The other day I spent significant time listening to the Texas House's debates regarding "HB2," the pro-life bill on the table. Along with listening and watching the livestream, I also monitored Twitter reactions to the issue at hand. Right now, the Texas Senate is debating passage of the same bill, which the House passed.
I've been involved in pro-life work for more than a decade. So, I have seen and experienced pro-abortion arguments, strange logic and even abusive treatment. I've seen the signs and heard the chants. I've also had meaningful conversations that stepped away from debate and soundbites and really engaged the issues at hand -- sometimes issues that were far below the surface.
But observing the HB2 debate in Texas has been nothing less than draining. I have friends who have been in the Capitol building and outside at the rallies. I'm just at home. Nevertheless, listening to the arguments used, and monitoring the stack of tweets that bashes the bill has been a bit deflating.
When HB2 was on the House floor a few days ago, amendment after amendment was presented by those who disagreed with the bill in order to stem its affects. One amendment said women who are victims of rape or incest should be able to abort past week 20. One said that young women who have not had good sex education should be able to abort past week 20. One said if abortion clinics in Texas are closed due to higher standards, then the state should pay for the transportation costs of those who are impacted.
One representative decorated the microphone with a wire coat hanger, while other representatives stood around her holding the same.
Arguments were made about women's rights to control their own bodies.
The representative with the wire coat hanger told the story of her own daughter who found herself unexpectedly pregnant. After her mother (the representative) told her about all of her options, the young girl eventually decided to give life to her son. The representative shared that her grandson is now 30 years old and has given her a great grandson. Yet, she said that if she could go back in time she would still want her to daughter to have access to either choice -- to give birth to her son or to abort him.
I couldn't help but wonder if her grandson was watching and what he could be thinking. "So, you don't care if I'm alive or not? You wouldn't stand up for me? My son -- your great grandson -- is just a matter of choice to you?"
It was chilling.
There was a lengthy conversation about matters of rape and incest. Certainly, these are horrific situations. But the representatives argued that a woman who is the victim of rape or incest would be punished every day of her life is she gave birth to a child conceived as a result of one of these horrific experiences. The example of the three young women who were recently released from years of kidnapped captivity in Cleveland, Ohio was given. One of the representatives said that if one of these young women were pregnant when she escaped, then surely an abortion would be a desirable way to terminate the pain.
I couldn't help but think of those children who are alive today who were conceived as a result of rape or incest, including the child of one of the young women from Cleveland. What about their inherent dignity? How do they feel when someone tells them they should not be alive, that every breath they take is a punishment to their mother? Perhaps some day I will share on the blog a conversation I had with a woman who was conceived in rape. It's a story and a perspective that more people need to hear.
Meanwhile, Twitter explodes if a man says anything in favor of HB2, because clearly he just "hates women." And if a woman is in favor of the bill, then she is dumb.
It's just mind boggling to me that this whole debate is happening. Texas is trying to pass a bill that would ban nearly all abortions after 20 weeks (which amounts to less than 400 annually) and would give stricter guidelines to abortion providers. Yet, the promoters are considered anti-woman for wanting more safety regulations to be in place. And they are pulling out wire coat hangers as a symbol of the future, when thousands of abortions in Texas would be considered legal, just as they are today.
It used to be argued that abortion should be "safe, legal and rare," but the arguments against this bill only appear to be concerned with the legality.
There is even an outrage over the idea of following the FDA's guidelines on distribution of the RU-486 abortion pill.
The old arguments for abortion are being dropped in the dust, while the debate around HB2 unveils the real arguments -- the idea that babies of any age and stage are nothing but parasites on women, that the right to abortion is the ultimate right, that women are autonomous, self-determining individuals who live in the isolated world of, "My body, my choice."
Things have been getting radical in Texas. Part of the radicality is not so much the arguments in and of themselves, but the fact that they are being championed, celebrated and broadcast so widely. "Safe, legal and rare" has been trampled by, "Control, power and privacy" or by, "Me, myself and I." And it's all on display.
This already lengthy post could probably be much longer, but let's just pray for Texas and for all those involved in this debate -- not only for a pro-life bill passage, but also for all of us to become loving, selfless people who live our lives "for" others.