My 7 year old great granddaughter had her first day in second grade on August 5th, which seems a bit early as I recall my grade school didn’t start until September, but then that was 75 years ago.
Anyway, my lovely granddaughter emailed me to say how excited her daughter was–and she was as well. The message came with a picture of this beautiful child, who lives so far away that I don’t get to see her or her mother often enough.
Why am I telling you this? Because when my granddaughter became pregnant she was 17! She was at that time living independently and eking out a living at marginal jobs. Unfortunately, she was in an abusive relationship with the father of the child, but fortunately they were not married.
The standard advice would be obvious. Have an abortion.
Let’s keep this very simple. As it should be. Some people want to restrict abortion, some believe it is allowable under all circumstances.
I fall in the latter camp for many reasons, the many reasons which have been magnificently delineated by a July 30, 2013 article by Randa Morris entitled “Pro-Life? GOP Promotes Nine Out of Ten Things That Cause Death In Unborn Children”, which you can read in full at http://churchandstate.org.uk/2013/08/pro-life-gop-promotes-nine-out-of-ten-things-that-cause-death-in-unborn-children/
Don’t miss this one as it gives wonderful insights into the complex complications of making a decision to have a child and why no one other than the pregnant woman and her physician is qualified to be involved. Of course she can opt for chemical means alone, such as RU 486.
The insane Chutzpah of our government’s intervention can be matched by many other authorities either temporal, familial or religious, none of whom is qualified to impede the human right of a woman to decide for whatever reason she does not wish to carry a fetus to term.
Some post Roe v Wade attackers have succeeded greatly in getting the government at all levels to legislate restricted abortions and Morris details how wrong that is. Some religions pass heavy guilt trips on their women supplicants and their families which, to make the point again, violates reason and her basic human right to decide what to do about a pregnancy. One is of course aware of the current extremist anti abortion Vatican view–which by the way was not the position at various times in the past, as Professor of Theology at Marquette, Daniel Maguire, a former Jesuit priest has written.
However, the powerful symbolism of religion can be used, as Christopher Hitchens reminds us in his book, “God is not great–how religion poisons everything” on page 32 when he writes:
At the solemn memorial service (e.g. for the 3000 victims of the 911 attacks), held in the beautiful National Cathedral in Washington, an address was permitted from Billy Graham, a man whose record of opportunism and anti-Semitism is in itself a minor national disgrace. His absurd sermon made the claim that all the dead were now in paradise and would not return if they could. I say absurd because it is impossible even in the most lenient terms to believe that a good number of sinful citizens had not been murdered by al Qaeda that day. And there is no reason to believe that Billy Graham knew the current whereabouts of their souls, let alone their posthumous desires. But there was also something sinister in hearing detailed claims to knowledge of paradise, of the sort that bin Laden himself was making on behalf of the assassins.
We could extrapolate from that wise observation the exact point of my essay, namely that no one can know the personal circumstances of any individual’s state of mind during one’s life, let alone after they are dead.
So how can one so committed to freedom of choice on the matter of abortion be able to tell the following family story? Seems my granddaughter, a beautiful, intelligent young woman, was uncomfortable about having an abortion. So when she went to one of those anti abortion counseling places which show fetal pictures and always council carrying a fetus to term, she did just that!
As is true with so many young people, she had used alcohol and perhaps drugs. Her parents were concerned but she was living alone and not of an age when they would easily direct her behavior.
Her pregnancy went well and she produced that beautiful baby girl, now 7 years old and, as noted earlier, just entering with much excitement the 2nd grade where she doubtless will continue to do well. My granddaughter has entered into a stable relationship with a man who has a 12 year old son from a prior marriage so they have created a nuclear family situation which works. My granddaughter now shows all the signs of being a mature young mother, not a hippy child abusing drugs or alcohol.
Aha, after reading that story, can’t you hear the Charmaine Joest crowd (Americans United For Life) crowing about the wisdom of the perpetual pursuit of no choice once the pregnancy commences?
Sorry, but that is not the point.
For example, assume my granddaughter had been married and had decided she wanted an abortion. Would her husband have had the right to say she could not?
Life is nothing but choices and those who feel as the Pro Lifers do (talk about an ironic misnomer once you read Randa Morris’ op ed!!!) want our legislators to be ploughing straight forward into continuing to pass punitive restrictions on abortion, which increases the outcomes Morris mentions.
But we continue this publically intense battle between those who prize and protect basic human rights and the Pro Lifers as Jeffrey Toobin’s August 5, 2013 New Yorker Magazine piece, Daughters of Texas tells us:
In the past two years, the number of Planned Parenthood supporters has risen from three million to seven million. This spring, for the first time, the President of the United States spoke at a Planned Parenthood event, in Washington. At the same time, on the issues to which Planned Parenthood is devoted, the movement has suffered one reversal after another. Since the Republican gains in the 2010 midterm elections, abortion rights have been under siege in the states.
Where is America going on this track? This incursion into the private lives of citizens reminds us of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. No wonder Manning and Snowden were appalled at their workplace experiences. Americans are truly asleep. Freedom is never free or assured.
How to define real freedom: I call it live and let live short of directly impacting the lives of other humans, offering the maximum chance to exercise basic human rights as noted above. Think about it. Abortion on demand is used as a pejorative term by those who would restrict the safe delivery of that service. Why restrict abortions anytime in a pregancy? I watched my sister in law carry a fetus with known serious defects to term. It survived for about 3 months and its mother, a stage one diabetic, had the trauma of going to the intensive care unit daily to observe the tiny deformed creature which was so painful I can only wish Joest and her crew of zealots could have been there.
Who forms the majority of those with the restriction view? Seems to me to be mostly men who will never need an abortion and women usually too old to need one, all of whom are playing politics and inflicting their personal beliefs on their targets, which frequently are the least qualified young women in trouble.
Folks, these accumulating and constant incursions by religious, secular and governmental authorities remind me of the old story about the frog who was sitting comfortably in a warm place until the pot in which he was being readied for dinner started to boil and then it was too late.
From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013
By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
The Secret History of Sex, Choice and Catholics
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