My heart grew heavy as I listened to the new president’s spokesperson describe lies told by the new administration as “alternative facts”. I played the clip multiple times, willing myself to find another interpretation. I tried to put myself in this ill-prepared woman’s position. Certainly she meant something else, I told myself. If I say that I have a million followers on this blog yet I only have a dozen, am I lying or presenting “alternative facts”? I have told you something that is inaccurate. If I know it is inaccurate and I say it anyway, it’s a lie.
The New York Times presented a summary of the statements made about the inauguration and the “actual facts”. (The writer in me screams, ‘Redundancy! Duplication! Repetition!’) Misstatements were made, undoubtedly. Whether “lies” or inadvertent inaccuracies, I cannot say. But what disturbs me is Trump’s insistence that he is better, bigger, more popular, one-hundred-percent right. And this bothers me for one reason, and one reason only though it’s the be-all and end-all of this debate for me.
Hitler. Say it with me now: Der Fuhrer.
As my heart mourns for our nation, I turn again to the beautiful pictures of people around the world standing in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. Make no mistake about the intentions of the rallies and marches on Saturday. We fear the evisceration of our rights. This includes the right to choose whether or not to bear a child, even after conception.
I realize that some think that life begins at conception, but our law has otherwise defined it based upon the scientific evidence of the ability of a fetus to survive outside of the woman’s body. Those who maintain that termination of a pregnancy constitutes murder feel otherwise, but not based upon science. Rather, their beliefs arise from religion.
We are not a religious community. We are a geo-political community. However, if a woman chooses to believe that the cells within her uterus are human and therefore must be allowed to grow to term, that should be her choice. Simple, and scientifically sound. Viability has been identified as commencing at 24 weeks, although some studies have shown that a tiny number of fetuses could survive as early as 22 weeks albeit with medical complications. If I follow science and the law, I may abort before 24 weeks. If I choose not to do so, I do not have to do so. Choice.
I’ve faced this dilemma. I conceived a child in 1977 at the age of 22. Unemployed, living with my parents, about to start graduate school, I huddled within myself trying to decide what to do. But the pregnancy ended of its own accord, sadly, devastatingly, painfully, at about 10 weeks. I’ve never had an abortion, but nor would I judge someone who chooses to do so. Her body is not my body. As long as the procedure occurred before 24 weeks, her action would be legally and scientifically defensible.
This is my first public defense of abortion, because I truly believe that it should be an individual woman’s decision and not our business. As it is now, within the reasonable limit set by the Supreme Court: Viability.
Other rights are under attack by the new administration, most notably universal health care. Because these rights impact women so greatly, women stood in solidarity last week.
But if we are ruled by a dictator who tolerates no criticism and broadcasts untruths firmly, loudly, and as though they were fact, will our protests protect us? Before inauguration, Trump’s twitter-storms seemed comical. But now he has the power of the federal government at his disposal. When his outrage rises, what will stop him from using that power to eliminate dissent? What will stop him from sending law enforcement to corral us, to jail us? What will stop him from destroying us?
This is my answer. We will.
“You only have power over people as long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power—he’s free again.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Two Hundred Years Together