Tuesday, January 21, 2003

The Mother of All Rights:

Roe v. Wade anniversaries make me think of the last scene in "Schindler's List," the film about Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist who saved a small number of Jews during World War II. The final scene features actual Schindler survivors with their children and grandchildren, lining up to place stones on his grave in Israel. What makes the scene so powerful is not just the surprising number of progeny already produced by the Holocaust escapees, but the staggering number of men, women and children who aren't there, who never had a chance of life because the Nazis gassed those who would have been their parents and grandparents.

When Roe comes up, it has Schindler-like reverberations in my own family. The fact is, my husband and I, our four children, his three siblings, and their combined eight children all owe our lives to the fact that the famous Supreme Court decision did not come until 1973 (and its British equivalent until 1967). For all 17 of us are descended from two unwanted pregnancies -- two pregnancies that produced two hasty marriages, some happiness, rather more sadness, and, eventually, two divorces. And I have to say, boy am I glad that those pregnancies -- dismaying and unexpected as they were, entailing the compromises that they did for those involved -- weren't tidied up in a clinic so that the young mothers in question could "get on with their lives." You, gentle reader, would have been deprived of nothing more than my editorial voice. I, and 16 kinsfolk, would have been robbed of everything.

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