Today I was looking for something else and came across this old column I wrote for the Oklahoma Gazette when I was a newspaper columnist. Seems rather relevant still in 2022. Maybe even more relevant?
This was the draft I submitted, but not the final published draft. Sadly, my columns don't appear anymore on the Gazette website. I do know that the editor didn't let me publish the phrase "state sponsored rape bill."
What “Pro-Life” Really Means
By Scott Jones
What we should really be afraid of is those who support governmental control of our bodies. Don’t be fooled, because that’s what many of the falsely called “pro-life” members of our legislature are after. It is their ideology that government can dictate to a person what they can and cannot do in matters of their own health.
Last year’s Senate Bill 1878 made the ideology abundantly clear. It is affectionately called the “state sponsored rape bill” by many because it forces women to undergo a medically unnecessary, invasive procedure where a vaginal instrument is inserted in order to perform an ultrasound, even it is against her wish and not recommended by her physician.
I’m sure many of you are tired of the demagoguery on this issue, which has now lasted for decades. Particularly when the language used diverts from the real issue of creating a healthy civil society.
A healthy civil society is one in which people are free to make their own health decisions, not have them dictated by the government. Genuine freedom also includes access to health care and the education to make healthy decisions. These are areas in which central Oklahoma is seriously lacking.
The 2007 Vital Signs published by the United Way of Central Oklahoma highlights in its “trends to watch” the poor educational achievements of new mothers in Oklahoma County, measured by the percentage with a high school diploma. 26.7% of new mothers in the county do not have a high school diploma, which is over nine percentage points worse than the national average. Vital Signs calls this measurement “one of the most important predictors of positive outcomes for children.”
Oklahoma ranks 44th in the nation for health care and 21% of Oklahoma County residents are uninsured. In a wide array of measurements on health and access to health care, we rank low and trends are not improving. Nor do most of our public schools offer comprehensive sex education.
The report states that 50.39% of live births in Oklahoma were the result of unintended pregnancies. It is reasonable to conclude that the incredibly high incidence of unintended pregnancies partially results from the combination of poor access to both health care and comprehensive health and sex education?
As even The Christian Century reported in 2005, the societies with the lowest abortion rates are precisely those with wider access to health care, comprehensive health and sex education, and greater resources for child care. The societies with the highest actual abortion rates are those with the most legal restrictions. In other words, you are either for legal or illegal abortion, there is no such thing as a society with no abortion.
If our legislature really valued life as anything more than an empty political slogan, then they would work diligently to improve access to health care, provide comprehensive sex education, and improve various social services.
The evidence is clear – a society that empowers individuals to make their own health decisions is a society which values life. What we so often have here in Oklahoma is the exact opposite – an ideology of governmental control of our bodies which would rob us of our freedoms and our health. That’s truly frightening.
Jones, who holds a Ph. D. in philosophy from the University of Oklahoma, is pastor of the Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ in Oklahoma City.