“Action should be taken leading to legislative guarantees and protection of the father’s inalienable right to decide against any unilateral or preemptive decision to terminate his child’s developing life.”
The above is an excerpt from the “Defend the Right to Life” section of the Republican Party of Minnesota’s party platform.
You might be wondering why I know it’s in the platform. I went to the Republican caucus on Tuesday night. I’m not a Republican, exactly, but I generally agree more with their fiscal policy than with that of Democrats. The real reason I went to the caucus is that, as an independent, I have the right to participate in whichever caucus I choose in Minnesota and I feel that part of my duty as a voting citizen of the United States and of MN is to participate in the political process at varying levels.
I know a lot of people don’t know the difference between a caucus and a primary (people in primary states often have no idea what a caucus is, and, as demonstrated to me on Tuesday evening, people in caucus states lack a complete understanding of what a primary is). To put it basically, a caucus is a discussion-based form of deciding things whereas a primary is generally just about voting for candidates for party nominations.
At the caucus on Tuesday we discussed a variety of things in addition to voting via secret ballot on which candidate we want the party to endorse for president. Santorum, unfortunately, won, but MN precinct caucuses hold more symbolic than real meaning anyway. This is because although Santorum won in my voting precinct, the 8 delegates to the next level caucus (congressional district level, I think) are free to vote for whichever candidate they prefer. They are not bound by the straw poll done by the other caucus attendees from their precinct.
Now that that’s out of the way I’d like to go back to how I began this post. Can you believe that any mainstream party in the United States can actually get away with including such a disgusting statement in their platform? I consider myself to be rather cynical, but this still surprised. I expect to encounter anti-abortion language, but this is on another level.
This clause basically says that any man who has ejaculated viable sperm into a woman that unintentionally resulted in pregnancy of that woman can decide if that woman must carry to term or if she may terminate. There is no call for such legislation. It comes far too close to slavery to be even remotely okay. No man, no matter how much he wants a child, how strongly anti-abortion he is, should have a right to decide what a woman does or does not do with her body.
I understand that these people wish to foster a culture in which men are allowed to have an opinion about the fate of a fetus that shares their genetic material, but that can only ever be a societal expectation. It can only ever be that we teach one another that major life decisions are usually best discussed, and in the case of pregnancy it is probably best to discuss the situation with the father. It can never become law. To make it a law could be to enslave a woman who does not wish to carry a pregnancy to term. It would be enslavement because another person would have determining control over 9 months (or more) of the woman’s life.
Pregnancy is not the equivalent of growing some bacteria in a petri dish on the top of your fridge for 9 months. A pregnant woman’s quality of life is affected by the pregnancy. Her ability to work is affected. Her medical, clothing and grocery bills are likely to increase. Her body changes significantly, and not just visually. I won’t even mention the pain woman often experience in childbirth. Recovery from pregnancy also takes time.
It makes me sick to my stomach that Minnesota Republicans voted to include this statement in the party platform. I see this as a call for all moderate Republicans, all apathetic voters to play a more active role in the political process. It’s not just about voting every November. If more moderate Republicans went to caucuses, horrible passages like these would never make it into the party platform. As insignificant as that may seem to you, the platform is a major way to send messages to Republican candidates about what the people of Minnesota and what the people of the United States actually want from their elected officials.