Tag Archives: abortion

Abortion debate brings out the demagogues

I continue to grapple with the most emotional issue of our — or probably any — time.

The issue is abortion. I happen to favor giving a woman the right to decide whether to carry a pregnancy to full term. I also believe there should be some restrictions on that decision. I oppose late-term abortions. I detest the idea of “gender-selection” abortion.

My pro-choice views on this subject have exposed me to those who contend that I “support abortion,” that I “favor abortion.”

I do not support abortion. The basis for that declaration is a simple one: I cannot possibly ever counsel a woman to abort a pregnancy. That decision is not mine to make. It is hers. It also belongs to the father of that baby. It lies also with her spiritual adviser. It rests ultimately with God, or whatever deity she worships.

To that end, such a decision shouldn’t rest with politicians, many of whom have never been pregnant or faced this kind of gut-wrenching decision on their own.

Does my support of pro-choice politicians define me as one who “supports” abortion? No. It doesn’t, for reasons I have tried to explain with this brief blog post.

Why am I writing about this? Because it has troubled me for decades about how this particular issue brings out the demagogues. It fills normally sensible individuals with blind rage.

So I’m getting a couple of matters off my chest … once again.

I have written about this before.

Pro-choice does not equal pro-abortion

I just have this need to clear the air, not that it will satisfy those who stand foursquare on the other side of the great divide separating those who believe women have the right to make decisions regarding their bodies and those who want to make those decisions for them.

Yes, elections have consequences

Brett Kavanaugh is likely to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate to become a justice on the Supreme Court.

Is he the kind of judge I want on the court? No. But here’s the deal, and I take no pleasure in acknowledging this: Donald Trump is the president of the United States; he was elected in 2016 by winning enough electoral votes to take the nation’s highest office; he gets to nominate individuals to the high court.

Elections have consequences. Of that there can be no doubt.

Kavanaugh is qualified to serve. I heard much of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. I listened to Democrats try to trap him into saying something he shouldn’t say. Kavanaugh didn’t take the bait.

I am deeply troubled that the president would declare his intention to nominate someone who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark ruling that legalized abortion. Tradition usually dictates that presidents not set pre-determined parameters for who gets nominated. This one, though, busted that tradition to pieces.

So, the court will have an even stronger conservative majority if Kavanaugh gets confirmed. I wish it weren’t so. But it appears set to occur.

We’re about to reap the consequence of the 2016 presidential election in a big way. That’s how the system works. I accept the process that has brought us to this point. That doesn’t mean I like it. Far from it.

Sen. Collins: Kavanaugh says Roe v. Wade is ‘settled law’

It might be that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has won over a key Senate Republican vote as he seeks to be confirmed for a spot on the nation’s highest court.

If Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is right, and Kavanaugh believes a landmark court ruling on abortion is “settled law,” he has gone a long way toward winning the support of many skeptics across the country.

Collins and Kavanugh met and the senator — a noted GOP moderate lawmaker — said the following to reporters: “We talked about whether he considered Roe (v. Wade) to be settled law. And he said that he agreed with what Justice [John] Roberts said at his nomination hearing, at which he said that it was settled law.”

Those of us who believe in a woman’s right to choose to end a pregnancy consider this an important hurdle that Kavanaugh has to clear if he is to be confirmed to a seat vacated by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

I do not believe Sen. Collins is prone to shoot of her mouth without thinking, which gives me hope that her two-hour closed-door meeting with Judge Kavanaugh produced the kind of dialogue she has mentioned. Collins has declared Roe v. Wade to be the benchmark on which she would decide whether to confirm his nomination to the court.

There are many other hurdles, though, to clear. Such as the one about whether the president of the United States can be charged with crimes, or whether he can be compelled to testify before a judicial body. He once thought it was OK to compel a president to testify; then he seemed to have changed his mind.

That will be explored in detail, I presume, when the Senate Judiciary Committee considers Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

However, if Sen. Collins is correct and Brett Kavanaugh doesn’t want the high court to mess with Roe v. Wade, then he well might have won an important skirmish in the battle royale that is shaping up in his confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Evangelical support still baffles

I remain a befuddled American patriot.

Donald J. Trump’s support among religious conservatives simply takes my breath away. I cannot fathom it. It’s real. I hereby concede that it’s solid and unbending.

The former Republican presidential candidate once boasted during the 2016 campaign that he could “shoot someone on Fifth Avenue” and not lose any votes, “believe me.”

You know what? I damn near believe him.

I had a private message exchange with a family member of mine. He’s a Trump supporter. He’s a young man of deep religious faith. He said he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, but acknowledged that the president has earned his support because of his support for judicial candidates who will make abortion illegal, which is my family member’s threshold issue.

Fine. That’s his call.

What still baffles me is how anyone can presume that Trump actually believes in anything on an ideological level. He once was a pro-choice Democrat on the issue. Then he became a pro-life Republican. He’s also wavered, throwing his support behind Reform Party candidates. He’s all over the pea patch.

Does he believe in anything? Does he stand for anything? Does he possess any core values, other than the values associated with self-enrichment?

The Rev. Franklin Graham — one of the nation’s leading evangelical leaders — says the president’s philandering is no one’s business. His behavior with the porn star and the Playboy model don’t matter, according to Rev. Graham. But this man once said that Bill Clinton’s behavior was clearly the nation’s business.

Donald Trump has managed to do the near impossible. He has managed to redefine what one once considered to be deal-breaking episodes in a politician’s life. Telling a TV interviewer that he could grab a woman by her pu***? Hey, no sweat, man. His bragging about his marital infidelity? Big deal, dude. His declaring that he’s never sought forgiveness, which is a fundamental Christian tenet? Pfftt!

So, the president trudges on through these questions about corruption. All the while he conducts a scorched-Earth retreat policy that lays waste to the media that report on it. He calls the media the “enemy of the people.” He lays waste to the reputation of others who seek to find the truth.

It’s all OK with those on the far right, the members of Trump’s “base.”

Color me baffled.

Let’s end pro-choice demagoguery

Abortion is coming back onto center stage soon as the Senate gets ready to debate the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

I know this won’t happen, but I’ll ask for it anyway. How about calling a halt to the demagoguery that equates “pro-choice” with being “pro-abortion.”

The anti-choice side no doubt will make that unfair assessment as it argues on behalf of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination by Donald J. Trump. The president has vowed to appoint federal judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that in 1973 legalized abortion.

The ruling has enraged anti-choice advocates for 45 years.

What has been troubling to me has been the conflating of “pro-choice” advocacy with favoring abortion.

I consider myself to be a pro-choice American. I also am vehemently opposed to abortion. Could I ever advise a woman to end a pregnancy? No. Thankfully, I’ve never faced that question from a woman.

To be candid, I’ve never met a single person in my entire life who’s admitted to favoring abortion. And, yes, I have made the acquaintance of many people over the years who have been pro-choice on the issue.

To believe in a woman’s right to make the gut-wrenching choice about ending a pregnancy is not an endorsement of abortion.

Can we please end the hateful demagoguery? Emotions run white-hot enough as it is whenever the topic concerns abortion.

There will always be abortions

Let’s be crystal clear about something few of us want to discuss.

If the U.S. judicial system decides to overturn a ruling that legalized abortion, does anyone really believe that abortion will come to an end? Will women across the country decide to give birth even though they have been raped by an attacker, or impregnated in an incestuous relationship?

Abortion is about to return front and center to the public debate stage as the U.S. Senate ponders the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1973 the high court ruled in the epic Roe v. Wade decision that abortion can be done legally throughout the United States. It declared that the Constitution guaranteed a woman’s right to choose to end a pregnancy.

The discussion today centers on whether the court would reverse that decision if it receives a case involving abortion.

I want to be clear. Abortion won’t end if the court hands the issue back to the states. Many states are likely to make abortion illegal. I live in one of those states: Texas. Legislators here already have enacted anti-choice legislation and Gov. Greg Abbott has signed it into law. They have decided to make obtaining an abortion quite difficult.

Does it end abortion? Not in the least. Women will continue to seek them — for whatever reason they believe compels to do so.

I get the argument from those who are fervently anti-choice. They are sincere in their belief about when life begins. Their argument, though, won’t ever stop women from making profoundly difficult choices that only they can make.

Rep. Murphy quits Congress … see ya later

Tim Murphy is about to become a former member of Congress from western Pennsylvania. He had toiled in relative obscurity until he decided to make a politically fatal mistake.

This Republican lawmaker got involved intimately with a young woman, who became pregnant as a result of their extramarital affair.

Now, what grows legs under this story is that Murphy — whose main claim to fame as a member of Congress is that he has been fervently anti-abortion — asked his paramour to obtain an abortion. 

As the saying goes: Oops!

Murphy had intended initially to retire at the end of his current term. He has decided to quit the House and will depart Capitol Hill in about a month.

Good. I recognize that Congress is full of hypocrites. There will be more hypocrites coming along even as some of the current congressional hypocrites depart the scene.

When one of those hypocrites sacrifices his moral authority in such a callous matter, it’s good to show him the door and urge him to avoid letting that door hit him in the … you know.

‘Backbencher’ thrusts himself into the limelight

I had never heard of Tim Murphy before today.

He used to be an obscure member of Congress from western Pennsylvania. The Republican lawmaker was known mostly to his constituents and, I presume, his colleagues in the 435-member U.S. House of Representatives.

To the rest of this vast nation, he was a stranger.

No … longer.

Many more Americans now know Murphy as a duplicitous politician who got caught doing something he shouldn’t have done. The married pol got involved with an extramarital affair with a much younger woman. That relationship resulted in the woman becoming pregnant.

What did Murphy do at that point? He reportedly asked the woman to obtain an abortion. And why is that a big deal? It’s because Murphy has been an ardent political opponent of abortion. He’s a “pro-life, family values” Republican.

Murphy is going to finish the rest of his term. Then he’ll retire from Congress.

There you have it. An individual who labels himself a certain way behaves at a couple of levels like someone quite different.

He’s not the first politician to fall off the virtue wagon. He won’t be the last one. Politicians of all stripes have said one thing and done another. Former Democratic U.S. Sen. John Edwards used to proclaim his love for his late wife — only to be revealed to have fathered a child with another woman. Ex-GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich wailed aloud about Bill Clinton’s misbehavior with a White House intern while taking a tumble with a female staff member.

The list is endless.

I just have to believe Tim Murphy wishes for a way he could return to the farthest end of the back bench — out of sight and out of mind.

Sorry, Rep. Murphy. You brought this unwanted attention on all by yourself.

Planned Parenthood: classic political football

Oh, how I wish there were more U.S. Senate Republicans like Susan Collins of Maine. Or Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

These two GOP moderate lawmakers are standing firm in their desire to see Planned Parenthood retain its federal government support. They dislike the Senate Republicans’ draft of a bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act because it cuts money for Planned Parenthood for a year.

You see, we now have the makings of a political football game, with Planned Parenthood being the ball and competing forces within the Republican Party — not to mention the Democratic Party — kicking it all over the proverbial field.

Debate will get heated.

“There are already longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion, so this is not what this debate is about. And Planned Parenthood is an important provider of healthcare services, including family planning and cancer screenings for millions of Americans, particularly women,” Collins said.

Abortion, that’s the kicker. Which means that abortion is at the epicenter of this particular discussion.

Senate and House conservatives detest Planned Parenthood because it does provide abortion referrals to women seeking to end their pregnancies. Last time I looked, it’s a legal activity. According to the “true believers,” though, Planned Parenthood is sanctioning the “murder of unborn children” and therefore its mission is steeped in evil intent.

Collins, though, is correct to point out two things about Planned Parenthood. One is that Congress already has written into law restrictions on federal funding for abortion; two is that Planned Parenthood provides a number of vital health care services for Americans.

But the organization is going to get kicked around, mauled, chewed up and spit out as competing legislative factions argue over whether the new health care legislation should use taxpayer money to keep it functioning.

I’m on Sen. Collins’s side.

One last hope for Justice Gorsuch

I am going to reveal my own bias — once again — but here goes anyway.

Neil Gorsuch is going to become the next U.S. Supreme Court justice on Monday. The U.S. Senate confirmed him in a mostly partisan vote.

Donald Trump promised to select a conservative justice for the court and he delivered on his promise.

Fine. Trump is the president and he has the right to select anyone he wants.

Gorsuch’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee was filled with the usual stuff that court nominees say, which is they cannot comment on issues that might come before the court. His reticence satisfied Senate Republicans and frustrated Senate Democrats.

He did, though, suggest that Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion — essentially is “settled law.” He also said the president never asked him if he’d vote to overturn the ruling, adding that had Trump done so, that he (Gorsuch) would “have walked out of the room.”

My hope for the new justice is that he becomes more of an independent thinker than his critics believe he’ll be. There’s plenty of precedent on the Supreme Court for justices becoming something other than the presidents who appoint them had hoped.

President Eisenhower selected Chief Justice Earl Warren and William Brennan, both of whom became liberal stalwarts on the court; President Nixon selected Justice Harry Blackmun, who then wrote the Roe opinion in January 1973; President Ford selected Justice John Paul Stevens, who then joined the liberal ranks on the high court; President George W. Bush selected Chief Justice John Roberts, who then voted to preserve the Affordable Care Act.

No one should seek to predict how the new justice will comport himself on the court. Some, though, have done so. I am not nearly learned enough in matters of law to make such a prediction.

I do have my hope … and my bias that drives it.