While watching the most recent episode of “Mad Men,” which focused on a dilemma faced by Roger Sterling (played by the brilliant John Slattery) and Joan Harris (played by that uber-woman and equally brilliant Christina Hendricks) — Joan’s pregnancy — it struck me: even though the pro-abortion feminists maliciously swapped the word “abortion” with the word “choice” decades ago, while regulating pro-lifers to “anti-choice” or “anti-abortion,” perhaps the better term would be “pro-decision.”
Now allow me from the start to make it clear: while I am what most people in the pro-abortion/anti-abortion rift would label “pro-life,” having stood, marched and sided for years with pro-lifers, firmly believing life begins at conception, I just as firmly oppose any and all laws restricting or criminalizing abortion. Call me a libertarian pro-lifer or accuse me of condoning murder, but I see no sense in enacting laws that criminalize either a doctor’s or a woman’s actions. Or decisions.
When I worked for the Reagan White House, it was under the wing of one of the greatest pro-life women I have ever known: Anne Higgins, who just recently died. Now that she has departed, I hope it is safe to say that she ran a one-woman pro-life organization right out of The White House, helping young women find homes or support for their so-called “unwanted” children. I believe it was most likely her — or perhaps Pat Buchanan, as it sure as hell was not Donald Regan, let alone the pro-abortion Nancy Reagan — who arranged for President Reagan to speak directly from The White House to pro-lifers gathered in the freezing cold on The Ellipse one year for the annual March for Life.
I thought that the “Human Life Amendment” put forth by the late, great Senator Jesse Helms and considered but not totally embraced by Reagan was a mistake if not horrible federal legislation. Still, it was the pro-life message put forth by The Great Communicator that was seminal in converting me from a fairly liberal Social Work graduate from West Virginia University in the 1970’s to the hard-core conservative I consider myself today. But I digress: back to Roger and Joan.
Although married to a poor sap of a doctor who just got shipped off to the Vietnam War, Joan continues her salacious relationship with Roger and, lo and behold, Joan gets pregnant (come on Roger, wear a raincoat if you are going to fool around with a married woman!) and the father is said to be Roger, who is somewhat ambivalent about whether to keep “it” (a human life reduced to being called an “it”), offering to go either way with the pregnancy, while Joan weighs in fairly certain that she wants to terminate “it.”
Actually, I was surprised that Mad Men treated the whole issue fairly, not resorting to the usual Hollywood/entertainment business claptrap of back-alley abortions being the only option in America in the 60’s. Between Roger and Joan, they made a decision, not a choice to terminate the pregnancy.
Now a “choice” is something one makes at Baskin Robbins once someone has made a decision to have some ice cream. A “choice” is something one does at the supermarket figuring which one of the Heinz 57 varieties they will buy. A decision is what a woman, as well as hopefully a man, must make when confronted with either an “unplanned” or “unwanted” pregnancy.
Mad Men treated the issue of abortion in the 1960’s very well: people were still actually conflicted about abortion, as witnessed by Joan’s “visit” to the abortionist in nearby New Jersey. It was no back alley ghetto, rather, a pristine doctor’s office, referred to by Roger’s disapproving personal physician, who scolded them both, but who went along with their decision.
Joan, alone in the waiting room, witnesses a woman with her daughter, obviously there to have an abortion. The woman is distraught, cries and finally conveys to Joan that she mothered her daughter while only fifteen, with her daughter a still very young seventeen. Ever stoic, Joan sympathizes but does not pontificate — as most pro-choicers would — the virtues of abortion. No, she realizes that all of them are there under duress, are not entirely certain of their decision, but that they have made a decision nonetheless. Not a “choice.”
Some pro-lifers want there to be laws requiring an abortionist or, in phony feminist speak, an “abortion provider” (what does that make a surgeon who removes an appendix, an “appendix remover”?), to give full truth in lending, so to speak, to women seeking abortions. They want the abortionist or others to show the grizzly results of abortion, such as a photograph of an aborted fetus, or inform them of the dangers abortion may pose to some women, perhaps making it difficult or impossible to have children when they “want” them. I suppose that is a fair enough notion given that if pro-abortionists had their way, thirteen-year-old girls could get abortions along with a Slurpee at their local 7-11. But still, it should not be required by law: pretty much all surgery comes with some sort of risk, but that is no reason to scare the hell out of people seeking medical treatment.
No, the best way to address abortion is to hope and pray that a woman facing such a decision turns to what is in her heart, mind and soul, understanding the gravity of taking a human life.
Allow me to now turn to the idiot’s encyclopedia, “Wikipedia” for a description of one abortionist who had a total change of heart, Dr. Bernard Nathanson:
As a younger man, he had been strongly pro-choice, and he states that he performed an abortion on a woman who had become pregnant by him. He later gained national attention by then becoming one of the founding members of the National Abortion Rights Action League, now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America. He worked with Betty Friedan and others for the legalization of abortion in the United States. Their efforts essentially succeeded with the Roe v Wade decision. He was also for a time the director of the Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health (CRASH), New York’s largest abortion clinic. Nathanson has written that he was responsible for more than 75,000 abortions throughout his pro-choice career.
The development of ultrasound, however, in the 1970s led him to reconsider his views on abortion. He is now a staunch supporter of the pro-life movement. He is often quoted as saying abortion is “the most atrocious holocaust in the history of the United States.” In 1984, he made the documentary The Silent Scream, which showed an abortion from the perspective of ultrasound. His second documentary, Eclipse of Reason, dealt with late-term abortions. He has also stated that the numbers he once cited for NARAL concerning the number of deaths linked to illegal abortions were “false figures.”
Now if anyone, albeit a man, knows what it means to turn to your heart, mind and soul to understand what abortion means, it would be Nathanson, who was once one of the Mad Men in the world of pro-abortion thinking.
Nicholas Thimmesch II, son of the late Los Angeles Times columnist Nick Thimmesch, is a longtime media and communications consultant to numerous campaigns, government representatives and public policy organizations, serving in the Reagan White House as a staff writer.