There is no middle ground on abortion.
The pro-life and pro-choice camps are as likely to reach compromise as “Games of Thrones’” Daenerys Targaryen and Cersei Lannister were likely to join forces in the Great War.
I have an opinion. I am pro-life. I’ve stood outside abortion clinics and prayed (and will again). I’ve attended pro-life rallies. I’ve been a keynote speaker in Harrisburg. I’ve given lectures to pro-life medical students and high school seniors. And I’ve been very “in your face” about my politics, more of a John Brown storming the armory at Harpers Ferry than a Martin Luther King Jr. channeling the poetry of angels on the Mall.
You can imagine, then, my relief at recent developments.
Earlier this month, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a so-called “heartbeat” bill, banning abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
That’s in addition to the recent news in Philadelphia when State Representative Brian Sims posted videos on social media of his aggression toward pro-life protesters — an older white woman and three teenage girls — at a Planned Parenthood in Center City. This triggered one of the largest local pro-life rallies in recent history.
Plus, on Tuesday, the Pennsylvania House passed the Down Syndrome Protection Act, a bill that bars abortions if the sole reason for having one stems from that diagnosis. A similar bill passed the House last session and languished in the Senate, where this version now heads. The original bill was opposed vehemently by Democrats, including State Representative Sara Innamorato, who tweeted that “#HB321 is an unconstitutional and unenforceable ban on abortions after a Down syndrome diagnosis. The bill is not supported by any disability rights organizations, medical providers, or support networks.”
Innamorato misses the point: Passing the bill is designed to test its constitutionality, under Roe v. Wade. Of course, some in the pro-choice camp argue that Governor Wolf will veto the bill if it becomes law. But pro-lifers believe that it’s better to vote your conscience than to throw up your hands and say, “We wouldn’t have been successful so why bother?”
And that brings me to Wednesday when the Alabama legislature passed their own abortion ban which makes no exception for rape or incest.
Alabama State Senator Clyde Chambliss, who sponsored the bill, characterized the legislation as a necessary government intervention to protect human rights. “When God creates the miracle of life inside a woman’s womb, it is not our place as human beings to extinguish that life,” Chambliss said.
New York Times columnist Bari Weiss shot back, “Said the Republican about rape or incest.”
Supporters of the measure hope it will lead the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade, which recognized a constitutional right to end a pregnancy.
Clearly, there are a lot of nervous pro-choice people out there. They fear the unraveling of their favorite precedent, which is indeed hanging by a fragile constitutional thread. That’s not paranoia, by the way. Roe is really in the cross hairs of the states passing these controversial laws.
So I’m here to dispense with the niceties of “can’t we all get along?”
No, we can’t. The fight for the right to life is a war. If you believe that abortion is murder, you will fight to end it. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also fight equally hard to provide support for women who bring those precious lives to term.
The pro-life movement can’t just be “pro-birth.”
But the mandate of life is nonnegotiable and I’m heartened to see that America is on the right track.
Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. Readers may send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.