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Communicating about Abortion: An Open Letter to Governor Kemp and the GOP from a Woman Conservative

Navigating through different life experiences as a woman conservative has been a challenge, to say the least. People are often surprised to learn that I’ve been a registered Republican my entire adult life. After all, if you pay attention to Twitter, or watch a lot of MSNBC, one would easily believe that all Republicans are a closed-minded, bigoted, xenophobic, transphobic, racist, misogynistic, uneducated lot. Now, I will be the first to admit, that there are some Republicans I can’t stand and find them to be an embarrassment. If you’re familiar with the core values of conservatism, you would know that those who are on the fringe, don’t embody those values. And if you know me, you know that none of those negative descriptions apply to me, while the core values of conservatism do.

For example, I very much believe in having a limited government. There should be constraints placed on how much power a government and its politicians have. Not to mention the level of inefficiency seems to lessen while the budget seems to fatten as the government expands its own reach.

I take a hard stance regarding individual accountability and fiscal responsibility. I think if you’re waiting for the government to make your life better, then you will be sadly disappointed your whole life. Life is all about choices and when you make a bad one, own up to it, learn from it, and do better. No one is coming to save you.

I’m respectful of the rule of law. Looting and damaging local stores, small businesses, and public property make absolutely no sense to me. And allowing people to get away with it? My brain can't understand it.

I wholeheartedly believe in peace through strength. There are bad actors in the world, hello Putin, and having a strong military keeps those bad actors at bay.

I am a gun owner and yes, I have a conceal-carry permit and yes, I carry.

I am completely averse to identity politics because I believe much of it is performative and does nothing to solve actual problems. I do believe that representation matters, but not at the expense of merit. I think both are just as important.

I don’t believe that race or gender dictates how successful you can be in this world.

You won’t find my pronouns behind my name and frankly, if you were to ask me my pronouns, I would be offended as I think it’s obvious. I would never describe myself as a cis-woman or replace the letter "a" with the letter "x" in the word “woman” because I just don’t think it’s necessary.

I love this country. I served my country in the military. I’m a Marine Corps veteran. And although I’m a lot older and slower and fatter, I would still fight for and die for this country.

So yeah, I’m a conservative.

And I’m a woman.

And the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade has me very concerned. It has me concerned for women’s rights. It has me concerned for the unborn. It has me concerned for the Republican party. It has me concerned for the divisions within this great nation that seem to only widen day by day. And I’m not talking about the divisions between Democrats and Republicans. I’m talking about the divisions within the party itself.

So, I find myself needing to have a frank discussion with my fellow conservatives.

Specifically, I would like to direct this communication to all current governors and candidates running to be governor in the red states. I live in Georgia, so Governor Kemp, please, if there is ever a time to listen, it is now.

According to findings from the Pew Research Center, as of May 2022, 6 in 10 adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. As we all know, Democrats and Republicans are generally on directly opposite sides of this issue. Or at least, that’s what we are led to believe if you depend on the media to help you form your opinion. An oversimplified view of abortion leads us to believe that there are only two choices – you are either for abortion or against it.

Framing this issue in such a simple way is problematic. The issue itself is a complex one and therefore, deserving of a nuanced discussion.

And this is where conservatives like myself need to step up and be more vocal.

Because if you dig deeper, you might be surprised to find that there are a pretty significant number of Republicans, like me, who are pro-choice, but with an asterisk.

I say pro-choice with an asterisk because my opinion on abortion will change depending on the specific time point of the pregnancy. As a matter of fact, the same Pew Research study I cited earlier also states that “among the public overall, 56% of adults say that how long a woman has been pregnant should matter in determining whether abortion should be legal; this includes 64% of Republicans and 52% of Democrats agreeing that how long a woman has been pregnant should matter in determining the legality of abortion. Let me emphasize what this means. A majority of Republicans and a majority of Democrats actually agree on something in regards to abortion!

You wouldn’t know that by what you’re seeing on TV and social media.

Roe v Wade was an important decision because it held that states could not ban abortion before viability – meaning the point at which a fetus is viable outside of the womb. According to Reuters, this is generally viewed by doctors as between 24 and 28 weeks.

With 64% of Republicans and 52% of Democrats agreeing that how long a woman has been pregnant should matter in determining the legality of abortion, then this gives us something to work with.

There is some common ground here that is fertile. And if we start the conversation there, we just might be able to fix this.

Now yes, it is true that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say that abortion should be illegal at each stage of pregnancy. But here’s the thing, even when there’s a heartbeat, which happens within the first 6 weeks of pregnancy, there are still 26% of Republicans who say abortion should be legal and another 24% say it depends. And to be fair, just because somebody labels themselves as a Democrat, doesn't mean they automatically support abortion. There is a small percentage of Democrats (10% of them) that say abortion should be illegal after a heartbeat is detected and another 14% say it depends.

Just another example of this topic not being as clear-cut as some would have you think.

Let’s look at some more facts regarding when most abortions happen. The Washington Post reported CDC statistics from 2019 that nearly 80% of abortions were performed before the 10th week of pregnancy and almost 93% were performed before the 13th week. That means that most abortions, according to the CDC, are performed in the first trimester.

So what is my point? My point is now that Roe v Wade has been overturned, I am imploring my fellow conservatives who are the decision-makers to give the issue of abortion the nuanced and open discussion it deserves. I am imploring you to not allow those who are in support of fully banning abortion, even in the first trimester, to highjack the conversation. I am imploring you to allow cooler heads to prevail, to think about the statistics I just shared with you, and to remember that most Republicans and most Democrats agree that how long a woman has been pregnant should matter when deciding the legality of abortion. And remember the important point about viability.

And, I'm imploring you to remember a core value of conservatism - limited government intervention.

This brings me to my next question. What about the abortion pill? The abortion pill is approved to be used to end pregnancies before the 10th week. Again, in the first trimester, way before viability. Would you seriously deny a woman this option? Are we really going to create a system where women will just end up ordering abortion pills online from overseas? Or even worse, create a situation where women will turn to drug traffickers to get abortion pills? Talk about government intrusion. Do you see where this could lead?

As with many hot-button issues, this is one where there is no magic answer that exists that will make everyone across the board happy. Pro-lifers must concede that this is a women’s rights issue just as those who support abortion at every stage including the 3rd trimester and even up to the moment of birth must concede this is also a moral issue. And state legislators must concede that this is a complex issue that will have immense political ramifications if they don’t take the time to consider the majority opinion.

Roe v Wade held that states could not ban abortion before viability. As stated before, that’s around 24 weeks. Governor Kemp, as you know, as of today, abortion remains legal in Georgia for up to 20 weeks. As a woman, I think that’s reasonable and in line with what the majority could support. I believe it respects a woman’s right to decide for herself whether to continue with the pregnancy while providing enough time to make that decision. As a conservative and as a mom, and in keeping with the desire to preserve life, I think the point of viability is the logical choice for determining legality, which will provide protection to a baby that now has a solid chance at life.

As an American, I think this is a compromise we need to make to lessen the divide and a compromise we must make to protect women.

If we as conservatives, truly value limited government, then let’s limit it. If we as conservatives truly value the rule of law, then let’s be fair about it. If we as conservatives truly value human dignity, then let’s protect it for all women.

Finally, there is one more crucial conservative value I have yet to mention that I want to leave you with as I close. This is the value of Individual Freedom. As conservatives, how can we claim to support the tenet that “all of us are created equal” if women are treated as second-class citizens who are not allowed to make this important decision, that’s between them and whatever higher power they believe in, while under the guidance of their healthcare practitioner, in a safe environment, without government intrusion – especially when the fetus has yet to reach viability?

Now that these decisions will be left to the states, I hope that you, the leaders of my party, the Republican Party, will take this opportunity to show that the issue of abortion does not have to be the divisive issue we perceive to be. That conservative leaders can reach across the aisle and find solutions to difficult problems. That we adhere to the philosophic and jurisprudential concept of separation of church and state. That there is such a thing as a compassionate conservative.

I am tired of the negative conservative stereotypes fueled by the fringe on the right and exacerbated by the fringe on the left. It’s time we get back to rational thought and discussion. That time is now.

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