Reproductive Rights: We must reframe the issue

Abortion should not be the primary issue in a debate concerning the “reproductive health” of American citizens. 

“The debate should not be about the ability to end a pregnancy. The debate should be razor focused on the right to privacy in making reproductive choices. Abortion is a small part of a much larger picture of personal autonomy and decisions based on medical need.”  C.Dianne Phillips, 11/11/2011

It is 2022, and the supreme court has overturned Roe v Wade. The hard-fought for reproductive rights, as well as civil and voting rights of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, have been eroded by the policies of a mostly white, male, evangelical minority. There are many reasons for this serious erosion of the democratic process of this country. Still, the primary reason, from my perspective, is that the Civil War, racism, and misogyny never ended

The election of a black man as president and the presence of his family in the white house was more than the racist underbelly of this country could handle. The Obamas were considered uppity and arrogant for assuming they deserved to reside in the same home that was built by the hands of slaves. If that wasn’t enough, other minorities, like the LGBTQ+ community, were also growing in influence and equality. Gay citizens were allowed to marry. Black people were taking a knee or taking to the streets to protest the lack of dignity and respect for a life denied to many. How dare they? 

In my opinion, the election of Mr. Trump represented the last gasps of white Christian nationalism in the face of progress toward a strong, diverse democratic republic and eventual globalism. In this approaching reality, the ruling and wealthy minority was shrinking even further in power and relevance, not just in the US but also in countries where oligarchs enjoyed power and wealth in a global marketplace. 

Not everyone who voted for Trump was a racist. Still, the racist minority in America hitched its wagon to issues like socialism (which became a pejorative for caring for the Common Good), civil rights (which included gay rights), guns, and “abortion.” These issues are largely based on false narratives and the reluctance of low-information voters to educate themselves.  

Abortion became the issue of selfish women having abortions on demand as a form of birth control and heinously murdering innocent babies even up to the time of birth. The pseudo-facts surrounding “abortion” were and are not true

If a baby is born before twenty weeks gestation, it has almost no chance of survival. I gave birth to a second-trimester baby, and I had to agonize as I felt him eventually stop moving as he tried desperately to survive. It is for this reason that I would never support abortion in the second term of a pregnancy.  

I thought the original Roe v Wade did an excellent job limiting abortion on demand to the first trimester. 

Beyond that, it should not be a common practice unless the fetus is dead, the mother is dying, or they are both going to die.  Extenuating circumstances should be considered, but the limit should be as early as possible. 

FACT:  Any baby born before twenty weeks is not likely to survive, but there are hospitals using techniques to save some as early as nineteen weeks. Unless extraordinary means are taken, a fetus born before twenty weeks is not considered viable. The medical terminology is “stillbirth” or “spontaneous abortion.” 

FACT:  Any baby born late in the third trimester has a good chance of survival with today’s modern medicine. There is no such thing as killing them at birth. That would be called murder, and there are laws that protect all citizens, especially babies, who are able to survive a live birth. It’s absurd to say otherwise. It is a carefully crafted lie.     

“The Common Good” became misconstrued as a left-wing conspiracy where socialism would tax the rich to allow women and minorities to be lazy and entitled as they lived off the tit of a government that bilked the rich and shameless.  Liberal became a negative label for anyone who cared about the “Common Good” or the “least of these.”  

Increasing secularism was also seen as a threat to the influence and power of white evangelical nationalism.  Those who preached that the founding fathers created this great nation on Christian principles failed to realize that it was freedom from state religion and taxation without representation that led them to write the constitution and form a democratic republic “for the people, by the people, …” but mostly they meant white men as the people, not women or any other minority. 

When freedom for all started meaning equality for all and evolved beyond women and civil rights and included gay marriage, well, that was a bridge too far. 

The most ridiculous arguments and lies have to do with guns.  Why do white nationalist evangelicals need guns? Why was the second amendment perverted to mean that every man, woman, and child has a right to carry a weapon designed to kill another human being?  Why? FEAR  

Fear of change. Fear of loss of control.  Fear of loss of power.  FEAR of not being relevant in an increasingly global society. With a gun they are secure. They don’t care that they are terrorizing the rest of civil society as armed bullies.  

If you live in rural areas, a gun is a tool of sustainable living. You hunt. You scare off or kill predators. You don’t waltz into Starbucks with a long gun swung over your shoulder and a pistol on your side. It’s ridiculous in civil society. You are seen as a weak bully to the rest of us. 

Our police don’t have a clue who the good guy is with a gun in an active situation. Everyone open carrying makes their jobs harder and more dangerous and makes the rest of us want to stay home. 

We made significant progress in those early years. The black man and the woman eventually were allowed to vote and have a voice in the democratic process. 

This did not stop the entitled white male of America from feeling threatened by the slow loss of control over women and minorities. 

Banks had to start allowing women to have bank accounts of their own and provide equal treatment to all in lending practices.  

The American dream that was realized after the end of the Korean Conflict was now for minorities and women too. 

Loss of power and control threatened the cultural norms and systems of American society, where white, mostly Christian men were in charge. 

I remember growing up in the 60s and 70s and feeling a sense of pride, nationalism, and patriotism regarding the world wars which were fought for the common good. 

In spite of a conflict of choice in Viet Nam, there was a unification of all Americans behind a promising space program, where science and technology education was funded and seen as the key to the future. 

We were going to have a better life through the evolution of sciences like chemistry, physics, engineering, technology, and space travel. 

College was seen as a way to achieve upward mobility and an escape from the poverty chains of a caste system. 

Women and minorities were seeking equality and society seemed ready for a progressive movement that would allow all citizens the opportunity to achieve success if they worked hard enough.  This was our dream of the 60s and 70s.  Women wanted equality.    

During the midterm elections of November 2022 voters came out in large numbers to vote against those who supported the taking of reproductive rights from all citizens, especially, women, girls, and couples. 

The votes were divided largely along party lines with Democrats and Independents seen as those in favor of a woman’s right to choose, seemingly favoring the needs of the mother over the life and dignity of the helpless, unborn life inside of her, and Republicans and conservative Christians of all faiths seen as those who cared about the life of the unborn with little regard for the dignity and life of the mother. 

Is it really just about respecting the life and dignity of one over the other? NO!  Because abortion is not and should not be the issue. The issue is a citizen’s right to privacy in making decisions concerning their own life and health.  

The midterm elections have passed and now comes the time when we must wait to see if gerrymandering has denied equal representation to such a diverse nation. Will we have a congress that will be able to codify Roe vs Wade and restore the reproductive rights that were long fought for over 50 years ago? Will doctors and patients have the right to make decisions affecting the life and health of women of all ages?  

As a devout “pro-life” Catholic, I cringe when I think of taking any life, especially innocent life.    

It is literally against my humanity and my religion to embrace the idea of abortion on demand. It’s insane to assume that anyone would willingly do such a thing. 

The debate should not be about the ability to end a pregnancy, the debate should be razor focused on the right to privacy in making reproductive choices. Abortion is a small part of a much larger picture of personal autonomy and decisions based on medical need rather than on convenience.  

For me, it’s not about abortion, its about equality.  It’s about the rights of all citizens to make decisions about their own personal reproduction.  I gave birth five times.  Why?  Because it was my body, my choice, and my religion.  No government made the choice for me.   

C.D Phillips, 11/11/11

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