What Was Once My Party Is No More

Sheila Luecht

I am a pro-choice moderate, business orientated and educated. What I did not realize until recently is that according to current Republican framework, I am not even really a Republican.

Editor’s Note: The following is a submission received during our
Pro-Choice Republican Essay Contest. We are delighted to feature the
voices of Republican voters who shake off party orthodoxy and embrace
pro-choice principles. Their views, of course, are theirs alone, and
don’t necessarily reflect those of the site.

I once considered myself a Republican, a conservative, a
proud American. What I did not realize until recently is that according to current Republican framework, I am not even really a Republican. I am a pro-choice moderate, business orientated and educated. I am a religious person who believes in a
separation of church and state. I cannot help but consider myself a Republican, but am angry and disappointed that what was once my party
really is no more.  

I am 52 years old and I remember the time before
Reagan and before this aggressive movement to the right. As I have seen
the damage caused by the current administration, and the religious
influence surrounding what is occurring, I have become less interested
in organized religion and more personal about my beliefs. I am greatly
offended when we are told this is a Christian nation and it is implied
that all others are secondary, interlopers or non-existent on the radar

I am sadly not optimistic that this anti-choice religious trend in politics will go away any
time soon. Organized religion does not encourage science, independent
thought, and choice, at least not the religion that has permeated the
Republican Party and is working on taking over our nation. Science and
education, responsible sex education has no place in a society governed
by spiritual interpretation served up to support one belief or another
to the masses. Women having choice, the control over their own bodies?
Unheard of — sadly there’s no recognition of women as being capable of choice,
having the moral fortitude to make their own decisions and the respect
for that independence. I am very capable of making my own decisions
about my own body and I don’t know too many other women who would not
say the same thing.

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In the 2000 primary I ran as a pro-choice moderate Republican for a State Representative seat. In our area women did not have the
opportunity to run, they were always "bumped" out of line, pro-choice
candidates stood no chance as the wave of conservatism swept over our
area. So I stepped out of line, ran against two other very conservative
anti-choice male republicans and got 20% of the vote in a three way
coming into the race in late November with the vote in March. I made
some impact but was not welcomed into the party unless I sought
absolution and towed the line. The seat in the general went to the
Democratic incumbent who was at the time saying he was both pro-life
and pro-choice depending on who he was working with, and has since
voted pro-choice and received the endorsements of several pro-choice

Running as I did barred me from many a leadership position in my
own community as it was just unheard of to stand up to the party in
such a manner. I would not come in from the cold as many others did
once they failed and be given some token position. In fact the party
leader at that time told me that if I brought a number of pro-choice Republicans forward the sheer numbers would cause him to champion the
cause. I called him a political prostitute, as I suggested to him that
if he would be so changeable in his ideology if sufficient numbers
presented themselves, it was clearly all about power not belief. This had been the fate of many pro-choice Republicans in the area, as the religious right took over and reared
its ugly heads, the choice issue was forced into the shadows. As the
party sought unity to get the job done of voting in Republicans, so
that they had power and their agendas where put forward, choice was
unpopular and defeated and effectively the pro-life position put into
the party platform was upheld as the rule.

on all those who think. Even our congressman and his wife were anti-choice and did not hesitate to spread the false connection between
breast cancer and abortion on government stationery to any person who
confronted him regarding his stand on abortion rights.

There is so much at stake when religion becomes the leader in law and politics. We all end up losing.

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