(If you scroll down you'll get to the actual quote: "I say this as someone who’s kind of fertile herself." Palin was reacting to Jeb Bush's recent awkward reference to the fertility of immigrants. Parker seems to like to rewrite quotes: What Jeb said "sounds an awful lot like, 'Hotahmighty, those people can’t tie their shoes without getting pregnant.'")
It wasn't just Sarah Palin who flexed her womb-manhood to make a political argument. Parker also points to Nancy Pelosi:
When challenged about the difference between late-term abortion and the killing of babies who survived late-term abortions at the hands of the convicted murderer Dr. Kermit Gosnell, Pelosi hid behind the skirt of her own bassinet.Parker acts as if Pelosi were claiming authority solely by virtue of her motherhood and declined to engage in "moral reasoning," but Pelosi was saying I believe in Catholic doctrine. She didn't just say she had 5 children. She said "my oldest child is six years old the day I brought my fifth child home from the hospital." That's offered as proof that she believes the doctrine — including the proscription against birth control. In my book, that translates into a statement of morality. Maybe some people don't think that's "moral reasoning," because it's the acceptance of religious doctrine (and not individual philosophizing). But clearly Pelosi was saying: I have very deep beliefs about morality here and my life as I've lived it vouches for the sincerity of these beliefs.
Rather than answer the question, she invoked her five children and declared any discussion of abortion “sacred ground” to her Catholic sensibilities. Fecundity, apparently, triumphs over moral reasoning.
Parker's next sentence is:
Most likely, Pelosi is deeply troubled by what her politics requires and what her Catholic mother-heart tells her is true.Catholic mother-heart? Pelosi claimed she is a believing Catholic. Beliefs exist in the brain as well as in the emotions. You can call the emotions "heart," but it's still not just something her heart is telling her. It's religious doctrine that she knows and purports to accept. Now, of course, it's very easy to say that Pelosi cannot square her support for abortion rights with her Catholic beliefs. And Pelosi deserves that hit because she did have a how-dare-you shaming tone in her voice and she refused give an elaborate response to the questioner who wanted to hound her about Gosnell.
But I know what the answer is. It's that when the question is about enduring a pregnancy, the beliefs of the woman within whom that pregnancy exists are what matters. The true moral answer is that you should never have an abortion — that's the Catholic's religious belief — but the legal answer is that every woman has freedom of belief and her own beliefs control what she does with her body.
I think this is like what Jesus said about divorce:
The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”I know that Moses didn't say it, but one might say abortion is permitted because of the hardness of your hearts.
And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”
He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
With 2 references to hearts — Parker's "Catholic mother-heart" and Jesus's "the hardness of your hearts" — I am reminded again of the Supreme Court's notion of what it called "the heart of liberty": "the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." That's the basis of the right to have an abortion: the individual's freedom of belief.
But where was Kathleen Parker going with this column? Two highly partisan women used their own personal fertility to leverage a political argument. Noted. The 2 women are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but they were arguing about different issues: immigration and abortion. Now, we know Palin is pro-life, and Parker declares Palin's position "more palatable," but she proceeds to knock her for "her coquettish reminders that her field is still tillable," which, Parker says, "diminishes her credibility as anything other than a one-liner comedienne." I take it that's Parker's way of stating the conclusion that women ought to refrain from flexing their womb-manhood.
I think it's fine to include one's own personal experience as part of a political argument. It's a problem if you do it badly. (You don't want your audience to perceive you as coquettish!) And it shouldn't be your only argument. (You don't want to seem to be saying I have more children then you, so shut up.) But talking about real-world experience gives depth, color, and credibility to a politician's speech. As with any political speech, you need to do it well.