When my 18 year-old daughter arrived home for spring break in March of 2012, she made an Acton bucket list of sorts.
At the top of Jackie’s list: go to Town Hall to register to vote.
This coming November, she’ll make the trek from Chestnut Hill to the RJ Grey Junior High gym to cast her first ballot.
Jackie won’t be at the dinner table participating in “election talk” with her political-junkie dad this fall. She won’t be at the high school listening to Mary Price Maddox explain the complexities of the issues. But I have no doubt that she’ll be paying attention to the messages put forth by both the Democrats and the Republicans who hope to win her vote.
I am confident that my daughter will be able to discern most of the differences between the policies of Barack Obama and those of Mitt Romney. She’ll decide for herself which candidate’s views match most closely with her own before entering the polling booth.
There is one issue, though, that I predict will confuse her. It’s the pro-choice vs. pro-life debate.
Why? Because I am a grown woman and I can’t make sense of it.
It’s being said that there is a “War on Women.” What does that mean? Can that be true in 2012? Or is it a ploy to get every woman to vote for the liberal Democrat?
Full disclosure: I would never, ever, consider having an abortion. If I had become pregnant before I was capable of mothering, I would have given my baby up for adoption.
I would have been in the minority. There are over 1.2 million abortions performed in the U.S. each year. The number of infants that are given up for adoption? About 140,000.
With numbers like that, and all the attention to the issue in the media, one would think that the majority of Americans are pro-choice.
That’s not true.
What is true is that the latest Gallup polling on this issue found that 51% of Americans identify themselves as pro-life and consider abortion morally wrong.
Tuesday night, Rick Santorum spoke at the Republican National Convention. He mentioned his three year-old daughter Bella, who has needed medical treatment for a rare genetic disorder. When photos of sweet little Bella were shown, it was like shining a spotlight on Santorum’s commitment to preserve life.
After his speech, the news commentators were all abuzz about whether Santorum’s pro-life reference was part of a sound strategy…or a big mistake.
I wondered why, given the fact that pro-life proponents outnumber pro-choice advocates and the latter group is losing support, anyone would think Santorum could be making a political blunder.
Romney’s position on abortion is that he opposes it most cases but is in favor of making exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or threat to the mother’s life.
He has been quoted as saying it would be “wonderful” if Americans could "agree that we’re not going to have legalized abortion in the nation.”
That’s exactly how I feel about the issue, although I would encourage rape victims to consider bringing babies to term and fulfilling the dreams of loving infertile couples.
Does this mean that I want Roe vs. Wade overturned? Or that I think that the Republican party will ever succeed in doing that?
No on both counts.
What I do want to see is an increase in the number of infants given up for adoption. The only way for that to happen is for there to be a shift away from unwanted babies being quickly disposed of and toward young women being supported—financially and emotionally--through pregnancy and the surrender process.
I want to see the media, that sometimes-evil entity that informs social culture, get on board and make adoption as acceptable as raising babies out of wedlock and having abortions.
So what do I want my daughter to know?
I want her to know that I would I would love for her to enjoy a fulfilling consensual sexual relationship when she is old enough to handle all of the possible consequences. This means when she is able to take care of a child for at least 18 years or to carry a baby to term and put it up for adoption. Everyone knows that no birth control is 100% effective.
I want her to know that she should refrain from hooking up with young men she hardly knows in the name of freedom. Yes, it’s her body and since she is of age, she gets to decide. But there are ramifications of this behavior that I prefer she not experience.
I want her to know that being a single mother at a young age is a huge predictor of living in poverty.
I want her to know that, if one of her friends gets pregnant and shares an intent to put the baby up for adoption, she should encourage this.
I want her to know that I worked for Catholic Charities back when they provided infant placements. The best days there were ones when an adoptive couple came to pick up their baby and take him home. Every staff member cheered as the family walked out the agency’s front door to their new life. It happened two or three times a year at most; that wasn’t anywhere near often enough.
The most important thing that I want my bright, caring, witty daughter to know is that I can imagine her being part of an adoptive family, lighting up their world the way she’s lit up mine.
What I would never be able to bear is the thought of her not being here at all.
Is there really a War on Women? As we head to the polls in November, should the candidates’ views on Women’s Issues influence our votes?