January 24th, 2001


Rights, wrongs, and the great American apathy...

Imagine that in order to vote, you had to travel to a different state. People would try to mislead you as to whether you could vote or not, or as to where the polling place actually was. Once there, you would face threats, harassment, and protests until you made it to the ballot box to cast your vote... Would you bother to vote at all? Or what if you were a minority and wanted to attend a desegregated school... would you travel for hours and fight your way through angry mobs to attend classes in a school that regularly faced bomb threats?

Well, that is the current state of abortion rights in much of the United States. It is guaranteed under law that you can have one, but many states do not have facilities making this possible. A large part of the reason for this is because of the constant threats that such facilities face. Numerous clinics have been bombed, and both patients, doctors and staff of these facilities have paid with their lives, despite the fact that they are simply engaging in a right protected by the Constitution.

Numerous religious organizations exist, masquerading as open, unbiased family planning organizations, scaring women when they are at their most vulnerable, distorting the facts, and using intimidating tactics... anything to prevent them from exercising their rights.

Family planning clinics are routinely surrounded by angry, intimidating protesters. Considering the other barriers that exist to having an abortion, this is perhaps the least offensive one, so long as the protesters do so within the limitations of the law. (Many protesters don't, however.)

The U.S. Government has always been hypocritical regarding the right to choose. Could you imagine what would have happened in the early days of desegregation if the government didn't essentially apply force of arms to guarantee the right? There might have been desegregation in the North, but there wouldn't be desegregation where it really mattered...

And into this environment where the "right to choose" is already a theoretical right in many cases, in walks George Bush, Jr. Upon taking office, the first thing that he did was to remove funding for international organizations that counsel on abortion as a family-planning option. What does this mean, specifically... and how does it effect these organizations?

Well, it basically is a gag order. It means that when they are approached by pregnant women for advice and guidance regarding family planning, the staff of these organizations can't even mention that the concept of abortion exists as a viable option, even if abortions are legal in that country. That eats at the heart of what these organizations do... they let people know the facts and they mention all family planning options available and all the risks inherent in decision... abortion is only one of many options that a pregnant woman has, and it is mentioned as such, including all the inherent risks involved. In short, they provide reliable, intelligent medical advice.

That's what Bush is preventing... he is preventing them from doing their jobs properly. He is also advocating censorship, a distinctly unamerican thing to do. It's worth mentioning that some of these international groups also function within the United States, so if he takes away money from these organizations, it can impact the right to choose for women in America. It also looks like we will also have John Ashcroft, appointed as the Attorney General of the United States. This ultraconservative politician will supposedly enforce the right of women to choose for all of us.

Such is the situation we are currently in. Bush doesn't need to overturn Roe vs. Wade. He can undermine it instead, by making restrictions on the right to choose as it currently exists... It's actually a lot easier to do and less controversial to dilute people's rights until they don't mean anything anymore than to deny them the right in total. That's the way the politicians (and Republicans, especially...) usually are regarding our rights... we have the right to do _______, but we don't have the right to exercise our rights unless we meet a whole set of conditions.

Meanwhile, Democratic politicians are going to let Ashcroft be nominated... they could prevent him from being nominated by making an unstoppable filibuster, but no... despite the fact that they know that the majority of Americans supported the policies of Gore, they feel compelled to show signs of reconciliation... of appeasement.

In 1936, there was a British politician called Chamberlain who showed those same signs... he wanted peace in Europe, so he talked to the German chancellor, Adolph Hitler, and made an agreement. "Peace in our Times" was hailed, and Europe slipped back into apathy... until Hitler was so strong that he simply took what he wanted.

Such is the state of American politics today. We have the ability as a people to say, in the strongest possible words, a loud "No!" ... but we're too nice to do it. We can instruct our politicians to not allow our rights to be undermined, but they seem to think we want them to make deals with our rights instead...

So, I ask you... do you want these politicians trading away your civil rights in exchange for housing subsidies or a new highway somewhere? Have you considered the possibility of letting them know that if they continue to appease and coddle this minority of Republicans, you'll make it a point to get them kicked out of office?

What'cha going to do about it, sucker?!
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