Thursday, April 25, 2024

Not all bills made equal

June 27, 2012


Editor’s Note: Views expressed in guest columns and letters to the editor reflect the views of the author, not the views of The State News.

When Rep. Lisa Brown, D-West Bloomfield, took the Michigan House floor a couple of weeks ago to make a passionate speech debating a contentious abortion bill, her words resonated across the United States, gaining national attention after saying “Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but no means no.”

Although the words might have been a jab at House Republicans, characterizing them as something similar to rapists for supporting this new bill, another part of her speech resonated more with me than her snarky last words.

Brown’s words about religious freedom were the strongest words during her speech. She explained that Judaism believes therapeutic abortions to save a mother’s life are mandatory, further explaining the stage of pregnancy does not matter to make this decision according to her religious beliefs. She then asked, “I have not asked you to adopt and adhere to my religious beliefs, why are you asking me to adopt yours?”

This message had more of a profound effect on me than any other part of her speech. These words made me reflect on the legislative process, the separation of church and state and an appreciation for the different cultures and religious backgrounds of Americans.

But, more than anything else, it frustrated and boggled me. Abortion is a contentious subject that everyone has a set opinion on. The purpose of this column is not to change a reader’s opinion, sway them one way or the other or argue why this new Michigan bill is harmful or helpful. No matter how much debate occurs, no one is going to change their opinion.

And realizing this, I realized that my opinion, a man’s opinion on abortion rights, should not matter. Frankly, I do not know what it is like to be a woman or how difficult it could be to make a decision to terminate a pregnancy, or the physical burden caused by childbearing. The argument for abortion regulation should be left for women.

I would not expect a Christian-dominated Congress to vote on laws regulating Jewish holidays, and in the same way I wouldn’t expect a male-dominated Congress to be making decisions for women.

I do not think men should even be allowed to vote on abortion regulation, unless they have attended medical school and studied female reproduction.

The women we elect as representatives in both the Michigan and U.S. legislative bodies are some of the brightest, most well-read women on this Earth. I would trust them to know which decision is right for women, regardless of whether the outcome was pro-choice or pro-life, without the interference of men in the process.

After the Brown-silencing debacle became headline news in Michigan, The State News editorial board met and discussed the new abortion bill and whether or not Brown should have been silenced. Writing an editorial on that topic was, by far, the most difficult editorial I’ve written all summer.

I understood the concept of the bill and what effects its provisions would have on Michigan women, but I felt as if I did not have the authority to write on the issue because I am not a woman. I have no idea whether or not 20 weeks gives a woman enough time to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. I do not know what it must feel like to face such an internal conflict of deciding whether or not to keep a child.

One could argue that women elect male representatives to be their voice in Congress and this justifies allowing them to vote on abortion regulation.

And that’s a terrific argument; I never will slander a Democratic republic where we elect others to be our voice. And some male representatives should be allowed to vote on this issue because of their medical past, such as Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who was an OB-GYN surgeon before he turned to politics. But a majority of males in Congress cannot boast such accolades, and thus I disregard their opinion on abortion regulation.

The male opinion on abortion should be cast aside, allowing females to develop their own opinions on the matter.

I do not think a male-dominated legislature should be making these types of decisions with a stronger female presence. This would be like if women held a majority in Congress and they were deciding on a bill of whether or not to require a man to get a vasectomy during his lifetime.

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