The summertime highlights of my childhood were often spent on the beaches of Jekyll Island. In addition to hundreds of sand castles, thousands of miles of beach walks and bike rides...my family has very strong and singular memories of assisting sea turtles. During evening beach walks we would often note sea turtle mama's depositing their eggs near the sea wall, or struggling to make their way back out to sea. Nearing five decades later, I am thrilled to know that a corps of volunteers, now mark and protect those baby turtle eggs and nests, and the work of Jekyll Island Sea Turtle Center is known nationwide.
There are state and federal laws protecting these endangered turtles and their offspring, as well as regulating any beachfront lighting, by kilowatt and brightness, as well as the hours which any artificial light can shine toward the beach...potentially blinding or causing misdirection of a mother sea turtle during nesting season.
Georgia and other states also have strong statues against leaving animals in a closed vehicle, as well as protections against other potential kinds of animal abuse. Our General Assembly just passed a statute giving limited protection to individuals breaking into vehicles they do not own to free or give air/relief to an enclosed dog or pet.
And yet, at the same time many states give limited or almost no protection to the rights of our own unborn children. In many respects, endangered sea turtles are being given greater priority than the survival of our own species. I do not consider myself to be pro-life. I support safe, and legal access to abortion under limited circumstances. I would oppose over-turning both Roe vs. Wade (despite its flawed legal reasoning), and Casey vs. Planned Parenthood, the now more relevant Supreme Court decision on reproductive rights regulation by the states made in 1992.
Abortion rights are an intensely personal issue and decision, which I believe are best left in the hands of a pregnant woman, in consultation with her physician, her partner, her family and her God.
The United States is approaching a zero-birth rate in terms of population growth. Traditional families are fewer, as are the average number of children. Millenial and Gen-X adults are waiting longer to start families, and if you subtract out birthright citizenship, which is still responsible for a disproportionate share of our new population, we are likely already losing more American lives each year to illness, suicide and death than we are bringing into this world domestically.
And yet, instead of encouraging adoption, birth control and foster care, we have the New York state legislature passing a statute allowing for ending the life of a newborn after it leaves the womb. In Virginia, the Governor there embraced legislation from his own Democratic Party which would have also legalized infanticide, if the now born fetus was determined to 'not be viable.' Republicans in that state were able to block passage of that bill.
In many states, from either end of the spectrum, there will be prospective laws which push the envelope to either extreme. I have often found myself in these discussions and debates, which can quickly devolve into heated and emotional arguments very quickly. I have found it easiest to end such discussions with a simple question. How many of these children are you planning to adopt? At the very least there are a few moments of stunned silence.
I'm not suggesting abortion should be banned. In addition to allowances for rape, incest or threats to the health and life of the mother...there are other circumstances, including more severe birth defects and real household safety threats, which may well warrant that safe and legal choice. But I think that most Americans, and virtually every mother who I have ever spoken to who has successfully birthed a child...that procedure should be limited, also giving protection and rights to the unborn at beyond the mid-term in a pregnancy. Our hospital neo-natal intensive care units routinely give care and save the lives of fetuses born many months premature, under-weight and with numerous medical challenges.
If you have ever met or seen one of those miracle babies, you would likely better appreciate extending to them at least some of the same protections we give to baby sea turtles, placing at least as much value on every human life. And that isn’t just baby talk to me.