Making It Easier to Choose Life
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  • wigwag

    “If both sides shifted some time and energy from quarreling about the politics of abortion to making it easier for pregnant women in difficult circumstances to choose life for their unborn babies, we wouldn’t be solving the abortion question in an ultimate sense, but we would be making the world a better place.” (Via Meadia)

    This is exactly right but we should be honest about why its so hard for what Professor Mead calls “both sides” to work together.

    Unfortunately, when the side that wants to put physicians in prison for performing abortions does something very good as they have in the case of Molly Ann Dutton, they are revealing only half of themselves. Many if not most of the groups that are helping mothers bring their fetuses to term rather than aborting them are affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church or conservative Protestant denominations. These same groups oppose gay marraige and are often openly hostile to gay people. Many of these same groups support teacher-led prayers in the public schools and some are so insanely retrograde that they oppose public school teachers referencing evolution.

    Despite their occasional good work, the ideological predilections of many of these Roman Catholic or Protestant affiliated groups are stuck somewhere between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. This is even before we consider their anachronistic attitudes about premarital sex, contraception and, in the case of Roman Catholics, female clergy.

    It is simply unrealistic to think that the side that opposes abortion is going to be able to work hand in hand with people who they with good reason consider to be Neanderthals.

    There is some reason to think that the new Pope gets this; is so, in time, perhaps bridges can be built.

    In the meantime, there is a case to be made that abortive fetuses because tegu have two X chromosomes or because they are likely to be born with physical or neurological disabilities is morally abhorrent (at least in most cases).

    There is something deeply wrong with people who believe that a human life should be tossed in the garbage bin merely because that person is destined to be born with a disability. Given how hard progressive people fought to have the Americans With Disabilities Act passes, you would think that they would realize this.

    We are stuck between two implacable foes; on the right we have devout but bags so convinced that the will of tge deity has been revealed to them letter by letter that their whole world view is colored by sex and its relationship to procreation. On the left we are faced with ideologues who are so narcissistic that they think that children less perfect than they view themselves have no right to be born.

    In the middle sits everyone else watching the repugnant spectacle of the two sides going at it.

    Sadly, the story of Molly tells us nothing about solutions and a lot about how hard it is for groups that despise each other to reconcile.

    • colagirl

      In the meantime, there is a case to be made that aborting fetuses because they have two X chromosomes or because they are likely to be born with physical or neurological disabilities is morally abhorrent (at least in most cases).

      There is something deeply wrong with people who believe that a human life should be tossed in the garbage bin merely because that person is destined to be born with a disability.

      This is very easy to say when you are not going to be the one tasked with raising the disabled child. Who in some cases may never be capable of being self-supporting and may continue to need intensive care long after you die.

      A very close family friend revealed to me some time ago that he had had a profoundly disabled sister. Physically and mentally “in every way possible,” he said. He described the experience of growing up with her as “nightmarish.” Literally, that was his word. He said that she was never anything but a “burden” on his family, that she continued to be a burden on himself and his other siblings after his parents passed away, and that when she died, it was nothing but a “relief.” He also said if he had a choice, he would never bring a child that severely disabled into the world.

      Another person I once knew with a severely retarded brother described very vividly how frightening it was to see a six-foot-tall man with the mind of a two-year-old throwing a two-year-old’s temper tantrum because his favorite TV show was cancelled that day. I found her response much more honest than a lot of rhetoric surrounding living with the mentally disabled.

      It is an *extremely* tough row to hoe. I would certainly never, ever tell parents who discover they are carrying a child with profound disabilities that they *should* terminate the pregnancy. Never. But neither will I judge them for deciding that they simply are not up to the demands of caring for such a child.

      • wigwag

        Cola girl, thank you for your eloquent response to my comment; I agree with much of what you’ve said.

        There are times when children are destined to be born disabled with horrible congenital malformations or other abnormalities that will inevitably lead to dramatically shortened lifespans and/or great pain.

        Someone needs to be the arbiter of whether those children should be brought into the world through birth or spared the pain they will inevitably be subject to through abortion. The reason I agree with you that abortion must remain legal is that the mother carrying the fetus is in a far better position to act as the surrogate decision maker for that fetus than the State is.

        With that said, many children destined to be born disabled are aborted who don’t face shortened lifespans or a life plagued by physical or emotional pain. 50 percent of fetuses with Down Syndrome are aborted. While Down Syndrome is certainly a difficult disorder, people born with it typically live many decades and while they are cognitively impaired, they have rich and full emotional lives. With early educational interventions many children with Down Syndrome are now graduating high school. What does it say about our society that these children are being aborted before birth in large numbers. Does their cognitive disability mean that they have less of a right to be born than you or I?

        New genetic tests are available for various forms of syndromic autism (as opposed to the more common idiopathic autism) like Fragile X and tuberous sclerosis. These children will have cognitive impairments that range from mild to severe and most will have sensory processing issues. Have you ever met any of these children? Most of them are lovely. They have wonderful senses of humour and experience a full range of emotions. They live normal life spans. Why should they be denied the right to live simply because they are imperfect? When they are aborted, it’s not to save them from a lifetime of pain and misery, it’s often because their parents can’t live with the idea of an imperfect child and decide to try again to get it right.

        There was a time that people with cerebral palsy were thought to be profoundly mentally retarded because they could not speak normally and they experienced unusual spastic reflexes. Often patients with cerebral palsy were routinely locked away in gruesome mental wards. It’s only within the past few decades that we learned that people with cerebral palsy have the same intellectual and emotional capacity as everyone else. There is no way to test for cerebral palsy in utero, but if there was, should these people be aborted?

        What about children destined to be born with severe asthma, Type I diabetes or cystic fibrosis? If we can figure out which fetuses are susceptible to those conditions should we be cavalier about aborting them?

        It’s not that abortion should be illegal or that it is wrong in every case. It’s that the American predilection to destroy life before birth because it may suffer from an imperfection is emblematic of what a callous society we have become. Conservatives get this; progressives on the other hand, who never tire of bragging about their ethical superiority, don’t. The progressive attitude about abortion is not only hypocritical, it’s morally repugnant.

        I don’t know how much you know about Helen Keller. The woman was remarkable. If you are only generally familiar with her story, I suggest that you read one of the many excellent biographies of her life.

        Than ask yourself, how many Helen Keller’s are we aborting every year so that so-called liberal people can insure that they only have perfect children.

    • M Snow

      So, the pro-lifers are devout nut bags, but those on the left are mere ideologues. Maybe the two groups cannot reconcile because people like you resort to unpleasant name-calling.

  • free_agent

    I’ve seen references that for a young woman (girl, really) to give birth before graduating high school is strongly correlated with having various poor life outcomes. How do the statistics look if she receives this sort of intensive support? Can support (statistically) remove the negative effect of early childbearing?

  • Andrew Allison

    Attempting to reconcile deeply-held beliefs is very, very hard to do. The Sunnis and Shiites have been at it for 1500 years, and there’s no end in sight. Ditto for the war between the pro-life and pro-choice believers, who have been at war since Roe v. Wade.

    WRM’s prescription (more support, less abortions) reflects his pro-life beliefs, which I respect. It’s my opinion, however, that there’s a dangerously thin line between support and coercion, and that support for adult single women should be along the lines of: here’s what we can do to help, you decide. The situation is much more fraught for minors and women in relationships: when there are legitimate third-party interests, they should be part of the decision making process.

    • gerald

      It’s my opinion, however, that there’s a dangerously thin line between support and coercion

      My my, what a cramped scale that is! How about “informing, persuading, supporting, intimidating, threatening, coercing”? Much more realistic, and thus no “dangerously thin line” between offering help to someone and pulling out a gun and waving it in their face (which is exactly what the language being used wants to imply about this aspect of the Pro-life movement). Where would showing plastic models of fetal development used in Medical schools lie on Andrew’s scale? Where would free ultrasounds lie on Andrew’s scale? Where would reasoned debates as those encapsulated in Peter Kreeft’s “The Unaborted Socrates” lie in Andrew’s scale? On the other hand, where would teenage peer pressure lie? Where would throwing an unwed pregnant daughter out of the house lie? Where would increased welfare payments for unwed mothers lie?

      The pro-life movement has had these “care centers” for years. Good luck trying to find news stories about them in the main-stream media, which has been trying to paint an image of a hostile and nasty group of people that Andrew’s scale was clearly intended to trigger as a pre-programmed response.

      • Andrew Allison

        You obvious can’t grasp the difference between (objective) education and (belief-driven) coercion. Some people are adamantly pro-life, some pro-choice. Most, I hope, think that it depends.

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