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Personal stories, not politics on issue of abortion

The Arizona Capitol Times

January 24, 2024

Iranian-born Tina O’Callaghan, a Scottsdale resident, was raised in Bucks County, PA, is a Georgetown University graduate, and was formerly a vice president in Credit Suisse’s Fixed Income Division in New York City. 

As I sit down to write this op-ed, I am acutely aware of the delicate nature of the topic at hand. Abortion is not merely a political debate; it is a deeply personal, often heartbreaking, and sometimes medically necessary choice that women and families face. In Arizona, where the political discourse surrounding abortion has reached a fever pitch, it’s time to shift the focus from rhetoric to real-life stories — stories like mine. 

 

My journey into the heart of this debate began with a personal tragedy. I experienced a miscarriage, a devastating loss that many women can unfortunately relate to. Fortunately I had the option of a medical procedure called a Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) that is banned or unavailable in certain parts of the country with few exceptions (pre-Dobbs D&E and D&C bans have taken on new ambiguity since 2022). Soon the very procedure that provided closure and prevented further complications for me could soon be permanently out of reach for all women in America. 

 My husband, Conor, and I have three happy, healthy boys. But Conor was there with me during the anxious moments that defined the difficult days after my miscarriage. In hindsight, I took for granted that I had all the medical options available to me. I had a clear, routine remedy for my condition, and the biggest concern on my mind was how fast I could get back on my feet after the procedure. I can’t imagine how women in the same position would cope without access. It’s something Conor and I think about often. That’s why after the fall of Roe, my husband made a commitment to take action. This led him to run for Congress in 2024, fueled by the understanding that our leaders must prioritize the personal stories of the people they serve, especially when it comes to issues as sensitive as reproductive rights. 

When Roe fell, I wasn’t going to advocate in the same way others like my husband do. But I urge those speaking up for choice to incorporate personal stories. The abortion narrative in Arizona and the nation has turned into a polarized battleground of ideologies. It’s crucial to remember the human faces behind the statistics. My story is just one of many, each unique and deserving of empathy. 

Having experienced the consequences of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, my family and I left our homeland, bearing witness to a nation where policies dictated women’s entire lives and fundamental human rights were stripped away. The echoes of that tumultuous period resonate deeply, serving as a reminder of the dire consequences when a society allows the erosion of personal freedoms and the curbing of human rights. It has instilled in me a profound sense of appreciation for the liberties that we enjoy in the United States. We should not take them for granted. 

The societal risk isn’t just the loss of women’s reproductive rights; a crisis of common sense looms. Reports of voters potentially splitting tickets in 2024, supporting pro-choice initiatives while voting for pro-life GOP candidates poses a grave danger. Bridging this communication gap is crucial to help voters connect their values with candidates. If the GOP controls Congress and the White House, nationwide draconian anti-abortion laws will be enforced, as seen in Texas. Blue state safe havens won’t matter, and women’s health, see Kate Cox’s case, will be at risk.  

We must reshape the conversation, sharing intimate stories to foster empathy, understanding, and challenge divisive rhetoric. My plea isn’t to abandon political principles, but to recognize the multifaceted nature of abortion issues. We aren’t Democrats or Republicans; we are women and we need to be heard. 

 In Arizona, amidst a critical juncture in the abortion debate, let’s prioritize human faces, real experiences, and compelling narratives for compassionate policymaking. Only by appreciating the personal side can we safeguard women’s rights and well-being, avoiding a future where women’s rights become history. 

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