A PRO-LIFE DEMOCRAT SPEAKS OUT WHY DOES PARTY OF INCLUSION SPOUT COMPASSION FOR EVERYONE BUT THE UNBORN?by Joan Viering
July 31, 1992, FRIDAY, FIVE STAR Edition, July 31, 1992
I watched the Democratic National Convention with a mixture of pride and disgust. My pride at seeing the increase and presence of women candidates seeking national office was tempered by disgust at their repeated insistence that in order to be equal to men, I must support abortion rights. Are there any pro-life women Democratic candidates? I am turned off by a party that claims to represent the weak and powerless in our society yet supports a so-called right to choose death for innocent, unborn children. This party supports abortion with a vengeance. It is the Democrats who created the Freedom of Choice Act. If passed, this law would wipe out any restrictions on abortion. Again, how can a party that prides itself on compassion for the downtrodden and abused have such a blind spot when it comes to the unborn? How can a group of women who have worked so hard to eliminate discrimination support an act that not only pits women against their own children, but adapts women to an unjust society? Each time an abortion occurs, we are telling the world that, to fit into society and to be respected, we must be unpregnant. We still live in a society that considers children a liability to women pursuing careers. Is that equality? Mothers get scant support. The United States is the only industrial nation that does not provide any national system of child care. It is a country with a childsupport delinquency of $5 billion. And yet, what is the answer given to these women? Abortion on demand. Is it any wonder that it looms as an attractive ''choice'' when a woman is abandoned and alone and broke? True reproductive rights have nothing to do with abortion. Reproductive rights include equal male responsibility for family planning and child care, a positive attitude toward a woman's pregnancy by her family, friends and employer, access to prenatal care, emotional and practical assistance, knowing the physical and psychological risksof abortion and safe, non-abortifacient contraceptives. We heard these women atthe Democratic convention speak of the days of coat hangers and back alleys. Where is their concern for the women who have been killed and maimed by legal abortion? If they are for choice, why are they opposed to the provisions of the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act upheld recently by the Supreme Court? What is wrong with a woman knowing about alternatives to abortion? Or laws requiring abortionists to keep records? I am also fed up with women candidates who want myvote and support yet deride my pro-life values. To give one example: In 1988, Texas Gov. Ann Richards told the Democratic National Convention that women pro-lifers ''look like us, but think like them.'' Her remark is indicative of the stereotyping of women pro-lifers. The stereotype of pro-life women is one of being empty-headed idiots who are incapable of thinking for themselves. To help combat that image, the National Women's Coalition for Life was created in January. The coalition is made up of women from all walks of life, and from all political affiliations. It has 1.5 million members, more than the combined membership of the national Organization for Women and the National Abortion Rights Action League. I want the candidates to know us as people, not stereotypes. I want Carol Moseley Braun, who is running for the Senate in my state of Illinois, to know me: I am a 35-year-old single mother of a 9-year-old daughter. I have raised my daughter alone since her birth in 1983. I know the fear of an unexpected pregnancy. I know of betrayal by my child's father. I know of working full-time, collecting and receiving child support and juggling bills. I want Braun to know that my child is a blessing to me and a burden to no one. I want her to know that I am a better, stronger woman for having had my daughter. During my pregnancy, I discovered strengths that I never thought I had. Those strengths are helping me now. I recently underwent a modified radical mastectomy. Having experienced a crisis pregnancy has enabled me to have confidence in my ability to handle breast cancer. I want all these ''pro-choice'' women candidates to make time to visit the thousands of crisis pregnancy centers across the country. I want them to see centers, as well as programs that give women alternatives to abortion. Many of these centers provide the only emotional support many women know during their pregnancies. I want them to take notice that most of these centers are run and staffed by women. It is time we women demanded and received real choices. I want women elected to office who will not only respect our lives, but the lives of our children, born or unborn. I want them to use their power and political persuasiveness to get us the best child care, the best child support enforcement laws, the best medical care and the best anti-discrimination laws. Already many of them have shown us through the examples of their lives that women can be mothers as well as politicians. I welcome the day that the phrase ''pro-life Democrat'' will not be an oxymoron. I also welcome the day the Democratic Party will include the unborn under its umbrella of inclusivity.
Joan Viering is on the staff of the Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch