How the Bishops Lost Sight of Their Own Priorities


This article is co-authored by Jessica Arons,
Director of the Women’s Health and Rights Program and a member of the Faith and
Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress, and Ellen-Marie Whelan, a Senior Health Policy Analyst and Associate
Director of Health Policy at the Center for American Progress.

As longstanding advocates for universal health care, the
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has played an ongoing, and increasingly
controversial
, role in health reform. Early in the process, they set out a
number of criteria—eight
to be exact—that they set as priorities to be included in health reform
legislation.

Taking them at their word, we at the Center for American
Progress undertook an analysis
of their criteria, using their own classifications and definitions, and
examined whether the bills pending in Congress measured up. We found that they
did.

From “access for all” to “priority concern for the poor” to
“pluralism,” provisions in current health reform legislation in both the House
of Representatives and the Senate would achieve significant progress toward
these goals. We also noted where the legislation fell short of some of these
goals, most notably the exclusion of undocumented immigrants from the expansion
of health coverage.

Yet despite the fact that these bills would accomplish so
much of the Bishops’ stated agenda, they have continued to threaten to oppose
current legislation over one issue: abortion. The Bishops have stated that they
will oppose health reform legislation entirely unless it includes what has
become known as the Stupak-Pitts
Amendment
, a measure in the House bill that would prohibit women receiving
health premium subsidies from purchasing any private insurance plan that
includes abortion services, even if no tax dollars may be used to pay for
abortion care. They refuse to accept the compromise, still in the Senate
language, that segregates government subsidies from private premiums in order
to address the concerns of those who do not want their taxes to pay for
abortions in circumstances beyond threats to the life of the woman and rape or
incest.

In doing so, the Bishops have moved the goalposts. They
testified in a congressional hearing that they would oppose legislation that included
abortion
as part of a national health care benefit. Both bills explicitly
exclude abortion from required health benefits packages, yet their opposition
remains. They also asked for “abortion-neutral
legislation. The Senate bill is abortion-neutral because it preserves the
policy of prohibiting federal funding for abortion while allowing insurance
plans to cover abortion. The House bill, however, goes far beyond current
law—rather than applying current policy to the proposed health insurance
exchange, it imposes new obstacles to obtaining private abortion coverage.

As our analysis shows, there are a number of ways both bills
would achieve the Bishops’ “pro-life” goals: they would save the lives of thousands
each year, reduce the suffering of millions, and increase the dignity with
which people are treated when ill. Moreover, providing quality health care to
women and families in need is a much more effective and humane way to reduce
the number of abortions than restrictions on funding ever have been. In the
United States, as throughout the world, restrictions on abortion make the
procedure more expensive and less safe; they do not make it less common.

The old adage “actions speak louder than words” is instructive
here. The clear implication is that, despite their statements articulating a
variety of priorities for health reform, the Bishops ultimately place a single
priority—abortion—above all others. This is indeed a shame.

The Bishops have the power to end this controversy should
they wish to do so. Whether appropriate or not, their influence in this matter
cannot be understated. Less than a month ago, negotiations among pro-life and
pro-choice legislators to forge a stronger compromise on abortion funding broke
down when the Bishops insisted that the Stupak-Pitts Amendment be put to a
vote. But there is still time to work out a compromise that both sides can accept,
especially if the Bishops signal a willingness to move in that direction.

The question before them is this: Is it worth jeopardizing
legislation that would provide nearly universal access to health care, improve
quality, be much more affordable, assist the poor and low income, reduce fraud
and waste, protect the conscience of providers, and so much more simply because
it would preserve the status quo on public funding for abortion but not impose
new restrictions on private coverage?

Given the immense good that could be achieved with health
reform, we fervently hope the Bishops, their allies, and their supporters will
place equal value on each of their stated principles and promote rather than
stand in the way of current health reform efforts. 

The Center for
American Progress fact sheet on the Bishop’s health reform criteria can be
found here.

 

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Follow Jessica Arons on twitter: @jrarons

  • jgbeam

    Jim Grant, Pro-lifer

  • jodi-jacobson

    Your statement flies in the face of medical facts, of public health research, practice and goals worldwide, and of the sexual and reproductive rights agreements signed by the majority of the world’s countries.

     

    Access to safe abortion services is indeed health care, and is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of women as well as to their rights to autonomy, bodily integrity, and to determine the number and spacing of children they may want to bear.

     

    Like the saying goes: If you don’t like it, don’t have one.
    Fortunately for you, you are safely wrapped in your own male cocoon, so you don’t have to worry about being faced with an unintended pregnancy.  Given that, it would be nice if you’d take your energies and put them into say….reducing maternal mortality, reducing child hunger and…..i could thing of a hundred other things.

  • paul-bradford

    As our analysis shows, there are a number of ways both bills would achieve the Bishops’ “pro-life” goals: they would save the lives of thousands each year, reduce the suffering of millions, and increase the dignity with which people are treated when ill. Moreover, providing quality health care to women and families in need is a much more effective and humane way to reduce the number of abortions than restrictions on funding ever have been. In the United States, as throughout the world, restrictions on abortion make the procedure more expensive and less safe; they do not make it less common.

     

    Thank you, Jessica, for noting that the bishops’ goals include a number of issues that have nothing to do with abortion.  Catholics care about everyone’s life and everyone’s health.  Yours included.  Any kind of health care for anyone of any age falls under the purview of the Church’s concern.  Universal Health Care is Pro-Life and, as you have noted, health care coverage will reduce abortions.  Even now, uninsured women get abortions at a higher rate than women with an adequate health plan.

     

    I happen to agree with you that measures aimed at restricting funding for abortion will not actually save lives.  Those of us who want to protect the very young have to support measures that will provide new supports to women rather than take anything away.  On the other hand, it is very easy for me — as a Pro-Life Catholic — to understand why the bishops are uncomfortable using taxpayer money to fund abortion.

     

    You seem to appreciate (more than some at this ‘site) that Catholic objection to abortion has more to do with a desire to protect health and to protect life rather than any supposed unwillingness to address the special health concerns of women.

     

    A concern for women’s health is Pro-Life, and the cost of abortion represents a miniscule percentage of women’s health care costs.  I wish we could stop battling over pennies and work toward the goal of Universal Health Care which will save lives all around.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    Can you point me to a statement released by the Bishops where they said they wouldn’t support the health care bill unless there is coverage of prenatal care, obstetrical care and the costs of premature and/or ill infants in intensive care?  I must have missed it.

  • crowepps

    Abortion absolutely is health care whether its required after a miscarriage, in the cast of life-threatening complications of pregnancy and in cases of non-viable fetus or molar pregnancy.

     

    Without it, women die.

  • paul-bradford

    Can you point me to a statement released by the Bishops where they said they wouldn’t support the health care bill unless there is coverage of prenatal care, obstetrical care and the costs of premature and/or ill infants in intensive care? I must have missed it.

     

    crowepps,

     

    The bishops are terrible at public relations; and when I say ‘public relations’ I don’t mean an attempt by a sleazy organization to look respectable, I mean the ability of an organization to get fair credit for the things it does well.  Nobody does more to promote women’s and prenatal health in poverty stricken areas around the globe than the Catholic Church — too bad they don’t toot their own horn.

     

    I wish I could write the statement you ‘missed’.  The bishops would certainly endorse it, but they lack the kind of awareness that would lead them to think about issuing such a statement.

     

    Things will get a lot better once we start ordaining women. 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • jodi-jacobson

    You state:

    Nobody does more to promote women’s and prenatal health in poverty
    stricken areas around the globe than the Catholic Church — too bad
    they don’t toot their own horn.

    I am at a loss as to exactly how the Bishops and the Church do more to promote women’s health that anyone.  I would say they do more to ensure women continue to live in conditions where death and illness from causes related to dire sexual and reproductive health conditions are paramount and hence do more to ensure women die at higher rates from these causes than they would if essential services were available.

     

    Complications from unsafe abortion, pregnancy, childbirth, HIV and AIDS and cervical cancers are the leading killers of women in their reproductive years in "poverty stricken areas," including virtually all of sub-Saharan Africa, much of South Asia, and much of Central and Latin America. 

     

    The main strategies to prevent these deaths among women–and the vast majority of these deaths are indeed preventable…completely preventable–are safer sex practices using contraception and condoms (Church doesn’t do it, doesn’t like it, actively lobbies against these services throughout these countries); access to safe abortion; birth spacing by using family planning and contraception regularly and with full information and access……and so on….Young girls ages 12 to  18 are at greatest risk of new HIV infections
    and in some areas are infected at 4 times the rate of boys their age. The Church and Bishops don’t like any of the proven public health strategies known to prevent these conditions so again I am mystified how they do more for women’s health than anyone.

     

    What is more, high rates of infant and child mortality are associated with high rates of maternal mortality because once a mother dies, her children are much more likely to be malnourished, get less health care, receive less education, food, clothing, and other essentials.  So by extension, the Church ain’t doin’ so well on the infant mortality front if the policies it promotes don’t do so well for women.

     

    So please tell me exactly how, when rates of maternal mortality worldwide remain basically at the same levels they did 20 years or more ago and HIV infections are rising rapidly among women and girls worldwide, is it that the Church and the Bishops are doing more "to promote women’s and prenatal health in poverty
    stricken areas around the globe than anyone else."

     

    They know how to toot their own horn, all right, and they are quite effective at doing so when it is to their advantage.  Having worked in India, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Peru, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and elsewhere I’ve seen their "work" close up.

     

    I’d suggest that having the church get out of doing all they are doing "for" women would be a great advance.  I am a bit tired of the Church earning all its cred on the backs of women as the silent victims of its policies.

     

    We have a piece today which speaks to just how bad the situation is in Zimbabwe.  In Peru, in Nicaragua, in Mexico the Church is pushing hard to do everything it can to limit reproductive and sexual health services in countries in which the leading cause of death is unsafe abortion….. 

    So please educate me on this point.

     

    Jodi

  • inman

    Including Prenatal care, obstetrical care and the costs of premature and/or ill infants in intensive care as benefits are obviously good things.  However, the ommission of those items or other equally worthy items doesn’t invalidate other positive aspects of health care reform. It just means the bill didn’t do as much good as it could have.

     

    Faithful Catholics believe that human life is sacred from conception to natural death and direct abortion intended as means or an end is always inherentley evil. So for a faithful catholic, it doesn’t matter how good the rest of the bill is, if it funds abortion, it must be opposed.  So opposing abortion funding and not emphasing any particular admittedly good benefit aren’t inconsistent. It is just that opposing such a grave evil, such as abortion, is more important.  

  • jgbeam

    ..than ending a life.

     

    Jim Grant, Pro-lifer

  • jgbeam

    Almost.  In those rare, very rare, cases where a mother’s life is truly threatened, abortion is necessary and the right thing to do.  Yes, abortion is health care in those cases. For non-viable fetus or molar pregnancy, I don’t agree with you but can understand your position.  If abortions were done only for these reasons, the 2% of all abortions, we wouldn’t be having these debates.  It’s the other 98% that are not health care. 

     

    Jim Grant, Pro-lifer

  • julie-watkins

    than Nature’s Sexism, and the effect of that over the millenia. When the rules of the "game" are unfair, I don’t understand why it should be so controversial to work to make things more fair by letting women and families make private decisions without interference rather than strangers (society, politicians) making laws and coercion.
  • julie-watkins

    My IUD failed. We had already decided not to have children (which is why I had an IUD) — I don’t think I was unethical. 28 years ago the world was already overpopulated. Giving birth (giving life) must be a gift if a culture doesn’t want to treat women (& the poor) as second class.
  • paul-bradford

    Complications from unsafe abortion, pregnancy, childbirth, HIV and AIDS and cervical cancers are the leading killers of women in their reproductive years in "poverty stricken areas"

     

    Jodi,

     

    The biggest problem facing women in these areas is health care delivery.  There’s no way that private health facilities can be profitable and governments lack the resources (and political will) to provide health care where it is most needed.

     

    I worked at a Catholic Health Clinic in Honduras and I will assure you that a woman from the rural or mountain areas who needed cancer screening, prenatal care or OB/GYN care had no other option that was remotely affordable or convenient.  The sad thing is that a woman with major pregnancy related complications (either as the result of an illegal abortion or other causes) had needs that were beyond our ability to help.  There was certainly the desire to help — but we were dependent upon charitable support from the US and other wealthy countries.

     

    Globally, 40,000 women die each year as a consequence of an illegal abortion (Honduras has its share) that’s out of 560,000 women who die of all pregnancy related causes.  The problem for all of these women is not legal restrictions to care (I wonder if you’ve ever taken note of the fact that the countries with the strictest anti-abortion statutes generally have the least ability to enforce those statutes), the problem is that providing care is expensive.

     

    Women in "poverty stricken areas" don’t need to have Americans bemoaning their country’s legislation — they need Americans to fork over more of their money.  That’s what will help poor women (and their families). 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • jodi-jacobson

    Are free to practice their faith in this country, as are the rest of us.

     

    Where and when they extend their faith to public policy that denies others’ not only their own moral, ethical, and faith-based decisions but also flies in the face of global public health, medical, and human rights norms, they are seeking to make everyone conform to a version of their "faith" to which not even the majority of the members of that faith adhere.

     

    I am still mystified as to why it is that the Church can’t stop at: "we do not believe, therefore we won’t do," to "we do not believe, therefore no one else can do."

     

    I also note the following: In the institutional Catholic Church’s own practices there is much to be desired as against what they profess.  Recent examples include not only the pedophilia scandal but also the recent case in which a 22 year old man, fathered by a priest, died of cancer amidst a fight with the church over helping him.  The priest fathered this child, but never saw him, never acknowledged him, never gave him the "fatherly love" the Church sees as so critical, and at the same time he was having other affairs, was allowed by the Church to continue practicing and leading congregations.  What happened to the mother?  She was forced to sign a "secret" agreement, and had to fight the church to help get funding for her son’s cancer treatments, which they kept arguing "was not their responsibility."

    Pretty "pro-life" huh?

     

     

  • ahunt

    Jim…you cannot be suggesting that "pregnancy" is "healthy" for women. Are you?

  • crowepps

    For non-viable fetus or molar pregnancy, I don’t agree with you but can understand your position. 

    You don’t agree that abortion is necessary in cases of molar pregnancy?  There isn’t anything involved to be considered a "fetus", there is no "beating heart", there is instead only a cancer attempting to invade the woman and kill her.  What’s your justification for why these women, the only ‘life’ involved in the situation, should be left to die?

    Although gestational trophoblastic tumours (GTTs) usually start in the womb, they are very different from a cancer of the womb. Womb cancer develops from the cells that make up the womb, whereas a GTT grows from the tissue that forms in your womb when you are pregnant. GTT can be non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).

    Gestation just means pregnancy. Trophoblastic describes cells that are part of the normal development of a baby. Usually, after a sperm fertilises an egg, new cells grow. These cells form an embryo. As the embryo grows, its cells start to specialise. Some cells start to form the baby (foetus) and others form the placenta. The first layer of cells that develops into the placenta is called the trophoblast.

    If you have a GTT, some trophoblastic cells grow abnormally and develop into a tumour. In a molar pregnancy, the foetus either doesn’t develop at all, or is abnormal and not able to grow normally. These tumours can spread outside your womb.

    http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/type/GTT/about-gestational-trophoblastic-tumours

  • crowepps

    Faithful Catholics believe that human life is sacred from conception to natural death and direct abortion intended as means or an end is always inherentley evil.

     

    Oh, I get it.  Direct abortion is unnatural death and that is evil, but the someone not getting medical care is natural death through neglect which is far less of a problem, sad but acceptable.  So it’s not the death per se that’s the problem, it’s the fact that somebody had the temerity to make a DECISION.  I do understand that the Church insists faithful Catholic laity should avoid actual thinking and instead just do what they’re told by the Church as embodying Teaching Authority.  That’s why I’m not a Catholic.

  • crowepps

    Maybe the Catholics would be more comfortable with the whole subject if there was an amendment to exclude ‘faithful Catholics’ from receiving government managed health care altogether.  Health care in and of itself being in opposition to God’s Will and all.

    Anyone else here remember the historical curiosity of the Catholic Church adamently opposing any medical care which involved cutting into the body because "the Church abhors the shedding of blood.”

    http://www.cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/White/medicine/opposition.html

  • crowepps

    First, the Bishops haven’t been at all shy about doing "public relations" in opposition to abortion, so I don’t think they’re quite as naive as you think.

     

    Secondly, the idea that the Church does more than anybody to promote women’s and prenatal health is laughable on its face since their absolute rejection of reliable contraception and condoms to protect against sexually transmitted disease are a rejection of the most effective means of preserving women and children’s health.  Shoving someone into a fire and then demanding credit for the ‘goodness’ of being willing to treat the resulting burns is, frankly, something only religion could get away with, since religion both inculcates and demands cognitive dissonance.

     

    Your belief that the Catholic Church will ever, at any time, ‘get around to ordaining women’ totally ignores the male supremacy on which its authoritarianism is based.  In my opinion, before the Church fathers could accept the ordination of women, they would have to admit that the entire concept of an authoritarian heirarchy as presently constructed has no support at all in any of Christ’s teachings.

  • paul-bradford

    It is just that opposing such a grave evil, such as abortion, is more important.

     

    Inman,

     

    Procured abortion is an assault to the dignity of humankind and it constitutes a systematic injustice against a disadvantaged minority group.  Obviously it must be opposed.  It shouldn’t matter whether a person is Catholic or not, anyone who’s human should take a stand in support of the very young.

     

    I wonder, though, what you think about the lengths we should go to oppose this grave evil.  Do you think it makes sense to reject certain strategies for opposing abortion on the grounds that they’re unfeasible, inappropriate or likely to be ineffective?

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • jodi-jacobson

    Sorry, Paul, but you are wrong here.

     

    First, over 75,000 women die each year from complications of unsafe abortion, one fourth of all maternal deaths.  Don’t know where you get your stats from.

     

    Second, many times (many times) that number experience disability and illness and infertility and other outcomes from complications of unsafe abortion….known as maternal morbility from these complications.

     

    Third, lack of family planning for birth spacing, and something that the public health and demographic community has long called "too early, too frequently, too many" encapsulates the dilemma faced by women–many of whom actually are young girls–who under social pressure are made to get pregnant too early and without access to family planning and because societies still see them as baby machines and nothing more have too many children too closely spaced together….leading to and contributing to a range of complications that often result in maternal mortality and morbidity.  Emergency obstetric care, to which you refer above, is but one part of the issue; the other is called *prevention* and the Church does not do that, as you know, which would be one thing, but they don’t want anyone else to do it either.

     

    I call that an immoral imposition of one set of beliefs on another person.

     

    Putting money completely aside, it is the mysogynistic policies of both the United States as supported by the Church and fundamentalist evangelicals and countries that deny women their rights that matter more than money.  You can throw any amount of money you want at a bad policy and never solve the problem.

     

    And you didn’t even try to address–probably for good reason as there is no possibly supportable rebuttal–the fact that the Church also opposes effective prevention for HIV, which again is increasingly a leading cause of maternal mortality.

     

    Bottom line: when it comes to sex and reproduction, the Church acts against the human rights and health of half the worlds’ population, which I find immoral on its face.

     

    Jodi 

  • paul-bradford

    their absolute rejection of reliable contraception and condoms to protect against sexually transmitted disease are a rejection of the most effective means of preserving women and children’s health.

     

    crowepps,

     

    You certainly don’t have to convince me that the promotion of condom use is an effective method of slowing the transmission of AIDS and other STI’s.  Do I have to convince you that the suppression of promiscuity and infidelity is an even MORE effective method of reducing transmission rates?  Conservatives and liberals have been wrestling with the question of whether the benefits of condom use outweigh the drawbacks its promotion put on efforts to increase abstinence and faithfulness.

     

    I think it’s very sad that both sides are guilty of skewing the data in an effort to arrive at a preordained conclusion.  This question is not a question that should be put to a theologian or to a political ideologue.  It needs to be put to an economist.  Economists are the best people to assess risk/benefit tradeoffs.

     

    If there were no danger of STI’s or unwanted conceptions would it still be a good idea for the society to suppress promiscuity and infidelity?  That’s where there’s a big difference in opinion — and the fight against AIDS (and, I dare say, the fight against procured abortion) takes a back seat to that debate. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    Do I have to convince you that the suppression of promiscuity and infidelity is an even MORE effective method of reducing transmission rates?

     

    Well, yeah, actually, because based on the historical evidence, the suppression of promiscuity and infidelity doesn’t work, and the methods used, generally speaking, are harshly punitive to women and children while letting men pretty much off the hook.  I would certainly be interested in your suggestion of how to put in a place a process for "the suppression of promiscuity and infidelity" in which the punishments are directed entirely towards the men involved.

    This question is not a question that should be put to a theologian or to a political ideologue.

     

    There aren’t ANY questions which can usefully be directed to a theologian or political ideologue, since neither one can give a rational answer but rather only a reflexive ‘absolute truth’ all too often totally unconnected with reality.  Personally, I think the proper persons to be making determinations about these issues are doctors who are educated in and specialize in public health and epidemiology.

    If there were no danger of STI’s or unwanted conceptions would it still be a good idea for the society to suppress promiscuity and infidelity?

    With absolutely no downside from a public health or public services standpoint, I can see no reason whatsoever that ‘society’ would need to get involved in the issue at all.  Religion, of course, would continue to fulminate against people ’contaminating’ themselves by ‘behaving like animals’ and indulging in ‘sinful pleasure’, but then religion seems to be pretty much focused on outrage over humanity being composed of humans.

     "I love humanity.  It’s people I can’t stand."  Lucy VanPelt

  • crowepps

    Bottom line: when it comes to sex and reproduction, the Church acts against the human rights and health of half the worlds’ population, which I find immoral on its face.

    Perhaps you’re distracted by giving that half the world’s population "a certain human weight" which the Church has ruled irrelevant when those lives are opposed to its laws, discipline and doctrine of the faith, all of which, so far as I can see, should be germane only to Catholics.

     

  • inman

    @Jodi "I am still mystified as to why it is that the Church can’t stop at: "we do not believe, therefore we won’t do," to "we do not believe, therefore no one else can do."

     

    For the same reason, the abolitionists didn’t stop at personally not owning slaves, but let others make the choice whether or not to own other human beings. Personally not buying a slave just wasn’t enough. It was necessary to try as best they could to keep human beings from being treated as slaves, as mere object.

     

    Likewise, merely not personnally participating in the evil of abortion isn’t enough. It is necessary that we try as best as we can to protect the innocent children that are the victims of abortion.

  • paul-bradford

    Sorry, Paul, but you are wrong here.

     

    First, over 75,000 women die each year from complications of unsafe abortion, one fourth of all maternal deaths. Don’t know where you get your stats from.

     

    Jodi, 

     

    As it happens, I misremembered the number that Guttmacher published in the report they released on October 13.  They reported that 70,000 women die from complications related to abortion.  The 560,000 number I got from Nicholas D. Kristof’s Half The Sky.  

     

    My numbers indicate that one eighth (70,000/560,000) of maternal deaths are related to abortion, you claim the fraction is one fourth.  Why are we fighting about it?  My point is that if you legalized abortion in countries where women are dying from illegal, unsafe abortions the women there would then be dying from legal, unsafe abortions.  Obstetric care is unsafe in third world countries whether the obstetric procedures are legal or not.  As you point out, many women who don’t die from unsafe obstetric care develop crippling physical handicaps.  Again, this is for both legal and illegal procedures.  The solution isn’t to legalize abortion, the solution is to provide adequate women’s health services.

     

    If we disagree about anything here it’s over whether you’re being overly optimistic about the improvement in care women would realize if abortion became legal in 3rd World countries.

     

    The Church has a mission to remind each of us that we are to devote our lives to justice and compassion.  I’m going to remind you, Jodi, that you too should devote your life to justice and compassion; and as you and I discuss just and compassionate care for poor women worldwide I’m going to suggest that the priorities should be 1) education, 2) health care, and 3) developing the social network needed to combat the machismo attitude that is prevalent in developing countries.

     

    I’m going to tell you — not because I dislike you, but because I believe women in developing countries deserve to have their real needs addressed — that a ‘reproductive rights’ approach to care is simply not going to cut it.  The problems are too deep and too complex.

     

    I know what you’re talking about when you bring up, "too early, too frequently, too many"; but you’re not going to be able to address that problem with contraception.  Women need educations.  They need genuine opportunities when they’re in their teens and young twenties.  Generally, in poor countries, they’ve got no good alternative to having babies.  It’s the trap of poverty — and they’re not getting out of that trap unless we care more than we do. 

     

    If you care, you should stop griping about the Church (which is doing something) and start griping about the people who actually don’t give a damn. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • ahunt

    You know, it is entertaining that the opposition here apparently does not want to take up the question of whether “pregnancy,” normal and otherwise, is actually “healthy” for women.

    Why is that?

  • inman

    @ crowepps "So it’s not the death per se that’s the problem, it’s the fact that somebody had the temerity to make a DECISION."  

     

    Morally speaking that is correct, although I object to your use of "temerity." Take the example of people killed in car crashes.  Some are the result of an accident. In such accients, no one intends to harm the person that was killed. Certainly a tragedy, but it is not immoral. However, if the driver of a car intentionally speeds up and makes a decision to run down and kill another person, it is murder and is immoral.

    Our criminal law recognizes this distinction all the time. There is no crime in the first scenario, and a very grave one in the second. If intentionally running down people to kill them wasn’t a crime, I assure you the Church would be for making it illegal.

     

    However, the Church has long advocated for universal access to health care, and still does so today; so you can’t blame it for people dying due to lack of access to health care.

     

    I will admit that some on the right may be using abortion subsidies to kill health care reform, but the Church isn’t.

  • paul-bradford

    In the institutional Catholic Church’s own practices there is much to be desired as against what they profess.

     

    Jodi,

     

    If you expect me to waste any of my precious time defending hypocrites you’re going to be disappointed.  Take it from me, if you made it your business to catalogue the hypocrisy, stupidity and cowardice of Catholics over the years you wouldn’t have time to do anything else.  You’d also be completely defended against the claims of the very young to justice.

     

    Complaining about the Church is a distraction.  The main event is figuring out how we’re going to uphold each other’s human rights. 

     

    I am still mystified as to why it is that the Church can’t stop at: "we do not believe, therefore we won’t do," to "we do not believe, therefore no one else can do."

     

    The bumper sticker response is, "If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one." or "If you don’t believe in sex trafficking, don’t keep a fifteen year old Indonesian girl locked in your basement."  Problem with that logic is, the girl has a stake in the issue and so does the fetus.  It’s not just about the liberty of the person who’s violating someone else’s bodily autonomy, it’s also about the person whose bodily autonomy is being violated.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • inman

    I agree, you don’t even need to be religious to oppose abortion.  You need only open your eye see abortion it for what it truly is. I was addressing the issue of the Catholic faith because the main topic of the article this discussion is about deals with the Catholic Bishops.

     

    As to your question about strategies for opposing abortion, I will agree there is a prudential question of how to oppose abortion that there can be more than one right answer to.  For example, one could choose to focus ones energies on providing a positive witness to those considering abortion, to the exclsion of other pro life activities such as lobbying, campaigns, etc.

     

    The caveat is of course is that you cannot choose to take any action that cooperates in abortion or makes it more available, or affirmatively oppose efforts restrict access to abortion.

     

    In the context of a Catholic politician, I think it is legitmate to focus efforts on pregnacy support, prenatal care, economic help to poor mothers, etc. to reduce the demand for abortion on the theory that such laws are more likely to pass, rather than spending one’s energies supporting a constitutional amendment overturning Roe v. Wade, or extending all constitutional rights and legal protection to children from the moment of conception.  However, when confronted with a potential law that makes abortion more available, provides subsidies for abortion, etc. the politician must always vote against such measures, even if it means voting against other very worthwhile measures lumped in with the provision increase access to abortion. The converse applies to laws restricting access to abortion.

     

    So the Catholic politician might be able to legitimately choose to not to introduce a constitutional amendment overturning Roe v. Wade, but if someone else introduces it and it comes up for a vote, the Catholic politician must vote for it.

  • julie-watkins

    erty by a sexist/classist worldview that says even though Nature is Sexist it’s unethical to say "Hey, the rules aren’t fair!" I’m sick and tired of being told that women and poor people are community property … and we’re being selfish for asking for fairness. Giving birth (giving life) is a gift. I have cannot fathom the cruelty of any philosophy that says it’s immoral and selfish to point out the rules aren’t fair and it’s immoral and selfish to want a compromise, … and won’t admit to cummulative harm of the millenia of sexism & classism, but rather just mutters hollow platitudes about "a certain human weight" … but insists the rules "can’t" be changed.

  • emma

    My jaw almost literally dropped to the floor when Jim Grant, anti-choicer, suggested that abortion isn’t ok for molar pregnancies. ‘Extremist’ doesn’t even begin to cover that position; ‘raging lunacy’ seems more appropriate but not quite sufficient to describe the utterly crazed stupidity of believing that terminating a molar pregnancy is wrong.

     

    I’m not generally shocked by stuff I read on here as I’ve kind of grown accustomed to wingnuttery, but Jim Grant, trophoblastic tumour-worshipper extraordinaire, made me blink.

  • jgbeam

    I should have investigated before stating opposition to abortion for molar pregnancy.  There appears to be no chance of fetal development and high risk to the mother. I agree that abortion in this case is the proper action and that it is health care.

    Thank you for informing me.

    Jim Grant, Pro-lifer

  • jgbeam

    What’s your point?  There certainly are health issues involved with pregnancy, but I wouldn’t label pregnancy as either healthy or unhealthy. If you force me to pick one or the other, I pick healthy because pregnancy brings forth new life.

     

    Jim Grant, Pro-lifer

  • ahunt

    Once again…you “disappear” women, Jim. Pregnancy is unhealthy for women, but that’s okay, because new life comes from forcing unwilling women into maintaining an unhealthy condition.

    And you never did answer my question from awhile back: What do you say to women who do not want to be pregnant, or give birth, and are determined that they will not do so?

    What do you say to them, Jim?

  • jgbeam

    from your point of view.  As for your question, don’t have sex during fertile periods.  And don’t tell me that doesn’t work.

     

    Jim Grant, Pro-lifer

  • ahunt

    No, pregnancy is unhealthy.

     

    And…too late. The deed is done. So what do you say to women who want an abortion, Jim?

  • crowepps

    I don’t think anybody but a lunatic would argue that it is ‘healthier’ to be pregnant than to be not pregnant, all that nonsense about how pregnant women *glow* set aside – actually trying to control your urge to vomit makes you break out in a sweat.

  • crowepps

    It would certainly work a great deal better if men didn’t have sex during THEIR fertile periods.

  • crowepps

    My guess:

     

    "Everything that isn’t forbidden is compulsory.

    Anything that isn’t compulsory is forbidden."

  • crowepps

    However, the Church has long advocated for universal access to health care, and still does so today; so you can’t blame it for people dying due to lack of access to health care.

    I’m not interrested in ‘blaming’ the Church for anything, but it certainly isn’t my understanding that all Catholic hospitals provide patients with free care.  If they want to provide ‘universal access to health care’ they have their own in-house success – the example of the Catholic St. Jude’s Hospital which solicits donations to make health care free for all infants and children treated there.  If they emulated this at all their other hospitals that would be a good first step.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Paul,

    Several issues here, some with regard to the issue of obstetric care and others with regard to values and assumptions.

    My point is that if you legalized abortion in countries where women are dying from illegal, unsafe abortions the women there would then be dying from legal, unsafe abortions. Obstetric care is unsafe in third world countries whether the obstetric procedures are legal or not. As you point out, many women who don’t die from unsafe obstetric care develop crippling physical handicaps. Again, this is for both legal and illegal procedures. The solution isn’t to legalize abortion, the solution is to provide adequate women’s health services.

    This is just blatantly untrue and you are mixing up different factors in high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity to support an ideological point. Moreover there is no either/or here.  Women need access to safe, legal abortion and good health services, including emergency obstetric care.

     

    First, early abortion is among the safest medical procedures and is far safer than pregnancy.  This is a fact, though irrelevant in some respects because we are comparing unwanted pregnancy with wanted pregnancy, but nonetheless needs to be underscored.

     

    Early abortion care also is relatively simple and vacuum aspiration techniques needed in the field have been developed and widely tested.   Emergency obstetric care, which is most likely required later in a pregnancy and certainly in cases of obstructed labor, hemorrhage and other situations ultimately requires highly-trained medical intervention (a trained nurse-midwive or auxiliary nurse-midwife can give intermediate care, but in emergency cases there will often be the need for blood supplies, oxygen, perhaps a caesarean section, and so forth).

     

    This is not true of early abortion care, which can be done by trained nurse-practitioners and made more widely accessible if we desired to do so and if anyone with the means actually cared.

     

    Indeed if it weren’t for the insanities of US international policy supported by the Catholic Church and fundamentalist evangelicals (and you too perhaps?), organizations that have created these technologies and tested them in the field could be providing training and care and saving the lives of countless women tomorrow at relatively little cost.

     

    When abortion is legalized and providers are trained and don’t have to hide out from either legal prosecution or anti-choice attackers, complications of unsafe abortion drop dramatically.  There is so much data on this in so many countries, that it is pointless to even debate.  It is proven by the public health data.  if you want to save women’s lives tomorrow, then one of the first things you would do is ensure that no woman seeking an abortion must undergo an unsafe, untrained back-alley, back of hut procedure.

     

    So I am not being overly optimistic: I have spent nearly 30 years working for and learning from some of the most dedicated and recognized public health and medical professionals in many countries. 

    The Church has a mission to remind each of us that we are to devote our
    lives to justice and compassion.  I’m going to remind you, Jodi, that
    you too should devote your life to justice and compassion; and as you
    and I discuss just and compassionate care for poor women worldwide I’m
    going to suggest that the priorities should be 1) education, 2) health
    care, and 3) developing the social network needed to combat the
    machismo attitude that is prevalent in developing countries.

    First of all, while I have learned much from Catholic friends and colleagues and hope to continue to do so, I am not Catholic, and the  institutional Catholic Church has nothing to remind me of nor do i desire to be "reminded" of anything by them.

    And thanks for the suggestion but as someone who again has spent my working life working with and for women’s groups and women’s health and rights, and helping to represent to US policymakers what women in different settings articulate as their greatest concerns, I believe I have been working for justice and compassion.  I just have a *very* different definition of what that constitutes and what is required than you do.  

    You state:

    I know what you’re talking about when you bring up, "too early, too
    frequently, too many"; but you’re not going to be able to address that
    problem with contraception.  Women need educations.  They need genuine
    opportunities when they’re in their teens and young twenties.
    Generally, in poor countries, they’ve got no good alternative to
    having babies.  It’s the trap of poverty — and they’re not getting out
    of that trap unless we care more than we do. 

    This is again a classic mistake or perhaps the preference of the anti-choice community to change the subject.  Women *want* and have human rights to education, health care, economic opportunities, freedom from violence, and all the rest.  They also *want* and have rights to decide whether or not they get married (leaving aside for a second that we are by default talking mostly about heterosexual women because gay, lesbian, and transgender persons are being denied the right to marry and plan families at every turn by the Church.)  They *want* to be able to have sex with their partners and avoid pregnancy unless and until they are ready to have a child or another child.  One thing does not cancel out the other.  Indeed, education and economic opportunities make access to family planning all the more necessary because more women will spend more time in their lives trying to avoid a pregnancy and so contraception is essential to those who choose to use it.  

    In regard to this statement?

    I believe women in developing countries deserve to have their real needs addressed — that a ‘reproductive rights‘ approach to care is simply not going to cut it.  The problems are too deep and too complex.

    I really don’t know where to start.  I guess you have to ignore presence of women’s movements in virtually every country fighting for the rights of women across the board and indivisibly (reproductive and sexual rights, economic rights, education rights, rights to be free from violence, rights to self-determination) and the fact that one of the first things women name when asked what their priorities are is family planning (not alone, but among other things that are their priorities).

    Pitting one set of rights against the other creates a deeply false dichotomy because these rights are indivisible.

    If you care, you should stop griping about the Church (which is
    doing something) and start griping about the people who actually don’t
    give a damn.

    In response to this I can only say I don’t think the Church gives a damn, and I will stop griping about the Bishops and the Church as soon as they stop trying to defeat the basic human rights of women, and LGBT persons across the planet.

     

    Jodi

     

     

    Bishops and the Chur

     

  • crowepps

    Morally speaking that is correct, although I object to your use of "temerity." 

     

    I was going to let this pass but I can’t resist asking, just WHY do you object to my use of the word temerity?  As I understand Catholic Teaching (and that of other authoritarian religions), all moral questions have already been resolved by theologians, and the response in the laity to one arising is restricted to selection of a pre-approved answer from the ’List of Moral Rules’, so the act of personally weighing the actual facts in reality and attempting to decide for oneself is indeed considered ‘rash and reckless’.

     

    (sarcasm on)

    As most attempts by the laity to actually use the reason God gave them seem to be considered, actually.  Look where thinking has led you personally, to the shocking heresies of supporting ordination of women, married priests, all sorts of other breaches of the ‘moral rules’ for True Catholics.  Why, you actually dared to made a comment about hypocrisy in connection with your religious superiors and disapproved of the way the Bishops handled the problem of pedophiles.  Next you’ll be suggesting that it might be helpful to the Bishops to listen to the laity as though the laity had any opinons worth listening to and the Church were some sort of democracy!

    (sarcasm off)

    This sort of thing just can’t be tolerated, and they’re trying to stamp it out as fast as possible by promoting the use of civil law, the police and the prisons to force the laity back into line, along with all those other people who may not yet be Catholic, but would be ‘much happier if they were converted’.

  • paul-bradford

    This is just blatantly untrue and you are mixing up different factors in high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity to support an ideological point.

     

    Jodi,

     

    Take a deep breath and consider the fact that I’ve been listening to folks on the Choice side "mixing up different factors" when presenting statistics from countries that are 1) desperately poor 2) misogynistic in ways that have nothing to do with abortion 3) anti-abortion and 4) have a lot of abortion related deaths.  These stats get bandied about constantly and, except when I read my own posts, I’ve never seen anyone on the Life side point out that factors 1 & 2 could be causing 4 instead of 3 being the cause of 4.

     

    The reason the folks on the Choice side take a ‘fair and balanced’ approach in their statistical presentation is that they’re trying to make an ideological point.  My explanation wouldn’t seem ‘ideological’ to you if you weren’t so used to the ideological skewing that gets done constantly from the other side.

     

    You do realize, please tell me you realize, that the country with the LOWEST rate of maternal mortality is Ireland and abortion is illegal there.  Also, India has a high rate of maternal mortality (including deaths related to abortion) and abortion is legal there.  Can you see why I conclude that the problem isn’t laws, the problem is the health care delivery system?

     

    You probably have heard enough from me to realize that I’m not a big fan anti-abortion laws.  I don’t believe they’re effective.  I believe that social supports for women and families as well as comprehensive birth control does a better job of lowering the abortion rate.  I think my Church is wrong on the issue of birth control and I think that many of the strategies they’ve endorsed for opposing abortion are misguided.  Just the same, though, the Church is right on the money on the most important point which is that people with no claim to power still have a claim to justice.

     

    First of all, while I have learned much from Catholic friends and colleagues and hope to continue to do so, I am not Catholic, and the institutional Catholic Church has nothing to remind me of nor do i desire to be "reminded" of anything by them.

     

    And thanks for the suggestion but as someone who again has spent my working life working with and for women’s groups and women’s health and rights, and helping to represent to US policymakers what women in different settings articulate as their greatest concerns, I believe I have been working for justice and compassion. I just have a *very* different definition of what that constitutes and what is required than you do.

     

    Our definitions aren’t that different.  It’s obvious to me how hard you work for the well being of women and since I’m someone with a mother, a wife, a sister and a daughter I can be nothing but grateful for your efforts.  Furthermore, since my number one charitable focus is on the health and education of girls and women in Third World countries I truly appreciate the gains you have been able to make.

     

    Just the same, though, compassion knows no discrimination.  You want to make women’s lives better.  I want to make women’s lives better in ways that don’t make anyone else’s lives worse.  My take on you is that you’re somebody whose devotion to justice and compassion is limited by your moral blind spot.  I certainly don’t want you to flag in your determination to promote the betterment of women, I simply want to encourage you to hope that we can realize this betterment without putting anyone else down. 

     

    I can only say I don’t think the Church gives a damn, and I will stop griping about the Bishops and the Church as soon as they stop trying to defeat the basic human rights of women, and LGBT persons across the planet.

     

    I’ll give you one with respect to LGBT issues.  The Church was wrong 400 years ago when it said the earth doesn’t move and it’s wrong now in saying that homosexuals are "inherently disordered".

     

    On the other hand, though, your wrong, wrong, wrong in saying that the Church doesn’t care about the health and education of women.  Often they’re the most ‘pro-woman’ force in ‘anti-woman’ cultures.

     

    Do you realize how you look when you claim that the Church doesn’t "give a damn"?  I’d love for you to prove me wrong on this but you’ve never shown the least indication that you give a damn about the young people who are in the tough position of having been conceived by mothers who regret the conception.  I just don’t see you giving your moral muscles a workout at the thought of a mother ending the life of her child.  It’s almost as if you’re in denial about the fact that you were once young yourself.

     

    Or perhaps you labor under the delusion that our moral worth is bestowed on us by our mothers — and that people who were lucky enough to come around when it was an ‘appropriate time’ for their mothers count whereas people who are unlucky enough to come around at a bad time do not count.  How fair is that?

     

    I was one of the lucky ones.  When I was conceived, my mother wanted me, my father wanted me, my grandparents wanted me, my aunts and uncles wanted me.  I entered into a very baby-hungry family.  Does that mean I matter more than folks who didn’t have my advantages? 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • julie-watkins
    I don’t know for sure and I may be wrong, but I don’t think Ireland tracks down and fines or imprisons women who go outside Ireland to get abortions. So, despite the anti-abortion laws, I would call abortion in Ireland more "inconvienient" than "illegal" — so I don’t think your statistic really proves what you want it to prove.
  • crowepps

    You do realize, please tell me you realize, that the country with the LOWEST rate of maternal mortality is Ireland and abortion is illegal there.

    You do realize, I hope, that, first, contraception is widely and easily available; second, that when the life of the mother is at risk abortion is  legal in Ireland, and third, that several thousand Irish women a year hop a boat to England and have safe legal abortions there.

     

  • jodi-jacobson

    Women in Ireland travel to London, France and other European countries for abortions at high rates. Geographically in the case of Ireland the legality of abortion is rendered less relevant–rates of abortion and fertility rates in Ireland prove the case–though women’s groups continue to work for women’s rights to abortion.

    Access to safe abortion services in India is a well known issue. Laws do not solve the problem, they merely create the platform for doing so.  Women’s legal rights to abortion are a necessary but not sufficient condition.  Women in urban areas have much greater access and more wealthy states have better services than poorer states with more remote populations.

    The Indian government is well aware of this issue–which is an issue with virtually *all* primary health care–and addressing access to safe abortion services is something that is discussed openly and is part of their public health plan.

     

    And the difference Paul is that I do not use "pro-choice" data.   I look at demographic and public health data and medical findings and social science research, and talk to people who live in and among others who work every day in situations of poverty, lack of access to health care, and so forth and learn from all of those to make an informed opinion.

    My only agenda is to expand the rights, health, and autonomy of women and let them make the best decisions for themselves.  I came to these positions by learning problems from the data.  I did not arrive at a position and then use only the data that fit my case.

  • paul-bradford

    All three of you made my point for me.  Where women have access to adequate health care, the illegality of abortion isn’t much of a hinderance; and where women can not access adequate health care, the legality of abortion isn’t much of a help.

     

    I am very quick to call out Pro-Lifers when they claim that imposing legal restrictions to abortion will save a lot of lives and I am just as quick to call out Pro-Choicers when they claim that removing legal restrictions to abortion will save a lot of lives.

     

    If we’re going to save lives we’re going to have to wake up to the fact that women need and deserve a lot more help than most of the advocates on either side are willing to admit.  Suggesting to a woman that she can solve her problems by ending the life of her child isn’t really offering much in the way of help, is it?  Saying to a woman, "You got what you deserve" isn’t helping either.  I fault both sides for being stingy with authentic concern.

     

    By the way, Jodi, I fully support a woman’s right to "make the best decisions" for herself when it comes to her own body. When she’s making decisions about somebody else’s body she doesn’t advance the cause of autonomy by destroying that body. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • ahunt

    Suggesting to a woman that she can solve her problems by ending the
    life of her child isn’t really offering much in the way of help, is it?
     

     

    Sigh…were such the case, you would essentially be claiming that Julie, crowepps and Jodi do not trust women to know what is best for them.

     

    As such is demonstrably NOT THE CASE, I "suggest"  that you not assign motives…where no evidence exists.

  • emma

    Speaking of those, Paul, you have a couple, I think. One is that zygotes are people and that I should be any more concerned with their rights than I am with the rights of a dustmite. Sorry, but my concern for ‘the unborn’ is entirely outweighed by my concern for women. Where those rights conflict, women’s rights are always more important than a zygote’s or foetus’s ‘right’ to live/borrow women’s bodies.

     

    Your second blind spot is that your church is a force for good in the world, which is demonstrably rubbish. When they start advocating for HIV prevention methods that work (condoms) and stop insisting that nine-year-old girls should be forced to continue pregnancies that are going to kill them, stop making foetuses their most important priority, start advocating for the rights of LGBT people, stop covering up paedophilia, and give women full equality in their church -i.e. ordain female priests, bishops, cardinals, popes, and whatever other officials they have, and god knows what else that I’m probably forgetting – then, perhaps, I’ll agree that they’re a force for good. Until then, I’ll see the church as a grossly wealthy, authoritarian, misogynistic, homophobic, foetus-obsessed, HIV-propagating paedophile ring.

     

    You cannot separate reproductive rights from the right to equality in education and employment, to comprehensive health care, the right to live free from violence, the right not to be subjected to child marriage, the right not to be subjected to rape as a weapon of war, and so on and so forth. There’s a reason the right to access safe and legal abortion is a major indicator of women’s status in a given society. It’s unbelievably paternalistic of you to suggest that women in the developing world are going to have abortions because we’re suggesting it; women are going to have them anyway. Why can you not understand that?

     

    You keep insisting that abortion wouldn’t exist without social pressures for women to have them, without considering that women are also subject to huge amounts of social pressure to reproduce. Perhaps without that pressure, more women would have abortions. Who knows? I don’t. You don’t either; you just want to believe that basically, in the absence of any pressure, women would have an innate preference to continue an unplanned pregnancy rather than terminate it. I call bullshit on that. Plenty of us just do not share your idea that zygotes are microscopic people whose conception is of huge cosmic significance. If religion and supernatural beliefs in sky-fairies ceased to exist, IMO, people would all realise that humans are just like any other animals, and that a zygote is just a few cells. In other words, beliefs like yours would be the ones that would die out.

     

    But you’re just going to continue to write in newspeak circles…

  • inman

    @crowepps Perhaps I misunderstood your meaning. By the use of temerity, I thought you were being sarcasitc, and implying that Church’s issue was who was making the decision (the laity, women, etc.) rather than substance of the issues. If I misunderstood, my apologies. My laptop battery is dying, so I will have to respond to the rest of your post later.

  • paul-bradford

    Blind spots? Speaking of those, Paul, you have a couple, I think.

     

    Emma,

     

    I’ve been thinking about your post since I read it last night.

     

    I wish I could help you see how your comment looks to me.  You see, I’m looking at a living human body and I see a sister or brother in the human family.  You look at that same human body and you see a dust mite.  And you conclude that I have a blind spot.

     

    There’s no way for you to escape the realization that the body you have now is the same body you had when you were a zygote, and the person you were when you had a zygote body is the same person you are now.  

     

    There are plenty of people with zygote bodies right this very minute.  A lot of them are going to die, but some of them will live — and before you know it they’re going to be going to high school, writing term papers about the rise of feminism in Australia.  When you read one of those papers you’re going to be surprised at how good it is and you’ll think to yourself, "Hey this youngster is a real person!"  But s/he was a person all along — you just didn’t realize it.

     

    My gripe with some of the people I converse with on this ‘site is that a lot of you have a limited view of the power of love.  You’re afraid that if you extend compassion or the right of justice to the very young you’ll have to deny justice and compassion to their mothers.  I don’t think that’s true.  I think we can figure out how to improve the lives of women without having to end the lives of their children.

     

    The way I see it, I’d be doing you a favor to help you see past your blind spots.

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    Suggesting to a woman that she can solve her problems by ending the life of her child isn’t really offering much in the way of help, is it?

    This is just the most recent post in which you assert that those who support a woman’s right to make her own choices are ‘suggesting’ or ‘encouraging’ or ‘promoting’ abortion. Women already KNOW about abortion, Paul. There are no ideologues lurking in the pregnancy test aisle of the grocery store handing out “Abortion – A Loving Choice” or “Why You Should Get An Abortion” pamphlets. Women not only know about abortion, they actively seek out and will go to extreme lengths in order to obtain one.

     

    There isn’t anyone that I know of, outside of China, who is forcing abortions on women. From your posts, you are already aware that what suggests or encourages or promotes abortion is actually social injustice endemic in our system which inequitably places the majority of the burden for reproduction, physically, emotionally, financially and personally, on women. You will get a lot farther in your stated aim of ‘saving zygotes’ by continuing to work on those social injustices instead of concentrating on barring a SOLUTION which women voluntarily choose because it is physically safer, emotionally easier, financially cheaper and personally under their control.

     

    Your ‘solution’ of ‘making women understand the zygote is a person‘ ignores entirely the physical investment women make in pregnancy and the risk to their lives, is based on manipulating their feelings, fails to recognize that $400 is a lot easier to come up with than $8,000 to $10,000, and puts the woman in a position where total strangers feel free to invade her space, make intrusive comments, pat her belly and babble offensive ‘advice’. For a woman who wants a child, these things are a sore trial but she grits her teeth and tolerates – for a woman who does NOT want a child, they are unbearable. Pregnant women are NOT public property, they have no obligation to cater to the sentimentality of others, and they have the same rights as any other free citizen to bodily integrity and making decisions about their medical care.

  • crowepps

    Where do you get a figure of 2%?  Ectopic pregnancy alone occurs at a rate of 2% of pregnancies.  Including all other life-threatening complications of pregnancy or conditions under which women can’t be treated for other health problems while pregnant and cases where the fetus is dead or non-viable is going to elevate the percentage considerably.

     

    In my opinion, whether or not an abortion is ‘health care’ is a determination to be made in individual cases by the physician and woman involved without other people intruding into the privacy of that decision because it’s NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS.

  • crowepps

    The thing that I find shocking is that people who pontificate about how they are qualified to be the moral arbiters of the decisions of pregnant women seem to be almost universally grossly ignorant of the details of pregnancy and its complications.  You would think that someone who has passionate beliefs about morality would have at least some understanding of what exactly it is they’re talking about.  Of course, that assumes that if they did know, that they would care.

  • paul-bradford

    you assert that those who support a woman’s right to make her own choices are ‘suggesting’ or ‘encouraging’ or ‘promoting’ abortion. Women already KNOW about abortion, Paul. There are no ideologues lurking in the pregnancy test aisle of the grocery store handing out "Abortion – A Loving Choice" or "Why You Should Get An Abortion" pamphlets. Women not only know about abortion, they actively seek out and will go to extreme lengths in order to obtain one.

     

    There isn’t anyone that I know of, outside of China, who is forcing abortions on women.

     

    crowepps,

     

    Is that what you thought I meant.  Is that really, truly, honestly what you thought I meant when I pointed out that the suggestion of an abortion isn’t much help to a woman facing an unwanted pregnancy?

     

    Oy!

     

    Let’s deconstruct this.  I’m sure we can agree that women procure abortions for all kinds of reasons and that those reasons fall into two basic categories.  Category A is ‘abortions for medical necessity’ and Category B is ‘abortions in response to an unwanted pregnancy’.  

     

    If we’re going to consider the concept of ‘Choice’ we should disregard abortions in Category A.  There’s no choice when it comes to a Category A abortion.  There can be sadness, there can be heartbreak, there can be agony but there can be no choice.  A rabid Pro-Life Catholic who prays the rosary daily for the unborn but who’s unfortunate enough to have an ectopic pregnancy will get an abortion.  So, from here on out let’s disregard Category A.

     

    Category B is where the issue of choice comes in.  A woman who’s facing an unwanted pregnancy has options and my point has always been that if her society and her family and her community and her partner are supportive her options are better than they would be if she didn’t have support.  My "plan" for reducing abortions has always been to increase the supports offered to women.  These supports require something out of ‘the rest of us’ but that’s as it should be because an unwanted pregnancy isn’t a problem, merely, for the mother.  It’s a problem for all of us and all of us ought to contribute to the solution.

     

    A woman facing an unwanted pregnancy ought to have a lot of options and those options ought to be attractive (or at least bearable) to her.

     

    You and I both lived through the ‘sixties and the early ‘seventies and, as I’m sure you remember, the debate we had then about abortion was about legitimizing the abortion option for women facing unwanted pregnancy.  That’s what I’m talking about when I talk about when I talk about "suggesting abortion" — not that she should abort, but that she may abort.  In the bad old days before Roe it wasn’t a legitimate option.  Now it is.  I say that’s an easy option for those of us who aren’t pregnant because it doesn’t require much from us and it doesn’t offer much in the way of help to the ‘girl in trouble’.

     

    There are two responses to this "option".  The Pro-Choice response — which you regularly articulate — is that the abortion choice is as legitimate as any other if the woman selects it.  The response of those of us who the folks here flippantly refer to as ‘Anti-Choice’ is that some choices are legitimate and some are illegitimate.  Abortion is an illegitimate choice.  Abortion is also a choice that doesn’t offer much help to the woman making the choice. 

     

    I say that the abortion choice is illegitimate because it is immoral.  It’s immoral because it’s unjust to the person being aborted.  The folks on your side take an amoral view of the whole thing and you roll out the Bill of Rights when folks like me complain about the immorality.  You claim that your right to the free exercise of religion allows you to practice amorality and to be protected from my protestations of immorality.  I say religion is optional but morality is absolutely not optional. 

     

    you are already aware that what suggests or encourages or promotes abortion is actually social injustice endemic in our system which inequitably places the majority of the burden for reproduction, physically, emotionally, financially and personally, on women. You will get a lot farther in your stated aim of ‘saving zygotes’ by continuing to work on those social injustices instead of concentrating on barring a SOLUTION which women voluntarily choose

     

    I really don’t know what you’re asking for here.  You obviously recognize that we agree about social injustice.  I don’t have to explain to you that there are REASONS why the abortion rate is higher among women of color, among unmarried women, among poor women and among young women.  You don’t have to explain it to me, either.  You also must realize that I get truly worked up about the attitude that it’s the woman’s problem (or, worse, the woman’s fault!)  We’re going to solve the abortion problem when we act as if unwanted pregnancy is EVERYONE’S problem (and, frankly, everyone’s fault).

     

    My aim is to get people to acknowledge that ZBEF’s are persons.  What you don’t realize, though, is that I’m not trying to get some scared, Spanish speaking, sixteen year old black girl from Corpus Christi to make that realization.  I’m trying to get YOU to make that realization.  That girl is going to make choices based on the choices available to her — and the choices available to her are going to be the ones you and I make available to her.  If you don’t think a ZBEF is a person, you’re going to feel perfectly all right about making abortion one of her options.  When you realize that a ZBEF is a person you’re going to feel compelled to give her better options — and that’s going to take something out of you! 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • janine

    I think you’re right Julie….from my understanding also its illegal to perform an abortion on Irish soil but its also the right of an Irish woman to travel to obtain one.  Irish women have been relying on legal abortions, they are just performed elsewhere.  From what I recall they once tried to stop one person where they happened to know in advance that the travel was for abortion but ultimately ended up rejecting proposed restrictions on the right to travel for abortion.  Many Irish women are *not* using the generally available health care options for pregnancy on Irish soil (carry to term with prenatal/labor and delivery care – which is generally riskier than early term abortion care), nor resulting to illegal abortion, and instead they are obtaining safe, legal abortions elsewhere then returning to their country….these Irish women *are* relying on legal abortion (legal being safer than illegal) as a health care option and for these women the *legality* of abortion *somewhere* that was *accessible* is one factor in their health.

  • janine

    Category A is otherwise known as St. Gianna, right?  Instead wasn’t she sainted for refusing the choice of abortion even though her life was in danger and she did in fact die as her doctors had predicted? 

  • paul-bradford

    Dr. Molla’s case wasn’t about abortion.  When she was pregnant with her fourth child there were complications and when the time for delivery was due her obstetrician told her that both she and her child were at risk.  She insisted that if one had to die that it be her.  Her daughter, Gina Emanuela, was born and Dr. Molla did, in fact, die.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • janine

    Granted this source below isn’t her medical record, which probably isn’t publicly available, but this parish named for her says that she did refuse an abortion that was recommended in order to save her life by her doctor.

     

    http://www.stgiannaparish.org/about_st_gianna.htm

     

    And this site mentions abortion in the case, though its a single reference, in the postulatory letter on her.

     

    http://www.saintgianna.org/stgainnaspath.htm

     

  • crowepps

    And the point you regularly avoid is that we’re not talking about ‘allowing abortion’ and ‘not allowing abortion’ as a solution but instead about ‘allowing legal, safe abortion’ or ‘having illegal, unsafe abortion’ as a solution.  Abortions did not suddenly start happening in the ’50s when the United States made them legal, abortions had been happening for thousands of years in an unnecessarily risky and secret manner and as a consequence a lot of women died.

     

    The problem with determining the ‘legitimacy’ or ‘illegitimacy’, aside from the fact that by definition legal IS legitimate, is that while you have reached a balance in which IN YOUR OPINION in limited circumstances some abortions are ‘legitimate’ and in other cases ‘illegitimate’, there are those who reject that and insist that there is no abortion, under any circumstance, which is moral,  Their position on legitimacy is more extreme than yours and they think your position is illegitimate because the operation should be banned entirely and there should be no medical intervention in pregnancies unless the fetus is the only patient considered.

     

    I think you’d agree that it would be intolerable to sentence women to death by failing to provide available interventions when there is absolutely no hope whatsoever for the survival of their fetus, but there are those who disagree, including the heirarchy of your Church.  They believe that the loss of a few tens of thousands of women a year is the necessary price that needs to be paid to uphold ‘the value of human life’.

     

    In order for you to defend your personal list of exemptions to save women’s lives, you maintain a more liberal position that they.  Your right to disagree with them isn’t any different than my right to allow more circumstances and disagree with you, or of someone who’s far more liberal than I to disagree with me.

     

    The fact that there is such a wide divergence of opinion on this issue is precisely why I support the right of each person to freedom of conscience.  You just don’t seem to grasp that there is an understanding of the moral message that does NOT include a pressing need to force other people to comply with one’s personal standards.  Your assertion is that your standard of morality is the only one which is correct, and that those who are either more conservative or more liberal than you must abandon their own opinions and adopt your standard.  Doesn’t this makes your personal moral opinion the only one in the world that matters and make everyone’s else’s conscience irrelevant?

  • colleen

    Dr. Molla’s case wasn’t about abortion.

     Aside from the fact that an abortion would have saved her life, you’re correct. She’s a ‘saint’ because she  chose to sacrifice her life unnecessarily and die in great pain. 

     

     

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • paul-bradford

    And the point you regularly avoid is that we’re not talking about ‘allowing abortion’ and ‘not allowing abortion’ as a solution but instead about ‘allowing legal, safe abortion’ or ‘having illegal, unsafe abortion’ as a solution.

     

    crowepps,

     

    And, for some reason, you keep forgetting that I’m of the opinion that criminalizing abortion would be neither effective nor appropriate.  It wouldn’t even be feasible, given the political climate.  I spend enough time on Pro-Life and Catholic ‘sites arguing that efforts at criminalization are a waste of time.  I’m not sure why it’s an issue here.

     

    We ought to face the abortion problem as we do any public health and safety issue.  I’m talking here about things like road and highway safety, AIDS prevention, smoking cessation, drug control.  We ought to set goals for lowering the abortion rate and implement strategies to meet those goals.  There’s no need, in my mind, to do anything that would put women’s lives at risk. 

     

    Your right to disagree with them isn’t any different than my right to allow more circumstances and disagree with you, or of someone who’s far more liberal than I to disagree with me.

     

    It isn’t about me agreeing or disagreeing with anyone’s abortion decision.  It’s about saving lives.  It’s tragic to lose a life to abortion no matter what the circumstance is and, I believe, that in some cases the tragedy can be averted.

     

    You really don’t get it!  The problem isn’t with women exercising choice about the management of their pregnancies, the problem is with attitudes like yours, multiplied by the millions, that saving an unborn life isn’t as worthy a goal as saving a life at risk to a traffic accident, or to smoking, or to drugs or to AIDS. It’s an ageist attitude!  The problem is with millions of people lying to women and saying to them that any choice they make is equally moral.  The choice to let a person die isn’t morally equal to a choice to let them live.  Deep down, everyone knows this — yet we choose to live in a moral fog.

     

    I want women to make the choice of whether to bring their pregnancies to term.  I have never had any problem with that.  I could go my whole life without ever discussing this issue with a pregnant woman and still be able to accomplish what I set out to do which is to combat ageism and to put the lie to amorality. 

     

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    She certainly had every right to choose to save her daughter’s life even at the expense of her own.  What would be really immoral would be to take away that opportunity to choose from other women and REQUIRE that they do so.

    "Compulsion cannot produce virtue; it can only produce the outward semblance of virtue." Dinesh D’Souza

  • paul-bradford

    Aside from the fact that an abortion would have saved her life, you’re correct.

     

    colleen,

     

    If you have the advantage of 20/20 hindsight you can see how practically any woman who dies in childbirth could have saved her life if she’d had an abortion earlier on.

     

    My point is that Dr. Molla’s story isn’t about abortion.  Her biography on the Vatican website doesn’t mention anything about abortion but, instead, tells the inspiring story of a mother who risked her own life in an attempt to save her child.  You’re not going to like me saying this, but it’s well within the realm of possibility that a woman who makes her living performing abortions might find herself in a similar situation and, in the face of a difficult delivery, tell her doctor that she would rather have the child’s life spared than her own.

     

    Examples of the selflessness of motherhood aren’t limited to women who are Pro-Life. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    "the problem is with attitudes like yours, multiplied by the millions, that saving an unborn life isn’t as worthy a goal as saving a life at risk to a traffic accident, or to smoking, or to drugs or to AIDS. It’s an ageist attitude!"

     

    I doublechecked twice, but still don’t see anything whatsoever in my post that says that in my opinion "saving an unborn life isn’t" a "worthy…goal".

     

    I also have never seen anything whatsoever in any of your demogogery about "personhood" that will actually save any unborn lives.  You seem to be arguing that your attempts to encourage people to adopt your emotionalism are an actual plan of action.

     

    From over here in the moral fog with the rest of those who understand that freedom of conscience has to be reciprocal if it is to exist at all, it sounds a lot more like a overly simplistic One Big Idea (the problem is Ageism!)  You fail to grasp my position, ignore the majority of what’s in my posts, and then almost in reflex accuse me of ‘not caring about saving lives’ as though the only possible way to demonstrate that is true is to become your disciple and agree that ‘zygotes are people’.

     

    I do care a lot about saving lives, but my priority is the girls and women - the FORMER zygotes who have already been born and who are adversely impacted by pregnancy.  To devalue them in preference to a zygote of a couple cells simply because it is younger would be not only sexist but — ageism.

  • colleen

    Paul,

     

     Perhaps you should try some other sources. According to what I read  she was diagnosed with a uterine tumor fairly early in her pregnancy.

    You won’t like me to say this  but I believe there’s something very wrong with those who feel that women should be willing to die in childbirth or that choosing to do so is somehow moral and "inspiring".

     

     

     

     

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • emma

    Don’t forget sizeist!! It’s discrimination against microscopic persons. And locationist – i.e. discrimination against uterus-dwelling persons. And if I think zygotes aren’t people, I’m discriminating against The Unimplanted!!

     

    Have I missed any classes of tragically marginalised persons?

     

     

  • emma

    I wish I could help you see how your comment looks to me.

    Don’t be paternalistic, please.

    You see, I’m looking at a living human body and I see a sister or brother in the human family. You look at that same human body and you see a dust mite. And you conclude that I have a blind spot.

    Zygotes are microscopic, Paul. Unless you’re looking through a microscope, you can’t possibly be seeing a human body.

    There are plenty of people with zygote bodies right this very minute. A lot of them are going to die, but some of them will live — and before you know it they’re going to be going to high school, writing term papers about the rise of feminism in Australia. When you read one of those papers you’re going to be surprised at how good it is and you’ll think to yourself, "Hey this youngster is a real person!" But s/he was a person all along — you just didn’t realize it.

    I hope you’re not implying I’m in high school? And academic feminism was never my area. I did one gender studies unit in uni, and loathed every second of it. The gender and cultural studies department at my university had a really anti-academic bent, and it showed.

    My gripe with some of the people I converse with on this ‘site is that a lot of you have a limited view of the power of love. You’re afraid that if you extend compassion or the right of justice to the very young you’ll have to deny justice and compassion to their mothers.

    I’m sorry, but what on earth are you on about? ‘A limited view of the power of love’? Doesn’t matter how much I love whom; women are still dying because powerful people think abortion is ‘an assault on humanity’, to quote one of your posts on the following page. Loving zygotes isn’t going to change that. Full equality for women, as well as access to health care, including contraception, pre- and post-natal care and abortion, will change that. A revolution in the world’s economic system might help change that.

     

    We have a long, long way to go before women throughout the world have anything approaching full equality, and I’m much more concerned about that than I am about zygotes. There are millions of kids who’ve been born who are starving to death, and I’m much more concerned about them than I am about zygotes. There are millions of sentient, breathing kids having bombs dropped on them, and I’m much more concerned about them than I am about zygotes.

    I don’t think that’s true. I think we can figure out how to improve the lives of women without having to end the lives of their children.

    How? Tell me how, preferably without bursting into a chorus of ‘The Power of Love’.

    The way I see it, I’d be doing you a favor to help you see past your blind spots.

    I might say the same thing to you.

  • janine

    The vatican site doesn’t happen to mention the posulatory letter either. Its at the second link I posted, SaintGianna.org. 

    That link lists the Archbishop of Philadelphia as the Honorary Chairman and a Vicar as Advisor on its Board, and in her ‘Path to Canonization’ lists excerpts from the Postulatory Letter.  The Postulatory Letter claimed to be part of her sainthood path is signed by a Cardinal and 16 Bishops, and includes

    "Such a mother and martyr who, out of love for God and in obedience to His commandment, ‘Thou shall not kill‘ bears witness…." and "it has become very easy to
    kill, in both hidden and blatant ways. In this our world prone to introduce the legalization of abortion, the Servant of God, Gianna Beretta Molla has become a courageous
    example of Christian behavior
    ".

    Why list these, if they in fact weren’t relevant? I can only conclude, given the limited excerpts, that they are extending ‘Thou shall not kill’ in terms of her roles as mother and matyr to fetuses given the later reference to abortion – or is there something else here?  I can only go off of sources I find that contain details, and like colleen have seen other sources (the parish I also linked to) that also mention an earlier diagnosis, in addition to an abortion recommendation which she refused.  If you have something else with more detail that shows that it wasn’t a factor in her path to sainthood, I’m open to looking at it.

    Back to Category A – as crowepps mentioned women still have a choice here. 

  • paul-bradford

    You won’t like me to say this but I believe there’s something very wrong with those who feel that women should be willing to die in childbirth or that choosing to do so is somehow moral and "inspiring".

     

    colleen,

     

    If anyone ever said that women should die in childbirth it would be "very wrong" but I think that’s exactly the lesson that people on this ‘site draw from her story.  Bashing Catholics is a favorite sport around here and there’s no better way to bash Catholics than to depict the saints as crazed lunatics.  

     

    The lesson of the story is that a mother risked her own life to try and save her child.  Men in combat take such risks for each other and they’re awarded medals of honor*.  Should it be different for women than it is for men?

     

    *Civil War veteran Dr. Mary Walker is the only woman to have been awarded the medal of honor, which she received in 1866.  In 1916, her award was rescinded by the War Department, some say for her stridently feminist views.  The award was posthumously reinstated by President Carter in 1977.  

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • janine

    Funny, that very link saintgianna.org has a quote that predicts this reaction to what Gianna did…

     

    "Pietro was reluctant because it would mean
    that he and his children’s lives would be made public. This would
    include their affection, and their suffering. Her sacrifice would be
    admired by some and resented by others."  Can’t see how colleens reaction is bashing Catholics per se, if the Catholic family of Gianna, who were involved in the details as they unfolded, understood in advance the range of reactions those details of her suffering/sacrifice would invoke. Perhaps if you had some evidence that it actually was an anti-Catholic reaction.

  • paul-bradford

    There are millions of kids who’ve been born who are starving to death, and I’m much more concerned about them than I am about zygotes.

     

    Emma,

     

    It would be absolutely marvelous if your observation led more people do to what I just did which is to send money to an organization that actually helps starving children. What I’ve noticed, though, is that a lot of folks, instead of feeding the hungry, simply conclude that there are too many people in the world and that we’d be better off if fewer children were born.

     

    This is the dark side to the Pro-Choice movement.  You see, it takes a village to raise a child — it also takes a village to bear and deliver a child.  Does that seem strange to you?  I say that women don’t so much choose abortion as much as they get discouraged about the fact that they can’t find a better option.  In our society we take the crappy view that having a baby is simply "the mother’s business".  She’s got to look out for herself because she’s the one who got herself into the situation in the first place.  If she can’t do everything that’s necessary to care for a child then that’s just tough for her (and tough for her kid). 

     

    People here say that no-one is pushing women to have abortions, that they simply want women to have choices.  I’m not buying it.  Women abort the kids that you and I don’t care enough about, and we don’t care about them because we denigrate human life.

     

    Too damn many people in the world, so every abortion is a step in the right direction. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    I doublechecked twice, but still don’t see anything whatsoever in my post that says that in my opinion "saving an unborn life isn’t" a "worthy…goal".

     

    crowepps,

     

    I’ve said this before, but compassion knows no discrimination.  You’ve posted a great number of things that present the view that we can either care about the very young or we can care about their mothers.  When I urge more people to care about the unborn you accuse me of denying care to women.

     

    My ‘big idea’ isn’t simply to name the attitude that causes the fetal mortality rate to be as high as it is.  My big idea is to look at things systemically and to treat the abortion problem as a public health and public safety issue.  I’m not going to stop pointing out that a zygote is a living human body, but if you want to know where I think we have the best chance of saving lives, it’s among embryos and fetuses who are between four and sixteen weeks fetal age.  They’re the ones who are most at risk for procured abortion.

     

    I don’t know whether you realize this or not, crowepps, but you’re bucking the trend.  Collectively, Americans are more concerned about the unborn today than they were thirty years ago which is why the abortion rate has dropped by a third.  We’re less ageist than we used to be and we’re becoming increasingly free from ageism. 

     

    Whether or not people develop my ‘emotionalism’ is irrelevant.  What matters is that we make it our goal to keep lowering the abortion rate.  We’ll discover, as I already know, that putting up restrictions to the procedure won’t do much to save lives — but that making contraception more available, educating people to value the lives of the very young, and partnering with women who are pregnant instead of treating them as if they were all alone with their "problem" will result in fewer abortions.

     

    I’ve never read anything by you that gives me the idea that you’re particularly happy about the drop in the rate or that it matters to you to see it drop further.  Nor do I see any acknowledgment that the steps we take to lower the abortion rate will actually make life better for women — because it will. 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    Our population is astonishingly eager to reject hard reality and embrace superstition, our media and educational system seem to be focused on promoting ignorance, and the number of people who avoid actual thinking so they can be comfortable holding mutually contradictory ‘beliefs’ is approaching astronomical proportions.  Why in heaven’s name would it make any difference to me what "the trend" is?

    I’ve never read anything by you that gives me the idea that you’re particularly happy about the drop in the rate or that it matters to you to see it drop further.

    Perhaps that’s because my posts don’t dwell obsessively on my personal emotional state.  I tend to focus on reality based discussion without being self-referential, because I am aware that it is irrelevant to the rest of the universe whether I am "happy".  It would certainly be interesting, however, if you can quote any post where I have suggested that I think that women should be encouraged to abort when they don’t want to or that the abortion rate should be higher.  I do think the world is grossly overpopulated and that we may have irreversibly destroyed our biosphere, but my solution to that would to provide women with what they have said they would voluntarily choose, the ability to control their fertility.

    Nor do I see any acknowledgment that the steps we take to lower the abortion rate will actually make life better for women — because it will.

    I would agree with you that any steps that can be taken to lower the unwanted pregnancy rate or to assist women in raising their wanted children would tend to make life better for women (and children) because eliminating the NECESSITY for abortion and making any medical procedure unnecessary would improve things, but eliminating the abortions themselves without addressing the underlying causes wouldn’t improve things at all but instead would make them worse.

  • colleen

    Janine,

     

    I do not ‘resent’ her choices or suffering, If anything, I disagree with the notion that women who choose unnecessarily to die in childbirth are "inspirational" and should be treated as role models.

     

     

     

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • colleen

     If anyone ever said that women should die in childbirth it would be "very wrong"

     I did not say anyone was saying women should die in childbirth.I said that there was somthing very wrong with those who believe that women should be willing to die in childbirth and who hold up women who have as inspirational role models.

     Bashing Catholics is a favorite sport around here and there’s no better
    way to bash Catholics than to depict the saints as crazed lunatics. 

     

    1. The two Catholic editors who post here, Jon O’Brien and Frances Kissling are greatly respected by everyone but  the religious right posters such as yourself.

    2. I was in no way portraying her as a "crazed lunatic" but the fact that you  make this blatantly dishonest and manipulative claim this comes as no surprise.

     

    Men in combat take such risks for each other and they’re awarded medals
    of honor*.  Should it be different for women than it is for men?

     

    Seriously? You’re equating acts of war with human reproduction?

     

     

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • janine

    colleen, sorry, my sloppy verbiage at the top – you didn’t at all say ‘resent’, its only the specific word used from the site to contrast to admiration.  Instead of my initial sentence using ‘this reaction’, implying you owned that particular reaction, I should have said ‘a range of reactions’ as I did in the bottom of the post.  I was just trying to point out to Paul that the family itself did recognize that a range of reactions could occur from the suffering/sacrifice details so, in the absence of any evidence, anti-Catholicism isn’t necessarily in play here simply by not finding these ‘inspiring’.

  • crowepps

    I disagree with the notion that women who choose unnecessarily to die in childbirth are "inspirational" and should be treated as role models.

     

    And yet as I understand the theological underpinning, what is actually ‘inspirational’ here is that the person was entirely self-sacrificing, so that it would theoretically have been just as ‘inspirational’ if she had made exactly the same choice and the child had died too.

     

    The role that is being promoted is not ‘dying in childbirth’ but rather a global lack of ego and rejection of self-care under all circumstances.  If the ideal ‘moral’ mental state is to believe that your life has no value except what is derived from your humbly serving everyone else’s needs, and that holiness consists of suffering uncomplainingly until you are found "worthy of martyrdom", it might lead to such existential despair there wouldn’t be much reason to want to stay alive when presented with such an exemplary excuse.

  • crowepps

    I know you are well aware that often when a doctor tells a woman that future pregnancies might jeopardize her life — it is simply not true. It is rare that pregnancy is actually life threatening to the mother. In many cases, when a woman’s health is severely compromised, infertility goes along with the health condition (i.e. amenorrhea due to extreme weight loss or gain, etc.) — this most likely is God’s way of protecting the woman from the risks of pregnancy during that time. But what about the cases when the woman’s reproductive system continues to function normally in spite of her other health conditions, or in the (very rare) case of a woman whose health is otherwise fine — it is only pregnancy which puts her at risk?

    Many would argue that in those cases, a couple ought to trust God to supernaturally close the woman’s womb. After all, she cannot get pregnant outside of the will of God — and He knows whether a pregnancy will endanger her life, so He can be trusted to do what is best for the woman in her situation. Abstaining during the woman’s fertile period would be a lack of faith and therefore, the couple should not expect to receive God’s protection for the woman’s health.

     Garrison adds a postscript written recently, years after she left the Quiverfull movement and her abusive husband, admitting that even that wasn’t as extreme as what she truly believed at the time. "I didn’t come right out and say that I honestly doubted that for some women, pregnancy is a life-threatening condition. (My years as a staunch pro-life advocate taught me that the ‘life of the mother’ argument was really only a convenient fallacy promoted by the pro-aborts.)" Chillingly, Garrison says she still refused to believe it after that uterine rupture nearly killed her and her son. Because if God personally authorizes each pregnancy for a specific purpose, why would he greenlight one that would leave a child — or six or seven or 18 children — motherless?

    http://www.salon.com/life/broadsheet/feature/2009/12/11/nineteenth_duggar

    Aside from the fact that she isn’t aware that ‘rare’ and ‘doesn’t happen’ aren’t the same thing, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to her that one of the reasons that it "is rare that pregnancy is actually life threatening to the mother" is because most mothers (and fathers) who are told by the doctor that another pregnancy would be life threatening take exceptional care that they don’t GET pregnant again.

     

    "Exceptions, which statistically small, may be numerically staggering."

  • emma

    I quite agree with you that it would be nice if communities took more responsibility for helping with raising kids, plus helping out with maternity care and all of that. I’m an anarcho-socialist; of course I believe in that.
    Because of our vile capitalist economic system, however, the reality is that people are starving to death in developing countries, maternity care isn’t available to large numbers of women, and more children do, in fact, mean more children to feed, when existing ones are already starving.

     

    People are actually having to make decisions within that situation, and sometimes abortion is the best choice for women. It’s been a choice long before there were any people from developed countries trying to help provide reproductive health care. Women have always taken measures to space their families and control their reproduction.

     

    It’s so utterly paternalistic of you to suggest that poverty-stricken women are so malleable and moronic that the availability of safe abortion is going to make women who wanted to continue their pregnancies will just change their minds because they’re unable to think for themselves.

     

    That’s unless you’re suggesting that, if safe abortions are unavailable, women who want to have them will be too scared to risk an unsafe abortion? If so…that’s coercion.
    I am so, so fed up with your insisting that no woman would choose to terminate a pregnancy if there were social support to help them continue the pregnancy and raise the kid, and so on. That’s such essentialist thinking. You seem like such a biological determinist, what with comments you’ve made in the past about believing that men are biologically predisposed to want to violently dominate women and all of that.

     

    I donate to charity when I can, Paul. I went back to uni recently and am kinda broke, and my being unable to pay rent because I’ve donated all my funds to charity isn’t going to help anyone. I like to support organisations working in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, because they need it. Badly. Having enough money to be able to spare some for charity is a privilege that not everyone has.

     

    Re: one of your comments below – I bash the Catholic hierarchy, not the laity. I know quite a few lovely Catholics (interestingly, every Catholic I know despises the current pope), and I have huge amounts of admiration for the Latin American liberation theologists. I wonder how many kids would be able to be fed for life if the Catholic church sold the pope’s palace and donated the proceeds to charity? The only good thing about the Catholic hierarchy, really, is the fact that they’re at least not Pentecostals – they’re even worse.

     

    Anyway, I think we’re going in circles here, so I don’t know about you, but I’d like to wrap up this particular exchange.

  • paul-bradford

    Women have always taken measures to space their families and control their reproduction.

     

    Emma,

     

    How right you are!  Without family planning the species might not have survived.  What’s that to the point, though?  Have you considered the fact that for most of the million years that humans have been walking around this planet the most common form of family planning has been infanticide?  Should we condemn our great-grandmothers?  I say, "No!"  I say that there was a time when, every day, good women suffocated their babies.

     

    Why is it, then, that infanticide revolts us today?  It’s not because it’s ‘unnatural’.  Hell, mothers killed their newborns throughout human evolution.  The reason we’re revolted now is because of MORALITY.  We’ve made a moral breakthrough that our ancestors hadn’t made.  In order to sustain that breakthrough we’ve had to 1) teach women that infanticide is wrong and 2) make it possible for women to make their lives work out without resorting to infanticide.

     

    There was a time in human history when we, collectively, decided to value the lives of infants and to renounce infanticide.  We should do the same with abortion.  It’s up to us to make that policy work for women. 

     

    You seem like such a biological determinist, what with comments you’ve made in the past about believing that men are biologically predisposed to want to violently dominate women and all of that.

     

    I don’t want to let your remark go without comment.  I do believe that it’s ‘natural’ for men to want to violently dominate women just as I believe that it’s ‘natural’ for women to kill their newborns.  It’s natural but it’s wrong.  Because of our pursuit of morality, we’ve been able to go places that nature would never have taken us. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • emma

    Why is it, then, that infanticide revolts us today? It’s not because it’s ‘unnatural’. Hell, mothers killed their newborns throughout human evolution. The reason we’re revolted now is because of MORALITY. We’ve made a moral breakthrough that our ancestors hadn’t made.

    Invention of and access to contraception have probably helped more, plus greater ability to care for sick and disabled infants, plus access to abortion. I’d guess such factors are more relevant than moral superiority.*

    We’ve made a moral breakthrough that our ancestors hadn’t made. In order to sustain that breakthrough we’ve had to 1) teach women that infanticide is wrong and 2) make it possible for women to make their lives work out without resorting to infanticide.

    When you say ‘we’ve had to teach women that infanticide is wrong’, who do you mean by ‘we’? Just out of curiosity?
    So, are you saying that the belief that abortion is wrong is a ‘moral breakthrough’? And that those of us who disagree are, what, just less morally enlightened? And now ‘we’ (whoever that is) are going to teach women that Abortion is Wrong? Yeah, sorry, but no.
    If you have an infant and can’t take care of hir, you can hand hir over to someone else who can take care of hir. When science has advanced to the point that it’s possible to do something similar with an embryo or foetus, I’ll consider your point, but until then, comparisons between abortion and infanticide just don’t work.

     

    *Experience suggests that a lot of abortion opponents are conservatives who also support torture and the death penalty (the latter being less applicable here), and many of whom who’ve never seen a war they didn’t like. In other words, it would be difficult to find a less morally enlightened bunch of people.

     

    And back to the Catholic church – why is its hierarchy so focused on abortion? Why is it that bishops and whatnot in the US will decide pro-choice Catholic politicians should be denied communion, but won’t deny it to, say, all Catholic politicians who voted in support of the wars on Iraq or Afghanistan? Or politicians who accept money from the tobacco industry? And so on. War and tobacco both kill a lot of people, don’t they? Serious question.

     

    I read an article a while ago on abortion as a human right…I can’t find it, but it discussed the fact that the right to safe and legal abortion has been affirmed by various human rights courts. One of the points made was that abortion is an intrinsic part of women’s reproductive experience, and that access to safe and legal abortion is a fundamental right, essential to women’s health and bodily autonomy.

  • crowepps

    The argument also totally ignores the fact that the male priesthood were the ones who encouraged various forms of ritual infanticide and that infants were presented to the paterfamilius for approval and abandoned to die if he rejected them and that it was pretty much standard procedure for male soldiers to amuse themselves by "tossing infants on spears".  Could it be that he doesn’t ‘believe’ these historical truths, that he is totally uneducated on the past he presumes to ‘explain’ or perhaps what he’s objecting to is not the infanticide itself but the women daring to usurp the male prerogative?

  • colleen

    I do believe that it’s ‘natural’ for men to want to violently dominate women

     

    This is again a religious belief. You folks need to understand that not only aren’t all (or even most) women ‘naturally’ submissive’ all (or even most) men aren’t ‘naturally’ inclined to violently dominate women. In other words your interior life and deamons aren’t necessarily reflected by all members of your species or gender.

    The fact of the matter is that there are greater individual differences within the genders than between them. The fact of the matter is thatthere are many decent men who do not battle impulses to "violently dominate women". The fact that you try to do so under the guise of morality is what makes you and men like you so shallow and creepy

     

     

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • crowepps

    I don’t think this is a ‘religious belief’ per se, although certainly a great many people use religion to justify it.  I think instead this is an attempt to label behavior as ‘natural’ in order to disguise how unhealthy it is, for the man himself as well as the woman involved.

     

    I think it is biologically ’natural’ for some men to engage in dominance behaviors between themselves as a way to establish their status vis-a-vis each other, and the losers displace that agression into the easier task of violently dominating women.  Certainly men who have concerns about their masculinity seem to default to proving they’re ‘not gay’ by abusing women.

     

    Thankfully, whether through socialization or biology, many men and women aren’t interested in playing either game, but instead try to relate to each other through cooperation, interactions which seem to more effective in building ‘civilization’.

     

    It is absolutely astonishing how often unhealthy behavior is justified by claiming that "God commands" this or that dysfunctional act, but our society encourages people to use this excuse by giving an entirely unwarranted weight to claims that "religious freedom" entitles people to hurt others, especially their children.

     R. C. Sproul, Jr., in a book of advice to homeschooling parents, When You Rise Up, describes the critical secret of God’s covenants as the cornerstone of the homeschool movement: the imperative of covenants, he says, is to “pass it on to the next generation.” He’s done so himself, he relates, in what he calls the R. C. Sproul, Jr., School for Spiritual Warfare, in which he crafts “covenant children” with an “agrarian approach” and stresses that obedience is the good life in and of itself, “not a set of rules designed to frustrate us but a series of directions designed to liberate us.” In that freedom, boys and girls are educated according to their future roles in life, and girls are taught that they will pursue spiritual warfare by being keepers in the home.

    To gauge the amount of secular baggage his homeschooling readers are trailing, he tells the story of a family friend whose homeschooled nine-year-old daughter still cannot read. “Does that make you uncomfortable?” he asks.

    "Are you thinking, “Mercy, what would the superintendent say if he knew?” . . . But my friend went on to explain, “She doesn’t know how to read, but every morning she gets up and gets ready for the day. Then she takes care of her three youngest siblings. She takes them to potty, she cleans and dresses them, makes their breakfasts, brushes their teeth, clears their dishes, and makes their beds.” Now I saw her, rightly, as an overachiever. If she didn’t know how to read but did know all the Looney Tunes characters, that would be a problem. But here is a young girl being trained to be a keeper at home. Do I want her to read? Of course I do . . . . But this little girl was learning what God requires, to be a help in the family business, with a focus on tending the garden."

    http://killingthebuddha.com/mag/hunger/victory-through-daughters/

    Apparently "God requires" that girls be kept ignorant so that as women can aspire no higher than to be unpaid household servants.

  • colleen

    I don’t think this is a ‘religious belief’ per se

     Certainly the peculiar notion that it’s natural for men to dominate and women to submit is a notion presented and ardently defended by many sects and religions. The notion of violent male dominance as natural is a card religious right men pull out to demonstrate the ameliorating effects of ‘faith’ on the natural male impulse.

     

    "It seems to me that nearly every woman I know wants a man who knows how to love with authority. … Our family airedale will come clear across the yard for one pat on the head. The average wife is like that. She will come across town, across the house, across the room, across to your point of view, and across almost anything to give you her love if you offer her yours with some honest approval."

    Dr. C. W Shedd, Presbyterian minister in Houston, Texas, wrote this advice in Letters on How to Treat a Woman (1968)

     

     

     

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • crowepps

    I agree that religions do encourage men to dominate and women to submit, but I don’t think religions say that it is ‘natural’ for men to enforce that dominance violently.  The boss/employee relationship could be described as one of dominance and submission, but most corporations don’t think it’s ‘natural’ for the boss to beat up employees for being insufficiently submissive.

     

    It’s absolutely astounding that this guy didn’t see anything insulting about comparing women to dogs.  Aside from that, it seems a little strange that married men have to be told their wives need "honest approval".  Are they so incredibly insensitive to human nature and the need of EVERYONE for approval that this wouldn’t have otherwise occurred to them?  Is the average guy such a dope that they honestly  think the way to interact with people is to insult them, call them names, harp constantly on how incompetent and unworthy they are, and neglect them?

  • colleen

    I agree that religions do encourage men to dominate and women to
    submit, but I don’t think religions say that it is ‘natural’ for men
    to enforce that dominance violently.

     

    Quite so, they generally decry overt physical violence while simultaneously engaged in serious denial about the pervasiveness of all forms of viiolence against women. It’s as if they haven’t read the Bible. My point is that  when you tell men  that domination  and power over women is part of their god- given role then widespread violence and systemic contempt for women is inevitable and unavoidable. 

    In all fairness I speak as someone who finds dominance/submission realtionships repugnant and dehumanizing for both parties. I’m occasionally struck by the realization that some folks cannot imagine any other sort of human dynamic and particularly not between men and women.. 

     

     "Woman in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey man, not rule and command him."

    John Knox, sixteenth-century founder of Scottish Presbyterianism

     

    I don’t see anyone, least of all right wing Christians evincing a great deal of respect for those whose God given role it is to serve and obey them. I do see them going on about how it is the nature of women to be receptive and submissive. Indeed there really isn’t all that much difference between the right wing Christian notion of a ‘good woman’ and a ‘good dog’. 

     Is the average guy such a dope that they honestly  think the way to
    interact with people is to insult them, call them names, harp
    constantly on how incompetent and unworthy they are, and neglect them?

     

    One of the things about believing gender roles is that you don’t have to get to know the opposite sex or, for that matter, yourself. A conservative male wouldn’t see that as insulting because, the realtionship he has with his dogs isn’t that much different from the one he has with his wife.

     

     

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • emma

    Thanks for bringing that up, crowepps. I was trying to remember who was involved in infanticides in Sparta; I think it was along much the same lines as the scenario you presented above.

    Could it be that he doesn’t ‘believe’ these historical truths, that he is totally uneducated on the past he presumes to ‘explain’ or perhaps what he’s objecting to is not the infanticide itself but the women daring to usurp the male prerogative?

    One does wonder, really. (Probably some comination of the above.)

  • emma

    Certainly the peculiar notion that it’s natural for men to dominate and women to submit is a notion presented and ardently defended by many sects and religions. The notion of violent male dominance as natural is a card religious right men pull out to demonstrate the ameliorating effects of ‘faith’ on the natural male impulse.

    Yes, this exactly. I don’t believe the vast majority of men have any innate inclination to violently dominate women. I think too many people are indoctrinated into gender essentialism and the accompanying belief that it is Right and Natural and Good for the menfolk to dominate the womenfolk.

  • crowepps

    Ever notice how the same people believe it is Natural and Good for the aristocrat to have the power to violently dominate the peasant, for the rich to have the power to violently dominate the poor, for the person at the top of the heirarchy to have the power to violently dominate those lower?

     

    The history of all those relationships, including masculine/feminine interactions, is sociopathology - power corrupting, and absolute power corrupting absolutely.

     

    After all, if it’s ‘natural’ for men to ‘violently dominate’ women then the extreme of the so-called natural relationship are understandable – men just naturally assault, rape and murder.  Traditionally none of these things were considered serious ’sins’ so long as the two people involved were married and the man gave the conventional blame the victim excuses: she wasn’t sufficiently obedient and/or he suspected her of being unfaithful.

     

    I guess we’ve made some advances.  Men are still being encouraged to ’prove their masculinity’ through violence, men are still assaulting, raping and murdering women, but at least now shelters are available for the women who escape and the law gets involved afterwards.  Of course, this is precisely what the uber-conservatives want to have rolled back and why they are promoting ‘covenant marriage’ and ‘women as homemakers’ and ‘Quiverfull’ and ‘submissive daughters’ and ‘ban contraception’, etc.

  • paul-bradford

    Experience suggests that a lot of abortion opponents are conservatives who also support torture and the death penalty (the latter being less applicable here), and many of whom who’ve never seen a war they didn’t like. In other words, it would be difficult to find a less morally enlightened bunch of people.

     

    Emma,

     

    Let’s talk about conservatives, and let’s talk about moral blind spots.  The kind of people you mention, and I’ve encountered plenty of them, have moral blind spots when it comes to torture and the death penalty and war.  That’s why I suggest to people that they don’t throw their lot in with conservatives. I also suggest that they not throw their lot in with liberals.  Each side has a firm grip on half the truth and a ferocious resistance to the other half. 

     

    I can see that you DON’T have moral blind spots with regard to torture and the death penalty and war.  How happy for you!  Please consider being gentle with those who can’t see what is obvious to you and me.  Are those who disagree with us (to use your phrase) "just less morally enlightened"?  You could say that, but don’t gloat about it.  Enlightenment isn’t a competitive sport, it’s a process — and the ones who see things first aren’t any better than those who see things last.

     

    Meantime, though, it’s pretty tough to be patient.  When a fighter plane drops bombs, people die — and nothing changes death.  The fact that the bombardier has a ‘blind spot’ is no comfort to those who are left behind. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    Could it be that he doesn’t ‘believe’ these historical truths, that he is totally uneducated on the past he presumes to ‘explain’ or perhaps what he’s objecting to is not the infanticide itself but the women daring to usurp the male prerogative?

     

    crowepps,

     

    Since "he" is here among us you have a chance to speak directly to him.  I suspect that when you do, "he" will point out to you that "he" was talking about infanticide as a means of family planning and hadn’t considered the other "uses" of infanticide.  Uneducated "he" may be, but "he" carries around the notion that — even in prehistoric times — women were the driving force behind family planning.

     

    I do hope you will treat us to more details about the gory history of infanticide.  If you want to make the argument that ‘family planning’ infanticide, practiced by women, was discreet whereas ‘ritual’ infanticide, practiced by men, was showy and grotesque you’ll find that "he" is pretty easy to convince. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    One does wonder, really.

     

    You know, I might take offense at your unshakeable conviction that my understanding of history, and of life, is warped by a deep seated fear and hatred of women but for the fact that your very understanding of my opinions on history and on life is warped by the temptation to dismiss what I have to say by labeling me a misogynist.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    The fact of the matter is that there are greater individual differences within the genders than between them.

     

    I wonder, colleen, if you believe that the temptation to be sexually unfaithful to one’s mate is as much a female characteristic as it is a male one.

     

    My idea (and I know you’re just dying to hear it!) is that if it weren’t for morality and the force of societal pressure, it wouldn’t even occur to a man to be sexually faithful. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    I think it is biologically ‘natural’ for some men to engage in dominance behaviors between themselves as a way to establish their status vis-a-vis each other, and the losers displace that agression into the easier task of violently dominating women. Certainly men who have concerns about their masculinity seem to default to proving they’re ‘not gay’ by abusing women.

     

    crowepps, 

     

    Male abuse of women may be ‘natural’, but it’s wrong.  It’s also maladaptive and anti-social.  A boy learns what he is taught, and he’s taught by what he sees.  If he grows up seeing women treated with respect, he’s more likely to be able to keep the impulse to violence at bay.  He’s also able to see how unreasonable and counterproductive it is to dominate a woman with violence.  What about the boy who grows up watching women being disrespected and abused?  I claim that he’s not beyond redemption — but it takes effort to retrain him.

     

    Thankfully, whether through socialization or biology, many men and women aren’t interested in playing either game, but instead try to relate to each other through cooperation, interactions which seem to more effective in building ‘civilization’.

     

    Since you’re capable of such a reasonable an accurate view of things, a view with which I completely concur, I do wish you would rise to my defense every now and then.  The fact that I’m convinced that the existence of women and men who are cooperative and civilized is more a testimony to our ability to transcend nature than it is a testimony to nature itself in no way negates the fact that I consider religious justifications of ‘natural’ behavior to be regressive.

     

    We need to be socialized out of our regressive ways, but there are some forms of socialization that are more progressive than others.  Sproul’s homeschooling advice is certainly an example of socialization, but it’s an example of the kind of socialization that simply codifies male violence against women — it doesn’t do anything to eliminate it.

     

    Violence doesn’t have to end in bodily injury to be violence.  Some men keep women down by slapping them around; others keep women down without ever lifting their hands.  Don’t be too convinced that the former are more violent than the latter. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • paul-bradford

    The notion of violent male dominance as natural is a card religious right men pull out to demonstrate the ameliorating effects of ‘faith’ on the natural male impulse.

     

    colleen,

     

    Imagine if you were a little less determined to misunderstand me than you are.  You and I might have some interesting interchanges.

     

    I’m always preaching a sermon — but the sermon isn’t about God, or about going to church, or about putting your faith in Jesus, or about reading the Bible, or about getting rid of your bad habits.  The sermon I preach is this, "Recognize your brother, recognize your sister."  It takes faith to do this.  The march toward female equality has been fueled by faith — not by a faith in religion, but by a faith in the recognition of women as they really are, instead of how they appear to men.  There actually are men who have mustered up the faith necessary to retire the old view and adopt the new one.

     

    I wish you’d retire your old view of me. 

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    Uneducated “he” may be, but “he” carries around the notion that — even in prehistoric times — women were the driving force behind family planning.

    This is really an interesting statement. First of all, the entire idea of “family planning” arose only when we reached a state of medical knowledge where the majority of children actually survived to grow up. Before that time, there wasn’t any concept of ‘enough children’ because it was the expectation that the whole lot could be wiped out in the next epidemic.

    In most really primitive hunter-gatherer types tribes, infanticide is pretty rare. It is only as the society becomes more complex, settles down and subsists off of stored foods that competition for resources motivates assigning ‘value’ to infants on the basis that they if they are deformed, sickly, female, etc., they aren’t worth feeding and should be discarded.

    Certainly in societies who did such sorting, the decision was routinely made by men, not women, because the children belonged to the men just like the women did. There is a huge amount of evidence that it was father or a counsel of elders who made the decision, and that the infant was wisked away and exposed by others. Read your Greek myths.

    http://www.deathreference.com/Ho-Ka/Infanticide.html

    Infant sacrifice is understood through the literally tens of thousands of remains recovered by archeologists, and frankly I just don’t have the stomach to go through it, but certainly there is lots of evidence that societies as a whole supported the concept and social pressure was put on parents to participate.

    There was indeed a genuine problem with women hiding pregnancies and subsequently killing illegitimate children, but that had a lot more to do with the stigma and discrimination society fostered towards women who had ‘illicit sex’ than it did with what the women themselves desired, particularly in societies where women were prevented from controlling their own money and had only three possible careers: religious, marriage or prostitute. With few ways to defend themselves against rape and draconian punishment for pregnancy, it’s really not surprising that they desperately tried to hide the ‘evidence’. I would add that those who didn’t succeed routinely had the baby removed from them because they were ‘immoral’ and shipped off to a foundling home (where close to 100% of infants promptly died).

  • colleen

    Hi Paul ,

     

    magine if you were a little less determined to misunderstand me than
    you are.  You and I might have some interesting interchanges.

     

     

    You know what? I was speaking to crowepps and Emma. We were having what I think of as an interesting conversation, we were talking about things that interest me and, presumably, them..I was not speaking to or about you. I wasn’t thinking about you. I seldom consider you at all and I have no interest in what you have to say. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • emma

    I’m hardly gloating, Paul, and I’m very disappointed that you interpreted me in that way. I’m sad that you seem to want to see me as a bad person. Anyway, on the contrary, really, those moral delinquents scare the shit out of me, because they have way too much power. I find their beliefs both terrifying and infuriating, and when they’re controlling your government, they have an awful lot of power to fuck over those of us in the rest of the world.

     

    I find it a little difficult to be verbally gentle to supporters of war crimes.

  • emma

    Well, you are allowed to take offense if you so choose. I’ve certainly taken offense at some of the stuff you’ve written lately. I do find some of your comments a bit misogynistic, and it’s a little disturbing to me.

  • colleen

    if you believe that the temptation to be sexually unfaithful to one’s
    mate is as much a female characteristic as it is a male one.

     

    I believe there are  there are greater individual differences within the genders than between them. I don’t believe it makes sense to generalize about an entire gender and even less so outside the context of culture, social pressures etc.  When folks do generalize (as we all do) I believe they are making personal statements, particularly when we strart spouting off about about things like ‘the nature of men’. and ‘how women really are’  Thus I have no interest in discussing this with you.

     

     

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

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • emma

    Ever notice how the same people believe it is Natural and Good for the aristocrat to have the power to violently dominate the peasant, for the rich to have the power to violently dominate the poor, for the person at the top of the heirarchy to have the power to violently dominate those lower?

    Yes, exactly, and for the Superior races* to dominate the Inferior races.** Have you read Robert Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians? It goes into a lot of this. Scary as hell.

     

    In Australia – Victoria, I think – there was until very recently a law that allowed men who murdered women to use this legal defense that their crime was less severe/their punishment should be less severe if the murder had been a response to the victim insulting their masculinity, etc. I think most of the other states had ditched that law at some point before that, but it’s just bloody terrifying that it’s been available as a defense until recently.

     

    The Quiverfulls have appeared in Australia as well…

     

    *Very heavy sarcasm

    **Ditto sarcasm

  • emma

    You won’t like me to say this but I believe there’s something very wrong with those who feel that women should be willing to die in childbirth or that choosing to do so is somehow moral and "inspiring".

    I agree with you completely, not to mention the fact that having a kid when you know it’s going to kill you is suicide, isn’t it? I thought that was like, a mortal sin?

     

    Also, colleen, email me, gollygoshdarnit!!!

  • paul-bradford

    This is really an interesting statement. First of all, the entire idea of "family planning" arose only when we reached a state of medical knowledge where the majority of children actually survived to grow up. Before that time, there wasn’t any concept of ‘enough children’ because it was the expectation that the whole lot could be wiped out in the next epidemic.

     

    crowepps,

     

    We disagree.  I’m of the opinion that our prehistoric grandmothers were clever enough to realize that it made more sense to do a good job of caring for one infant than it did to do a bad job of caring for two.  I also think they were pretty good at anticipating their own life situations and likely future prospects.  Then, as now, women had ‘good’ times to be mothers and ‘bad’ times.

     

    The problem of unwanted pregnancy is as old as humanity — and human beings have always been smart enough to want to find solutions to it.  An unwanted pregnancy, of course, was a problem for the entire community to deal with, but the main person ‘dealing’ with it was the mother.  It’s the same thing now. 

     

    You must realize, by now, that I’m deeply concerned about the problem of unwanted pregnancy — I just feel that some ways of ‘dealing’ with it are more moral than others.  We do wrong to tell women who are facing an abortion decision that "whatever you do will be the right thing".

     

    I think human beings more adept at handling moral issues than we were in prehistoric times just as I think we’re better at solving Calculus problems than we were then. 

     

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • crowepps

    Male abuse of women may be ‘natural’, but it’s wrong.

    Considering that my post clearly stated that I didn’t think male abuse of women is ‘natural’, but instead was a dysfunctional displacement of aggression by losers in male dominance battles, the rest of your post starts off on the wrong foot.

     

    Since you’re capable of such a reasonable an accurate view of things, a view with which I completely concur, I do wish you would rise to my defense every now and then.

    I do you the compliment of assuming that you are capable of defending yourself.

    Sproul’s homeschooling advice is certainly an example of socialization, but it’s an example of the kind of socialization that simply codifies male violence against women — it doesn’t do anything to eliminate it.

    Sproul’s homeschooling advice is the kind of socialization which does something much, much worse than that.  It trains children in the belief that the appropriate AIM of male domination is women instead of other men, so that boys and men can have an ‘easy win’ instead of learning to compete with EACH OTHER.  This dysfunction makes it much easier for the patriarch to maintain his own position, since the younger men are distracted from threatening HIS status by preening over how they are able to successfully ‘control the females’.

  • crowepps

    An unwanted pregnancy, of course, was a problem for the entire community to deal with, but the main person ‘dealing’ with it was the mother.

    I would certainly be interested in seeing any actual data you have to support the proposition that "the main person dealing with it was the mother".

     

  • crowepps

    I think human beings more adept at handling moral issues than we were in prehistoric times.

    I disagree.  Our supposed progress in being ’civilized’ is more a matter of the support provided by our technologies than any advance in either our innate intelligence or our morals.  A group of 100 people, dropped into a lonely spot to survive with what they can accomplish with their bare hands, regresses with 24 hours back to base primate behavior, sometimes LESS moral than prehistoric times.

     

    I will agree that people spend a great deal more time TALKING about morality, and constructing complicated guesses about how other people should behave, and forming groups of the like minded who pat each other on the back for being superior enough to be included and issue declarations that all those people in the other groups are tragically misguided.  None of which, of course, actually ACCOMPLISHES anything.