The Definition of Consent

In 1995, as many of you will remember, a suit was filed in the state of South Carolina against The Citadel with respect to discrimination against women. As it happens, I was then, and am still, of the belief that there is a definite place for schools and colleges segregated by gender. My best friend’s mother, who graduated in 1939 from an all-girls’ school, agreed. “If I’d gone to a co-ed college, I would not have had a chance to develop leadership skills,” she said. “I would never have run for office.” My older sister, who went to Tift College, the then Baptist version of the Methodist Wesleyan and Presbyterian Agnes Scott Colleges in Georgia, also agreed. Somewhat shy when she entered as a freshman, she would serve as the Junior Class President and President of the Baptist Student Union in her senior year. But she wouldn’t likely have even run for similar offices at Georgia.

I agreed completely with those who maintained that there was nothing wrong with the Citadel’s being an all-male military college and though, since Shannon Faulkner’s lawsuit and subsequent admission and resignation a few weeks later, over 200 young women have graduated from the Citadel, I still feel some sorrow about that.

Even so, I applauded the lawsuit and the result. The reason? Because The Citadel is a state-supported school. As a working and taxpaying woman, I found it highly disturbing that the taxes paid by my counterparts in South Carolina were used to support a college they could not attend. The solution was simple—make The Citadel a private school. Of course, money fears might have erupted, but I suspect had the state withdrawn aid to The Citadel, the alumni would have more than made up for the shortfall, much as the alumni of Mercer reportedly responded when the Southern Baptist Convention pulled its support.

I feel the same way about abortion. Though I am pro-choice with respect to the intrusion of government into what I consider to be personal decisions, and mystified at the irony that politically speaking, the party that advocates against restrictions on gun purchases is the same one that advocates restricting a woman’s right to make a decision about her own body (and vice versa), I supported the Hyde Amendment. I believe it unconstitutional to require any person who believes abortion is wrong for any reason to financially support the costs of that personal decision, just as I believe it wrong to pay taxes for a benefit to which I am not entitled.

I know there are those who will suggest that my pro-choice stance condones what choices a free person will make, but that’s a debate for a different day. Suffice it to say that the very same reasoning renders Sarah Palin guilty of condoning Jared Lee Loughner’s “choice” because she’s against gun control.

But apparently the Hyde Amendment, a rider which continues to be renewed, isn’t restrictive enough. So, a representative of the “limited government” party, during a financial catastrophe unlike that any of us except those over 80 can remember, has presented a bill that presumes to punish businesses—those same businesses who already can’t afford to provide insurance for their employees and continue to drop like flies in the current recession—for buying policies that do not explicitly exclude coverage for abortion, and in attempting to tighten the grip of that “limited government,” has included in that bill redundant language that ventures into the realm of defining not the meaning of rape, but consent.

For those who have not read the actual verbiage of the bill and the most offending section:




The limitations established in sections 301, 302, 303, and 304 shall not apply to an abortion—

(1) if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest; or

(2) in the case where the pregnant female suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the pregnant female in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.


This is an unnecessary bill and a frivolous one, and I consider it a flagrant misuse of time and taxpayer money. So, at the risk of being misunderstood in that gray area, let me be perfectly clear, Mr. Smith and members of the House Ways and Means Committee. You are not my keeper spiritually, religiously or physically, and you do not have my consent to continue with this any further.

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