January 13, 2012
November 6, 2011
Is there a more pathetic state in the Union? I mean, does anyone know of a state that is more regressive in terms of income, health, education, baseball teams? Indeed, can you name a Third World country that is as bad as Mississippi?
And, now, to push the state even further into the dark ages, their voters on Tuesday will probably pass a resolution that will totally outlaw abortion. The specific question that the voters will be asked to approve says: “Should the term ‘person’ be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the equivalent thereof?” Now I can’t imagine anyone in that state who knows what the term “thereof” means, but the gist of this measure is there will be no more abortions and lots more kids to add to the misery that is life in Mississippi. Indeed, the person who is spearheading this effort, a guy named Les Riley, is the founder of “Personhood Mississippi” and he is the father of TEN children. I guess old Les is hoping that others in his neck of the woods will bear the same number of kids, if not more, so they can get the classroom sizes up to at least 50 kids per room which would push their rate of academic achievement below that of Somalia. Quite a role model, that Les!
The interesting thing about this resolution is that many “mainstream” pro-life groups actually oppose it because they are smart enough to realize that it is too extreme. But, it ain’t too extreme for the Bubbas in Mississippi. Indeed, outlawing abortion ain’t enough for these folks. An analysis of the resolution shows that certain forms of birth control would be outlawed (thus creating even more children living in poverty) and it would limit in vitro fertilization. But, for now, let’s stick to the abortion side of the equation.
When the measure passes, the next day Planned Parenthood will challenge it in court and the lower courts will grant an injunction prohibiting the measure from going into effect. Here’s the thing, however. Let’s say Mitt Romney (or one of the other Republican nominees) becomes President in 2013. Despite his previous support for the right to choose, he has now courageously “seen the light” and is all of a sudden pro-life. What a guy, a true Profile in Courage. As President, he would be beholden to the pro-life movement and
sooner or later some more Supreme Court judges are going to kick the bucket. That means that Romney (or, conversely, Obama) might get to make 2 or 3 appointments. If it’s Romney, you know damn well he is going to appoint judges who are pro-life and that could tip the scales.
Yes, many lawyers suggest that the court could not uphold a measure like this because of “legal precedent.” That’s garbage. It might have been the case years ago when our judicial system, not to mention the executive and legislative branches, were more deferential to their body’s previous actions but not anymore. I am convinced that when the Supreme Court gets this (or any other) case, the justices, with the possible exception of Justice Kennedy, make up their minds immediately, then instruct their clerks to construct their rationalization. If you think they sit there objectively, listening intently to the arguments of the learned counsel then come to a decision, you’re in La La land. I mean, think about it. Do you really think Clarence Thomas and Anton Scalia would NOT find a way to uphold the Mississippi law?
So, this case will ultimately make it to the Supreme Court in a few years. And that makes the next Presidential election so extremely important when it comes to abortion rights. I feel like we’ve been through this drill before, but this time it’s extremely serious.
October 9, 2011
I was talking to an old friend of mine yesterday, a doctor who used to perform abortions in the Midwest years ago. He retired in 2004 and in the course of the conversation we started talking about, as he put it, the “wild west days” when the bullets were flying and the bombs exploding at abortion clinics all across the country. He then expressed his concern that the younger activists do not remember or just simply did not know what was going on in this country at that time.
As a staff person for the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, I was in the middle of it all. Our office served as one of the “command posts” that sprung into action when the crap hit the fan. The minute we got the news about a shooting or any other kind of violent act, we would send out an “Emergency Fax” to all of our clinics alerting them about the incident. The main reason why we did this was to simply let them know that one of their colleagues had been involved in some heinous act and more often than not the other clinics would communicate their concerns and well wishes to their friends who had just joined the growing number of victims of anti-abortion violence. In essence, we generated a nationwide group hug.
After talking to this doctor, I started to think about the particularly “bad” years and 1997-1998 was a period that really stuck out in my mind. Yes, by that time several doctors had been murdered and other acts of violence had been committed, but this time period was a particularly bad one:
In January, 1997, a bomb exploded outside an office building in Atlanta that housed an abortion clinic. Then, an hour later, while the police and rescue workers were still on the scene, another bomb exploded near a trash can. Seven people were injured;
In March, a Molotov cocktail was thrown into the window of Family Planning Associates and an anti-abortion advocate drove his truck through the doors of another clinic in the area. Two weeks later, four fires were set on the roof of the Mountain Country Women’s Clinic in Montana;
In May, an arsonist drove up to the Lovejoy Surgi-Center, ran a hose from a metal drum containing an unidentified flammable liquid into the clinic and ignited it. A month later, an incendiary device was thrown through a hole cut into the air conditioning duct on the roof of the West Alabama Women’s Center;
A few months later, a bomb exploded at the New Woman All Women Health Care in Alabama killing an off duty policeman and critically injuring a nurse. Five months later, in the space of one week there were eight butyric acid attacks on clinics in Florida. In these cases, the assailant injected the acid into the clinic using a syringe and because of the horrific and noxious smell, the clinics had to be evacuated, washed down and closed for several days. This incident started a spate of similar attacks over the next few months;
Towards the end of 1998, my good friend, Doctor Barnett Slepian, was murdered in upstate New York when anti-abortion activist James Kopp fired a shot through a window in his house.
This list is, of course, a small sampling of what was going on in those days. And, as I read this list and recall the people involved, I honestly do get chills. I can remember the fear, the loss, the insanity and the sense of helplessness that overwhelmed all of us.
Today, there is less violence when compared to those days but that is no consolation. History can repeat itself and so every so often I intend to write about an incident or two in more detail in the hopes of reminding those coming up behind us of the sacrifices made by the doctors, the staff and others in defending the right to choose abortion. I also look forward to seeing our friends in the pro-life movement condemning the violence.
September 19, 2011
It goes without saying that the abortion issue is probably the most controversial issue of our time. Beginning in earnest after the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v Wade, the “pro-life” and “pro-choice” forces have been going at for years – and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. And if you read the polls, it’s really had to say what side is actually “winning.” Indeed, I’m not even sure how you determine who is winning. The bottom line is I know abortion is still legal in this country but they are harder to get. You decide.
Some even go so far to say we are in a “war” over abortion, although I wouldn’t go that far because to me a “war” is when two sides are engaging in violence and, as far as I can tell, the only violent acts have come from the pro-life side (and please, if you are pro-life, do not bore me with the “violence in the womb” argument). But, for the moment let’s say we are engaged in a war. The question now is how far are you willing to go to win this war? In the world of international relations, somewhere along the line we came up with the rules of the Geneva Convention which set some boundaries for conduct that warring parties are supposed to adhere to (although not everyone complies). In this abortion “war”, I think there should be boundaries as well. And recently, one pro-life group crossed a boundary that makes my head spin.
has established a practice in Germantown, Maryland. He has been there for several months and has been so open about what he is doing that he even gave a front page interview to the Washington Post a short while ago. I’ve written in the past about how I wish my friend Lee would just “shut up” and do his work quietly (out of fear for his safety), but Lee is not built that way. He is an advocate as well as a physician.
Not surprisingly, there have been protests at the Germantown clinic. That’s okay, that’s the First Amendment in action. I don’t like it but I support their right to be out there on a Saturday yelling and screaming and parading around with their gross signs. But now here comes a pro-life splinter group with a new tactic that boggles my mind. It seems these folks found out who owns the office complex where the abortion clinic is located. Yes, they had enough negative energy stored up that they probably combed the real estate records in the county for his name. I have no doubt that they probably tried to find out where he lives but have not yet been successful. But, after discovering the name of the landlord, they found out where his CHILDREN go to SCHOOL. And, once they discovered that his children went to an elementary school in Maryland, they came up with the idea of picketing the kids’ school! Yep, they went out there just a few weeks ago during the day and stood in front of the school with their ugly signs and blaring the name of the landlord (and, by reference, his children).
Just think for a second about not just his children, but all of the children as they jumped off the bus, already thinking about their lunch period or recess and then they see this sick group of people holding signs. When they look closer, they may see the pictures of a dismembered fetus, they may see lots of blood, they might see the word “abortion” in big red letters. Of course, they are probably too young to even comprehend what is going on but – as this group would say – THEY NEED TO LEARN ABOUT THE HORRORS OF ABORTION!
Who are these nut balls who believe it is up to them to introduce these young children to this difficult issue? Aren’t they the same ones who scream about parental control? The thing is I know who they are, they are the ones whose own children will be forced at a very early age to stand outside of an abortion clinic on a beautiful Saturday, be forced to hold a disgusting sign, chant a slogan, scream at the women. And they’ll say their six year old told them they’d rather be out there than playing soccer with their friends.
I have always encouraged a healthy, honest debate on this issue. But a line has to be drawn somewhere. Again, I would support their right to do this, but do these folks have no shame? Besides, from a strategic point of view it’s a pretty stupid thing to do because they are pissing off a lot of parents, even those who are pro-life.
I wonder how these folks would feel if we went to their kid’s school and held up signs of women lying in a pool of blood after a botched abortion? We could easily do it, we’ve got the pictures.
The difference is we’re too civilized.
September 12, 2011
You gotta love the American Civil Liberties Union.
For many, many years, the political right wing has pounded them over and over again to the point where there came a time when few people would admit they were “card carrying members of the ACLU.” Indeed, the last time I heard any reference to the ACLU cards was in that great speech by Michael Douglas in “The American President” where he smacks his conservative opponent for NOT being a member of the ACLU. Brings tears to my eyes.
And although being a member of the ACLU may not be as much in vogue as it used to, it’s great to see that are still fighting the good fight. It seems that last Thursday the ACLU of North Carolina filed a lawsuit against the state to force it to produce one of those “specialty license plates” that support abortion rights. This is in response to some action last June when the state legislature authorized the issuance of a “Choose Life” license plate. During the debate, several pro-choice legislators offered amendments to allow for other plates with messages like “Trust Women” or “Respect Choice” but I guess the anti-abortion legislators were in no mood to be fair, so they defeated all of the amendments. The ACLU, in its lawsuit, is now arguing that the First Amendment does not allow a state to promote “one side of a debate while denying the same opportunity to the other side.” Interestingly, they added that their position would have been the same “if the state had authorized a pro-choice license plate but not an anti-choice alternative.”
I’m trying to think this one through a little. So, if the state of New York had voted to allow a “Support Abortion” license plate and rejected any attempts to authorize a pro-life plate, the ACLU would have filed a lawsuit on behalf of the pro-life movement demanding that the state authorize a plate for their side? Now, I know that the ACLU has stuck its neck out defending the KKK in free speech cases and other controversial, conservative clients, but why do I find it hard to believe that they would have run to the aid of the pro-life movement? If anything, that would have created an interesting scenario and I chuckle thinking of the rather testy meetings of the pro-choice coalition after they learned that the ACLU would be
spending its money defending the anti-abortion crowd.
As for this case, let me remind you that I am not a lawyer. Oh, I went to law school for one year which gave me some very basic understanding of the law but I left to take a job on Capitol Hill (and the rest is history). But I guess I’m wondering what the big fuss is all about? I ask because, if you really think about can you remember the last time you saw a car with a “specialty” license plate on it? And, let’s face it. Most folks, unless they are a little kooky, are not gonna go around advertising how they feel about the friggin abortion issue, are they? I am as pro-choice as they come, but I would never think about putting a pro-choice license plate on my car. If anything, I would be very concerned that some anti-abortion nut ball would see my car and have a little fun with it. I prefer to advertise my pro-choice credentials when I am questioning a candidate or when someone makes a simple statement that I disagree with. Indeed, I always look forward to asking a candidate how they feel about the abortion issue because ninety nine percent of them don’t even want to talk about it and, when forced to, it’s fun watching them squirm.
So, I applaud the ACLU for taking this action, for fighting the good fight. But if they lose, it’s a signal to the rest of the state legislatures that are considering taking similar action that they don’t have to worry about being “fair” and, if they win, how many people really will put a pro-choice license plate on their car? I would hope it would be a lot, but I’m just a little cynical. But, yes, I still have my twenty year old ACLU card!
August 29, 2011
I really need some help sorting this one out folks. I am writing this directly to the pro-lifers who read this blog. I really need to get your angle on something…
So, if you are pro-life you think abortion should be illegal, right? You generally think – although there are differences of opinions within your movement – that the doctor should go to the jail and some of you think that the woman (because she basically created the need for the doctor) should go to jail as well. You don’t want to see any more abortion clinics because they are complicit in the killing of babies or pre-born babies or the unborn or whatever you wish to call it. Am I correct so far?
But now, here comes the ole Commonwealth of Virginia where pro-life forces have successfully persuaded the state Board of Health to issue regulations that will govern how abortion clinics are run. Pro-lifers say they want to make the abortion process safer for the women because there are so many sleaze balls out there performing abortions.
Okay, folks, what am I missing here?
A woman going into an abortion clinic is usually going in for one reason – to abort their fetus, their baby, their child, their – well, you pick title. And the pro-lifers don’t like. Indeed, they will spend hours and hours standing in front of an abortion clinic, screaming and yelling at women in an effort to persuade them to cancel their appointment. Some will go further and threaten the doctors and their staff in the hopes that they will stop performing this pernicious act. Some will burn down the clinic. Oh, yeah, and some will actually get a gun or two and kill the doctor and/or their staff to make the point.
But now – wait a second! Now these same folks want to guarantee that the abortion is performed in a safer environment. Suddenly, the pro-lifers are now very concerned that a woman might be injured while she is “killing her baby.” Now, they seem concerned that if there is an emergency the hallways need to be wide enough to get the gurney out to the waiting ambulance. They now want to make sure that the air conditioning is at a proper setting, so the woman will be comfortable while she terminates her pregnancy. In South Carolina, where they promulgated regulations several years ago, they were so concerned about making abortion such a pleasant experience that they required the clinic to regularly mow their lawn and to rid the property of all kinds of critters. In Kansas, pro-lifers want to make sure that the woman’s personal belongings are safe so they required clinics to have a locker for each patient. Damn the cost, they shouted! Women should feel mentally comfortable when they are aborting. Then, tossing a bone to the Custodial Engineer’s Association of America, they threw in a requirement that a janitor’s closet be at least 50 square feet, enough room to hang out and watch television. Bravo to the pro-life movement! Is there no end to their compassion?
The new temporary regulations in Virginia will be formally voted on Sept. 15 by the state Board of Health and could go into effect by Dec. 31. Clinics that provide five or more abortions per month will then be classified as hospitals. Supporters of the restrictions say with a straight face that their only aim is to protect women. They assure us that they do not seek to make the regulations so onerous that it will force many of them to shut their doors. Oh, sure, they’ll still shout that women are “murdering babies” inside that facility, but they still want to make sure that everything is nice and clean in there.
Can anyone help me out here? I’m just a little confused….
July 15, 2011
For many years, anti-abortion activists have lobbied their state legislatures to pass laws that require abortion clinics to share certain information with their patients. These so-called “Right to Know” laws take many forms: giving the patient a brochure that shows the stages of fetal development, taking an ultrasound and showing it to the woman, reciting a script to the patient that is a litany of things that can go wrong with an abortion, etc., etc.
Although the pro-choice movement regularly opposes these laws, I have written in the past about how the affect of these laws on the woman is rather minimal. For example, most women casually look at the brochures, if at all, then toss them into
the garbage. I’ve been in the rooms with woman as they observed their ultrasound, asked questions about the fetus then proceeded to have the abortion. It’s all a rather big waste of time if you ask me, but if the anti-abortion movement wants to spend their time on this kind of stuff, go for it. And, after all, it’s all well-intentioned, isn’t it? Sure, they would prefer to make that woman’s act totally illegal, but since they can’t do that they want to make sure that a woman is making an informed choice. How compassionate of them, huh?
Meanwhile, up in New York City, the City Council has taken a great interest in the activities of a number of “crisis pregnancy centers” that, according to testimony provided in a hearing, are engaging in “deceptive” practices designed to convince the woman that they are actually medical facilities. It seems that the staff in some of these cpcs a
re doing some interesting things. For some reason, they are collecting personal and insurance information in the waiting room, the consultations are taking place on examination tables with the woman in the stirrups and “scrub suited consultants” are giving free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. On its face, it sounds a little deceptive to me but I’m sure these reports are not accurate because we’ve been told so many times that cpcs do not engage in this kind of behavior.
Still, this crazy ole City Council is concerned about this alleged behavior so they passed a law requiring the cpcs to post signs saying they have no doctors on site and don’t’ give advice about abortions or birth control. Sounds kind of like the “Right to Know” laws that are being imposed on abortion clinics.
But, lo and behold, here comes the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian advocacy group, and they challenge the law, saying it would have violated the center’s right to free speech. And, recently, a local judge agreed with them and slapped an injunction on the new law.
Putting aside all the legal mumbo-jumbo and the current status of the law, what I cannot sort out is why anti-abortion advocates want abortion clinics to inform women of everything but the kitchen sink, but when the NY City Council wants to ask them to give out just a little information about their centers, they balk at the idea?
Somebody help me here, please!
- These Pictures Speak a Thousand Words (abortion.ws)
- No One Cares About the Science (abortion.ws)
- The Rape and Incest Exception – Trying to Have it Both Ways (abortion.ws)
- Dem Governor Will Allow Missouri Anti-Abortion Bill To Become Law (huffingtonpost.com)
- Abortion-rights activist plans Wichita clinic (sfgate.com)
- New Missouri Anti-Abortion Law Eliminates “General Health Exception” (alan.com)
- Mo. gov. lets late-term abortion bill become law (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- States more than double previous record for anti-abortion legislation in 2011 (dailykos.com)
- Abortion-rights activist plans Wichita clinic (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
June 30, 2011
It was a sweltering July day in the city of Philadelphia in 1776. The delegates to the convention slowly make their way into what ultimately would be dubbed “Independence Hall” but on this day it was still commonly known as “Moe’s Place.” Representatives from the 13 American colonies were there to discuss whether or not to break away from Mother England and set up their own nation. A committee had been formed to draft a statement of principles that would publicly explain to King George and the rest of the world why the colonies felt it was necessary to declare its independence and, in effect, start a war.
The debate over the proposed resolution was intense and went on for days. Should we actually call the King a “tyrant?” How do we address the issue of slavery? Should we be quoting Thomas Paine or Voltaire? Should we refer to God?
Then, suddenly, after days of laborious discussion, a delegate raised his hand and is recognized: “Mr. President, why is there no language that protects fetuses from being aborted?”
There are puzzled looks on the faces of those in the room then Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the document, calmly assures the delegate that his concern has been met and refers him to the section which says that all men shall be endowed with the right to “life” in this new nation so, he explains, since every baby has the possibility of coming out as a male, you cannot have any abortions!
Somehow I just don’t think that’s how it all played out.
Those who advocate making abortion a crime in this country love to cite the Declaration of Independence and, in particular, the line that says (cue the trumpets!): “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Or is it “inalienable?” I always get that part confused.
Anyway, so somewhere along the line the anti-abortion folks started to interpret that passage to mean that everyone has a “right to life.” See! See! The Founding Fathers, those wise old men, were saying that everyone, including those little fetuses, have the right to life! See! What did I tell ya? You gonna argue with the likes of Jefferson, Franklin, Berkowitz and Adams?
Okay, now let’s everybody calm down and think this through a little.
First of all, the fact is that those sage, all-knowing Founding Fathers never said a word about abortion during that long summer in Philadelphia. The word is never found in any of the historical accounts of the process. I mean, just think about about it. It wasn’t even an issue in those days and they had much bigger things on their mind, like creating a new country. Didn’t they have other things to do that were a little more important than abortion?
Second, remember that in those days, when they said “all men” are blah, blah, they really meant all MEN. We know that they weren’t talking about women – God forbid – and they weren’t talking about the slaves either. They were talking about all of those old white people who had the power. So, please do not tell me that, although they didn’t give a rat’s ass about women or slaves, they did care about protecting those little, defenseless fetuses.
This is one of those arguments that is really stretching it a bit, don’t you think?
June 27, 2011
For as long as I can remember, anti-abortion advocates have screamed about how the owners of the abortion clinics and the doctors who work in them have made tons of money off the “killing of babies.” I have always found it interesting that these mostly conservative, Republican, business-oriented folks have taken such an anti-capitalist point of view, but that’s beside the point.
What also interested me was how the anti-abortion crowd could make such statements when I am confident that they probably do not know any of the doctors or owners personally, but why should that stop them from taking one (possibly true) anecdote and making such broad generalizations? On the other hand, my comments are based on my extensive, personal interactions with hundreds of these folks – and when I say “personal” I mean that I have spent times in their homes, have gotten to know their families and, thus, have gotten a very good sense of the kind of money they make.
Years ago, when abortion first became legal, the owners and doctors made a significant amount of money. And that was because in the very beginning there just weren’t that many clinics. Women were travelling hundreds of miles to get to a state like New York that had a clinic or two. There were charter planes bringing women to those facilities in NY, California and Colorado. So, those clinics were filled with hundreds of women each week. The average price for a first trimester abortion was $250 in the early days, so you do the math. They made a lot of money because of the high demand and the relatively few facilities.
Over the years, however, more and more clinics opened up their doors and the patients started to spread out to take advantage of a clinic that was closer to their home. Thus, the number of patients going to those large clinics in New York and the other states started to shrink. Then, sometime in the 1980’s or so, the number of clinics exploded in certain states. In cities like Detroit, Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles, they were all over the place. The competition for the patients became intense.
Now, I will tell you that I have visited some very nice homes over the years, that’s for sure. But, for the most part the owners of the abortion clinics live in middle-upper middle class neighborhoods, as do the doctors. I have no idea what the salary was (or is) for the average doctor but I can tell you in many cases it was just about what any ob-gyn would get per year. I mean, after all, they are doctors.
On the other hand, I also stayed on the couches of several owners who had some very modest homes. After the “old boys” of the early days started to die out or move aside, a new cadre or owners, particularly young women, took over and their life styles were nothing like their predecessors. Indeed, I recall two or three owners who actually lived in the basement of their clinics.
Today, the average cost of an abortion is about $400. If inflation were taken into account, the cost should be more like $1,000. But the price of an abortion has been kept artificially low because there are many owners who want to keep the procedure accessible for those in need and, yes, because of competition. At the same time, I have seen many instances where the doctor performed an abortion for free or at a reduced priced if the patient was in very dire circumstances. Remember, while these folks are businesspeople, they are also good bleeding heart liberals who want to help those in need.
I guess for me the bottom line is that abortion is a business that was created because women demanded the services. And it’s a medical business that requires the purchase of medical equipment, security cameras, malpractice insurance and the payment of staff salaries. So, I hate to disappoint the anti-abortion crowd but this true medical procedure requires that the doctors charge something to make it available to the next woman. And, please, before anyone who works at a crisis pregnancy center tells me that they work for free and charge nothing for their “services,” spare me the comparison. Talking to a woman about abortion in a small room CAN be done for free (which makes me wonder why many of the cpcs need government grants). When they start having a need for a physician who will perform a medical procedure, then we can compare notes.
June 1, 2011
By now, you have seen the reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that cell phones “may” cause cancer. Of course, those who have been warning against cell phone use and opposing the construction of cell phone towers in residential neighborhoods now have another argument, another sound bite.
What most folks will miss, however, is that the WHO did not conduct its own study. It simply reviewed all the previous literature and the other studies and, because ONE of those studies suggested that phones MAY cause cancer, the WHO is suggesting that maybe we need to study the issue again!
This whole thing makes me think about how arguments are presented in the abortion debate, how the participants usually cite individual anecdotes to make their point.
For example, when the pro-choice movement cites how thousands of women died from illegal abortions, the pro-life movement will immediately refer to Doctor Bernard Nathanson. Doctor Nathanson performed thousands of abortions each year at a clinic in New York City and he was one of the founders of the National Abortion Rights Action League. At some point, Doctor Nathanson switched over to the pro-life side and he became a national spokesman for their cause. At one point, he said that, when he was at NARAL, they simply “made up” the number of women who had died from illegal abortions. He suggested they just exaggerated the numbers to bolster their case for keeping abortion legal. And today, when a pro-choicer talks about how women died from illegal abortions, they scoff and say that the numbers can’t be trusted because the one and only Bernie Nathanson said those numbers were made up.
What’s missing here is that, since he had converted to the pro-life movement, could his “correction” about the numbers be trusted? After all, wouldn’t you expect him to come out after his conversion and debunk any of the arguments for legal abortion that he had originally espoused?
What I’m suggesting is that, when debating an issue, shouldn’t one look at the entire scope of the literature, at all of the testimony before the Congress and the state legislatures, at all of the reports from other doctors who saw women entering the emergency rooms after a botched or self-induced abortion?
The same thing occurred with Norma McCorvey, the “Roe” in Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal in this country in 1973. Norma was one of thousands of potential plaintiffs in that famous case but, because she signed the paperwork, she was
the one who ultimately became famous. Ultimately, she became a symbol for the pro-choice movement and specifically for the tens of thousands of women who were being denied access to abortions services at the time.
Then, several years ago Norma McCorvey announced she was pro-life. She had been lobbied heavily for years by Flip Benham, the head of Operation Rescue, and he successfully convinced her that abortion was wrong. She made a big public statement announcing her conversion and soon became active in the pro-life movement. Understandably, the pro-life movement made as much hay out of this “conversion” as possible. I would have done the same thing. They suggested that because one of our pro-choicer “leaders” had converted, it was evidence that our arguments were spurious and not credible.
But because one individual like Norma changed her mind, should that reflect on the arguments of the entire pro-choice movement? Now, if the Pope came out tomorrow and said same-sex marriage was okay, then that would be a big deal and would be taken very, very seriously. But because one doctor who happened to be on the board of NARAL or one plaintiff in a lawsuit changed their minds, should that be given a lot of weight?
But this is the world we live in. This happens in all movements, in Congress, on a school board. Someone finds one thing out of the ordinary, a chink in the armor and they pound away. President Ronald Reagan learned years ago that some woman who bought vodka with her food stamps and for the next year he insisted that ALL food stamps needed to be cut because people were cheating the system. We see a politician do a stupid thing, make a mistake and, if they are on the other side, we try to bring ‘em down. We no longer look at the body of work, at the history of the causes. We just sit back for the “gotcha” moment and run with it – because it’s the easy thing to do.
But is it the right thing to do?