A voter in Tuscon had written to several Arizona legislators regarding the recent advancement of measures in that state that aim to restrict contraception access and abortion rights. One of the legislators she wrote to was Terri Proud, who replied to the voter with an email that is one of the best examples of full-on crazy that I have yet seen during the public debate on women’s reproductive rights:
“Personally I’d like to make a law that mandates a woman watch an abortion being performed prior to having a “surgical procedure”. If it’s not a life it shouldn’t matter, if it doesn’t harm a woman then she shouldn’t care, and don’t we want more transparency and education in the medical profession anyway? We demand it everywhere else.
Until the dead child can tell me that she/he does not feel any pain – I have no intentions of clearing the conscience of the living – I will be voting YES.”
I could not have imagined an elected representative actually sending something like this to a constituent in my wildest dreams. It’s the sort of thing they may say to one another behind closed doors and out of public earshot, but to put this out there in an email to a voter – it made my jaw drop. It really did.
Alright then, Rep. Proud. Since you want to go there, let’s frickin’ go there.
Ostensibly, the reason you conservatives are so opposed to abortion is your concern for innocent life. So if you feel that way, I have some proposals for you which I assume you’ll be happy to support.
It’s pretty common knowledge that abortion is not the only threat to innocent life in this country. Firearms do a pretty good job in that department as well. According to statistics obtained in a wide-ranging study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of children under the age of 15 who die in gun-related incidents in America is 12 times greater than the number killed in 25 other industrialized nations combined. Children aren’t the only ones at risk; many innocent adults lose their lives to guns every year, whether through accident or criminal activity. One of the biggest news stories in recent days involves the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was killed in an unprovoked attack by George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watchman. The statistics are sobering, and it cannot be denied that guns contribute to the loss of innocent human life in this country every single day.
So does alcohol. The CDC estimates that someone is killed in an alcohol-related car accident every 48 minutes. This includes innocent children, and according to CDC data, 14% of all traffic deaths in 2009 for children under the age of 14 involved a drunk driver.
And let’s not forget tobacco, one of the most lucrative crops in Virginia (a state whose government, as we all know, values every innocent life). Smokers know they’re risking their own lives by using tobacco, but they are also responsible for affecting the lives of others around them. Even those who do not smoke can develop diseases, including cancer, simply by taking in secondhand smoke.
There can be no argument against the fact that guns, alcohol and tobacco kill innocent people, including many of the children conservatives love to protect, in significant numbers every year. While their use is legal (just as abortion is), it seems inconsistent to ignore the damage they can do to so many people if you claim to be about protecting every innocent life. It’s obvious that people who use these products are taking other people’s lives into their hands, and that many of them do so without full awareness of or regard for the consequences of their actions. So here’s what I’m proposing, conservatives.
Before you are allowed to buy a gun, you will be required by law to view a graphic video of emergency room footage, taken while doctors are trying to save the life of a child who has suffered a gunshot wound to the head. Before you are allowed to buy alcohol, you will be required by law to watch footage of medics at the scene of a car crash caused by a drunk driver, attempting to tend to the mangled body of an innocent child who was the victim of someone else’s alcohol consumption. Before you are allowed to buy cigarettes, you will be required by law to observe video of the surgical removal of tumors from the diseased lung of an innocent victim of secondhand smoke.
Mandating that a woman must watch an abortion before having one makes just as much sense as anything I have suggested. The vast majority of women who have abortions – that’s 88 percent – do so during the early stages of their pregnancies (12 weeks or less). And out of that majority, nearly 62 percent of women have the procedure when they are less than 9 weeks pregnant. Only 1.5 percent of abortions happen in or after the 21st week of pregnancy. Based on these statistics, almost all abortions in the US take place far before the fetus has become viable. The American Academy of Pediatrics, in their guidelines for medical providers on handling premature births, notes that births that occur within the first 24 weeks after pregnancy are essentially considered to be nonviable, and that the mortality rate and the rate of probability for severe neurological disabilities before the fetus has reached a gestation period of at least 25 weeks is far too high to recommend NICU care. When looking at the facts in this manner, it is clear that the number of viable human lives affected by abortion is virtually non-existent.
Compare that to the lives affected by guns, alcohol and tobacco, where 100 percent of the victims of the use (or misuse) of these products by others are already fully developed human beings. They are children who attend school, play baseball, ride bikes, and win spelling bees. They are parents who work to support their families, help their kids with homework and tell them stories at bedtime, and volunteer in their communities. They are infants and toddlers, moms and dads, wives and husbands, friends and neighbors. Why would these lives be less important, or less worth protecting, to conservative lawmakers? Why don’t their deaths matter?
If women need to be “educated” about what the consequences of an abortion will be, then those who purchase guns, alcohol and tobacco need to be equally “educated” about how lethal their choices and behaviors can be. Why would “informed consent” not be established for them before they purchase these products, as it is for women before they have an abortion? Should they not also be subject to government mandates that will give them graphic depictions of the risks they pose to the lives of others? If these mandates could change the minds of some of these people, and save even a handful of lives, wouldn’t that be as useful in protecting the innocent as mandates that require pre-abortion ultrasounds or waiting periods?
So what do you think, Terri Proud? Are you willing to put your money where your wackadoodle mouth is? Can we rely on you to stand up to the NRA, to the tobacco industry, to Budweiser and Jack Daniels, and to all companies and organizations who lobby for unfettered public access to the dangerous products they represent? Will you stand up to them and declare that more “transparency and education” would benefit the public, or that more mandates and restrictions on the purchase and use of their products would save innocent lives? Or are you reserving that sort of thing strictly for women who are seeking abortions?
Tell you what, Rep. Proud. Until and unless you are willing to treat every human life with equal concern, and until and unless you call for equally harsh mandates for any activity which puts human lives at risk, then I respectfully suggest that you kindly STFU.