Wednesday, May 28, 2014

WALKING IN OTHER PEOPLE'S SHOES



What do you do when you need to get a new blog post out but are tired like hell and don’t have much time because you promised your friend that you will bake a pineapple cake for her!?

The answer is: Let someone else do your dirty work! In this particular case I don’t mean a guest blogger (sadly, even I’m not able to produce them on such a short notice), but an interesting article you found on-line. Make your readers read that, throw in some commentaries, and voilà – your work is done, at least for the week!

Please, take a minute to read this article about a Christian obstetrician, who is trying to explain to the public why he not only performs abortions, but is in fact one of few doctors who perform them up to the 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion rights is currently a hot topic for me, not only because I’m a woman who could get pregnant (I mean, duh!), but also because I was recently unfriended on Facebook by a former colleague, who apparently felt that our beliefs and values were too different to be friends anymore. He is a conservative Catholic and I have always been very open with him about the fact that I’m neither Christian, not conservative. For a past couple of years, I did my best to ignore his FB statuses that were trying to explain women why they shouldn’t get an abortion even if the pregnancy is a result of rape (just in case you didn’t know: God knows what He is doing and if He considers you strong enough to handle such a thing, you are supposed to see it as a precious gift).

Those of you who know me personally can probably imagine how hard it was for me to keep my mouth shut.

But what did I get in return for trying to be tolerant and accepting of people’s diverse beliefs!? My friend, instead of showing the same courtesy, proceeded to bitch underneath statuses where I shared MY views and even posted stuff on my wall that was supposed to show me the error of my ways. When I proved hard to convert, he unfriended me.

See, that’s the fundamental difference between people who have their beliefs yet are still capable of looking at an issue from another perspective, and people who can’t.  

My ex-friend might be surprised to learn that despite of being a fierce pro-choice supporter in public life, privately I’m more or less convinced that a fetus has a soul (and therefore counts as a very tiny human being) from the moment of conception. Spiritually, it makes the most sense.

However, unlike of my ex-friend and millions of fundies out there, I don’t feel that the whole world is obligated to follow my beliefs and values. And when I think about issues like reproductive rights, I’m trying my best to see it from multiple perspectives, to learn from history, and to look around how it works for folks in different cultures. Which is why, if I had that kind of power, I wouldn’t even think about making abortions illegal, because if you look hard enough, you clearly see that on the long run it doesn’t do anybody any good. (And no, you will NOT save lives. Women, who can afford it, will simply go to get the procedure done in another country; and those who can’t, will do it themselves with a knitting needle, which in many cases will result in a loss of the fetus AND the mother. Proven numerous times thorough the history of the humankind.) What I would do, if I had that kind of power, would be distributing contraceptives generously and freely to everyone who was interested, and providing sex ed in schools that actually taught adolescents how to use condoms instead of trying to convince them that premarital sex was a sin. But hey, that’s America for you!

And that’s why I was so impressed with Dr. Willie J. Parker’s story. He is a wonderful example of a person capable of seeing beyond his ego. He has my respect and admiration, and I certainly pray that the fundamental religious right won’t try to assassinate him any time soon!

13 comments:

Elisa said...

Congrats, M, on another marvelous blog. I whole-heartedly agree with your idea that government shouldn't be based on individual beliefs but, rather, should be molded out of consideration for the greater good. You are right about women going out to get abortions in other countries or via at-home methods. People will do what people will do regardless of the what the government says, which is why *safe* abortions should be available to any woman who needs one. Anyone who claims to love humanity should get that idea, but sadly, they don't.

Elisa said...

It's the same reason I feel like we should be more liberal with recreational drug regulation. People are going to do drugs. We might as well make sure they are doing so in a clean and safe way. Regulations of product, needle exchanges, etc, all help us to make sure that people are safe and can get help when they need it.

Global Chick said...

I agree. Coercion doesn't work as well as many policymakers like to believe :)

Luke T. said...

Why do opponents of abortion feel the need to gloss over the argument in favor of fetal rights? Not you necessarily, Margaret, but many on that side. I do a lot of fence sitting, and would not even consider myself decided. It is hard to come to an objective standard for rights for the unborn, even for infants really. That is why, currently, I use conception and knowledge of such as an objective standard. Once you get past that, there is no other objective standard.

Global Chick said...

I'm very much unclear about where I stand when it comes to fetal rights, I admit that openly. On one hand, I just wrote in the column how I believe that fetus might have a soul since the moment of conception. However, it's a belief that I'm not able to prove (and neither can anyone else). And when it comes to practical implications, I still tend to choose the mother's well-being over a lump of cell that might or might not have a soul. And because I'm not at all sure how to solve this ethical conundrum, I advocate for prevention - I'm not naive enough to believe that unwanted pregnancies can ever be eliminated ENTIRELY, but the less the better, right!? Which is why I can't stand the so-called advocates for fetal rights (not you, Luke, because I have never noticed you speaking against contraception and sex ed, unless you have some secrets I have yet to discover) that have mouth full of words like "God's creation" but when God's creation is born, they suddenly don't want to have any responsibility for supporting it, even though it was painfully obvious from the beginning that the birth mother is unable/unwilling to do so by herself.

Admittedly, personal bias play a big role when I think about this topic. Soul or not, for me personally the idea of ever getting pregnant is so horrifying that should contraception fail me, I would PROBABLY opt for having an abortion, although god knows I wouldn't be happy about it.

And the idea that someone rapes me and I get pregnant and have to carry it to term because the society decides that it was a gift for God - well, that just doesn't work for me, I'm sorry.

That's why I'm still leaning towards the pro-choice side, no matter what my personal feelings about abortions are. But it's not easy. Not at all.

Luke T. said...

I agree we should teach prevention. Despite what the media makes it out to be, Americans generally are taught prevention, even in many religious schools. I am not a spiritual person, so the soul is irrelevant to me. A fetus has its own DNA, distinct from the mother. I believe being a biologically distinct being is enough to imbue a human with at least a minimum of rights. I believe a couple things which make this important. First, I believe in personal responsibility. Vanishingly few pregnancies are to women who had no idea they could get pregnant through sex. Another small number are victims of rape. Here is where I really sit the fence, because if a fetus has rights, how it comes to be has no bearing on those rights. Most women, again, go into sex voluntarily and are aware of the risk. If a fetus has any rights at all, a minimum ought to be that they cannot be killed simply to ease one's lifestyle. Of course, medical necessity would be an area I would be fine with abortions. Another issue often brought up is that any termination would result in intrusion of a woman's privacy. So, a miscarriage would result in a murder investigation. This is, of course, silly, since many people die every day, we have laws against murder, and yet, most deaths are in no way investigated. So to most miscarriages would not likely result in any kind of investigation. I do not consider women's emotions when considering outlawing abortion. Just because you feel bad about getting pregnant or having a miscarriage, does not mean we get to ignore the rights of humans.

Global Chick said...

Well, if you consider a couple of weeks old embryo fully human, than it's understandable that you feel this way. I don't. P.S. If I ever bump into you demonstrating in the front of Planned Parenthood clinic with a bucket of red paint, I PROMISE that I won't hold it against you ;)

Luke T. said...

I would not be protesting. My question is, what is it about a fetus that allows us to deny it human rights? It is a human, its DNA is distinct from its mother's. Any other distinction you make is arbitrary and can be applied at many points that even many supporters of abortion would disagree with. For example, a fetus cannot survive without the mother or without intervention. Does that mean disabled adults do not have rights? Humans are not fully formed mentally or physically for years after birth. What gives them rights after birth which precludes rights beforehand? If it is cognitive function, why do mentally handicapped individuals have rights? The core question is, what imbues a human with rights. A fetus is human, you just claim it has no rights because it is not fully formed. You need to defend that position logically. Bare assertions get us nowhere except unfriending jerky christians.

Global Chick said...

But I was VERY clear in my post and in my comments that I do NOT have the answer! In fact, mulling over the dilemma about fetus rights was why I wrote it in the first place... You raise some excellent points which make me think about it yet more! However, the reason why I'm currently pro-choice is not that I'm 100% convinced that fetus shouldn't have any rights, but because (LOGICALLY) there is plenty of evidence out there (both historical and current) that outlawing abortions will at this point do more harm than good. You can impose prohibition upon people but will they quit drinking? History teaches us otherwise! Will outlawing abortion save lives? No, it will promote illegal abortions, with all the risks included. And even abortions for medical reasons can be a slippery slope, because medical opinions about the necessity of the procedure often vary. I certainly wouldn't want to live in a country like Ireland where a woman has to DIE (could have been saved, if they did the procedure in time) for the government to finally start reconsidering its rigid policies... And when it comes to rape, well, yeah, I DO consider women's emotions in this matter, but that's the fundamental difference between us that was established a long time ago and shouldn't therefore surprise anybody. Living in a society where major political decisions will be made without any considerations HOW they affect people's lives scares the shit out of me, no offense. Emotions are what make us human, Luke! (Well, some of us anyway ;) )

Luke T. said...

I see your point, that is why I am not actively pro life. Not at rallies etc. Of course, if you value life and think abortions are wrong, we kill far more humans with legal abortions than we risk with prohibited abortions. Emotions are great, I just leave them at the door when having debates on issues. Even if there were no moral qualms about abortion I still would not want one, due to emotions.

Global Chick said...

Well, if it makes you feel any better, I have a suspicion that the chances of you getting pregnant any time soon are relatively low...

Luke T. said...

Ha, but my wife has #2 on the way. Please don't tell me you're one of those people who think the guy should have no say.

Global Chick said...

I think that depends a lot what kind of relationship that is... If the guy is married, he should have A LOT to say, I think :) But there are different kinds of relationships... I won't lie to you: In general, I believe that the final decision should be the woman's. No guy can change fact that SHE is the one who will have to carry it for nine months, suffer the delivery, and let's face it, it's usually the woman's life that gets turned upside-down, not the guy's. Never mind though - CONGRATULATIONS!!! :)