Politicians really aren’t the best at debating this whole abortion issue.
Before Rep. Jackie Speier took the House floor late on Thursday night, New Jersey Republican Chris Smith used his time to graphically describe the process of an abortion. That’s when the California Democrat decided to scrap her planned remarks.
“That procedure that you just talk about was a procedure that I endured,” she told a hushed chamber. “I really planned to speak about something else, but the gentleman from New Jersey just put my stomach in knots, because I’m one of those women he spoke about just now. I had a procedure at 17 weeks pregnant with a child who moved from the vagina into the cervix.”
After a weighty pause, Speier went on. “I lost a baby,” she said, pausing again. “But for you to stand on this floor and suggest, as you have, that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly or done without any thought is preposterous.”
You can watch her statement here:
This story left the House floor with stunned silence, understandably. I think anyone with a heart will say that happened to Rep. Speier and her child is horribly sad. I have two young kids, and the thought of losing a baby to miscarriage is terrible. I can recall when my wife was experiencing some complications in her second trimester with our firstborn, and feelings of panic would barrage my mind. As it turn out, there wasn’t a major issue, but it definitely tried to mess with my mind. So I’m sympathetic, but what troubles me is how both sides seem to debate the issue of abortion.
When Rep. Chris Smith gets up and elaborates on the graphic and disturbing nature of abortion procedures, he’s ultimately opening himself up to such an emotional rebuttal. So called pro-choice people usually can dig up some very hard cases, and in this case Rep. Speier personally was one such case. Sadly for everyone involved, the greatest moral good may very well have been to act exactly as she did in her situation.
I know she hadn’t planned her response, and when you have a story like hers I am sure she felt compelled to share it. But really, as emotional as her reply was, I don’t think that it’s a real powerful argument for why the government should continue to fund Planned Parenthood. And the rest of her speech “we should be focusing on jobs!, Halliburton, etc”…is completely irrelevant to the debate. We don’t set aside social issues for the sake of economic issues. If such were the case, then why did Democrats work to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”? While I don’t think anyone would dispute the economic problems our nation is facing, but the issue being debated on the floor is: Should the government fund Planned Parenthood?
That depends on how we answer this question: What is the unborn? If the unborn is a human being, then no, I don’t want my tax money going to an organization that ended the lives of 324,000 innocent children last year.
And it seems to me that a very good case can be made that the unborn are in fact human. Scientifically, embryology shows us that from the beginning, the unborn are distinct, whole humans. And from a philosophical standpoint, there is no basic change between the embryo you once were and the adult you are today that would make sense of killing you at an earlier stage of development. I.E., size, level of development, environment and degree of dependency are irrelevant as such that we can say that you had no rights as an embryo but now, out of the womb, you do have rights. Intrinsically, we all have worth, value and dignity. These qualities aren’t something we pick up or lose anywhere during our lifetimes. If we deny this, how are we to account for fundamental human equality for anybody?
The bottom line is this: Does a hard case such as Rep. Speier’s prove that abortion should be a legal choice for all nine months of pregnancy for whatever reason people can think of? (And there are some bad reasons out there, such as convenience, sex-selection, just to name a couple). Or that tax dollars should such an organization as Planned Parenthood? If that is so, then abortion-rights advocates need to defend that view with logic, reason, argumentation and not just appeal to emotions. And that sword cuts both ways. Pro-life advocates need to do better than just describe the gruesome side of abortion procedures.
Now that doesn’t mean personal stories have no place at all. On the other side of the coin, I can think of no more of a powerful story than this one from Gianna Jessen, herself an abortion survivor.
So I’m not against emotional story telling, but there just needs to be more to it than that. And I have yet to hear a substantial argument about why my tax dollars should go to fund the termination of the unborn. Or for that matter, I’ve yet to hear a good argument proving that the unborn are not human beings. It would make me happy to see politicians use more logic and less emotional story-telling and rhetoric.