It’s hard not to be cynical in an election year. My wife just brought in the mail, which includes two political messages, one produced by conservatives the other by progressives. Both are irritating.
The piece produced by conservatives is a so-called “Voter Guide.” It pictures the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor along with their “Yes” or “No” stands on eight issues. The issues are intentionally titled to put the Democratic candidate in a bad light. One title, for example, was “Abortion on Demand.” Had progressives printed a voter guide they would have titled this issue, “Reproductive Freedom.”
Progressives produced the other piece of political mail. It pictures soldiers in fatigues and on patrol and in bold print urges voters to “Make sure their vote is counted.” But the soldiers are window dressing. This proposal itself is a wide-ranging progressive wish list for voter reform. It is not all bad but, for heaven’s sake, tells us its real purpose.
Five states are taking up the abortion issue in November. In our state, there is a constitutional amendment on the ballot known as the “Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative.” Because Americans value freedom, its sponsors made sure to get that word into the proposal’s title.
The proposed amendment is deceptive on many levels. For example, it promises protections for women having a miscarriage or an abortion. Protections from whom? There is no history of women in our state being punished under the law for a miscarriage or an abortion. In fact, the State Supreme Court ruled almost 60 years ago that a woman performing an abortion on herself or receiving an abortion was not guilty of a crime.
Proponents of this proposal make a big deal of saying that the decision on abortion should be left to a woman and her doctor. Yet the proposal does not mention a doctor but rather an “attending health care professional.” That is a big umbrella. In our state it includes dentists, chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, counselors, psychologists, and many others.
The proposal would ban the state from prohibiting an abortion when a “health care professional” considers it “medically indicated to protect the life, or physical or mental health of the pregnant individual.” One could argue that morning sickness, stretch marks, and a declining bank account all qualify as threats to “the pregnant individual” by this definition.
Further, the proposal would enshrine in the state constitution protections for “someone aiding or assisting a pregnant individual in exercising their right to reproductive freedom with their voluntary consent.” What if this “someone” is the person who got the “individual” (who could be a minor) pregnant? One can certainly imagine a teenager giving her “voluntary consent” to a manipulative older lover who protects himself from criminal action by “aiding” her to “exercise her right to reproductive freedom.”
Speaking of minors, some critics of this proposal suggest that it leaves the door open to children undergoing sterilizing gender transitioning procedures without their parents’ consent. My reading of the proposal does not make that clear, but with so many intentionally unclear statements, it raises concerns.
The most egregiously deceptive thing in this proposal is its summary statement suggesting it will: “Allow state to regulate abortion after fetal viability.” This is the opposite of what it would allow. If passed, the proposal will effectively redefine viability and create a loophole in state regulations big enough to drive a truck through. What the proposal speciously grants with the right hand it snatches away with the left.
Subtle misrepresentation of other people’s views and intentionally misleading statements about one’s own are symptomatic of a politics gone wrong. Such duplicity is the result of the commitment to beat one’s adversaries by any means. Deception is a strategically necessary tactic in that cause.
I, for one, am fed up with it. If, for example, a group is committed to making abortion available to any female, even a child, for any reason, tell voters that and let them decide. Don’t disrespect and manipulate them. This is common decency and should be the standard to which all players in the political arena – conservative or progressive – are held.