I am many things. Alphabetically speaking, I am an Appalachian, by choice, an artist, by good fortune and by choice, an appreciative family member, and the parent of a son and a daughter. Also, I am a woman.
Though my close friends are particularly important to me, my life experience has encouraged me to be aware of the human community we are each a part of. I feel the benefit of all of us looking out for each other and of our taking care of our single shared planet.
I post these thoughts today because of Tuesday's national elections. I believe each vote counts. I care who wins. I care that we each think for ourselves before voting. I care that so much of the change we all want requires long term solutions, and that we are not strengthening our ability to be patient while we do the work that true change requires. Our imaginations are in peril; each is essential.
In particular, however, as a woman, I have been appalled by some of the outrageous statements made about women. By male (mostly) officials seeking reelection. By the strange, disparate band of hopefuls for the American Republican presidential nomination. By cultures around the world. These views are just not acceptable. They can only be attributed to willful ignorance. We shouldn't forget "legitimate rape" or "binders of women" or unequal pay for equal work. The work ahead requires the best of the abilities of all of us. While I am constantly grateful for laughter, I'd rather be laughing at what's funny and clever, not at what's hurtful and harmful.
Instead of linking to the following article, I am going to copy it here in its entirety, in honor of thinking and voting. It is not required reading. Not everyone who visits this blog will be excited by it. However, I don't earn money from this blog, so I am simply sharing something that I appreciated seeing in print. The writer is Thomas Friedman, and the title of his opinion piece is "Why I am Pro-Life." It appeared in the New York Times on October 27, 2012. (I have highlighted the paragraph that speaks particularly to me.)
I have put the photo of the day at the end of the blog, as a thank you for letting me share my thoughts with you today, hopefully in a thoughtful tone. As I have written in earlier posts, we all live downstream. We are all in this together, so let's think it through together.
HARD-LINE conservatives have gone to new extremes lately in opposing abortion. Last week, Richard Mourdock, the Tea Party-backed Republican Senate candidate in Indiana, declared during a debate that he was against abortion even in the event of rape because after much thought he “came to realize that life is that gift from God. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” That came on the heels of the Tea Party-backed Republican Representative Joe Walsh of Illinois saying after a recent debate that he opposed abortion even in cases where the life of the mother is in danger, because “with modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance” in which a woman would not survive without an abortion. “Health of the mother has become a tool for abortions anytime, for any reason,” Walsh said. That came in the wake of the Senate hopeful in Missouri, Representative Todd Akin, remarking that pregnancy as a result of “legitimate rape” is rare because “the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.”
These were not slips of the tongue. These are the authentic voices of an ever-more-assertive far-right Republican base that is intent on using uncompromising positions on abortion to not only unseat more centrist Republicans — Mourdock defeated the moderate Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana in the primary — but to overturn the mainstream consensus in America on this issue. That consensus says that those who choose to oppose abortion in their own lives for reasons of faith or philosophy should be respected, but those women who want to make a different personal choice over what happens with their own bodies should be respected, and have the legal protection to do so, as well.
But judging from the unscientific — borderline crazy — statements opposing abortion that we’re hearing lately, there is reason to believe that this delicate balance could be threatened if Mitt Romney and Representative Paul Ryan, and their even more extreme allies, get elected. So to those who want to protect a woman’s right to control what happens with her own body, let me offer just one piece of advice: to name something is to own it. If you can name an issue, you can own the issue. And we must stop letting Republicans name themselves “pro-life” and Democrats as “pro-choice.” It is a huge distortion.
In my world, you don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and be against common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare, that was used recently in a Colorado theater. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children. You can call yourself a “pro-conception-to-birth, indifferent-to-life conservative.” I will never refer to someone who pickets Planned Parenthood but lobbies against common-sense gun laws as “pro-life.”
“Pro-life” can mean only one thing: “respect for the sanctity of life.” And there is no way that respect for the sanctity of life can mean we are obligated to protect every fertilized egg in a woman’s body, no matter how that egg got fertilized, but we are not obligated to protect every living person from being shot with a concealed automatic weapon. I have no respect for someone who relies on voodoo science to declare that a woman’s body can distinguish a “legitimate” rape, but then declares — when 99 percent of all climate scientists conclude that climate change poses a danger to the sanctity of all life on the planet — that global warming is just a hoax.
The term “pro-life” should be a shorthand for respect for the sanctity of life. But I will not let that label apply to people for whom sanctity for life begins at conception and ends at birth. What about the rest of life? Respect for the sanctity of life, if you believe that it begins at conception, cannot end at birth. That radical narrowing of our concern for the sanctity of life is leading to terrible distortions in our society.
Respect for life has to include respect for how that life is lived, enhanced and protected — not only at the moment of conception but afterward, in the course of that life. That’s why, for me, the most “pro-life” politician in America is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. While he supports a woman’s right to choose, he has also used his position to promote a whole set of policies that enhance everyone’s quality of life — from his ban on smoking in bars and city parks to reduce cancer, to his ban on the sale in New York City of giant sugary drinks to combat obesity and diabetes, to his requirement for posting calorie counts on menus in chain restaurants, to his push to reinstate the expired federal ban on assault weapons and other forms of common-sense gun control, to his support for early childhood education, to his support for mitigating disruptive climate change.
Now that is what I call “pro-life.”