Politics, writing

Damned Scribbling Women

To the Editors:

Ross Douthat’s Sunday piece, “The Church and the Abortion Capital,” was so rife with assumptions and logical fallacies that I began to wonder if you had run it specifically in order to discredit his argument. In perhaps the most astounding passage, he writes, “New York State still has millions of baptized Catholics, but the faithful are divided and adrift and accustomed to tuning out messages from their bishops that don’t fit their partisan preconceptions.”

First of all, how demeaning, the suggestion that a Catholic who disagrees with his/her bishop must necessarily be under the sway of “partisan preconceptions.” Using partisanship as a straw man for nuanced considerations of reproductive choice, Douthat presumes it impossible that, through reason and empathy, caring and faithful people might reach different conclusions about what is right with regard to a difficult and personal issue.

Could it possibly be, Mr. Douthat, that a belief in the rights and dignity of women, that valuing them as full people in their own right, allowing them autonomy and agency in their own lives, also forms “an effective political force” for “straddling partisan divides”? Is there any chance that the accusations of “eugenics and infanticide” wrankle people of varying political stripes and faiths who find the layering of murder accusations onto private, heartwrenching health care decisions distasteful?

It made me a bit sick, to see the well for thoughtful dialogue poisoned once again by dismissive generalizations. Thankfully, delightfully, Kimberly Probolus’s call to the “damned mob of scribbling women” appeared on the opposite page, and incited a written response.

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