What is NOT the Matter with Kansas, or Why I Suppport Planned Parenthood

26 Feb

I’m borrowing Rachel Maddow’s words from her Wednesday night broadcast here, but I hope you’ll forgive me. As I watched her broadcast from Lawrence, Kansas, I couldn’t help a swelling of pride at what I saw on the screen. Kansans, like myself, who wanted every woman to have access to their full reproductive rights (among other “liberal” ideas) were gathered around Ms. Maddow in the Free State Brewery. Maddow showed the good side of Kansas, the side of Kansas I love–not the radical, ultra-conservative side that was shown around the death of Dr. Tiller.

The next day I called my grandmother to tell her about the broadcast.

“I already knew about it,” she replied.

“How?” I asked her. She never stayed up late enough to view it.

“Sister Rose told me about it,” she said.

Some background here–my grandmother is the manager of an apartment complex for retired folks in western Kansas. Everyone who lives there is over 65, though many are around 80. Sister Rose, age 80, is a retired nun who entered her convent at the age of 14.

“Sister Rose?” I asked. “How did Sister Rose know?”

Sister Rose watches the Rachel Maddow Show every night, my grandmother told me. That morning after coffee with the other residents, Sister Rose made her way into my grandmother’s office, as she usually did. Only today, she had a more specific purpose.

She was angry, and she needed someone to talk to about it. Since she didn’t figure any of the other residents would lister to her or care, she decided she’d try things with my grandma. Between what she had seen on the Maddow show–the talk of Phil Kline’s trial, among other things–and the news that Planned Parenthood could lose funding, she had heard enough!

“Abortion is a moral issue! It’s a personal decision! The legislators need to leave it alone, they have no business dealing with what is moral and what isn’t!” she ranted. She agreed that while she herself probably would have never had an abortion (had she ever needed one), she didn’t feel that anyone else had the right to make those decisions for someone else, and certainly not politicians.

Sister Rose is a quiet, calm person, and a good Catholic who attends mass at least twice a week. When she gets angry, she rarely shows it. Her only outbursts occur when something deeply upsets her, like when the priest showed up drunk for Sunday mass. And yet, legislators messing with something so controversial in the Catholic church had Sister Rose near yelling.

When I hung up the phone, I realized something. I had an ally. An elderly, retired nun, from a city with less than 2,000 people, in the middle of the Midwest agreed with me on the matter of women’s reproductive rights. She had been incredibly brave to voice her opinion on the matter, given her former position in the church.

And so I realized, the people are NOT what’s the matter with Kansas, Rachel Maddow is right about that. The problem is that more people like myself and Sister Rose, who also believe legislators need to keep their morals out of women’s uteruses, aren’t brave enough to say so. That’s why on today, Saturday, February 26, I’m protesting to save funding for Planned Parenthood here in NYC, in honor of Sister Rose and the silent supporters back in my home state.

5 Responses to “What is NOT the Matter with Kansas, or Why I Suppport Planned Parenthood”

  1. erin February 27, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    Great job then! I’m glad to know that there are people out there (in areas we thought only had one opinion on the matter) who agree with us.

  2. Margy March 4, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    Great story–thanks for sharing it! And I wonder how many abortion opponents realize that abortions will continue to occur whether they are legal or not. There is simply no way to stop women who are, for whatever reason, determined to end pregnancies. Rachel said that currently, abortion is unobtainable in Wichita. She is uncharacteristically wrong about this. Only SAFE abortion is unobtainable in Wichita.

  3. Northeast Elizabeth March 11, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    Rape, murder, assault, theft, incest, arson, insurance fraud and countless other crimes are all “moral issues” which the legislature has every right to deal with. Furthermore, even with respect to abortion, every state legislature has outlawed it under most circumstances after 24 weeks. Sister Rose is sadly misguided in her understanding of law and morality. The purpose of most laws is to enforce some moral code. Indeed, even abortion rights advocates argue that it would be “moral” to fund abortion or “immoral” to restrict it, and seek to enact laws reflecting their moral beliefs.

  4. Alicia March 15, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    @Northeast Elizabeth- The difference between the crimes you listed and abortion is those crimes hurt other people and abortion affects no one but the woman who is terminating the pregnancy.

  5. Northeast Elizabeth March 20, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    Alicia,

    I directly addressed Sister Rose’s argument, which appeared to be that legislatures should not pass laws on moral issues. You now seem to be arguing a wholly different point — that abortion is NOT a moral issue because it has no real consequences other than fulfilling the wishes of the woman who undergoes the procedure. Without commenting on whether that is a valid point, I can say emphatically that it is NOT the position promoted by Sister Rose.

    Your argument also fails to address my point regarding the near-uniform outlawing of abortion after 24 weeks. Plainly, the rationale is that at that point in the pregnancy, the fetus is sufficiently developed so that the woman’s rights are no longer the only ones at issue. But certainly, that argument can be made as easily at any point from conception onwards. And so can the argument that abortion is always a moral issue.

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