Given the extreme ideology of the current slate of Tea Party candidates Cuccinelli, Jackson and Obenshain, this letter to the editor of the Madison Eagle is every bit as on point now as it was then..

Feb. 21, 2003
Letter to the Editor

“Cider House Rules”

It’s difficult to frame the abortion debate because the issue is full of irony. It is possible to be pro-choice and against abortion at the same time and to be pro-life and act in ways that kill. It’s easy to find a specific instance where abortion was called for in the name of compassion and another where it is truly evil. The real issue is the empowerment of women.

Consider the life of a woman living in third world poverty. She already has too many children to feed, let alone educate. Each pregnancy puts her life and the lives of her existing children at risk and deepens their misery. Birth control would be the ideal way to break this cycle if it were available and affordable. The Bush Administration cut international funding for family planning because it might also fund abortions. Why are starvation and unimaginable suffering more “moral” than family planning, including abortion?

As the result of a long, historical struggle, women in our part of the world now have choices about many things, birth control, careers, and the right to vote for example, that were denied to them until recent times. Here, abortion is sometimes chosen out of convenience and viewed later with regret. But that is not always the case. It can also be chosen to prevent longterm suffering for a human being who would come into the world with genetic defects or face an early, painful death from AIDS. If the soul is immortal and living in heavenly paradise apart from a physical body, why bring it knowingly into a life of suffering?

In Cider House Rules, a novel about abortion that was also made into a movie, the “Cider House Rules” are rules written by someone who has not lived under the circumstances to which they apply. A character in the movie makes the observation, “rules should be written by those who are expected to live by them.”

Finally, the world is on a collision course with environmental catastrophe. Population increase is overtaking the earth’s capacity to sustain life at current levels of human consumption. Each life impacts the quality of every other life. Morality remains rooted in ancient texts while the still more sacred book of life disappears just as we learn to read it. Isn’t it our ultimate duty to improve the lives of the next generation?

Abortion should remain a legal option. Reason and religion can play their parts in making it a rare occurrence by promoting birth control and abstinence.

Bonnie Dixon