"(W)e will never again sow division. Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid." That's from Amanda Gorman's poem, "The Hill We Climb," which she read at the recent inauguration.
The sentiment was consistent with President Biden's own words to those who did not support him: "Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart."
Unfortunately, it didn't take even until the end of the week for Joe Biden to get cracking on some divisive priorities. The statement he and Vice President Kamala Harris released for the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in all three trimesters of pregnancy, was the most vehement from a Democratic administration yet.
After asserting that "reproductive health ... has been under relentless and extreme attack," they say that the administration is "deeply committed to making sure everyone has access to ... reproductive health care." It continues: "The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to codifying Roe v. Wade and appointing judges that respect foundational precedents like Roe. ... now is the time to rededicate ourselves to ensuring that all individuals have access to the health care they need."
One of the problems here, of course, that abortion isn't mere health care. It's the ending of a life. It's the severing of the most precious bond there is, the one between mother and child.
Can we step away from politics for a moment and consider how we can serve women, children and families better? Not simply as a federal government, but as individuals, families and communities?
The Biden administration's statement was not a surprise, of course, to those of us who oppose abortion. But if the president's inaugural words were heartfelt, he wouldn't have been so callous to the Americans who could not in good conscience vote for him because of his position on abortion.
Many Americans who describe themselves as pro-choice simply want to know that a woman in a difficult position has choices. And they should. It's quite common for married couples to struggle with infertility. So many of them would love to welcome a child into their home. Why are we killing babies when babies are wanted? And why are there ads for surrogates -- which can be so tempting for a woman who is struggling financially -- when there are children languishing in the foster-care system?
It was only hours after the Roe statement from the new White House administration that Amanda Gorman's online video insisting Roe remain "alive" hit. Speaking about efforts to put restrictions on abortion, the poet said: "If the sexes and all people are to be equal, abortion has to be actually accessible, not just technically legal. This fight is about fundamental civil rights ... it's about every single one of us." Except the unborn babies, I should add. Also, how much do we truly care about women if the best we can offer them is an end to their pregnancy?
There are Democrats -- Biden has even said privately he's among them -- who are pro-life. It's hard to get anywhere in the party, though, if you are pro-life in public as well as in private -- just ask former Rep. Dan Lipinski, who was primaried because of his courageous pro-life position. The party would be wise to try to work with such people instead of ostracizing them.
In her poem, Gorman said: "The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it. If only we're brave enough to be it." It would make some radiant light if we'd come together -- pro-life and pro-choice -- and take a second look at abortion in America.