Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pro-choice Opposition

Our meeting on May 16, 2007, with the local pro-choice groups went well, too, we think. The only two groups represented were Planned Parenthood (Martha Edmands) and the Southwest Women's Law Center (Jane Wishner). NARAL declined to attend.

We did a bit of educating while we were there. Ms. Wishner has been under the impression that we are talking about miscarriages. Really she was unclear as to the difference between a miscarriage and a stillbirth and where abortion fit in. We laid out the differences between the two types of loss and that abortion is, in fact, neither of those. They are all mutually exclusive occurrences. Ms. Edmands told us that her sister suffered a stillbirth 15 years ago, so I'm pretty confident she knows what we are talking about.

They have both said that if we can find the right language, they will agree to be neutral on the bill. That is what we want. Nothing more, nothing less. But they also said that if we find language they will be comfortable with we are likely to then alienate the pro-life side of the supposed argument. (Have I mentioned exactly how much I HATE that this issue has even come near the abortion debate? Well, I do, with a passion.)

They like some of the language in California's legislation (SB 850). Especially the part where the bill reaffirms abortion rights in California, but I made it pretty clear that our bill will not do that. This is not that issue. I wouldn't suggest that an education bill reaffirm abortion rights so why would i do it here? They are no more or less the same issue. We made it clear that we want to protect existing rights and define the uses and limitations of a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth. We can do both of those things without straying off-topic and outright reaffirming abortion rights in the state. If they want to reaffirm abortion rights, they can draft their own legislation to do just that. It doesn't belong on this bill.

They have made it clear that they do not speak for everyone in the Coalition for Choice, which includes NARAL Pro-Choice New Mexico. Martha Edmands said that while the national office of Planned Parenthood might be coming out in a neutral position on the basic legislation, she doesn't have to follow their lead if we don't come up with the right language. So despite the recent articles in Stateline and the NY Times where several national offices publicly took a neutral position, we still have to deal with the state offices of these groups.

All in all, we feel like it was a good meeting. It was emotional and draining for both Carin and I, but they now have faces and details to go along with the issue. We were able to clear up some misconceptions and come to a tacit agreement.

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