There’s a new American civil war taking place, and abortion rights are at the center of it all.
That’s the message New York Times best-selling author Stephen Singular relayed to Lawrence residents Wednesday evening at Carnegie Library, 200 W. Ninth St.
“There’s this underlying battle over the values of what type of society we’re going to live in,” Singular said. “It’s a profound argument.”
That battle has been front and center in Kansas recently, with new abortion clinic regulations threatening to shut down the state’s three clinics.
Singular, a Kansas native, talked about the process of writing and knowledge gained through his new book, “The Wichita Divide.” The nonfiction work focuses on the murder of George Tiller and the history of the battle concerning abortion and women’s reproductive rights. Singular has been following the abortion debate for more than two decades and said he’s been shocked by the number of anti-abortion bills that have been written and passed in the last few years.
Holly Weatherford, program director for American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri, agreed the 2011 legislative session in Kansas had been detrimental to health rights.
“It was a brutal assault on women’s health care,” she said.
Wednesday night’s crowd was without representation from the anti-abortion side of the debate.
Singular acknowledged the dark and difficult nature of the discussion of abortion but said it was a conversation that needed to be had more often.
“I think there comes a time when you need to speak up and you need to speak out,” he said. “If you don’t articulate it that can be the start of a process that’s not healthy and not good.”
Singular said the reception he’s received about his book has not been positive. The author said that he was not invited to speak in Kansas City and that his book was not being reviewed or taken seriously, despite his passion and commitment to the issue. A Kansas University graduate, Singular said being slighted encouraged him to be that much louder about the issue.
KU student Haley Miller attended the event Wednesday and said she believed the debate in politics about abortion was more of a common sense issue to her.
“I’ve always felt that it’s necessary for a woman to control her reproductive health,” Miller said.
Singular left those in attendance with a simple message to stand up for what they believed in.
“If you truly believe in freedom,” Singular said, “that means the freedom of people to make good decisions, bad decisions, right decisions, wrong decisions, and live with the consequences.”