Diversity, Tolerance, Inclusion, and Acceptance
By Pat Tally - Guest Column
May 15, 2017 at 6 p.m.
Updated May 16, 2017 at 6 a.m.
Yes, I am a Democrat. Postings about my bias are correct. Our affiliation was the reason my Republican counterpart and I were asked to write these monthly opinion pieces. My columns, addressed to fellow Democrats, may be perceived as biased, but let's repurpose them as the starting point to deeper conversation. Keep those cards and letters coming.
A political cartoon recently appeared on the editorial page that really made me mad. The gist was that the Democrats claim to be inclusive but are intolerant of pro-life, anti-abortion views and only allow people who are pro-choice into our party. Good political cartoons condense complex issues into a clever punchline to give the reader a jolt - part indignation, part recognition. This one succeeded.
After my initial jolt of indignation, I had to recognize the truth of it. The refusal to accept views other than our own is endemic in our country. Americans generally only listen to information with which they already agree. I like that the cartoon identified "Diversity, Tolerance, Inclusion and Acceptance" as core Democratic principles, though I always thought those were core American principles. Not anymore.
It often crosses my mind to wonder if a great unifying outpouring of good will from around the country such as seen on 9/11, could even occur today. We no longer consider every American equal to every other American. Every one of us has people and issues we cannot accept, would not want to assist and about whom we couldn't care less.
Sometimes, we get past our prejudices to live our core values, and sometimes, we cannot overcome them.
In the deep persistent national struggle surrounding pregnancy, we have allowed the conversation to become so narrow there is no tolerance on either side. For or against abortion, period. But the issue poses ethical dilemmas that by definition contain multiple conflicts of conscience. Such dilemmas aren't solved by narrowing the options but by expanding them.
I first set foot on a college campus in 1962 at a time when young women, married or not, could not get birth control on their own. Abortion was illegal. Yet pregnancy outside of marriage was an offense for which the mother was shamed and often banished by her family. Yes, I know. SMH (shaking my head). Ask your older relatives about this. An acquaintance, a vibrant, religious, inexperienced young sophomore named June, bled out in her dorm room because she would not tell her doting parents or minister or anyone she knew that she had fallen in love and was pregnant. She put her life in the hands of her equally inexperienced boyfriend and found a freelance abortionist.
I barely knew her, but the dilemma faced by June has walked with me ever since. I am incapable of being pro-abortion or anti-abortion because of June. I can only be pro a world where June could easily have obtained birth control information and had readily available information about safe options.
In that world, abortion would still be legal but would only occur under medical necessity. That world doesn't exist even now in America, but that is what pro-choice means to me and, I have found, to most Democrats.
We want the battle over abortion to be fought on the pre-pregnancy battlefield - not after the fact. The truth is that the rate of abortion, while still too high, has been dropping every year since it was made legal. Dropping = not increasing.
That drop has occurred because society has given young people a few more options and a little more information.
Let's do more. Let's stop talking about women getting abortions, and let's talk about men and women understanding how their bodies work, what is appropriate sexual behavior, how to plan for a healthy pregnancy and the financial and emotional consequences of having children. Let's not cut those conversations, those services out of our schools and clinics and out of our health care laws.
Without those services, a woman only has the choices June had back in 1963. No one has a lock on "Diversity, Tolerance, Inclusion and Acceptance" in women's health issues. We have to push the envelope to address all aspects of this dilemma, have the conversation and move forward to that better world.
Democrats from State District 28 will have the opportunity to visit with our Texas Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa on May 19. Join us for our regular club meeting May 23. Follow us on Facebook at Victoria County Democratic Party for details.
Pat Tally is the chairwoman of the Victoria County Democratic Party. Before retiring to Victoria, she was the director of a clinical social work department in a large Dallas hospital system for 22 years. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.