Moving Beyond Bitter Words


Last winter, the Boston College security policeman phoned me to warn
me that someone had placed a sign on my car in the parking garage that
suggested I might be in danger. It called me a bunch of foul names,
including "baby killer!"

I have just returned to Jersey City after a year at Boston College
writing a book on Rev. Robert F. Drinan, S.J., the B.C. law school dean
elected to Congress from Massachusetts in 1970 who campaigned against
the Vietnam War and called for the impeachment of President Nixon on
the basis of his illegal bombing of Cambodia. Drinan was elected five
times, but was forced out of office in 1980 by Pope John Paul II,
largely because of his support for legalized abortion.

The
anonymous vandal in the Boston garage had no idea whose car it was. He
or she seems to have been enraged by the rear bumper sticker, put in
place during the presidential campaign, which read: "CATHOLIC
DEMOCRATS/Blessed Are the Peacemakers." In his/her warped mind, since I
was voting for Barack Obama, I must be the kind of fellow who kills
babies.

Somehow this rhetoric has made its way into the abortion fracas. I
have to call it a fracas, since it certainly is not a civil discussion
nor a dialogue. A letter to the editor in the latest Brooklyn Tablet,
the Catholic diocesan newspaper, calls President Obama a
"smooth-talking baby killer."

The term has become the verbal equivalent of that four-letter
obscenity angry people blurt out when they can’t think of anything
rational to say. It’s the brutal, desperate proclamation of an empty
mind and a damaged heart.

Meanwhile, a handful of American Catholic bishops and their
followers have narrowed down the whole treasure of the New Testament –
the Sermon on the Mount, the concern for the poor, parables of
forgiveness and love — to their campaign against legalized abortion,
demonizing the president of the United States and the University of
Notre Dame, while, to the contrary, the Vatican spokesmen in their
press have described Obama with sympathy and understanding.

In his commencement speech at Notre Dame, Obama allied himself
specifically with the late Cardinal Joseph Bernadin’s "seamless
garment" approach to life issues. But his critics’ distortion of the
church’s teaching gives the false signal that no other issue matters –
as if abortion was not part of the larger culture of death that starts
wars, bombs civilians, overburdens the poor, and tortures and executes
prisoners. That distortion squanders the church’s moral authority.

Furthermore, the "baby-killer" mentality has become a breeding
ground for the deranged attitude that led a mad man to murder George
Tiller, the Kansas abortion doctor, at the door of his Lutheran church.

The American bishops’ political strategy of trying to force
Catholics, through threats of punishment in hell, to vote for
legislators and appoint judges who might reverse Roe has failed
miserably. Hell-fire threats don’t scare Americans in the 21st century,
they turn them off.

According to the New York Times, Dr. Tiller was one of only
three doctors in the country who performed late-term abortions. If that
is so, perhaps third term abortions are relatively rare.

Recent polls show that a slight majority of Americans now describe
themselves as opposing abortion rights. Is it possible that the open
climate of Notre Dame might allow for broader discussion of the
economic, social, medical, and personal issues that drive women to make
this tragic choice?

Is it too much to hope that those who oppose abortion, including the
leadership of the American Catholic church, could put their heads
together and come up with creative, educational strategies to achieve
through teaching what we cannot achieve through force — to convince
women and the men who love them that the life they have brought into
being can and should be brought into the world?

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  • invalid-0

    Recent polls show that a slight majority of Americans now describe themselves as opposing abortion rights.

    I’ve read other things since I’ve read the report of the above poll — but I think it may be that many people support some restrictions on abortion, while there are a small minority who don’t want any limitations and another small minority who don’t want abortion to be legal under any circumstances.


    My personal preference is that it should be medical standards, not laws (as it is in Canada — there are no abortion laws in Canada). I would like for the “baby killer” rhetoric to stop — and the picketing (which encourages angry rhetoric). I also approve education rather than law for anyone who wants to change someone else’s mind.

  • invalid-0

    achieve through teaching what we cannot achieve through force

    But ‘teaching’ has demonstrably been an ignominious failure. The Catholic Church is unable to convince its own congregations that sex is only licit if reproduction is involved. Catholics are as likely as anyone else to engage in premarital sex, extramarital sex, use contraception or get abortions. Actually, the Catholic Church has been unable to convince its own PRIESTS to avoid sex.

    The problem with ignoring human biology and natural drives and trying to redefine asceticism as normality is that the only way to accomplish that is with force. Historically, even after the government is coopted into enforcing the moral decrees of the church, the government too fails.

    Sadly, the extremist moral positions and hellfire threats do more than turn people off to political positions, they turn people off to the value of religion itself.

  • invalid-0

    As I recollect, the poll asked “are you ProChoice or ProLife”, generating a lot of heat but little light. Some people are ProChoice AND ProLife, after all – ProChoice for public policy, ProLife for their own personal decisions. Regardless of that particular poll, there is still a solid majority that states Roe v Wade should remain the law.

    http://www.pollingreport.com/abortion.htm

  • invalid-0

    I am always suspect of pieces that contain gross exaggerations like this one.

    Sir, please kindly show me where the USCCB made “hell-fire” threats. Quite an exaggeration, I would say.

    I think we can all agree that every group has nutballs, but people of good will do not mindlessly make those few nutballs respresentative of the entire group nor can the group be blamed for the fact that mentally ill people live among us.

    You seem to think that women are driven to abortion due to economic, social, medical, and personal issues and that’s where I believe you are mostly wrong. Let me tell you why I see things differently. In Canada, we have just about everything a woman could want and need and still 30% of pregnancies here end in abortion. We have free health care for everyone, free day care, one year of paid maternity leave, very generous welfare, very generous child tax benefits (more than most make working full-time), free baby furniture and clothing for children if families need it, inexpensive subsidized housing for single moms, poor families (fairly nice condos), free daycare in high schools and universities, the government will put $500 per child every year in an education fund for single parents, and the list goes on. I agree, these are good things for women. But, if we have all of these things and the abortion numbers have only gone up over the years, shouldn’t that clue everyone in on the fact that these are not the issues that cause abortion? I think the issue is much deeper and serious. I think the issue, the problem, is selfishness.

  • jodi-jacobson

    lifeobserver….

    you make two points, one of which many of us have been trying to make for a while: irrespective of immediate economic supports, when women have an UNINTENDED pregnancy and do not want another child, there will be no amount of supports that will change this. It appears to me that this conversation in the US goes on without any reference to actual evidence or data or any idea of contemporary and recent historical evidence. You can look at many countries and see that when desired family size falls, it is very difficult to encourage women to have more children than they want through gimmicks.  period.

    In Italy, a Catholic country, heavily pro-natalist policies were put into place and the government did everything it could to encourage women to have more children and they did not respond because it is not that simple. A child is a LIFELONG emotional, economic, social and personal commitment, not a commodity. Carrying a pregnancy to term and giving birth to an actual baby is a complex decision that involves but can not be reduced to simple economics.

    Second, i don’t know where you get your data from or which countries you are speaking about, but the abortion rate in the United States has been falling steadily for some years.

    Finally, it is the utmost act of selfishness to bring a child into the world you can not afford, are not prepared to care for 24-7, and who will be resented or not receive love and caring. That is selfish.

    Please stop moralizing over everyone else and look inward.

  • invalid-0

    Jodi,

    I’d like to point out that the most common reasons women give for having abortions, according to Guttmacher data, are related to financial constraints, time constraints, lack of help raising the child, or stage of life (not being ready to have a baby). So, while I don’t want to fully dispute your point, I think economic reasons are more than a little significant in women’s decisions to have abortions.

    Also, there is a large body of research on the economics of human fertility decisions. The economist who led this research, Gary Becker, was awarded the Nobel Prize, in large part for his work on this particular subject. Many economists have found relationships between abortion and poverty, unemployment, education levels, among others.

    Poor women are four times more likely to have abortions compared to the national average. The cap on family benefits under the Welfare Reform Act of the mid-1990s is thought to have led to more abortions. Public funding for abortions, which reduces the economic cost, allows more women to have abortions than would otherwise be able to. Mandatory ultrasounds prior to abortion will raise the cost of the procedure and will result in fewer women being able to afford the procedure. Many pro-choice advocates argue for insurance coverage for contraceptives, to improve their affordability.

    Like it or not, a lot of abortions can be reduced to simple economics.

  • jodi-jacobson

    economics play a role in fertility decisions.

    They certainly played a role in mine at different times in my life.

    That is not my point and having worked in the field for 25 years I am quite familiar with the data you cite and more.

    My points rather are these (and I will only offer a few of the points which I think are relevant here):

    • The decision whether or not to bear a child is not an economic decision of the moment, nor a marginal cost economic decision. It is a "whole-life" economic decision in which the "economics" go far beyond monetary considerations to the time constraints, physical constraints, emotional and other costs of bearing a child, and "economics" as we understand them here is a far more complicated issue for women than we make it out to be.  It is a decision also of social capital.  Such decisions are unquestionably also a likely projection of what the woman feels her future is going to look like.  Let’s be clear about that.  If you already have one, two, three or more children, you are working at minimum wage or are underemployed, have to take public transportation to get where you are going (and please try this for a month yourself, taking buses to work and back sometimes several hours of your day because where you can afford to live is far from where you have to work), don’t have access to health care, can’t afford sufficient food, clothing, etc., can’t afford childcare, worry about the neigborhood in which you live but can’t move…..those are whole life economic decisions that go way beyond the paycheck.
    • Poor women have higher rates of abortions in large part because they have far higher rates of unintended pregnancies which in turn is in large part due to lack of access to prevention.  Access to basic primary reproductive and sexual health care in this country is for many women precarious at best.  As I wrote in a piece in March:

    [T]the groups experiencing the highest rates of
    unintended pregnancy have the least secure access to contraception.  Of
    the 36.2 million women in the United States who expressed a need for
    birth control in 2006, 17.5 million were in need of publicly funded
    services and supplies, more than 71 percent of which were adults and
    the vast majority of which were already parents.  Yet in 2006, only
    about half (54 percent) of those in need of publicly funded birth
    control actually had access to services provided by Medicaid, Title X
    and other sources of government funding.

    These data are from Guttmacher but there are lots of data on these issues as surely you must know, from Guttmacher and elsewhere, including the US government.  Internationally there is so much evidence of lack of access to prevention services leading to unintended pregnancies we could devote 5 different websites to these issues.  In part as a result of US global AIDS and family planning policies that undercut family planning programs and foisted a dangerous abstinence only policy on the country, for example, the number of uninteded pregnancies and abortions in Uganda rose, a country that already is among the leading countries in sub-Saharan Africa for maternal mortality.  That poverty and economics plays a role in all of this is sort of a "duh."  The question is why is it happening in the first place?

    • Low-income women are also less likely to be able to afford to leave an abusive marriage or partnership, and since sexual coercion and violence plays a considerable role in women’s sexual and reproductive health, their exposure to these circumstances can not be ignored.
    • Given our inability the past few years to fully fund basic education programs, basic health care programs, basic access to contraception; given the slashing of social service and school budgets everywhere, and given the general zeitgeist among Republicans the past 15 years not to fund anything at all that could possibly help the poorest, how feasible is it do you think that these various and deeply socially and economically perverse economic circumstances are going to be addressed in reality and not just in rhetoric?  Why, do you think, if we all realized how deeply important economics is to fertilty decisions was such a mockery made of this connection during the stimulus debate when we could have put money into expanding services to women who did not have access basic reproductive health services including family planning.  One issue here is "what is the problem?"  It is a very deep and broad problem.  Indeed it is many problems of economics and social capital.  Another and not inconsequential issue is whether there is political will to do even some, never mind all of the work to fill these gaps.  I am not deeply optimistic about this; are you?  Please see the piece from a couple of days ago in which Cynthia Davis, State Rep of Missouri, "pro-life" to the core, decried programs to provide poor children with school lunches in the summer.   My children go to a public school with a high proportion of FARMS kids (children who are on a program that provides breakfast and lunch at school).  I can tell you these children desperately need those meals. Last year, a child in my county, a wealthy county, died from an infection caused by a simple untreated dental problem that turned into a full blown blood infection.  His mother could not find affordable dental care.  I can also tell you that the fact Davis objected is no surprise to any of us who see the pattern of national handwringing over women’s reproductive choices that appears not to have a parallel about born children living in poverty.  A little review of the SCHIP fight the past 8 years will tell you that.


    So if we are so worried about the fertility decisions of women in poverty, why do they have so little access to prevention services in the first place?  Why aren’t we focusing our considerable energies there or on their poverty per se?  It’s not like we lack opportunity.  And if we are so worried about women and children in poverty, why are we focusing on "potential children" rather than bettering dramatically the economic and social prospects of all people in poverty in the United States to ensure that once a child is in fact born, they have a chance and moreover to give their mothers and their fathers a chance at a decent life?

    And I still have not heard exactly what kind of "supports" we think we are going to put in place and where will the political will come from to do this such that it addresses the "whole life economic and social capital decisions" women make when facing unintended pregnancy.  I am squarely in the middle class and a single mother of two incredible kids. And even for me it is a daily struggle to work full-time and give my kids everything they need (no, I am not talking about "want," i am talking about need).  And I have at least some resources.

    I maintain my initial point.

    if we are worried first and foremost about poor women, why aren’t we giving them the fundamental basic tools to live healthy lives, why aren’t we first asking ourselves what they and their current children need in terms of health care, jobs, education, etc?  Why aren’t we sufficiently funding programs that address gender violence, basic sexual and reproductive health education and the rest?

    And again, what specific supports are we talking about here and why would women trust that these would actually materialize?

    And what discussions have you had with legitimate representatives of the reproductive justice community?

     

    thanks, Jodi

    • invalid-0

      So then we agree.

      I’m curious about the personal swipe about my interactions with “legitimate” representatives of the reproductive justice community, though. Define “legitimate”. And, would this interaction we’re having qualify?

  • invalid-0

    sexual coercion and violence plays a considerable role in women’s sexual and reproductive health

    This jumped out at me because I had just read an article about sexual coercion. I’ll post a link for any others who want to follow up on this:

    http://www.alternet.org/reproductivejustice/140887/%27he_thought_a_baby_would_keep_me_in_his_life_forever%27%3A_when_partner_abuse_isn%27t_a_bruise_but_a_pregnant_belly/

  • jodi-jacobson

    is going up on RHRC on Monday as a feature piece.

    Best, Jodi

  • paul-bradford

    Raymond,

     

    I couldn’t agree with you more!  The use of the term ‘baby killer’ is not conducive to a productive discussion of important issues.  I would never use the term myself and I have spoken out against it on numerous occasions. 

     

    It seems strange to me, however, that you didn’t spend some time speaking out against the bitter words some advocates of abortion rights use to describe those of us who are concerned about ageism and discrimination against the unborn.

     

    If it hasn’t occurred to you already, you should learn that it does not feel particularly good to be called a ‘misogynist’ or ‘oppressive’ or ‘anti-choice’ or ‘anti-child’ or ‘anti-woman’.  It also does not make for good conversation to be criticized for every conservative stand on every issue — particularly if you are a progressive who’s arrived at his convictions on Life issues despite not because of the attitudes and positions of most other Pro-Lifers.

     

    I make every effort I can to listen attentively to the people who want to discuss Reproductive Health issues with me but it is sometimes downright painful to have one’s positions distorted and intentions made suspect.  What I’ve noticed is that some want to insist that everyone who’s eager to find an alternative to abortion thinks the same things and believes the same things.

     

    I happen to believe that every person counts, and that belief has led me to the conviction that the life of a fetus or embryo or blastocyst or zygote matters as much as my life does.  I do not believe that women should be forced into motherhood against their will.  I support every effective effort a woman can make to avoid conception if she isn’t ready to become a mother (or become a mother again).  The fact that I take an interest in the well-being of her child once she becomes a mother should not be taken as evidence that I’m insensitive to the hardships of a woman with an unintended pregnancy.

     

    I’m for reducing suffering and loss.  Reducing the suffering and loss of women and reducing the suffering and loss of children.  I would certainly appreciate it if other people were as careful to avoid directing bitter words at me as I am in avoiding using bitter words myself.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    You state your position well,

    The fact that I take an interest in the well-being of her child once she becomes a mother should not be taken as evidence that I’m insensitive to the hardships of a woman with an unintended pregnancy.

    and your continued even tone in appreciated. I can understand that you are frustrated if you feel you are being misunderstood.

    Thank you for attempting to listen. However, I don’t think you really understand (though you are trying) the frustrations on the other side of the conversation. You write so much stuff as obviously true — a lot of which is about expected gender roles. My opinion about nature’s sexism is that society ought to mitigate, not enforce the resultant discrimination. If you say that a conceptus that doesn’t implant is a obviously tragedy and that you’re trying to educate to minimize pain. But, really, saying an embryo matters as much as the pregnant woman isn’t anti-ageism – it’s elevating the worth of the embryo too much and disvaluing the woman. It doesn’t make me feel very good that you think you’re being reasonable. You don’t want to force any woman — I assume you mean legally force — thank you. But you’re trying to socially coerce women to accept nature’s discrimination.

  • paul-bradford

    Julie,

     

    I appreciate the fact that you are listening attentively and speaking respectfully.

     

    I state this explicitly whenever I get a chance: I believe that a father’s responsibility to a child is equal to the mother’s.  In fact, I believe that if a man impregnates a woman against her will he ought to be held accountable to compensate her for the pain and suffering of carrying an unintended pregnancy.

     

    The comments I have made on other threads about my belief that we could, if we put our minds to it, lower the mortality rate of blastocysts is an example of my concern about ageism in the public sphere.  The well-being of the unborn is not merely a concern for the woman sharing a pregnancy with her child.   It is a public health issue as well, and public health issues shouldn’t be dealt with in a discriminatory manner.

     

    To give you a coarse example: if the government spent enormous sums of money studying erectile dysfunction but wouldn’t put any effort into studying breast cancer we would properly see that as discrimination.  I claim that justice requires us to address the health concerns of the very young just as much as we do the health concerns of older people.  The fact that there’s a high failure rate for implantation is a public health issue.  I’m not a doctor or a scientist and I don’t have any suggestions about how to improve the rate of implantation — but I do believe we would figure some things out if we put the effort into it.  The beneficiaries of this effort would be the very young.

     

    But, really, saying an embryo matters as much as the pregnant woman isn’t anti-ageism – it’s elevating the worth of the embryo too much and disvaluing the woman.

     

    You are obviously listening to what I’ve been saying.  Simply put, I contend that an embryo’s life is as important as mine — or as yours.  I do, however, want you to understand that I understand that life would be a lot easier if an embryo or other unborn person didn’t matter as much as a pregnant woman or any person who’s already been born.  When a woman is surprised by an unintended pregnancy but elects to ‘carry the baby’, a lot more people than the one woman have to suffer and make sacrifices.  The woman’s family is put out, almost always the government’s expenses are increased, and the child generally is in the position of being born with less advantages than ‘wanted’ children get.  If the death of an unborn person mattered less than the death of an older person I would find myself hoping that most of these cases were resolved by an abortion.

     

    If only the unborn were subhuman!  The fact that they’re not is a real problem for women, and it’s a real problem to me since I’m one of the people living in an overcrowded world with dwindling resources. 

     

    It doesn’t make me feel very good that you think you’re being reasonable.

     

    You’re right if you think I think I’m being reasonable.  I have no other agenda than to be reasonable.  Many years ago I was solidly ‘Pro-Choice’.  In fact, I had a bumper sticker on my car that read: "I’m Pro-Choice and I Vote!"  I did vote, too, and I always voted for Pro-Choice candidates (I still do, to tell the truth, but I’ve expanded the list of issues I’m concerned about and I often find that the average Pro-Choice candidate is much better on the other issues I’m concerned about than the average Pro-Life candidate.  I worked hard for Obama the last time around.)

     

    During that time I impregnated a woman (at least partially due to my own laziness and neglect) and for me it was a ‘no brainer’ that I would support that woman in whatever choice she made.  I told her I would financially support the child if she wanted to keep it and I told her that I would help her arrange an abortion if she wanted to go that route.  It was ABSOLUTELY her choice because it was her body and her pregnancy.  She elected an abortion and I was 101% ‘in her corner’.  I felt very good about the fact that I had been as supportive as I had been to a woman in a difficult situation.

     

    I never forgot that event and as I got older I came to regret the fact that I hadn’t made any effort to be in my child’s corner.  I was, (and still am), glad that abortion was safe, legal, convenient and affordable to my partner but as time went on I came to see that I’d ‘dropped the ball’ by not being an advocate for my own son or daughter.  At the time I only considered the fact that my partner was ‘accessing women’s health care’.  I was completely untroubled by the idea that a fellow human being was losing his or her life.

     

    If I believed that my child’s life was as important as my own I might have done more to protect that life.  I might not have succeeded.  I’m under no delusion that I have the power to ‘coerce’ a woman to do anything.  But still, if I tried I might have had some effect — and I regret not trying. 

     

    Why had I arrived at the conclusion that my child’s life mattered less than my own did?  I had arrived at that conclusion because it was a convenient conclusion for me to arrive at.  Even setting aside my partner’s concerns, my life would have been turned upside down by an unexpected fatherhood.  My attitude then was "It’s not the right time to be a father".  My attitude now is "I was a father then like it or not — I was just a very, very bad father."

     

    Julie, I don’t expect you to change your ideas about abortion after reading this post — but I do hope you will be open to the idea that I’m motivated by something other than my support of ‘expected gender roles‘ or by a thoughtless ratification of ‘nature’s discrimination’. 

     

    I hope we will continue to write posts to each other. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    Paul,

    Thank you for the time you spent in writing this. I don’t doubt your sincerity, but I’m beginning to doubt I should be having this conversation. When you say “It was ABSOLUTELY her choice because it was her body and her pregnancy” but also “I contend that an embryo’s life is as important as mine — or as yours” — I know you think you’re being logical but, to me, it’s saying “2+2=5″.

    I believe that a father’s responsibility to a child is equal to the mother’s.

    Sigh. Those are pretty words. Not going to happen, it’s handwaving. You’re trying to disguise that you’re wanting women to take an automatic burden that men can’t equally share. Besides, I don’t want to put restrictions on men, I was to lift restrictions off women (and decouple sex from procreation).

    You haven’t be referencing Pope John Paul or Pope Benedict, but you seem to be speaking on the same page. (Or I’m just recognizing “Catholic” — those are the only two popes whose writings I’ve ever read.) I was raised Catholic — I may have mentioned that in a previous reply to another of your comments. I have a lot of trouble with religion. It would be too much of a digression to write more at this point. You’re not following the Vatican line about abortion (Vatican wants it illegal, you want to reduce it by education) — do you agree with the Vatican about gay rights?

    If you are someone who agrees that a homosexual orientation (or intersex or transgender) is “intrinsically disordered” and that legalizing gay adoption is actually doing violence to children — is that how you see any pregnant woman — or, as you put it, “mother” — who decides not to continue her pregnancy? If you agree with Cardinal Ratzinger’s (now Pope Benedict) about gay people then you probably think “parents who kill their children” are equally “intrinsically disordered”, and their thinking needs to be corrected. If those are the circumstances, I don’t know how much a continued conversation is going to accomplish much. What Pope Benedict has said about gay people are evil lies and seeing “Catholic” under your signature pushes all the wrong buttons for me and I can’t go further without asking: do you accept gay, intersex, transgerder people as “normal” and deserving of equal rights? Do you believe women deserve equal rights?

    Julie

    • paul-bradford

      I’m beginning to doubt I should be having this conversation. 

       

      Truthfully, I would miss talking to you if you decided that our interchange was harmful to you. I enjoy reading what you have to write.

       

      When you say "It was ABSOLUTELY her choice because it was her body and her pregnancy" but also "I contend that an embryo’s life is as important as mine — or as yours" — I know you think you’re being logical but, to me, it’s saying "2+2=5".

       

      Maybe my arithmetic would seem better to you if I had made it clear that my ideas about ‘her body and her pregnancy’ are different now than they were then.  I’m now more sensitive to the thought that there are two bodies involved and two people sharing the pregnancy.  It took me a long time to ‘come out’ about being Pro-Life because virtually all of my female friends and most of my male friends are strictly Pro-Choice.  I don’t even know any strident Pro-Lifers at my church.  I’ve worshipped at the same Catholic Church for nearly forty years and I’ve never once heard a sermon on abortion. 

       

      If you are someone who agrees that a homosexual orientation (or intersex or transgender) is "intrinsically disordered" and that legalizing gay adoption is actually doing violence to children…

       

      Two quick points: 1) The earth is not stationary and 2) Gays are not ‘intrinsically disordered’.

       

      When I have a question about theology, I turn to a theologian. When I have a question about science, I turn to a scientist. When I have a question about psychology, I turn to a psychologist.  I wouldn’t ask a psychiatrist to explain to me about the mystery of the Incarnation.  I wouldn’t ask a priest to tell me whether homosexuality is a disorder.  (Although my friends who are gay priests — and I have several — spend a lot of time thinking about the question.)

       

      Vatican wants it illegal, you want to reduce it by education.

       

      You think I get a lot of crap at this ‘site???  You should hear what they say about me on Catholic ‘sites!  Truly, I don’t do this to have people write nice things about me.  I really, really, really think the very young get a raw deal in this society and I think I owe it to them to speak out about their difficulties.  If I thought that trying to criminalize abortion would save lives maybe I’d agree with the Vatican.  My thought is that the attempt to criminalize abortion actually causes more abortions.

       

      you probably think "parents who kill their children" are equally "intrinsically disordered", and their thinking needs to be corrected. 

       

      A belief that the unborn are expendable is not an intrinsic disorder. A person can recover from that ‘disorder’ simply by remembering that we all deserve to be treated fairly and by changing her/his mind.

       

      Do you believe women deserve equal rights?

       

      I’m not exactly sure what you mean.  If you mean "Do I believe that women have the right to insist that men behave as responsibly about sex and reproduction as they do?"  I agree.  On the other hand, if you mean "Do I believe that women have the right to behave like the selfish pigs men have been?"  I disagree.

       

      You’re trying to disguise that you’re wanting women to take an automatic burden that men can’t equally share.

       

      We both know that even when pregnancy is wonderful news and when the father is eager to be as supportive as possible the woman’s contribution is infinitely more than the man’s.  When a pregnancy is unwelcome this disparity is even worse.  Maybe these facts lead you to feel that a man is unqualified to discuss these matters.  Very well.  Might I suggest that you visit this ‘site?  The people there are Pro-Life and Pro-Choice like I am and they’re all women. 

       

      I look forward to reading your response (unless you decide that writing back is a bad idea) 

       

      Paul Bradford

      Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • snowflake

    Hi Father:

    I am a woman who was born disabled, who was a much wanted and loved child who grew up to be an advocate for the rights of the disabled in Washington,DC. “a Success”, if you will.

    You say in your article: “But his critics’ distortion of the church’s teaching gives the false signal that no other issue matters — as if abortion was not part of the larger culture of death that starts wars, bombs civilians, overburdens the poor, and tortures and executes prisoners. That distortion squanders the church’s moral authority.”

    You seem to have the impression that the Church doesn’t get involved in the other isses. Evidently you haven’t heard of the US Bishop’s stand on immigration, never saw the Pope speaking on peace at the UN, or met a Maryknoll Priest serving the poor in third world countries.

    Perhaps the reason Maryknoll’s work didn’t occur to you is that the Maryknolls are too busy serving the poor to have time to write prochoice blog articles in the US. Different priorities for them, I guess.

    And perhaps the reason the abortion issue takes primacy of place is that once a child is dead, you cannot do anything for it’s poverty, you know?

    I mentioned before about my disability so that I could tell you that the abortion culture you are supporting has given great impetus to the American Eugenics movement, either by accident or on purpose. From the viewpoint of someone who has to deal with it every day, I can tell you that respect for the disabled has gone spiraling downward since 1973. Now, even when a disabled person lives a happy fulfilled life, you will often hear young people say, “yeah, but wouldn’t it have been better if that person wasn’t born at all?”–which I can assure you is NOT the viewpoint of people with disabilities.

    Father, if you look around this website carefully, you will find support for infanticide, including rhrealitycheck.org endorsed articles speaking glowingly of Peter Singer, who is the world’s foremost proponent of infanticide, especially for infants with disabilities, who he says are less worthy of life and the planet’s resources than healthy animals are.

    So I spend my time here trying to explain why a disabled infant deserves society’s protection even more than a healthy mouse does, and that the infant has great chances for a wonderful life like I have. I use this time when I could be off having fun in my hours outside of work.

    I understand that finding the sign on your car was unpleasant–but does it justify a priest writing a prochoice blog?

    How about putting on a cassock, calling yourself “Father” and speaking up on behalf of the rights of infants and adults with disabilities–while we still HAVE rights, that is.

  • invalid-0

    You seem to have the impression that the Church doesn’t get involved in the other isses. Evidently you haven’t heard of the US Bishop’s stand on immigration, never saw the Pope speaking on peace at the UN, or met a Maryknoll Priest serving the poor in third world countries.

    The Church certainly does all that other work. But why do they not threaten to withhold Communion from those who vote against sensible immigration reform? Or in favor of war, or the death penalty, or the reduction of foreign aid? Why didn’t they raise a furor to George W. Bush speaking at Catholic-college commencements for his incitement of the war in Iraq, support for torture, and his seeming love affair with the death penalty while governor of Texas? Why is the Church’s view on abortion so loud and clear and visible, and its views on almost every other issue so muted?

    Schroth notes this perception as a “false signal,” and he very much has a point. The Church claims to care about issues of life, but their public advocacy focuses on abortion to the apparent exclusion of everything else. That is not the sign of a sincere, morally authoritative institution.

  • invalid-0

    Hi Paul,

    Belated response (busy yesterday.) I am grateful & relieved that you disagree with the Vatican line about “gays are intrinsically disordered”. I’m as much an activist for gay rights & marriage equity as I am for reproductive choice. Possibly more pro-gay than pro-choice. I can “agree to disagree” on if a pregnant woman or the state has an obligation to embryos … I will not knowingly be friendly with anyone who thinks gays shouldn’t have equal rights with heterosexuals. (I’ve stopped going to family gatherings over this.) Which is why I decided I had to ask before we had a long conversation. Sorry for the pushy semi-offtopic question — it means that much to me.

    Maybe my arithmetic would seem better to you if I had made it clear that my ideas about ‘her body and her pregnancy’ are different now than they were then.

    Probably not. I still think you’re handwaving.

    You think I get a lot of crap at this ‘site??? You should hear what they say about me on Catholic ‘sites!

    I can imagine that. OtOH, when you’re almost there, I really wish you’d get closer to you’re previous pro-choice views — with a different kind a nuance.

    I really, really, really think the very young get a raw deal in this society and I think I owe it to them to speak out about their difficulties.

    This is another 2+2=5 moment. I cannot begin to comprehend this mindset, any mindset that can look at an embryo and see a person. I see a “potential person” — if and only if the pregnant woman accepts the pregnancy . It’s like you think biology is everything and the actions of the women mean nothing. An infant doesn’t arrive out of thin air. An infant doesn’t become a toddler, child, young adult, voter without a lot of educating and social interaction. In the same way, how a woman interacts with a pregnancy determines whether it’s a clump of cells & she has an abortion or if she accepts and makes the commitment to attempt to be a mother and parent [or birth mother only, if she does not chose to be a parent].

    I don’t see how a person who doesn’t exist yet can have “difficulties”.

    If I thought that trying to criminalize abortion would save lives maybe I’d agree with the Vatican. My thought is that the attempt to criminalize abortion actually causes more abortions.

    I hope that “maybe” is a faint “maybe”. This is looking at women-as-incubators, big-time.

    A belief that the unborn are expendable is not an intrinsic disorder. A person can recover from that ‘disorder’ simply by remembering that we all deserve to be treated fairly and by changing her/his mind.

    OK, you think it’s a fixable problem, and that’s why you’re here talking. Unfortunately, I react to that as “enforcing gender roles” because, even though you write “her/his”, the burden is on the woman. Hand-waving about the man’s responsibilities doesn’t change that.

    In regards equal rights

    “Do I believe that women have the right to behave like the selfish pigs men have been?” I disagree.

    Unfortunately, the pragmatic outcome of that attitude is 2nd class citizenship for women, not equal rights. No way around it, which is why I consider free choice (without apology) a “affirmative action” necessity to women having equal rights.

    Julie

  • paul-bradford

    I cannot begin to comprehend this mindset, any mindset that can look at an embryo and see a person. I see a “potential person” 

     

    Julie,

     

    This disagreement is the only one we need to explore.  Every other disagreement just follows naturally from this one.

     

    I wonder if you realize that I actually can comprehend the mindset that ‘can look at an embryo’ and NOT see a person.  I’m keenly aware of the fact that a lot of people associate "being human" with certain traits they consider to be intrinsic to humanity.  Among those traits are intelligence, consciousness, volition and sensory awareness.  When we’re conceived we aren’t close to having any of those attributes and our only chance to acquire them is to be constantly and thoroughly supported by a mother’s care for an extended period of time.  A developed brain, and a developed body, cannot — as you say — come ‘out of thin air’.

     

    One of the things I have learned from my study of cognitive psychology is the fact that even in infancy we don’t possess the "intelligence, consciousness, volition and sensory awareness" that people associate with ordinary human experience.  Any discussion of how a neonate "thinks" or "feels" or "acts" is a discussion about something that is very, very different from what you and I mean by ‘thinking’, ‘feeling’ or ‘acting’.  To say, "I must not do harm to a baby because it would hurt his/her feelings" is to miss the point.  We do no harm to babies because we extend to them a certain level of respect.  We recognize and value their intrinsic humanity — without spending a lot of time questioning their cognitive capacities.

     

    At any phase in human development we are a combination of what we ‘already are’ and what we have the ‘potential’ to become.  None of us can ever reach our potential without the support of others and of the environment.  The unborn can never reach any degree of their potential without the support of their mothers.  The fact that I fully understand this does not tempt me to withhold respect for human dignity from those who haven’t yet realized their potential.  These people, the unborn, have the ‘potential’ to become more developed and accomplished only if they get support from their mothers; but they ‘already are’ members of the human family.

     

    I’ve made great strides to reach my potential since I was an infant, but, from my perspective. I’m not one whit more of a ‘person’ than I was when I was born.  My membership in the human family has always been mine — ever since I started having a living human body, and I started having a human body the moment I was conceived.

     

    I hope you realize that an "attitude of 2nd class citizenship for women" is characteristic of those who dispute the notion that no woman should become a mother unless she’s ready, willing and able to raise a child (or another child).  I don’t believe any woman should conceive a child against her will.  I believe it’s an affront to human dignity for a woman to conceive a child against her will and the outcomes are always bad.  I believe, as it were, that ‘every zygote should be a wanted zygote’.

     

    It has not escaped my notice that life would be much, much easier on all of us if the unborn were expendable.  It has also not escaped my notice that life would be much, much fairer if the burden of caring for an unwanted life did not fall entirely on the mother.  It’s wrong for a woman to conceive when she doesn’t want to conceive.  Such a conception is to be regretted and to be avoided.  But deliberately causing another person’s life to end is also wrong — and two wrongs don’t make a right.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    On the other hand, if you mean “Do I believe that women have the right to behave like the selfish pigs men have been?” I disagree.

    There are two things that strike me regarding this statement. First, women, yet again, are expected (required?) to be held to a different/higher standard. Second, here’s a quote from a representative of the ultraconservative archdiocese of Managua, Nicaragua that illustrates the separate standard for women: “The struggle of the feminist movement should be to participate in the world, but as women. (emphasis mine) (The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World ( by Michelle Goldberg)).

  • paul-bradford

    It never even dawned on me that I would have to spell this out, but I certainly don’t believe that men have the right to behave like the selfish pigs they have been.

     

    That women are held to a different/higher standard than men with regard to sex and reproduction is a situation to be rectified rather than celebrated.  There are two ways to rectify the situation: men can be held to the different/higher standard that women are judged by; or women can descend to the standard that men follow.  That I obviously prefer the former strategy should not have provoked you to toss me in with the ultraconservative wing of my Church. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    The unborn can never reach any degree of their potential without the support of their mothers.

    The thing you may be missing, Paul, is in any society where women are REQUIRED to go through with a pregnancy even when they don’t want to, that this social structure allows the unborn to reach their potential BY TAKING AWAY the potential of their mothers.

    As you’ve several times alluded to in your posts, ‘mother’ has a predetermined life course with predetermined duties which obligate her to abandon what she wants to do and always put her children first. Her talents, interests, intelligence and goals are all irrelevant because it’s her DUTY to do, FOR FREE, all the various and sundry caretaking and teaching that children require. If she has unique and wonderful talents which are never developed, well, too bad for her – the IMPORTANT thing is the kids.

    I’ve seen a number of posts that mention how that aborted fetus ‘could have been a genius’ or ‘could have been a great artist’. It doesn’t ever seem to occur to anybody that the women themselves might make important contributions or do great works.

  • invalid-0

    Hi Paul,

    You see an embryo is ethically as important as a born person; I see human biology as so out of whack that it needs fixing. You’re disvaluing women & I’m disvaluing embryos.

    Any discussion of how a neonate “thinks” or “feels” or “acts” is a discussion about something that is very, very different from what you and I mean by ‘thinking’, ‘feeling’ or ‘acting’. To say, “I must not do harm to a baby because it would hurt his/her feelings” is to miss the point. We do no harm to babies because we extend to them a certain level of respect. We recognize and value their intrinsic humanity — without spending a lot of time questioning their cognitive capacities.

    There’s several orders of magnitude difference between an embryo & an infant. Once a commitment is made, that changes things. When I became pregnant (BC failed) I had already declared I wasn’t ready to make a commitment to a child, so “respect” didn’t enter into it. Only to the extent that having made my (our) decision that I should not delay.

    This whole attitude you have about embryos — “the very young”, as you put it — you’re asking a higher price to pay than is fair for the respect and dignity you think “the very young” are due. It’s not just women you’re disvaluing; you’re also asking too high a price for poor families. Throughout history, there’s this attitude of the rich that the status quo is “how it is and should be” and unwanted children are a much larger burden on poor families than rich families, and helps the rich families stay rich.

    I can’t comprehend a world view of “yes, the game’s unfair and the dice are loaded but it’s the game we’re given; it wouldn’t be right to try to change the game.” Those who want to see the world that way should have freedom to live their lives under that philosophy. I won’t be shamed into joining you.

    In your last passage I think you’re getting frustrated with me because I can see your point, but refuse to agree. Well, I’m feeling frustrated, too, because you keep asking me to give more than I think is fair. So I’m going to quote & then reply what I see as the flip side of what you said, written in the same kind of rhetoric.

    Paul’s Lament

    It has not escaped my notice that life would be much, much easier on all of us if the unborn were expendable. It has also not escaped my notice that life would be much, much fairer if the burden of caring for an unwanted life did not fall entirely on the mother. It’s wrong for a woman to conceive when she doesn’t want to conceive. Such a conception is to be regretted and to be avoided. But deliberately causing another person’s life to end is also wrong — and two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Julie’s corollary to Paul’s Lament

    It has not escaped my notice that life would be much, much easier on all of us if we didn’t have to pretend women weren’t born to be servants. It has also not escaped my notice that life would be much, much fairer, since the burden of caring for an unwanted life must fall entirely on the mother, if women weren’t born with free will. It’s wrong for Nature to make a woman fertile even when she doesn’t want to conceive. This fact of Nature is to be regretted, but we must accept she is a servant and help her to accept her fate. Deliberately causing another person’s life to end is also wrong and should be avoided. Thankfully, it must be remembered that when a woman becomes pregnant she is old enough (unlike the tiny human inside her) to somewhat defend herself, so it is appropriate that we accept her to do her duty.

    I understand you feel there is a moral problem with “parents killing their children”. I disagree that an unwanted pregnancy is a “child”. My position is that there is a much larger moral problem with disvaluing of women. When other “pro-life” people are acting politically to restrict access, then unfair burdens are being put on both women and poor people. Plus an unfair burden on planet Earth.

    Julie

  • invalid-0

    in any society where women are REQUIRED to go through with a pregnancy even when they don’t want to, that this social structure allows the unborn to reach their potential BY TAKING AWAY the potential of their mothers.

    As you’ve several times alluded to in your posts, ‘mother’ has a predetermined life course with predetermined duties which obligate her to abandon what she wants to do and always put her children first. Her talents, interests, intelligence and goals are all irrelevant because it’s her DUTY to do, FOR FREE, all the various and sundry caretaking and teaching that children require. If she has unique and wonderful talents which are never developed, well, too bad for her – the IMPORTANT thing is the kids.

    Bears repeating.

  • invalid-0

    here is an example from JPII
    [http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_29061995_women_en.html]

    the Church has many reasons for hoping that the forthcoming United Nations Conference in Beijing will bring out the full truth about women. Necessary emphasis should be placed on the “genius of women”, not only by considering great and famous women of the past or present, but also those ordinary women who reveal the gift of their womanhood by placing themselves at the service of others in their everyday lives. For in giving themselves to others each day women fulfill their deepest vocation.
    [emphasis in the original]

    Women, according to this theology, won’t reveal their full gifts unless they’re giving of themselves to others.

    OK, I suppose the official theology is that everyone in the congregation is supposed to be giving to others … but it seems to me — you’re right, crowepps — that women are expected to give more. Of course.

  • paul-bradford

    I not only believe that a woman has the right to avoid/prevent pregnancy if she isn’t willing to perform a mother’s duties and put her children first; I believe that she has a duty to avoid/prevent pregnancy in that situation.  (Let me say at this point that I also believe that a man is equally obligated to take on the responsibility of caring for his children and putting his children first — and that he has an equal duty to avoid/prevent impregnating a woman if he’s not willing to take on those responsibilities.)

     

    When a woman finds out that she’s carrying an unintended pregnancy it’s a problem.  Depending on the situation it might be a small problem or a devastatingly enormous problem.  Depending on the situation it might be a situation she could have and should have prevented, or it might be a situation that was very much out of her control (consider the case of the nine year old Brazilian girl who was raped and impregnated by her stepfather.)  It’s human nature that when people face a problem they want the problem to go away.  A woman with an unintended pregnancy wants the problem to go away.  Her family and, indeed, the society wants the problem to go away.  Abortion makes the problem go away.  That’s why Rev. Katherine Ragsdale (who was recently installed as president of the Episcopal Divinity School) said "abortion is a blessing"

     

    When somebody tells me that they’ve figured out a way to make their problems go away I look for the ‘catch’.  The catch with abortion is that you’re compelled to act as if the unborn aren’t really people, you’re compelled to act as if their lives are expendable, you’re compelled to act as if their deaths don’t matter.  I hear talk to this effect on this ‘site all the time and it’s no wonder.

     

    If we, as a society, want to treat all people as if they’re actually people and not just obstacles in the way of other people’s happiness, we’re going to have to figure out another way to deal with the problem of unintended pregnancy.  We’re obviously going to have to work harder to empower women (and men) to avoid unintended pregnancy but no matter how good a job we do there will still be some unfortunate situations where an unintended pregnancy takes place.

     

    I’ve often said that an unintended pregnancy is a problem for more people than just the woman who’s pregnant and it is; but I never forget that the biggest headache is hers and she is the one who ought to be treated with the most compassion and assistance.  I’m willing to spend my efforts and my tax dollars to help women deal with the problem of unintended pregnancy.  It is, after all, one of the biggest problems we have in this country.  But I’m not willing to bite my tongue while people recommend ‘shortcuts’ to those women that involve ‘making the problem go away’ and I’m certainly not going to sit still for the dehumanizing ageism that is part and parcel of a world view where abortion is tolerated. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    It has not escaped my notice that life would be much, much easier on all of us if we didn’t have to pretend women weren’t born to be servants. It has also not escaped my notice that life would be much, much fairer, since the burden of caring for an unwanted life must fall entirely on the mother, if women weren’t born with free will. It’s wrong for Nature to make a woman fertile even when she doesn’t want to conceive. This fact of Nature is to be regretted, but we must accept she is a servant and help her to accept her fate. Deliberately causing another person’s life to end is also wrong and should be avoided. Thankfully, it must be remembered that when a woman becomes pregnant she is old enough (unlike the tiny human inside her) to somewhat defend herself, so it is appropriate that we accept her to do her duty.

     

    As for service, I believe that none of us lives a life that is entirely our own.  I have a purpose, and that purpose is to serve the needs of others.  I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t understand, accept and realize that.  This is, obviously, a very ‘Catholic’ world-view and it clashes with the world-view that asserts that our lives consist of the attempt to fulfill our personal desires.  There’s going to be social conflict over this because neither world-view can accommodate the other.

     

    As for free will, the only actions that really matter are the ones we undertake willingly.  To be controlled or coerced is to live a sort of half-life.  Even obedience shouldn’t be rooted in fear but in the confidence that it is leading to a fuller life.

     

    You can say that Nature makes women (and men) fertile when we don’t want to become parents and I certainly understand your point, but I don’t believe that Nature has the final word.  Human beings can become masters of Nature — even the nature of their own bodily functions.  There are right ways and wrong ways to go about that, of course, but we should never think of ourselves as subordinate to Nature. 

     

    The fact that a woman has more power than a fetus is no reason to forget that she still can face enormous obstacles to her health, her happiness and (as you put it) ‘doing her duty’.  It is true that a woman can do some things for herself and that a fetus can do nothing for himself and it’s also true that I am all for thinking that my birth was a blessing. Being born certainly doesn’t mean an end to vulnerability, but being born means the beginning of responsibility — and there’s no ‘fair’ correspondence between how vulnerable you are and how many responsibilities you have.  If there were, we wouldn’t have to depend on each other as much as we do. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    Paul, claiming that a lack of regret that a fertilized ova failed to implant is “ageism” is just one more stick with which to beat up women. Do you have any idea how fast maternal science is advancing, and just how much evidence there is to suggest that there is very little a woman does that does not impact on her reproductive functioning, for good or ill? But here you are, asserting that “motherhood” is defined by a blastocyst, and that any rejection of this nonsense is ignorant prejudice. You are essentially demanding that women go through their fertile years behaving as if we are perpetually pregnant, with all the restrictions and limitations that accompany the condition. Three sons here, and two stillbirths…and you possess the arrogance to tell me that “motherhood” exists when implantation FAILS?! If I didn’t think my comment would get flagged, I’d tell you what part of my anatomy you can kiss.

  • paul-bradford

    You want to accuse me of arrogance when all I’m asking of women is that they would consider it a step forward if a woman could have access to two pieces of information which are not currently available.  1) The information that she has a developing conceptus in her body and 2) Information about interventions she could make to increase the likelihood that her blastocyst will implant.

     

    Possible efforts to make that information available are efforts that increase respect for the dignity of human life as they make it more likely that blastocysts will continue to develop.

     

    Are you suggesting that the possibility that a woman might feel regret (or sadness, or frustration, or determination) when a blastocyst fails to implant is reason to keep women ignorant of those developments?  I’m not arrogantly lecturing women on how they ought to react upon the news that they’ve conceived a child, I’m suggesting that women can be trusted with the information and could use it to improve human survival — which would be good news for blastocysts. 

     

    You’re so convinced that I’ve got something against the female sex that you aren’t willing to consider the possibility that the advances I’m hoping for would make life BETTER for women.

     

    By the way, motherhood doesn’t exist when implantation fails, motherhood exists when there’s a possibility that implantation might succeed. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    If I didn’t think my comment would get flagged, I’d tell you what part of my anatomy you can kiss. 

     

    ahunt,

     

    It touched me to realize that you were getting as outraged as you are.  I feel the same feelings, and I too have dreamed up comments to send to you that I didn’t publish because I knew they’d be flagged. 

     

    I want you to know that I’ve never doubted that you are motivated by a fierce desire to improve the status of women, by a conviction that people have the right to choose whether or not they have children, and a concern for the health of those who become pregnant.  Those are concerns I share and I admire you for being so strident and outspoken on behalf of others.

     

    The reason I bother to debate these issues is that I think we can achieve all the things we both want without throwing the unborn under the bus.  You talk about the stick I want to use to beat up women.  The stick I swing is used to beat up men even more than it is used to beat up women.  The stick is this: I am deeply convinced that it is profoundly irresponsible for a couple to conceive a child that they aren’t both ready, willing and able to raise.  That’s the judgmental and moralistic fuel to my fire.  I believe that humanity has to change its ways if we’re going to address global climate change and I believe that humanity has to change its ways to find some peace on this issue.

     

    It may seem a trivial matter to you, but I believe that a respect for life requires that every zygote be a wanted zygote. 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    "Information about interventions she could make to increase the likelihood that her blastocyst will implant."

     

    What interventions?  What exactly is that you believe women can do after fertilization of the egg (something which it is not possible with present reproductive knowledge to know has even happened) to increase the likelihood that the blastocyst will implant?

  • colleen

    You’re so convinced that I’ve got something against the female sex that
    you aren’t willing to consider the possibility that the advances I’m
    hoping for would make life BETTER for women.

     

    That’s because we’re not stupid, Paul. 

     

     

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • paul-bradford

    What exactly is that you believe women can do after fertilization to increase the likelihood that the blastocyst will implant?

     

    ahunt made an excellent point in the post she put up yesterday: Do you have any idea how fast maternal science is advancing, and just how much evidence there is to suggest that there is very little a woman does that does not impact on her reproductive functioning, for good or ill?

     

    I suppose that, if at some future date we have the ability to alert women when they’ve conceived, women will have the option of taking precautions over the next few days not to do something that would lower the likelihood of implantation.  A woman equipped with such knowledge might — I’m just guessing here — be able to improve the chances for implantation from 20% to 50% by being particularly careful.

     

    Virtually everything that can be done to improve life for the unborn involves the mother making efforts and sacrifices.  Men are never in a position of making efforts and sacrifices to improve the life of their unborn children.  Women wouldn’t have to make so many efforts and sacrifices if we excused everyone from the responsibility to respect the life of the unborn.  If the unborn don’t count, if they’re expendable, if their deaths don’t matter, women wouldn’t have to be so careful and they wouldn’t have to endure so much suffering.

     

    I didn’t arrive at the conclusion that the lives of the unborn should be respected because I wanted to make women’s lives harder; and I don’t see the logic in concluding that the lives of the unborn needn’t be respected because you want to make women’s lives easier. 

     

    By the way, you posted a note to me on June 30 on the ‘Persistent Petitioner’ thread  and I don’t know if you read my July 1 response.

     

    You said: What does where I got my name have to do with anything? I’m not sure if you’re aware you’re doing it, but it sure comes across as a tendency to slide into ad hominum and try to discredit the person’s information/opinions by mocking the person themself. That really isn’t appropriate in this forum.

     

    I said: I asked a question.  There was no attempt to discredit you.  There was no thought of mocking.  I have no idea what the word ‘crowepps’ means and I figured you could explain it to me.  Keep the meaning a secret if you must, but don’t imagine I had any intention of making an ‘ad hominum attack’.

     

    I’m just not that kind of person. 

     

    ****

     

    It’s very important to me, crowepps, that I try and treat everybody with respect and to listen carefully to what they say.  Things seem to have heated up on that thread when I expressed my disdain for the idea that it would be better for the disabled fetus if s/he were never born.  I speculated that people believed that only if they thought it was possible for souls to exit a disabled body and enter a whole one.

     

    People seem to have pinned me as someone who ridicules other people’s religious beliefs.  That’s a reputation which I do not wish to have.  I maintained that, no matter what your religious beliefs are, it’s inhumane to kill someone with the hope that they will be reincarnated with a better body and a better life. 

      

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • invalid-0

    At the end of my last reply I was writing “bitter words” … which is a strange place to be when the original article is about “moving beyond bitter words”. I think you were using bitter words also, which is what I was reacting to.


    You have a ‘Catholic’ world view about service. There’s things I do for the public good also, but I choose my causes for personal reasons, not what any church or anyone else tells me. I know you aren’t lobbying for laws to limit legal abortion and emergency contraception access — but there are others who are … and they and their TRAP laws are doing a good job increasingly limiting access. This puts me on a short fuse, even if I, personally, aren’t affected (having a tubal & now in menopause). I think we can have common ground on sacrifices should be “willing” and not coerced by outsiders … however there’s no way for me to read about “dehumanizing ageism” without reacting that you are dehumanizing women & poor people more than you’re championing “the very young”. If I’m being attacked I’m likely to react badly.

    I don’t believe that Nature has the final word. Human beings can become masters of Nature — even the nature of their own bodily functions. There are right ways and wrong ways to go about that, of course, but we should never think of ourselves as subordinate to Nature.

    From my frustrated viewpoint you are asking women to submit to nature. The opposite of what you say you’re saying, when you’re letting Nature define the rules. What I said about “loaded dice” — no point to repeat myself. Reality check, when you want parents not to kill their children — and this is what’s preached in many churches — this leads to hurting poor families more than the rich. (I wouldn’t call myself “rich”, but — in comparision — I probably am.) An unwanted pregnancy will be, proportionately, a much higher burden on poor people than people with more resources. The TRAP laws affect poor people much more than rich. I’m not in favor of poor people getting poorer (and sicker) — especially if they want access to legal abortion and, because of TRAP laws, can’t access.

  • crowepps

    "improve the chances for implantation from 20% to 50% by being particularly careful."

     

    Maybe I’m dense but your long post and referral to advances in science STILL doesn’t contain any actual information whatsoever that explains what you mean by "being careful".  Just what is it that you think the woman should either carefully avoid or carefully do?

     

    The reason people think you are ridiculing others beliefs is that you include a statement like "it’s inhumane to kill someone with the hope that they will be reincarnated with a better body and a better life" into a discussion in which, so far as I am aware, nobody has made that statement.  I know I certainly have not.  If this is a statement made by someone else at some other site in some other discussion, argue your point with them.  Bringing the point up here seems to others to be an effort to imply that since someone somewhere else made a statement you believe to be superstitious or illogical that BY ASSOCIATION their foolishness weakens the case of everyone else who disagrees with your position.

     

    Considering your efforts to disassociate yourself from the opinions and beliefs of "the Bishops" and "the Church" and to explain that you’re not "that kind of Catholic" and your upset when others attribute to you the set of pro forma beliefs which are implied by your declaration of yourself as "Catholic", that would seem rather unfair.  If you wish those posting here to remember your unique position on the issues and specifically address only your points made in these posts, it would be courteous to do the same for us.

  • invalid-0

    I’m just guessing here — be able to improve the chances for implantation from 20% to 50% by being particularly careful.

    Paul…once again…you are arguing that women should restrict their lives, limit themselves to specified activities, deny themselves full participation in public and private life…every time they engage in PIV sex…IF in fact doing so will marginally increase the chances that a fertilized egg (regardless of its viability) will implant. You are, in effect, arguing that a woman exists only in terms of her reproductive possibilities, and I find it bizarre that you cannot grasp the profound misogyny inherent in your POV.

  • invalid-0

    By the way, motherhood doesn’t exist when implantation fails, motherhood exists when there’s a possibility that implantation might succeed.

    You cannot be serious. Give me any other scenario where a condition EXISTS…on the possibility that it MIGHT exist. This is nuts.

  • invalid-0

    The stick I swing is used to beat up men even more than it is used to beat up women.

    I’m not impressed. The one-sided consequences of unwanted pregnancy render your man-beating stick a blade of grass. The bottom line is that you view every woman as a walking uterus first, with everything else that goes into her personhood subject to her reproductive potential. You cannot rationally reconcile your stated support of female autonomy with your desire to see women subjected to the consequences of having sex. At least, you have not done it yet.

  • crowepps

    He doesn’t consider it misogyny because it isn’t — misogyny is HATRED of women.  Paul seems to me to be arguing that he considers reproduction a POSITIVE attribute of women, that as ‘vessels’ they are uniquely ’special’.  His insistence that they must comport their lives in accordance with HIS belief that this is the MOST IMPORTANT thing about them even when they themselves would prefer to focus on other interests and goals is not misogyny but instead a broad system of discrimination and stereotyping which insists women’s reproductive contribution is their only or most worthwhile contribution to society because all contributions in other fields can be equally well made by men.

     

    It is, in a twisted way, a compliment, but most women would just as soon give up the honor of being considered sacred cattle.  Particularly when their ‘contribution to society’ wouldn’t be adversely impacted by mass lobotomy.

  • invalid-0

    Particularly when their ‘contribution to society’ wouldn’t be adversely impacted by mass lobotomy.

    Snerk. Bad Crowepps…bad, bad. Paul is sincere…in his love and admiration for the uterus. Everything else is just…unimportant.

  • invalid-0

    I’m not familiar with Robert Drinan but since you’ve taken the leap of blaming the Pope (who can’t vote here) for driving this man out of Congress I’d like to point out a very possible connection between the subject of your book and the whole “baby killer” label. My mother was an Air Force nurse ’64-’68 and was stationed at Andrews Airforce Base in Washingto D.C. She was telling me just the other day how she and her friends would always try to get night shifts over the 4th of July so they could spend at least part of the Forth of July day right there on the mall. Of course military people could NEVER appear there in uniform. The self rightouts students whose parents had the money to send them to college would have made their lives hell. These kids were so priviliged that they didn’t have to worry about the draft, but they sure didn’t hesitate to blame the soldiers for anything and everything going on in Vietnam. “Baby killer” was the perferred label for anyone associated with the military (drafted or not). She also said they couldn’t use a car with the name of the hospital on it because the tires would have been slashed. Me Lei (spelling?) was horrible but many anti war protesters used it as their excuse to call all military people (medical people included) “baby killers”. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the subject of your biography used it himself. Not a nice thing to be called, is it?

  • invalid-0

    I suppose that, if at some future date we have the ability to alert women when they’ve conceived, women will have the option of taking precautions over the next few days not to do something that would lower the likelihood of implantation.

    Or the opposite occurs. Should such knowledge be available (and I believe that you’re right in that, some day, medical knowledge will advance to this stage), I wouldn’t just live my normal day-to-day life, but I’d do everything I could to decrease the chance. Why? I’m happily married for 15 years, have consistently used contraception, have one child (planned), and will not have any more. (And they say contraception doesn’t prevent unplanned pregnancy./sarcasm)