But yesterday, in a move so offensive it has moved the bar even lower, our own governor Nikki Haley signed the 20-week abortion ban into law surrounded by children.
In this extremely clever and contrived photo op, Haley is surrounded by adorable children, the older ones as well as an infant held by one assumes its mother in the background. The picture was taken at Hidden Treasure Christian School, a school for special needs children.
What I would like to know is: where did they hide the severely disabled children? You know, the ones who aren't beautiful, or who might not want to look on attentively at the governor as she smirks for the camera. I assume they have a few kids enrolled who don't look like they were delivered from the womb on an angel's wings. Could it be that the message might not have been so irresistible if the children did not look so delectable?
And what is the message? Here, too, is the evil genius of today's media smart anti-abortion movement. By posing with these children as she signs the anti-abortion ban, the message is that these wonderful children might not be there if their equally wonderful mothers had chosen to have an abortion. Haley is demonstrating that those aborted "babies" in fact do have a place in God's world, where people like her and the good folks at Hidden Treasure would love them like their own.
Just how many children with severe disabilities are born because their mothers had inadequate health care thanks to Nikki Haley refusing to accept federal Medicaid funding? And how many women have gotten inadequate treatment because there are too few clinics -- don't let's forget, Nikki Haley spent our tax dollars to investigate Planned Parenthood for bogus complaints, and would have these clinics closed, making it even harder for uninsured or inadequately insured pregnant women to have the care they need. And even more tragically, how many wanted babies do not survive because of South Carolina's refusal to provide adequate health care -- and food and housing -- to all pregnant women?
And, for the record, many, many women choose to bring at-risk pregnancies to term. The decision to have a late-term abortion is rare. Without the intrusion of the state of South Carolina, many women weigh their ability to care for a disabled child against the cost to their families, financial means and stresses, and their own emotional resources and supports. It is obscene to continue to promote the myth that women who decide to have a late-term abortion based on fetal risk factors are callous and selfish. It is obscene to paint such women as murderers. And it is a damned lie to imply that this decision is made frivolously, or frequently.
I would like very much to know how this special needs school selects their students. Where do the children who are unable to communicate, who cannot learn toileting skills, who need to be fed and moved from place to place? And what other support does Haley provide for mothers who are unable to work in order to stay with their severely disabled children? The assumption -- the lie -- is that the decision to have a late-term abortion is frivolous, and what a smug and self-satisfied attitude. When a woman makes that choice, it is a hard one. And when a disabled child is born to a woman with little to no support system, here in South Carolina you can bet that rarely are those kids in attendance at Hidden Treasure Christian School.
And then there is the matter of having this photo op and signing this law at a Christian school. A school that by law and by the tenets of the constitution, is not a government funded or sponsored institution. Of course, it could be that, were Nikki Haley to try to find such a pleasing picture in a public school, she would have to settle for the actual real-life tough cases of disability, the ones that the Christian school can screen out. The kids that go to schools that are inadequately funded, with teachers that are underpaid in schools that are understaffed.
If you are reading this blog, you know me, and you know that when I saw the photo and the article yesterday, I was spitting mad. After I posted the link on Facebook, I wrote a letter to The State. I would have written one to the Post & Courier but could not because of their 30-day rule. So I would like to share my letter with you here, and, if you too agree that Haley's message is as inappropriate, cruel and self-serving as the law itself, please join me in sharing with social media, contacting the governor's office, and in writing letters to the editor.
This is what I wrote:
Governor Haley's photo op commemorating her signing of the 20-week abortion ban is abhorrent in so many ways. First of all, it makes apparent that this has been a religious cause, and not based on science, as its supporters falsely claimed. And using special needs children in such a way is the lowest kind of publicity stunt, featuring religious indoctrination and coercion of those who are not yet able to make their own decisions, and about a very adult issue. Signing the bill at a Christian school makes it clear that in South Carolina, there is no separation of church and state: if you do not believe in the God of Nikki Haley and our legislators, your beliefs will not be honored as reflected by our laws.
I hope that the flagrant misuse of the power of government as represented by this bill signing, makes it that much easier for the Supreme Court to find this law unconstitutional.
Those who are celebrating their victory with the passage of this law have already indicated that this is just the start. Because this was about extremist religion and misogyny, and never about science, they are not only posing for pictures in a Christian setting, they are planning for further attacks on women's reproductive rights. Let's let them know that this is a Pyrrhic victory, and the battle is nowhere near over.