by Diane R. Pagen, LMSW
Do you think that abortion is a joyful and liberating experience, akin to a yoga retreat? This is what abortion rights activists often sound like they are telling us to think. Must you think so, in order to preserve the right to have one? This is the impression I get from celebrities who fancy themselves women’s rights activists. Celebrities, though their opinions are no more informed (and maybe even less informed) than the average person, get media coverage for every statement that they make about any controversial public issue, including one as important and contentious as abortion.
Sometimes those statements are reckless. An example is the writer/actress Lena Dunham, who earlier this year got a few days of media coverage by stating that she wished she had had an abortion already because to have had one would make her a better advocate for women’s abortion rights. The fact that she thinks she knows exactly the effect that terminating a pregnancy would have on her is naïve beyond belief, yet women like Dunham tell the rest of America that women’s empowerment starts by taking lightly a matter so personally and socially difficult as abortion. Damn, she makes having an abortion sound like a virtual rite of passage for people who care about women’s rights.
by Lisa Stiller
On Saturday, Jan 21 I will join over a million of people taking part in one of over 600 women marches being held throughout the nation, organized as a protest of the “Trump Agenda”. I am walking as a pro-life feminist.
Depending on the city, the marches have different organizers. But most of the marches have at least one prominent organizer at the forefront that is affiliated with a pro-abortion organization (Planned Parenthood, NARAL, etc). The rallying cry for most includes wording clearly referencing “protecting women’s health”, “protecting reproductive choice”, “marching against the war on women,” all code for protecting abortion “rights”.
Because of the endorsement of abortion, at first, I was hesitant to join. But because abortion does not define a women’s agenda, I decided that as a pro-life feminist, I had so many reasons to stand up to everything Trump and his administration stand for. In fact, the Women’s March website lists “reproductive freedom” as one of 12 huge injustices they are standing up against.
When Republicans nominated the most unpopular candidate for president since Barry Goldwater, pundits believed it was a sure thing that Democrats would retake the United States Senate. Rather than appeal to independents and soft Republicans, Democrats continued with a losing strategy.
They nominated a slate of U.S. Senate candidates – many of whom lost their own re-elections just six years ago – who believe in late-term abortion and taxpayer funding of abortion. The national Democratic message stressed the importance of nominating pro-choice Supreme Court justices and repealing the Hyde Amendment. It once again backfired in purple states.
Our party should not be content being a coastal party and needs to recognize that the bi-coastal messaging does not play in the heartland. Candidates matter. And if the Democratic Party continues to run radically pro-choice candidates in pro-life states, we will never win a majority of seats in the U.S. Senate.
By Matt Tuman
Lost in the presidential race this year was what happened this summer in the Illinois state legislator. Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law Senate Bill 1564, which made abortion the preference for unintended pregnancies in Illinois. The bill stipulates that all doctors, hospitals and pregnancy centers not only provide information on abortion and where it is available, but also discuss the ‘benefits’ of abortion. If the doctor or center is morally or religiously opposed to abortion, they still must either refer the patient to another provider, transfer them to another provider or provide them with information on locations that will offer abortion.
This law amounts to total hypocrisy on the pro-choice community. Their major argument is that the government should not be involved in women’s health decisions and that those decisions should be left between the woman and her doctor. However, with the passage of this law they take that decision making process away by forcing what the doctor has to say even if he has moral or religious objections to it.
Working inside the bubble of Washington, you grow used to the idea that sound-bites, raising money for the next election or strategizing on how to win the majority back from your opponent are the most important things. If you stop and listening to the work of amazing women around the nation, you will realize that, while our work here in Washington is important, there are people on the ground who are providing support, love, and assistance to women facing unplanned pregnancies or healing from abortion. These women are heroes to me.
They are on the ground, working tirelessly to give women a choice and a chance to be a mother or a birth mother. They provide options, not just while the women are pregnant, but they make sure that they have the tools and the skills to take care of their babies or help prepare the mothers for the greatest gift of adoption. They don’t demonize the abortion industry or dehumanize the women or prenatal child. In fact, some receive referrals from abortion clinics for women who don’t want an abortion.
The common thing among all these women is that they do not talk about pressure or hate or shame. Their stories all speak of support, love, and empowerment. Women are strong and we can face any “obstacle” particularly if our sisterhood is along for the ride to lift us up instead of knocking us down. And, these sisters are doing just that!
by Julie Locascio
Bitter political and social conflicts may not be new, but we may be seeing unprecedented levels of vitriol because of the ability of anonymous angry people to take their attitudes to extreme positions online. Even people posting in their own name find new courage to level cruel broadsides because they can find an enthusiastic echo chamber to “like” and pass along everything they say. So where do people of modest temperament find space to reflect on and calmly discuss public policy? For many of us, it is not in our preferred political party.
In a world of “competing” hashtags saying #blacklivesmatter, #bluelivesmatter, #migrantlivesmatter, #womenslivesmatter, #babieslivesmatter, etc., some of us keep wondering why any of these things need to be said. The answer, sadly, is that political parties in our country do not embrace a consistent ethic of life where #alllivesmatter. And the reason for that is that candidates who embrace a consistent ethic of life are attacked so viciously in the primaries that they rarely get a chance to present their platforms in a general election.
The effect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on abortion has been the subject of much controversy, and pro-life members of Congress who voted for PPACA have received strong criticism as well as strong praise. This memorandum has three purposes. First, it provides a brief reminder that PPACA contains many provisions reflecting pro-life values and having pro-life effects. Second, it assesses the two major criticisms of PPACA concerning abortion raised by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Although the USCCB has been the most detailed and thoughtful critic of the statute on abortion-related matters, this memorandum concludes that there are convincing answers to the USCCB’s criticisms and thus it was eminently reasonable for pro-life legislators to support PPACA.
Finally, the memorandum concludes that it also makes perfect sense for a pro-life legislator to support further efforts to clarify restrictions on abortion funding and protections of religious conscience in the context of a stand-alone bill. Unlike the context of the PPACA vote, enactment of stand-alone clarifications will not destroy health-reform legislation and its many positive pro-life features and effects. But support for such further clarification should in no way be seized on as an admission that PPACA’s provisions against abortion funding were inadequate.