Tag Archives: Abortion

Giving “Pro-Life” A Bad Name

For the past several decades the Republican Party has cobbled together an alliance between “social conservatives” and “fiscal conservatives” to create a powerful political bloc of voters. As a result, the Republican Party has had to vigorously embrace policies that are hostile to the Supreme Court guaranteed right of women for a safe a legal abortion. They successfully shifted the argument away from privacy, freedom, and the life of the pregnant woman to the sanctity of life for a fetus.

At the same time, the Republican Party has made itself subservient to the wishes of gun manufacturers in America. This has been done in the name of protecting the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This allegiance has secured plenty of campaign financing and the loyalty of a small but avid group of paranoid survivalists who believe that at any moment either our society is about to collapse into anarchy or our government is about to transform into a dictatorship.

Guns, guns, guns

Guns, guns, guns (Photo credit: paljoakim)

The reaction of American citizens to the Sandy Hook tragedy has tested the Republican Party. Nine out of ten Americans believe that no one should be able to buy a weapon without going through some sort of background check. It is a matter of protecting innocent life from crazy people with weapons. This issue has tested Republicans in two ways. First it has tested them to determine whether they represent special interest groups or the American voters. Second it has tested them to determine what sort of life they consider worthy of protection.

If we lived in a country with a democratic system where majority rules, it would now be impossible to buy guns without a background check. But such a law was not passed by Congress. In fact, such a law was never allowed to be considered by Congress because a minority of members of the Senate blocked it. Virtually all of these Senators were Republicans.

So we have learned several things. The Republican Party is not pro-life; they are pro-fetus, but first graders can be gunned down at school and they don’t think anything needs to be done about it. In state houses across America, Republican politicians are falling all over themselves to write new laws to protect fetuses, but they have no interest in passing laws to protect children.

The Republican Party does not represent people; they represent corporations. 90% of the people said, “do something,” but the gun lobby said, “do nothing.” When the relevant people rose up and demand action, and the relevant corporations rose up and say, “no,” Republicans listened to their corporate masters rather than the citizens they ostensibly represent.

The Republican Party doesn’t really believe in the power of democracy. They betray their party’s name because there is nothing “republican” about a bunch of people who betray those who they represent in order to please a lobbying group.

Many of us are angry about how the Republicans allowed the NRA to win this battle. It will be interesting to see whether our outrage and determination will prove strong enough and durable enough to win the war against gun violence in America.

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Being A Pro-Life Christian

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Saturday, thousands marched in Washington in favor of making abortion illegal in America. It was inspired by the 40th Anniversary of Roe vs Wade. On his new Twitter account, Pope Benedict XVI supported the march with the following tweet: “I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life.” It was only the fourth time in history the Pope had ever sent out a message via Twitter.

On Sunday, thousands marched in Washington in favor of gun control in America. It was inspired by the tragedy in Newtown, CT. On his Twitter account, Pope Benedict XVI was silent. The director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi released a statement in favor of gun control in the aftermath of Newtown, but the Pope himself has made no such pronouncements. The Pope is signalling to the world that, in his view, outlawing abortion protects life in a more important way than controlling the proliferation of firearms in society.

I do not believe that government should impose on society its opinion about the question of when human life begins. The morality of abortion hinges on this question. It is both a question of science and of faith. Neither science nor faith give a clear answer. That is why I believe it should be left up to the individual to decide.

For me, it is not simply a question of biology, because that is not what distinguishes humanity from other life on earth. If we make no such distinction between living organism, then we must decry something as common as killing bacteria. The important distinction between human and other life is not biological, it is in the human spirit and soul.

Christians disagree, but I believe the Bible is pretty clear about when the human spirit is implanted in the human body. In the creation story, the human spirit is breathed into Adam after he is fully formed. In the dry bones dream in Ezekiel, God says, “I will put breath in you, and you will come to life.” I interpret these and other passages from Scripture to suggest that we become fully human only at birth when we take our first breath of life.

The Catholic Church has for several centuries taught that human life begins at conception. The evangelical Protestants used to disagree, but ever since Jerry Falwell, they have embraced this notion. I believe elevating the status of fetuses is motivated more by a concern over dwindling numbers of members than by Biblical teachings.

I fear that these Christian leaders who decry a woman’s right to choose are primarily concerned about maintaining their power in society through the numbers of their adherents. Teaching their members that abortion (and any form of birth control) is wrong, increases the birthrate among their members, and this in turn helps to ensure that their “kind” maintain or grow it’s percentage within a society.

Jesus said go and make disciples, but I don’t think he meant by forcing women to have babies against their will. I believe being a pro-life Christian means valuing human life, and I believe this mission is undermined by equating a human fetus to a human child.

Governing According to Urban Legends

Jon Kyl

Image via Wikipedia

We all have friends who regularly forward chain-style emails. Some people like receiving those; others do not. I do not enjoy receiving them. I learned long ago that most of them are bogus.

I had an interesting experience after a friend who sent me one. I checked it’s claims and found it to be a hoax. I dutifully responded to my friend giving her a link to the snopes.com page that gave the facts behind this urban legend. Later, I was surprised to receive another hoax email from this same person. When I mentioned this to her in person, she just rolled her eyes and said something along the lines of, “oh you’re no fun.”

I was reminded of her reaction by the recent response from Arizona senator Jon Kyl‘s office about his wildly inaccurate claim about how many abortions that Planned Parenthood performs. He famously said on the Senate floor, “If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that’s well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.” The truth is that only 3 percent of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions. When his office was asked about this by CNN, it responded, “His remark was not intended to be a factual statement.”

People like me just don’t get it. We don’t understand that there are lots of people out there who aren’t concerned about whether some particular legend is based on fact. They like the legend; it resonates with them at some level. I suspect it confirms for them that their view of the world is right. For them the legend portrays a truth regardless of whether or not it is actually factual or not. If it isn’t true; it ought to be.

This is why legends such as the one about the birthplace of our president will not go away no matter how often it is debunked by rational investigation. We live in a time of change and upheaval, and sometimes people want the solace of being able to believe whatever they want to believe. Urban legends are the comfort food of such people.

It is all well and good for people to live in some self-selected fantasy world, but I wonder what the consequences will be to America when our leaders begin to govern according to urban legends and fantasy.

Safe & Legal

International status of abortion law Legal on ...

Image via Wikipedia

One of the rallying cries of the movement to legalize abortion has always been to keep abortion a safe and legal option for pregnant women. The notion is that by legalizing abortion, it can be regulated and kept safe by the government.

Now we learn of an abortion doctor in Philadelphia who has been charged with murder. He not only killed newborn babies, but he also ran his “clinic” like one of those back alley places that needlessly puts lives at risk. There is plenty of evidence to inflame one’s emotions against this man. He stands as a provocative case of betrayal to those who fought to make abortion safe and legal. He also stands as a poster child of how evil abortion is to those who are fighting to make it illegal once again.

What makes this situation worse is that it now appears that those who were supposed to be regulating his clinic were looking the other way even though they knew what was going on. Any form of corruption in government is a betrayal to its citizens. We need to do better than this. When laws are passed; they need to be funded and they need to be enforced.