Opinion: The 'War on Women' Doesn't Ring True

Does living in a Democratic state mean you can’t go public about being pro-life?

When my 18-year-old daughter arrived home for spring break in March of 2012, she made an Acton bucket list of sorts. 

At the top of Jackie’s list: go to Town Hall to register to vote.

This coming November, she’ll make the trek from Chestnut Hill to the RJ Grey Junior High gym to cast her first ballot.

Jackie won’t be at the dinner table participating in “election talk” with her political-junkie dad this fall. She won’t be at the high school listening to Mary Price Maddox explain the complexities of the issues. But I have no doubt that she’ll be paying attention to the messages put forth by both the Democrats and the Republicans who hope to win her vote.

I am confident that my daughter will be able to discern most of the differences between the policies of Barack Obama and those of Mitt Romney.  She’ll decide for herself which candidate’s views match most  closely with her own before entering the polling booth.

There is one issue, though, that I predict will confuse her. It’s the pro-choice vs. pro-life debate.

Why? Because I am a grown woman and I can’t make sense of it.

It’s being said that there is a “War on Women.”  What does that mean? Can that be true in 2012? Or is it a ploy to get every woman to vote for the liberal Democrat?

Full disclosure: I would never, ever, consider having an abortion. If I had become pregnant before I was capable of mothering, I would have given my baby up for adoption.

I would have been in the minority. There are over 1.2 million abortions performed in the U.S. each year. The number of infants that are given up for adoption? About  140,000.

With numbers like that, and all the attention to the issue in the media, one would think that the majority of Americans are pro-choice.

That’s not true.

What is true is that the latest Gallup polling on this issue found that 51% of Americans identify themselves as pro-life and consider abortion morally wrong.

Tuesday night, Rick Santorum spoke at the Republican National Convention.  He mentioned his three year-old daughter Bella, who has needed medical treatment for a rare genetic disorder. When photos of sweet little Bella were shown, it was like shining a spotlight on Santorum’s commitment to preserve life.

After his speech, the news commentators were all abuzz about whether Santorum’s pro-life reference was part of a sound strategy…or a big mistake.

I wondered why, given the fact that pro-life proponents outnumber pro-choice advocates and the latter group is losing support, anyone would think Santorum could be making a political blunder.

Romney’s position on abortion is that he opposes it most cases but is in favor of making exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or threat to the mother’s life.

He has been quoted as saying it would be “wonderful” if Americans could "agree that we’re not going to have legalized abortion in the nation.”

That’s exactly how I feel about the issue, although I would encourage rape victims to consider bringing babies to term and fulfilling the dreams of loving infertile couples.

Does this mean that I want Roe vs. Wade overturned? Or that I think that the Republican party will ever succeed in doing that?

No on both counts.

What I do want to see is an increase in the number of infants given up for adoption. The only way for that to happen is for there to be a shift away from unwanted babies being quickly disposed of and toward young women being supported—financially and emotionally--through pregnancy and the surrender process.

I want to see the media, that sometimes-evil entity that informs social culture, get on board and make adoption as acceptable as raising babies out of wedlock and having abortions.

So what do I want my daughter to know?

I want her to know that I would I would love for her to enjoy a fulfilling consensual sexual relationship when she is old enough to handle all of the possible consequences.  This means when she is able to take care of a child for at least 18 years or to carry a baby to term and put it up for adoption. Everyone knows that no birth control is 100% effective.

I want her to know that she should refrain from hooking up with young men she hardly knows in the name of freedom.  Yes, it’s her body and since she is of age, she gets to decide. But there are ramifications of this behavior that I prefer she not experience.

I want her to know that being a single mother at a young age is a huge predictor of living in poverty.  

I want her to know that, if one of her friends gets pregnant and shares an intent to put the baby up for adoption, she should encourage this.

I want her to know that I worked for Catholic Charities back when they provided infant placements. The best days there were ones when an adoptive couple came to pick up their baby and take him home. Every staff member cheered as the family walked out the agency’s front  door to their new life. It happened two or three times a year at most; that wasn’t anywhere near often enough.

The most important thing that I want my bright, caring, witty daughter to know is that I can imagine her being part of an adoptive family, lighting up their world the way she’s lit up mine.

What I would never be able to bear is the thought of her not being here at all.

Is there really a War on Women? As we head to the polls in November, should the candidates’ views on Women’s Issues influence our votes?




Cynthia Hill August 31, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Well spoken....Roe vs. Wade is law, and should be left out of politics. To have or not to have an abortion should be solely up to the mother. I don't have to approve, it's none of my business.
Samantha Hammel September 01, 2012 at 05:03 AM
I find it disturbing that one day a woman could potentially suffer the horrors of rape AND would be forced to relive that experience for 9 long months as she carried a child. Not to mention be forced to suffer through labor and delivery and the traumatic & confusing experience of giving up this child for adoption. That's a scary notion.
SudburyPatchComments September 01, 2012 at 04:03 PM
The "War on Women" is not referring the pro-choice vs. pro-life debate. It is referring to the right-wing attempt to redefine rape, make abortion illegal while simultaneously making birth control illegal while simultaneously removing sex education, AND remove insurance coverage for ANY reproductive services at all, *including birth*. If the employer doesn't "believe" that women needs to have doctors, hospitals, ultrasounds, or whatever - after all, she didn't HAVE to get pregnant - then s/he shouldn't have to pay for premiums for plans that include that. And what employer is going to offer greater coverage than s/he has to by law, which would impact the company's bottom line? I knew one woman who died in child birth. I know another who survived, but only because the child was "sacrificed". If the GOP platform's proposed constitutional amendment were to pass, in another 30 minutes she would have died - and so would the child, saving no-one.
Mike Hullinger September 01, 2012 at 05:45 PM
This is a great letter that speaks to a highly emotional issue that creates moral confusion for many, and moral clarity from two different perspectives for others. The Constitutional requirements to get any amendment to the Constitution passed are likely insurmountable on this issue because of the complex issues and moral quandaries involved. Just getting language for any amendment to the Constitution that two thirds of the House and two thirds of the Senate must agree on, then get 75 percent of the states to also agree, is difficult enough; more so, on this issue. Not being a Republican, I read their platform statement supporting a “human life amendment”, which is interesting for what it says and what it doesn’t say. The same platform statement also contains statements supporting mandatory waiting periods for abortions and parental consent requirements for abortion. I think the realities of this situation are that deciding to terminate a pregnancy or not will continue to be one of an individual personal moral choice for a long time to come. For me, this election is not about a platform statement containing a position that will never occur in our lifetimes, but the economic, Federal debt, and Federal spending issues, which if not changed in a positive way, will make every other issue moot.
Rob September 01, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Every election it comes up. Scare tactics and desperate attempts from those on the left to say the right will repeal row v wade. Repealing R V W would go over as good as prohibition. Obama clearly cant run on his record or achievements so he is going to run on scare tactics. Change you can believe in, indeed.
Dana Seilhan September 01, 2012 at 11:17 PM
The Right is also employing scare tactics. Here's a cheat sheet for those of you who plainly are incapable of reading or understanding the Constitution, plus a bonus point for the other reason people are wetting their pants about Barack Hussein Obama. 1. There is to be no religious test for public office. So it does not matter whether Obama is a Muslim. Muslims have the right to run for public office up to and including the office of President of the United States. 2. You do not have to be born on American soil in order to qualify to serve as President. You need only be a natural-born citizen. Under the United States Code definition of "natural-born citizen," Obama qualifies because while his father may have been African, his mother was a natural-born American citizen, and had resided in the United States at least five years of her life before Obama was born. 3. Nowhere in the Constitution is capitalism required. 4. Nowhere in the Constitution is socialism forbidden. 5 (bonus!). No one of any consequence in the current, modern pro-choice movement favors forcing anyone to use contraception or obtain an abortion. If there is the occasional random idiot or megalomaniac who pops up in the movement and expresses such sentiments, they are routinely shouted down. It's been 39 years since Roe vs. Wade and I have yet to see pregnant Christians rounded up and shipped to the abortion mills. (cont.)
Dana Seilhan September 01, 2012 at 11:21 PM
(cont. from previous comment, sorry, I get wordy) And this part's more a response to the original author than to the commenter above me. I wanted to expand a bit on point 5. This is America, not the Republic of Gilead. If you don't know what I'm referring to, Google is your friend. Adoption does not cure infertility. Adoption does not erase the motherhood or the fatherhood of the surrendering parents, nor does it "give a baby a family"--the baby already has one. Adoption *does* erase the identity of the child and relegate them to the status of permanent second-class citizen. Abortion is only the solution to an unwanted pregnancy. Adoption is a tactic used against parents seen as undesirable by society. You may be nice about it these days, but it's the old wolf in sheep's clothing. I've seen the way you people talk about "birthmothers" on adoption message boards. I've seen the way you treat families of origin, renege on your promises of open adoption, tell the child you adopted that their mother was worthless or "loved them so much they gave them up" (wow, what a sick, twisted message) and any number of other dysfunctional behaviors. And you people are supposed to be more fit to own these children than their families of origin are to raise them. This is what you want to see more of happening in this country. And you know where you can go, too.
Carlynne Hershberger September 01, 2012 at 11:37 PM
"I want her to know that, if one of her friends gets pregnant and shares an intent to put the baby up for adoption, she should encourage this. I want her to know that I worked for Catholic Charities back when they provided infant placements. The best days there were ones when an adoptive couple came to pick up their baby and take him home. Every staff member cheered as the family walked out the agency’s front door to their new life. It happened two or three times a year at most; that wasn’t anywhere near often enough." So you want to encourage the sale of human beings on the market? That's what infant adoption is in this country. It's the purchase of human beings for a price. You don't believe me? Read this.... http://adoptioncritic.com/2011/08/18/babies-for-sale/ Infant adoption is a supply and demand, multi-billion dollar business in the U.S. So you tell me what is worse..... the destruction of a few cells in the first couple of months of pregnancy or the outright purchase of a human baby for tens of thousands of dollars, the taking of that baby from his natural family, the sealing of his records so even he can't access his own birth documents, the corruption of a system that's supposed to be about the best interests of children but instead has turned into a business that supplies infants for the wants of needy adults and a system that supports the kidnapping of children from families in third world countries in order to satisfy infertile adults.
S T Hrouda September 02, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Kathleen, thank you for sharing your heart felt thoughts. I bet your outstanding judgement and caring ways have "rubbed off" and that your daughter is a discerning, loving, young woman. She will see right through the hate, unwarranted fear and propaganda spread by angry women like Dana and Carlynn.
JackieD September 02, 2012 at 03:41 AM
I'd like to see what would happen if YOUR daughter got pregnant. Could you just give that baby away - possibly your first grandchild? That's what my mother forced me to do. She also knew everything - just like you do. I just reunited with my son after 35 years, and you know what? We win. Hands down. What ignorant, narrow minded people like you tried to do to keep us apart didn't work. We win in the end. So watch what you say lady - karma might come back and bite you. Until you have lived with the pain and grief of not even knowing if your own child is ALIVE, don't sit there and act like you know the answer to everything. And, if you worked for Catholic Charities, I don't really know how you sleep at night.
Mirah Riben September 02, 2012 at 04:45 AM
There are already more than 100,000 children in US foster care who could be adopted. Why in the world do we need one more?? Why in the world would you encourage more familial loss, separtion and lifelong grief? Why would you encourage more mothers and mothers-to-be in crisis to be expoilted instead of helped and supported? Why? To supply an insatiable demand? To increase the money being made by baby brokers in a multi-billion dollar industry? Women who terminate pregancnies do so because they do not want to be PREGNANT. Placing a child for adoption does nothing to resolve that. Mirah Riben, author, THE STORK MARKET: America's Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry
Mike Hullinger September 02, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Dana, The Constitution in fact forbids socialism. Nowhere in the Constituion is there an enumerated power for the Federal Governement to own the means of production or distribution in Amercain society.
Gaye Tannenbaum September 02, 2012 at 02:46 PM
"There are over 1.2 million abortions performed in the U.S. each year. The number of infants that are given up for adoption? About 140,000." The number that's missing: unmarried women who choose to parent. According to the CDC, in 2009 - Number of live births to unmarried women: 1,693,658. Who is "ready" to parent? According to AmericanAdoptions.com "It will cost approximately $12,000 - $24,000 per year to raise a child. This estimate does not include education and other items that children will require." With figures like that and the median US household income of around $50,000 - it's a wonder that half the country can afford a child much less two or more children. I wonder what would happen if the adoption market was flooded with 1.2 million more babies each year. The price of a baby would certainly go down and prospective adopters would get pickier on what kind of baby they wish to purchase. This is basic economics. You already see that in adoptions from foster care. Despite the hefty price tag associated with domestic infant adoption, there are still far too many older children languishing in foster care. Reason - it's not about finding a home for a child who needs one. It never was.
S T Hrouda September 03, 2012 at 01:38 AM
While the subject of a woman's right to an abortion is important, it has no place in the discussion about who to vote for in November. Both candidates running for our Senate seat support a woman's right to choose. Both candidates running for President have used the same language on this issue during the 2008 & 2012 election cycles.  If you think that a candidate has a hidden agenda and intends to overturn R vs W then you should know that our Constitution has been written to make this very difficult.  First 2/3 of the members of both houses would have to vote to overturn it. This would mean that 67 of our 100 Senators and 290 of our 435 Congressmen would commit political suicide & vote to overturn R vs. W?...never...they love their jobs. Even if they did, which I can not imagine, the next step to ratify this new amendment to our constitution is even harder.  To get the amendment ratified it would need to go to all 50 States for a vote and 3/4 of our States, 38 of the 50 states, would need to vote in favor of overturning R vs. W. Again this would be political suicide for every politician in state governments. While we spend time discussing this very important but very unlikely scenario our country is paying $50 million in interest every hour to China and other countries. We need answers from our candidates about what steps they will take to start reversing this trend before we have a total financial meltdown like the citizens of Greece are experiencing.
x September 03, 2012 at 01:45 AM
S T, Good points. Some otherwise capable women lose the ability to reason at every election cycle, and agonize over this academic issue. Reverend E. Raleigh Pimperton III
Kathleen Surdan September 06, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Carlynne, Catholic Charities is a private agency, but they were conducting what were essentially public-agency type adoptions. No couples were charged tens of thousands of dollars. The waiting list for an infant placement was 4 years. And the birth mothers came to the agency's door. There was no recruiting or enticing of any type going on. How could there be when the birth parents didn't receive any payment? What they did receive was support and counseling by a very caring social worker named Carol.


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