Opinion from Young: Seeing the abortion debate anew in five words
July 9, 2013
As with a lot of people across the country, Wendy Davis is my new hero — she who for 11 hours stared down an armored column of oppression on the Texas Senate floor.
I know Sen. Davis won't be offended, however, to hear me say that she's not my foremost pro-choice hero.
That person is an individual I never met, one who made me rub my eyes and see the abortion debate anew in five words.
He was a college student who many years ago saw fit to sit alone in silence outside a surging, swaying, hymn-singing anti-abortion rally in Waco, Texas. He held a simple handwritten sign carrying these five words: "Abortion is a medical necessity."
Five undeniable words. Five words that should start every discussion about this.
Sen. Davis used a lot more words, each necessary, in her filibuster against proposals to craft the nation's most oppressive anti-abortion policy.
More importantly, she brought thousands to the Texas Capitol to put a collective human face on the matter at hand, which is the wrong-headedness of inserting government into the most private of medical matters.
Yes, medical; and this should need no explanation. The protest back in Waco was about the Planned Parenthood affiliate's offering abortion services, "a first" at the time. But the fact is and was that every hospital that delivers babies performs abortions out of medical necessity. No, this was no "first."
Ah, but these were "abortions of convenience." The community had never had any of those before, except for the rare daughter who could afford a plane ticket and hotel room. She got one. But that was different.
It fascinates me, and should amaze anyone, that people for whom "government is the problem" is a guiding tenet believe that government is the solution here.
And is it? And how so?
If an abortion is medically necessary, with whom does a doctor consult — which agency? — when deciding to "murder" a fetus?
If every zygote is a human being, when is an (allegedly) spontaneous abortion — a miscarriage — not a calculated one? Trust in government to ascertain this.
Curiously, because they hold the birth control pill to be abortive (as it occasionally causes a fertilized egg to not reach kindergarten), true "pro-lifers" oppose that, too. However, I saw a study that shows the woman's body to be a far greater killer of fertilized eggs. Eighteen percent of all fertilized eggs are expelled naturally.
God's plan? Government's job to investigate? Menstruation or homicide?
Rape or incest: In no other context does state-mandated gestation seem so oppressive. So rare, too, right? Then again statutory rape is less rare — the 21-year-old with the car and the semen, the 16-year-old with the glassy eyes and the womb.
Rape? Prove it, little girl. And how long will the trial last? And how large will the little girl's belly be before a state with a rape or incest exception would grant it? Sorry, too late.
Let's give Texas Republicans credit here for saying that rape and incest are simply "get over yourself" matters when ordering a victim to grin and bear it. So much simpler, right, guys?
Against this, Sen. Davis stood for 11 hours, making stomachs grumble, making the red-state armored column stand idle as the clock moved.
Up above, supporters of reproductive justice chanted and cheered. Outside, legions gathered.
Each of those people now surely had realized he or she had been quiet too long.
It's time to start talking about how government can't do what otherwise devout "less government" types say it ought.
If you are among those who haven't been talking about it, start that long-needed conversation with five words. Then talk some more.
Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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