THE BLOG
08/20/2014 05:52 pm ET Updated Oct 20, 2014

Abortion: The X(treme) Games

The "pro-life" publication that ran an article suggesting Robin Williams' depression -- and subsequent tragic suicide -- was related to a girlfriend's abortion many years ago hit a new all-time low. One can only hope that nobody with a brain reads such drivel, but then, this writer... oh, never mind.

On the heels of that one comes Rand Paul saying he doesn't "think a civilization can long endure" unless fetuses get "personhood rights." There may be no way to get through to Mr. Paul's brain -- which is reported to be a highly functional brain indeed -- that for every fetus to whom "personhood rights" are granted one woman is denied womanhood rights.

The black tar-pit of extremism into which this abortion issue has descended can make a body weep. Especially if you are somebody who remembers the day when there were no womanhood rights. Those days, before Roe v Wade changed them in 1973, were desperate times in the extreme.

Women died. Doing things such as drinking or douching with poisonous substances, which desperate women without access to abortion are doing today. The extreme distress of women denied access to reproductive rights is what results from the extremism of the anti-abortion forces.

To be honest, there is extremism on both sides. This writer is uncomfortable with the "abortion on demand and without apology" slogan, not because of any disagreement with the message, but because the in-your-face tossing of the gauntlet seems to push the sides into ever more ferocious conflict.

It was Senator Barry Goldwater, campaigning for the presidency a decade before Roe v Wade, who famously said that "extremism, in defense of liberty, is no vice." The remark got him a bunch of votes -- though not quite enough to win -- and is widely quoted and misquoted (or quasi-quoted). It could be applied here.

But whose liberty?

It is not possible to preach liberty for a pre-viable fetus -- which would not enjoy life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness outside of the womb -- without preaching bondage for the woman. The extremist interpretation of anti-abortion aims ("abortion is never the right choice") is just that: A fertilized egg = nine months of bondage.

There may be no middle ground on reproductive rights. But if the fetus wins, if a girlfriend's abortion decades ago gets blamed for someone's suicide, if "personhood rights" take precedence over women's rights, we will be back in the dark ages.

We've been there before. Some of us remember.