Life Versus Death, and the Coal Miner’s Daughter

'Coal Miner's Daughter' movie poster (1980)

Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” one of the greatest country-and-western hits of all time, romanticized a young woman’s appreciation for her daddy, his hard work, her siblings and the hard times they lived through. Near the end of that lovely song, she sings “I’m proud to be a coal miner’s daughter” and closes with the lovely words,

“And it’s so good to be back home again.

Not much left but the floor,

Nothing lives here anymore,

Just a memory of a coal miner’s daughter.”

The song reminds us that regardless of the times in which a family lives or how they have to sacrifice for one another, family ties are strong even when a home’s bricks and mortar have all vanished. That’s the wonder of being part of a family, of realizing what a blessing human beings are to each and every one of us.

Sadly, the coal miner’s daughter in that song is not the same one recently written about by Sheryl Gay Stolberg in the New York Times. Stolberg opens her ode to aborting a child by telling the reader, “In the early 1950s, a coal miner’s daughter from rural Kentucky named Louise McIntosh encountered the shadowy world of illegal abortion. A friend was pregnant, with no prospects for marriage, and Ms. McIntosh was keeper of a secret that, if spilled, could have led to family disgrace. The turmoil ended quietly in a doctor’s office, and the friend went on to marry and have four children.”

Stolberg fades to the present by explaining that the McIntosh of old is now Louise Slaughter, a member of Congress from New York, who is 80 years old and works to ensure that abortion is protected. But, as Stolberg explains, after 37 years of decriminalized abortion, there is at least a generation of young women who have grown up with abortion as a legal “right” and therefore do not feel a “sense of urgency” about ensuring that abortion is always and everywhere protected by law.

While I think it is a good thing that young people may not be as politically zealous as their forebears, I don’t believe for a minute that they are as simple-minded as Stolberg seems to surmise. While it may be true that some young people think of abortion as a personal matter rather than a political one, these happen to be the same people who, for the most part, voted to elect the most committed, zealously pro-abortion president in U.S. history. Mesmerized by his charisma, they support him by the thousands, so please, let’s not get into the question of who is more committed to killing.

According to Stolberg, women such as NARAL Pro-Choice America’s president, Nancy Keenan, age 57, “who came of age when abortion was illegal, tend to view it in stark political terms—as a right to be defended, like freedom of speech or freedom of religion. But younger people tend to view abortion as a personal issue, and their interests are different.”

Well, not so fast. Let’s consider the story of another heroic woman who, while not a coal miner’s daughter, is a practicing physician who is under siege because she is pro-life in conviction and practice. Her name is Annie Bukacek. Her state is Montana, and her problem is that she is being investigated by state and federal officials allegedly because of her billing practices for Medicaid reimbursements.

Dr. Bukacek is no wallflower and has been an outspoken critic of President Obama. Nor is she someone who has always been pro-life, as she readily admits. Dr. Bukacek, now 51, said that, at age 21, when she was five months pregnant with her first child and felt that baby kicking, “It was one of those life-changing moments—an epiphany if you will.” And the result was that for the next 30 years she committed herself not only to her family but to defending the most defenseless members of the human family: preborn children.

Some might suggest that she and her practice are being unduly criticized because her political position is not as acceptable to the “mainstream” media as that of Slaughter or Keenan. Dr. Bukacek commented,
“I have a very strong constitution and can see the humor of these types of situations,” she said. “For some physicians, this kind of thing would be devastating.”

She said her primary concern was for her patients. Bukacek said the investigators had access to patients’ marital history, children’s history, drug addictions, sexual orientations, religious preference, medications and illnesses.

“These investigations are a huge infringement on patients’ rights to privacy,” she said.

Bukacek said many people have suggested she has been targeted because she is an outspoken president of Montana Pro-Life Coalition and is on the steering committee of the Coalition Protecting Patient Rights.

“I have been traveling throughout the state speaking as an individual against Obamacare,” she said.

She said she finds this difficult to believe because she doesn’t consider herself that influential, but the timing seems at least suspect.

Bukacek said the cost of these investigations has most likely outstripped the amount her office has billed Medicaid in a little over six years of operating the clinic. She said the recreation-vehicle unit that parked outside her door must have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“This is your tax dollars at work,” she said.

Anne Bukacek, M.D., is a woman of courage, fortitude, and the priceless quality of honesty, which are evident in every aspect of not only her medical practice, but also her leadership of Montana’s human personhood campaign. She has been a lightning rod for activism and a preacher of truth, even when told, as she was on one occasion, that she must no longer pray with her patients.

She left the Kalispell Diagnostic Service after being told that she had to choose between prayer and her employment, because she would not compromise her faith. That is perhaps the defining characteristic of this remarkable woman.

It isn’t difficult to discern what made Loretta Lynn’s “coal miner’s daughter” truly a woman of love and life. She appreciated sacrifice, her parents, and all that went into growing up amidst physical poverty while surrounded by emotional riches beyond measure. Dr. Bukacek, one of seven children, has traveled similar roads, but also carved her own path.
Her journey is based on her conviction that knowing the difference between right and wrong, love and hate, and good and evil is more than just a major factor in personal happiness. It determines how one faces life’s challenges.

It is my opinion that Dr. Annie Bukacek, M.D. of Hosanna Health Care in Kalispell, Montana, will probably not be “honored” in a puff piece published by the New York Times any time soon. But I don’t think that matters to her, as long as she remains true to her God, her family and her practice.

As federal and state officials engage in an ongoing investigation of her medical practice, I doubt that Dr. Bukacek will be sitting around worrying herself to death about it when there is so much to do for the preborn, for her children and for her patients.

I am betting that she will continue to courageously oppose Obamacare, explain how medical practices should be operated and do all she can to carry the standard of human personhood forward in the Big Sky state. Even though Annie is not a coal miner’s daughter, I have a feeling she would agree that where there’s love and appreciation for life, anything is possible because affirming the human person always brings joy—even during the worst of times.

Contact: Judie Brown
Publish Date: December 4, 2009
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The IFRL is the largest grassroots pro-life organization in Illinois. A non-profit organization, that serves as the state coordinating body for local pro-life chapters representing thousands of Illinois citizens working to restore respect for all human life in our society. The IFRL is composed of people of different political persuasions, various faiths and diverse economic, social and ethnic backgrounds. Since 1973 the Illinois Federation for Right to Life has been working to end abortion and restore legal protection to those members of the human family who are threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. Diverse though we are, we hold one common belief - that every human being has an inalienable right to life that is precious and must be protected. IFRL is dedicated to restoring the right to life to the unborn, and protection for the disabled and the elderly.   Click here to learn more about the IFRL.