Empathy, and its limits

In her essay on being pro-choice and still valuing the fetus as a potential human life (Is There Life After Roe: How to Think About the Fetus), Frances Kissling suggests that people who wore Planned Parenthood’s "I had an abortion" t-shirt were bragging.  While I think a lot of what she wrote makes sense, I think she’s missed the point on this one.  The t-shirt campaign was designed to make women who have abortions less a faceless anonymous other, and instead remind people it might be the proverbial girl next door.  As all good lobbyists know, putting a specific human face and voice behind a problem is often more effective than all the fancy statistically valid studies you could possibly put together. 

But right now I’m thinking about the limits of empathy.  Because the people who commented on Wednesday’s post have convinced me that we’re only guessing when we try to imagine how we’d feel in someone else’s situation.  And because I think that control over our own reproductive choices are too fundamental to depend on something as random as whether or not someone finds our story sympathetic.  I fear a world in which someone gets to decide that Ayelet‘s abortion is allowed because she was appropriately agonized about it but Amy‘s is not because she was too casual in talking about it.

One Response to “Empathy, and its limits”

  1. Marjorie Says:

    No need to fear who decides who can have an abortion in Virginia, they want to get rid of ALL of them. I guess they’d still allow us contraception, since there are a couple of bills kicking around expressly stating contraception is not abortion. I’m finding this state scarier and scarier.

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