Abortion Medical

GOP out of bedroomA US News and World Report article (12/31/14), What the Battle Over Abortion Will Look Like in 2015, should remind all of us concerned about reproductive justice that Republicans will control the Senate and the House of Representatives beginning this month. As much as Republicans claim to favor small and less government, we all know that when it comes to issues relative to human sexuality, they espouse as much government intrusion and regulation as possible. Although many Republicans are pro-choice, the party continues to allow its extreme right wing and Tea Party darlings to steer the votes and priorities. Reproductive decisions, sexual orientation, and even personal sexual activity preferences are of greater concern to John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and friends than ensuring that every child has food to eat, that people are working and earning a fair wage, or that the U.S. government is protecting business from cyber-attacks, and so on. It makes no sense, but it is a reality.  It is reasonable to expect more attacks on reproductive rights in 2015.

Rick BrattinThe Republicans are on a roll. Just last month Missouri Republican Rick Brattin reintroduced a bill to require women seeking abortion to get permission from the father of the zygote/embryo/fetus.  According to Mother Jones, Brattin’s bill would exempt “legitimate rape” victims. For a pregnancy resulting from rape to be exempted and the claim of rape “legitimate,” a police report must have been filed immediately after the rape. Oh yes, the Republicans are on a roll, seemingly even including distinctions about rape – Todd Akin style. Always claiming that the legislation is to “protect women,” these mostly male representatives apparently believe they know more about what is best for women’s health than, well, legitimate women.

Thomas State legis LoCPro-choice Americans have got to step up to the plate in 2015.  They must resolve to at least let their elected
representatives know their views. As fellow blogger and former lobbyist Pat Richards can confirm, it is very easy to contact members of Congress.  One website that provides direct contact information of each congressional member is https://www.congress.gov/members. For state and local legislative representatives, The Library of Congress Thomas website provides links to each state legislature. Pro-choice people need to take a page from the playbook of the zealously anti-choice organizations like violence-promoting Operation Rescue and the various evangelical groups that pressure church members to attend sessions to write emails and make phone calls en masse. It can make a difference in the extent to which a member of Congress maintains interest in sponsoring or defending restrictive anti-abortion or other family planning legislation.

During my years directing a clinic, countless state and federal legislators shared with me that the primary reason they hesitated to have a stronger public pro-choice position was because they seldom heard from their pro-choice constituents, but they constantly heard from the anti-abortion groups. That needs to finally change – there is too much to lose if it does not.  While NARAL and Planned Parenthood supporters often initiate outreach activities, they simply cannot compete with the church-sanctioned and sponsored groups in terms of numbers. It is also worth noting that politicians actually like to hear the views of individuals speaking from the heart instead of an organized script.

minds changeAs much as we may see reproductive rights as an issue in which people do not change their positions, there are studies that illustrate that people do change their minds about polarizing issues such as abortion and gay rights. Minds change through personal experience or learning about the firsthand experience of someone they know, love, or in some way care for. Minds can change when we interact with others with whom we share general values and recognize that on polarizing issues with which we disagree, things are not so black and white, all or none propositions. No one should be fooled into believing that when minds change about abortion it is only to the anti-choice position. National Right to Life has done some great messaging in that regard. In fact, pro-choice groups could do the same.

Maria Rivera

Maria Rivera/Photo from Trust.org

In 2015 we can probably expect to see more legislation proposed to ban abortion as early as 12 weeks, more verbatim scripting for medical professionals to impose on patients regardless if true, and more unnecessary and invasive ultrasound or other testing. Before you know it, every woman who miscarries will be subjected to a law enforcement report and inquiry. Think that sounds extreme? Just take a few minutes to learn about Maria Teresa Rivera in El Salvador where all abortion is banned. She did not even know she was pregnant when she miscarried, but the judge did not believe her and sentenced Rivera to 40 years in prison for aggravated murder. Each and every anti-abortion bill proposed in the U.S. under the guise of women’s health is another step towards a total ban.

Time is of the essence for reproductive justice. When and whether to have children is a personal choice. Abortion is a personal choice in which women do not benefit from, and can be harmed by, governmental interference. Medical professionals do not need the input of politicians in the private relationships they have with patients. Please, be it resolved that you will share your pro-choice position and dedication to reproductive justice with your elected representatives beginning this first month of 2015.

Abortion Pope

Abortion Pope

I suppose I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to comment on the new Pope, huh?

There’s lots of talk about him taking the Church in a “new” and “refreshing” direction because he seems kinda cool and he used to ride the bus in Argentina.   Well, don’t hold your breath folks.  Just because he has already abandoned some of the fancy Pope clothes doesn’t mean big changes are in the future.  Take, for example, the Church’s long held opposition to abortion (good segue, huh?).

On October 2, 2007 then-Cardinal Bergoglio told an audience that “we aren’t in agreement with the death penalty but in Argentina we have the death penalty – a child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death.”  He went on to say that abortion was a “death sentence for unborn children.”  I can’t help but wonder what it must have been like for a woman sitting in that audience that day who had had an abortion.  Even though this occurred in Argentina where abortion is basically illegal, make no mistake that there was a woman there who had had an abortion and she was now forced to hear the Cardinal talk about how she gave the “death sentence” to her child.  Pretty harsh stuff.

Abortion Pope

Abortion Pope

So far, I have not heard Pope Francis say anything about abortion but rest assured that it’s coming soon.  Indeed, the pro-life news service, LifeNews.com, has already reported that “Newly-elected Pope Francis used his second-ever blessing as the head of the Catholic Church to bless a pregnant mother and her unborn child.  The blessing a symbolic overture to the pro-life movement and underscores the importance the Catholic Church places on protecting women and unborn children from abortion.”



I looked at the video that accompanied this statement and it shows the Pope in a crowd, surrounded by lots of people.  They are kissing his hand and he is “blessing” all of them and one of the women happened to be pregnant.  So, the pro-life media is already stretching things but rest assured that the new Pope will jump in soon on abortion.

I certainly wish the Pope well and I hope he uses his position to make this world a better place to live.   But, as far as the abortion issue is concerned, wouldn’t it be something if when he inevitably condemns abortion, he also condemns the cold blooded murder of real live people who happen to perform those abortions?  Once – just once – I would like to see a Pope (or a priest for that matter) condemn the violence against abortion providers.  Indeed, for him it would be an easy one because no doubt the vast majority of Catholics condemn the killing as well.  But I’m not gonna hold my breath.

Anti Women Catholics

Anti Women Catholics

That’s because the Catholic Church is locked in their ways and the new Pope will not stray far from the flock and stir things up.  Indeed, just the other day I was reminded of the Catholic Church’s head in the sand approach to our world.  I run a local charitable organization for needy children in my area.  Right up the street from me is a Catholic Church which gives out grants to organizations like mine.  Yesterday, I looked at the application and in big, bold letters it said it would not give money to any organization that was in any way connected to “abortion” (and to other causes like the “promotion of homosexuality.”)  Ultimately, I decided I don’t even want their money.

Maybe the Pope can help change this dangerous, myopic outlook and take a more charitable view of those who do not necessarily agree with the Church.  But I doubt it.

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