Southern Politics, Abortion and an Identity Crisis

As Americans begin weighing their options in terms of which presidential candidate is worthy of our votes, there’s been a slow-burning mindset that this presidential election could very well go down in history as one with an incredibly low number in terms of voter turnout. Many Republicans are finding themselves struggling with a bit of an identity crisis.

ImageThose glorious years of the Reagan and Bush presidencies are long gone. Those were the good ol’ days when a proud Republican could be sure of one thing – the core belief system of the collective Republican president. These days, however, many conservatives are taking a step back for a better perspective and what they’re finding is a scenario that’s anything but proud or certain. And if you’re a female Republican? Indeed, your back is definitely against the wall.

By now, everyone’s had the opportunity to mirror the about-face Republican candidate Mitt Romney made in his stance on abortion. He’d gone on record several times in support of pro-choice before changing his view in 2007, when he declared he is now pro-life. He’s also said he would support any efforts that included overturning the historic Roe v. Wade decision and then allowing states to decide whether they would allow abortions to be performed. This is where things become a bit more complicated.

The Mississippi Factor

In late 2011, Mississippi voters were given the opportunity to pass the Personhood Amendment, or Prop 26 as it was sometimes referred to. In essence, this bill would define “life” as beginning at conception.

What made this such a heated controversy was the vague nature of the bill’s wording: “Article III of the state constitution, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”

The threat associated with this bill was the very real possibility that birth control, in-vitro fertilization and the morning after pill would be outlawed. It got worse, though. There were absolutely no provisions made for extraordinary circumstances, including pregnancies as products of rape, incest or pregnancies that jeopardize the mother’s life if carried to term. Many ever-faithful, southern conservatives held their ground by insisting God would have to make that decision if it come down to saving only one life between the mother and the fetus. This would be a highly debated bill and one that very narrowly was voted down.

Abortion Law Quietly Signed in Mississippi

This week, Mississippi’s new governor, Phil Bryant, signed into a law that affects abortion providers. What many aren’t aware of is Mississippi is home to just one abortion clinic, located in the state’s capital. House Bill 1390 quietly made it through the state’s legislative process and onto Governor Bryant’s desk, where he wasted no time in signing it into law.

The new law requires abortion providers to be board-certified OB GYNs and they must also have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The three physicians employed with the Jackson Women’s Health Organization are all board certified gynecologists; however, only one of those doctors has admitting privileges. The clinic’s owner, Diane Derzis, is now preparing for a legal battle. She has vowed to sue the state. Governor Bryant continues to reiterate his goal of eliminating abortion not only in Mississippi, but the entire country.

With Mitt Romney agreeing to participate in any efforts of overturning Roe v. Wade and returning the choice to each state to decide the legality of abortion and these “fanfare-free” bills being quickly signed into law that make it nearly impossible for physicians to perform these procedures, there’s no doubt a movement in some states is taking place.

Not Birth Control

While no one argues that abortion should be an acceptable form of birth control, what many are failing to see is the devastation many young girls and women will face in some circumstances. There are those times when abortion is appropriate. To eliminate this as a possible avenue, especially for rape victims or when other extraordinary dynamics are present, is unnecessarily cruel.

The irony is found in Romney’s own words. In 2010, he is quoted as saying about abortion, “…the fact is that two lives, not one, is involved.” The truth is, there are many more than one or two lives involved. Women contemplating abortions have hundreds of politicians along for the ride, making it anything but “only” one or two lives involved.

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