I read with sorrow the obituary [Norah Vincent, Who Chronicled Passing as a Man, Is Dead at 53 – The New York Times (nytimes.com)] of Norah Vincent, who, at age 53, committed medically-assisted suicide in Switzerland on July 6. I did not know of her previously. It is terrible and deplorable when a person despairs of life and decides that the best thing to do is to kill herself. May God have mercy on her soul.
Norah Vincent was a troubled yet fascinating person. A self-avowed lesbian, in 2006 she published a best-selling book titled Self-Made Man, in which she recounted her experience living for a year and a half disguised as a man. The New York Times described her as follows: “She was a libertarian. She tilted at postmodernism and multiculturalism. She argued for the rights of fetuses and against identity politics, which she saw as infantilizing and irresponsible. She did not believe that transsexuals were members of the opposite sex after they had surgery and had taken hormones, a position that led one writer to label her a bigot. She was a contrarian, and proud of it.”
Contrarian in our day means someone who is inextricably wedded to reality. Vincent knew that the “fetus” in the womb of a pregnant woman is a growing human child. In a 2001 Los Angeles Times column (linked to in the Times obituary), Vincent wrote: “Ours is a country in which you are ill-advised to be a fetus. The highest court in the land has ruled that you’re a parasite, disposable at will, even when you’re almost out of the chute. You’re just an extension of your mother’s whim. She can do whatever she likes with you. Her court-instituted right to ‘choose’ trumps your right to live.”
Vincent continued: “If you’re inconvenient, unaffordable or just plain unwanted, then you’ll soon be a biohazard on your way to the town dump. [The Supreme Court has determined that] women need not be responsible for what happens in their wombs. The womb, after all, is the enemy. It must be kept in its place. It cannot be allowed to control us. We must control it in every respect. The fact that we were born with wombs will never again be allowed to shackle us to them or to the progeny they grow. . . . We have a right to our privacy and our bodies, even though, when it comes to that seventh, eighth, ninth month of pregnancy, we’re pretty sure we’re not alone in them anymore.” Vincent concluded her piece sarcastically: “I can do anything, consequences be damned. Let freedom ring, because, by God, I am woman, and this is America.”
Such brilliance is a welcome gift. How sad that Vincent was not able to incorporate in her own life the insights she shared with her readers. Male and female sexual difference is a given, and should be understood as integral to human happiness and flourishing. Just like the claim that fetuses are not human beings, embracing a homosexual identity is a flight from reality. What is found in nature—man, woman, and the child that is the fruit of their union—must be accepted and loved if we are to live at peace with ourselves and with others. Recognizing that what we have not created must have been created by a benevolent God is the first step to knowing that God and learning his purposes for our lives.
While Norah Vincent chose a terribly wrong and sinful way to end to her life, she was plainly a searcher for truth, albeit hampered by the errors of our day and her own personal disorientations. The love she had for our unborn brothers and sisters is exemplary and instructive. We commend her to the Lord, and we thank Him for the good she did in opposing the evil of abortion.