Tuesday, January 28, 2014

He said/she said, Wendy Davis and Marlise Munoz...

I have friends of every political stripe.  I have some friends who are extremely liberal and some who are insanely conservative.  Naturally, when I see these people on Facebook, they have a lot of opinions to share about their convictions.  Last summer, Texas lawyer and politician Wendy Davis made history when she donned a pair of pink running shoes and filibustered for eleven hours straight in order to prevent a vote on Senate Bill 5, a bill that would tighten Texas abortion laws.  Davis got a lot of attention for what she did.  Many people admired her, myself included.

Let me be frank about how I feel about abortion.  I personally find it horrifying.  It's not a choice I would make with ease.  I certainly would never do it for the sake of convenience.  There would have to be some seriously compelling reasons for me to ever consider having an abortion.  Fortunately, I am getting close to the age at which it won't ever be a consideration.  I have never been pregnant and it's doubtful I will become pregnant before I hit menopause (seems like my child bearing years just flew by!).  However, at age 41, if I did become pregnant, there is an above average chance I'd have a problematic pregnancy anyway.  Hell, I might even be in a situation in which I might need an abortion to save my life.

I strongly believe that no one has the right to force a woman to be pregnant if she doesn't want to be.  While I do think there should be a point in a pregnancy at which abortions are no longer allowed, I believe that abortions should be legal for early pregnancies.  I would hope that anyone considering an abortion would do it as soon as possible.

I also believe that until a woman gives birth, the baby is a part of her body.  I do not like the idea that a woman is an incubator or a vessel for carrying a baby.  The recent case involving Erick and Marlise Munoz is one that scares the hell out of me.  Marlise Munoz was fourteen weeks pregnant when she collapsed, presumably from a pulmonary embolism.  Her husband rushed her to the hospital where she was kept on life support for over two months because she was pregnant.  Marlise Munoz had made it clear to her family that she never would have wanted to be on life support.  But Texas law mandates that pregnant women can't be taken off life support, so Marlise's family had to watch their beloved wife, mother, and daughter as her condition slowly deteriorated.  Her husband spoke of how she smelled of death and how her bones cracked when he moved them.  Her eyes were dull and lifeless.  She was not now and would never be the woman he loved… and the baby she was carrying was significantly deformed.

Still, many wing nuts in Texas insist that Marlise should have been kept alive until that poor baby was born without its mother.  They claim that the baby had a right to live, regardless of what condition he or she would be born in, regardless of whether or not the child's family would be able to deal with the burden of a "significantly deformed" child.  Indeed, had Marlise Munoz not collapsed during the fourteenth week of pregnancy, she would have had the right to have an abortion.  Where would all the wing nuts yelling about the right to life be when it came time to pay the medical bills or deal with all the  other issues that come up with a child with extreme medical problems?  And don't they realize that the only reason Marlise Munoz and her fetus were living was because of modern medical science?  That's right.  God wasn't keeping that woman alive.  Machines were.  Machines that were designed and operated by people.  Without man's intervention, Marlise and her baby would have naturally gone to God many weeks ago.

What does this have to do with Wendy Davis?  I think it has a lot to do with her.  Wendy Davis has proven that she will fight for women's rights and it appears to me that Texas is a state that needs reform when it comes to laws regarding women's reproductive health issues.

Last week, some of my conservative friends on Facebook posted news articles about Wendy Davis and her "selective biography".  It seems she fudged some of her life events to make herself look and sound better to voters.  She claimed that her first marriage and divorce was earlier than it actually was.  She didn't mention the fact that her ex husband supposedly paid her school loans and then she promptly dumped him.  She said she'd spent a lot of time living in a trailer when she'd actually only spent months in one.  And the conservatives are all tsk tsking the fact that when Wendy Davis went to Harvard, she left her daughters behind in Texas.  When she divorced her ex husband, he got custody of their daughter and she paid him child support.

One of my Facebook friends posted this article about Davis…  It is an editorial that explains why Davis can't win the election.  Most of it has to do with the fact that she lied and let her ex husband raise their kid.  To that, I say "what politician hasn't lied?"  I don't hold it against her that she gave up custody of her kids, either.  Men do it all the time, whether they want to or not.  I have learned, by virtue of being Bill's wife, that simply having a uterus does not automatically make someone a better parent.  Maybe Wendy's ex was the better parent for their daughter.  Maybe he lived in a more suitable climate.  Maybe he had a more suitable home.  If Wendy Davis determined that's the case, then she should be commended for giving up custody for the sake of her daughter.  She should also be commended for paying child support.  A lot of divorced parents don't-- male or female.  Moreover, how she raised her now adult kids is none of my business.

I think being a politician requires a healthy level of narcissism.  You have to be single-minded and have self-worth to run for a high ranking office.  It takes chutzpah.  Most politicians are dirty.  Some have better character than others do, but I have yet to find one that doesn't have something dirty in the closet. Moreover, what Wendy Davis did would probably not be an issue had she been a man.  Okay, maybe if Wendy were a man who let his wife pay his loans, it would be an issue.  But I think that situation is pretty much what they call a "he said/she said" thing.  When people divorce, all kinds of things get said.  And if Wendy Davis was gainfully employed during her marriage to her second husband, I am sure she contributed financially.  Most of all, I don't think it's right or fair to hold her to different standards than those we would hold male candidates to.

The situation with Marlise Munoz is a good example of why I may consider voting for Wendy Davis.  Texas needs a politician who will back laws that preserve women's rights to make decisions about their own bodies.  Do I approve of Davis's fudging?  Not necessarily.  But it sounds to me like she's done what so many politicians do to get ahead.  Politics is a dirty business.  I think Texas needs someone in office who can effect change and will stand up for women's rights.  I am not a feminist in the way that many people think of feminists.  I don't believe that women should have rights at the expense of men.  I just think that they should be treated with dignity and respect.  What happened to Marlise Munoz and her family was neither dignified nor respectful.  Pregnant women should have rights to self-determination.  If they are incapacitated, their families should have the right to make decisions on their behalf.  They should not be a separate class of people subjected to laws passed by males who will never face what they are facing by virtue of being pregnant.  They should not be treated solely like incubators or vessels, useful only for nurturing another life.

I think this pretty much says it all...

So if we are still in Texas come Election Day, I may very well vote for Wendy Davis, whether or not she gave up custody of her daughter or fudged her life story.  Because as a woman, I think Texas women need a woman on their side.

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