Mississippi

Mississippi.    

Is there a more pathetic state in the Union?   I mean, does anyone know of a state that is more regressive in terms of income, health, education, baseball teams?   Indeed, can you name a Third World country that is as bad as Mississippi?    

And, now, to push the state even further into the dark ages, their voters on Tuesday will probably pass a resolution that will totally outlaw abortion.  The specific question that the voters will be asked to approve says:  “Should the term ‘person’ be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the equivalent thereof?”   Now I can’t imagine anyone in that state who knows what the term “thereof” means, but the gist of this measure is there will be no more abortions and lots more kids to add to the misery that is life in Mississippi.  Indeed, the person who is spearheading this effort, a guy named Les Riley, is the founder of “Personhood Mississippi” and he is the father of TEN children.  I guess old Les is hoping that others in his neck of the woods will bear the same number of kids, if not more, so they can get the classroom sizes up to at least 50 kids per room which would push their rate of academic achievement below that of Somalia.  Quite a role model, that Les!

The interesting thing about this resolution is that many “mainstream” pro-life groups actually oppose it because they are smart enough to realize that it is too extreme.  But, it ain’t too extreme for the Bubbas in Mississippi.  Indeed, outlawing abortion ain’t enough for these folks.  An analysis of the resolution shows that certain forms of birth control would be outlawed (thus creating even more children living in poverty) and it would limit in vitro fertilization.  But, for now, let’s stick to the abortion side of the equation. 

This is Johnny, oh wait, Marie, oh wait "it" has no sex yet.

When the measure passes, the next day Planned Parenthood will challenge it in court and the lower courts will grant an injunction prohibiting the measure from going into effect.  Here’s the thing, however.  Let’s say Mitt Romney (or one of the other Republican nominees) becomes President in 2013.  Despite his previous support for the right to choose, he has now courageously “seen the light” and is all of a sudden pro-life.  What a guy, a true Profile in Courage.  As President, he would be beholden to the pro-life movement and

sooner or later some more Supreme Court judges are going to kick the bucket.  That means that Romney (or, conversely, Obama) might get to make 2 or 3 appointments.  If it’s Romney, you know damn well he is going to appoint judges who are pro-life and that could tip the scales. 

Yes, many lawyers suggest that the court could not uphold a measure like this because of “legal precedent.”  That’s garbage.  It might have been the case years ago when our judicial system, not to mention the executive and legislative branches, were more deferential to their body’s previous actions but not anymore.  I am convinced that when the Supreme Court gets this (or any other) case, the justices, with the possible exception of Justice Kennedy, make up their minds immediately, then instruct their clerks to construct their rationalization.  If you think they sit there objectively, listening intently to the arguments of the learned counsel then come to a decision, you’re in La La land.  I mean, think about it.  Do you really think Clarence Thomas and Anton Scalia would NOT find a way to uphold the Mississippi law?  

So, this case will ultimately make it to the Supreme Court in a few years.  And that makes the next Presidential election so extremely important when it comes to abortion rights.  I feel like we’ve been through this drill before, but this time it’s extremely serious. 

Rhythm Method otherwise known as "Keep Your Fingers Crossed"

I’m not gonna talk about abortion today but I am still pretty confident that this will generate our usual exciting discussions!

A relative of mine lives in Tennessee.  He is 31 years old, has a lovely wife and makes a good living as an attorney for a big law firm.  He and his wife are very devout Catholics and faithfully adhere to all of the rules and regulations, including the one that basically says you should only have sex to procreate.  They say they use the “rhythm method,” which I frankly don’t know if the church condones or not.  But, basically, that’s their form of “birth control.”

Well, it ain’t working very well because in the last 6 years, they’ve had four children.  And I just learned that they are now expecting baby number five!  But when I saw them this weekend, I could not bring myself to congratulate them because I believe that producing five children is a very selfish act.

Now, they have enough money to raise the kids in a nice setting.  We do not have to worry about them sopping off the public dole.  And the kids will probably grow up to be productive citizens, although – yes – it is possible that one or two of the five might wind up being drug dealing psychopaths.  But, let’s be optimistic and say that they will all grow up to be wonderful pillars of society.

Here’s the problem.  The Catholics who read and comment on this blog believe that their religion is “the word,” that all of the other religions don’t have much to offer and, indeed, are way off base.  This not only relates to the issue of abortion, but to so many other issues that the church pokes its nose into.  But if it were up to many Catholics, we would all sign up with their church and join them in following the dictates of the Pope, like lemmings to the sea.  And, if we all did that, we’d all be producing 5, 6, 7 kids.

And while each one of those kids might be a “blessing,” as many suggest, I still think that having that many kids is a selfish act.  Many years ago, when we had an infinite amount of resources and it actually was helpful to have a crap load of kids

Catholic Model

working the family farm.  But that’s not the world we live in anymore.  We are using up all of our food, our water and other natural resources at an alarming rate.  Oh sure, those of you reading this might be sitting in a nice comfortable heated house but take a minute and read about the rest of the world, especially the Third World countries.

The point is that if every woman becomes a breeder reactor, the plethora of children they produced will be adversely affecting the world that my TWO children are living in.  That’s because we share the same planet, we breathe the same air.  We can just simply no longer afford to be propagating at a pace like this young couple.

And, let me throw in this wrench:  if I told you the same story and the woman was an illegal immigrant and crack addict living on welfare in the Bronx, would you still be saying that her sixth child was a “blessing?”

Making Abortion Less Accessible

I really need some help sorting this one out folks.   I am writing this directly to the pro-lifers who read this blog.  I really need to get your angle on something…

So, if you are pro-life you think abortion should be illegal, right?  You generally think – although there are differences of opinions within your movement – that the doctor should go to the jail and some of you think that the woman (because she basically created the need for the doctor) should go to jail as well.  You don’t want to see any more abortion clinics because they are complicit in the killing of babies or pre-born babies or the unborn or whatever you wish to call it.  Am I correct so far?

But now, here comes the ole Commonwealth of Virginia where pro-life forces have successfully persuaded the state Board of Health to issue regulations that will govern how abortion clinics are run.  Pro-lifers say they want to make the abortion process safer for the women because there are so many sleaze balls out there performing abortions.

Okay, folks, what am I missing here?

A woman going into an abortion clinic is usually going in for one reason – to abort their fetus, their baby, their child, their – well, you pick title.  And the pro-lifers don’t like.  Indeed, they will spend hours and hours standing in front of an abortion clinic, screaming and yelling at women in an effort to persuade them to cancel their appointment.  Some will go further and threaten the doctors and their staff in the hopes that they will stop performing this pernicious act.  Some will burn down the clinic.  Oh, yeah, and some will actually get a gun or two and kill the doctor and/or their staff to make the point.

But now – wait a second!   Now these same folks want to guarantee that the abortion is performed in a safer environment.  Suddenly, the pro-lifers are now very concerned that a woman might be injured while she is “killing her baby.”  Now, they seem concerned that if there is an emergency the hallways need to be wide enough to get the gurney out to the waiting ambulance.  They now want to make sure that the air conditioning is at a proper setting, so the woman will be comfortable while she terminates her pregnancy.  In South Carolina, where they promulgated regulations several years ago, they were so concerned about making abortion such a pleasant experience that they required the clinic to regularly mow their lawn and to rid the property of all kinds of critters.  In Kansas, pro-lifers want to make sure that the woman’s personal belongings are safe so they required clinics to have a locker for each patient.  Damn the cost, they shouted!  Women should feel mentally comfortable when they are aborting.  Then, tossing a bone to the Custodial Engineer’s Association of America, they threw in a requirement that a janitor’s closet be at least 50 square feet, enough room to hang out and watch television.  Bravo to the pro-life movement!   Is there no end to their compassion?

The new temporary regulations in Virginia will be formally voted on Sept. 15 by the state Board of Health and could go into effect by Dec. 31.  Clinics that provide five or more abortions per month will then be classified as hospitals.   Supporters of the restrictions say with a straight face that their only aim is to protect women. They assure us that they do not seek to make the regulations so onerous that it will force many of them to shut their doors.  Oh, sure, they’ll still shout that women are “murdering babies” inside that facility, but they still want to make sure that everything is nice and clean in there.

Can anyone help me out here?   I’m just a little confused….

Personhood Abortion

Personhood Demonstration

I am now totally convinced that the anti-abortion movement in this country has no idea how to stop abortion and, worse, some of their strategies might actually result in more abortions in this country.

There is now another anti-abortion group out there called “Personhood USA.”  They are led by a young activist by the name of Keith Mason who hails from Colorado.  Personhood USA’s announced goal is to pass amendments to several state constitutions that would recognize someone as a person “exactly at creation.”   As Mason explains, that would be at the moment of “fertilization…when the sperm meets the egg.”

Go ahead, Keith, make our day.

Okay, so I’m not gonna spend any time talking about how only about half of these fertilized eggs actually result in an ongoing pregnancy.  I guess to folks like Keith, it is irrelevant.   I suppose that when fertilization occurs, the parents will go out and get their new little “person” a Social Security but if it never appears, well, we’ll just toss his or her card out.  Despite some possible glitches, Keith is charging full steam ahead.  Indeed, this November voters in Mississippi might vote on a “personhood amendment” to their state Constitution, although it is being challenged by the ACLU.  And Keith has declared that his organization hopes to get proposals like these on the ballot in nearly half the states by 2012.

If Keith and his buddies want to spend all of that time on initiatives like these, I might even send him $5 to encourage him because it is an incredible waste of their time, money and energy.  If you have ever worked on a ballot initiative you know how much work it is and if Keith wants to try to mobilize the anti-abortion folks in that state on a proposal that – even if it passed – would never pass constitutional muster, then I say go for it.   Of course, he is ignoring the fact that a similar measure was defeated in Colorado in 2008 and 2010 but if his crowd wants to spend their time pushing something like this instead of working to defeat President Obama, I applaud their decision.

Kelth Mason Abortion

Keith Mason

Here’s the other kicker.   Let’s say that the measure actually does pass in Mississippi and it starts making its way through the court system.  Let’s say that in the meantime, President Obama has three more appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court and he gets into a pissing match with the pro-choice movement and, seeking revenge, he appoints three ardent, right wing conservatives.  Then this case gets to that Supreme Court and they uphold the law!

The result?

Sorry, Keith, but the result could actually be more (illegal at that point) abortions.

That’s because redefining “personhood” in this fashion will actually end up reclassifying many birth control methods as abortifacients or agents that induce abortions.

Hmmmm…. Less birth control available to women.

Now, I’m no rocket scientist but is it not possible that this scenario might result in more abortions?

Hello, Keith!   Are you out there?

Anybody?

For many years, my colleagues in the pro-choice movement have made a big deal out of the fact that “87 percent of the counties in the United States do not have an abortion provider.”   They have used that statistic to raise money and to try to raise awareness of the problems posed by the “abortion provider shortage.”

There is no arguing that in some parts of the country, abortion doctors are a scarce commodity.  But let’s delve a little into how bad things really are.

The reality is that abortion is a very specialized form of medicine.  Contrary to what the pro-life moment thinks, women who suddenly find themselves pregnant just don’t run down to the ole abortion clinic and – wham bam thank you m’am – have an abortion..  In several states, they have to go to the clinic and check in to start that absurd 24 hour waiting period clock that does absolutely nothing to enhance the decision making process.  Sorry folks, but they’ve already thought about it prior to their visit.  In rural areas, this waiting period does one thing – it makes the process more expensive and, thus, might be a deterrent which, of course, is the real purpose of these laws.  When they are ultimately ready to begin the abortion process, they undergo some form of counseling, oftentimes they have to listen to some gobblygook mandated by the state, they may ultimately get the abortion.  If it is a late term abortion, the process could be three days.  After the abortion, they may have either physical or emotional issues afterwards that the clinic will try to address.  And if the woman is using the abortion pill, there are other factors to consider.

The point is that, unless you are dealing with a sleaze ball abortion doctor, the process is more complicated than getting a root canal or even knee surgery.   And that’s why I would suggest abortion is a “specialized” form of medicine that needs specially trained staff.

So, the fact that abortion doctors are not on every corner in the country is no surprise to me.  Indeed, I am not sure if I would want too many out there because it might lower the standard of care.  Also, I can say from the experience that there are a number of doctors or clinic owners who at times were not thrilled if another doctor moved into their neighborhood.  After all, this is – YES I’LL SAY IT – a profit making venture so who in their right minds would want someone to move in who will take away some of your business?

Now, when we get to states like North Dakota and Idaho, getting an abortion might be more of a chore because of the distances one has to travel.  But a woman seeking an abortion will find that clinic and, yes, she will have to travel a great distance.  And, if there is a 24 hour waiting period, that makes the process all that more difficult.  But when you are seeking some “rare” kind of surgery, you often have to travel great distances to find that specialist.  Just look at how many people fly to the Mayo clinic to treat a rare form of cancer or some other disease.

I remember years ago when the feminist movement was so excited that the “abortion pill” was coming onto the market.   They predicted that doctors would come out of the woodwork to offer this “simple” alternative to surgical abortions.  And while the doctors already practicing publicly applauded its introduction, privately they were very nervous that all of these new doctors would be competing with them.

So, when the pro-choice movement starts talking how so many counties don’t have abortion doctors, I have an interesting reaction.  Sure, in North Dakota we could use another clinic on the western part of the state.  But, then, on the other hand, in places like New York or Detroit, there is practically an abortion provider on almost every corner…

Catholic Guilt

I am a substitute teacher at a local high school and over the years I have gotten to know a young man named Carlos.  He is generally a good kid, very shy, pretty smart.  He doesn’t know who is father is, lives with his aunt and has been practically forced to run with the wrong crowd.  As a result, he has had a few brushes with the law.  He is not into school.  When I talk to him, I want to hug him and slap him on the head at the same time.   So much potential.

I hadn’t seen Carlos in about six months but this weekend, as I was driving to Home Depot, I noticed him sitting at a bus stop.  I yelled over to him, he waved enthusiastically and I told him to jump in my car so I could give him a ride home.  We hit a bunch of traffic so we had time to catch up.  He told me how he was working two jobs at two fast food restaurants but was looking elsewhere because he was “getting tired of food places.”  He continues to send money to his mother who lives about 50 miles away.  He doesn’t get excited about much but he beamed when he told me he was attending a “junior police academy” sponsored by the high school.

I asked him where he had been before I saw him at the bus stop and his already soft voice got even softer and he mumbled “I was visiting my baby’s momma.”

Incredulous, certain that I hadn’t heard right, I looked at him and said “What???”

“Oh, yeah, well, uh…I’m gonna be a Daddy.”

His friendly demeanor has always made it difficult for me to get mad at him but this time I wanted to slap him in the head.

“Are you kidding me?    You got a girl pregnant?  Are you out of your fucking mind?”

The minute I said it, I wanted to take it back but it was too late.  We talked about how it happened, who the girl was (his girlfriend since the 8th grade), what his plans were, etc.  He said he would probably have to drop out of school to get a full time job, deferring his dream of entering the police force.   Then, I threw out the bombshell.

Catholic Guilt Trip

“Did you two consider an abortion?”  The tension in the car rose palpably.

“Well, we’re both Catholic.   We talked about it once but we know that God would not be happy if we did that and we would go to Hell.”   I thought of making a quick detour to his church to confront the head priest or whatever he is called, but I again held back.

So, these two kids originally defied their church when they had sex before getting married but when that act produced a fetus, they could not defy their church again.  And now they were stuck because their church had indoctrinated them for who knows how many years about the “evils” of abortion.  And now they were going to be parents.

But not to worry!   Things will be fine because their church will no doubt be there for them when the bills start coming in, right?  That priest will certainly organize fundraising drives for Carlos and his new family to pay for the clothes, the food, the sport uniforms, the field trips.  I mean, they are good Christians so they’ll be there every step of the way, right?  Of course they will be there to help because, after all, they were the ones who convinced these two kids that that oh-so-precious life inside that girl must be protected at all costs.

We all know that there are many Catholics out there that ultimately have abortions.  But think about the incredible guilt they will carry with them for the rest of their lives because the Church – the male dominated Church – has deemed that that little thing that is in the woman’s body is a “life” that needs protecting.

So, because the church basically forces pregnant Catholics to give birth, Carlos and his girlfriend will go through the drill.  You can tell he is not excited, but he wants to do the responsible thing.  She will have the baby, they will break up within a few years, he will send her money, never see his child and the mother and child will enter that never ending cycle of poverty.

Does the Church not see what they are doing?  Is it so damned important to protect that “life” and practically destroy these two kid’s lives in the process?

Abortion

Abortion

Angelita and Ricardo took their place in one of the last pews in the back of the church.   As always, the predominantly Spanish parishioners at the Good Sheppard Catholic Church have filled the building to the rafters.    Ever since the arrival of a new, dynamic priest named Father Guerrero, attendance has skyrocketed.

Today’s sermon was entitled “The Horrors of Abortion.”  For the next 20 minutes, Father Guerrero told the rapt audience how thousands of babies each day were being torn “limb by limb” from the mother’s womb, how the mothers would ultimately come to regret their heinous act and how God would be watching them commit this serious sin.  This particular church had always been on the cusp of anti- abortion activity, organizing buses to protest at the local “abortion mill.”  Two years ago, they erected a “Memorial to the Unborn” at the church’s entrance, a reminder to everyone entering God’s house that millions of babies had been aborted under his very eye.  Father Guerrero was asked to come to this church because of his zealous anti-abortion activism over the years.  He fit right in.

Abortion

Abortion

Meanwhile, as the good father went on, Angelita kept rubbing her stomach.  She was nine weeks pregnant and in two days she was going to have an abortion.

When the young couple had learned that Angelita was pregnant, at first they rejoiced.  Ricardo, perhaps playing that “machismo” card, could barely contain himself.  He couldn’t wait to tell his compadres at the construction site that he was going to be a father – preferably the father of a young, strapping boy.  Angelita, who was 19 at the time, was also excited at first but then quickly turned anxious.  After she finished high school, she had taken a year off to work at a local fast food restaurant to save money to attend the local community college where she hoped to study nursing.   Suddenly, she saw how her life was about to change.

Catholics and Abortion

Catholics and Abortion

A week or two later, after thinking a lot more about her and Ricardo’s future, she began to think about abortion.  She could not imagine raising a child at her age, giving up her dreams of being a nurse and the possibility of Ricardo having to get a second job to cover their new expenses.  But when she prayed to her God, she could only feel discomfort.  As a lifelong Catholic, she had been trained that just the slightest thought of abortion was abhorrent, that if she ever had one she would clearly spend eternity in hell.  Of course, she could not even think about going to her former priest, the one who had given her communion, had presided over her father’s funeral and had advised her on some many other personal issues.   And the new one was out of the question.  Meanwhile, she couldn’t talk to her friends or her family, as they were Catholic as well.  It was just she and Ricardo.

Within a few weeks, Ricardo’s enthusiasm about being a Dad had worn off as well as he started to anticipate his new responsibilities.  So, when Angelita – in tears – raised the possibility of abortion with him, he was more amenable than she thought he would be.   After a few agonizing days, they agreed to schedule an abortion.

Catholic Compassion

Catholic Compassion

And now, sitting in her house of worship that had been a source of comfort for so many years, she could only feel like an outcast.  When she walked by the statute in the front of the church, she became nauseous.  As she listened to her priest talk to HER about HER abortion, she could not make eye contact and it took all of her resolve to not burst out crying.

She and Ricardo needed help, not condemnation.  But in her desperate time of need, her church offered her no refuge.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 475 other followers