Hoping for respect, understanding on abortion issue
Last Thursday, July 11, the Weatherford Democrat ran a syndicated column on its editorial page with the headline, “Hope Amid the Noise.” The article referred to Wendy Davis and her supporters as worshippers of Satan.
Wendy Davis is the Texas state senator from Tarrant County who filibustered in the Texas Legislature’s first special session to prevent the passage of a bill that’s aim and impact was to close clinics that provide reproductive health care to women – birth control, screening for breast and cervical cancer, pre-natal care and yes, abortion. This bill also sought to change the definition of late-term abortion from 24 weeks to 20 weeks.
This bill was re-introduced and passed Friday in the second special session of the Legislature and plans are in place from the opposition to try to block its implementation and prove it to be unconstitutional.
After referring to Sen. Davis and her supporters as satanic in the first half of the syndicated column, the author goes on to provide sickening, graphic details of an extremely late-term abortion. The quotes that describe this horrible process were obtained by someone with a recording device, posing as a patient. The fake patient asks a health care provider in New Mexico what the procedure would be like, along with some follow-up questions. The article did not reveal how many weeks pregnant the fake patient was supposed to be, nor does it discuss any possible extenuating circumstances about why the person was supposedly seeking the abortion. But it certainly did give a very graphic, gruesome answer to the questions posed by the fake patient.
The quotes provided did not spare any sickening details. The article was written in such a way as to portray the healthcare provider as someone who took this procedure lightly. It certainly did not point out that any healthcare professional, when posed such questions, must answer with complete honesty, not sparing any details, so the patient can make an informed decision. These quotes were gained in a fake situation, with an ulterior motive and that is dishonest. The use of such tactics is intended to intimidate healthcare professionals to the point that they cannot openly and honestly answer a patient’s questions for fear of being recorded and quoted out of context.
On the same opinion page, the Weatherford Democrat printed its instructions for submitting letters to the editor, which includes the following: “We reserve the right to edit letters for style, grammar and taste. Letters should be concise and to the point. . . . We will accept only original letters – no form letters.”
It seems to me that these same rules should apply to any syndicated columns the editor chooses to print. A syndicated column, which essentially is a form letter distributed to multiple newspapers, typically is not written locally. The author of this particular syndicated column does not live in Texas and is not directly affected by its laws, and more than likely, has never met nor talked to Wendy Davis about her views. The article states that Sen. Davis and her supporters are devil worshipping monsters and insinuates that they are in favor of gruesome late-term abortions, which is not true. In addition, the ghastly details contained in this article could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered to be in “good taste.” It sets the example that name calling is OK, and that lying and intimidation are acceptable behaviors.
I am appalled that while we should be encouraging our youth to read their local newspapers, to keep up with current events, and to take part in the democratic process, our local newspaper has chosen to print on its opinion pages an article so horribly graphic that only an abusive parent would allow their children – of any age – to read it. Because we do not live in a perfect world, newspapers are faced with the unenviable task of printing news stories that are not pleasant, and reporting the news often includes printing gory details. It is sad enough that the news must include such stories. But for an editor to choose to print on its editorial pages gory details generated by false pretenses and missing many important parts of the story is both unnecessary and lacking in good judgment.
A different article which backs the same opinion, filled with facts and statistics that support its arguments, could easily have been found. Certainly, an effective article that does not lower itself to name calling and the use of lies to produce incendiary quotes could also have been found. This article, and particularly the use of the word “Hope” in its headline, made me physically sick, reduced me to tears and has ultimately turned me into something I never wanted nor expected to be: an outspoken political activist.
Here is what “Hope” means to me: I hope your daughter, granddaughter or favorite niece never find themselves in the position of considering an abortion. But if they do, I hope they have access to a trained physician in a safe environment who can openly provide them with the information and help they need. I hope they have the freedom and the wisdom to make a decision that is right for themselves and their families, taking into careful account their own personal circumstances and the long-term ramifications of their decisions. I hope they are treated with compassion by their families, friends and the health care professionals to whom they entrust their very personal and painful stories. Should they choose to have an abortion, I hope they heal physically, mentally and spiritually, and go on to live healthy, happier lives that, with good health care, can include a family at a later time. I hope parents educate their children about reproductive health, and teach them good morals so that there are dramatically fewer unwanted pregnancies.
I can only hope that incest and rape cease to exist. I hope we elect representatives to our local and national governments who recognize that declaring abortion illegal or making it inaccessible will not make it go away, but will instead move it to back alleys and put all women – but particularly poor women – at great risk. I hope you understand that like Sen. Wendy Davis’s supporters, and as an adoptive mom who places the highest value not only on life but the quality of life of all mothers and their children, I am certainly not pro-abortion; I am pro-choice.
Finally, I hope you will be wiser and more thoughtful about the articles you choose to print on your opinion pages; that you will apply the same rules to your syndicated columns as the letters you receive from your local subscribers, no matter how different their opinions may be. I hope you choose to serve your readers by seeking out opinions from both sides of an issue that are based on facts that can be verified and that are obtained in a straightforward and truthful manner. I hope your future choices will set an example for your readers that will reflect not only “taste,” but also the values of respect, honesty and compassion.
As I wrote this article, I took into account that if you print it, my “going public” with my personal beliefs is likely to cost me the friendships of some women whose points of view are different from mine, and whose friendships I treasure. My greatest desire is that it will instead open the door for respectful conversations between us so we can find some common ground, or at least a glimmer of understanding of the opposite view on this very divisive issue.
Kay Parr, Weatherford