Column | When abortion becomes a sacrament
This week, amid widespread Democratic tumult regarding the selection of a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, alleged comedian Michelle Wolf paid tribute to the most important facet of American life: abortion. On her Netflix show on Sunday, Wolf dressed up in red, white and blue, and shrieked into the camera, “God bless abortions, and God bless America!” She explained: “Women, if you need an abortion, get one! If you want an abortion, get one! ... And women, don’t forget: You have the power to give life and men will try to control that. Don’t let them!”
Along with that inane outburst, she justified abortion itself. “Look,” she stated, “access to abortion is good and important. Some people say abortion is killing a baby. It’s not. It’s stopping a baby from happening.”
Well, some people say Michelle Wolf is killing comedy. She’s not. She’s stopping comedy from happening.
But more importantly, a ground shift has taken place in how Democrats think about abortion. Back in 2005, I wrote that the Democratic “safe, legal and rare” formulation regarding abortion was logically and morally untenable: If Democrats wanted abortion to be rare thanks to its inherent immorality, there was no reason for it to be legal. Democrats have finally come around: They’re now “shouting” their abortions, proclaiming them from the rooftops, suggesting that there is a moral good achieved by abortion.
Thus, Lena Dunham said just two years ago, “I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had.” Thus, Chelsea Handler, who has had two abortions, explained in the pages of Playboy, “I don’t ever look back and think, ‘God, I wish I’d had that baby.’” Her article was accompanied by a picture of a woman’s hand with a raised middle finger with a pink bow around it; attached to the bow is a small card that reads, “It’s an abortion!”
Yes, abortion is now a signifier that you refuse to be ruled by the patriarchy. Avoidance of pregnancy may be a wise life choice, according to third-wave feminists, preventing women from being sucked into the grinding maw of maternal life. But abortion is something even better: a signal that you just don’t care about the system. The system demands that if you’re pregnant with a child, you make your own concerns secondary; the system must be fought.
Gloria Steinem once remarked, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” But modern-day feminists have determined that abortion is a sacrament specifically because women can get pregnant: Showing that control over your body even extends to the killing of your unborn child is a way of standing up against patriarchal concerns with women as the source of future generations.
For Michelle Wolf, abortion isn’t just another decision. It’s a giant middle finger to the moral establishment. And those who would fight abortion are desacralizing the mysterious holiness of a ritual that reinforces women’s control. No wonder Wolf thinks God blesses abortion; abortion is her god.