Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Pro-Life Issue

So, I had a major disagreement with a family member today about the sanctity of human life. This person contends that it is a tough decision and that my opinion should have no weight legally, as it is not my decision. I used to agree. I used to think things like the government should not make legislation on my body or that of anyone else. I always thought, "well, I'd never have an abortion myself, I think it is not the right thing to do, but who am I to tell another what to do with her own body and baby."

I now think I was wrong. Because it is not about the mother. When mothers have mental problems or other health problems and they don't want to be pregnant because of it, I am sorry, but I don't care. That is terribly harsh sounding, perhaps, but I really believe that she gave up her right to be sovereign over her body (temporarily) when she decided to make that baby. People don't get pregnant by accident, it is what happens when human sexuality and fertility work properly. It might be a surprise, they were hoping to get by without consequences, but it is not an accident. The baby must come first. As I am now 34 weeks pregnant with an unintended consequence of irresponsible actions(which my husband and I are thrilled about...now), I have given up sovereignty over my own body. Not because I like playing second fiddle within my own skin, but because my son deserves it. He has a right to life, and the best life I can give him right now. If I were murdered today, it could be tried as a double homicide, and rightly so. He is alive, he's certainly human and just as anyone outside the womb has a right to be alive, so does he.

The only medical reason I've ever heard of to terminate a pregnancy is an ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy where the fetus is growing outside the uterus, either in a fallopian tube or attached elsewhere). The Catholic Church says that to take the drug to kill the fetus, even though the mother's life could be destroyed is still immoral, but to remove the damaged fallopian tube with the unintended consequence of a termination of the fetus is moral. I think this is splitting hairs. If the mother's life is truly in grave danger, but the fallopian tube can be repaired, I think it is silly to remove the fallopian tube. Maybe I'm missing something, so I guess I'll defer to the church's teaching, since I just quickly looked up this nuanced moral issue and haven't looked it up in the Catechism or asked a priest about it yet.

Some people argue that children who will be born with birth defects and genetic issues should or understandably can be terminated. These are not good arguments. I tend to think special needs kids bring so much more to the table than is realized at first glance. For example, I suspect that everyone has seen the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GziL6UiGvY) about Dick and Rick Hoyt. Rick is Dick's son and was born with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. Due to the lack of oxygen for an extended period of time, he was born unable to ever walk or talk, or move much for that matter. However, Dick started exercising at his doctor's insistence when Rick was young. Dick and Rick have been doing triathlons together for quite some time now. This has cemented their bond, enriched both of their lives, and probably saved Dick from many health problems. I believe Rick has a degree and a job and is to the best of his ability a productive member of society. (note: I am reciting this story from memory, it makes me cry to watch the video, so if some of the details are wrong, forgive me)

Also, I used to be a nanny for a family of five kids. The eldest has Williams Syndrome, a medical condition which is not dissimilar to Downs Syndrome. This young woman (20 years old at the time) was the sweetest, kindest and funniest member of the family. She brought out the best in all of her family members and taught me so much. This family is naturally one of the most self-centered, narcissistic group, but the oldest did a great job of bringing them down to reality on a regular basis, and taught them (almost constantly) to be kinder and gentler to those who could easily be preyed upon.

Finally, there are so many families who would love to adopt a baby. Why not be unselfish for 9 months, and then give your baby to someone who can and will love it? I personally think everyone should adopt. I would love to. My husband wants 7+ kids, maybe this would be a way to get me to go for more than 4. There is nothing more unselfish than raising someone else's child and loving them as your own.

The issue of life is so central and so important that it cannot be overlooked or dismissed as distracting from "real issues." If the weakest and least able to defend themselves are marginalized and removed due to inconvenience, what does that say about our society? It certainly does not show that we are compassionate, or that we care about human rights. It shows that narcissism rules and personal responsibility does not matter. It also shows that that which is inconvenient isn't worth it. I think that America is better than that, and I think our morals are, too.

1 comment:

Teresa said...

Your experiences lead you to conclusions that are very, very different than mine.

Usually, talking about my reasons just gets me accused of being "dark and bitter and dwelling on the negative" or even "ghoulish". I guess a person could see it that way, so I've sort of stopped talking about the things that lead me to my conclusions specifically. Why confront people with the specifics of the unpleasant reality? It probably has the same effect that the Army of God people get driving their billboard through the streets. People feel assaulted by reality, and become hostile rather than sympathetic unless they are already part of the choir.

(BTW, any idea why the Army of God gets to drive billboard trucks through the streets with their name on them when they have publicly taken credit for bombing clinics and assassinating abortion doctors, and incited others to do the same, and even explained their organization as "leaderless resistance" as being so that they can avoid the law? They aren't terrorists? You would think that someone driving their trucks would at least get pulled over and questioned.)

To me, the descriptions of experience you describe seem to barely scratch the surface of the issue.

I teach self-defense to special needs kids, and everything you say is true of the kids in those classes as well as a lovely young woman who volunteered to maintain the children's section of our local library many years ago, a young lady that I assisted in an orchestra program a couple of years ago and many others I have known with special needs.

But it's only the easist part of the story. There are many situations that would shake your certainly, and they are all around for you to see, but maybe you are not ready for that yet...and that's OK you are only twewnty-five, and you have never had to live with some of the poverty and ignorance, deprevation and isolation that some families have had to deal with, and whose few sources of relief many conservatives would like to cut necause they "chose" to have kids they can't afford to help.

I realize that this is condescending, but I want you to know that I just can't think of any other way to express it. It's not to disrespect you, just to say there is more to the story and when you are ready to challenge yourself you can really look at it.

Some situations exsist where there IS no "good" option, and I do think that it is best left to the families to decide what they can come to terms with and what they can't.

You said that maybe you sound callous. I just wanted to say, that you don't sound callous to me, but that is only because I don't think you really know the whole story yet. I trust that as you research more (and I know you will) you will learn more. And you may still come to the same conclusions, but your compassion will temper the way that you express them.