A recent Fresh Air broadcast featured an interview with filmmaker Sarah Polley. I know nothing of her work and wasn't particularly interested in the interview, but the part I heard caught my attention because it addressed Polley's attitude toward abortion. Polley's mother became pregnant with her at age 42 as the result of an affair and considered aborting her as a result. Terry Gross asked Polley whether that had affected her views on abortion. Here's the relevant portion taken from the transcript:
GROSS: When your mother found out she was pregnant, she was 42. The doctor told her she was really too old to have a baby, he was worried about her health. She considered having an abortion, she was worried about Down syndrome. She was pregnant with you, I should mention.
GROSS: And the way I understand it, she was on her way to get an abortion and then she changed her mind on the way to getting it. What impact has that had, if any, on your view of abortion?
POLLEY: No one has asked me this question before, but it's certainly interesting. You know, I have to say I'm very pro-choice. I mean the fact is my mom made up her mind to not have an abortion, and so I came into this world as, you know, somebody who was wanted. And I think that if she had made up her mind that that was not going to be something that was the best thing for her or for her family or that, you know, this could create some kind of disaster in her life, then I would have to respect a woman's choice to make that decision. I mean it's a hard thing to say when it would've been, you know, your life and I wouldn't be here to say that. But, you know, certainly like anybody who believes a woman's right to choose, I don't take the idea of abortion lightly at all and certainly no woman who gets an abortion takes it lightly either. So you know, I think it has all of that gravity around it for me, but I do feel that it's unbelievably important that women have that choice and for it to be legal so that it can be safe and ultimately, my mom did make the choice to go through with the pregnancy and that was her choice and I'm glad that she had that choice.
To me the most telling line is this:
And I think that if she had made up her mind that that was not going to be something that was the best thing for her or for her family or that, you know, this could create some kind of disaster in her life, then I would have to respect a woman's choice to make that decision.
I get the feeling that the existential contradiction she puts herself in is lost on her. If Polley's mother had chosen differently, Polley would not be here, she would not be doing the interview, and we would not be having this discussion about what she thought about this. She would not be here to respect a woman's choice to have an abortion. It's philosophically and morally absurd: An aborted child respects a mother's choice to have the abortion that killed the child? Polley's answer doesn't measure up, but the fact is it can't. Gross's question exposes an inherent flaw in the "pro-choice" position: It removes the child's right to choose anything. What it demands for the mother it refuses to grant to the child. Absolutely absurd.