Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Killing in the Name of Life

I couldn't quite get my act together to do Ruby Tuesday today. I'm still processing my brother's death, I guess, and yesterday was a sort of crossroad day. I had a visit from a very kind lady from the Office for the Aging. Not only did this require admitting that I need some help, but it also involves admitting that I'm old. Anyway, for a small voluntary donation, they will provide someone every other week to help me with cleaning, shopping and changing the sheets on my bed (really hard when you are three-legged and unsteady). Anyway, I'm processing that too. Also, I had one of those lucky flukes where I downloaded a one-hour trial for a hidden object game and it just kept on going. I hate quitting when they do that, so I stayed up until 3:30 am. So anyway, no Ruby Tuesday today.

Since the murder of Dr. Tiller is so much in the news, I thought this might be a good topic to raise. Abortion is a subject on which it is difficult to find middle ground. I personally don't think that non-viable foetuses are human beings, so while I think that an abortion is a serious and profoundly painful decision for anyone to make, for me it is not the taking of a human life. If I believed that it was, my passion might run differently. I don't think I could ever rationalize killing in the name of such life as some do. I don't believe in the death penalty for those who murder grown up human beings who can walk and talk and eat and breathe on their own. I think the death penalty is legalized murder. But that's a subject for another day.

One of the things that bothers me about the most rabid anti-abortion people is that - and this is a generalization.... I know not all anti abortion folks are the same - they seem much fonder of non-viable foetuses (babies to them) in the womb than they do about those same babies once they are living and breathing in the world or about the parents who can't care for them. Or for the parents who will care for them. Once your out of the womb, they seem to pretty much lose interest. Again, I know that this is not always true. But it is often true. Perhaps if we paid more attention to providing health care and education and services which would make raising an extra or unexpected child more managable, we would have fewer women choosing abortion. I think that if (as President Obama has suggested) we do more to decrease the number of unwanted and unplanned pregnancies, that will do much more to honor life and decrease abortions than murdering doctors and ranting about baby killing. Those most militantly anti abortion, seem equally militantly anti sex education. The idea that educating our children about sexuality is going to make them jump into bed is just nonsensical. We teach our children to brush their teeth because we don't want those teeth to rot in their mouths. We teach them to eat a balanced diet. We know some of them aren't going to brush their teeth as they should and some (like me, alas) will choose cookies over carrots every time. We try to teach our right and wrong and when we do so, most of us tell them why lying or killing or whatever is wrong. That gives them the capacity to make reasoned choices in how they act towards others. We know sometimes some of them are going to do wrong anyway, but it is our job to teach them the difference and what the consequences are when they break those rules. This enables them to behave responsibly. It empowers them them to make whatever decisions they make with an understanding of the consequences. Why are we afraid to do that around sexuality? Pretending that they don't have bodies and curiousity about sex is irresponsible, ignorant and delusional. It increases their risk of unwanted pregnancy and of unwanted diseases. It underestimates their intelligence and it is an abnegation of parental and societal responsiblity.

One area of life on which my sister and I disagreed was telling her children that their grandfather was an alcoholic. My sister, who didn't get that gene from him, didn't want to do recognize his disease, none-the-less talk about it. I got the gene. I felt that the kids - who live in a drinking society - had a right to know that their genetic make-up predisposes them to alcoholism. That way, if/when they drink, they do so with awareness of the potential consequences. But I digress again. Back to killing in the name of life.

Again, I am generalizing here, not speaking in absolutes, but one of the things I find must troubling about the most vocal component of the Right to Life crowd - as I experience them through their rhetoric - is that they do not seem motivated by love. They seem motivated by anger and hate. I can try to put myself in their shoes, to honor that they honestly experience non-viable foetuses as babies and that therefore the termination of those life-forms (which to me are NOT babies) is horrifying to them. They seem incapable of recognizing that people who disagree with them have moral convictions just as deep as theirs and a love of human life just as profound as theirs. They seem incapable of comprehending or even considering that love for life can be expressed in many ways that seem diametrically opposite to one another.

It's kind of ironic that each side in this debate believes that we are honoring life. The abortions that Dr. Tiller performed which made him a target for so much hate, for people calling him a mass murderer, involved late-term abortions on women whose lives were endangered by the foetuses that they were carrying. From his perspective, he was saving lives.

Rachel Maddow calls the anti-abortion people terrorists and certainly some of them are. They are so devoted to their view of right and wrong that they don't mind leaving a few innocent bodies in their wake. Like the Taliban, the have decided that they know the mind of God and that the rest of us need to be brought in line to whatever voices whisper in their ear.

I'm all over the map this morning.... actually I've been writing this on and off, so morning has drifted into afternoon... but one of the things I find most offensive about the Taliban is that they are bullies and cowards. They operate by intimidation and murder. Many of them do it behind masks. I've always thought that means that they know they are doing wrong. If they didn't, they would not hide their faces. But I've digressed again. Terrorists as a class are cowards whether they hide their faces or not. Terrorism is, at it's core about hatred. Since hatred is antithetical to the diety, terrorism is antithetical to faith, no matter what diety one tries to blame for one's behavior. But back to the topic of the day...

Ms. Maddow had another interesting program on the topic... I was hoping to find a youtube version of it but will have to go with MSNBC:

President Obama asked that both sides of this issue try to work together to take the ugly rhetoric and venom out of the debate. Working together, we can diminish the need for anything to argue about. There is so much hate speech on so many topics. On another day, I want to rant on about whether freedom of speech on airways that my taxes pay for, should include freedom to spread lies and hate. Racists, hate speaker have a right to their views and to express them, but I'm not sure I think they should have a right to express them using my dime. I haven't worked that out yet. Freedom of speech isn't something to tamper with lightly.

Keith Olbermann talks a bit on this subject.

Well, I guess I'll leave let Mr. Olbermann close for me. It's 3:30 in the afternoon and this is long already. I could probably go on and on about all of this. In some ways it's talking into the wind because it's one of those sad subjects on which we are prone not to listen to one another.

In my view, there is no good killing. I don't happen to think that abortion is murder but I'm not Pro - as some would have it- Abortion. I'm pro choice. It's not my call or my right to call what another chooses to do with her body. Had I been unfortunate enough to be in that position, I don't know what I would have done, what would have seemed more humane to me. I dreamed of being a mother, so I'm guessing I would have chosen to have a baby, but I don't know and it doesn't matter. I'm me. There are those out there who don't have the physical or emotional or financial resources to raise a child. People who say, "That's easy... give the child away, ignore the fact that there are already too many children withering away in orphanages, suffering abuse at the hands of foster parents whose motives are less than noble. (That doesn't diminish the wonderful foster parents who do wonderfully well by the children they take in.) It's easy to say, "just do this or that... when it isn't your life." Pro-life governor Sarah Palin, CUT funding for a program that would have helped young unwed mothers learn parenting and job skills. She cut this funding, not because there were fiscal difficulties that demanded it. She cut it from a budget which had a surplus. Like so many other alleged "pro-lifers," her affection for the unborn has its limits. They are fine as long as they are floating in a sea of amniotic fluid. Afterwards, they and the parents who give birth to the need to pull themselves up by their own bootie straps, I guess.
It's a strange world.

That's my rambling rant for the day. Sorry.


James Pickering said...

Thank you for the post. I too am pro-choice. It's not for me to say what is right and wrong or how someone live their life. There are too many people out there that are so ready to tell you what to do and are willing to kill to do it. And you are right about them being no different than the Taliban. The only difference between the two are their geographical location. I was raised Baptist, but I was never raised to believe the things that pass as doctrine in some churches. I think that may be why I don't go to church now. But when you've got a guy like Fred Phelp's leading his congregation to protest the funeral of a soldier and blaming it on the U.S. supporting gays or churches who support the death of an abortion doctor, you've got to wonder what is wrong with our country. Again, I don't go to church, but I believe in a God, and he doesn't tote a sniper rifle. Again, thanks for the post.

Nessa said...

I always want to ask rabid anti-abortionists how many children they've adopted.

The ends do not justify the means.

SouthLakesMom said...

This is not an easy question.

When does the foetus become human? Viability? I have a friend whose twins were born at 24 weeks. They are vibrant thinking human beings now at age 16. At 24 weeks, many in the abortion industry would have said they were still not babies. I'm not sure where we should draw that line.

I have carried two children beneath my heart. The moment I felt the first kicks, they were no longer foetuses, but babies.

Not all people who are anti-abortion are in favor of the murder of abortionists or the harassment of people who work in the clinics. Most of us deplore the taking of any human life. Not all of us with a different viewpoint are insensitive, uncaring people. Some of us actually do help our neighbors and less fortunate people. Some of us give up vacations and new cars and stuff so we can help people who are struggling. Some of us help build with Habitat for Humanity and other groups, not because we get brownie points with God, but because it is our way of loving our neighbor. Many of us do adopt, and many do contribute heavily to groups that take care of these "unwanted" children. We are not all one stripe or persuasion.

However, this is your blog, so I'll stop now. If I need to rant, I'll do it on mine. Peace.

Raven said...

SouthLakesMom - I tried very hard to point out that I am aware that not all people who oppose abortion are fanatics. I think I said it repeatedly in my post because I know that there are people like you out there. It's not a simple issue and there are a range of people on both sides of the argument. Most are good, decent people. But there are some who would kill, quite a few who spew hate... There is plenty of nastiness on both sides as there is where people's passions run deep.

I have never been forunate enough to give birth. As I said, I don't think I could have had an abortion. But I don't believe that it's my right to decree anyone else's right to have or not have one. I think we would be a much better society if we put our energy into preventing the need for abortions rather than trying to dictate one another's morality on the issue of whether they are right or wrong. I think we would do better not demonizing one another.

Feel free to rant and to speak your mind. I appreciate it. Peace.

Travis Cody said...

No need to apologize. I don't know anyone who can sum up their feelings on this issue in a few words. Nor do I think it should be summed up in a few words.

It's complicated.

I think you did very well illustrating just how complex and individual the subject is. And in so doing, you showed how important choice is.

I don't know anyone who is pro-abortion. We are pro-choice.

Felisol said...

Dear Raven,
It's early in the morning, I'm writing in a strange language about issues in a country which culture I do not quite understand.
In Norway everybody has a choice.
There is no death penalties, nor horrifying pro-life doctor murderers.

I was bewildered when the doctor asked be, when he found I was pregnant at the age of 37, "Was it planned or do you want an abortion?"
I said it was not planned, "Well then you can have an abortion and think about it in a moth or two, if you want to be pregnant."
Wow, was that a slap in my face.
So cold, so cynical.

I could never condemn a woman who feel pressed to take an abortion, I don't know what feelings and motives have caused this choice.
I just remember lying on my sofa, holding my hands over my belly, talking to my baby, "The two of us shall manage this."

To me it was the first words I spoke to my daughter.
I knew I was lucky, financially secure, supporting family, even the father choose to stay with me, and is still by my side.
Even so, it was not easy.
It was about life and death.

Medical technology has come so far that we can chose to remove children with handicaps. In Denmark hardly anyone is born with Down's syndrome anymore.
Those are the finest people with a rare talent for spreading happiness I know of.
The society has become cold and elitist by us.
We do not want that either, do we?

I am for more help to single mothers. Help financially, help to education, housing and taking care of children.
We actually have programs for that. They just must be far better.

There is a new election this year. A populist right wing party just have launched the proposal of a new law. Legalized active death -help.
Meaning that doctors and nurses are the ones to decide when to stop treating ill and elderly.
Impatient heirs as well.

Oh, I know they are doing it already. They tried to shorten my father's life as well as my mother's when she had a brain stroke last year. I had to fight for her rights to treatment. Today she's managing almost on her own, and laughingly says;"I'm stronger than you, Elise." And what more, she's right.

I don't like us playing God without his love and his insight.
All those years I was single, I knew that I through my job (With mentally retired) was able to give unlimited love and help.

I find it horrible when people spend fortunes to artificially have a baby of their own, when there are millions of suffering, needy children in the world.

The further science develops, the stronger must the moral codex be.

Therefore it must be the law and not the individual to decide right from wrong.
As for today there are so many contradictions; I'm scared.

You do right in thinking and discussing this topic.
Honest and thorough analysis are essential now, more than ever before.
The murder of an "abortion doctor" is the ultimate hypocrisy.

What about the insurance companies and hospitals denying people lifesaving treatments for financially reasons.
Are they NOT murderers?
More than any others in my opinion.

As I said before, I think the whole legislation need an updating to bring it coherent with medicinal science.
Before that happens,who's to judge?
Jesus said the innocents may throw the first stone.
Not many of us are that innocent, if any.

Now I have to go to bed again. I'm exhausted.
I guess I'm lucky to be allowed to live.
From Felisol

gabrielle said...

In a statement, Tiller’s family said, quote, “George dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality heath care despite frequent threats and violence. We ask that he be remembered as a good husband, father and grandfather and a dedicated servant on behalf of the rights of women everywhere.”

In Dr. Tiller’s own words:

I’m a chromosomally disadvantaged person: I am XY, women are XX, and I am a woman-educated physician.

There are pivotal patients in everyone’s practice. This girl on my left is nine-and-a-half years old. She can from Southern California with her mother and her aunt for a termination of pregnancy. I told them that I—she was too far along, and I couldn’t help. There were some stories in the newspaper about Dr. Tiller is getting ready to kill babies for a nine-year-old. I don’t know how that happened. But I was trying to explain to my daughters, who were ten and nine at the time, about why I had planned to do this procedure. My ten-year-old daughter said, “Daddy, you’ve got”—I was about thirty seconds into explaining about this, because, you know, these are nine- and ten-year-old girls that I’d had. And what they said—what Jennifer said was, “Daddy, a ten-year-old girl, a nine-year-old girl shouldn’t be pregnant, and simply not by her father or her grandfather or her uncle.” My ten-year-old daughter already knew about sex, about babies. And I, of course, thought that she could car date when she was thirty-five years old by herself.
What one of the things that my father taught me was that to be credible in medicine, you must require for your patients the same care that you would require for your family. I made a decision that if my nine- and ten-year-old daughters at that time were in that situation, I would do the procedure. I did it for this girl. It turned out marvelously. There were no problems, no complications. And I made that decision at that time that I was going to help as many people as I possibly could. And age was—if a woman was or a girl was able to get pregnant, we should be able to do a termination of pregnancy.

I was 19 year old and alone. I had no contact with the woman who gave birth to me, the one who I could never call mother. I flew to LA to have the procedure done. It was the best I could do. Because of a legacy of abuse, this was not facile in any sense of the word. I had to be put out, which caused profuse bleeding and pain. I was not present. I still have the underpants I wore. Pink.

These are decisions, not made casually. But they are decisions which every woman makes in the sanctity of her own council, in her own bee's chambers.

I have a beautiful daughter by adoption. Emma Camille. She is the love of my life, breath of my breath, skin of my skin. . This is my story. Every woman has her own.

Sandi McBride said...

WOnderfully well thought out post.

Carletta said...

You always take on the challenges Raven - I salute you in that!
You make great points in this post (the sex education, the help for unwed mothers, the help for those who keep their babies.)

Akelamalu said...

Good post Raven.

I am neither for nor against abortion - it's a personal decision that can only be made by the woman who is pregnant.

What I cannot understand though is that anti-abortionists think it's wrong to kill a foetus but it's OK to kill an adult. :(