LOS ANGELES, CA – As a Neighborhood Councilmember I am inspired by the concepts supported by Empower LA of diversity, equity, and inclusion. As one of Jewish heritage and preparing for our highest holy day of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), I am mindful of how far we still have to come on those concepts when the sentiments of anti-Semitism still run strong in the world with voices that would dehumanize an entire race of people.
While strides have been made against discrimination, I also know that when any group of human beings fails to be included, fails to have their voice heard, or fails to have their diversity represented, how easily that can happen to any group. When human rights are trampled and an entire class of human beings are denied equity and inclusion in the protection of their most fundamental rights it makes it that much easier to do the same to another group. When one group faces discrimination it heightens the risk for all others, and when that discrimination comes solely because of one’s age, size, and developmental stage, the jeopardy is all the greater. How we treat the most defenseless in society is a litmus test for the vulnerability of rights for us all.
Beginning this week, and over the next month, Californians will have an opportunity to demonstrate whether diversity, equity, and inclusion are concepts that they really do intend to champion or if they are merely platitudes spoken to make them feel good. Before them on the ballot will be Proposition 1. For many they have been told it is a proposition about choice, women’s health, and reproductive decision-making. This is a ploy. It is diversion and misdirection at its finest. It is intended to blind voters to what it really does and that is to deny the most fundamental right – the right to life – to literally the most defenseless and voiceless human beings. Human beings who only need the commodity of time to be equitably granted to them as it has been to every single voter in order to have their voice heard.
Failing to recognize these human beings as members of our society, who deserve inclusion, equality, and protection, erodes the fundamental foundation by which we base the value for those very concepts that we acknowledge prizing. For those who might still be struggling with the balancing of rights between two groups of people or even when to grant that right, that is understandable. However, Proposition 1 removes even the room to wrestle with those issues or have that conversation. Rather than inviting a rational conversation that looks to follow the science, instead this draconian and extreme proposition was hastily rushed on to the ballot. In so doing, it eliminated the language of protections for healthy, viable human beings, going so far as to seek to enshrine the right to violently terminate the life of another human being into the state constitution.
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Rational people may disagree on certain aspects of the abortion debate, but only 13% of Californians think that abortion should be legal at any time during pregnancy up to the moment of birth. Much as there is still a long way to go to end racial discrimination, there is still a long way to go to come to agreement on abortion. However, just as we all value diversity, equity, and inclusion – we can also still all agree that Proposition 1 goes too far, is too extreme, and only serves to undermine those concepts, while not advancing any common good. Abortion is still legal in California, let’s not take a step backward in defending the most vulnerable and voiceless, yet viable human beings needing our protection.