Commentary Donald DeMarco

A convention for liberal activists was held in Providence, R.I. in mid-June, 2012. The opening speaker, who will remain nameless out of respect to her ancestry, is a Democratic congressional candidate. She called the attendees to exercise “culture power” and urged women who had had abortions, as well as those who supported these women, to stand. She then said to those standing, “now you may applaud. We need to make it ok for women to come out about the choices that we’ve made.”


The following exchanges did not transpire, though, perhaps, they should have. It is possible for fiction to be closer to reality than non-fiction.

Speaker: “Thank you for your applause and the courage you are showing in coming out and ‘Going on the Offense’.”

Audience: (applause).

Attendee #1: “I’m sorry to rain on your parade, but I had trouble coming to terms with my abortion. I was in denial. It was only through the help of the people at Project Rachel, that I was able to regain my peace of mind. I think you are in denial about what abortion really is and the real effect it has on many women.”

Speaker: “Well, we can applaud you, too, for the choices you made.”

Attendee #2: “It seems to me that you are trying to hide the evil of abortion under a thunderclap of applause. This is like whistling in the dark. Applause can’t make the evil of abortion go away.”

Speaker: “Abortion, my dear lady, is not an evil, but a choice.”

Attendee #3: “I am a psychiatrist with 15 years of clinical experience. The attempt to sever complicity in wrongdoing from consequent guilt is very common in my practice. Realistic therapy requires that the patient accepts the gravity of her actions and makes appropriate reparations. To maintain this separation quite often leads to a psychosis. If a person steals $100 he should repay it, and not applaud his choice of thievery. The psychiatric profession would frown on what you are doing today.”

Speaker: “I do not concur with your mumbo-jumbo. I know that psychiatrists disagree with each other on many issues. Women who have had abortions have been stigmatized by society. I simply want to free them from that stigma.” (applause)

Attendee #4: “In my profession, psychotherapy, we are very much interested in ‘power.’ There are many levels of power. You make no distinctions when you talk about ‘Culture Power’ and consequently create the impression that all power is good. Nothing could be further from the truth. When we deal with clients who have power issues, we help them to distinguish between exploitive and manipulative power, that are counter-productive, as opposed to nutrient and integrative power that are beneficial. What you are doing, in my judgment, is exercising manipulative power over a group of people who are already in a vulnerable situation. I cannot endorse what you are doing.”

Speaker: “Well, I did not know we were going to get so many eggheads. I am urging women to regain the power to be women without being ostracized for it.” (applause)

Attendee #5: “I don’t hold any advanced degrees and I am not a member of any profession. But I am beginning to think that you are trying to make black white by telling women to stand up and applaud their abortions. Do you believe in magic, or are you simply trying to manipulate us as the doctor says?”

Speaker: “Good grief! I never got this reaction anywhere else. I most certainly don’t believe in magic; I believe in woman!” (applause)

Attendee #6: “I killed a cat when I was young. Where do I go to get applause for that?” (laughter)

Speaker: “You are being facetious, of course.”

Attendee #7: “Are you saying that the shame is bad, but the sin is ok. But it seems to me that the shame is rooted in the sin. I don’t think you can ignore reality the way you do.”

Speaker: “Abortion is not a ‘sin.’ Please, let us dispense with that outmoded idea. How many times do I have to say it: ‘Abortion is a choice’.”

Attendee #7: “I am a trained psychologist. I agree with the psychotherapist. Exploitive and manipulative power is exercised over others and opposition to these forms of power-dominance, ironically, is what helped launch the feminist movement. Nutrient power helps others, something that abortion certainly does not do. Integrative power helps the self, something that abortion does not do, either. I think you should re-examine your notion of ‘Culture Power’.”

Speaker: “I hope you realize that the so-called ‘helping professions’ could also use a bit of re-examination. I am giving power back to women.”

Attendee #8: “I am married, with four children. Life is difficult, especially during this economic crunch. I am not in the least interest in what you call ‘Culture Power.’ I want personal power, the power to be a good wife and a good mother and a good friend. You can have you ‘Culture Power,’ though I have no idea what you can do with it.” (applause)

Speaker: “‘Culture Power’ is for all women. It will help them to take their proper place in society. In no way will it interfere with your ‘personal power.’ In fact, it will help it.”

Attendee #9: “You appear to me to be very dismissive of everyone. I suppose that is logical because you are so dismissive about abortion.”

Speaker: “I fully recognize abortion, and that’s why I want women to get over it.”

Attendee #10: “I had an abortion. I can’t applaud it because I regret it. I am presently working with a group of wonderful people who identify themselves as ‘Victims of Choice.’ They do not exploit or manipulate. They help.” (applause)

Speaker: “This will be the last time I speak in Rhode Island, the smallest of the 50 states. I understand that this small excuse for statehood has the highest percentage of Catholics. We need to deal with religious mania.” (boo).

Moderator: “Thank you for a lively discussion. I’m sure you have helped to empower women. Our next topic will be: ‘How pro-life bias obscures the reality of a woman’s right to abortion’.”

Donald DeMarco, is a Senior Fellow of HLI America, an Initiative of Human Life International. He is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ont.,and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College & Seminary in Cromwell, Conn. Some of his recent writings may be found at HLI America’s Truth and Charity Forum online.