Mother And Son Come To Terms

On this Mother’s Day, nothing will make me happier than to hold forth on two columns about abortion. I know that sounds foolish, given the fact that abortion is a highly unsettling issue that hardly lends itself to a celebration of motherhood.

But if you want to see an example of how mother and child can hold polar opposite views on this toxic topic and still love and respect each other, look no further than Hartford Courant columnist and blogger Susan Campbell and her son, Samuel Bruder.

In an era in which politics can tear families apart, how refreshing it is to see close family members offer differing views on perhaps the most contentious topic of our time and remain loving and respectful.

Campbell, who has been with the paper for more than 25 years and is taking the buyout offered by the Courant’s parent company, Tribune, is leaving the paper later this month. In a piece published today, Campbell wrote movingly of her wrenching decision to terminate her pregnancy and her search as a young Missouri woman for an abortion – a relatively accessible procedure in those days. In today’s legislative and cultural climate, Campbell wondered whether a young woman in her position would be so fortunate as to have the means to end her pregnancy as easily as she did.

In a blog post about the piece, Campbell said she has a standing policy to advise her son that she’s considering mentioning him in a column. She did so and Samuel asked if he could respond. The result is his guest column appearing next to his mom’s. I must admit that I got misty-eyed reading it. It was heartfelt, principled and yet borne of an affection and reverence only a son could give his mother. And in her blog post, Campbell reciprocates those feelings:

We disagree on reproductive rights. We disagree on other hot-button, cultural-divide issues, too, and I love my son more than I can say. He enters law school soon, and I shall have to work on my debate skills.

Some parents take it personally when their children reject their political views. Sometimes they view it as a rejection of the parent-child relationship itself. And what a shame that is. Campbell and Bruder got it right. They should serve as an inspiration to others who have family disagreements over issues large and small.

P.S. In case anyone actually cares, my own view on abortion is that I am pro-choice up to the time of viability outside the womb, which I think comes at about five months. At that point, you could make a very strong case that abortion is tantamount to infanticide. Abortion then becomes less a choice than a child. And the state has an obligation to protect that unborn child.

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