Your Right to Choose

I write to you today with an open heart and a genuine concern for the future of our children. At a time when the presidential race could be seen as a pissing match between adults looking to take power, there are deeper issues — shadow issues — that are wanting and needing to be explored. I share my perspective with you today not so that you can align with me but so that you can dwell deeply in the issues facing our world and find the courage to speak up for what you believe even if it’s unpopular to do so. I am speaking up even after someone recently wrote to me asking me to refrain from talking about politics. For me, that is like asking me to not talk about life. So today, I assert my right to free speech under the First Amendment, even if that speech is socially or politically incorrect, and I want to talk about Sarah Palin, the Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party.
As I’ve watched the Sarah Palin phenomenon unleash itself on our national airwaves, I’ve been thinking a lot about her, searching to find what parts of my light and what parts of my darkness she holds. The questions I always ask myself in that search are, "What are the qualities that I am seeing in this person?", "Where am I that?" and "How can I take responsibility for the parts of me that I am seeing in her?" With Sarah Palin, I find myself drawn to her — her ability to command attention, her sheer determination to get to the top, and her sexy womanish facade that shows us we don’t have to give up our sexiness to be powerful and strong in the world. On the other hand, I also find myself sickened by the thought that this woman might have the right to represent me and influence my, my family’s, my community’s and my country’s choices. And most of all, I am appalled that that today, on September 11th, a day when we should all be in mourning and have our attention on those who died in the most horrific terrorist act in American history, our attention instead is turned to the governor of Alaska who until now has kept herself sequestered from the press and chooses to use this most opportune day for her own self-interest. I thought about what kind of person would do that — smart or manipulative. Either way, I thought I’d give her the attention she is seeking.
You may not know this, but when I was 17, I found out that I was pregnant. I was devastated and scared to death. I was having sex and doing drugs out of my need to find a way to relieve my emotional pain, and I was just a lost and confused young girl. The news of my pregnancy sent me in a downward spiral. How could I have a baby when I couldn’t even take care of myself? Looking back, I can only imagine how my life would have changed if I had been forced to give birth to a child I didn’t want, how humiliated and embarrassed I would have felt going to school each day, how much pain I would have inflicted on a child whom I resented having in the first place. But this didn’t have to happen, because fortunately, I had a mother and a country that gave me the right to CHOOSE.
Should I have had to suffer the consequences of having sex without protection? I did. Even after I had the abortion, I paid for it in my dreams and in the grief in my heart that I carried for years. I chose to have an abortion. It was a tough choice but it was the right one for me, and I feel great about having made that choice. I look back and feel proud to be an American who could go out to a safe place and be cared for in a loving and kind manner while going through a heartbreaking experience. Because of my decision more than 30 years ago, I have become the woman I am today. I sit here after publishing six books and leading tens of thousands of people through transformational processes that have empowered them to make better choices and live lives they love. Who would I be if I had been forced to have a child? Would I have ever been able to follow my soul’s path? Who would that child be and what pain would they have gone through if I was forced to bring them into this world?
Every day, I deal with people who grew up in homes with mothers who didn’t love them, mothers who didn’t want them, mothers who resented them, and mothers who left them early. I deal with the heartache and the wretched pain that someone feels when their mother had to have them. This is a reality. I’m here to tell you that, for most people who weren’t wanted, the pain that they go through feels like it’s not worth the life they were given. Some work their entire lifetime to overcome this great obstacle. So I ask you, Who are we to ever tell somebody how they should live their life and what choices they should make? Make no mistake. There is a huge cost to forcing people to make choices against their will.
I am very much a woman for women. And at a time when I would love to see a woman in power because women know how to love, nurture and care for all of their children, the cosmic paradox is that we have a woman on the ticket who wants women to go backwards in time. The issue of choice is a huge one for me because I believe this is a microcosm of who Sarah Palin is. Here is a woman who is proudly and publicly sharing that it is her family’s choice to keep her daughter’s baby. Yet at the same time, she is campaigning that we shouldn’t have any choice. This is how the shadow works. This is where we all need to come out of the dark. Even though we’re looking at one issue of this campaign, this issue is birthed out of a whole set of beliefs and a paradigm from the 20th century and before. And I think we’re all aware that we’re not there anymore. By looking at Sarah Palin and how her views could influence our lives and our nation, we can see into what the future could hold for us. We get to make a choice. The future is in our hands.
Denying women the right to choose is as off to me as hearing someone say that there shouldn’t be gay marriage, that gay couples don’t have the same rights as heterosexuals. Are we not in the 21st century? Why would we say that anymore? We used to say it out of ignorance, out of not understanding, out of denial, out of self-righteousness, but today we know that people are born with a desire to cohabitate with the same sex. We know this is not a flawed human being but a new evolution of human beings. We are changing. Have you noticed? This is the real change.
Right now, it’s politically incorrect to talk about Sarah Palin’s parenting, but why are they trying to mute us? It’s imperative to look at the shadow here. We know that when somebody is forcing an issue or a righteous position on us, it’s usually a projection of their own unconscious thoughts and feelings. On the issue of family and choices, it’s clear that Sarah Palin has family issues of her own. Will she be around to care for her special needs baby? Is her daughter’s teen pregnancy a cry, as it often is, for attention, care, and support? Instead of Sarah Palin forcing her family issues on all of us, maybe she should turn that attention and take care of her own family.
And as far as being a pitbull with lipstick, aren’t pitbulls known for killing babies? And isn’t that an interesting shadow metaphor?
Finally, for those of you who think this is just more Democratic Party rhetoric, I want you to know that I am a registered Independent and I’ve voted Republican more times than I care to admit right now. Although I’m voting for a Democrat in this election, I don’t agree with the entire Democratic Party platform and I would consider myself a centrist. I also think, by the way, that we are having too many abortions in our country. We need radical reform and education in the area of abortion. I don’t think we should just leave it as it is. The number of abortions is horrific. But I certainly don’t believe we should deny women the right to choose. The irony is that John McCain and the GOP platform he represents say children should be taught that abstinence until marriage is the only safe way to avoid pregnancy and disease. You’ve got to be kidding. If the daughter of the great state of Alaska’s governor can’t practice abstinence, one of her mother’s core family values, how are all the other kids going to do it? Are we really not going to talk about sex, protection and sexually transmitted diseases with our kids?
In this critical time, I invite us all to look not just at Sarah Palin but all our political figures, to find the light that we might have projected, to find our own darkness, and to use what we see not to beat them up but to find a bigger voice, a voice for true change, a voice for moving forward instead of backward, a voice that respects women, all women, and all their choices.
With love and blessings,
Debbie Ford


  1. Debbie This is an incredibly powerful post, and as always, your personal story sheds so much light and comfort and real feelings on the larger issues facing us. Thank you so much for sharing this. Mallika

  2. Beautifully written. Powerful.

    Some comments:

    What I agree with:

    I agree on the sex education. I went to Junior High in South Carolina – right in the Bible Belt. We had sex education, and I was thankful for it. But I was old enough. I think that it should wait until Junior High. What do you think?

    I am registered Republican, but I disagree with the party on abortion (I am okay with it in the first trimester) and on gay marriage. The only legitmate argument on the right (a good one but not powerful enough) is that marriage is defined as between a man and a woman. Again, unless we drift into post-modernism, this is a valid argument, but not very strong.

    What I diagree with:

    I don't know if I would go as far to say that allowing same sex marriage shows an evolution in humanity.

    I don't think the pitball comment was a parapraxes – I've heard that phrase for about 20 years in various sporting venues.

    I think the question of whether she can handle her kids and her job is a matter for her friends and close family to ask. It is none of our business.

    In sum, here is what I think: Palin is feared and hated by the left for one reason: her stance on abortion. That's it. I have read over 100 articles on her and 99% mention this above all else. The HuffingtonPost is huffing from hyperventilation at her possible nomination, equally crazy is the right's joy for her anti-abortion stance.

    I don't think Roe v. Wade will ever be overturned, it may be amended, but not overturned. You will never get enough judges on the Supreme Court he will overturn it completely – won't happen. The SC may put time limits on when an abortion could take place, but that's it. And those time limits would be reasonable – I think most straight thinking people agree that there should be limits as to when an abortion should take place.

    But should we not be excited for Palin? Wasn't the whole provienence of the women's movement based on the idea that women could do the same job as good or better than men?That was the sole focus of the original women's movement. I read NOW's website all the time and it is amazing that they will not congratulate Palin. When Pelosi became Speaker NOW sent her an 8 foot, hand made card. Is it not a bit bigoted of the left to not at least, stop, pause and say, "Well done Sara!" and then say, "But we disagree with you on abortion – let's try to reason together?"

    What do you think? Just my opinion – not sticking to it (yet). lol.

  3. Thank you for sharing yourself so deeply Debbie. And thank you for your eloquence. You gave me something of great value to share with very strong women I know. If there was ever doubt about the power of women in our society, it is being put to rest now.

  4. Debbie, what a powerful post, in both the personal experience you share and your reflection, rather than knee-jerk reaction, to Sarah Palin. She has struck so many chords of fear, curiosity and anger in me, and beyond my knee-jerk reactions, I should get in touch with why.

  5. Thanks Debbie! I share your fear of Sarah Palin and your anxiety over where she is trying to lead our society. You have helped to crystalize my own thinking by sharing your deeply personal story with such candor and passion. I can't imagine that the people of this country will be seduced by her charm and clever ability to twist issues and always bring the conversation around to where SHE wants it to go. Sarah Palin is not LISTENING….she is talking too much to listen.

    I loved Charlie Gibson's reference to her "blizzard of words"…I think that was his phrase. If it wasn't it should have been because that's what I was feeling during that interview…it was like trying to drive through a blinding snow storm and stay on the road with nothing but the swirl of white snow in your field of vision. I couldn't focus on the question Gibson had just asked because the response coming from her was nothing more than a blizzard of words….and where the heck was the TOPIC?

    BLESSINGS…..Bob Stout

  6. I wonder sometimes what Democracy stands for.

    We have set a number of rules and then started to overrule them all the time.

    To me Democracy has become Egocracy.

    In other words: the ego going crac(z)y 🙂

    And every politician has an opinion of which he/she thinks it is the best for everyone.

    And so in election campaigns they are also trying to convince other people of their opinion. And as there are many people in this world, some will choose for this "truth' and others for another one.

    And when finally a government is formed it becomes a learning school for those who now believe that they will make the change.

    And they grow wiser and wiser and they know in the end it is not their ego that did the job.

    It are the laws of Nature which we still are trying to unravel and to which we still have to bow.

    It reveals itself in every topic whether it is politics, religion, science, philosphy etc. etc.

    The one with the biggest mouth and the biggest confidence in him/herself will rule the world……….

  7. Debbie,

    I am just twenty years older than you are.

    I remember when birth control pills were invented. What a relief. But you had to married to get them.

    I remember when birth control was illegal or unavailable all over most of the United States.

    I remember when you had to leave the country or go to a back alley to get an abortion.

    I remember when a woman could not get her tubes tied unless her age times her number of children equaled 120.

    I remember when a woman was looked on as a freak if she wanted to breatfeed her baby.

    I hope and pray that these things I remember will forever remain a distant memory.

    If we are not very careful, these past memories will become our future.