When this site went up for the first time in 1996, one of the features on the front page was a list of local abortion providers. This was not because I wanted to drum up business for them, particularly, but because the Communications Decency Act, passed that year, made it illegal to discuss such things online, and I was in one of my periodic "Oh, yeah?" moods. (There is reason, I suppose, to doubt that I've ever come out of said mood.)

But the CDA was shelved the following year for blatant unconstitutionality, and I deleted the listings. The OAQ File explains:

The Supreme Court has canned the Communications Decency Act, which forbade the discussion of such things in cyberspace; my little act of civil disobedience is no longer necessary. Besides, at the time, I needed the space.

The latter was true; at the time, I was operating out of an ISP's one whole megabyte of free space. And really, abortion wasn't a big issue for me, though I turned out an occasional satirical piece on the subject.

Still, I've always had some misgivings about abortion, though they tended to crop out in unexpected locations. A broadside against the Defense of Marriage Act contained this reference:

Though everyone insists that we are being deluged with bad laws these days, there seems to be little agreement on what actually constitutes Bad Law. My own rule of thumb equates the degree of Badness with how much the Constitution must be twisted and tortured to get the law to appear to fit.

Using this criterion, Roe v. Wade is fairly Bad; with one hand, it sweeps away all the presumably-unconstitutional state laws regulating the procedure, and with another makes up a purely-arbitrary set of time frames to, you guessed it, regulate the procedure.

And then there was this piece, which started out as a complaint about idiotic bank software:

[S]peaking of idiocies, how is it that there are people who have no problem whatsoever with a 16-year-old girl getting a fetus vacuumed out of her uterus without so much as a by-your-leave, but get horribly bent out of shape at the possibility that she might see a Marlboro ad?

And right before the 2002 elections, there was this, in a generalized grumble about my fellow Democrats:

The Democrats worry that if in one state, a sixteen-year-old girl can't have her uterus vacuumed out as easily as she can have an ankle bracelet fitted, the streets will be flooded with coat hangers in all states.

You might think, from the repeated use of that term "vacuumed out," that I find something disturbing about the procedure. But consider this: in the first twenty-two months of the Iraq war, we suffered about 1400 troop deaths, all of whom were mourned. In twenty-two hours, about three thousand "fetuses" are put to death, and this is considered business as usual.

Now that's what's disturbing. Even some Democrats find it horrendous. The old mantra of "safe, legal and rare" fails on at least two counts: abortion is hardly rare, and if you happen to be the one aborted, it's not even slightly safe.

Incidentally, in the local SBC Yellow Pages, "Abortion Alternatives" precedes "Abortion Providers." The placement is purely alphabetical — the next classification is "Abrasives" — but I figure the next step is for someone to sue the phone company for having committed this blatant act of discrimination.

For now, I'm stopping short of calling for the outright reversal of Roe. But I think it's safe to say that I won't miss it when — not "if" — it's gone.

The Vent

  23 January 2005

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