Last week, I placed into the mail two packages, one for Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and the other for Rep. Joe McNamara. They contained a private letter, pleading for action in the protection of abortion rights locally and nationally, as well as a DVD copy of Tony Kaye’s 2006 epic documentary LAKE OF FIRE and a review of that film I wrote previously for Counterpunch.
We as activists and advocates of a woman’s right to abortion care in America are in a real fight right now. I propose that we see Kaye’s film as a useful tool of education and use it to help activate people to 1) pressure Whitehouse to stall the confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice; and 2) pressure McNamara and the rest of the Democratic Party leadership to re-convene the General Assembly so to codify and protect a woman’s right to choose in the Ocean State.
This task requires a serious amount of hard conversations and deep talks with family and friends, neighbors and coworkers, as well as political opposites, so to make this happen.
The trends of history are on our side, despite the developments within the Supreme Court. First, recent polling has shown conclusively in the past 5 years that public opinion is solidly pro-choice .
Second, though it seems almost absurd given the developments within the Republican Party, in fact there is a long heritage of pro-choice conservative opinion that can be pointed to and emphasized in this debate. Barry Goldwater, the godfather of today’s Libertarian current within the GOP who changed so much in his party during the 1964 election, famously exclaimed “Today’s so-called ‘conservatives’ don’t even know what the word means. They think I’ve turned liberal because I believe a woman has a right to an abortion. That’s a decision that’s up to the pregnant woman, not up to the Pope or some do-gooders or the Religious Right. It’s not a conservative issue at all.” In 1967, California Gov. Ronald Reagan signed into law the Therapeutic Abortion Act. Following the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, the Southern Baptist Convention’s wire service ran this press release:
Question: Does the Supreme Court decision on abortion intrude on the religious life of the people?
Answer: No. Religious bodies and religious persons can continue to teach their own particular views to their constituents with all the vigor they desire. People whose conscience forbids abortion are not compelled by law to have abortions. They are free to practice their religion according to the tenets of their personal or corporate faith… In short, if the state laws are now made to conform to the Supreme Court ruling, the decision to obtain an abortion or to bring pregnancy to full term can now be a matter of conscience and deliberate choice rather than one compelled by law. Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision.
In order to better utilize the Kaye film, I have posted a digital version available for viewing/download at tinyurl(dot)com(slash)KayeLakeOfFire. I suggest we share this film with people so to better agitate, activate, and organize those who are either anti-choice or alternatively simply indifferent to a matter that truly is life or death for women in American society.