Not Eudora   By Harry Welty
Apr 27, 2006

The Aborted Girl

In 1990 I was ecstatic when the popular Republican, State Auditor, Arne Carlson replaced the opportunistic, “pro-life,” political hack who had defeated him in the gubernatorial primary with the help of naive religious conservatives. When John Grunseth was outed for having chased his daughter’s friend around the family pool in a drunken attempt to rip off her bikini top he became instant poison. The pro-life Republicans had no face-saving choice other than to relinquish their death grip on the nomination in favor of Carlson. It would not be the last time that a false friend of religious conservatives would betray them.

The desire for revenge smoldered in the hearts of the pro-lifers as Governor Carlson’s popularity soared. Four years later they were determined to oust him and nominated one of their own. Allen Quist, a very conservative legislator and his politically militant wife were a dynamic duo. Ms. Quist, an ex woman’s libber, had come to see the error of her ways after her own abortion. She was determined to prevent other women from following her example. Wrapped as she was in a movement which told her she had murdered her child but whose repentance had assured her forgiveness, she took up her husband’s cause. Hell hath no fury like a woman burdened by the guilt poured into her by her church.

To say I was paranoid about the religious right is an understatement. I viewed them the same way that the hero in Invasion of the Body Snatchers viewed his neighbors whose bodies had been taken over by aliens. A few years earlier, in 1988, the “Christian businessman” Pat Robertson ran for the Republican Presidential nomination with the aid of a huge network of conservative churches. His followers were told to hide the fact that they were Christian conservatives so that they could take over the Republican machinery. The only thing that had changed by 1994 was that they no longer had to hide their true intentions.

On a spring day that year, as a new set of Republican conventions were starting up, I took my daughter to Denfeld High School for an academic competition. While there I was introduced to one of the new pro-life refugees from the Democratic Party who were swelling the ranks of the GOP. He was eagerly telling a friend about a wonderful pro-life meeting that he’d just attended. A young woman had spoken to the gathering but not just any young woman. This young women’s mother had tried to abort her but the child had survived the ordeal to give witness to it.

Although the story was being told to someone else I suspected it was being told for my benefit since I was one of the few remaining abortion rights supporters left in the Party. The story and the relish with which it was being passed along left me feeling isolated. How could I possibly defend myself against the witness of an aborted girl?

Then I met the young lady. She came to our first Arne Carlson campaign meeting. She didn’t even look like the rest of us. She was wearing a modest cloth covering over her hair which I would have expected to see on an Amish or Mennonite woman but not a Carlson supporter. It practically screamed out, “I am a spy for the Quist campaign.” As the only person there who knew about her witnessing background I kept my mouth shut and remained “Minnesota Nice.” People are always innocent until proven otherwise.

A few days later I invited her over for a chat to determine her intentions. I’d never tried to unmask a secret agent before. Neither had I ever met anyone who had survived a third trimester abortion. To my surprise and delight she really turned out to be a supporter of Governor Carlson.

Soon to be married her dream was to do social work in a big city slum. She was conservative but she also thought for herself. In fact, she was a very thoughtful person. Yes, she had given witness about her background but that experience seemed only to give her great compassion for women bearing a child that they could not care for.

She told me a most remarkable thing. She had once passed the Women’s Health Center in Duluth which is infamous among pro-lifers for being one of the few locations in the Upper Midwest to offer abortion services. When she saw the tenacious Wisconsin man who regularly picketed the Health Center she had told him, maybe even yelled at him, that he shouldn’t harass the miserable women who needed the Center’s help.

For all I know this remarkable young woman may have changed her mind since I met her. Perhaps she now pines for the day that the Supreme Court will reverse Roe vs. Wade. All that I can be sure of is that for a brief moment that summer a young woman who was the survivor of a botched, saline abortion had the grit and the humanity to empathize with the desperate women who were resorting to the same cruel procedure which nearly ended her own life.

And she was on my side.

Welty is a small time politician who lets it all hang out at: www.lincolndemocrat.com