Posted tagged ‘pro-choice’

A Special Place In …

October 5, 2017

Abortion is a complicated and oft confusing debate. There should be no question that some sincerely hold the sanctify of life and can accept no reason for ending a pregnancy. There are others who also are against abortion in most cases but do make some exceptions such as rape, incest, and health of the mother. And still there are others who who wish abortions to be rare, safe, and in the end, the exercise of a woman’s right to control her own reproductive health. Heart wrenching arguments have been and continue to be made for each of these positions.

And then there are the politicians who join this argument with an ulterior motive. These politicians can produce a tear on the spot, can get red in the face as they implore a religious justification for denying a woman her right, and while pandering to anti-abortion groups feel no compulsion not to pass the hat for donations. (In truth, politicians are on both sides of this issue.  Regrettably, some who support a woman’s choice may not really care whether Roe v Wade is maintained but show support to help them get reelected…  that’s a good outcome they think.)

Every so often along comes a Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA). Murphy has been an ardent anti-abortion supporter and has spoken out mightily against woman’s rights. But Murphy is also a human being and his heart is susceptible to infatuation (for what ever the reasons). Representative Murphy entered an affair with someone other than his current wife. During this involvement, Murphy and his partner believed she was pregnant. Representative Murphy advised his partner to end the pregnancy with an abortion. Hmmm.

His partner has become dissatisfied with her relationship with Murphy and has revealed Murphy’s urging for an abortion. Social media is abuzz. What else could happen?

Today Representative Murphy announced he would not seek reelection. Justice?

If it were not that the actions of the pro-life crowd and the hypocritical politicians who side with them hurt disproportionately the poor and those least able to take care of themselves, one might argue that not seeking reelection was sufficient pay back. But hypocrites like Representative Murphy deserve something even more special.

Hypocrites occupy a special place in hell (if there is one) and now the reservation sign has Tim Murphy’s name on it.

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Religious Freedom

April 22, 2017

In a recent issue of the New Yorker, there is an article on Leonard Leo. Mr Leo is not a household name although maybe he should be. Mr Leo’s most recent claim to fame is his successful “shepherding” of Judge Neil Gorsuch through the Senate approval process. Mr. Leo, however, is not one to thirst for the spot light, preferring instead to operate at the periphery of public discussion.

And operate Mr. Leo does.

As the Executive Director of the Federalist Society, Mr Leo has spearheaded conservative interests in most matters of government but with a clear focus upon the courts, especially the Supreme Court. As an “originalist”, Mr Leo supports Constitutional interpretations which purport to represent the “founding fathers” views. Hmmm.

The Federalists speak, not for wild and crazy people, but for reasoned, conservative, traditionalists. Within these ranks, however, hide moneyed interests who see “originalist” views as conducive to their personal business and financial well being. Nothing like the braggadocio associated with a high minded principle which conveniently puts money in your pocket too.

From the New Yorker article, Mr Leo’s hands appear clean although someone must be paying his lawyering bills. Rather Mr. Leo is presented as a congenial, non-confrontational person who seeks and befriends up and coming conservative legal minds. The article claim Mr. Leo was a close friend of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

So where is this post going?

Mr. Leo is also a conservative Catholic who is strongly pro-life. Mr. Leo was an early supporter of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, both pro-life advocates. The prospect of over turning Roe v Wade (long established law) suddenly does not seem that impossible.

Mr. Leo says that the Constitution was silent over specific rights to abortion and therefore to his reasoning, the US Supreme Court has no rightful place making a woman’s right to an abortion the law of the land.

At this point, one could argue contrarily that in fact the freedoms expressed in the Constitution as well as the Amendments recognize the rights of a woman to make her own reproductive decisions.

Within the thought, why not point out what seems even more obvious. The first Amendment speaks to “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, and that should be enough.

Mr. Leo, Chief Justice Roberts, and Justice Alito are more than free to hold sincere “pro-life” religious beliefs. They are all free to practice such views in their own lives but the Constitution does not provide them the right to foist their personal religious views on anyone else. (Admittedly, someone who is against all forms of life ending acts, including the death penalty, wars, and suicides has a moral argument which rises above religion dogma but in the end, addresses only their own behavior.

Justice Kennedy is thought to be the deciding Justice should the current John Roberts Court consider another Roe v Wade challenge. If Justice Kennedy should decide to retire while a Republican President is in office, another Gorsuch/Alito/Roberts Justice is almost assured. In such a situation, the true color of these jurists will be seen.

Will these Jurists over turn Roe v Wade in favor of States self determination, or will they become religious zealots and side with some future Congressional law which outlaws all abortions and denies States the right to decide?

The irony of this Roe v Wade debate is that the real “federalists” were extremely concerned about the excesses of organized religion. The closest most of the founding fathers came to religion was some recognition of a higher spirit. Consequently, if the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v Wade, we should recognize the “originalist” principle is purely a crutch designed to deny some Americans individual freedom.

Hunkering Down For Four Long Years

December 11, 2016

Donald Trump’s election coupled with the GOP control of Congress augers for a long and difficult four years. The tough times will come in the form of social conservatism running rough shod over the last eight years of social progressivism. People of small minds will foist their views on others and attempt to roll back 40 years of progressive gains.

The Trump years will be a field day for “anything goes” labor laws, loose and lax environmental rules, and open season for States rights. All this in the name of making America Great Again. Hmmm.

Great leaders are given credit for enabling great outcomes. Less than great leaders often unleash events and outcomes of staggering proportions but too often these come with unintended or unexpected consequences. With a President and Congressional of the same party, President-elect Trump faces the fork in the road, will he strive to be great or will events and the enemy within his party overwhelm his Presidency?

Ohio is a good example of what will face President Trump during the next four years.
The Ohio legislature has rushed a bill through the Republican controlled legislature. The bill would outlaw abortions once a fetal heart beat is detectable. In Ohio legislators’ minds, life begins with detection of a heart beat, not viability which the Supreme Court has rules as the standard. For pro-lifers, this is welcome legislation. For pro-choice, this is the dark side rising again.

The Supreme Court has ruled that before “viability”, about the 24th week, a woman should have the unobstructed right to end a pregnancy for what ever reason she chooses. After 24 weeks, States could impose reasonable restriction. So what is Ohio thinking?

Pundits report that Ohio is anticipating President-elect Trump’s promise to appoint conservative Supreme Court Justices in the mold of the deceased Antonin Scalia. Accordingly the conservative goal is to outlaw abortion and if that is not possible, return abortion law to States and keep the Federal Government out of this process.

What could be more democratic than to allow States to rule on this contentious issue for themselves?

The abortion issue is quite complicated. In an ideal world, a woman would become pregnant only if she truly wanted a child. In this ideal world, pregnancies would proceed medically trouble free and the child would be born into a loving, wholesome family setting. Regrettably, life does not follow that path.

Rape, incest, and risk to the woman’s life are real parts of American lives. Domestic violence and sudden economic trouble also unfortunately move many pregnant women to determine the timing is inappropriate for a full term pregnancy. And to be sure, there are some who attach no importance to pregnancy and for even the most minor inconvenience would end the pregnancy, or worse bring a newborn into a world absent of love and care.

For these reason, pro-choice advocates seek to make abortion legal and safe but exceedingly rare.

It is difficult to know what President-elect Trump actually thinks about abortion access. Over the years, he has held both pro and con views.  And, as if he was the Pied Piper, Trump has said many things only to later walk them back.

What is not hard anticipate is that all the conservative special interests will once again try to impose their personal views on others.

Keep your eyes open for the flat earth-ers (the earth is 5,000 years old), global warming deniers (science is bunk), sexual orientation bigots (the bible say so), and not to be overlooked, the neocons who will gleefully send other Americans’ children off to war (remember Iraq).

A Woman’s Right

October 7, 2016

If ever there was a universal “right” to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, a woman’s right to choose must be it. Only women can become pregnant and give birth. Since pregnancy involves a woman’s body, it would seem reasonable that carrying a pregnancy full term should be a choice a woman makes freely.

Listening to the Vice Presidential debate, you would be forgiven if you thought otherwise. Describing abortion as murder, as some pro-lifers do, is to use hyperbole as  a tool to obscure a difficult moral choice. But when the speakers are men, or even worse members of the clergy, hypocrisy rules.

If one goes back in history, even just back to the birth of our country, full term pregnancies were the expected outcome simply because “society” said so. Pregnancy out of wedlock did present some complexity and back alley abortions of course occurred. Society saw babies as helpful in growing the population and minimizing the detrimental impact of mortality due to early childhood diseases and birth complications.

Going back even further, families, tribes, and countries with large populations usually won wars. So if one did not want to end up a slave, staffing a large army was considered a good outcome. Authority figures reinforced superstitions around the need and duty of women to produce as many babies as possible.

In the modern world, these conditions no longer exist. Therefore, it is no longer necessary for clergy to spread superstitions around the woman’s duty to give birth often. Yet, many religion still do.

The abortion debate is very simple at its extremes and excruciatingly complex in the middle. Those who hold a woman has the right to end a pregnancy for any reason, and those who hold a woman must go full term, even when her life is at risk, are easy to understand. Their positions are absolutes.

But what about a young woman who has an unwanted pregnancy? This person has a full life ahead and plenty of time to have a family. What about a person who may have wanted the pregnancy but experiences a life event, like unemployment, disease, and serious injury, and decides the timing is not appropriate for giving birth. It is possible this woman already has children and feels economically or emotionally it is not wise to go full term.

For the absolutist, these situations are cut and dry. Yes or No.

In the real world, however, there are also some who exercise no personal responsibility. In this day and age there is little if any excuse for a woman unwillingly becoming pregnant. Family planning and birth control measure are readily available. Never the less, the spur of the moment (or plain disregard for ones reproductive health) leads too many women to unwanted pregnancies.

For the absolutists, this is again a black and white situation, yes or no to ending the pregnancy.

In Pennsylvania, the US Senate race could help determine the Senate leadership control. If Democrat challenger Katie McGinty beats incumbent Republican Pat Toomey, Democrats may regain Senate control. Toomey is quoted as opposed to Planned Parenthood and abortion, and has said he would support jail for medical persons who perform abortions.  This sounds pretty “absolutist” to me.

With Senate control, and/or a Hillary Clinton victory, Roe v Wade will be safe for probably enough time that the nation’s demographics makes its reversal impossible.

The abortion absolutists (both yes and no’s) do in their own ways, all women a disservice.

Medical experts have advanced the science of determining when it is medically safe to end a pregnancy and what would be the consequences if the pregnancy went full term. Making the subject a litmus test with innuendos of “murder”, removes the discussion of the middle ground where morality and ethics meet.

It is time for pro-lifers to expand their definition of life and include some notion of quality of life as well as the woman’s right to choose.

By the same token, it is time for pro-choice supporters to advocate for responsible sexual behaviors and emphasize the responsibility a woman incurs if she becomes pregnant.

And its high time that both sides of this divide to recognize that a woman who ends her pregnancy because of rape, incest, and medical health of the pregnant woman are exempt from any condemnation.

Costly Free Media Attention

March 31, 2016

MSNBC broadcasted a “town hall” meeting yesterday with the Republican candidates, timed to occur just before the Wisconsin primary. The public service billed event was nothing more than a public cry by MSNBC “just watch this station and buy our sponsors’ products”. And what an event they suddenly had.

MSNBC’s Chris Mathews asked Donald Trump about his position of Pro-Life and then pulled the trigger after Trump confirmed abortion should be against the law. Mathews asked, should the woman be punished? After a few hems and haws, Trump said yes, there should be some form of punishment for the woman.

Compared to most things Trump has said, this situation was totally logical. If there is a law against abortion and abortion is likened to murder, shouldn’t someone who initiates an abortion face punishment?

The pro-life, pro-choice worlds seemed to stop and then both exploded in denouncing Trump.

Pro-lifers were the most indignant. Appearing to beat their chests, the pro-life supporters affirmed that they never intended that the woman would be punished (punishing the person performing the abortion was enough). Hmmm.

Where’s the logic. Abortion is either wrong or it is not. At the present time, the right to an abortion is the law of the land so this is an hypothetical discussion of what might happen if Roe v Wade was overturned. But women and men of good conscious ought to take notice.

Pro-lifers do not see a continuum (conception to viability to birth) and once conception has taken place, pro-lifers believe it becomes the woman’s responsibility to see the pregnancy through to birth.

There is no morning after pill, or medical procedures to end unwanted pregnancies. Once pregnant, its full term or bust. (Some anti-abortion supporters do allow exceptions for rape, incest, and risk to the woman’s health.)

Unwanted pregnancies are regrettably part of life. Further complicating pregnancies are changes to the mother’s health, her economic ability to raise a child, and medical changes to the condition of the fetus itself.

The pro-life group simply has the wrong objective. Rather than outlawing abortion (where punishing the woman is the logical outcome), a better goal is eliminating unwanted pregnancies. In such a world, the decision to abort or not could be based upon medical reasons.

Chris Mathews grilling of Donald Trump accomplished two outcomes.

  • First, it displayed how shallow Trumps understanding is when presented complex social issues.
  • Second, it gratuitously put into focus how hypocritical the pro-life movement is.

The unbelievable aspect of this kerfuffle is Trump supporters do not care about whether Trump is pro-life or pro-choice. They support Trump for economic reasons and a belief (maybe mistakenly) that Trump can make life better.

Trump did not see the curve ball coming from Mathews and missed it completely.  Thanks Donald.

Missing The Target

January 23, 2014

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade.  The day marks one of rejoicing for some and a day of deep sadness for others.  Bus loads of concerned citizens descend upon Washington DC each year to demonstrate their support or dislike over the Supreme Court decision.  Organizing these bus trips are a variety of organization.  One of the most organized is the Catholic Church.    Even in bad whether, this year was no different.

Or, was it different?

A few days ago, the Chicago Archdiocese released files showing a long term practice of passing pedophile priests around from parish to parish under the cover of secrecy.  It would be left to the surprise of the unsuspecting parish to discover later that the new priest had a fondness for their children.  Never the less, those catholic demonstrators, bused in by catholic diocese from surrounding States, were anxious to show their anti pro-choice feelings.

In America we all have the right to free speech.  We do not normally, however, hear free speech advocates also endorse the need to “think through what one speaks about”.  And the pro-life contingent too often presents illogical positions.

Consider that there are no recognized “pro-choice” groups who espouse a woman’s right to choose do not present the notion that more abortions is better than fewer ones.  Most pro-choice advocates talk about unwanted pregnancies ( for a variety of reasons) and health reasons as why women choose to terminate a pregnancy.

One would think that religious groups would be the strongest advocates for family planning (preventing unwanted pregnancies) and a full protocol of women’s health services to minimize health concerns ending in an abortion.  Think again.

The same catholic church that shielded priest pedophiles also instructs (via hospital administration rules) doctors to treat pregnant women differently from other medical facilities.  For example, ectopic pregnancies are treated differently in Catholic administered hospitals than almost all other non-religious hospitals.

And hopefully a woman does not choose a Catholic Administered hospital when she is ready to deliver a baby.  In many cases, the woman may feel she has had enough children (for any reason) or been advised about the dangers of further pregnancies.  Forget about a tubal ligation in the Catholic Administered hospital even if the woman has had numerous children or has developed a medical condition where future pregnancies are life threatening.  Hmmm.

Let’s also not forget the Catholic Church’s strong objections to the Affordable Care Act’s inclusion of full women’s health care services.  The very means which could prevent unwanted pregnancies are a no-go for this church.  Hmmm.

So let’s return to the DC march.  What are these people thinking?

Hmmm.  I thought so, they simply cannot condone “free choice abortions” and have not thought through the higher moral ground of preventing unwanted pregnancies.

 

Understanding Arkansas

March 8, 2013

Former President Bill Clinton is not the only gift Arkansas has given the Country.  While some may dispute Bill was any kind of gift, the Arkansas State legislature wants to be in the running for the 2013 gift award.  Bill liked women, but the legislature is trying to out love Bill.  it appears, however, the legislature’s love is far more conditional.  What a strange way to compete.

Arkansas has just passed legislation outlawing abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy.  This passage comes with knowledge of Roe v Wade’s 24 week guidance.  So why would Arkansas divert its time, energy, and resources to a divisive social issue which has clearly been decided by the US Supreme Court?

The conditional nature of Arkansas’s legislature comes into focus when you examine the new law.  Up to 10 weeks, anyone can obtain an abortion, just as with Roe v Wade.  But after 10 weeks, abortions are possible only when the woman’s health is at risk or there are severe health issue with the fetus.

Here’s the question.  Does pro-choice end at 10 weeks and pro-life begin at week 10 plus one day?

In this social debate women find themselves in a nuanced spot.  Do the Arkansas law makers only love them up to 10 weeks or not at all?  Is it possibly these elected officials are, instead, trying to elicit a court challenge so the Roe v Wade decision can be re-litigated, and all rights to an abortion taken away?

In this regard, Bill Clinton’s love for women was unconditionally.  Pretty special when “Slick Willy” is the only Arkansas gift a woman can trust.