R. Justin Shepherd | PART-TIME PUNDIT


Divided we stand?
10.June.2008, 1.40 pm
Filed under: faith, politics, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

My pal Kevin brought up an interesting conversation starter in the ongoing dialogue on my presidential pick (see top right of this page; click to read it). It goes:

I find it remarkable that our country is able to remain as united as it is given the abortion debate. If any other form of “murder” (currently recognized as such) were made “legal,” we would a potential breakdown of society. Think of the millions who would refuse to pay taxes to a government that sanctioned the killing off of retarded children, or unwanted 2 month old “postnatal fetuses.” Or the millions who would perhaps view taking up arms to protect these lives?

So, let’s explore, shall we?

First off, abortion is a relatively invisible thing: The women who have abortions generally aren’t touting the fact, are they? I’ve never met a woman who said out loud, in my presence or within ear’s range, that she’d had an abortion… yet I’ve heard women speak openly (even fondly) of cocaine use, random sex, theft, blackmail… if abortion is as “OK” as the pro-choice would have us believe, why is speaking of it so taboo? If it’s just another medical procedure, why isn’t it talked about as such—I’ve heard my share of “TMI” tales from the OB/GYN office from my desk at work, you know.

So we see that abortion is taboo, even in the eyes of those who think it morally defensible. This implies, at least, that the pro-choice KNOW that there is a heavy moral divide between the choosers and the lifers… which is why pro-abortion is always couched in terms of “choice,” placing the emphasis back on the mother, and not simply “pro-abortion”—or, to be fair, “pro-legality-and-availability-of-abortion.”

Anyway, abortion’s taboo-ness seems to me to be what keeps America going, despite the huge divide. Truth be told, there is little real debate about abortion in this country, only rhetoric… The law is the law, and there’s no indication it’s going to be overturned anytime soon. It’s too good a campaign tool for politicians to give up, but it may in fact be too ingrained in society to ever be done away with. This is why states have attempted to place restrictions on abortions, albeit restrictions that usually get batted down by the appellate courts (mandatory ultrasound, etc.).

IF, however, the Supreme Court ever got a case that enabled it to strike down Roe, what is right now is muted divide would threaten to erupt into near-violence. In my opinion, women (as every minority) still feel slighted, despite the tremendous advances they’ve seen since the time of their grandmothers. Abortion is truly a symbol of something bigger, of the women’s rights movement in general. What did women really want? The right to abortion, or the right to vote? But the right to abortion came suddenly, on the turn of a single court case, and that at a time of great upheaval. So, it became connected to women’s rights in general, whereas it is a very specific right and has no real effect on wages, suffrage, equality or anything else.

The fact of the matter is that the pro-life and the pro-choice are both arguing over theoreticals… meanwhile, there is a poor, unwed pregnant woman in despair as to where she’ll find the time or the money to take care of a BABY—and I challenge anyone to present me with a woman who became pregnant and thought of the thing inside her as a fetus and not as a pending baby. The fact of its LIFE is what drives the abortion… the life and its perceived effect on the carrying woman’s life. And, sad to say, abortion is an historical fact of life.

I read “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” recently, and a notable throwaway line had to do with how a certain gypsy woman had taken some sort of special medicine, which made her miscarry. This was not uncommon in the 15th century and I would guess not uncommon to most of human history, at least wherever there have been people looking at too little wealth and imagining the troubles of another human pulling from the pool.

This is why I, personally, have a hard time seeing the “answer” to the abortion debate. We’d all agree that a woman who cannot afford (or stomach) having a baby simply ought not have it. But abstinence simply doesn’t pervade, contraception fails (or isn’t used) — and, sadly, rape occurs. Do I want this woman going into a back alley to get rid of her problem? Or taking some concoction that the FDA has definitely not approved, in order to force a miscarriage?

If I were a candidate for president, I might offer a sweeping reform: Any single woman with an “unwanted” pregnancy is offered free room and board at a government-run facility, to be admitted somewhere at the start of the third trimester (when pregnancy really gets demanding). These facilities, scattered throughout the country, would offer voluntary classes based in broad, ecumenical religious teachings on the sanctity of life; they would not be mandatory, but would be the main social offerings at said facilities. At the end of the stay, when giving birth (the medical bills also paid for by the state), the “choice” is given: Keep the baby or give it up for adoption. Either way, the woman with the unwanted pregnancy comes out ahead. Granted, it’s a few months of inconvenience for the woman, but not nearly as much as would be if she had to pay the bills for this “unwanted” baby. Meanwhile, job security would be protected by federal mandate that states an employer cannot fire and must re-receive a pregnant woman who leaves to be in the facility.

There are lots more thoughts… Hopefully you’ve got them.

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4 Comments so far
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As stated by your friend Kevin, if ‘other murders were made legal we would a potential breakdown of society.”

Sadly this is not true. The Romans use to have ‘illegal’ beheadings and the people did not revolt. Roman kings would behead their guest at dinner because they were displeased by something the guest said. During the reign of King Henry and King George the same was done. Now during the reign of America’s King George W the same is being done. We have an illegal war and soldiers are being murdered everyday but Americans are not rioting on the streets. Humans Beings are pretty complacent beings.

Comment by Paulette

I’m not sure if the author of this blog is a man or a woman – but as a woman, I certainly HAVE been in the presence of women that have spoken openly about having abortions. Certianly there is judgement from others which is why many don’t speak openly around men or those that they perceive would judge them harshly. I personally have not had an abortion, so it’s not like those that I know of that have are sharing with be based on shared experiences.

I think your information about pregnancy and unplanned pregnancies could use some help as well. Not all pregnancies get difficult in the third trimester. Some occur much earlier. Not all abortions are had by “single” women – so what would married women wanting an abortion get out of your new plan?

As for “either way, the woman with the unwanted pregnancy comes out ahead” – I think you would have to speak to women that have placed children for adoption before you make that statement. Often “homes” such as this (which do exist though not funded on a state or federal level) do not end up as places that are unbiased but rather as places where women are encouraged to place their child for adoption – creating a loss for the child, for the birthmother, and the birthfamily. Adoption is NOT an alternative to abortion. They are two seperate decisions and I’m not sure that your solution would solve anything. Rather I think it may only cause a new problem with regards to higher uneccesary adoption rates.

Comment by thanksgivingmom

Paulette (and, by extension, Kevin): The capacity of the individual to pay attention solely to his/her own small sphere of existence is pretty mind-boggling understandable, given our fallenness. Yet it’s still amazing how we learn to live with things that, if they were occurring in our own households, would be critical matters to deal with. Oh, and to be fair to everyone, I’d submit that our soldiers aren’t being “murdered,” since they volunteered for duty and are simply following their orders—not saying their deaths are desirable or deserved, but they’re not illegal. Put yr. faith not in politicians nor policies, I say.

ThanksgivingMom: This is the author here, a card-carrying male. (Have you seen our cards? they’re quite nice!) You make good points, and I submit that my realm of understanding is shaded by the fact that I’m not a woman. My wife read my post and your comments, and I hope she’ll come back by and type them in. Suffice it to say that if anything, I have understated, for the sake of peaceableness, the selfishness of abortion as means to personal freedom/comfort/escape/etc. She points out that mothers putting their babies up for adoption generally see their medical bills—and many other bills—paid for by the adoptive parents, and so there’s not a need for my plan. (Every president needs advisers, I guess.) But the question remains: Why abortion? Why is it morally defensible for a pregnant woman to decide to terminate a pregnancy, yet I’m culpable for involuntary manslaughter if I’m driving while talking on my cell phone, I crash into a pregnant woman and terminate that pregnancy? The thing inside the woman is the same in both instances, is it not? If we’re going to play the game, I say, we ought to play it honestly. There are legal justifications for killing: self-defense, for one; defense of another; the unplugging of a respirator by a power of attorney. Yet in all these cases, no one denies what is actually going on: Someone is taking the life of another. In the case of abortion, however, those on the pro-life side are castigated for even referring to the growing, living thing as a “baby” instead of a “fetus”. I can respect, intellectually, the concept that “killing can be justified, and I argue that in this case it is just”—even if I don’t agree with it. What I can’t respect is the smokescreen of “choice” and the sheer ignoring of scientifically provable facts (the thing breathes, the thing eats, the thing THINKS). (*I can and do respect the individuals who hold these fanciful ideas, but not the ideas themselves.)

Comment by rjustin

Thanks for the response and explanation/clarification. As I said, I have not had an abortion, and in fact HAVE placed a child for adoption (which is where some of my knowledge/experience/knee-jerk “NO” reaction came from.

If we’re JUST having an abortion debate that changes the argument to me. I can have an abortion debate/discussion, I just don’t understand when some bring adoption into that discussion. We often say that first you make the decision to continue or terminate a pregnancy. THEN you make a decision to parent or adopt. It is not a decision of abortion vs. adoption – as in “just so long as I don’t have to raise a baby!” That’s not the thought process that I (nor any of my friends that have placed children) have gone through.

One last thing about your plan – if I thought that a plan could be put in place that would teach women (and hopefully the men in their lives!) how to parent, that their financial situation was a temporary one in which adoption is a very permanent solution, that there were resources available to them that could help – I would be all for it. Unfortunately, many homes turned into houses for baby incubators where the staff couldn’t wait to hand off the child to a “deserving” couple once the baby was born. In theory though, with some tweaking, and advising (haha) I think a similar plan could be quite effective.

Again, thanks for the response!

Comment by thanksgivingmom




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