted 2 to 1 to scrap its anti-abortion constitutional ban, paving the way for legalized abortion. Two-thirds of the electorate said, “enough.”
That should resonate, in our country where freedom is supposedly valued. Where the freedom to own guns is rarely questioned by the faithful, despite the actual murder, not of conceptual babies, not of fetuses the size of a grain of rice, but of real living children. Few of the pious mention “Choose Life” when the issue is guns.
With abortion, that changes. Maybe because the standards for bossing around women are different. Individuals who wouldn’t let someone else pick the color of their drapes are suddenly insisting that they should make this difficult call for all women, and the law should back them up. They find a dodge — Iowa is trying to install a “heartbeat law” that would effectively ban all abortion. A tadpole has a heartbeat; that doesn’t make it a baby either.
This Irish vote is a sign of faith: faith in humanity, faith in the sanctity of life, of a woman’s life, to live as she chooses, unmolested, and her right to control her own body as she, not you, sees fit.
Religion is a choice. Having a baby is a choice. It is hypocrisy that the former would dictate the latter. I’m amazed they’ve gotten away with it this long, and still do. You wouldn’t let someone else pick a flavor of ice cream for you. Why would anyone let others tell her what to do with the body digesting that ice cream? It’s crazy.