Thursday, October 20, 2016

Free Speech Comes with Consequences...

On Thursday, October 20, 2016, I posted a link to an article that was titled, "F@#! You, Trump. My Baby was "ripped out of my womb" because I was going to die." Here is a link to the clean version of the story. 

I read the article so that I could see what prompted such a forceful title. In reading her story, which was laced with expletives for emphasis and showed her extreme angst at this horrific decision she had to face, I came to feel her anger too. I felt the anger at the ignorance and the lies that are repeatedly told to reverse a woman's right to chose her reproductive health.  

So, in my anger, I shared the post on my personal Facebook page. I prefaced the article with an apology for the profanity and explained why I thought her story was important to share.

One of the most thoughtful comments was from a friend, who I believe is a Trump supporter. She expressed her angst at what he said and shared her story of loss. Another friend expressed her disdain for abortion and it started an insightful back and forth. No ugliness. Just civil discourse where we women were learning and sharing which is how it is supposed to work.

A few hours later, I got a call that one of my Facebook "friends" had posted my post to a Conservative Facebook Group and people (specifically women) were eviscerating me. I called my mom to get her opinion, and she said she saw it, and although she understood the intent of the post, she didn't think it was wise to post since too many will misinterpret and distort it. So, I deleted it.

I thought about it and then posted a follow up on my Facebook:

The first comment on my follow up was from the woman who supports Trump. We have had discussions on various topics, and though we don't always agree, we have a mutual respect for each other and opinions. Her response was as follows:
I have to say, I try to read as much of other's opinions especially those that have lost a baby like myself. It's tragic, and I was smart enough to read through the words others considered profane, but are part of reality. I do think those words reflected her anger, disappointment, and grief. They didn't need to click the link and read. I believe in the Constitution and all of the rights within. Obviously, that person is NOT your friend. Stay strong.  

Instead of misinterpreting the entire article or the post, my friend read it, digested it, and commented her thoughts. Not once, but twice. She posted to the article that contained profanity and to my follow up post.   

My post was not pro-abortion. My post was not a promotion of the writer's profanity. My post was to show another side to what a woman faces when she struggles to make the decision to end a unviable pregnancy that was distorted by a presidential candidate during the October 19th debate.  

An article posted after the presidential debate hit home poignant points about how distorted "late-term abortion" has become. One look at Twitter today and it is clear that everyone who has an unwavering pro-life position believes that Hillary Clinton is ripping babies from wombs that have gestational viability. As the article sums up, "it's a mischaracterization of Clinton's position, it's a mischaracterization about what abortion looks like in the United States, and it's a mischaracterization of how obstetricians treat late-term patients."  

The article also went on to state, "if you rip a baby out of the mother's womb at three days before it was due, that is a C-section. If you intentionally harm or kill the child, that is infanticide. It is not abortion - and it is NOT what Clinton has ever supported.

It certainly isn't what I support. 

What someone chose not to grasp when I posted that article is that just because I believe a woman should have the choice about whether to end an unviable pregnancy and make that decision with her doctor, I do not want to kill unborn babies. Ever. 

I am the mother of three children. I was asked during my third pregnancy to have an amniocentesis because of my age. I was too worried to have one for fear sticking a needle into my womb would cause me to lose my baby since there was a risk for that. I told the doctor that I would keep my baby no matter what. Of course, if the physician discovered after my ultrasound that my unborn baby had no brain, brain stem, spine, or some horrible deformity which would rob that baby of a life to live, I would have had to face that gut wrenching decision that so many women and their partners must face. I don't know what I would do. I won't dare try and make that decision for another woman. 

I do feel though that I must have empathy for my fellow human. I can only give my hope and prayers to the women who are faced with that decision and trust her to make an informed choice. I grieve for my friends who have had to go down that dark abyss and experience the profound loss of a wanted baby. As a mom, I feel such hurt for the women who belong to one of the saddest groups in the world.....they carried babies that had no hope and made the heartbreaking decision to end their pregnancies for medical reasons. The anecdotal stories that women have that their doctor told them their baby would be born deformed and they were born perfect are just that. Those instances are few and far between with the technology and medical advances we have today.  

I am grateful I have never had an abortion or faced the news that my baby is not viable. My personal beliefs or lack of context don't give me the right to hold other people to my standard or anyone else's standard.  

I have yet to meet a women who has had an abortion after 20 weeks because she is evil and heartless. I have yet to hear women retell the story of how she got knocked up and ignored her condition until halfway through the pregnancy and ended it because it was inconvenient for her selfish lifestyle.  If she exists, I have never met her. So forgive me if I feel like she may be a myth perpetuated to create fear. This is why I was moved to post that article because a presidential candidate tried to use this myth to perpetuate a position. 

I apologize, again, to anyone who read my personal Facebook post and was offended by the profanity it contained in the article. If I had to do it again, I would not have posted it. I would still post her story of pain and her angst at the candidate (the cleaner version which I found later). Yes, the profanity may have been unnecessary and in the context of the writer's story, it was integral to her story. The manner in which I posted that article was not a personal vulgar outburst or a vulgar tirade toward anyone I know.  

But that isn't the whole gist of why I decided to write this post. What unnerves me is that someone felt compelled to attempt to suppress my freedom of speech, which was my opinion on her late term abortion, because they seemingly do not agree with what I posted. I don't know the specifics of what was posted to that Conservative Facebook Group, but no doubt it wasn't in context, it didn't include my full comments, and it was likely full of distortions. Nevertheless, that post to that group generated this complaint:  

This complaint was written by someone who I do not represent and does not live in my town.  More importantly, my post was not a "rant about abortions." If the complainant had read my personal Facebook post and the comments it generated, I believe the outcome may have been different. But this person didn't get to see my original post. In fact, I have no idea what they saw, but based on the complaint, I think I do. 
As a member of a local town council, I deal with zoning, ordinances, and other local legislative actions. I am glad I don't have to deal with the topic of abortions or face the vitriol on the subject in my elected position (this was plenty).  

What is disconcerting is that someone feels that I am not entitled to have an opinion. This person seems oblivious of the many in higher elected office who "post things of that nature." Many of my Virginia elected representatives have quite a few opinions on the subject. I am offended by many of their comments on the topic. When I disagree with them, I do what most people do, I write to them. I also don't vote for them because they actually represent me on those issues.  

Should the public decide to not support me in the future, though I have done right by them on many other levels of service and actions, over an issue that I do not legislate on, then so be it. I respect that. That is our democracy. My freedom of speech comes with consequences. 

Regardless, it is, in my opinion, cowardly of the person, who is one of my Facebook "friends" to share my post in an attempt to disparage me. Instead of reaching out to me directly, they did what cowards do.  

Humanity is about lifting other people up and giving them strength when they need it. We should be supporting other women and not judging them. I chose to support a woman's anger and validate it, which I did. 
I have many friends who are Trump supporters who are pro-life.  I am enriched by their views the same way I am enriched by those who are pro-choice and are Hillary supporters. A lot of different flowers makes for a colorful bouquet. Hearing from those who think differently from us provokes more thought and empathy. 

“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson