Rose Day: Pro Life Rally at the Oklahoma State Capitol

Yesterday was Rose Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol. 

This annual event goes back decades — all the way back to the years when I was a pro choice legislator. I remember how shy the pro life people were when they tip-toed into offices back then. They would hand the legislator a rose and then tip-toe back out.

No one brought me a rose back in those days. I imagine they were afraid of me, even though I was never the sort of pro choice person who argued with pro life people. I was in reality quite gentle about my beliefs, at least outwardly.

But underneath, I was tempered steel.

By the time I got to the legislature, I was a veteran of the abortion wars. I had been the Oklahoma Director for NARAL. I had helped open the first abortion clinic in Oklahoma. I had referred women for abortions. I had made speeches, lobbied United States Senators and Congressmen. All for legal abortion.

However, I can’t ever remember raising my voice to a pro life person. Not once. I can’t remember one time that I ever accosted them or even argued with them that they didn’t force the argument on me.

So, the pro life people who came to Rose Day back in the beginning days of Rose Day would have been quite safe if they had ventured into my office. I would have accepted their rose and been very gentle with them.

I say all this so you’ll know what it means to me today when I stand up with the pro life legislators. I tell you this because I really don’t have words to describe what it means, so I tell you stories from my past in hopes you’ll somehow or other surmise how the words “born again” apply to me and my life.

Yesterday I had the honor of speaking for a brief moment to the assembled crowd in the House chamber. Before that, several pro life women — all of whom have worked for life for decades — asked to have their photo taken with me. Pro life people who have been stalwarts in the fight for life kept coming up to me all morning and thanking me for “what you’ve done.”


Thanking me.

In truth, I can never thank them enough for accepting me among their ranks, for overlooking all I did in the past and choosing to look only at what I’m trying to do now.

I love Rose Day.

It feels like home.

I took this photo of the Rose Day participants from the podium with my cell phone. I asked them to say “pro life” instead of “cheese.” Every single one of these people is a hero to me.

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  • Bill S

    I am intrigued with your story. I went the other way. I have actually stood outside an abortion clinic and said the rosary. This was before I started questioning my face. Siri make that faith.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Bill, I was a lot better at being anti-God than you are. :-)

      As for your change of heart, I’m confused. If you know that an unborn child is, in fact, a child, then how does “losing your faith” turn you into a rabid pro abortion person who, in your own words “supports the right to choose in any circumstances?” Also, how does “losing your faith” suddenly make it alright to allow legalized killing with euthanasia?

      Even at my most anti-God I was soundly against euthanasia. I knew — and I was quite young at the time — that if you give people a legal right to kill, they will abuse it. Once I realized the horror of what I had done with abortion, I was overcome with remorse, grief and shame.

      Why are you choosing to line up so unilaterally with death incorporated? “Losing your faith” doesn’t seem a sufficient reason for all this to me.

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        BTW, Bill, God is real. I’ve experienced His presence and been guided by His Spirit. He loves you, and He loves your gay son. He can help both of you, if you will just ask Him.

      • PatrickG

        I’m not Bill (obviously), but I went through a similar transition as Bill (staunch pro-life Catholic to pro-choice agnostic). You bring up an interesting question, and I can try to answer it from my side:

        As a devout Catholic, and someone who was relatively ignorant of developmental biology (it might look like I’m implying something there- I’m not, I’m just saying that I was both a devout Catholic and ignorant of dev bio), I accepted the Church’s position on embryonic humanity, because at the outset, it seems to make sense (especially if you want it to). However, I went through two changes in the way I would look at this: one is that I decided to switch from being an engineer to a biologist, the other is that I finally questioned my faith and, well, it didn’t really hold up. So, I was no longer directed by anyone to believe anything. I had only evidence, and I found that the evidence led me to the position that embryos are not, in fact, humans.

        To summarize: The evidence leads me to be pro-choice. I wasn’t fully considering the evidence until I became an agnostic.

        I hope that helps you understand how this could happen. I left out the whole explanation as to why I interpret the evidence as such simply because it seems off-topic, but if you want I can explain that, too. Thanks for keeping your blog so civil and interesting!

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          Interesting. If human embryos are not humans, then what are they? Are they dogs? Are they trees? Are they rocks or lumps of coal?

          Human embryos are precisely and exactly humans. They are specific and unique human beings, just as your are a specific and unique human being. The difference is that they are somewhere between 4 and 7 weeks old, while you’ve lived a while longer. The embryonic stage of pregnancy begins around 4 to 5 weeks after conception, (the sources I looked at vary) which is about the time that a lot of mothers confirm their pregnancy. Are you telling a mother that the baby she is carrying is not human?

          • PatrickG

            Well, of course they are made of human cells. But so is my liver, yet I would not venture to call it a human. You may argue that my liver is not genetically unique from the rest of me; this is generally true, but identical twins are not genetically unique either, and my B-cell population is actually genetically unique, so there must be some other criterion.

            There’s more than simply an age and size difference between me and an embryo. For starters, I have a human brain with a consciousness, thoughts, dreams, and memories. Embryos do not. You may argue that some humans are born with mental impairment, and suggest that my line of reasoning would lead one to believe that they are not fully human. I would disagree- people with mental impairment still retain some cognitive ability. Embryos, much like brain-dead people, do not. As for whether I’m telling a mother that the embryo she’s carrying is not human, well, as I said, I certainly don’t deny that it is made of human cells, but no, it is not the same as a human being. But really, whether that is pleasant or unpleasant to pregnant women, or priests, or atheists, or anyone else for that matter is irrelevant to the actual question. As I’m sure you know, truth is not determined by how pleasant the thing in question is.

            I am curious as to what you think truly makes a human being, and so I propose the thought experiment (which may become more than that in the future): we can already turn adult somatic cells back into pluripotent stem cells (called induced pluripotency). What about when we discover how to reprogram somatic cells into becoming totipotent stem cells, that is, the same cell type as the zygote? First, I understand you’d find that unethical, but I presume that if it happened, you’d have to concede that this induced totipotent stem cell is, in fact, a human being. Why does swapping a few transcription factors (I don’t know how many it would take, but still) turn an otherwise boring adult cell into a human with rights? And, this is off-topic, but I’m curious- do you think it has a soul? Does genomic reprogramming confer one?

            Thanks again for your thoughtful consideration and response.

  • Bill S

    As Bob Seeger sings in “Against the Wind”, wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.

  • Bill S

    “God is real. I’ve experienced His presence and been guided by His Spirit.”

    I could once say the same but I can’t any more.

    I will admit that the problem is sin. I don’t believe that it is everything it is cracked up to be and does not require a human sacrifice as compensation to and by an all-knowing and all-loving deity.

    In place of sin, I offer bad decisions.

    I would like abortion to be just a bad decision that a girlfriend of mine made.

    I would like to think that my gay son has made and will continue to make good decisions and homosexuals are not sinners.

    I look at contraception as a good decision that I made to provide a manageable family for myself and my wife.

    I look at the decision to give my father an overdose of morphine when he was comatose and had no chance of returning to his life as he had known it as a good one.

    I am no longer crippled with feelings of sinfulness and no one had to die for me to feel better about myself. I just need people to stop making everything seem worse than it really is.

    • Fabio P.Barbieri

      “A bad decision”? and that justifies anything? Not only does it not justify it, it doesn’t even change its ontological status; it’s a decision – an act of your will – and it’s bad. That’s all it has to be to be a sin. The one thing you say that makes sense is that you lost your belief in a God Who would die for you. (If you want to play “Let’s shock the bourgeoisie”, I’ll see your “human sacrifice” and raise you a “commit suicide.”) And to be brutal, this means you have stopped to believe that God would be better than you.

      • Bill S

        ” it’s a decision – an act of your will – and it’s bad.”

        Stop the presses. I just found out about a book by Sam Harris titled “Free Will”. I know that this idea has come up before and is not as revolutionary as it seems. I know about Calvin and predetermination.

        Harris says that free will is an allusion. This goes against the foundation of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim religions. I hope that Rebecca can do an article about it. My thoughts and actions are the result of my genes, my environment, etc. and I am not the originator of them. It sounds a little like “the devil made me do it” and makes me wonder a bit about the New Atheism.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          Bill, I read one of Harris’ books and don’t know if I can stomach another. But I’ll look at it. No promises. But I’ll give it a look.

          • Bill S

            All you really need is a NY Times book review or something. There have been a few issues that I find myself opposing the New Atheists. The idea that free will is an allusion is one and their violent opposition to anything that challenges NeoDarwinism. I happen to believe that intelligent design is worth looking into since it is not the same as creationism, which is totally ludicrous. The NeoDarwinists refuse to make any distinction between the two.

            • Rebecca Hamilton

              Thanks for the suggestion, but if I’m going to critique it, I’ll read it.

  • Fabio P.Barbieri

    I am lucky enough not to have been public in my abortionist days, but I was born and brought up in a “progressive” environment and never thought of questioning abortion at all until years after I had gone back to the Church. I only stopped to question abortion BECAUSE I knew that the Catholic Church questioned it, but as soon as I did I realized that I could not think of a single defence for it.

  • Bill S

    ” And to be brutal, this means you have stopped to believe that God would be better than you.”

    I promise to cut down on my posting but I need to respond that I have repented and been forgiven for my sins. If my unbelief is a sin then that would be a problem.