[Today’s guest post by Rachel Enders is part of our paid blogging program. Get more thoughts from Rachel at her Pro-Life For All tumblr. She also blogs about sexual health at Birds, Bees, and Other Things, which is not remotely safe for work.]
The past year or so has been very exciting for pro-life activists. In Texas, we went beyond the pink shoed filibuster to pass innovative laws to preserve life and women’s health. We’ve seen more and more celebrities speaking up as pro-life activists. Most noticeably, abortion clinics nationwide are shutting down. We’ve also seen a great increase in the secular side of the pro-life movement.
However, despite the great pro-life victories, we have also been set back by the statements of certain pro-life politicians. These statements are ignorant, misogynistic, and, in some cases, very worrying to the cause of respecting human dignity.
I’ll give a few example of these comments, uttered by people who should know better.
In September 2012, a reporter from Al Jazeera asked State Rep. Jim Buchy (R-Oh) what he thought made a woman seek out abortions. His reply? “It’s a question I’ve never even thought about.”
This statement is troubling for multiple reasons. It reinforces the stereotype of pro-lifers as old white men. It rejects compassion for the woman. It perpetuates ignorance, and it simply is not productive to the pro-life movement.
Last month, Virginia Senate Republican Steve Martin spoke out on his facebook. In his status, he said “However, once a child does exist in your womb, I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it.”
This statement is equally shameful. By using the word “host,” he treats mothers as mere vessels. He leaves out every human aspect of abortion from the mother’s point of view. (After being called out, he edited the facebook post, changing “host” to “bearer of the child.”)
In the early 1990’s, a current Maine Republican, Lawrence Lockman, said “If a woman has (the right to abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.”
This is probably one of the most disgusting and disgraceful quotes out there said by a lawmaker and pro-life leader. At the time, he was the director of the Pro-Life Education Association. This statement was misogynistic, hateful, and downright revolting. It does nothing but harm the pro-life movement. While Lockman has since apologized, the statement does not reflect well on the Maine pro-life movement or the entire pro-life movement in general.
In my opinion, one of the most positive things that could happen for the cause of unborn children would be the rise of politicians who speak about the pro-life position eloquently and compassionately.
We need more leaders like former Congresswoman and Ambassador Lindy Boggs, who passed away in 2012. Congresswoman Boggs marked up the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, and she made sure to add sex and marital status to the nondiscrimination bill. She co-founded the Congressional Women’s Caucus. She also repeatedly voted against abortion and was one of the five women who voted for the Hyde Amendment.
We need more leaders like the great Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who fought against sex-selective abortions in an environment that favored men over women. She refused to make legislation that forced women to choose between careers and children. The woman who championed democracy in Pakistan said, days before her assassination in 2007, “I dream of a Pakistan, of an Asia, of a world, where we can commit our social resources to the development of human life and not to its destruction.”
We need more politicians like Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, who “walks the walk” for pro-life legislation and actions. Representative Herrera Beutler recently gave birth to a daughter who was prenatally diagnosed with Potter’s Syndrome. Potter’s Syndrome was believed to be uniformly lethal, and the pressure to abort was surely immense, but Herrera Beutler chose life for her daughter. Nearly a year later, baby Abigail is thriving.
We need our male politicians to step up too. We need more men like Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who consistently steps across party lines to preserve the life of the unborn as well as the hard working laborers of the Mountain State.
It is compassion that will further the pro-life movement. It is compassion that will change hearts and minds. It is compassion that will pass legislation. It is compassion that will end abortion. If we are to make any progress, the judgment and ignorance have got to go.