Why This Latina Catholic Is a Pro-Choice Democrat

After watching the Democratic National Convention last week, one of the most haunting moments for me was Vice President Al Gore’s grave reminder that as many as three Supreme Court Justices could be chosen by the next president.

I hate to sound like a single issue voter and as a Catholic who has never even considered having an abortion, I immediately feared for the fate of Roe v. Wade, the legal precedent that has made abortion legal and safe in this country.

You see, I come from a culture that is extremely controlling of women, including our sexuality. As an 18-year-old at my parents’ home, I was not allowed to even receive phone calls from boys. My parents did not want me to live in a college dorm room for fear I would shack up with guys and have no ring on my finger.

I remember my father’s reaction when he first learned that me and my husband — who is the only boyfriend I ever brought home, by the way — were living together without being married. He wagged his finger in my husband’s face and said, “If you were half as smart as people say you are, you would know that a woman needs to be pure until she is married!” He then stopped helping me pay for school and DH picked up the tab.

But contrast these outdated views with the freedom I have enjoyed as a woman in America. I will never forget my first trip to a Planned Parenthood, which is where I picked up my first birth control pills. Despite the largely male “pro-life” protesters yelling in my face and having to receive free healthcare enclosed in bullet proof glass windows and heavy security, it was such a relief to receive birth control free of judgement. No one at Planned Parenthood batted an eye at my being there. No one called me a puta — “slut” — or questioned my marital status. This is freedom, folks.

Throughout the years, I would turn to Planned Parenthood every time I had no health insurance. They have always been willing to give me free pap smears and $10 birth control pills, which is unheard of south of the border.

Sometimes I feel that my fellow American sisters (cough, Sarah Palin, cough) take these freedoms for granted. Perhaps they need to live in a Latin American country where machismo and judgmentalism reigns supreme and abortion is illegal even when the mother’s life is in danger. In my mother-in-law’s country of El Salvador, for example, not only do many women die in childbirth or following an illegal abortion, but it is not unheard of to read newspaper accounts of babies left abandoned in the countryside. The lucky ones are found and placed in an overcrowded orphanage.

Which leads me to why I will forever consider myself pro-choice, even if I never have an abortion and the issue doesn’t seem to affect me. It is the freedom I have enjoyed in this country. The freedom to walk around without the judgement of my neighbors. The freedom to be without my own government passing judgement on me. Yes, the freedom to walk into a Planned Parenthood. I know what the alternative is and I don’t like it.  


Political Preschoolers

My 2.5 year old dd and I go to the same coffee shop several mornings a week on the way to school. Today there was a mom (who I’ve seen before) there with her son who looks to be about 4 years old. I haven’t really talked to this mom beyond the early morning we-both-have-a-kid nicities, but I know something about her from reading the stickers on the back of her car.  

  1. She is a vegan. She believes that eating animals is cruel.
  1. She’s a democrat.
  1. She’s Green
  1. She wants to Coexist

All this, of course, is cool by me, until someone ruined my coffee…

What got my attention today wasn’t the mom, but the little boy who was sporting some messages of his own…or were they?

He was standing next to the counter when we walked in, wearing a jean jacket with several large buttons on the front. The largest one read: “Got Pus? Milk Does”

Perfect, just what I wanted to read as I order my latte. My dd, who is fascinated with all types of jewels is immediately drawn to the buttons.

“What’s that?” she asks pointing to the button. I tell her it’s a button.
“What does it say?” she asks. And priding myself in being the mom who never shies away from the tough questions, I read it to her.

“What’s pus?” she shouts as the barista hands me the putrid pus-coffee I had just ordered.

“Want a cookie?” I ask, ducking the question. And as I handed my daughter the treat, happy that pus was forgotten for a moment, I couldn’t help but wonder about the ways in which we politicize our kids.

Granted, I am new to this mom stuff and my opinions are always changing. I just have to admit that something rubs me wrong about the thought of “Babies for Obama” onesies and the like. I want my dd to grow up with a foundation of tolerance and education that will guide her toward making her own decisions and beliefs about things. Is this idealistic?

And while I am fully aware that our family views and values are the foundation of her belief system, I also don’t think it’s my job to burden her with causes she can’t even understand. I started reading about politics and kids and got a lot of hits for this book titled, “Why Mommy Is A Democrat”.For the record, I trend very liberal on lots of issues but this seems like a total joke.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t claim to be unbiased or strive to produce a clean slate of a kid, but doesn’t this sort of stuff just perpetuate the partisan, divided, us-versus-them thinking that is such a problem today?

What do you other politically minded moms think? Do we burden our kids too early?

By the way, I never could finish my coffee….


Belated Presidential Debate Open Thread

I know this is a little late as the Republican and Democratic debates in Manchester, New Hampshire were last night.

But I missed the Republican debate and half the Democratic one because our satellite was down due to the rainstorms in California and the programs did not record correctly. We caught the second half of the Democratic debate and I relied on New Hampshire’s WMUR’s website for the best parts of the two debates. Trust me, perusing these clips is worth the time!

For the Republican side, check out the repeated attacks against Mitt Romney — hilarious! — and this lively exchange on illegal immigration. Rudy Giuliani actually sounds the most reasonable on this issue in stating the obvious that you can’t physically kick out 12 million people in the country and it is inhumane to not give people in this country health care and children access to education. But I can’t help but think the Repubs have scared off Latinos for life in arguing amongst themselves on who has the cruelest policy. (Kick them out! No health care for them! Other hysteria!)

The Republican candidates were also asked what they thought of Sen. Barack Obama who crushed all of them in Iowa. First, Giuliani, Gov. Mike Huckabee and Rep. Ron Paul’s reactions to the surging senator from Illinois. Here are Romney, Fred Thompson, and Sen. John McCain’s reaction to Obama.

From what I saw, John Edwards was the winner on the Democratic side. He delivered on an emotional level — continuously stating his candidacy was for the working class and “personal” — on style and on substance. Gov. Bill Richardson did very well too — pointing out he is the only candidate on the stage that has executive experience and has balanced budgets — which made me so proud to be a Latina. My husband and I are thinking he has an anglo enough name to be vice president if he is not the presidential nominee! (Oh please, pretty please.)

Both Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton ran as frontrunners and did not deliver any memorable lines. All four candidates did a good job running a civil discussion and differentiating the Democratic Party from the Republicans. Indeed, I am proud of our field this year. What a tough, tough decision!

Did any of you catch the debate last night? What did you think?