Saturday, October 27, 2012

Politics is as personal as ever, day 12: One Pro-Life President Away

          When I was 16 I carried a marble in my pocket every day for a month.  It was part of my preparation for Confirmation.  Each time I put my hand in my pocket and it bumped up against the forgotten marble, I was supposed to pray for an unborn child.
          I went to our little Catholic church religiously (as they say) every Sunday, and I loved it there.  But I was never very confident about the praying part.  So every time my hand bumped up against that marble I would just think to myself,  “Keep that baby alive!  Keep that baby alive!”  Prayer or not, this part felt good to me. 
          See, I don’t come to the issue of abortion with no understanding of those who would like the law and the courts to protect the unborn.  There are birth mothers in my family.  I have witnessed, from very close up, the experience of carrying a child to term, making a plan for adoption, saying goodbye.  And now, of course, I’m an adoptive parent and am overwhelmed by the extraordinary gift I have been offered.  And my children, whom I adore, are grateful for having been conceived, and given birth to, though the heartache that accompanies their lives sometimes swells relentlessly.
          So even though I’ve been on the front lines of the fight to maintain abortion rights.  And even though I was once a clinic defense organizer, standing arm to arm with my feminist friends shouting “This clinic stays open!  This clinic stays open!”  I don’t come to this issue from a polarized place.  I understand the grave concern so many harbor about abortion.  And though I am taught by my sisters in struggle to refer to our foes as “anti-choice,” I rarely do.  I don’t actually believe that people are against abortion because they don’t want women to have a choice.  They are against abortion because they believe in the preservation of that unborn life.
          Still, I have a nine year old daughter.  And soon she will be 13.  And then 17.  And 21.  And 28.  And I think about all those old white men in Congress, with their wide ties and their shirts coming untucked.  And I think about The Supreme Court Justices in those long goofy robes and starched collars.  And I think about our local legislators with their petty personal passions butting into the intimacies of our lives.  And then I see my daughter at 15, at 17, at 22.  I picture her sitting on an examining table in a cold room somewhere, the paper johnny inadequately covering her back.  And then there they are, all those prying, peeping men galloping in on their pride of high horses, scuffing up the sterile floor, breaking down the door, wielding their laws with ignorant audacity.  And then all of my compassion and open-mindedness is gone.  Gone!  Just like that I’m ready to rap on the door of every Romney-signed house I see and scream, “What do you think you’re doing to my daughter?”
          Because imagine.  Imagine not having the right to control when your body conceives.  Imagine not having the right to decide what does or does not grow inside your uterus.  Imagine our daughters growing up without the medical freedoms we’ve taken for granted our entire lives.  What does that mean for my little girl?  How does it compromise her ability to determine her own life path?
          These are the stakes of this election.  I don’t care whose plan to cut the deficit you think will be better.  I don’t care who you think can create 22 million jobs and who can only create 19.  Because we are exactly one pro-life President and one pro-life Supreme Court Justice away from an overturn of Roe V. Wade.  One pro-life President and one pro-life Supreme Court Justice away from coat hangers and back alleys.  One pro-life President and one pro-life Supreme Court Justice away from that 83 percent male Congress galloping over my daughter’s medical autonomy. 
          I understand the desire to protect the unborn.  I am happy to live peacefully with and among my pro-life neighbors.  But I don’t want any of  them anywhere near my daughter’s examination room.  How about you?

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