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Why I’m pro-choice

by Chris Doherty

I’ve been mayor of Scranton for the past eight years, but outside of northeast Pennsylvania, people are still just getting to know me.

So for the last several weeks I’ve been traveling around the state, talking to people about the challenges we face and how we can work together to help create more jobs, grow our economy, and get Pennsylvania working again.

One question I get a lot is about my position on a woman’s right to choose. People look at me and they see a guy from Scranton who was one of 11 kids, a father of six and an active member of his church. They put those pieces together and they’re surprised when I tell them, I’m pro-choice.

I support a woman’s right to choose because, in my view, this is an extremely private, personal matter and every woman should have the right to decide for herself, with the input of her family, her doctor, and her faith. It is not an issue where government should decide. It is a private, personal choice.

Sometimes I get hypothetical questions about how I’d react to what the Supreme Court may or may not do or to a bill that doesn’t exist. To those questions I can only say that my position won’t change. I won’t support a bill that takes away a woman’s right to make her own decision.

Like any candidate, I’ve had occasion to fill out questionnaires on the subject. Such questionnaires are often worded in ways that fail to accurately reflect my position. The fact is, I support a woman’s right to choose. At the same time, I respect the rights of others to disagree, in some cases very passionately.

The right to passionately and intelligently advocate for your beliefs is one of the principles on which our country was founded and, as mayor, I have issued a proclamation acknowledging those who exercise that right on the other side of this issue. Supporting a woman’s right to choose while respecting the rights of others to disagree are not mutually exclusive positions. In fact, a shared bond of respect on this and most issues would serve us well as we work toward a common future.

And that common future will most likely be defined by the choices we make on Pennsylvania’s economy over the next several years, not by social issues. During the last eight years in Scranton, we’ve helped create thousands of new jobs and generate $500 million in new investment. We’ve enjoyed tremendous success by keeping our government focused on the things it can do best: creating jobs, growing the economy, and keeping our communities safe.

Pennsylvania’s next governor will face significant challenges and he or she would do well to keep the Pennsylvania government focused on the things it can do best—get Pennsylvanians working again and put the state’s economy back on the right track.

The writer, a Democrat and the mayor of Scranton, is considering a run for governor.

September 9, 2009 at 9:30 am

--Chris Doherty

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