Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Putting A Personal Face on What is Going On in Texas and Ohio; How My Rape and Abortion may Change Your Mind

Back in 2011 I wrote publicly for the first time about being raped, becoming pregnant and having my previously sober boyfriend go off the rails and my eventual decision to have an abortion in response to these life-altering events (you can see that post here). 



The past two years have been interesting ones in our country's history.  We are living in interesting times with interesting political events unfolding before our eyes every single day.  My political views are liberal, I believe that there is a floor beneath which we should not let any of our fellow citizens fall.  I get a lot of crap for it; I don't care, it's what I believe.  I believe strongly in our constitution and at the same time I believe that it was written a long, long time ago and that sometimes we need to do better.  

I believe that we live in a democracy and that majority should rule....for the most part.  If 80% of the country believes in gun ownership, we should own guns.  If 80% of the country believes we should have an assault weapon ban then I think our legislators should do that for us.  

Our country is unique in that it was formed for the purpose of offering religious freedom from tyranny and yet somehow it's origins are nearly entirely Christian.  We believe in separation of Church and State....and yet, do we?  I am not Christian, I believe in God, I don't have a problem with our money stating "In God We Trust," I don't have a problem with nativity scenes, menorahs,  the pledge of allegiance, etc.  But, I also have no problem with people who are offended by those things; I think particular communities need to customize what they do for their own community, for their own citizens.  If you don't want your child saying the pledge, then they shouldn't have to, but it doesn't mean the whole class should stop.

Basically, I believe that we, the people, should be the directors of our own lives and our own laws.  We need to elect representatives that vote in our best interests, not their own, not in towing their party line.

According to The Raw Story (read here) the majority of Americans are for abortion choice (at least in some circumstances). I have friends who identify as "pro-life," I respect their view points, but if I'm honest, I identify them as "anti-choice."  I believe if you do not agree with abortion then you should not have one.  I think you should teach your kids that it's wrong and that you don't agree with it, and then you should be a good enough parent to make sure they never, ever find themselves in that position.   You can absolutely be "pro-choice" and not agree with abortion, what it means is that you feel that because something is right or wrong for you doesn't mean it is right or wrong for them.

Everyone is up in arms about twenty week bans and, in theory, I understand their concert.  Except, it isn't based in reality.   No one wants to think about the abortion of a 20 week old fetus as a "form of birth control" (you can see a NARAL article on why the bans are dangerous here).  I have to tell you, as a woman who has made the painful decision to terminate a pregnancy, the vast majority of women who abort do not do so as birth control.  Only 1.5% of abortions are at or past 20 weeks and those are almost exclusively due to the very real possibility of death for the mother or the certainty of death for the fetus.  It really is a non-issue, there are NOT hoards of women in maternity clothes lined up to get late-term abortions no matter what FOX news tells you. 

Last week I found two new heroes, both women, both democrats, both Texas legislators, both pretty kick ass; Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte.  Wendy Davis filibustered for 11 hours to keep the Texas legislature from voting in abortion restriction rules so severe that the Texas Medical Association, the Texas Hospital Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists  are against them (some video of Wendy, here).    Leticia Van de Putte left her father's funeral to keep these restrictions from being voted on (here she is very bravely following all of the house rules to ask an important question, see it here).  Not because neither of them believes in majority rule, but because they do.  The Texas house has a Republican majority, there is no argument that the vote would have passed.  The argument is that women were not allowed to testify to how the bans would effect them and the thousands of Davis supporters in the rotunda of the the capital and outside in the streets begs the argument...are the Texas Republicans really voting for what their constituents want?  For now the women of Texas have won but their battle is far from over.

In Ohio the battle has been lost.  And it's been lost shamefully.  (Here is an article on the restrictions)  Now, in Ohio, without a vote and without the ability for the citizens to recall it, some of the restrictions include the loss of low-cost family planning clinics, the ability for a woman to have access to a public hospital during a medical emergency (so if an emergency happens at a clinic that has managed to stay open then the woman must be transported, amid emergency circumstances, to a private hospital putting her life in danger).  Also included are putting Planned Parenthood last on a list of providers which essentially causes the loss of $1.4 million in federal funding and will most likely lead to at least three clinics closing.  Here is the one that really got me....if rape counselors in rape crisis centers-you know, the people helping you get through what is, I promise you, one of the worst things to ever happen to you, are caught counseling about the possibility of an abortion then the clinic will lose it's public funding. 

Here is the thing; both house and the governor are Republican in Ohio but  the governor has the ability to line-item veto, basically he can cross off anything he or his constituents are not okay with and put the bill through.  Because it was a budget bill, no one got to argue against it or even speak up about it.  Governor John Kasich received 17,000 petitions asking him to remove these lines from the bill.  Surrounded by six men and zero women he didn't veto any of them. He did manage to veto 22 items including, I swear to God, crossing Spider Monkeys, off of a list of animals becoming illegal to own.  It appears that he cares more about the ownership of Spider Monkeys than women's health, although, to be fair, he didn't have a Spider Monkey present at the signing of the bill either.  

My point, or at least one of them, is this; it's easy to watch a 20 second news clip and think, "abortion is bad," "20 week bans are good," and it's easy to think that this isn't a topic worth voting people into or out of office for, but I think you're wrong.  I can't tell you how many times good people with different political views have told me I'm foolish to vote one issue, they have said no one will ever turn over Roe vs Wade, they are wrong- the amount of bills regarding abortion has increased exponentially most notably in the local and state arenas.  If you are reading this, there is a good chance you know me, I may even be your friend or someone you made out with once in high school, my face is the face of someone being effected by these laws, think about them in more personal terms, because they are personal terms.  If it was you, or your daughter or your wife, would you want someone else making those decisions for you?  I wouldn't.  This morning I am very glad I don't live in Ohio but I'm thinking about making a trip to Texas.  There are some hands there I would really like to shake.

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