June 14, 2002 (Ira Pilgrim)


When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that in itself is a choice.

William James

Choice is often a function of money. A person who has money has lots of choices. Someone with no money has relatively few choices. For him or her, the principle choices are whether to eat or starve; live or die.

Sometimes choice is not a function of money. All of the money in the world isn't going to help someone with incurable cancer, nor would all of John D. Rockefeller's wealth have enabled him to live a day longer. There are things that money can't buy.

A large amount of money isn't much better than just having all of the money that you need. I'm quite content with what I have even though I won't leave my children much. They can earn their own, as I did. My needs and desires are quite modest.

When I was younger and had a family to raise, my choices were much more limited. Still, I managed fairly well. I worked my tail off; but I was young then and had a tail to work off.

There are people who have very little choice and that's a hellofa spot to be. The standard argument is that someone always has a choice whether to work or not. That may be, but if you have several kids and you lose a good job through no fault of your own, a job at minimum wage isn't going to hack it. You may find yourself homeless. To someone who has always had a job, this may not seem true. I hope that you never find out what it's like to be unemployed.

My father told me about a time in his life when, in Warsaw, with no parents at age 18, he couldn't find a job. He was a strong and intelligent kid. He said "I knew that I was going to starve to death. Then I got a letter from my cousin with a boat ticket to America." There were tears in his eyes when he told me this. His son never had that experience. Yes, I've been out of work, but never in any danger of starving. Nor have I ever been in a position where I didn't have at least a few choices. I had a trade as a medical laboratory technologist and could always find a job even at a time when my doctorate wasn't worth the paper it was printed on. I also lived with a wife whose teaching skills were in demand.

Which brings me to the point of this story. A woman who needs an abortion and has the money can always get one; and a competent one. This was true even in the days when abortion was illegal. If the legality of abortion is left to the states, a woman with money who lived in a state where there were restrictions on abortions could always go to to one where abortion was unrestricted. The women who will be on the spot are those who can't afford it. The woman to whom this would be a major disaster is a poor one with a number of children she can barely take care of, much less another one.

The pat answer to this is that she doesn't have to indulge in sexual activity. She could always write poetry instead.


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