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Right to ‘lifeline’ of choice

March 29, 2017
Lehigh Acres Citizen

To the editor:

I'd like to talk a little about the issues related to your article in a recent edition of the Citizen: "It is that time of year again to toss Lifeline Family Center a lifeline." By all means, we women should have a choice - one is to continue a pregnancy and be supported with love and care during the prenatal, birth and early parenting process at programs developed for this or not.

As an advanced practice nurse, I have cared for a young, frightened woman who came into the ER, requesting an abortion and seen her accept a similar service to Lifeline quite happily when it was gently offered. That choice involved living with workers who shared her customs and language. Hence, it felt like home, like love.

The other choice, a safe abortion, was also her right. But she had an advanced pregnancy at that time - and it would have involved what is referred to as a "late stage abortion." Despite alternative facts proffered by President Trump and U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney (at his recent Town Hall Meeting in Cape Coral on March 3), terminating such a pregnancy is not an easy task. It is not just rare - it is extremely difficult to attain and unusual to be performed. I have seen one in 45 years of practice, and it was a decision between an abused woman and her physician, and required considerable negotiation at major medical centers.

Misinformation by our president and representative does a great deal of harm to the public discussion of the issue of a woman's right to choose. Congressman Rooney, in the Town Hall, tossed some red strewn pictures on a table (in elaborate mimicry of the president's misinformed public tirade on what he alleged happened in an advanced stage abortion) and decried that these aborted fetuses were being sold, and "the FBI is going to investigate." Well, that case was settled long ago.

Three House Committees and 12 states have now investigated these false claims and found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. By his own admission, Chair of the House Oversight Committee Rep. Jason Chaffetz said his committee's investigation turned up nothing: "Was there any wrongdoing? I didn't find any."

Eight additional states refused even to open investigations, finding that there was no credible evidence of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood A federal judge also found no evidence or wrongdoing by healthcare providers: "Having reviewed the records or transcripts in full and in context, I find that no (National Abortion Federation) attendee admitted to engaging in, agreed to engage in, or expressed interest in engaging in potentially illegal sale of fetal tissue for profit." March 14, 2016; Democrats on the Select Investigative Panel of the Energy & Commerce Committee.

I expect so much more from my elected representatives. Sadly, I found Rooney misinformed on several fronts. His "follow the leader" outline of how and why the ACA must be repealed, and the childlike description of a proposal was reflected in and followed in a week by his party's badly conceived health care bill. It arranges for 14 million people to lose their health care next year, and moves even more privileges to the 1 percent, of which he may be a member and deftly represents.

I don't like abortion. Most people don't. It's easily preventable today with good health care but that's frequently not available and may be less so soon. And ... things happen. There are several adults running around my extended family whose mothers chose care, and for us, that's just more people to love. But that is not true for lots of people. And the right to choose an abortion that is accessible and affordable is the law, and I support it 100 percent.

Women have a right to Planned Parenthood services, abortion included. Despite a roomful of his constituents demanding otherwise, Rep. Rooney insisted that the many health centers (that do not specialize in women's health) are sufficient, and women with, perhaps, a reasonable partner, must not have a choice yet again ? to choose the seasoned gynecological doctors, nurses and counselors at Planned Parenthood. He wants to defund. Why? Because it provides a federally insured service to women: safe and supported abortion care ? the law of the land.

He has made up his mind, and doesn't care what a woman wants, or needs. He and his party's vendetta against Planned Parenthood, a beloved educational and clinical resource for so many generations of women of childbearing age, is disrespectful at its least, and a travesty to many of us.

Francis Rooney and the current president seem to wish to return our country to 1950s realities. Sorry. We are not going back. Have you ever seen a coat hanger protruding from a woman's body? It's not a "Father Knows Best" moment, Francis.

And by the way, your namesake, Pope Francis, insisted in his latest teaching - The Joy of Love - that individual conscience be the guiding principle for Catholics negotiating the complexities of sex, marriage and family life. He seems to trust the relationship between a woman and her God. Things have changed since you left the Vatican ambassadorship, congressman.

But, we know that none of our elected officials would be confused at this point on the separation of church and state, right?

Mary Lewis Sheehan

Pine Island



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