Roe v. Wade ended today, and I'm more torn about this than someone with my politics should be.
Oh, on the whole I think the decision is bad. I'm pro-choice -- ultimately, carefully and sometimes by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin -- because I believe that women's health and freedom really are implicated in the abortion debate.
I grew up among pro-life Christians. I know them, know their hearts. I know -- though I disagree, ultimately -- that many of them truly believe they are saving babies from murder, and if you thought you were saving babies from being murdered, wouldn't you be rejoicing today?
My old friends are rejoicing.
I am not.
Some of this is self-preservation, I suppose. I am married to an ardently pro-choice woman who -- in the brief moments we had to visit earlier today -- vowed resistance. And I'd be lying if I said my marriage didn't influence my politics on this issue. I don't think that's a bad thing. What's the point of joining your life to someone else's if you're not willing to let their perspective nudge and maybe even enlarge your own?
So here's the thing: I don't expect today's decision to actually produce a "culture of life."
That's the kind of thing I've seen some well-meaning conservative folks talk about today. It's not good enough to merely outlaw abortion, they say. The next step -- using all the tools at their disposal -- is to create a nation where every pregnant woman welcomes every act of conception and, ultimately, every child into a world ready to support them in thriving and surviving.
It's noble, I'll grant that. And maybe impossibly utopian. I doubt (for instance) you'll ever completely rid the world of demand for abortions.
But also: I'll believe it when I see it.
The pro-life movement has had 50 years to build a culture of life, to prepare for this moment and to entice women into making different choices. And they ... haven't. Maternal death rates have risen in America in recent decades. Black maternal death rates are even worse. And the states that have fought most vigorously to outlaw abortion are also often the states that have managed to avoid or delay the Medicaid expansion that would help the poorest would-be mothers immeasurably.
Maybe that will change now.
I doubt it.
And if I'm wrong, I'll still have a few horse-and-cart questions about why they waited so long.
The committed pro-life people I respect most liken abortion to the Holocaust, and Roe v. Wade to Plessy v. Ferguson. The possibility sometimes haunts me. Am I the baddie? There's a possibility that I -- and millions of people like me -- will one day be judged moral monsters. That's distressing.
For now, though, I know that many if not most Americans opt -- in their hearts, and sometimes even at the polls -- for the impossible middle ground on this topic: Finding abortion unsettling, and yet fearful of losing the option entirely. That's where I'm at. Which satisfies almost none of my friends on either side of the issue.
The end result is this: I can't join my pro-life friends in rejoicing, even if I understand why they do so. I suspect today's decision will increase the sum of human misery in America. I hope I am wrong.