Jeffrey Toobin wrote an urgent, rational comment on the Stupak amendment to the health care reform bill for this week's New Yorker. He writes:
"In his (Obama's) book “The Audacity of Hope,” he describes the “undeniably difficult issue of abortion” and ponders “the middle-aged feminist who still mourns her abortion.” Elsewhere, he announces, “Abortion vexes.” The opponents of abortion aren’t vexed—they are mobilized, focussed, and driven to succeed. The Catholic bishops took the lead in pushing for the Stupak amendment, and they squeezed legislators in a way that would do any K Street lobbyist proud. (One never sees that kind of effort on behalf of other aspects of Catholic teaching, like opposition to the death penalty.) Meanwhile, the pro-choice forces temporized. But, as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg observed not long ago, abortion rights “center on a woman’s autonomy to determine her life’s course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature.” Every diminishment of that right diminishes women. With stakes of such magnitude, it is wise to weigh carefully the difference between compromise and surrender. "
Of course, those who oppose a woman's right to a safe, legal and affordable first trimester abortion aren't interested in her autonomy. They don't care about a woman's life course or her citizenship. The woman who finds herself pregnant with a child she can't have made her bed, she lay down in it, and even though there was a man there, too, now she has to live with her choices. The embryo, however, is a tabula rasa, a precious opportunity not to be squandered whose mother (and father) will nonetheless not be given a reasonable maternity leave and will not have access to consistent government-funded child care or insurance.
But we know all that. The question now is, what do we do? There was a time when I would have answered that question unequivocally. Fight now, fight hard, fight until you win. Maybe with the Republicans tying up health care in the Senate, someone will come up with a reasonable strategy to fight the Stupak amendment. I'm ready to march, but I'm also ready for the public option.