SANFORD — Margot Milliken, board chair of the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund, states in her Jan. 18 op-ed that “support for safe, legal abortion is at a record high.”

That may be true from the standpoint of safety and legality, but polls don’t ask that question. They ask if you are pro-choice or pro-life, if you support abortion, if you believe it should be restricted and when.

Last June’s NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, which Ms. Milliken cited online to indicate “record high” support, also shows that while the percentage of those terming themselves pro-choice (57 percent) has increased, it is still lower than it was in 2012. Meanwhile, “a strong majority would like to see restrictions on abortion rights,” NPR reported. A January 2019 Knights of Columbus/Marist poll found that 75 percent of Americans say abortion should be limited to – at most – the first three months of pregnancy, including 61 percent of respondents who identified themselves as pro-choice.

The real focus of people who identify themselves as supporters of “reproductive rights” is abortion, and the focus of this op-ed was the supposed failure of support from Sen. Susan Collins, especially the Brett Kavanaugh vote. “Reproductive rights” supporters would do well to consider Sen. Collins’ entire record.

Although I disagree with the senator’s stance on abortion, no one in a legislator’s position in or for Maine has been more proactive in helping Mainers gain access to affordable and meaningful health care during her tenure in the Senate. Look at her record in 2019 to see the bills she sponsored, supported and helped pass, the funding she gained, the actions she initiated.

Further, in 2017, Planned Parenthood Federation of America presented Sen. Collins with the Barry Goldwater Award, recognizing “Republican lawmakers who champion reproductive health care issues and who fight to ensure the rights granted to women.” In her award statement, Sen. Collins confirmed her historical support of “measures to promote and protect women’s health and expand all Americans’ access to quality health care.” How quickly we forget. How simply one vote can turn so many against you.

Interviewed about last year’s NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist abortion poll, Marist Poll director Barbara Carvalho noted that the issue is seen as very complex. “The debate is about the extreme, and that’s not where the public is,” she told PBS. Let us make our case, but be willing to listen and be patient with each other as well.

A baby is not born pro-choice or pro-abortion. If the child gets the love, support and guidance she or he needs, the child will grow up with a healthy respect for life. I am pro-life. My wife and I are also pro-choice: that is, pro-correct choice guided by an informed conscience that is listened to. We spent part of several days with the 40 Days For Life prayer vigil conducted this past fall in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Portland. I was amazed and saddened by the number of very young women who worked at the clinic. I felt they are misguided and unaware of just how special life is. I wondered if they will ever get to see that.

Many pregnant women who see their child’s image on an ultrasound machine choose to keep their child. Planned Parenthood does not offer to show a client that picture. There are six, soon seven, ultrasound machines in pregnancy support centers in Maine, placed there by the efforts of the Knights of Columbus with the support of many churches in Maine. They provide options to Planned Parenthood for excellent health and pregnancy services.

Even more telling during our vigil on Congress Street was the number of women and men who walked by and felt the need to place their hand or their cellphones up along the side of their face so they did not have to see us: “If I hide from them, maybe my conscience won’t be able to tell me how wrong I may be.”  Thank you for listening.


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