Higgins at large

By GEORGE V. HIGGINS  |  November 14, 2006

This article originally appeared in the February 17, 1976 issue of the Boston Phoenix.

It is with some timidity (not much, but some) that I make the following admissions.

I don’t care what Gerald Ford thinks about abortions.  I don’t care what Betty Ford thinks about them, either.  I am not interested in Ronald Reagan’s views on the subject, nor am I beguiled by Nancy Reagan’s animadversions.  R. Sargent Shriver and Eunice Shriver may postulate as they will, while Birch Bayh and Marvella bob and weave as they like: in-house, out-house, it’s all the same to me.

This is not to say that I do not accord the question of abortion the status of an issue significant enough for public utterance, dispute or controversy.  Without implying any equivalence of importance, it deserves at least the same attention as whether Daniel Patrick Moynihan should’ve gored the Third World and whether Henry Kissinger should’ve loved him for doing it. 

Along with busing, bingo, and (as Shirley MacLaine memorably phrased it, evidently, when asked in London about JFK’s purported prowess in the sack), whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of a President who does it to the country than those of one who does it to one or more women, what the President of the United States thinks about abortion is about as germane to the issue of his qualifications for the job as were the late Francis Cardinal Spellman’s views on the blessing of machine guns and other implements of foreign policy to the success of his efforts to discharge the obligations of the landlord of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  And for precisely the same reason.

So far as I am aware, the next President of the United States, whoever he is, will not be invited to perform an abortion. That is not among the duties incumbent upon the office.

The likelihood is that the next President of the United States will not experience immediate, personal need of an abortion.

In the first place, lobbies notwithstanding, the next President is liable to be a man.

In the second place, even if he is deplorably unchaste, he and/or his partners are, before being wicked, likely to visit reputable pharmacists, which seems a very sensible attitude toward the whole thing, to me, if you are bound and determined to be wicked.

In the third place, if something, or someone, close to the next President of the United States goes awry, and there is a consensus of interested parties to the effect that a small corrective procedure, then, is preferable to a disaster of public relations, so to speak, eight months later, you can bet your Bicentennial medals from the Franklin Mint that there is going to be a small corrective procedure.

Them who gets, in such elegant circles, knows pretty well where to get rid of the get, and they always have, too, and not in any septic tenement room, either, occupied by some snaggle-toothed old lock-picker with a coathanger.

Well, come to think of it, the Sage of Blooming Grove didn’t, and Grover Cleveland, too, was misfortunate enough to live in a period of comparatively primitive medicine. 

Then there was Thomas Jefferson, who was said, recently, to have hung around the slave quarters with an eye to mischief; and George Washington, at least a part-time rake. 

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