Saturday, February 23, 2008

Something for the locals

Local folks who read the editorial page of the Opelika-Auburn News might remember seeing a letter to the editor written this week from one of our neighbors. Here it is, reproduced for you in its entirety:

Dear Editor,

American women who read “The Nation” must be discouraged to read “Long Road to Hoe” Feb. 4, that states “the United States has one of the most punitive and regressive politics on reproductive health in the developed world.”

The Nation goes on “…how things would be different if women’s needs were met rather than the demands of a fundamentalist Christian right. Almost without exception in Western European countries where abortions are legal, they are included in national healthcare plans. They do not require parental consent … contraceptives are reasonably priced, covered by health insurance and often available without prescription; teens and adults have access to emergency contraception in hospitals or over the counter at pharmacies; and abstinence-only education is rare.

“When (they) choose to have babies, they generally get free prenatal care and birthing options. They receive medical and family leave. Single mothers have access to professional day care.

“Countries with these policies have lower unintended pregnancy and abortion rates.

“The major development agencies do not deny funding to countries where abstinence is not put forward. Family planning funds are not withheld.”

What seems inconceivable is that there are American women who would vote for Mike Huckabee, though he would try to make the Constitution more Biblical and American women’s rights more in keeping with Muslim counterparts. Why do men like him? To deny the humanity of women?


Simply put, I couldn't let this pass without addressing it.

The first thing I noticed about the letter is that there were only three and a half sentences in it that our neighbor actually wrote himself. He copied the balance of the article -- about 75 percent -- from the self-described progressive magazine The Nation, hardly an evenhanded or balanced political voice.

Our neighbor parrots The Nation's apparent position that only societies with legalized abortion can have social policies that are beneficial for women and children. His final paragraph, the only one of the letter that is completely his, says it is "inconceivable" that American women would support Mike Huckabee and insinuates that only men who want to "deny the humanity of women" can support him.

I'll take a shot at providing our neighbor with some answers:

  • Perhaps American women support Huckabee because they believe in the sanctity of life, not in the sanctity of the circumstance under which that life was created.

  • Perhaps American women support Huckabee because they don't envy any country where young teenage girls can undergo potentially life-threatening, but assuredly life-altering, surgery without the knowledge or agreement of the parents who have fed, clothed, housed, taught, raised, nutured, loved and protected them from infancy.

  • Perhaps American women support Huckabee because they don't believe that protecting the sanctity of life should be incongruous with the availability of good prenatal care, birthing options, family and medical leave and quality, professional child care.

  • Perhaps American women support Huckabee because they don't believe principle and choice must be mutually exclusive.

  • Perhaps American women support Huckabee because they believe that personal responsibility and personal freedom can co-exist.

  • Perhaps ... just perhaps, American women support Huckabee because they believe he might have a better understanding of their values than the editors of The Nation magazine.

  • And as for American men, perhaps they support Huckabee not to "deny the humanity of women" but, in fact, to do the opposite: To stand up for the humanity of even the youngest women -- and men -- who cannot yet do so for themselves.

And so, friends, what I think is inconceivable is that our neighbor, as a man, would presume to second-guess the motives of millions of American women as they go to the polls for themselves and their posterity.