On this Labor Day Weekend I declare that I am pro-choice, pro-labor, and pro-union. That makes me in favor of the "right to work." I am for life, all life. So, why am I considered anti-life? Against the right to work? Oh, I know the convenient rhetoric. It is all in how you frame the argument. But that's just the problem. I am appalled by the rash of regressive legislation and proposed legislation that would restrict women's reproductive health choices. I am a feminist. Even a radical feminist. And that makes me radically pro-life. In fact, on this Labor Day Weekend, I recall vividly the 20 hours of labor I went through in giving birth for the first time.
And, while I am remembering, I recall the relatively small, but significant scholarship I received from the local labor union when I graduated from high school years ago. I wrote a thank you essay on why a collective approach to workers' rights is needed -- for the whole community.
Therefore I am also appalled by the continuing regressive moves to crush the labor movement and proud of the efforts in Wisconsin and Ohio, and other places (with varying results), to keep it alive.
We have heard speeches and seen placards of those who want to protect the unborn. We have witnessed abortion providers harassed, even murdered, under the banner of "pro-life." We continue to experience the hypocrisy of the very people who say they are "pro-life" being quick to go to war and against gun control.
Labor Day has come to mark the end of the summer season (even though many students have already returned to school). It marks the beginning of the political season (even though that began over a year ago.) Thousands of people probably have no idea what Labor Day really signifies. Initially proposed in 1882 to honor the contributions of workers, unclear if by a machinist who was secretary of the Central Labor Union or by a man from the American Federation of Labor, it became a holiday first in the state of Oregon in 1887 and then in 30 states before it became a national holiday. That happened in 1894, during the presidency of Grover Cleveland, six days after the end of the Pullman Strike during which workers were killed. Health and safety of workers are still issues. I am pro-life in the deepest sense of the term.
While hundreds of thousands of people are trying to get back to work, the gap between the wealthy and the poor grows. Figures show the shrinking of the middle class. Those who would cry "class warfare" only try to hide the reality of the disparity between economic classes. Sometimes we hear that people want to make a "decent" wage. A strange term. Are those who make a lot of money "decent," while those with a low income "indecent"? That stereotype prevails: dirty faces, lazy. I know from working in varied neighborhoods that it often takes more work to live as a person who is poor than it does to live with a comfortable income. So I am pro-life, pro a "living" wage. Pro the gift of holy work and Sabbath rest. I am in favor of Labor Day honoring the contributions of all kinds of workers. I am in favor of increasing the minimum wage so that people can actually live on it. That means pro-life-giving work opportunities for all and not blaming the poor for being poor.
And I am for responsible partnership in planning for new life. Yes, that means being for Planned Parenthood, both for the concept of choices and for the organization. I am for women and men laboring together to bring life into this world, raising children, nurturing the world's children, and sustaining life, life on the planet and the life of the planet. Why is that so hard to grasp? It seems so reasonable, so responsible, so natural and life-giving to communities. That's a Labor Day worth celebrating.
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