I am not a politician

I don't often get political on this blog, and I'm hoping that this post doesn't result in an all-out flame war (please), but I just wanted to get the word out since I'm tired of hearing about this in my inbox. I've been getting a bunch of emails lately about FOCA, the Freedom of Choice Act. I just wanted to say a few things about it, and I'd rather do it here than in email.

First of all, I appreciate receiving correct information about things rather than speculation. The bill is intended to provide federal government support for reproductive rights, to give an overall framework that would surpass the current network of state laws that vary greatly depending on the state you are in. It still has not passed Congress or the Senate (you can read the actual text of the bill here). With the current Democratic majority in the House, it may pass. If you do not like this, write to your congressman and let him know that you don't want him or her to vote on it. Write to your senator. And then if they do vote on it, don't reelect them. That's the way the system works. The president has said he will sign it if it passes, so you can write to him also, but writing your representatives is usually more effective. I have no idea about the legality or effectiveness of online or email petitions, so I usually prefer not sign them. I usually look most emails up in Snopes before I pass them on.

I do agree that there may be some negative consequences to this bill if it passes. I don't like abortion being used as an elective form of birth control. I think it is wrong for many reasons, but I don't think that legislating it away will make it disappear. I also know a few people who have had their lives saved through medical procedures that would likely be classified as abortions. It's not a decision to be made lightly and it is a very difficult one. It is good that they had the choice though. I am uncomfortable with the idea that parental consent laws might be done away with; if my underage child were making this kind of monumental decision I would want to know and have the opportunity to be involved. I think that if we want to reduce the number of abortions in this country we're not going to do it through legislation. To be honest I'm not sure what will work besides better education on birth control options, more support for poor and minority women who feel they have no choices in their lives, some way to change societal attitudes towards sex. All children deserve to be born to parents who want them and will be able to raise them. I'm also not sure about having federal law that mandates what states can do. If the majority of people in one state want stricter controls on abortion than those in another state, I don't think that's such a bad idea. Anyways, I don't have a lot of strong opinions on the subject. I have a lot of "yes, but" and "maybe" ideas. But I do have strong opinions about receiving emails full of speculation and fear-mongering. So please just write your congressman, because I have no power to vote on federal laws.


I think abortion can also be seen as a symptom of any number of larger problems (poverty, ignorance, indifference. . . ) and not just a problem in itself. There has to be a better way.
Emma said…
You have some very good points. I get those emails all the time. Signing an email petition is NOT going to do anything. Like you said - please contact your elected leaders if you have something to say!
Kailey said…
I got this same email too. And it bugged me to no end. You wrote out my thoughts exactly. I might direct the person who sent it to this post. Thanks FJ.
Janci said…
Oh, thank you. I got that email, too, and you summed up why I'm uncomfortable with it. "Yes, but," is a good way to put it. These issues are so complicated that rarely does an email forward capture all the nuance. Even if you're certain abortion should be illegal, making sure it's made illegal by the RIGHT laws rather than just any law is still important.
Kristeee said…
Ugh. I love how we're so quick to defend a woman's choice, but so slow to point out that it was her choice to have unprotected sex in the first place. And I know that sounds harsh and ignorant . . . I do know that there are some good cases for terminating a pregnancy, but it is not a form of birth control.
rantipoler said…
I'm with you 100% on this. I also got this email, and while I absolutely abhor the idea of abortion as birth control because I believe it to be immoral, I also believe that there are a few cases where it is justified.
SenecaSis said…
I just replied to the sender of one of these emails. Why? Because it bugs me to no end (to put is nicely) when these mass emails full of speculation and fear-mongering are spread under the guise of a public service announcement. I wish I'd thought to simply refer her, and those she'd emailed, to their political representatives as you suggested here. Instead, I provided links to the actual wording of FOCA and other related bills in order to correct the misinformation, and to clarify the intent of FOCA.

I guess my efforts weren't appreciated. The writer replied to my reply to tell me that she was "offended" by my response.

Hopefully, more people will become aware of the usefulness of Snopes.

p.s. In many states, teens (age 14 and up in my state) are allowed to make their own decisions related to reproductive health care. Thus, not much will change under FOCA re: this issue.

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