Throughout this abortion debate that I've been taking part in off and on, this poem has sprung to mind. I have no idea if the author was actually thinking of abortion when he wrote it. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. I think it's beautiful and sad, and at once captures the sadness and the necessity of abortion. Your reactions will be different than mine.
I've taken pains to argue that I don't think the "abortion is murder" line works, really, and to point out ways in which many who say so don't actually follow that thinking through to its natural ends. There's a flip side to that, though, that I think has been batted around endlessly (like everything else in this debate): how can we reconcile a belief that a fetus has no rights with a feeling of sadness towards abortion? If a fetus has no rights, and its termination represents no crime, how can someone like myself feel that an abortion is still an unfortunate and unhappy occasion? It's a thorny question, though not an intractable one. For now, all I can do is consider it in the spirit that abortion is far from the only issue in which we look for the least bad choice. I'll think hard for us all.
Traveling through the Dark
Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.
By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.
My fingers touching her side brought me the reason—
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.
The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.
I thought hard for us all—my only swerving—,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.