In today’s episode, I open with a soundbite from Bill Maher. I found myself a little surprised to find someone so well-educated and well-versed, admitted to not really knowing much about Roe v. Wade or the abortion debate in general. We all hear quips, phrases, monikers and slogans, so we just repeat them as if that makes us knowledgeable. It doesn’t.
To illustrate, I had two different conversations lately with two younger women – between the ages of 20-25. I summarize each to demonstrate how important it is to have a free and open dialogue. With one of the examples, it started with, “Well, all my rights are now gone.” Playing along and being mindful to not get snarky or raise my voice, I asked which rights had been eliminated. Needless to say, it came down to the moniker, “My body, my choice.” I pointed out that if that’s true, we are only talking about one right, not all. She begrudgingly admitted that was the case.
That meant dissecting the idea of a “ban” on abortion. I explained how Roe v. Wade being reversed didn’t ban abortion, but would return it to the states. Every state could then pass laws, voted on by the people, to better reflect the will of the people. For instance, I added, the Dobbs case being argued, which is what may overturn Roe v. Wade, is about setting the line at 15 weeks. She looked at me puzzled. She did not know anything about the Dobbs case. She literally said, “Well, if you can’t figure that out by 15 weeks, that’s your problem!” Exactly!
But, to show I was willing to play the other side, I pushed further. I suggested the overturning of Roe V. Wade could empower a state to ban abortions. Before she could yell, “A-ha!” I said, but is there a law keeping you from driving to any other state in the union? I didn’t even have to say anything more. She was the one who said, “Then just drive to where you can get it done!” Once again, exactly!!
In my second discussion, this person wanted to use two very familiar talking points: it’s just a fetus and there needs to be exceptions for rape, incest and endangerment to the mother. Dealing with the first point, I asked for a definition of fetus. Eventually, it’s impossible to deny it refers to an unborn offspring or child of the parent. So she changed to “clump of cells.” I pointed out we are all just clumps of cells, aren’t we?
To her second point, I asked if she had any data to know how many current legal abortions are a result of rape, incest or endangerment to the mother? She just assumed it was at least half. The real data is less than 2%. But, I told her, let’s make it 5%, just to be safe. Does that mean we can now eliminate the other 95%? It finally came to the heart of her argument, women should have the convenience of dealing with a mistake. So, this goes back to the first woman who blurted out, “If you can’t figure that out in 15 weeks, that’s on you.”
I don’t know if I changed anyone’s mind, but it did allow for the exchange of information and may, eventually, help to plant the seeds needed to think about this issue in a more reasoned and rational way moving forward. After all, isn’t that what Freedom of Speech is all about?