I watched the Vice Presidential debate last night.
I’m still not sure why I did it.
The debate was held in Uncanny Valley; it started with an eerily motionless woman seen from behind, reading lines off a TelePrompter that was clearly visible to the audience. Then we saw the candidates– Kaine, whose triangular eyebrows and grouchy demeanor made me think he was going to chase me around the Overlook Hotel with an ax, and Pence, who is a little more than halfway through his transition from a male human being into a crash dummy. And these two wealthy and powerful white men sat down to debate what they would do about the people in Syria and Russia and the people in Mexico, and the Mexicans living in the United States, and poor people and rich people all over the world.
Frankly, I don’t want either one of those people deciding my fate.
I was honestly praying that they wouldn’t mention abortion. When candidates mention abortion, Catholic bloggers have to talk about it, and as a pro-life Catholic who is also a feminist I tend to get tomatoes thrown at me by both sides when this topic comes up.
Anyway, Mike Pence, who had previously said he was going to deport huge numbers of Americans, build a massive wall to keep refugees off the border including “underground and in the air,” and get rid of the ACA, gave an impassioned warble about how opposing abortion is protecting the most vulnerable. And Tim Kaine, who had just finished boasting that as a governor he allowed men to be executed even though his Catholic faith demanded that he give them clemency, said women should make their own choices. And I wanted to bash both of their heads together.
I was raised to believe that people who are pro-choice are demonic, baby-eating monsters. But when I grew up, by a series of fortunate accidents, I managed to get outside the bubble I’d been raised in. I discovered that there are humans outside of that bubble: real people with feelings and morals and principles, who have made a different moral judgement than I have, and I think they’re wrong. And I’ve discovered that, yes, some women who get abortions go skipping off to the clinic with no regrets, but the vast majority of them do not. They’re not silly ninnies ignorant of embryology either; they know what they’re doing, but they do it because they feel they have no choice– because of homelessness, poverty, illness, domestic abuse or other factors. No, they’re not being physically forced onto the operating table, but they feel forced by society, and they’re desperate, and they do what they feel they must.
Finding out that people outside the bubble are human too, is a terrifying thing. Finding out that people who commit terrible evils, are human too, that they do things because they feel forced, that their backs were to a wall and you might have done the same, is a slap in the face, but it’s a needed slap. I can now look at the situation as it really exists, instead of how it exists in caricature.
Abortion doesn’t come out of nowhere. If you’re like me, you’ve been told it’s caused by selfishness, but it’s not. It’s most often caused by desperation, and desperation can be helped. The poor will always be with us, but their desperation is our fault.
When Democrats talk about abortion, I think they’re wrong. When Republicans bother to talk about abortion, which isn’t often, I think they’re wrong as well– because they want to pass laws limiting where and when abortions can be gotten, without fighting against the societal factors that make mothers desperate. That’s not going to work. It’s going to make matters even worse.