I do not take divorce lightly. I generally think “til death do us part” should mean til death do you part, and if you can’t handle that, don’t get married. But of course, there are exceptions. I would never counsel someone to stay with an abusive spouse, for example. And if your spouse threatens your child? Divorce is on the table.
Mallory Ortberg, the reliably pro-abortion advice columnist at Slate, feels differently. The question presented:
My husband and I have two children, and I was very happy with that. When I got unexpectedly pregnant with our third, I wanted an abortion and even made an appointment. He wanted to keep the baby and threatened to divorce me if I chose otherwise, and I acquiesced. Now our daughter is 2, and I regret keeping her and resent him. How do I get over it and become comfortable with our life as a family of five?
This is a tough situation. She says she regrets “keeping” her daughter, but it doesn’t sound like she wishes her daughter were dead, either. She’s not a bad person; she’s just struggling. Her clearly stated goal is to “become comfortable with our life as a family of five.” It sounds like she needs someone to talk to, but without more information, it’s hard to know how best to meet her needs.
With respect to the advice-seeker’s relationship with her youngest daughter, Ortberg suggests therapy, because of course that’s what an advice columnist would suggest. But then Ortberg goes completely off the rails:
When it comes to your husband, I’m not sure that your goal should be to “get over it” and become comfortable with him again. Here’s a man who pressured you into having a baby he knew you didn’t want by threatening to divorce you. What a ghastly, cruel, controlling thing to do. I don’t know if you are financially or emotionally prepared to leave him, especially with several young children at home, so I don’t want to tell you flat-out that you should leave him right now, but I don’t think you should be looking for reasons to forgive and forget what he did. His behavior was unconscionable, manipulative, and selfish, and I don’t think he could possibly be a good partner for you.
I give Ortberg points for following the party line; she truly believes that abortion and birth are morally equivalent. As a result, she treats the act of saving a baby’s life with the same contempt that I would treat a man who coerced his partner into an abortion.
She manages to completely ignore the fact that a little girl would be dead if not for this man’s actions. In the span of a few short sentences, she pivots from saying kind, loving things about the daughter, to calling the daughter’s literal savior a cruel, manipulative, unforgiveable, unfit partner. And the very act of saving their child’s life is what makes him such a monster in Ortberg’s eyes. The mental gymnastics are startling.
To be clear, a divorce threat should never be the first option. Most women who abort, abort out of fear. The best approach is to talk it out, provide reassurance and understanding, and share the load. But it’s possible he had already tried that and failed to persuade her. She made an abortion appointment; their child’s life was in imminent danger. The threat of divorce may have been the only card he had left to play.
Or maybe it wasn’t really a “threat” at all. Maybe—and I know someone with a mindset like Ortberg’s has a tough time imagining the pro-life perspective, but hear me out—maybe he just couldn’t stay married to someone who arranged for the killing of their child, and thought it only fair to let her know that. You wouldn’t stay with someone who killed your newborn, would you? It’s the same to us.