Vote for Improvement

The vote is precious, the most important non-violent tool we have in a democratic society, and we must use it. 

The late Congressperson, John Lewis

            I received an unexpected call from a social worker friend whose client was pregnant and wished to have an abortion.

            The story was a sad one. The young woman had used drugs and realized that the fetus might have been harmed. She also knew that she probably would not be able to parent if she continued the pregnancy. Her 3 previous children had been taken away by social services.

            The hitch, my friend told me, was that the woman was already 23 weeks pregnant, much too late to have an abortion locally. Could I help? my friend asked.

            There are only a few places in the country where later abortions are performed safely. With the help of friends, I was able to arrange for the abortion to be paid for and done safely. The young woman did well.

            Proposition 115 on the November ballot would make it illegal to perform an abortion after 22 weeks. Currently there are only 6 other states that do not have gestational age limits. Fortunately requests for abortions after 22 weeks are very rare, and almost always due to unusual circumstances. I suspect that it took the young woman months to become sober enough to make the decision to abort.

            If this Proposition became law the only exception would be to save the life of a pregnant woman due to a physical health problem. The law would make no exception for a mental health problem, or for rape, incest or a nonfatal health problem. Please vote NO for Proposition 115.

            Reproductive health has taken a hit from the coronavirus, which makes it difficult for many people to get the care they need.  However, the problems caused by politicians have been worse and are longer-lasting than the pandemic. Soon we will have the opportunity to improve the situation when we vote in the national election on November 3rd.

            It appears to me that Mr. Trump has used religion and reproductive health issues to serve his own narcissistic needs. His past history shows little respect for women except as means to satisfy his own desires. Yet the religious conservatives have been taken in by Trump’s antiabortion stance. The religious right and Trump seem to have a pact that leaves out reproductive healthcare.

            In “Pro-life voices for Trump”, Trump brags that he has transformed the courts with antiabortion judges and extended the global gag rule to include the USA. This means that family planning clinics lose their funding if they perform or even counsel patients about abortion. The end result is there are more unintended pregnancies and more unsafe abortions. Trump hopes to fully defund Planned Parenthood and to pass a nationwide abortion ban. All of this is in opposition to the wishes of people in our country, where only about one out of 5 people wants abortion to be illegal in all circumstances.

            Another important issue will appear on the ballots in Colorado. Our electoral system to vote for the president is anachronistic. It was set up when horses were fastest means of transportation and before modern communication. Although it made sense to have the Electoral College in 1789, it is archaic and prevents truly democratic presidential elections. A vote for Proposition 113 will add Colorado to the 14 states already in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, and bring us closer to a true democracy.

            I also support Proposition 118, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program. If passed, it will increase benefits for people who are sick or need to care for sick family members. It is especially important for young families after giving birth or adopting a child, because it extends state and federal benefits that already exist.

            Proposition EE doesn’t have much to do with reproduction. If passed, it will increase taxes on tobacco products. The money raised will support education and other good causes. Even more important is the public health benefit, because it will induce people to quit using tobacco. Come to think of it, there is a reproductive benefit: smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of small, premature babies and of birth defects.

To summarize, I recommend voting YES for Propositions EE, 113 and 118, but NO for Proposition 115. The people I will vote for include Diane Mitsch Bush, John Hickenlooper and–well, you can guess my favorite presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

`© Richard Grossman MD, 2020