Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I probably didn't mention that I was quoted in the Sunday New York Times several months ago. I didn't mention it because my full name was the very beginning of the article, followed by "considers herself a supporter of abortion rights."

I stand by what I believe, and I don't regret being quoted so publicly. There needs to be a public face for this discussion, and I'm willing for it to be me. But I was a bit freaked out for a while, with the huge Sunday New York Times print and online readership seeing my controversial position and blogging about it on their right-to-life blogs, when a quick Google search would turn up my address and my daughter's school. (She's at a different school now, for unrelated reasons.) There are some scary, violent people out there who oppose abortion. There is risk in speaking out.

But I think that this is a discussion worth having and I think it needs to be explored as widely as possible. I don't think it does any good for either side to pretend that abortion is a black-and-white issue. There are some really strong reasons why women have abortions, and there are ways that our society pushes them to these decisions. I'm talking about the ways in which "pro-life" legislation frequently loses interest once babies have been born, leaving women, children, and families out in the cold.

On the flip side, it's equally reprehensible to talk about "choice" as though it's a purely personal issue, made in a vacuum, with no larger ethical or societal tethers.

Issues surrounding genetic testing and abortion include disability rights, sexism, eugenics, and the society we're building for the future.

I am incredibly grateful that Amy Harmon chose to tackle these issues head-on.
Amy Harmon is a domestic correspondent covering the impact of the genetic revolution on American life. Ms. Harmon won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2008 for her ongoing series "The DNA Age," which explores the impact of new genetic technology on American life.

She did a fabulous job, and the award is well-deserved. I hope that her work continues to shed light on these murky areas and encourage reasonable discussion about difficult issues surrounding genetic testing and abortion.

I believe that there's a difference between what's right and what's legal. I don't believe that all of my morals need to be legislated. I do believe that I need to stand up and speak out for what I believe, to help try to make the world a more understanding and accepting place for my daughter and for others who don't fit into our airbrushed templates.

I know that lots of people - whether they call themselves pro-choice or pro-life - support abortion in cases of genetic or other birth defect or abnormality. And I think that's a confluence that needs to be examined more closely, to dissect how our prejudices are helping open a really ugly path to the future.

More information about Harmon's work, complete with lots of links, here.

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