“Politics is the art of the possible.” -25+ year veteran lobbyist
So then, what is possible? What is not?
It can often be difficult to determine what is possible. State legislators, even the ones who truly have the best interest of the people at heart, can believe that every one of their ideas is great and should become the law. Understand that it takes more than an average amount of confidence and self-esteem to become a state legislator, so it stands to reason that some of these men and women think that each of their ideas is the best one since mayonnaise in a jar and any idiot who is against it is, well, an idiot.
Sometimes these legislators, who really are good people, make the huge mistake of failing to listen to those around them. In speaking with friends in the legislature, I’ve learned that one of the smartest things you will ever do (and it takes some time to do it) is to learn to whom you should listen. There are hundreds of lobbyists, activists and constituents who will fill the calendar of the legislator, but he or she must remember that not every appointment they take will be for honorable reasons. Neither will they all be for nefarious reasons. To whom will you listen?
One of my personal favorite organizations is Right to Life. There is a chapter in each state and they lobby for issues that concern only the matter of life. This is the oldest pro-life organization in the nation and the state chapters develop their positions on local issues based on the directions from the national group. The point is they are good at what they do. The National Right to Life studies both state and federal level issues and examines them carefully to make certain they are on the side of life except in the very most extreme situations. They understand the issues better than anyone else in the pro-life game.
So then, why would a pro-life state legislator argue with them?
Unfortunately, some of them do.
There is a wonderful legislator in a particular state who is as pro-life as they come. If he had his way, all abortions would be illegal at midnight tonight and forever more. He is fierce, brave, and can turn an average lobbyist into a puddle of water with just a few questions. This legislator is trying to pass a bill requiring that every woman seeking an abortion in his home state will be required to have an ultrasound before the procedure begins.
This is a great concept! Studies have shown that most women who are abortion vulnerable choose to give birth to their baby once they see an ultrasound image. Wonderful! Let’s put an ultrasound machine in every crisis pregnancy center and abortion clinic and get qualified personnel in there to take pictures. Right?
Not so fast. Those ultrasound pictures do not do one bit of good if they don’t show anything. A co-worker recently showed me some pictures from ultrasounds she had performed on women at various points in their pregnancies. My untrained eye could easily see the baby’s image at 10 weeks. With a little direction, I could spot the baby as early as 7 ½ weeks. But at 7 weeks, just 3-4 days earlier, I could see little. Pictures at the 6 week mark revealed nothing.
The women seeking an abortion have probably never learned to read an ultrasound image either. When I saw the pictures taken at 7 weeks, I did not SEE anything worth saving, even though I knew it was there. How will the abortion vulnerable women feel? They will see nothing, but know they are pregnant. “Since there’s nothing really there, an abortion isn’t such a big deal, is it?” Requiring an ultrasound at this point in the pregnancy does little good and costs a lot of money. The state legislator carrying the bill could re-write it to say that abortions could only be done after an ultrasound was performed on those women between 7-10 weeks along in their pregnancy.
Or he could take the advice of the state Right to Life chapter.
Background information: This same state just spent 14 years getting a constitutional amendment on their ballot that overturned a state Supreme Court ruling in which common sense abortion laws were nullified. The Right to Life Chapter in this state is now working diligently to reinstate some of these laws this year. In a play out of the liberal manifesto, the pro-abortion lobby filed a lawsuit to overturn the will of the people who passed the constitutional amendment, so the RTL chapter is back in court.
Politics is the art of the possible. What is possible at this point? When you are spending time, money, and personnel resources fighting a lawsuit, it is not the time to pass a law that can easily be overturned in the process. While it is often acceptable to fight the fights that are worth fighting, sometimes you need to fight the fights you can win. This state, with an overwhelmingly large pro-life legislature and governor, can easily win back an informed consent law, waiting period law, and a requirement that abortion clinics be licensed and inspected by the state health department. Fighting for mandatory ultrasounds may not be the best fight while they are also fighting in a courtroom to simply hold their ground.
Passage of this bill would only be fuel to the fire of the pro-aborts. When you have a liberal leaning judge or court in play, passage of an ultra-conservative pro-life bill is mute. It will end up costing you millions in legal fees and will be overturned by the nearest court as soon as possible.
Therefore, it is important to work within the bounds of “what is possible.” Even if it is a great idea, you may need to live to fight another day.