I read with interest your February 29th column in Cosmopolitan magazine about your personal experience with abortion. While we approach this sensitive issue from different viewpoints, I thank you for sharing your story. I agree that women, regardless of their opinion, should talk honestly about this matter. I also know that some who, like me, identify as pro-life and oppose abortion have not always conveyed that opinion with the compassion and empathy that should be afforded to this topic on both sides of the debate, and for that I am sorry.
Like you, I know what it is like to be single, pregnant, and uncertain of what the future holds.
I was carrying my youngest child to term when my first husband left me amid the demons of alcoholism.
Later, in my career as an emergency room nurse, I met other young women in this same precarious position. I believe that the pro-life community has a responsibility to those women. It is why I have long supported the work of my local crisis local pregnancy center and other nonprofits that offer real, tangible help to women in this very situation – everything from diapers and formula to counseling and prayer.
I want you to know that I agree with you on the need to defend every woman’s right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” As you and I know, this has not historically been the case and I am keenly aware of those whose shoulders I now stand on as a woman who cannot only vote but can also serve in Congress.
I want every young girl, including my two granddaughters, to be able to – as you say – “choose their destiny.” I believe that protecting those rights, however, starts with protecting the most foundational right of all: the right of a preborn, human being with a beating heart to see the light of day. A young woman cannot choose her destiny if her life is cut short in the womb.
When we frame abortion as a means of female empowerment, we don’t tell the full story. Indeed, studies show that abortions worldwide disproportionately impacts baby girls. Consider a 2012 report in Britain’s Daily Telegraph on abortion practices in India, where there are believed to be as many as eight million cases of female sex-selective abortion over the last decade, a phenomenon that is now affecting the country’s overall gender ratio.
I say this not to shame any woman who has made the difficult decision to have an abortion but rather in hopes of raising the consciousness of this nation so we can enact needed protections for these members of the human family.
Specific to your concerns on the Texas abortion law now in question before the United States Supreme Court in the case of Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt, I readily admit my own bias. That said, I believe the standards you call “onerous” and “unnecessary” to be quite modest.
As you know, the disputed Texas law has two key provisions. First, it requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles so that a patient receiving an abortion can be quickly transferred in the event of complications and, secondly, it requires abortion clinics to abide by the same safety standards and licensing requirements as other outpatient surgery centers in the state. To be clear, the law does not attempt to illegalize abortion at any stage of pregnancy.
I passionately believe in protecting the unborn, but I also believe equal attention must be devoted to protecting their mothers. While I disagree with the choice of abortion, I do not believe any woman should lose her life at the hands of an unregulated, unsafe abortion clinic or a fly-by-night abortion doctor. That is what this law aims to prevent.
It is my hope that women’s advocates – and you are certainly a needed and influential one – will take a deeper look at this law and applaud these commonsense standards rather than attempt to turn back the clock and strip them away.
Republican Diane Black represents Tennessee's 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She has been a registered nurse for more than 40 years and serves on the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees.