The Spectacle Blog

Touré’s God and Mine

By on 1.28.13 | 3:57PM

MSNBC host Touré (born Touré Neblett) used the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision to tell the story of his abortion experience:

I was in a committed relationship with a woman who I knew was just not "the one." She also knew it probably wasn't going to work out. And then she got pregnant.

Right off the bat we see that Touré deploys a rather loose definition of the word "committed." When two people are in a relationship and both acknowledge it's not going to "work out" but they stay together anyway that's not commitment, it's convenience. 

After a strong acknowledgement of the important role of intact families in raising children, Touré admits that he and his sexual partner were far too selfish to take up such a task together.

She decided to have an abortion and some days later she did. We did. And in some ways that choice saved my life. I was not then smart enough or man enough to build a family and raise a child and I only would've contributed to making a mess of three lives.

Splitting the rent with a f*** buddy? Good deal. Raising a child? No thanks. Better to end one life than complicate three.

In a twist, Touré admits that later he met a woman, married her, and made the decision to have a child. This time, he was into it -- doctors, sonograms and all. The desire for a child created a child where before only inconvenient tissue had been. This was jarring for Touré.

It was a thrill to watch that boy grow inside her, but I must admit that during that second trimester as we watched him move around on 3-D sonograms I saw how human they are at that stage. My lifelong belief in abortion rights was, let's say, jostled... I had to rethink my position.

Confronted with (or willing to see for the first time) the facts, abortion rights became less obvious. But don't worry! Not even the image of a living, breathing, playing baby boy can top Touré's unshakeable selfishness.

In the end I remain committed to being pro-choice because I cannot imagine arguing against a woman's right to control her body and thus her life. I believe in, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, "A woman's autonomy to determine her life's couse." ...I find something deniably misogynist about the impulse to deny a woman dominion over her own body and limit her ability to share her life and impose another's sense of morality on her.

Touré goes on with the usual jibber jabber about making abortion "legal, safe, and rare" while decrying any and all state-level limitations that conform to precisely that goal. He ends terribly, thanking "god" that abortion was there to "save" him and "praying that the safety net remains in place."

Of particular interest to me in this jumble of self-preserving rationalizing is the use of the term "dominion." It's a biblical word found very early in God's story. After creating the universe and everything in it, God says:

Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. (Genesis 1:26-28)

God gives humankind dominion over the entirety of the world he has created. It's a tremendous responsibility. Remember, after each act of creation God describes his work "good." Far from being a self-empowering thing, dominion means service. The best word to encapsulate the responsibility is probably "stewardship." 

Touré describes the "misogyny" of limitations on abortion, declaring them an infringement on woman's dominion over her body and future. I too believe that we ought to be stewards of our bodies and of our futures. Indeed, this is precisely why I argue often that premarital sex is not only immoral, but a bad idea. When a woman offers a man temporary dominion over her -- which is, albeit a bit technical, exactly what sex is -- it follows that she offer temporary dominion to the natural result of that act, the child. And if she is unwilling to do so, she must abstain from the first.

Likewise, a man who desires temporary dominion over a woman must also be willing to steward the natural result of the act, the child. And if he is unwilling to do so, he must abstain.

Let us not forget the child who has taken up temporary dominion in the physical being of his mother and in the lives of both his mother and father. We all agree that miscarriages are tragic. Unborn child protection laws that allow states to prosecute those who harm pregnant women and their children show that as a society we get that pregnancy is special. So, by what standard does Touré deem the legal protection of one incidence of uteral dominion "misogyny" and another a "thrill."

Mere personal preference.

Is that it? Put aside the rare circumstances like rape, incest, and the physical health of the mother. It's too much to ask a woman who has made the choice to let a man have sex with her to carry the child for nine months and then offer it to a family eager to nurture it? For Touré -- and many like him -- it is. It's a burden they can't be expected to endure. 

I don't know Touré and know nothing of his faith. But I do know this: the God of Genesis did not listen to his prayer or give credit to his thankfulness. And though the child whose life Touré helped end is surely spending eternity with God in Heaven, Touré had better reconsider once again his understanding of how these things work if he wants to join her.

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