A GUY GOES TO SEE A PSYCHIATRIST AND THE psychiatrist shows him a series of pictures to ascertain his mental health. He holds up a tree and says, "What do you see?" The man replies, "Sex." He shows him a lake and says, "What do you see?" The man replies, "Sex." Several more pictures of assorted items are shown, the patient responding "sex" to every one. The shrink finally says, "Sir, you have a problem; all you see is sex." The patient replies, "You're the one with all the dirty pictures."
The old joke comes to mind as I reflect on the responses of the Kate Michelmans and Kim Gandys and Ellen Goodmans of the world to recent legislative developments. In the fall of 2003, Congress passed a law prohibiting a particularly Taliban-like form of abortion (the Partial Birth Abortion Act). But if you ask Ms. Michelman, "What do you see?" she says it's "the most devastating and appalling attack on a woman's freedom to choose in the history of the House." If you ask NARAL, "What do you see?" the organization says, "an eroding of the protections of Roe vs. Wade."
This March Congress passed a law acknowledging the biologically patent fact that two victims are involved whenever a federal crime of violence is committed against a pregnant woman (the Unborn Victims of Violence Act). But if you ask NOW Executive Vice President Kim Gandy, "What do you see?" all she sees is that it's "meant to lay the groundwork for dismantling Roe vs. Wade." If you ask NARAL, "What do you see?" it sees "a sneak attack on a woman's right to choose." If you ask Planned Parenthood, it sees the anti-choice forces "exploiting this harrowing issue to advance their political agenda." If you ask Laura Murphy of the ACLU what she sees, it's that "the Bush White House is more interested in servicing their anti-choice political base than taking meaningful steps to protect women from violence." Ann Lewis, national chair of the Democratic Party's women's vote center, sees "a thinly veiled attempt to create fetal rights."
This is a one-track mind, ladies and gentlemen. This is not sound mental health. In biblical terms we would say of these women that "they have become callous" and "are darkened in their understanding ... because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart" (Ephesians 4:17-19). Theirs is a ruthless, take-no-prisoners logic that steamrolls every other humane concern. All laws and lawmakers are but expendable fodder and collateral commodities before its blind rampage. All obstacles in its path are bulldozed by a controlling obsession whose secret name is "Nobody tells me what to do!"
"Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full of direst cruelty!" Thus did Lady Macbeth, in dark soliloquy, call upon devilish powers to strip her of all womanish sensibilities, that she might not waver in her murderous course. But would not even Macbeth's wife have relented at the prospect of puncturing the skull of a fully formed "fetus"?
Let's have no nonsense about legitimate differences of perspective. This is willful blindness, and no less a pact with the three hags of hell than that of Lady M herself. "Are we also blind?" the Pharisees smirkingly ask Jesus, who has just said, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind." But the Lord does not give them a pass on the grounds of some congenital visual defect: "If you were blind, you would have no guilt, but now that you say, 'We see,' your guilt remains" (John 9:39-41).
Many of us desire to pose questions and scenarios that could expose the pro-choice folly and let in sunshine on the subject: "Ms. Michelman," I'd like to say, "suppose I am on my way to get an abortion when I am accosted by a miscreant and the baby in me dies. Is the assailant still prosecutable under the law (even under a weaker substitute proposal) since the baby was not wanted anyway-and the value of a baby is all in the wanting of it?"
But you can forget about an answer on the merits of the case. The testy reply will come back that you are one of those "anti-choice members playing politics with women's lives, health, and safety," and are motivated by the "intent of injecting inflammatory rhetoric into an election year" (Kate Michelman). And this will happen because whether you show the lady photos of trees or lakes or dead babies, all she will see is dirty pictures.