I keep seeing signs telling me to “VOTE NO ON ISSUE ONE.” And this time, they’re not talking about August’s Issue One where Republican lawmakers attempted to yank Ohioans’ ability to amend our constitution. We voted that one down by a huge margin, almost a supermajority. These are about the November election, when Ohioans will vote on a constitutional amendment prohibiting state laws that ban abortion (up until viability) or birth control.
I’m not surprised that many people here in Steubenville are against Issue One and want laws banning abortion. But I was surprised at the tag line under “VOTE NO.” Most of the signs say “Protect parents’ rights!”
Protect parents’ rights?
Why would they say that?
Why wouldn’t they say “protect the lives of unborn babies?”
That’s what we’ve been fighting for all this time, isn’t it? Unborn babies? That’s what I was told. When my Confirmation class took buses to Washington to the March for Life, we had picket signs with pictures of chubby babies on them. We wore lapel pins with the precious feet. Somebody had a sign with Horton the Elephant on it, that said “a person’s a person no matter how small.” We got free bumper stickers with “Abortion stops a beating heart” printed over a jagged line even though none of us were old enough to have cars. Opposing abortion is supposed to be all about the personhood of the unborn baby. Why are we talking about parents’ rights?
At first I was confused and thought it was to do with giving the parent the right to choose whether to get an abortion, which would make voting “yes” a vote for parents’ rights. Of course, that’s not what they’re talking about. They’re not talking about the parent of the baby at all. They’re talking about the grandparents of the baby. The pro-life movement is using scare tactics, claiming that the constitutional amendment will allow Planned Parenthood to give a minor an abortion without their parents’ consent or knowledge, which is ludicrous and beside the point. If abortion is wrong, it’s not wrong because parents should get a say. It’s wrong because the baby is a person.
The rest of the “VOTE NO ON ISSUE ONE” signs in my neighborhood sport a different logo: “Protect our children.” And again, I thought that was an odd way of saying that we should protect the lives of unborn children. But again, it isn’t. It turns out that this, too, is part of a scare campaign to claim that Issue One will hurt children, I mean born children, without their parent’s consent. They’re claiming that the constitutional amendment will somehow lead to children being allowed to get gender transition surgery without their parents knowing or being able to stop it. Again, this is nonsense. Children can’t get elective medical procedures without a parent’s consent. And the proposed amendment says absolutely nothing about gender transition. It’s about reproductive choices: abortion, miscarriage care, contraception. It’s only a couple hundred words; you can read the whole thing in thirty seconds.
It turns out that these scare campaigns are being deliberately pushed by a pro-life outfit called Protect Women Ohio, and they’re lying to get people to vote against Issue One. The Ohio Right to Life isn’t innocent of spreading this nonsense either. Heck, even Jim Caviezel is involved in this shenanigan.
Why are they doing it? Why is it necessary?
“I don’t think that babies should be hurt or killed” is actually a non-controversial stance. Few people if any would oppose you on that. And then you could go about arguing your position that an unborn baby is a baby, which would involve knowledge of biology and medicine and talking to people who saw things differently than you did. And then, with our knowledge of biology and medicine and our moral convictions, maybe we could sit down and map a course that respects the health, safety and rights of the two people involved, a mother and a baby. We could decide what to do about all the tragic and horrific gray areas that don’t get talked about very much, like the many cases where a baby is terminal but not quite dead yet and putting the mother in danger. We could work for a more just world.
“This constitutional amendment will somehow secretly lead to children getting late-term abortions and genital surgery behind their parents’ backs by a secret means I can’t really explain” is not something somebody says if they’re working for a just world.
If the pro-life movement is really on the side of the angels, why are they constantly pulling nonsense like this? Why do they do so many underhanded and terrible things?
If they really respect unborn babies and think of them as persons with dignity and rights, why so many stolen and exploited corpses, for example? Who would treat a human they respected that way? If they’re really standing up for truth, why do they lie so often? If they want justice, why do they want to take away our ability to vote? If they really respect life from conception until natural death, why the racism, the vaccine conspiracy theories, the sadism?
Unless, of course, being pro-life isn’t really about any of the things I was told.
Again and again I come back to that.
Being pro-life isn’t about babies at all. It isn’t about a person being a person, no matter how small. It’s about something else altogether. I don’t think a reasonable person can deny that at this point.
That infuriates me, and makes me sad.
It ought to be about persons, but it’s not.
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
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