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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A little of what happened before my speech

The Planned Parenthood lobbyist, Keri, asked us to arrive between 2 and 2:30 p.m., today in order to get a seat. I was able to leave my part-time job at the newspaper early today because I'm going to have to work over tomorrow. We left the house about noon because we had to go to the bank, get gas and pick me up something to eat since I hadn't had lunch yet. It takes about an hour and a half to get to Legislative Plaza from our house.

The public hearing today focused mainly on two bills HJR 0061 and HJR OO66. Both of these measures would add wording to our state constitution that says nothing secures the right of a woman to have an abortion. One of these laws has an exception for life of the mother and rape or incest (notice no poor prenatal diagnosis exception) and the other doesn't. When we arrived, the plaza room was filled with another committee having a discussion, and a big group milled about outside the door, sporting buttons that supported the legislation. This group was from the Tennessee Right to Life organization, and we could tell from what they were saying that they were pretty vehement in their opinion.

One of my best friends is a member of this group, but she isn't anywhere near as militant as these people seemed to be. I've met some very opinionated pro-life people on the Internet but never in real life, so they were kind of a shock to me. I wondered if they would say anything to me while I was giving my speech. I met up with Keri, and she showed us the seats she had saved. Brian and I sat down and waited and tried to save some more seats so all the pro-choice people could sit together, but some of the Right to Lifer's rudely picked up the coats and purses sitting in the chairs and moved them so they could sit down. It didn't matter that Keri and the others had gotten there as early as possible to save those seats.

I don't know why I'm surprised. Most of the militant pro-life people I've "met" online don't really care about the feelings or rights of others; they just want to shove what they think is right down our throats (I'm not saying all pro-life people; just those very militant ones).

We listened as the backers of each piece of legislation spoke. There were lots of questions, especially about the exceptions part. I wanted to speak up and say Trisomy 18 and other poor prenatal diagnosis should count as an exception, too, but I sat there until it was my turn. A constitution lawyer spoke on the pro-life side, but I think he lost a lot of people with what he was saying. I consider myself to be smart, but most of what he said went right over my head. After he finished, Rep. Sherry Jones had some questions about how it would affect a woman's privacy. This lead to a discussion about caring for children after they get here, and Rep. Charles Curtiss said he cared about the unborn children which was why he was sponsoring the bill. Rep. Jones said she cared about the children in the state, too, and several of the pro-life people snickered very loudly. I was so glad when Rep. Debra Maggert, who also sponsored the bill, defended her.

Later, a doctor from Knoxville commented on diseases a woman can go through while pregnant, and she also mentioned Trisomy 18. I heard some whispered comments behind me from the Right to Lifer's, but I am not sure what they said. This made me a little anxious about giving my speech, but I still knew it had to be done. Once the doctors finished talking, Rep. Armstrong asked if anyone else opposing the measures would like to speak. The head of Planned Parenthood looked at me and nodded. It was my turn to speak. I'll tell the rest of this in another blog tomorrow when I'm better rested.


Niff said...

I'm totally gripped and you left me hanging! :op

Brendan and Brenna's Mom said...

Aaahhh! Don't leave us hanging like that! :)