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May 18, 2009

A Proud Domer

Warning: If you are someone with hardcore views who gets angered by those with a different perspective, then don't read on. Because while I don't know exactly what words my fingers will type in right now, you're likely to be disappointed.

I post this today in my Radical Rant not as an adoption issue. I post it not as something that necessarily belongs here. Admittedly, I post it here because I have the venue and the right to use it.

I am a Notre Dame alumnus. I am also Jewish. And while I don’t “believe” in abortion, I support a woman’s right to choose. In fact, I don’t believe those of my gender deserve much of a say in this matter.

Today my alma mater, one not known for any sort of rebellious nature, took a hard stand. Notre Dame is a university of tradition. If you’ve ever toured the campus, you know what I mean. And Notre Dame has a tradition of inviting a new president to do the commencement speech. Despite the fact that Obama’s views on abortion and stem cell research are in direct conflict with the church and the university’s official opinion – you don’t even find birth control on campus at Notre Dame – they held this tradition.

Most of why I am so proud has nothing to do with the fact that I am a Obama supporter. It comes from what made me so proud to be a “Domer” prior to this controversy. It comes from how my experience with Notre Dame turned someone who had never even heard of Touchdown Jesus into someone who bleeds blue and gold.

I ended up attending Notre Dame through pure karma, I am convinced of this. Long story short was that I aced the GMAT exams and did very well in my undergraduate studies. I was invited, unsolicited, along with about 20 others to visit the campus as part of a “MBA Scholars Preview Weekend”. At the time, as could be expected from a Jewish person who grew up in California, I knew very little about the school. I ended up deciding to go there for two reasons. One was that as the premier Catholic university in the country, ethics was integrated into virtually all the curriculum. The other quite honestly was the near free-ride they offered me.

Until the day she passed away my grandmother was convinced that had they known I was Jewish, Notre Dame would never have called me. She was completely wrong about that. It wasn’t important. Notre Dame is an institution that strives for diversity and yet holds true to its Catholic foundation.

If there is any place in this country where diversity of thought is essential it is on the university campus. One of the most important aspects of a college education is to escape the confines of our childhood and prepare us for the real world that faces us. We all on a daily basis have to learn how to respect and coexist with people of very differing viewpoints. Notre Dame realized this.

What sickens me was not that there was a vocal uproar about the appropriateness of Obama speaking. I’m the first to admit that I was upset when Bush did the same as Obama, eager to point out how his views on capital punishment differed from the church and about how he embraced the likes of Bob Jones university, where Catholicism is considered a cult. Yet I did not go so far as to turn it into a circus. In this instance, the likes of Randall Terry and Alan Keyes who did so were primarily neither Catholic nor of any affiliation with the university.
Did you know that for days a plane flew above the campus with some statement and a picture of a dead fetus? Did you know that people were parading in front of the campus, which is a residential area, with pictures of the same? I’ve attended countless anti-war protests. I don’t think I have ever seen anything so galling on a sign at one of them.

The year before last I was driving with my kids on my way home from one of our traditional Saturdays. We had gone to the zoo and then out for “football chicken” at Buffalo Wild Wings. Going down the highway just outside of Milwaukee I passed an old van. Billboards were attached to the side of the van, I’m talking poster sized here, with grotesque pictures of what presumably were aborted fetuses. I can’t remember the slogan on the van but I remember having two thoughts.

One thought was how well it made its point. There was no denying the reality of what the procedure involves (even though I suspect these were much later-term than the norm). The other thought was that I wanted to run that bastard off the road for exposing children to that type of imagery when their parents have no viable way to avoid it. Thankfully my kids didn’t notice. I’m sure many others did.

As President Obama stated in his address today, this is an issue where to a large extent the two sides have irreconcilable differences. But there is a common ground in the desire to see fewer women resort to abortion. Those who read this site know how faulty our adoption systems, domestic and intercountry, are. That needs to be changed. And I could go on about healthcare, daycare, tuition assistance, and other areas that could make raising a child more viable for some women.

I guess my point is that history shows us as soon as opposing sides stop talking, there is only one possible outcome. And that comes down to some sort of war or battle. But when they can come together, listen to, and respect one another, progress can be made. I’m very happy that my alma mater realized this. I am sad for those graduates for whom this placed a huge dilemma on a most historic day for them personally. But our university has a tradition and Notre Dame, tradition prevails to make it a place like none other I have ever seen.

Whenever I am back in South Bend and I stand on Notre Dame Avenue looking down at the Dome, precisely where some of these protests were staged, tears come to my eyes. I lived on Notre Dame Avenue when I attended school there. For me it represents something amazing that came to me by the grace of something and forever improved my life and the person I have become. When next I stand there, the tears may roll a little quicker. Because for me, in a way, Notre Dame giving Pres. Obama this opportunity is an affirmation that they still believe in why I ended up at Notre Dame and why I will support the university emotionally, spiritually, and financially as long as possible.

Go Irish!

Posted by Kevin at May 18, 2009 02:40 AM
Comments

I too went to a Catholic College. I am sure that Notre Dame is a beautiful, beautiful campus and is I sure rich in many traditions even though I have never been there. However, it is a Catholic university and should have abided to its Catholic roots. Is it not usually to be expected that a person or organization of a specific faith try to abide to the values and beliefs of that religion? Otherwise, what is the point of being a church member if you do not believe what they do? So if Notre Dame is Catholic shouldn't they have stuck to their Catholic tradition. Isn't Catholicism a huge part of their identity? Why could they not have broken with tradition and simply not have asked the President to speak and thus avoid all this controversy? Abortion is what it is and I too would not have liked my kids exposed to what you saw on the highway. But Catholicism is strong on their stance on abortion and I believe Notre Dame should have looked past its tradition on always having a new president give the commencement speech and instead focused on the true roots and tradition of its formation. I mean this in no disrespect to your views. It is just my thoughts and I hope you too respect my views. Jenny

Posted by: at May 18, 2009 04:41 PM

Maybe I missing something here, but if Notre Dame has always asked presidents to speak and past presidents have endorsed a woman's right to choose, then surely Obama isn't the first president to speak at Notre Dame who has taken a pro-choice stance.

Posted by: cheryl at May 18, 2009 05:36 PM

It is so sad that the commencement ceremony was essentially hijacked away from the students, whose achievements and hard work rightfully deserved the focus of attention Sunday.
And those trucks, the "truth trucks" as they are called, are disgusting and ineffective. In my hometown, they purposefully park those things across the street from elementary schools! It angers people regardless of whether they are pro-choice or pro-life, which pretty much ruins any purpose they might serve. The drivers are quick to claim their right to free speech, but lack any sense of decency IMO.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 18, 2009 05:45 PM

One other thought. If a Catholic University, or any Catholic organization for that matter, were to take the stance that a President who endorses pro choice cannot come and speak at one of their functions, then I would think out of consistency they should also say that no one who is pro choice should ever be allowed to speak at one of their functions. Now that would get extremely restrictive wouldn't it? So should we never listen to any one on anything if they take a stance on something that we feel is immoral? Just some food for thought. Maybe people who endorsed an action that resulted in the lives of many innocent people dieing shouldn't be allowed to come and talk either?

Well, if I were to put myself in the shoes of anti-abortionists the word "immoral" isn't strong enough. So from their perspective that should be "murder." And I can understand this would be pretty unpalitable if you thought the aborted fetus' soul were going to hell if it hadn't been baptized.

I have been planning on doing some research on when did this concept that a fetus is fully human actually start because I'm pretty sure it is historically speaking a fairly recent development, I suspect within the last 1000 years. Even in ancient times, abortions and partial birth abortions were something that people knew about. Yet, interestingly enough, I don't know of one single verse in the Bible that specifically calls at "abortion" as wrong. There are verses in the Old testament about the legal responsibilities of someone who causes a woman to miscarry. Based on my recollection, these verses about someone causing a woman to miscarry are worded in a way that the miscarried fetus is like "property" that the family is being repaid for rather than a human life that was murdered and a soul that went to hell. Further, one has to ask, why didn't the Bible include a law specifically against abortion? Actually, we know based on other writings by biblical scholars during biblical times that abortion wasn't considered wrong, for example, if the mother appeared to be "in distress." In other words, they didn't wait until her life was in danger. "In distress" was enough. Sorry, I'm sure I have upset a lot of people with this message.

I personally don't subscribe to the infallability of scripture. I'm not a big fan of late term abortions and thank G-- I have never had to have an abortion myself, but I don't think of a fetus in early development any where nearly as "human" as say the mother and I'm definitely not worried about a fetus' soul. Just something for people to think about.

Posted by: cheryl at May 18, 2009 06:11 PM

I am a fellower Domer, but unlike Kevin, I am pro-life and did not vote for President Obama. However, I COMPLETELY agree w/everything you wrote here.

I was lucky enough to graduate in 2001, the year President Bush was the graduation speaker and it was such an amazing experience to have him as a guest. I was so glad that President Obama was invited and accepted the university's offer to speak at this year's graduation. Although I do not agree w/all his policies, I think it is honor to have a sitting President attend the school's graduation ceremony.

One of the things I loved most about my experience at Notre Dame was the opportunity to grow in my Catholic faith both by the Catholic values that serve as the foundation of the university and the opportunity to examine other belief systems and viewpoints. It was only through thoughtful consideration of other viewpoints that I was able to truly own my own and for that I will forever be grateful for my 4 years at Notre Dame. Had Notre Dame chosen not to invite President Obama to speak, the university would have lost percisely what makes it such a unique and incredible instituition.

Posted by: Kristen at May 19, 2009 01:35 AM

I think that if Notre Dame is a private University ( as it is ), then they have the right to invite whoever they want. And no one has the right to protest such a choice. Next year, the students ( and their parents ) will decide if this University still matches their Catholics values. Kevin says: " I've attended countless anti-war protests; I don't think I have ever seen anything so galling on a sign at one of them." You didn't see it, but have you forgotten all the bastards that show up at the funerals of soldiers who died in Iraq and disrupt the funerals by insulting the dead soldiers and their family, even by spitting on the cuffins?

Posted by: Vince at May 19, 2009 01:43 PM

Vince,

Please do your homework. Those disgusting protests at soldier's funerals were NOT being conducted by anyone who took issue withe the war. What sadly happened in Viet Nam has never been the case with Iraq. 99.9% of everyone at the protests supports our troops, just not the jerks that put them in harm's way.

The protests you are speaking were being done by a right-wing religious zealot from Kansas City named Phelps. From one story: "The church members have been protesting service members'funerals across the county carrying signs that say 'Thank God For Dead Soldiers.' The church said soldiers are being struck down by God for defending a nation that tolerates homosexuality." Don't blame we hippies for that crap!

May, thank you for your thoughtful post. I repsect your opinion very much.

For the record, both Bushs spoke at ND. As did Carter, Reagan and Eisenhower. I could no find mention of Clinton being snubbed, refusing, or anything. Nonetheless, I could go on and on about how the views of the pro-life presidents differ with the church on matters of poverty, capital punishment, war, etc.

In addition, it is interesting to note that Obama won the Catholic vote. In fact, his support among Catholics was greater than his overall support. Support polls show he still maintains. Those numbers taper off when you start to limit it to weekly church-goers. Nonetheless, to me it shows that many, if not most, Catholics are not single issue voters and have decided that their disagreement over abortion is outweighed by other pressing issues we face.

A reminder to all of two rules. First if to be respectful - especially important on an issue like this one. Second - you must enter in a valid e-mail address when posting. We don't use those e-mails for anything. But it's a rule we need to enforce for everyone's protection.

Peace,

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kevin at May 19, 2009 03:38 PM

I have several family members who attended ND including obtaining their Master's degrees. They along with me are disgusted that they had this extremely Pro-Choice President speak. Sorry but since opinions are welcomed you just heard mine. And yes we had tears too...only for much different reasons.

Barb-member of RTL

Posted by: Barb at May 19, 2009 03:40 PM

Hey, Kevin, talking about homework!!! I was walking with my family on Saturday morning back in March, when I saw people, some of them belonging to " Code Pink ", protesting the war in Iraq by making noise outside a Church during the funeral of a young local soldier killed in Iraq. I don't think this people have some to do with conservative idiots like the one form Kansas City!!! And by the way, Kevin, do you know where ACLU stands in this case? Well, they stand right by Phelps, with the exuse that if he can't protest at the funerals of dead soldiers, then, no body can oppose him with a counter protest!!! Please take a look at this: WWW.UNCOMMONDESCENT.COM/LEGAL/ACLU-SUPPORTS-VILE-PROTESTERS-AT-MILITARY-FUNERALS/ Que tenga un buen dia. Vince.

Posted by: Vince at May 19, 2009 04:32 PM

Vince, I did a search and could find nothing about Code Pink protesting funerals. I can't say they didn't or try to negate what you said you experienced. If they did, it was wrong.

I personally agree with the ACLU. I think it is wrong and grotesque and no one should ever think of doing such a thing. But I think sometimes freedom means allowing people to push it and that is why I am a member of the ACLU. Limits to free speech are dangerous, no matter how inappropriate the speech may be. Never did I say that the guy driving the van should have been arrested.

And Barb - ALL views are welcomed and appreciated!

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kevin at May 19, 2009 07:31 PM

Kevin, sorry but I don't get it. Are you saying that idiots like Phelps have to be allowed to offend dead soldiers and their families at the funerals because this is part of their right to free speech? And where is the right of the families to have their loved ones buried without being called names? And you can believe me that some of the people my family and I saw outside the Church belong to Code Pink: Their shirts were pink and with the logo " CODE PINK " well visible; in the back there was another logo: " IMPEACH BUSH NOW ". Vince.

Posted by: Vince at May 19, 2009 09:41 PM

Vince,

You may not get it but you have my perspective correct. I believe that yes, sometimes the "greater good" means pain to the minority. In this case, it is one of the examples that most pressures that viewpoint. It is so completely wrong to protest a funeral. There are those on both sides of any debate who go too far. Extremism is not constructive in the real world. And in this example, that isn't the decision between Fox News and MSNBC, it is something that impacts real people involuntarily. But I hold true to my belief that we can't make it illegal.

We have a legal system based on precedence as opposed to case law. That means that if you can ban this exhibition of "free speech", you set a precedence that can be abused in the courts. Once that happens, in my opinion, the American Way is jeopardized. It could go into all sorts of directions that scare the living crap out of me.

So my opinion is that at times we have to deal with a bunch of a-holes. Because the solution paints a darker picture than the problem. And now, my friendly foe, we have moved this directly into the adoption issue. Because the cure is arguably worse than the problem. In any instance, it ain't simple and I have found that polarized views accomplish nothing more than making rational solutions impossible.

Posted by: Kevin at May 20, 2009 02:40 AM

So if tomorrow morning your neighboor will sit cross street from your house, calling you names because your are jew and he doesn't like jews, you will do nothing. Will you let him say and do whatever he wants because he has the right to free speech? And if that same person will start offending your two kids because they have a darker skin and they are from Guatemala, will you say that he has the right to say whatever he wants because he has the right to free speech? And how the right of free speech can be exercised? Only by words or also by actions? For example, peacefully walking the street naked to protest against the killing of animals to obtain furs, isn't a form of speech? You see, Kevin, when you say that to preserve freedom, pain can be inflicted to the minority, you are ready to justify everything, without putting any limit to human behavior. This is anarchy. Anyway this is virtually an endless debate, so I agree with you, lets move the talking back to the adoption issues. Vince.

Posted by: Vince at May 20, 2009 10:56 AM

No Vince, I would not do "nothing". I would certainly be exercising my free speech rights as well, likely organizing the other neighors against the racist.

Lastly, sticks and stones may break my bones... Free speech should not be confused with violence.

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kevin at May 20, 2009 03:24 PM

These people that were protesting at funerals, even going so far as to spit on the graves are despicable. They have their right to free speech but so do we. I would try to get their names and publish them in the news paper describing their actions. Hey how about putting flyers on their neighbors' doors telling their neighbors about what they did?

The insensitivity of some people just boggles my mind at times. A friend of mine, Holly, has a bi-racial daughter-half Caucasian half African American. Their neighbors put something racist in their yard. I couldn't get details because Holly was whispering about it so her daughter wouldn't hear. Thank goodness, the neighbors took it down when Holly went and talked to them about it.

The question of legality is interesting. I'm going to talk to one of my lawyer friends about this. I'm curious about the ratings of things on TV and the fact that certain types of media aren't shown during "family hours." Is this all voluntary on the part of the broadcasters? I think there are laws that stating certain behaviors are illegal of the go against what most people consider to be "decent" liking running around naked or having sex in public. So by extension maybe this would also apply to displaying mangled dead fetuses on billboards where children will see them. Well, I work with lots of attorneys and I'll ask one of them about it.

You know, I think my attorney friend Michael told me that the US is the only country that pretty much has unrestricted freedom of speech. Canada and the UK have restrictions. Not saying that I am for restrictions either. It is definitely a tricky thing.

Did any body see the press on the UKs publishing a list of people that they won't let come and visit because of their extremist views? They came right out and said that they are taking a stand against extremist views. Interesting.

Best, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at May 20, 2009 04:22 PM

Oh I just have to tell you guys this story. A co-worker of mine, Rita, her husband and their 6 year old daughter went to a park in Berkley CA. Their daughter was riding her bike. Off in the distance they saw something funny going on. Their daughter on her bike made a bee line for the funny occurance and got way ahead of them so that they could not catch up with her. As they approached the scene, they realized it was two people having sex in broad day light. Their daughter had arrived at the scene way ahead of them and was standing over the coupling watching. Rita said to the couple, "Could you take this somewhere else? My daughter just simply isn't going to understand this." I really take my hat off to Rita for her composure. What on earth were these people thinking anyway? STrange, strange people.

Posted by: cheryl at May 20, 2009 04:40 PM

Wow - a fellow Domer that's thinks like I do - I'm very happy I took the time to read this!

Posted by: Robert at May 21, 2009 02:15 PM

I'm glad that abortion is not a widespread practice in Guatemala, and that it wasn't available here in the U.S. some 40 years ago. If that had been the case, then I'm fairly certain that two of the most important people in my life would have both been victims. President Obama might reflect on what his fate might have been had his mother had a "choice" when she was pregnant with him.

Posted by: Dave S. at May 22, 2009 05:43 PM

Dave, it's interesting you assume all unplanned pregnancies would result in abortion. I doubt that would be the case. Of those I've known who had one, none did it without lots of consideration. I have known far more women who gave birth. All that aside, When a University has a tradition of having a New President speak, they should be aware the president won't always agree with the U on everything. I have great respect for the Catholic church for it's stand on peverty, certainly this president will be more responsive to that. Additonally, he is more likely to address war, torture and the death penalty than the previous administration. Not saying he will eliminate them, but will definitely be more in line with the principals of Catholicism. Just trying to point out he isn't the antithesis of the Catholic faith...

Posted by: Dawn at May 24, 2009 04:11 AM

On the death penalty. The " Doctrin " of the Catholic Church isn't against the death penalty always: There are cases in which the Catholic Church admits it; in the specific, the death penalty is admitted when there is no other way of defending the society against some criminals. On the abortion issue. The " Doctrin " of the Catholic Church does not always prohibits the abortion. In the specific, abortion is allowed when the life of the pregnant woman is in danger and it can only be saved by " performing " abortion. Vince.

Posted by: Vince at May 24, 2009 02:40 PM

I know several women who had abortions, two who carried to term then relinquished, several who should have reliquished and their parents were trying to get them to sign over their rights. I've been to a clinic to support someone who made the decision. I saw the signs and picketers outside. The really young girls in there with their parents which made you want to kill whomever was messing with them. I saw the pro-life infiltrators pretending to wait for the procedure but really getting a last chance to talk to the women waiting. I took care of her afterwards. Those who chose abortion that I know were not ready to have children. It's not talked about with anyone other than the few if any who know. You could very well know someone who hasn't told you. Something else to think about there is a stigma attached to unwed mothers and mothers who give their children up for adoption but abortion noone really has to know and they tell you its not really life [whether the woman believes this or not is another matter]. Each deals with it differently. One I know of we had to do an intervention to get her out of her room because she was in there going crazy with a million little slips of paper with names on it where she was naming the child. She was in love with the father who told everyone she was a slut. Mr wonderful turned out to be not. I saw the snickers and elbow jabs men who heard would give each other when she walked into a room. We were worried she'd commit suicide. So I would disagree on fewer abortions. I think there would be more. I believe the woman has to make this decision but I don't believe in all of us pretending its something other than what it is. I wish there were more options and preventions of unplanned pregnancy where this did not exist or was rare. I thank God and our birthmother our children were born. The courage she faced going through this. The women or girls who get pregnant out of wedlock are treated horribly. I don't see the men being held up to society to answer for it. In Guatemala there would be more abortions. Don't fool yourself into anything else. Think about what these women face when they become pregnant and the stigma attached to it. Think about their options of marriage later and the way they will be treated by family and community. In some countries women would be killed over it. The way society has set the tone its easier for women to abort then not. Women are not really given a choice even if we say they do. Having an abortion, keeping the baby, or relinquishing for adoption are all difficult choices then add to that the long-term consequences of the decision and impact on the mothers and childs life. And by the time they know they have to make a decision its not like they can sit around years contemplating what to do.

Obama has the right to his belief. Catholics have the right to theirs. Phelps is a pig. It wouldn't matter if you picketed him he'd love the attention which is what he is after.

Posted by: lisa at May 24, 2009 03:53 PM

Lisa,

You spoke eloquently and from the heart. There are women that are faced with extremely difficult decisions and society doesn't offer them much support. My heart really goes out to anyone that is in these kinds of difficult situations. Just incredibly difficult decisions.

The question has been raised of what would have happened to any of us if abortion had been an option when our mothers' were pregnant with us. Personally, I don't find that threatening. If my mother had decided to terminate her pregnancy with me, well, I wouldn't know anything different. I personally don't find that threatening. I personally would rather not be born than be born into a really horrible situation where I was on the receiving end of many years of abuse like some kids in the foster care system. I'm just being honest about how I feel.

Some may say that I really have no idea how I really feel about this. But in a way I do. I was mauled by a dog on 2003. The mauling was so violent that I definitely thought the dog was going to kill me. My thoughts were never about "Oh maybe I'll go to hell." I'm not a Christian and I had no concern about the destiny of my soul. I'm totally at peace with that issue.

Now that I have my daughter, I couldn't imagine not having her. I can honestly say that I'm very glad that I never had a biological child. If I had had a biological. child, I wouldn't have my daughter. But if I never had her, then I wouldn't really know what I had missed either. Some other door in my life would have opened.

Peace, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at May 25, 2009 08:58 PM

Dawn, I make no such simplistic assumption that all unwanted pregnancies end in abortion. I refer to two specific situations in which I am involved.

In one situation of which I speak, I feel fairly confident that, with 1.3 million children aborted a year on the US, that case might have ended in an abortion and not an adoption had abortions been available in Guatemala.

In the other case, I was there at the time of the decision and speak from a point of complete knowledge of the circumstances that you simply do not have and that I choose not to reveal. In that case, it is virtually certain that that child would have been aborted.

I am not a Catholic, so I don't particularly care about the whole ND argument (you might check the Catholic teaching on abortion vs. just war, though. The church doesn't put them on the same level), nor do I choose to bash this president as you so eagerly bashed the last. My points were simply as they were stated: I would grieve two lives if abortion was as legal in those settings as it is now, and, given the circumstances of his birth and his race, President Obama would have had a high probability of being a victim, as well.

Look, if the aborted fetus is not a human being, then you don't need to justify abortion. If it is a human being, then you can't jiustify abortion .

Posted by: Dave S. at May 25, 2009 09:29 PM

Dave,

You said, "Look, if the aborted fetus is not a human being, then you don't need to justify abortion. If it is a human being, then you can't justify abortion."

I can totally understand how you feel about this. I would imagine that you feel that an unborn child has a soul and that it is always wrong to kill an innocent soul. bUt, I would also like for you to understand that there are those of us who have come to very different conclusions and for very different reasons than you provide.

One, I'm not so sure that this decision is really made entirely on the basis of logic. It is something that most of us kind of wade through and weigh different options.

To a large part I see this matter having to do with compassion, respect for life, but at the same time trying to live in the real world. There are religious/philosophical traditions that say it is wrong to kill any life regardless of whether it is human or not. Most people in the US don't think a thing about killing an an insect or a rodent. I would imagine that you don't have a problem killing an ant or a rodent. I don't have a problem with it either. Yes, an ant and a rodent are living things but I feel that I cannot live my life going around not stepping on ants and I don't want them in my house. I don't have a problem with killing them.

I'm not saying this to undermine the importance of an unborn child's life. I'm merely pointing out that with respect to issues of life, respect for life, etc. there are others who have come to very different conclusions than either you or I. Much of what we believe is a matter of "faith" and "upbringing." By extension I hope that you can understand that some of us can believe that the unborn child is "human" and also be pro-choice. I don't see this as a black white all or nothing kind of thing.

For me, my compassion tends to weigh in more on the side of the mother. In a simplistic way I would say that I believe the mother is vastly more human than an unborn child. I really do not like it when people don't bother with contraception and then have multiple abortions. I did know one woman who said she did this. By the way, she was also a vegetarian because she felt it was cruel to kill animals and said she wouldn't be friends with a person that hunted. Some people can be very strange.

Kindest Regards, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at May 26, 2009 05:18 PM

If I ran Notre Dame, I would absolutely STOP any presidential speaking for the simple reason that a graduation should be about celebrating graduating students, not about protests of ANY sort. No matter who the protestors are....it is just plain disrespectful.

I do feel that any action that intentionally disrupts a (legal/peaceful) ceremony should be in itself unlawful 99% of the time. Nobody should have a right to trespass (even audibly) because they think their views THAT important. However, you cannot legislate common courtesy.

I've seen plenty of gross behavior from individuals seemingly on my side of an issue and plenty of gross behavior from opposing views. Unfortunately, there will always be some moron that will be doing something disgusting or disrespectful and there will always be those who want to personify him/her as their typical opposition.

Its a shame that we don't have protests against gross behavior (whether it be disrupting a soldier's funeral or showing disgusting abortion photos in public)!!!!

Posted by: Kelly (guatadopt) at May 26, 2009 06:51 PM

Kelly,
I agree totally. I tried to make the same point, not quite as well, but the post didn't go through. Freedom of Speech can be taken entirely too far. There are limits already, you can't yell 'fire' in a theatre or 'bomb' in an airport. I don't think it is unreasonable for demonstrations to be unlawful at funerals.
One hopeful note about Phelps (who is from Topeka, NOT Kansas City BTW). He has been sucessfully sued for invasion of privacy and emotional distress, and the plaintiff won $10.6 million from Westboro Baptist Church in that case.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 26, 2009 09:35 PM

Cheryl, You have countered an argument that I did not make. I said that the killing of a human being could not be justified. I did not say this child had a soul, nor make any other religious argument. Obviously, ants and rodents are not human beings and I can justify killing them, as you do.

You say that you believe the unborn are human but you can justify killing them. Do these humans have to be unborn to justify their killing? If so, why? What difference does the minute between being born an unborn make? Why would killing a one year old human be less justifiable than killing an unborn one?

I am interested in where you draw the line on what you acknowledge is killing human beings. You say the "mother is vastly more human than an unborn child." At what point do they become human enough that you can no longer justify their killing, and why?

Posted by: Dave S. at May 26, 2009 10:01 PM

Dave,

I never said that I have all of the answers. I don't even feel the need to have all of the answers. I'm merely pointing out that others have come to very different conclusions than you have and we don't necessarily use black and white, all or nothing logic to get there.

I never said that you believe it is wrong to kill any living being. I said that other people have looked at this issue with regards to respect for life, compassion, trying to live lives in the real world, etc and they have drawn different conclusions than you. They have even drawn different conclusions than I have *smile* For example, there are people who believe it is wrong to kill any living being. They draw the line in a different place than you have and they have also taken into account compassion and respect for life.

If I were to apply the same black and white logic to you that you are applying to me I would say you should also believe it is wrong to go to war because there are lots of innocent people (born and not born) that get killed in wars. And those people (born and not born) that are killed in wars are definitely human. Do you believe that all wars are wrong? Just checking.

As far as Obama goes, I think he has thought about this issue logically, intuitively and along many different dimensions. I believe that he has weighed all of the considerations out. You said that you could not imagine life without your children. But then you are focusing on yourself. What about the mother, what about a society, what about the world? I once heard a person that I greatly admire say, "what is best at the micro-level isn't necessarily what’s best at the macro-level." I think the anti-abortion argument that "abortion violates sanctity of life" is a much stronger than the argument "I cannot imagine life without my kids." The argument "I cannot imagine life without my kids" definitely pulls on peoples' heart strings but it doesn't address the macro-level.

I can understand why you believe what you believe. But I also reserve the right to challenge people who cannot understand the conclusions that I have come to.

Someday a woman that you are very close to may be confronted with this issue and you may change your mind.

Just for the record, I do believe that a child that is born is fully human and definitely should not be killed. I have not decided an exact cut off time during the gestation period when abortions should not be allowed. Maybe I'll leave that to each woman to decide. There are very few women who would not agonize over weighing out whether to have an abortion or not. Very few women would do this willy nilly.

And yes, I definitely believe that the mother is vastly more human than an unborn child and my compassion weighs in her favor. To state otherwise, would be a lie and would violate my conscience. Do you want me to lie or to violate my conscience?

Best, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at May 27, 2009 01:38 AM

Cheryl, Thank you for taking the time to respond. I can certainly appreciate that you wrestle with this difficult question, as do we all. Of course, I would never want you to lie. I was seeking to clarify your stand by asking you to consider where and why you draw that line between what can and cannot be justified in the killing of human beings.

I appreciate your challenge to my thoughts, and hope that I have been courteous and reasonable in my responses. I have tried to be careful to take you at your word and respect your views. I hope you feel that I have done so.

To be fair, I probably did not clearly articulate that my objection is to the taking of innocent human life, and this helps me think about topics such as war and killing in self defense. And bugs! ;-)

I would protest that I am not totally self centered about this issue. You quote me as saying, "I could not imagine life without my kids" but I never said that. Actually, it was you who made a statment along those lines. (5/25 8:58 pm). I can imagine a life without children. I don't favor it but I've lived it and can easily imagine it.

My original statement was that I believed that, had the current scheme of abortions been allowable, two people who are close to me might have been victims. I am considering not only my feelings here, but the lives that might not have been. I believe that I am thinking about this from their perspective, as well. And the thought of so many unfulfilled promises around the world certainly colors my thoughts, whether I am personally affected or not.

I'll add one more personal note, though my views on this topic are not hinged only on how they affect little old me.

You say that "Someday a woman that you are very close to may be confronted with this issue and you may change your mind." I have already been down that road and the affect of that was to solidify my thinking in the direction of being pro-life. I have been able to see, first hand, the very real affects that abortion can have on the mother. So I am not without compassion for her side of the issue. To the contrary, I believe that I very much take that into account. The mothers are very much the unspoken victims of abortion.

I am encouraging you to think along a continuum of what is and is not justifiable. You gave the example of a woman who had multiple abortions for birth control purposes as something that you don't approve of. So I am just suggesting that you consider if one abortion is ok, and multiple for convinience sake are not, how many is too many? If her reason for taking an innocent life was not good enough, what reason is? You state that the killing of a newborn would not be acceptable. How about one day short of birth? One month? Six months before? Where do you draw the line and why?

My premise is that if the fetus is human (and my implication was that the unborn are innocent, though I did not clearly state that)then one cannot justify their killing. You have agreed with me that unborn children are human. I am just trying to prompt you to consider your justification for killing them. I do not ask this maliciously or with ill will, but only to prompt contemplation of these questions.

It is all well and good in theory to leave this to the mother, but there are many moral issues that our society does not leave to the actors to decide. There are certain things that we collectively set boundaries around and the circumstance under which one can take human life is one of them. If the victim is 30 years old, we do not leave the decision of whether taking their life justifiable up to the one taking the life. We have made that decision as a society, set those parameters, and codified them in our laws.

We have done the same with abortion. We have said that any abortion at any time is permissible. Other societies have decided differently, and have determined that unborn humans deserve some measure of protection, from complete protection in some instances to protection after a certain stage of development in others.

So what measures of protection, if any, do you feel should be afforded to them, and why? (Again, always the why, for if something is justifiable, then the justification can be articulated.)

I do not ask that you reply hastily, or even at all. I only ask that you sincerely consider where and why you draw the line.

Best regards.

Posted by: Dave S. at May 27, 2009 05:30 PM

Dave,

I really appreciate and I enjoyed reading your post. *smile* I can definitely understand that your experience with the woman who had an abortion led you to be pro-choice. I do not want any woman to do anything that will affect her negatively. I want her to weigh it out and think about whether she can live with her decision. If it violates her conscience, then by all means don't have an abortion and I pray that our society will do a better job of helping woman who make that decision.

I think that our experiences with people who have had abortions have a tremendous affect on how we feel about the issue. I too have known women who have had abortions and their experiences have solidly led me in a different direction than your experience. I had a friend that was raped by her father and got pregnanty. I have a cousin that was raped by a neighbor boy and got pregnant. My mother was pregnant with a child, they named Teri, and was exposed to German measles in her first trimester. The child was severely microcyphilic. The doctor knew very early on that Teri would probably die during the pregnancy or during birth. If she lived, she would be a total vegetable. They didn't tell my mother. My mother carried Teri for 10 months, a very long pregnancy. So Teri was large and my mother is extremely petite, only 4 feet 10 inches. Teri died during birth and delivering a dead baby really teared my extremely small mother apart. She has lived with a lot of problems from that delivery. The doctor said after Teri was born that he didn't tell my mother because the law tied his hands. He couldn't do anything. I also had a friend who got pregnant after she was divorced. She had a 4 year old daughter. Although she is a very devout Christian she decided to abort because she couldn't afford to keep the child and she felt her daughter would not undrestand if she gave the child up for adoption. I can also understand someone that decides to have an abortion because they just aren't mentally, emotionally, or financially in a position to take care of a child. I also wish that people wouldn't be so judgemental of single women that get pregnant. I think this would really help these women make decisions on the basis of their own consciences rather than out of fear of being judged.

I can also appreciate your statement that other societies have decided to put more controls on when and under what circumstances an abortion can be performed. My second ex-husband (Oh gee I'm divorced twice) is German and it was interesting to hear how the Germans struggled with this issue. I'm under the impression from him that they only recently legalized abortions. One of their TV channels showed an abortion being performed and showed the aborted child. It was very small like a little doll and still alive. The broadcast said they weren't saying whether abortion was right or wrong, but they wanted to show people what it is really like so that they seriously consider this issue. That is an interesting take on it.

I have not given this enough investigation and thought to come up with definitive answers. It is very difficult to fairly cover all circumstances when one is making laws. I personaly really don't like it when someone resorts to abortion multiple times because they can't be bothered with birth control. I would definitely want women to have the abortion as soon in the pregnancy as possible. But I don't think I could absolutely ruleout late term abortions. But coming up with definitely rules of when an abortion can or cannot be performed is very difficult.

Kindest Regards, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at May 27, 2009 06:49 PM

Cheryl, I agree that this is a difficult area, this drawing of lines. But the question of if and where they should be drawn is one that merits deep consideration. I believe that our generation will be judged by history on we responded to this question of when and how to protect innocent life. It is a thorny matter, no doubt.

The examples that you provided, many of them were just heart wrenching. In your mother's case, an early end to that story would have been merciful indeed. And those instances of rape.... brutal by the very definition!!

But the woman who aborted her child, deprived her child of the right to live when so many willing parents stand ready to adopt? That, I think, was not just.

You never asked my about my stance on capital punishment. I mention it because so often it comes up. If you had, I would have told you that I oppose it. I oppose it not because it takes a life, per se. A life, that if properly convicted and sentenced, is not an innocent one. No, I oppose it because the administration of capital punishment can be unjust. Mistakes can be made. And once they are made, the sentence cannot be reversed. That's an injustice I cannot support.

Is it not so with at least some cases of abortion? For every case of endangerment of a mother's health or rape or incest, are there not thousands of other cases where an innocent child's life is taken for convenience? As a form of birth control, to select the sex of the child, to avoid the burden of raising another child when there are other mouths to feed, to avoid the emotional stress of giving birth to a child, then relinquishing to another for adoption? There are.

Yes, there are mothers who abort their children after carefully weighing the moral implications of their decisions. But there are others who are pressured into the decision, or make it in haste or under stress.

Often, in retrospect, mistakes were made. Mistakes that cannot be done. Human beings have their lives taken from them before they have even begun. And there is no going back. is that just? Can it be justified?

Can we as a society continue to condone unfettered access to any abortion, for any reason, at any point, and stake any claim to morality and justice? We alone in the world have come this far down that road. And why? We prize our freedom and our privacy.

In the end, the question we must answer is whether or not we prize those things more than we prize morality and justice. In our inability to draw a line, to set a boundary, are we right in drawing no lines, no boundaries at all, and instead live in a society where the strong claim the weak as their victims simply because we can? Because that's what it's come to.

With deep respect, Dave


Posted by: Dave S. at May 28, 2009 03:48 AM

Re. Notre Dame and Obama: As Jim Wallis and other biblical scholars have noted: More than any other social issue, Jesus talked in the Bible about helping the poor and others rejected by society. After loving God, that ought to be the number one thing we work on as Christians. And he warned often about judging others, for that is for the Father to do.

President Obama has more of a heart for the poor than any leader in recent memory and therefore should be welcomed by church people as a good person who works in the model of Jesus, though there might be points of disagreement on other issues less often mentioned in the New Testamant, the record of Christ's words and actions.


Re abortion: My Guatemalan daughter is the joy of my life, I believe God brought us together, and I thank Him every day as I marvel at her. I am an active Christian who sings in my church choir. And I believe legal abortion must remain an option for the sake of the children of this world because every child deserves to enter this world WANTED and showered with as much love as I have for my daughter.

Parenting a toddler requires such hard work and patience that my heart hurts when I imagine the children of those parents who didn't really want or plan for them, who maybe resent them changing their lives. As a sociology major in college, I believe that most of the people who end up doing crime and drugs, having bad relationships, being selfish and greedy and harmful to society, just didn't feel loved enough in their childhood. The unconditional love of family is essential, I believe, for an emotionally healthy person in this mixed-up world.

As I was told I wouldn't be able to adopt domestically because the shortage of infants available and my advanced age made the chances of being picked remote, YES, I wished more women had placed children for adoption instead of aborting. But adoption just isn't always a good alternative for people either, for various reasons. I have to trust that almost all women make that difficult decision with much thought and knowledge of their own capabilities and limits.

Nobody thinks abortions are a GOOD thing, but if you want to reduce them, reduce the NEED for them. If you study history, abortions have happened throughout time and place and will continue to unless we change the conditions in society that make women feel they have no other choice.

Give lots of sex. ed. in the schools (I think this is what Bristol Palin is meaning now when she says, "If girls knew what having a baby is about they'd not be having sex, believe me!"). Have free birth control available, have a good health care system and childcare assistance for those who want to carry children to term and who don't have other support systems. The same people who speak most loudly against legal abortion are often the same people who vote against these measures.

And lets try to look with the compassionate eyes of God at each other on different sides of this debate and try to understand, work together to fix the problem, rather than judge each other.

Most sincerely,
Reba

Posted by: reba2 at May 28, 2009 07:49 PM

Reba and DAve,

I have really truly enjoyed reading your posts. Reba, I rarely run into a devoit Christian who will openly admit that they are pro-choice. I really take my hat off to you for your guts. And I can tell that you have really thought about this.

Dave, you have also thought a lot about this and I deeply respect your opinion. I'm also very glad that although you disagree with me, you can see my point of view. I have problems with pro-choice individuals who always act like they have the moral upper hand on this. There are so many aspects of morality to consider here that it isn't simple at all.

I can appreciate your drive to draw lines. I'm simply not prepared to do that yet. I'd have to think about it more. I know in many respects where I may morally draw the line. But that is entirely different from translatting those morals into law that draws lines.

I guess my wish list, or if I were God of the univser *smile*, I would want to at least start with the following:
1) I want poor people to have enough money so that they don't decide to have an abortion because they cannot afford the child.
2) I want society to stop judging unwed mothers so that they don't decide to abort out of fear of judgement.
3) I want society to stop judging people who decide to have an abortion because they truly believe it is what is best for them. I don't want someone to give birth because they are afraid people will judge them if they have an abortion.

The goal of my proposal of 1-3 is to free people up to decide what they truly believe is best.

I would add a fourth, fifth and sixth. 4) sex education, 5) access to birth control 6) education on the implications of an abortion, but I want it done without judgements (well the without judgement thing I sort of qualify, because I think we should discourage people from aborting because of sloppy birth control. But who do you legislate that? We can talk about it and educate people to use birth control) I want the education to help the mother decide what is best for her and her unborn child. And yes, that "best" may be terminating the pregnancy. I think Reba has done a very good job of explaining why it may be "best" to terminate a pregnancy.

My time with all of my friends from other countries has been very enlightening. There are very few teen age pregnancies in Germany. They are a lot more proactive about contraception and sex education. One German woman I knew was really aghast at how a lot of Americans are opposed to sex education and teenagers having access to birth control.

DAve, again, thanks for understanding my point on this. I'm fine that we don't agree. But I think it is important for disagreeing people to try and understand each other.

Kindest Regards, Cheryl Eichstaedt

Posted by: cheryl at May 29, 2009 04:57 PM

Hi, Reba. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. I appreciate hearing your views. I have a bit of a challenge on one point, though. You say that adoption is not always a good alternative for people for various reasons. I assume that you mean that it's not a good reason from the birthparents standpoint, not from the child's or the adoptive parents'. Can you expand a bit on what some of those reasons might be? Thanks very much.
Dave S.

Posted by: Dave S. at May 29, 2009 06:25 PM

Dave,

I missed responding to some important points that you made. So hard to remember exactly what a person said after scrolling down to make a post. And it is difficult to scroll back and forth :) ha ha ha. I have jotted a few notes down.

I am in favour of drawing certain lines, but I am definitely leaning toward drawing those lines through policies rather than laws. For example, I'm definitely against abortions for birth control or changing the sex of the child, or I want a blue eyed child or a taller child or a really smart child that can go to an Ivy league school. I would use education and the media to let adults/kids know that we as a society do not condone this.

Now lets look at this from another angle. If a family really wants to abort a child because it has blue eyes instead of brown eyes, and we as a society force them to have the child using laws, I'm afraid the child will have a lot of psychological problems as Rita has pointed out. So, I think it is better to address through education. Try to change the way that they think about these things instead of ramming something down their throats.

You also referred to the "burden of raising a child," and "emotional stress." I think that Reba has done a good job of addressing these issues. The family has to weigh out these factors in light of their own consciences. I would try to make it easier on families by hopefully having a better economy and a better support societal support structure. It is so easy to tell people that they should take on something but if we aren't willing to help them, then I tend to feel we don't have a right to tell them they just take on what seems to them a burden that they feel would break them.

You mentioned the "no going back" aspect. I bleed for your friend who feels she made a mistake. If I were her friend I'd say, "please don't beat ourself up about this. You made the best decision you could at the time that you made it. That is the best any of us can do. WE make our decisions based on the facts that we have at hand at the time we make those decisions." I would also as a part of educating/counseling people bring this issue up and ask them to really think about whether they will be able to live with their decision or if they will be haunted by it.

You talked about us being judged by history. I'm curious about what your philosophical/religions background is. Are you coming from a Christian/religious perspective or a humanistic perspective. It would help me more to understnad where you are coming from.

Personally, I would give the US an F for how we have dealt with this issue. But I don't think that passing a bunch of laws is going to get us good results. I think Rita did a great job of discussing how we could get better results. Education, birth control, sex education, better societal support structures, etc...

Kindest Regards, Cheryl Eichstaedt

Posted by: cheryl at May 29, 2009 07:27 PM

Cheryl, I'm glad that you and I agree that some lines do need to be drawn on our behavior. Certainly, they exist now; we draw the line at birth. After that time, we forbid killing, while prior to that we place no restrictions on the taking of a life. So it's not a question of drawing a line. The line has already been drawn.

The questions that remain are if and how we change the location of that line.

How is, perhaps, the more minor point. At this time, the judicial branch has set the line. Making this a policy decision would move that to the executive branch, while lawmaking has the advantage of open debate between our duly elected representatives. Unfortunately, at this point this is a purely academic discussion since the Supreme Court has made it impossible for the executive or legislative branches (or the states) to have a say in this matter.

If we change the boundaries, then where we move them is another question. It seems to me that we are making some arguments that do not seem reasonable.

Take the case of a family that does not feel it has the economic resources to raise a child. Do we really believe the child would rather be killed that to grow up poor? If it were the case that people would rather be dead than poor, wouldn't we see mass suicide among poor people? No, what the family is really saying is that they don't want to share their meager resources with another person. It is self-interest that is their motivation, not compassion for their child.

Or what about the unwanted child? Do we really imagine that they child would plead, "I might have some psychological problems later in life. Please kill me now." Of course not. Again, it is the parents self-interests that are at stake, not the interests of the child.

When I talk of not being able to go back, I am not talking about the living, I am talking about the dead! The living can heal; the dead are dead. For those children, there is not going back.

We seem to be focused in this discussion on two alternatives. Kill the child, or keep the child. I don't know why, on an adoption related website, adoption isn't being viewed as a viable alternative. As reba stated, the waiting lists for domestic adoption are long and the hurdles are many. Some of those hurdles are what brought us here to this website in the first place. If abortions were eliminated as an alternative, no woman would be forced to raise a child. They would allow a willing, loving family to give it a home.

Perhaps there is some social stigma associated with giving up a child for adoption, but does that mean that killing it is an acceptable alternative? Does the mother's self-interest prevail of the child's right to live?

I don't see how abortion can ever be framed as the best alternative if it is viewed from the perspective of the child. There are very few circumstances in life that we may face where we seem to prefer suicide. Some people sometimes prefer it, but we tend to classify this as a mistake or a disorder. But in pro-choice circles, these circumstances of poverty or being unloved are often framed as circumstances calling for the mercy killing of the child. This disguises the real motives of self-interest and cloaks them in garments of false compassion.

So who speaks for the child? Who says, "Do not kill me because I am inconvenient."? Who says, "I know this pregnancy is a mistake, but please do not kill me because you made a mistake."? Who says, "I know we're poor, but please don't kill me.'

Can you actually imagine that little voice saying "Please kill me. I do not deserve to live."?

Let's take the focus off the powerful and living for a moment, and try to put ourselves in the place of the innocent, powerless unborn. What would our view of abortion be from inside the womb? And should our view from outside be any different?

Posted by: Dave S. at May 31, 2009 02:58 PM

This may not be the appropriate place for this.
But.....
Dr. Tiller has been shot and killed while attending church service.
I am sick, he provided a service that few understood, but was necessary for women who found themselves in the unfortunate circumstance of carrying a child that had no chance of survival after birth. He was a doctor of last resort, and a brave man who had been shot, witch-hunted through the legal system, and harassed. And now some murderous monster has killed him in a church, probably with family and children present to witness.
The radical pro-life movement should be ashamed. Pray for yourself if you have ever wished for this, because you helped drive the events that led to it.

Posted by: Anonymous from Wichita at May 31, 2009 08:51 PM

While reading some of these comments I must say that I am glad that I am a Pro life supporter. I am also not an Obama supporter. He stands for everything that I am against. Such things as abortion and wealth redistribution. I am proud to hear about the protest that was made against Obama being the speaker at commencment. I believe that it is a great honor to have a President of the United States be a speaker at such an important time in so many peoples lives. However, when that President happens to take on the views of so many anti-christian beliefs then I think it is a shame. I pray for President Obama and the decisions he makes on a daily basis. He has the opportunity to make good or bad choices. It broke my heart when he made the comment during the campaign that he would not want his daughters to be punnished with a child. As some one who has not been able to be blessed with a biological child I think that it is a sad day when we think of children that are given to us by our God as punnishment. As I sit here I hold my precious baby from Guatemala thanking God that I was given the opportunity to be his saving grace.

Here is something else we need to think about, What is the real difference in a woman killing a baby through abortion and going ahead an having the baby and leaving it in the bathroom and it dies because no one finds it? In my opinion there is no difference other than in an abortion Uncle Sam is getting tax money from the cost of the abortion. I am a proud pro-lifer and support other pro-lifers. I just wonder what our God above thinks about this.

Posted by: Joanna Nichols at June 1, 2009 01:04 AM

Dear Anonymous of Wichita, The murder of Dr. Tiller was a heinous crime. My understanding is that the suspect is in custody and will be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law. I appreciate your anger, but it is misdirected. No one bears responsibility for this crime except the perpetrator or perpetrators.

Posted by: Dave S. at June 1, 2009 04:44 PM

Dave,

You said, "Do you really imagine that the child would plead, 'I might have psychological problems later in life. Please kill me.' " Dave, I would like for a large percentage of these unwanted pregnancies to never occur in the first place. For those that do, I wnat for a large percentage of them to be done as early in the pregnancy as possible. Your response assumes that the child is advanced enough to be thinking along the lines of life, death, and their future. I'm sure the unborn child isn't thinking like this. It really doesn't have hardly thoughts at all. Probably almost entirely instincts and sensations.

I did a very quick and dirty research on numbers. I found that approximately 820,151 legal abortions were performed in 2008. I found that 127,411 adoptions were done in 1992. Even if the number of adoptions were doubled, which I doubt would happen, you still have almost 700,000 unplaced children and that is only for one year and only for the US. Now take that times 30 years (21 million) and you start to get an idea of the impact on society of a whole ton of children that were not wanted. I have also heard that 17 percent of parents whish they had never had children. Maybe we should reqiure people to pass a test before they have a kid?

I would really really like for a much higher percentage of children that are born to be wanted.

With the numbers of unwanted children that would be born if abortion were abolished, I am afraid that tons of children were be warehoused in institutions.

My high school took a trip to an institution that warehoused severely mentally retarded individuals. It was absolutely ghastly. Lots of the kids came away saying that they felt those individuals would be better off dead than alive and we came from an extremely conservative public school where the teachers discussed the bible with us openly.

The incredibly sad thing is we already have millions of children, and adults too, in the world that weren't wanted or that cannot be cared for and there simply aren't enough homes and resources to go around. So in the grand scheme of things, I think that if a pregnancy of an unwanted child can be terminated early on, then yes, I think it is for the best. I start getting squish over late term abortions but again, I'm not in favor of ruling them out either. I'd like to get people to not be in that situation in the first place and to have them much earlier.

That is where I stand. Trust, me I have thought about these things and we are going to have to agree to disagree.

You might find it interesting to talk to someone from another culture or another religion. I have friends/acquaintances from about 21 countries and they don't reaally get the American obsession with extreme pro-life. If you absolutely have to have a cut off time, then a couple of possiblities are 7 months or maybe 4th month. I bring those up because the Supreme court ruled that a fetus is not viable until the 7th month. I mention 4th month because I think that is when Islam cuts off the accessibility of abortion, which I thought was kind of interesting. A lot of Buhdists, at least the ones that I know, are pretty open to whatever. Most Jews believe that abortion is alright. I have heard a couple of philosophies that were related as the traditional Jewish belief. The child is human when it is named on the 8th day. The child is human after it is half born. A rabbi said that Jewish Biblical scholars around the time of Christ wrote instructing Jews to perform partial birth abortions if the mother "went into distress" meaing before her life was in danger. I would imagine that most Hindus are pretty much against it.

I'm glad that we don't all agree because it helps us to stay vigilant in these matters. I strongly prefer for people to take precautions so that there aren't so many abortions.

Killing that doctor was extremely horrible.

By the way, a friend of mine who has a PhD in psychology from Harbard and who has a Guatemalan daughter and an African American daughter told me that both Latina girls and AFrican American girls go into puberty very early. Her little African American daughter just turned 8 and is showing signs of puberty. So lets all be careful. We don't want our daughters to get pregnant at an extremely young age.

Kindest Regards, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at June 1, 2009 05:44 PM

Cheryl, I think my communications skills are failing me here. I was not really trying to get a read on your assessment of the unborn child's cognitive skills. I was just trying to get you to view it from that person's standpoint. My idea was to try to communicate that the aborted child would likely not want to be aborted. Maybe you disagree, but I don't think that many people, if they had a choice, would want to be killed.

Those are interesting statistics on adoption vs abortion. It is a shame that our culture has been so self-centered and that there is so little sense of duty anymore. I think that, along with the many missing fathers (in my view this is in no small part due to their marginilization through the abortion system)that the first thought of too many prospective parents may be how will this affect me and my like? I still think that an unwanted live person is a preferable alternative to a dead one. You and I may disagree. They never get to voice their opinion.

I appreciate your relating the views of other cultures. I'm not sure why you think I might not have spoken to people from other cultures or why you keep introducing religion into the discussion , but that's ok, I appreciate your input. Maybe your friends don't get some American passion around the issue because the culture is foreign to them and they do not have to live with this issue in their own land. It's foreign to them.

I think we agree that abortion is bad. I think saying that we have different views is quite correct. If I had to try to sum up our views,and correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd say that you tend to view the issue from the perspective of the parents and I from the perspective of the child. And I believe that the child has human identity from the moment of conception. I am not expressing some philsophical point here, I'm simply saying that the child has a unique human identify as evidenced by its unique DNA.

This is scientifically correct. The child does to acquire that unique DNA signature in the fourth month of gestation, or the seventh, or when it is half born, or on the eighth day after birth. It has its own unique identify from the very moment of conception. It is not fully developed as a human being, but it is a human being in one of its stages of development.

We both agree that it should be undesirable. Where we disagree is on whether it should be allowed.

I contend that, like other forms of unjustifiable homicide, it should be prohibited. You argue that this form should be permitted, but why and to what extent I have not been able to discern.
Best wishes, Dave S.

Posted by: Dave S. at June 1, 2009 08:20 PM

Dave,

I understood that you weren't requesting or needing my assessment of an unborn child's cognitive skills. I didn't do a good job of saying what I was trying to say. Let me try again. Although I don't like abortion, one of the key ingredients to my decision that it should be allowed is that the unborn child if terminatated at least in early gestation is very primitive. People tend to think of it like it was an 8 year old with a lot of capacity. They also tend to think in fanciful ways of "well if abortion were allowed, then my child would never have been born." To me that is like thinking, "What would I be like if my mother had married a different man?" I encourage people to think in more realistic ways about how they would be affected. Hope I'm being clear.

Dave, I definitely have told you why I think abortion should be legal. I have told you many, many of the reasons that I believe it should be legal. As far as to what extent, I honestly told you that I do not feel the need to make a decision in every respect to this issue. There are many things that I think are immoral but drafting my own set of morals into legisation would be very difficult. ****And honestly, I much prefer addressing the issues that result in the abortions rather than coming up with a bunch of laws**** I don't understand why people who are totally anti-abortion are also not willing to change the circumtances that result in so many abortions being performed.

I may have misunderstood you but it sounds to me like you would prohibit all abortions. That is very clear cut and would be easy to translate into legisation.

After these discussions with you, I did have one idea that I think could be translated into law. I think it should be illegal for people to decide to abort a child because of its sex, the color of its eyes, how tall it will be, etc... Laws could be passed to make it illegal for labs to perform these kinds of DNA tests. Personally, I think people who have such a specific idea of what they want their child to be shouldn't even be allowed to have any children at all, but then how would you translate that into law?

I doubt that any one reading these posts have changed their minds. Most of us aren't youngsters. Probably the only way any of us would change our views in a fundamental way is if some kind of crisis pertaining to this arose in our own lives. However, I still think the discussion was worth as I hope that any tendency to see the other side as "of the devil" has been lessened.

Kindest Regards, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at June 2, 2009 04:47 PM

Cheryl, Thanks so much for your response. As always, you make some very good points.

I join you in favoring steps that would reduce the number of abortions under the present legal scheme. I do not think that this is a position that is uncommon in the pro-life community. In fact, through crisis pregnancy counseling and assistance, through the continued support of single mothers, and by the donation of private funds, as opposed to government money, I would suggest that it is the pro-life movement that is taking real steps to limit the number of abortions today. I don't see similar real concrete steps being taken on the pro-choice side. Too often, pro-choice means one choice.

You have made some positive suggestions as to limits that would prohibit the capricious use of abortion, i.e. for sex selection or physical attributes. And it appears that we would agree, at least, that late term abortions are not acceptable.

My view is that unborn children are full humans in different stages of development, that they are innocent human beings, and, as such, they are entitled to full protection from being aborted. I view such killing as unjustifiable.

I hope our discussions here have prompted thought and consideration of the issues. While I have attempted to be persuasive in my arguments, I have no illusions that anyone would be prompted to change their views based on them alone. My hope is that continued reflection and contemplation of the issues may prompt people to consider their positons on the issues, and, as additional facts come to light, those positions may change.

Best regards, Dave

Posted by: Dave S. at June 3, 2009 04:03 PM

Dave,

I'm really glad that I have gotten to know you better. I have come to have real feelings of affection for you. Best of luck to you and your family.

Kindest Regards, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at June 4, 2009 01:20 AM

I'm here sending a most sincerest of thanks to Cheryl and Dave. They have shown how adults can discuss and debate passionately and respectfully. Through this, people can come to understand, empathize, and even find some common ground on this, one of our society's most heated debates.

As I think of so many issues out there, ICA of course being one, I wonder what might be possible if more people from different sides of the issue could come together like Dave and Cheryl.

I've seen many debates on Guatadopt before and you both truly handled this one better than in the past. Of course, some of that in the past was my fault ;-)

Peace and understanding,

Kevin
Guatadopt.com

Posted by: Kevin at June 4, 2009 02:09 AM

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/02/health/02abort.html?ref=africa

The link above is to a recent NYTimes article about the consequences of illegal abortions to women in Tanzania. If you don't have time to read the article (you'd need to register for an account), I'll paraphrase some of the statistics it contains.

Worldwide, 19 million illegal abortions are performed per year. 70,000 (13% of all maternal deaths) women die from those illegal abortions each year and another 2 million suffer serious complications. Unicef reports that unsafe abortions result in 4% of pregnancy deaths in Africa, 6% in Asia, and 12% in America.

I am strongly pro-choice for this reason.

Posted by: Elizabeth S. at June 4, 2009 04:08 PM

Kevin,

*smile* Thanks. You and I have also had discussions offline about some very hot topics and I think we both learned new things.

I want to say that I really do appreciate the concern that "life" will become cheapened. We do need to be vigilant about this.

Elizabeth, the fact that so many women will seek out illegal abortions and die is also another reason that I'm pro-choice. It is also a reason why I'm reluctant to have laws restricting it. I think we can have policies that we promote, for example, through education that are much stricter than the laws that we pass. Hope I'm being clear in what I'm saying.

This is a very emotional topic for a lot of people. It certainly is for me. I lived with a mother that had serious physical injuries because she was denied an opportunity to abort. Just think, every day she was reminded because of her physical injuries (you know every time her bladder got full or she went to the bathroom) that she had lost that child. It made it very difficult for her to put that experience behind her.

Kindest Regards, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at June 4, 2009 05:07 PM

TYPO! It should read... "unsafe abortions result in 12% of pregnancy deaths in LATIN America."

Sorry!

Posted by: Elizabeth S. at June 4, 2009 07:23 PM

Thank you Cheryl and Kevin for your kind words. I appreciate the opportunity for dialog on this topic and the forum in which to do so.

I read the NY Times article and it clearly describes a very brutal and emotionally wrenching situations.

However, before extrapolating the African experiences described in the article to what might happen in the U.S. should abortions be prohibited, one should consider:

-that the maternal mortality rate is much, much higher than in the U.S. at 950 per 100,000 in Tanzania (the example used by the NYT) vs. 11 per 100,000 in the U.S.,
-that the use of contraceptives is much lower at an estimated 25% in Tanzania vs. 62% in the U.S., and
-that the standards of healthcare in general are much lower.

The (pro-choice) Guttmacher Institute estimates that in the U.S. only 7% of women aged 15–44 are at risk of unwanted pregnancy but are not using contraceptives.

Therefore, one would not reasonably expect that the U.S. would resemble the Tanzanian experience if abortions were not legally available in this country.

http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html

Posted by: Dave S. at June 4, 2009 08:02 PM

I'm not readily able to find information to support or refute the Guttmacher Institute statistics, but I am surprised by them. The STI rates are phenomenally high in part, because because young people do not properly or consistently use contraception.

Back to the NY Times article -- The number of abortions in the US has decreased in the late 1990s and 2000s (Herndon et al., 2002). This decrease is widely believed to be due to new methods of contraception, including emergency contraception (the morning-after-pill). In 2000-2001, emergency contraception availability decreased abortions by an estimated 51,000 (Jones, Darroch, & Henshaw, 2002). One major problem, however, is that many in the anti-abortion movement are also against emergency contraception and its availability to women is not guaranteed.

Of course, I realize that if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned that the consequences in the US would not be the same as the illegality of abortion in Tanzania, or in any developing country for that matter. Nonetheless, there WILL BE consequences, and when abortion is illegal, women continue to seek it. That, I think is the important point. If women want an abortion and it is illegal, others will be available to capitalize on the need. To think that there will not be an increase in maternal deaths and medical complications in the US if abortions were to become illegal is, in my opinion, naive.

Posted by: Elizabeth S. at June 5, 2009 04:36 PM

I never suggested that there might not be some increase in maternal death rates or medical complications. What I said was that one could not simply extrapolate the situation described in the article. You see, I am not, as you suggest, naive.

As Cheryl pointed out earlier, there were over 820,000 abortions performed in the U.S. in 2008. I certainly do not think that you would suggest that the number of lives lost due to increased maternal mortality would exceed the 820,000 lives saved.

Posted by: Dave S. at June 5, 2009 06:37 PM

But Dave, what happens to 820,000 (or some portion thereof) babies born to mothers who are unable and/or unwilling to be mothers? Will the babies be born healthy? Will they be loved and cherished once they're born?

I realize this is speculation, but if abortion becomes illegal, I do not think there will be a dramatic increase in the number of babies placed for adoption. Nor do I think there will be a dramatic increase in the number of families willing to foster children who have been born addicted, or ill, or who are placed in care after abuse. Some of these 'saved lives' will face that outcome.

I wonder how many illegal abortions were performed pre Roe v. Wade and I wonder what the maternal death rate and complications were. By posting the info re Tanzania, I was not trying to imply that we could 'simply' extrapolate to the US, but there will be an increase in maternal deaths and complications. The question is, how many?

Also, this discussion brings to mind a recent article I read about prohibition. In the early days, the enforcers went after alcohol's purveyors with a vengence. Towards the end, they had simply given up as it was impossible to prevent the sale and drinking of alcohol. My hunch is that if abortion were to become illegal in the US, it would flourish, much as alcohol in the days of prohibition. Heck, much like the 19 million illegal abortions performed worldwide per year. The demand, unfortunately, is too great. I'd much rather place our country's resources into contraception and education.

Posted by: Elizabeth S. at June 6, 2009 03:35 AM

Elizabeth S., You ask what will happen to the babies that are not aborted. Well, I think I have explained my position pretty thoroughly in earlier comments, but i will briefly recap.

First, what will happen is that they will be alive. Second, most will be raised by their birthparents who, unable to avail themselves of a convenient abortion to make their lives more comfortable, will accept their responsibility and raise their children. Some will be adopted by loving homes, and a tiny number will be killed in illegal abortions.

Their i no evidence that there ever were or would be more than an insignificant number of illegal abortions in the US. By your own admission, your assertations are merely speculation, a "hunch." The mere speculation that a ban on abortion would be ineffective is not sufficient justification for continuing abortion.

Will they be born healthy? Will they be happy? Those questions are not relevant to whether or not abortion is morally acceptable nor are they sufficient justifications for the killing of innocent human beings. Please see earlier comments for more detail on this position.

No one is arguing against the idea that resources should be and are being poured into contraception and education. Your allocation of resources issue is also a false one in that it relies on a false either /or situation where we either ban abortion or we promote contraception and education, when there's no reason we can't do both.

Finally , with respect to your comparison of abortion to the consumption of alcohol, I find it a curious one. Presumably, abortion offers no pleasure comparable to the consumption of alcohol. Perhaps you suggest the comparison because prohibition was widely opposed by the population and, as a result, the law was frequently, though not universally, violated. Our perceptions of what happened during prohibition are too often influenced by television and movies.

A more apt comparison was another form of oppression of a powerless group of people over which the country was more evenly divided as to whether or not it should be banned, as the country is today over the question of abortion. In that case, there was little or no violation of the ban after it was enacted. In fact, the ban on slavery is seen as one of the great triumphs of morality, as will be the ban on abortion.
Sincerely,
Dave S.

Posted by: Dave S. at June 6, 2009 07:10 PM

Dave, I'm honestly not trying to argue. I only jumped into the discussion because of the Tanzania article. The prohobition analogy was not because of the effects of either construct (drinking/abortion) but the futility of enforcement. I respect your opinion on this topic, mine is radically different, and that's life!
Shalom,
Elizabeth.

Posted by: at June 7, 2009 04:04 AM

About 2 years ago I did a little research on how many abortions were performed in Guatemala. There was such a big hype about wow 5000 adoptions are year is a huge number. I wanted a comparison to the number of abortions to, how shall I say, kind of balance out the discussion.

Some statisticians came up with the number 65,000 for the year of 2003. The number of live births was approximately 400,000 for 2003 in Guatemala. The number of abortions is more than 10 percent of the live births in Guatemala.

Here is the link:

//www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3213606.html

It seems to me that if a person's stance is that abortion is wrong, then it doesn't matter what country we are talking about. Right?

Best, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at June 8, 2009 05:38 PM

Cheryl, I believe that something is either true or it's not true, so I would agree that the country in question would not affect a determination of whether abortion was right or wrong.
Best back at ya', Dave

Posted by: Dave S. at June 8, 2009 07:54 PM

Dave,

No I figured that is what you thought but the discussion seemed to be drifting toward "well but that doesn't apply to the US."

Best, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at June 9, 2009 01:19 AM

Unless there is a new point to develop, I think the conversation has reached its conclusion. I have enjoyed the dialogue and, Cheryl, I have developed a strong respect and admiration for you. I want to thank you very much for helping me to understand your point of view. I think it was quite positive that although we differ on the topic, we were able to find some areas where we could agree, and others where we could understand the others point of view. I wish you all the best the world has to offer.
Sincerely, Dave

Posted by: Dave S. at June 9, 2009 10:16 AM

Egualmenta Dave. I think this is a lesson to us all. The truth is that very rarely do two people's opinions in this matter entirely diverge. I think a very large percentage of pro-choice people recognize that respect for life is a big part of the equation that we have to be vigilant about. But pro-choicers may feel that a higher level of respect for life can be accomplished with a pro-choice ingrediant instead of an entirely anti-abortion stance. Life can become very cheapened when there are tons of unwanted children. Extremely sad, but I think that is true. I wish this were a perfect world but I feel that I have to be willing to make some trade offs in order to live in the real world.

Yes, Dave I definitely do understand your point of view and big hugs to you and your family. All life is sacred.

Best, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at June 9, 2009 04:53 PM

Truth is important, Cheryl and ideas have consequences. You don't have to compromise your principles. You really don't.

Posted by: Dave S. at June 9, 2009 06:40 PM

No no wait a minute Dave, I'm not compromising my principles. My conscience dictates to me that I MUST be pro-choice. It is good to discuss these things because I feel that many anti-abortion people just don't quite understand where pro-choicers are coming from. Maybe the other way is also true, but I tend to think that many pro-choicers have a much better understanding of the anti-abortion stance than the other way around since many of us were raised surrounded by the anti-abortion stance.

Well, it is probably time to stop.

Kindest REgards, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at June 10, 2009 12:35 AM

Cheryl, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend. When you said that you have to make trade offs. I just interpreted a trade off as a compromise. You may have meant...? I don't think either of us has a better understanding of the situation than the other. I think we reach different conclusions about the central questions of morality and justice.
Best wishes, Dave

Posted by: Dave S. at June 10, 2009 08:53 PM

*smile* Dave, I wasn't offended. A big part of the problem is that we cannot see each other or hear each other's voices. I'll try to be more conscious of that. If you could have seen me I would have been smiling when I said, "no no wait a minute..." ha ha ha. OK?

It can be difficult getting into another person's head but I'll try to say it this way. The balancing act is a part of my world view. Its a bit hard to put into words but I'll say that the balancing act is an integral part of my morality on certain topics such as abortion. Ya, sure it would be great to live in a perfect world where all conceived children are totally loved and wanted, where there is no poverty, where women's lives are never in jeopardy while they are giving birth, etc. but the world isn't that way. I believe a balancing act is absolutely necessary and I cannot take an all or nothing approach to the issue of abortion because that would violate my conscience. Another key factor is that I do not view a fetus in the same way that you do. We look at it differently but I truly believe that we are both very good people.

I wish American's paid more attention to their finances. If they got their finances in order (maybe we could become a nation of savers instead of spenders?) I think that would also dramatically reduce the number of abortions.

Best, Cheryl

Posted by: cheryl at June 10, 2009 10:17 PM

Cheryl, As you have so often, you close with a useful suggestion that we can both agree on. And that's the best kind of note to close on. All the best to you.
Dave

Posted by: Dave S. at June 11, 2009 04:15 PM

Kevin,

Pro-life stances aside, Pres. Jenkins went against the Council of Bishops (or whatever it is called) when ND *honored* Pres. Obama. *That* is what many, albeit not all, people are upset with.

I'm personally fine with having Pres. Obama speak at ND. Honoring him... well, Pres Jenkins should have followed/obeyed the heirarchy like he is supposed to.

Go Irish!
Ellen

Posted by: Ellen at September 14, 2009 01:43 AM
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