Source: Getty / Digital Vision
Rep. Ron Stephens in Georgia is running into trouble with Georgia's "Peach Tea Party" because he wouldn't vote for the latest anti-abortion bill there. The bill banned abortions past 20 weeks of gestation with no exceptions. But Stephens' own daughter was pregnant with a fetus that had horrible genetic defects -- it wouldn't have survived more than a breath or two, but the bill Stephens was expected to vote for would have prevented his daughter from getting a abortion.
So Ron Stephens refused and now he's under attack for being insufficiently conservative. For some strange reason, he regards this as a distortion of "pro-life values." But it's not -- it's simply a case where he's experiencing those values as a target for a change. Even worse, though, is that he doesn't seem to have learned anything from the experience.
If the measure were law a few years ago, Stephens says, [his daughter, Ashlin] would have had to carry to term a baby that would have lived only seconds after birth. Stephens said Ashlin's baby had an acute chromosomal malady known as triploidy.
"At five months, they told her part of her baby's brain was outside the skull and the heart was inverted," he said. "They said it would take only one or two breaths. She would have watched it die." She discussed the option to terminate her pregnancy with her family. But she didn't have to make the call, since she had a miscarriage shortly thereafter.
When the bill initially came to a vote in the House, there was no opportunity to amend it to provide exceptions for such situations. Stephens said he was so upset he felt sick and walked off the floor during the roll call.
"For something this cruel to happen to my daughter, or anyone's daughter," he said, "is just plain inhumane. I consider myself pro-life, but this provision was a distortion of pro-life values."
Source: Savannah Morning News
And what are those "pro-life values" anyway? I'd say that Dan Becker, president of Georgia Right to Life and a member of the Peach Tea coalition, is a good person to consult on that:
Dan Becker, president of Georgia Right to Life and a member of the Peach Tea coalition said cutting taxes and enhancing legislative ethics are important issues for the new organization. Bills that end or curtail access to abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, will top the organization's agenda, he said.
"Any candidate that is not right on the social issues disqualifies himself for public office," Becker said.
Source: The Florida Times-Union [emphasis added]
Some people might be impressed with Ron Stephens, thinking that he's had a change of heart or discovered some broader principles that he should rely upon -- but that wouldn't be entirely accurate. The Georgia Senate inserted into the law an amendment that exempts "medically futile" pregnancies from the new restrictions. Because he felt that his daughter's situation would now be protected, Stephens voted for the amended bill.
So while it's "inhumane" for a woman to be forced to carry a pregnancy to term when it's "medically futile," it isn't inhumane for a woman to be forced to carry a pregnancy to term when she was impregnated through rape or incest. Ron Stephens wants to protect women caught in situations like his daughter's, but he has no sympathy for women caught in other difficult situations.
To put it a bit more simply: Ron Stephens believes that women caught in situations like his daughter's should have a right to make their own choices about what to do, but he thinks the government should make the decisions for all the other women in other situations. He's "pro-choice" when it involves him and his family but "anti-choice" when it involves other people.
This is a theme we find consistently among anti-choice activists: they and their situations are "different" and they can be trusted to make the right decisions so need to be left alone by the government; everyone else is an immoral slut and needs to be constrained by Big Government.