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Washington Times - Why I Choose Life


Location: Washington, DC

Why I Choose Life, by Rep. Fallin

Americans have been debating abortion - often at fever pitch - for 36 years now without a clear resolution. It has become the litmus test of our times whenever a new Supreme Court justice is nominated. In ten presidential campaigns since 1972, candidates have been required to take an abortion position, and a significant number of voters on both ends of the life-choice spectrum cast ballots based largely on this one issue.

Most of this four-decade debate has been carried on in abstract terms. But for a few of us, it is highly personal. At the very beginning of my political career, I chose a pro-life position for a most immediate reason.

In 1990, while running in my first campaign for elected office, I was instinctively pro-life, but abortion was not one of my centerpiece issues. Having worked in both the private and public sector, I was running for a seat on the Oklahoma State Legislature to focus on matters like small business development, taxation and economic growth.

Legislative campaigns are retail in nature. You walk the blocks, knock doors, talk to voters, often in a cold drizzle or scorching heat. I was seeking an open seat representing Oklahoma City, with opponents in both the primary and general elections, and began campaigning in the beginning of the year.

Early in my campaign, I encountered a smug lobbyist at a reception for legislative candidates. He asked me what my position on abortion was. I had never been asked this before as a candidate, but I responded without much thought that I was prolife. The lobbyist asked, "What would happen if you got pregnant during your campaign? No one would vote for you, you'd be ineffective and you would lose."

His conclusion: "You would have to have an abortion."

I disagreed. I told him if I got pregnant, I'd continue to run for office and I'd have my baby, just like other working mothers do.

A few weeks passed, and I began to wake up in the morning feeling sick. I went to the doctor and explained to him that I had the flu and I needed to get better in a hurry so I could campaign. I was wrong. As I learned that day, I was pregnant with my second child. I was now living the dilemma posed to me by the lobbyist.

What he had suggested to me crystallized my previous thinking on this keystone issue. Abortion in modern America is rarely a matter of medical necessity. For a great many women, it is one of convenience. That's what the lobbyist was suggesting to me: do what is most convenient.

When I became pregnant, I saw the abortion issue more clearly. What Roe v. Wade did, no matter what the intentions of the Supreme Court, was to make some innocent lives disposable. Since 1973 we have experienced some 50 million abortions. This has coarsened our society in ways we will regret for centuries.

I took this outlook with me on the campaign trail, which wound through spring rains and Oklahoma's fierce summer heat. As my pregnancy progressed to the obvious, voters sometimes stood in their doorways and offered me water or a place to sit. I kept at it, ever aware of the growing life I was carrying, and ever more convinced it is morally wrong to sacrifice life on a whim.

I won the primary election in late August, delivered my son in September and won the general election when he was six weeks old. Some said I had proved the doubters wrong, but this was not an exercise in politics or even endurance.

It was about a basic human principle: the dignity of all life.

In two terms as a state legislator, three terms as Oklahoma's first woman Lieutenant Governor and into two terms in Congress, I have remained steadfastly pro-life. I understand and respect the positions of those on both sides of this debate, but I also see a clear moral right and an equally clear moral wrong.

Does that make the pro-choice side evil? No. But they are mistaken when they view abortion as a matter of convenience, when they regard one life as somehow secondary to another. Had I lost that first election, I might never have enjoyed a rewarding and productive career in public service. But I would have been content with the outcome.

His name is Price. He's over six feet tall, handsome and smart. He graduates from high school in May, ready for a full and rewarding life that will undoubtedly span many more years of debate over an issue which continues to define our political landscape.

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