During the House debate concerning Planned Parenthood, Representative Jackie Speier schooled her colleagues about abortion – and in the process, discussed her own.
The California Democrat’s disclosure is being characterized as a “revelation” that “stunned” fellow members of the House. The Huffington Post applauds her undeniable chutzpah, and so do I. Rep. Speier’s three-minute speech was pointed, succinct, and powerful. Her outrage at the GOP’s crusade to defund Planned Parenthood is palatable, and that makes her words that much stronger.
In Curtis Sittenfield’s novel American Wife, a fictionalized account of Laura Bush’s life, there is a subplot concerning abortion. Towards the end of the book, a main character grapples with what it would mean to reveal her long-ago choice. Is it something that she “owes” other women? Can one person’s experience influence the decisions and opinions of others? Should it? And why shouldn’t a private medical decision remain just that – private?
Watching Rep. Speier’s speech, I was reminded of those questions. Because even as I applaud and admire her action, I’m saddened that abortion holds such a firm position on the third rail of society that sharing a personal experience is still considered a notable act. Even when the woman talking about her abortion is not doing so from the floor of the House of Representatives – even if it’s your roommate sitting in her dorm room or your girlfriend talking in a bar or your best friend confiding over coffee – she’s still doing something so uncommon that her words take on a weight and meaning that might be outsize compared to reality. [Read more...]