By MIKE MAGEE
“Don’t call me a saint,” said founder of the early 1930’s Catholic Workers Movement, Dorothy Day. “I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.” Oddly enough, says Jesuit writer, James Martin, “That quote is probably the biggest obstacle to her canonization…Given that quote, would Dorothy really want to be canonized?”
This week’s election results were a sliver of bright light in what has been a rather dark period. But it is at times like this that quiet heroes emerge. If courage has a face, this morning, as results across the land show a sweeping victory for Democrats, and specifically those advancing the cause of women’s autonomy in managing their own health decisions with their doctors, it belongs to a young woman from Kentucky named Hadley.
In the final weeks of the Kentucky governor’s race, as Politico reported, Andy Beshear gave voice to the woman who directly addressed his opponent on camera. “Anyone who believes there should be no exceptions for rape and incest could never understand what it’s like to stand in my shoes. This is to you, Daniel Cameron. To tell a 12-year-old girl she must have the baby of her stepfather who raped her is unthinkable.”
Absorbing the results of the elections with the rest of us are Governor Chris Christie, Governor Ron DeSantis, Ambassador Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Senator Tim Scott who took the stage last Wednesday evening in Miami at the 3rd Republican Primary Debate. No doubt they are surrounded by consultants trying to figure out how best to spin this issue. As Dobbs has played out in states like Kansas, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin and beyond, political scientists are likely reminding that in politics, “Sometimes when you win, you lose.”
Court packing on a federal level, and even more importantly by Republican leaders on the state level, has tipped the power of our nation toward minority rule, allowing repugnant leaders to seize control of our legal system. That power has been used over the past decade to allow passage of laws that attack existing rights such as women’s power and autonomy over their own bodies, or construct barriers that obstruct the popular will of the people. Examples include promoting extreme gerrymandering and voter suppression, dead ending the Dream Act, or allowing citizen access to weapons of war and a permitless gun-carry law in Florida.
Understandably, citizens have wondered, “Will our Democracy die.” Hadley’s courageous decision reflects a stubborn and determined stance, by she and many others throughout this land, to assure the answer is, “No. Not on my watch!”
Her image and words will be lasting for three major reasons. They prove that:
- A healthy democracy requires participation and engagement of citizens.
- Freedom and autonomy, including access to health professionals, is sacred and personal.
- Women will not accept second class citizenship.
Trump no doubt remains unaware that he has lost everything. Many of his most ardent supporters, including Leonard Leo, the mastermind behind the court packing scheme that brought us the Dobbs decision, remain firmly in a state of denial. But even they must admit this morning, as they stare into Hadley’s eyes, and listen to her steady voice, they have met their match. And she is a young woman who’s message is clear, “Enough is enough!”
Likely channeling another woman’s spirit from a century ago, Hadley’s courage (listen here) was more human than super-human. As Dorothy Day quietly proclaimed, “Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.”
Mike Magee MD is a Medical Historian and regular contributor to THCB. He is the author of CODE BLUE: Inside America’s Medical Industrial Complex.