The “Sunday Styles” section of the NYT had two stories out front, which present stark contrasts, both unsettling. One is “Where to pass the torch?” about 70s-era abortion rights activists seeing the ambivalence or indifference of the younger generation of women, even self-described feminists. One subject is Ann Baker, an abortion counselor who is cast thusly:
“I was so convinced that to stay independent, women needed abortion for a backup,” she said. “It was like a calling for me.”
And so, the following year, in 1976, when a counseling job opened at the abortion clinic here, a 30-minute drive across the Mississippi River from her home in St. Louis, Ms. Baker grabbed it and never left, becoming the head of counseling at the Hope Clinic for Women.
In that time, she estimates she has done abortion counseling for 25,000 women and a few girls, some as young as 11, others as old as 53. “It’s been my dream job,” she said. “I wanted to be standing by the side of someone who was making a decision that others would condemn her for, and support her and link arms and say, You’re a good person making a hard decision, and that’s what I’ve done for 33 years.”
But here is the question: As Ms. Baker’s generation approaches retirement — women whose commitment to abortion was forged in the pre-Roe v. Wade days — will younger women take their places at the clinics?
This and other passage from the piece are riveting in their discordance with where people are today, not to mention the moral ambivalence of abortion. But also–for me–in the indoctrination of activism from that era. The unasked question: Where to now? It seems if they don’t move ahead they’ll be left behind.