To the editor: I recently put up a sign on my lawn that reads, “Vote YES – Reproductive Liberty Amendment – Article 22.”
I notice several more of these in my neighborhood, along Route 35 between Athens and Townshend. There are also one or two signs stating the opposite.
I celebrate the fact that we have the right to free speech, and I do not criticize my neighbors for exercising that right, though I disagree with the message. I do object to the other message on their sign, which reads “No Late-Term Abortion.” Nowhere in the proposed constitutional article is late-term abortion, or any abortion, mentioned. Here is what it says, in full:
“That an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”
Using the phrase “No Late-Term Abortion” on that sign is misleading and disingenuous at best and cruel at worst. I ask you to visualize, for a moment, the circumstances under which someone might want or need to end a pregnancy in the last trimester. They have known for months that they were pregnant. They have perhaps chosen a name or names. They have imagined how their lives will change and looked forward to the birth of a child. Maybe they have decorated a nursery or moved to a home with more space.
Then something terrible happens. The fetus they have named has developed in a non-viable way, or maybe has died inside of them. There is no hope for a child, a person, a family member. Only sadness and grief, and possibly real physical danger. Can you image carrying inside of you a dead fetus for 3 months? Can you imagine having to wait up to 3 months to deliver a dead baby? When abortion is unavailable, the medical procedures to end pregnancy also become unavailable if not illegal. Help for people in those situations becomes difficult or impossible to get.
None of this, however, is relevant to the issue that is on our ballot this November. Late-term abortions as they are called occur very rarely indeed, only when there is a serious medical need. The people who are spreading this misinformation, these lies, do not want anyone to be able to end a pregnancy for any reason at any point. They want to decide for all of us when and how we might become parents.
I have no problem with any person choosing not to end a pregnancy and bringing it to term if they can. But it should not be anyone else’s right to make that choice. This is not about late-term abortion. It is about your right to decide for yourself when, how and if you become a parent.
Athens, Sept. 17