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The question of what a woman should do when she is pregnant but does not want to raise a child is extremely personal for me.
It is the question that my birth mother, unmarried and eighteen years old, faced forty-three years ago.
This was before People v. Belous (1969) and Roe v. Wade (1973) established a woman’s fundamental right to decide whether to give birth.
Just a few months before I was born, California Governor Ronald Reagan signed the “Therapeutic Abortion Act,” which changed California’s criminal code to permit the termination of pregnancy by a physician when there was substantial risk that its continuation would “gravely impair the physical or mental health of the mother” or when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.
I am not sure whether my birth mother would have qualified for a legal abortion under the “physical or mental health” requirements of the new law, but she could have risked terminating her pregnancy by illegal means – as more than 100,000 California women did every year before the Act’s passage. In fact, Governor Reagan said that he signed the new law to prevent the death and injury of thousands of California women each year from illegal and dangerous “back alley” abortions.
My birth mother decided not to have an abortion, and instead gave me up for adoption.
Of course, I’m happy with her choice – I would not be here otherwise. I was raised by two loving parents who wanted and were able to care for me. I have also had the incredible joy of being able to thank my birth-mother for her decision – reuniting with her and my two younger brothers several years ago.
I received a great gift from my birth-mother’s decision – but I would not have wanted her to have been forced by the government to give birth to me despite being unable at that time to properly care for a child.
Whether or not to have an abortion – or whether to give a child up for adoption – is a deeply personal and often painful decision for a woman or couple to make, and it is a decision they have to make based on their own faith and values, not someone else’s – and certainly not the government’s.
My opponent for the 70th Assembly District believes otherwise.
He believes that he has the right to impose his own faith and beliefs on every woman and family in California. He has vowed to use his position in the legislature “to defend life from conception to natural death” – bringing back the days when thousands of women each year in California were forced to make the horrific choice between having unwanted children or illegal, dangerous abortions. And he has already received thousands of dollars in contributions from groups outside our district that are determined to use the government to impose their particular faith on everyone else.
We cannot allow politicians and outside special interest groups to impose their own faith on every woman and family in California or allow the government to intrude into this most personal of decisions.
That’s why I need your help now to keep the decision whether to give birth a deeply personal decision based on one’s own faith and values, not someone else’s and not the government’s.
July 20, 2010