In the wake of the off-year elections across the country this week, it became very clear that abortion was the single most important issue that motivated voters.
More specifically, it motivated voters to choose Democrats. In case after case when abortion was on the table, the pro-life movement lost. In Pennsylvania, abortion advocates ran deceptive and unethical ads against candidates they perceived to be pro-life, including the campaign and supporters of Daniel McCaffery who parlayed that obsession with “reproductive rights” on the part of progressives into a seat on the state Supreme Court. In painting his opponent Carolyn Carluccio as someone who would roll back abortion access in the state, something that is entirely irrelevant to her judicial duties and raised the stale bogeyman of red-clad handmaids, McCaffery and his crew showed that scare tactics, lies and pandering to the narcissism of certain female voters was highly effective.
As a female voter, and a lawyer who understands what the role of a judge is supposed to be, I am incredibly demoralized that a man like McCaffery will be presiding over important cases. After watching the way he operated during his campaign, I have to say that His Honor has none.
But Pennsylvania wasn’t even the worst example of how abortion has become the litmus test for decency in our society. In Ohio, a reliably red state that voted for Trump and just elected a Trump-backed U.S. Senator, voters passed a referendum which now enshrines abortion in the state constitution. The amendment essentially legalizes abortion at every stage of the pregnancy, because of this last paragraph:
“However, abortion may be prohibited after fetal viability. But in no case may such an abortion be prohibited if in the professional judgment of the pregnant patient’s treating physician it is necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health.”
That is chilling. A viable child, one with the ability to live outside of the womb, can be destroyed in utero if it threatens the “health” of the mother. What Ohio has done is resurrect language from the companion case to Roe v. Wade namely, Doe v. Bolton, which allowed abortions at any stage if the health of the mother was threatened. That had been interpreted by lower courts as including the mental health of the mother.
I once hosted a radio debate with a rabbi who argued that he would support abortion for a woman in the ninth month, moments before birth, if the woman said she was suicidal and would kill herself if the baby was born. He was dead serious, and said that all he would need for confirmation about her state of mind was a notarized affidavit, signed off by a therapist. When I asked him if a medical professional was required, he said that he’d be fine with anyone trained in counseling battered women.
The Ohio amendment will give Ohio women the right to abort their babies at any time up to and including the moment of birth because of that last paragraph. Doe is back, with a vengeance. And there are many reasons why the mental health of a woman would be compromised by an unwanted abortion, including the list of reasons I posted on Twitter: a child diagnosed as having Down, a child that is going to be an economic burden, a child that is going to interrupt a career or further studies, and in some societies, a child that is the wrong gender. These are not figments of my imagination. These are already legitimate reasons for women to obtain abortions in other countries, and in some of our own 50 states. So there is very little daylight here between humanity, and inhumanity.
As chilling as that prospect is, something even more chilling occurred on Wednesday morning as the fallout from the Ohio referendum, and other election wins were analyzed: Republicans started retreating on their support for the unborn.
I expected the ghoulish cheers from women who had just staked their flags of victory on a bloody social battlefield. It’s no secret that progressive women are obsessed with having unlimited access to abortion, and have raised it to sacramental status in their secular lives. This was expected, and I was fully prepared to meet their cheers with jeers of my own.
What absolutely killed me, although I can’t feign much surprise, were the calls from conservatives to pull back on our opposition to abortion out of fear that we would never again win an election. Megyn Kelly, whose podcast I devour on a daily basis and who I generally respect, was livid about the GOP losses and basically said on her show that we needed to stop talking about abortion. In other words, we needed to tone down our support for the rights of unborn children. In even fewer words, we needed to shut up about human rights.
The asylum lawyer in me, the one who deals every day with the persecution of the innocent, recoils at that suggestion. Apparently, I’m in the minority, because there are a lot of people out there who think they need to apologize for their pro-life views or even worse, hide them. There was Nikki Haley at the debate, saying that she would never judge a pro-choice woman. And I thought to myself, then why even have an opinion on the sanctity of life to begin with? She lost my vote, right there.
There were lamentations from establishment Republicans saying that abortion was a “personal choice” and that we needed to stop incorporating the life issues into an official platform. There were people of faith saying that they didn’t want to push their religion on other people.
It’s funny, but I never realized that the issue of when life begins was a religious one. Science dictates the creation of human life, not the Gospels.
I realize, now, that I am without a party. If this trend continues, and I see more and more states celebrating the codification of a barbarity so obvious that the only way it can be stomached is if its supporters lie and cheat, I might have to simply give up on politics altogether, and focus my efforts on getting my own soul ready for judgment day. It looks like my efforts here are falling on deaf ears, and stone cold hearts.
Or to put it another way, what profit a man to win Ohio, but lose his soul?
Christine Flowers is an attorney and lifelong Philadelphian. @flowerlady61