By Laura Haight
These remarks were made at the June meeting of the Democratic Women of Greenville County and the introduction of the program: Reproductive Rights: What Now? Watch the replay.
As Democrats, we spend a lot of time looking backward: At how things used to be, at presidents like Obama, Clinton, FDR, and Carter (perhaps the most visionary president we’ve had). Imagine where we would be today if Reagan had left the solar panels on the White House?
Our theme today is just that: looking forward. We have all bitched and moaned and railed against the machine – i.e. the Supreme Court, our statehouse, Republican legislators and fellow citizens over everything from the loss of our 50-year-old right to make our own health decisions to what books the state will allow our kids to read.
But talk is cheap and whiskey costs money. So today we are going to focus on what we are going to do about it.
Before we get into the program, there are two things I want to say.
First, this is an extremely sad time for our country. When I heard the news Thursday night that Donald Trump had been indicted, I was on the verge of tears. Tears of happiness that finally he would be held to account; and tears of sadness that this is what our country has come to. As a card-carrying Daughter of the American Revolution, I can only imagine what my ancestors would be thinking. Republicans are so intent on “what would the framers do.” I guarantee you they would not have an indicted felon running for president and continuing to be supported by the national party and 90 percent of his opponents. They would likely be rolling over in their crypts watching news analysis of how the Secret Service would protect Trump in prison if he were elected. What’s next? State dinners in the prison commissary?
This is a bizarre and sad time. And we’ve all had those YES! moments. But I urge us all to stay calm and cool, and maybe even reserved while this case – and the others I believe will come – wind their way through the courts.
I have often thought that had the Republicans not reveled so much in the Dodds ruling, fist bumping, cheering and immediately ticking off the list of their next targets, that possibly the public anger would have been less pronounced. And they might have salvaged some of their 2022 campaigns. Of course, I’m very glad they weren’t smart enough to do that.
But we are.
Secondly, this month in my monthly message, I talked about Gov. McMaster’s “hunt them down like dogs” comment. We all know that apologies are meaningless; winning is where we get our revenge. And in my research I found some very interesting facts about public opinion in South Carolina on some of our key issues.
I’d like to breeze through a few:
- A 2022 survey commissioned by Planned Parenthood found 70 percent of SC voters believe abortion should be a decision left to a woman and her doctor.
- Another 2022 survey on gun violence prevention taken by a Republican pollster found 86 percent of the state’s voters supported background checks, and 79 percent were in favor of red flag laws.
- A 2020 survey conducted by Conservation Voters of South Carolina found 64 percent of SC voters think climate change is a serious problem; and by a 2-1 margin support moving to 100 percent clean energy by 2050.
- And finally, in a survey conducted by AARP South Carolina in 2021 73 percent of South Carolinans said expanding Medicaid is “extremely or very important.” That result includes 69 percent of Republicans.
These are OUR issues. And our job is to reach voters – and to put a finer point on it: non voters – and help them to make the connection between the issues they care about and the people they vote for. The Dodds decision had that effect on tens of millions of young women across the country. Can we replicate that here on a smaller scale?
We must fight the battle with our sisters across the country where women still have reproductive rights. We cannot allow a national abortion ban.
Our three speakers come from diverse segments and are fighting the battle for women’s health care through different avenues: Healthcare and the impact on medical professionals, the avenues open to them as they straddle the line between what’s legal and what’s moral. Legislative and how we can gain ground back with legislation in the state house and how organizations like Planned Parenthood can maneuver in the gray areas, as they strive to help women in crisis or even just provide reproductive health care. Philanthropic looks at ways we can all come together as a community to exponentially increase the power of small donations to help secure abortion rights in other states and ensure abortion care for women around the country.
The core question we put to these experts today is: What can we do now? We’re going to start with each speaker taking 5-7 minutes to present their ideas on the topic, then we will bring them together as a panel to answer your pre-submitted questions and, as time permits, some audience questions.