From a Jonah Goldberg column (a very good one incidentally) about Obama’s approach to the Saddleback questions:
At Saddleback, Obama offered the ritualistic support for Roe v. Wade expected of all Democratic politicians, “not because I’m pro-abortion,” but because women “wrestle with these things in profound ways.”
That rather typically obvious Obama statement got me thinking.
As long time readers know, I am not whole-heartedly pro-Life. I do believe that there are circumstances in which abortion should be allowed. As I grow older, though, what I find repugnant is what pro-Lifers have long called “the culture of abortion.” I never understood that when I was young, when I didn’t have children, and when I hadn’t started seriously examining many of the precepts that underlie the political thinking on the Left.
For all the Clinton’s lip service about keeping abortion “safe, legal and rare” (an idea the Democrats have dropped this year), the fact is that the popular liberal culture does not aim to keep abortion “safe, legal and rare.” Instead, as Kathryn Jean Lopez demonstrated in a post about Planned Parenthood’s approach to sex, the message may be birth control, but the meta message is have sex all the time, whenever you want it. And as even the most diehard Planned Parenthood person will acknowledge, once you actually engage in sex, there is no such thing as perfect birth control. Pregnancies will happen.
This cultural approach to sex — have it whenever you want, however you want, but try to be careful — means that a certain number of women will inevitably have to wrestle in a profound way with the big decision of whether to have an abortion. What Obama misses, though, is that women should be doing their profound wrestling much earlier.
In a culture that is not abortion friendly (and one can imagine such a culture even if abortion is legal and safe in certain circumstances), women won’t wait until they’re pregnant before they start asking the big questions. Instead, the profound wrestling (and women always have to do the profound wrestling because they’re the ones who get pregnant) will take place back at the beginning of the relationship: Should I go to bed with a guy I’ve known only a half hour? Should I believe him when he says he’s had a vasectomy? Having known him only a week, do I have enough knowledge about the guy to envision him as the father of my child? Do I love this man? Is this a guy who bounces from woman to woman to woman? Do I really want to sleep with all these men who are, essentially, strangers?
I’m not advocating a return to a culture that forbids premarital sex. Frankly, I don’t know whether we can put that genii back in the bottle, short of some draconian sharia-like laws that include stonings and beheadings. However, is it asking too much to have a popular culture that sees sex as something you do with someone you can imagine sharing with you the burden of parenthood? And if you, a woman, can’t even conceive of your potential sex partner in that role (possibly because you’ve known him only a few minutes), shouldn’t you be making different decisions about whether to have sex with him?
Yes, Obama is right that women wrestle. What’s wrong, though, his is unthinking belief that you start wrestling only after everyone has already had his or her fun.