Someone described my generation as the generation that wants everything neatly in boxes, then proclaims: ‘We don’t need no stinkin’ boxes!” Of course we are the “Think outside the box” generation.
That explains only a little of why it is so hard to define our views. We label ourselves as voters of “Democrat” or “Republican” ideals and candidates and we label others as “Conservative” or “Liberal” based upon what we saw on Facebook or what a PoliSci professor told us in college. All too often we put on these labels because we like some characteristics of the other people who are wearing them or we dislike some of the people who are wearing the other. It becomes something of a game of choosing “my people”, which although a noteworthy effort in the human experience, it falls short to utilizing our opposable thumbs and abilities to reason. We can think. We should. We often don’t though, and we just sign up. “Yeah, I wanna be like that guy, put me on his team.” When we do so, we fall short of our moral and ethical obligations to do the right thing, and we pay extraordinarily high consequences.
Lately, I’ve been having many conversations about the labels, “Pro-Life” and “Pro-Choice”. “Why?”, you ask. Well, God told me to, and that’s another blog, but the interesting thing, the most amazing thing, about this issue of when you believe that life begins and when and how a woman can exercise her rights over her own body….this pivotal and fundamental issue that speaks volumes about how we see ourselves and God and humanity, is one that people truly can not explain why they hold and wear and covet the label they have chosen. So, then I must or necessity ask, “Why?”.
“A woman has a right to choose.”
These words were spoken by Anita Perry in an interview a few months ago. She is the wife of Texas Governor, Rick Perry. This interview was at a time when Wendy Davis (Abortion Barbie) was preparing to announce her campaign for Governor of the State of Texas and of course News outlets jumped on this story, proclaiming that Anita had effectively upstaged Wendy by announcing that she was “Pro-Choice”. Funny. I watched the interview with Anita Perry and she said nothing of the sort. Not at anytime did she say “Please give me a button, and tattoo on my forehead the words PRO-CHOICE because I want tot carry that label throughout my life.” What she did state, was an accurate account of what the law is, that is is a woman’s right to choose. She went on to add…..”but it would never be my choice.”
I found the way the story was twisted and carried remarkable. I also found it interesting that her words were my words on any, many, many occasions that I have been asked about this issue in the course of my involvement in politics. I hired a political consultant when I ran for office in 2010. He knew I labeled myself a “fiscal conservative” and would run in my red city and red county on a “conservative” platform. He asked me if I was Pro-Choice or Pro-Life. I proclaimed as I often did, that I was a lawyer, who read an understood Roe, and Casey and the cases that followed them and that although I have never had an abortion, I have also never had an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, I would never judge anyone who made the choice to abort a pregnancy, and that as such, I would wear the label “Pro-Choice”. He pointed out to me that I was not Pro-choice based upon that statement, but Pro-Life. As we discussed it further, he pointed out to me that my differences and issues were with the Pro-Life Movement, their strategies and tactics and person, but that my fundamental views were shared with Pro-Life and not Pro-Choice. It made me think. It gave me pause. I thought I was being so grown up, so progressive, so think-for-myself, in assuming this label that my party, my religion my political colleagues would differ with me on, I thought I was being bold and brave. Maybe I was just taking the easy way out. Luckily in a city council election, abortion is not a city government issue. I was asked by one conservative group, and I responded that I was Pro-Life, having had this epiphany, but at that point, I was truly unsure. Unsure in that, my perception was that the Pro-Life lobby were marginally maniacal and not folks I wanted to be lumped in with.
The statements I made to my consultant and others who I talked with on this issue, were nearly identical to those comments of Anita Perry. I defined myself as supporting “Choice” yet was told I actually supported “Life”. She was explaining she supported “Life” but was characterized by the media and the interviewer as providing some earth shattering disclosure that she supported “Choice”.
What is happening now in the “War on Women” rhetoric, is that reasonable regulations and politicians who support them are being characterized as trying to rob women of their reproductive rights and take control of women’s birth control and ban all abortions. I have spent a great deal of time recently researching the efforts of conservatives in this arena in recent months and I can assure you the hysteria is fomented, fear mongering, to scare you into a corner of believing there are only these two choices. Well, as we discussed it is not in any way clear, and there are not only “two” options.
There is no politician anywhere at this time, proposing a wholesale ban on abortions in all circumstances, and not many (a few on the fringe I suppose) who are clinging to any hope that Roe will ever be overturned. That was a silly pipe dream and never should have been pursued. It is an idea that seems to have largely run it’s course. However, it is worth noting that the “movement” that began in the 80’s, was one that frightened many of us, myself in particular, away from this issue. I went to one of those rallies in about 1985 and I really could not decide which horrified me more, the bizarre views and enthusiasm of the speaker and the crowd or the horrific images on the movie they showed. They succeeded in driving me away from the cause, that is for certain.
Since the Roe decision, 57 million abortions have been performed in this country.
Assuming steady rates, maybe 45 million of those have been performed in the 30 years since I and others ran aways from a movement that frightened us in its blind zeal. 45 million people is a lot of souls that our society has lost the benefit of having among us. Would we have had the scientist who would have rued cancer by now> Would we have had the master negotiator that would have engineered peace in the middle east? Maybe someone who just became an astute security guard at a Boston airport who prevented the hijacking of planes that took the lives of 3000 Americans? we just don’t know who and what we have lost.
I’m not trying to preach to anyone. I spent too much time preaching to my Christian friends about how they should not be so cold and judgmental on this issue and understand that for some women there truly is no other choice. I don’t know, I never had to make that choice. I have experienced that loss only in the form of the death of three unborn children. Children who I wanted very much. I know the experience of having the death of something longed for, removed from my body. I can not imagine having life stripped from me, and I mourn with and for those women.
Why would it be “war” on women to inform them of the ramifications of exercising their legal “choice? Why would it be “war” on women for them to have adequate medical care, access to life saving procedures and equipment that only exist in hospitals? Why is it “war” on women to offer them adequate and truthful information on the efficiency of birth control so that they do to have to face an imminently life changing choice? Why is it “war” on women to acknowledge their unique biological gift as the carrier of new life and acknowledge the unique emotional, mental and physical consequences of this responsibility of being the mothership of the human race? Why is it to respectful and venerable toward women to acknowledge their needs, medically and emotionally, in procreation and honor those with regulations and requirements that they and any unborn life in them and any future procreative rights be protected? How is this the “war” on women?
The new conservative voices are the reasonable, legally appropriate, respectful to women, to babies and to procreative rights. The rhetoric only serves to drive the sides farther apart and to keep women, ordinary women, OUT of the discussion. It is your body, it is your baby, it is your future, you have a right to be heard ladies, but if you sit on your hands and ignore the dialogue, buying off on the rhetoric of whatever side you have signed up on or whatever label you choose to wear, then you have relinquished your “choice”, unfortunately to someone who may not have your best interests in mind.
I am Pro-Life. I am Pro-Choice. I am Pro-Woman. I am Pro-Baby. I am Pro-Privacy. I am Pro-Procreation. I am Pro-Birth Control. I am Pro-Marriage. I am Pro-Speech. I am Pro-Freedom.
I am Pro-Human.
I think from now on, that is the only label I will wear. It is the only one that really fits. There is no all or nothing approach to this that is going to work and we have reached a crisis level, fever pitch in this country. If we dod not deal with the problem, it will certainly find its own way of dealing with us. If you do not believe that Abortion is a crisis for our country right now, then you may not have heard of Kermit Gosnell. If you didn’t, shame on you. You are part of the problem. We must wake up and begin meaningful dialogue. Many, many women and babies die in silence every single day, because we will not talk about it, because we have hidden behind labels that mean nothing except “I am on team _______.”. By taking on a label, we absolve ourselves of the responsibility of thinking our way through an issue. That time has passed, it’s not just the 40 million that have passed while we’ve been asleep, its the dozens of women and there babies who have died at the hands of (convicted) murderers like Kermit Gosnell. Until we wake up, it will continue.