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Choosing to amend

In Church and State on November 12, 2009 at 10:51 am

Once again, as the details of the health care bill are amended, abortion comes into the spotlight. I want to go on record as supporting Representative Bart Stupak’s amendment that no public funds pay for abortions. This is not a stance that will be popular with my liberal camp, but I want to explain why, with the proviso that I am pro-choice.

I have a great deal of internal wrestling even addressing this topic, as I feel it is ultimately, personal and not public. I would rather never talk about it, that is how private such a choice is.  That is why I oppose funds of any sort from a public plan going towards a personal decision. I struggle that I’m sending the wrong message to make public something I believe to be so deeply personal, but I also feel what I want to say has value.

There is a group on Facebook I joined called “I Hate Cancer”. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that statement. On the same token, I don’t believe anyone likes abortions, including pro-choice folks. Choosing to have an abortion is one of the most difficult decisions a woman has to make.

It bothers me how often the argument that there are people who want their own children but cannot have them is waved like a flag to oppose abortion. The argument is akin to telling children to eat their peas because there are starving children in Africa.

Earlier this spring, a young mother and her son made headlines for refusing chemotherapy treatment. Their religious convictions made their choice easier for them. I don’t understand why they refused the treatment, but my religion doesn’t tell me to reject medicine. Theirs does. I’m not sure the law should have interfered with their religious choice.

There is a the flip side. Abortion is legal. It is a difficult option that is offered to women who don’t want to be pregnant. Some people’s religious convictions tell them it’s wrong and they want to change the law. I disagree with changing the law, but I also don’t feel the law should pay for it.

Abortion choice is a choice between a woman, her conscience, and her God. It has zero place in government, zero place in any sort of public insurance. It can be privately funded by those who believe in choice as adoptions can be privately funded by those who are strongly opposed.

In a nation that accepts religious diversity, I do not understand why personal beliefs are mingled with government policy. We are supposed to separate church and state. One of the greatest things about being human is that we have free will. Some of us believe it is a gift from God, others believe it’s part of what it is to be human. Whatever our belief structure is, we have the ability to make choices and with those choices comes personal responsibility.

I pray that our nation stop fighting on rhetoric and realize that we should not allow personal choices to publicly divide us.

  1. I read your post with great interest because before President Obama was elected I had a 500+ message Facebook conversation with two liberal Dems, two conservative Repubs and an independent. We covered so much ground that it would take hours to explain it all here. But there is one thing I want to address in your post above:

    “Some people’s religious convictions tell them it’s wrong and they want to change the law.”

    The one thing I learned, to my great surprise, was that opposition to abortion is not always a religious issue. It may not even ordinarily be one. It’s a human rights issue. The more we talked and hashed out our beliefs, the more we realized that the pro-life contingent was basing its argument on science, heartbeats, the failure of our nation’s culture to promote higher standards of morality at the secular level (public schools, MTV, entertainment, the movies, etc) and its failure to make birth control more accessible. Strangely missing from the conversation was religion. I am a devout Christian. A couple of the others are, also. Two of the liberals were pro-choice Christians. But the final consensus was that abortion is wrong because if we measure death by the cessation of a beating heart we ought to also measure the beginning of life by its first heartbeat. No religion or moralizing involved at all.

    We also came to the conclusion that the American church is failing its congregants by not supporting single mothers better and by being so “seeker-friendly” that new believers are not being told that human sexuality and reproduction, for a Christian, is a sacred trust. They can’t be blamed for choosing abortion when we are too afraid to tell them why they shouldn’t. Picketing with graphic signs may deter a few at the door, but wouldn’t it be better to lovingly care for our women with young as Jesus would? Okay, off soapbox!

  2. Welcome and thank you for adding such depth to our forum! please return 🙂

  3. “Picketing with graphic signs may deter a few at the door, but wouldn’t it be better to lovingly care for our women with young as Jesus would?” Oh, AMEN! Beautifully said.

    Here’s the thing about public funds–they fund all kinds of wretched things. Covert military operations, lavish parties, death sentences for convicted felons, pointless experiments, corporate kickbacks for billionaires, on and on.

    Yet I don’t have a choice in it. None of us do. There is no debate going on about whether or not pro-life sentiments, in the *true* sense of the word should be considered when funding the military or prison systems. (I’ve always thought we should have a set of ticker boxes next to our tax statements, indicating where we want our tax dollars to go.)

    And don’t get me started on how the anti-choice sentiment in the political sphere is a recent one and that once upon a time, clergy performed abortions. For some reason, this fact remains hidden. The “abortion argument” in the political spectrum has little to do with issues care and life and everything to do with control, the medicalization of women’s bodies, and the manipulation of voters. But, I digress.

    At the end of the day, I am absolutely willing to pay for abortions through my tax dollars. I have worked in the non-profit sector (that “private” area that’s supposed to take care of what we refuse to do as a governing populace) all my adult life, mostly with homeless women and children. We do not, and will at no time in the near or distant future, take adequate care of the least of us.

    Until we do, I want to ensure that EVERY woman who feels she needs an abortion has access to it. And quite frankly, folks, the non-profit, “private” sector can’t afford to take on anymore of what we as a governing populace refuse to do. The gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow. There isn’t some massive influx of money into the private sector that’s going to take care of all the social ills that conservatives want to heap on folks like me. We can’t take care of what we’re charged with now due to a lack of resources and talent (the lack of talent is due to low pay. I don’t mean to say me or my peers are without talent!). The non-profit sector is not here to take care of what we are too chicken sh!t to do as a union. I’m sorry, but my fellow Americans are wearing me out with their inability to stand up as a union, forever crying for those of us out here in the trenches to pick up the slack.

    As a side note, I’ve worked at homeless shelters run by religious groups that kicked women back out on the street because they asked for help in getting an abortion. Telling a HOMELESS woman who has suffered unimaginably that she doesn’t deserve a roof over her head because of her choice makes me want to start a riot. The private sector can’t fix this, and if we’re gonna fund war and countless other idiocies, it’s time we stepped up to the plate and ensured that women have access to abortions if they need it. Is it the best choice? Absolutely not! But until something magical happens, we need to stand up as a governing populace and take care of women, even if they make choices we don’t agree with.

  4. Man, that was a novel. Just call me Chatty Cathy.

  5. Well put Chatty Cathy, well put indeed.

  6. While I think abortion should be a woman’s option, I really don’t care if abortion is covered by the government healthcare plan or not, I am more concerned about how those on the far right are working to to interfere with other’s liberties: The separation of church and state is fundamental to our Republic, should we sacrifice this fundamental for any issue? You are in the wrong country if you think so; thank you Pilgrims, we do remember why you came here, happy Thanksgiving.

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