This morning, I drove to Lansing in the hopes of speaking in opposition to an anti-abortion omnibus of bills that are being rushed through the Michgian House. They are House Bills 5711, 5712, and 5713, and Planned Parenthood is calling them “the biggest assault on women’s health in our state’s history.”
The House Health Policy Committee met this morning to hear testimony and vote on recommending the bills for consideration by the House. After the three sponsors’ voices were heard, only three supporters and three opponents were allowed to speak (in spite of the fact that many dozens of others came to speak against the bills). I was privileged to be selected as one of the speakers and I hope I did justice for my sister allies across the state. Here is the text of my comments.
As a person of faith, I strongly oppose the proposed legislation for several reasons. There is no evidence to support the assertion that human personhood beginsat conception or even in the first trimester. Until the unborn child loses its prehensile tail and displays independent mental capacity, it is merely a potential human being. Until that time, the decision to continue or discontinue the pregnancy should lie with the mother who, in the end, is the person most affected by the decision, morally and medically.
At a time when millions of unwanted children are hungry and unable to get proper medical care, when millions of families are joining the ranks of the homeless while bankers profit off their misery, while we murder innocent children in endless wars in foreign lands while laying off teachers and closing schools, you have far more important work to do than further oppressing women and their doctors from making informed choices in the best interests of the woman.
And, to require a woman who is the victim of rape or incest to carry to term the enduring burden of that heinous violence is nothing short of cruel and abusive behavior. I cannot even begin to imagine how it feels for a stranger – or even worse, a trusted relative – to violate my most private and personal core being; and then to be prevented by my elected officials from getting the medical treatment I want from physicians willing to provide it? I cannot even begin to imagine the feeling of that invasion for nine long months, all the time risking my health and increasing my lifelong risk of a myriad of diseases? If you justify this proposed legislation on religious beliefs, only a convoluted interpretation of the scriptures of any religion would ascribe such a scenario as desirable by a loving god.
Until you pass laws making birth control widely available and comprehensive sex education mandatory, you have no moral right to legislate the consequences of their absence. If you truly care about children, then feed the boys and girls we already have. Give them the medical care they deserve. Provide them with schools and education so that they don’t ever need to make the decision regarding terminating a pregnancy. Find jobs for their parents, so their families can stay healthy and strong.
People of faith stand on the side of love. And loving means giving people the resources and the opportunity to make their own informed choices, not imposing government-sanctioned moral codes. People who believe that a fertilized egg has a soul have the option to reject abortion. Every woman deserves the opportunity to make that choice based on her own personal theology. This proposed legislation is a violation of our time-honored separation of church and state and I urge you to reject its continuation.
On of the legislators asked if I opposed the provisions of the bills supposedly aimed at improving the quality of women’s health care provider sites. I replied that safe and high quality abortion services should be available to all women in the state, regardless of where they live, their economic status, or color. Another followed up, asking me if I thought his tax dollars should be allowed to pay for something he was morally opposed to. I responded that my tax dollars are paying for murder in Afghanistan.
Of course, in the end, supporters of the bills had more than enough support, and they will go before the House soon. The War on Women has opened a new front in Michigan and the battle will be quickly lost if we do not mobilize quickly.