I hope for the day when my daughter and granddaughter will never have to write — or read — columns like this one. I hope for silence on every future January 22, the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made legal and safe abortions the national standard. For the last 33 years, however, annual reminders that the rights granted by Roe are always under threatening attack seemed necessary.
This year, under the anti-choice rule of George W. Bush and with the giant question mark posed by Samuel Alito hanging over our heads there is, unfortunately, no less need for concern.
What pro-choice advocates dream of is a day when the nation would accept women’s privacy as a fact that need not be endlessly debated. Whether others agree with the abortion option or not, those of us who do look forward to a time when a truce can be declared and the reality of abortion choices accepted.
People oppose divorce, others still detest interracial marriages, and some even hate the idea that consenting adults may privately engage in sexual tangles other than the missionary position. But the din that such legal activities used to raise has died down to a manageable whisper. None of these once-controversial topics has the power to greatly influence public policy in 2006.
Yet the most private, and the most painful, decision a woman can face has become the pivotal issue for electing presidents, confirming judges, or even electing governors and city councilors who have no legislative power over Roe.
What the abortion debate lacks is perspective from the point of view of those who oppose it. The options being weighed by any woman facing an unintended pregnancy ought to be of maximum urgency to her, and anyone else in whom she cares to confide.
Beyond that intensely private circle, there should be silence, since no one else’s opinion really has any standing and just creates background noise.
This year, on January 22, remembering the many women who lost their health and lives in the days before Roe gave them safer options, that is all we hope for: silence, privacy, and freedom.