Choosing Life

I wasn’t always pro-life.  As I’ve mentioned previously, I was raised a liberal and remained so until roughly 8 years ago.  I have, at times, discussed the various reasons for my “conversion.” The stories of Rick Santorum’s little girl call to mind one of the keys.

Though my family was liberal and held most of the traditional liberal views, we never really discussed abortion. I, without being willing to examine the issue overly closely, simply characterized myself as someone who was pro-choice, even though I would never personally choose to abort my child.  I maintained that it wasn’t my place to make that decision for someone else, and carefully side-stepped any deeper exploration of the issue.  In fact, I’m somewhat ashamed to acknowledge, I felt smugly superior holding this nuanced and “enlightened” view of the matter.  

I was 6 weeks pregnant when the September 11th attacks occurred.  I’ve detailed my recollections of that horrible day elsewhere, but one of the salient memories of it is coming home to a message on the answering machine from my doctor’s office — my hormone levels were low, and I was at risk for miscarrying. They had called in a prescription for me.  When I picked it up from the pharmacy, still numb from the day’s events, I read the warnings, which included possible birth defects, and called the doctor’s office back in a panic. I was assured the benefits outweighed the risks, and it was okay to take the medication.

Fortunately, from that point on, my pregnancy progressed quite smoothly.  When it came time for the 20 week ultrasound, my (then) husband and I were excited.  Even though I never really could make out most ultrasound pictures, it was still fun to see our baby as she developed — and yes, we learned at that point we were having a little girl.  We also learned there might be a problem.  The tech advised us that the ultrasound revealed choroid plexus cysts in our baby’s brain, and left to get the genetic specialist to come talk to us.

Though not definitive, there is thought to be a correlation between the presence of these cysts and a condition called “Trisomy 18”, which is a genetic abnormality in which a third copy of chromosome 18 is present.  We were told that the vast majority of babies with this condition die either before or shortly after birth.  Those who live have severe health problems and a very low life expectancy.  We were told an amniocentesis could verify if, in fact, our baby had this condition.  We were given some time to consider our options.

I was aware that amniocentesis carried with it its own risks — I recalled reading that there was a 1 in 200 chance it could cause a miscarriage.  As my husband and I discussed it, I kept thinking to myself, “So what am I going to do if the test confirms she has this?”  And I knew — in a heartbeat — I knew there was no way I would ever opt to terminate the pregnancy, regardless of what the tests showed.  So there was really no point in taking the added risk of the amnio.  

Thankfully, though my daughter had some other complications due to arriving 6 weeks early, she did not, it turned out, have any genetic defects, and is, today a healthy, happy, almost-10 year old.  But the experience of being faced with that choice — even theoretically — was a crucial step in my journey towards becoming pro-life.  Yes, it was my baby I was considering, and yes, I’d always thought I’d never choose to terminate a pregnancy.  But being forced to think about it in more concrete terms also forced me to think about what it meant for others.  It wasn’t so easy to keep it in the realm of the abstract anymore.  

As I read about the Santorums and their Bella, I am inspired by their devotion to their children and to life, even in its most complicated and trying forms.  My heart goes out to them, and to all families with a child who is seriously ill. God bless them for choosing to love their daughter unconditionally and for unapologetically embracing life. I think Rick Santorum put it best:  “While Bella’s life may not be long, and though she requires our constant care, she is worth every tear.”


Burning Bridges

With some minor editorial and grammatical tweaking, my Twitter rant from earlier today: 

I am not a Republican. I used to be a liberal Democrat. Then I underwent a conversion. And, over time, became a “fiscal conservative/social…moderate w libertarian leanings”. (See my Twitter bio.)

I neither like nor trust the parties. I think the RNC regularly finds ways to shoot itself in the foot. I think it has a rigged primary system and some weird Stockholm Syndrome thing going with the DNC and progressive, big government policies. I think it is often completely deaf, dumb and blind as to what “the base” wants. I will therefore never truly consider myself a Republican

That said, I have found myself, since late 2004, voting primarily for Republican candidates. And I anticipate this will continue on through November of this year. My Number One goal is to vote the current President out of office. Not just because he is a Democrat. Because I believe his ideas and policies are consistently wrong-headed and harmful to our country and because I believe he is a terrible leader. 

I would love to roll into November backing a strong GOP candidate whose political philosophy and policies align most closely with mine. But most important at this juncture is that he be able to mount a successful challenge to the incumbent. I’ve said all along who I expected the nominee to be. Not because he was my first choice but because that was my read on how things would break. I waited and watched and hoped to see a proven and ideologically more suitable candidate step up and show he was up to the challenge. I haven’t seen that happen. 

So…I am where I am with this. I don’t at all begrudge others their prerogative to pull for their guy and won’t try to tell them not to. But I see a lot of fur flying and a lot of broad brushes and ugly labels being applied willy-nilly. 

I get the frustration and even some of the anger. But folks might want to be a bit more mindful of the bridges they’re burning. Because when push comes to shove, about 95% of us* would like to see Obama sent packing come November. And that’s going to require collaboration rather than demolition. 

I’ll See Your Pious Baloney and Raise You a Demagogic Cow Patty!

Thought maybe I’d string my rant from earlier today together into a mini-blog post: 

So…I’m a reluctant Romney supporter at best. I did support him in 2008, and have since remained firmly in the “I Don’t Hate Him” Camp, while many whom I respect have expressed hatred and disdain for the thought of him as the nominee. 

I’ve not felt compelled to jump to his defense every time something negative is uttered about him. A lot of the criticism is valid. And he’s a big boy in a big game. I have at times found my own reasons to criticize him — the stupid bet comes readily to mind. There was also a time recently where he was reported to have hit below the belt on Newt (drawing a blank on what it was) & I immediately denounced him, only to learn later that he hadn’t said what he was accused of saying. 

I’ve given fair consideration to most of the other candidates. I kept hoping one would jump out – become the stand out – become the one I could happily back. But none of them have. As I stated last week, I still reserve the right to embrace Perry – I really WANTED him to step up in this. But I’m not holding my breath. 

That said – what I’m reading the past day or two has me positively shaking my head. Go after them all on their negatives. God knows, they have plenty. Any non-conservative or un-principled stances they’ve taken, give ’em hell. But to go after ANY of the candidates by adopting the liberal premise that capitalism and/or financial success is evil is ridiculous. Are you going to make that argument in the General, as well? How are you going to fight Obama with your newly adopted liberal talking points? Let me know how that works for ya. Okay. I’m done.

For Better or For Worse

So, I’ve pondered the parallels between dating and Primary Season in two previous posts.  Detailed the difficulties in finding Mr. Right and then really committing to him.  Now I’d like to consider, perhaps the toughest question:  What happens when you do make that leap?  How do you learn to live with your chosen candidate, day in and day out?  Or, even trickier, how do you survive a “marriage” arranged by The Party’s Powers That Be?

Realistic expectations are key, of course. If you choose your candidate with stars in your eyes — if you elevate him to hero-worship status — you are destined for disappointment and disillusionment.  Let’s just be brutally honest here:  They are all politicians.  They will all try to woo you with words you long to hear, but upon which they’ll rarely be able to deliver. They are all beholden to their financial backers. They are all flawed. They will all eventually let you down in some fashion. And the sooner you realize this, the less likely you are to have your heart broken.  That isn’t to say that all candidates are evil, or that you shouldn’t try to find the “right” one for you.  Just fair warning not to deify. They are human. And they live and breathe in a world that is often quite ugly. No fairy tale for you!

Even when you are pragmatic in your choice, you are bound to find yourself fed up with your candidate at some point.  Maybe he bumbles about in a debate or appearance and embarrasses himself (and you) in the process.  Maybe he waffles on an issue that was crucial to your decision.  Maybe his suits don’t fit right, or his eyebrows take on a life of their own.  Maybe you find out he wasn’t at all the man you thought he was. Any number of flaws, both small and large, are bound to reveal themselves over time and make you wonder to yourself, “What was I thinking?!”

Early on in the primary process, you have the luxury of being able to seek an annulment — if your guy really steps in it, there is no penalty to pay for hopping off his bandwagon — other than, perhaps, a bit of pride.  But once the season is in full swing and you’ve either cast your vote or are about to, your only option (aside from going into complete denial and deleting all social media evidence of the relationship) is to stand by your man.  Ideally, you can manage this with sound, rational defenses, pointing out his many strengths and how they more than make up for his failing(s).  Barring that, you may be able to justify your allegiance by pointing out that most –if not all — of the other candidates are guilty of the same.  If nothing else, you can usually point out what a vast improvement he is over our current overlord, and most of those with more than a passing interest in your political preference will cede the point.

By the time the nominee is selected, you’ve pretty well signed on to defend your guy through thick and thin (though, perhaps “sick and sin” is more fitting here — gold star to anyone who catches that reference.)   This can require an almost Herculean effort — especially if the nominee isn’t the guy you chose, but is, instead, the guy chosen for you.  By The Establishment.  And those crazy Iowans.  Who the hell gave them the keys, anyway?!

Yet even if your initial reaction is hesitation — or worse, revulsion — chances are you’ll eventually find a way to make your peace with the nominee.  You’ll tell yourself, “Better him than no one.” Because, let’s face it — if an “arranged marriage” to a candidate who at least wanders about in the same political hemisphere as you is shudder-inducing, what do you call being yoked to One who occupies the other side of the world?  Whose every “solution” is exactly opposite of what you would choose? Who keeps yanking you in the completely wrong direction? And whose response when you protest his decisions is to say, “Too bad – I won”?

Hellish, to say the least.  So, yes, you’ll likely find a way to embrace the guy who, two months ago, you vowed you’d never touch with a ten foot pole.  After all, politics, as they say, make for strange bedfellows.  And you’ll suck it up and support the nominee, for better or for worse.

But take heart: You’re only stuck with him for four years.  Eight, tops.  😉