[Christianity Today, November 17, 1997] It’s a man’s world, at least around my house. With my daughter off at college it’s just my husband, two teenaged sons, and me; even the dog and cat are of the masculine persuasion. I’ve seen some majority-male households that have slipped toward caveman conditions, where underwear is washed by wearing it in the shower and dishes are washed by giving them to the dog. I’m determined that that won’t happen here. Rather than draw up a long list of rules covering minute aspects of behavior, I’ve found that one general principle covers all circumstances. It’s one my boys actually came up with on their own. The rule is (and this must be hissed in an urgent whisper): “Not in front of the chick!”
[NPR, “All Things Considered,” March 31, 1997] I don't think I want personal advice from gas pumps. The other day, while standing at a self-serve pump, I heard the machine give a peremptory beep. I turned around and, in the tiny screen that usually offers specials on soft drinks, this message was reeling by: “Each Day Silently Affirm That You Are The Type Of Person With Whom You Would Want To Spend The Rest Of Your Life. Each Day Silently Affirm That You Are The Type Of Person With Whom You Would Want To Spend The Rest Of Your Life. Each Day Silently Affirm...” I was moved to some affirmations that weren't all that silent.
[Books & Culture, March, 1998] Stacks of poetry books are resting on my desk, slim books with shiny covers, like hard little pills of intensity and voluptous emotion. They are the paper equivalent of social x-rays; they exude the philosophy, “You can never be too thin or too rich.” No wonder I'm intimidated. My husband and I agreed to armwrassle a hearty stack o' poetry in preparation for National Poetry Month, and I think we were selected primarily for our ignorance. In my case, it's an ignorance standing in heroic resistance to years of experience. I started out writing poetry, and at the age of 13 won an award for one about a deserted town, I think because of the dead flies on a windowsill. I also got to say “thee” and “nought” and other hoity words you can only use in poems. For ten years I had a ball being a poet. I read and wrote a great deal of the stuff, then gave it up for changing diapers.
[Christianity Today, December 6, 1999] The twenty-seventh anniversary of Roe v. Wade is coming up, and I have some bad news. The abortion debate is over. For a couple of decades there it was the hot topic, the cover story of magazines, subject of television debates, and flashpoint of political campaigns. Many a punditorial brow was furrowed over ”this difficult, controversial choice." Then the public got bored.
[Tampa Tribune, December 3, 1989] When I was in college the bumper sticker on my car read “Don’t labor under a misconception —legalize abortion”. I was one of a handful of feminists on my campus, back in the days when we were jeered at as “bra-burning women’s libbers”. As we struggled against a hazy sea of sexism, abortion rights was a visible banner, a concrete, measurable goal. Though our other foes were elusive, within the fragile boundary of our skin, at least, we would be sovereign. What could be more personal? How could any woman oppose it? I oppose it now. It has been a slow process, my path from a pro-choice to a pro-life position, and I know that unintended pregnancy raises devastating problems. But I can no longer avoid the realization that legalizing abortion was the wrong solution; we have let in a Trojan Horse whose hidden betrayal we’ve just begun to see.
[Washington Post, July 28, 1997] I was pro-choice at one point in my life, but I came over to a pro-life position years ago. I've been there ever since. Perhaps because of my background, I think there's a logic to the pro-choice position that deserves respect, even as we engage it critically. It is possible to disagree with somebody without calling them baby-killers, without believing that they are monsters or fiends. It is possible to disagree in an agreeable way. The abortion argument is essentially an argument among women. It's been a bitter and ugly debate, and I find that embarrassing. For me, that gives a special urgency to this conference.
[Sisterlife, Spring 1991] The abortion debate stands or falls on a single question: is the unborn a person? One would not necessarily know this from the great heat and little light that usually surround the issue, as pro-lifers target additional social ills caused by abortion license, and abortion defenders charge that pro-lifers only want to punish women for sexual activity, or keep them pregnant and out of the workforce. But so much passion would not arise if the issue were not literally a matter of life and death. In the Roe v. Wade decision, Justice Harry Blackmun wrote that if the “suggestion of personhood [of the unborn] is established, the [abortion rights] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.” Thus, the personhood of the unborn child is the single point on which the entire debate turns.
[Christianity Today, April 7, 1997] In his darkened office Pastor Stan put his head in his hands. It had been a difficult phone call, and Marcia was beginning to cry when he hung up. The baby, in the background, was already crying. Usually, the baptism of a baby is a joyful part of the Sunday service, but this time Pastor Stan had said no. Marcia wasn't married, so he had told her it would be a private ceremony. To put her and her baby up in front of everybody, as if it were the same as any other family, just seemed wrong. The church would be practicing make-believe morality, looking the other way. It would mean pretending sin wasn't wrapped all around this situation.
[World, January 21, 1995] All through a long afternoon I had listened to true stories: women, strangers to me, pouring out intimate tales of love and loss. True stories are sometimes less strange than fiction; their outcomes can almost seem inevitable. This day, every story ended with an abortion. The spring evening was fair and warm. After dinner I left the hotel for a long walk, thinking about the day's conversations. Then I noticed on one building a plaque reading “Planned Parenthood.”
[Cornerstone, Summer 1998] A foot, a rib, a womb. A piece of glass. Whalebones smoothed and polished, netted in cloth. The mother takes her daughter’s hand. The girl is dizzy; bright sunlight stripes through the shutters and dims her eyes. The old cloth tape is in her mother’s hand. A pause of disappointment; her waist has still not met the mark of 20. The whale bones that stripe across her bones, the bones of the dead behemoth, are stonger than her bones. Her bones are young and they will give. She pauses between small tastes of air. On the day she was born her waist measured 16 inches. The bones press in. The mother thinks: this hurts, yes, but this is the way the world is. Not to do this would hurt my daughter more.