Protestors Holdilg Gross Sigs

Protestors Holdilg Gross Signs

It goes without saying that the abortion issue is probably the most controversial issue of our time.  Beginning in earnest after the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v Wade, the “pro-life” and “pro-choice” forces have been going at for years – and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.  And if you read the polls, it’s really had to say what side is actually “winning.”  Indeed, I’m not even sure how you determine who is winning.  The bottom line is I know abortion is still legal in this country but they are harder to get.  You decide.

Some even go so far to say we are in a “war” over abortion, although I wouldn’t go that far because to me a “war” is when two sides are engaging in violence and, as far as I can tell, the only violent acts have come from the pro-life side (and please, if you are pro-life, do not bore me with the “violence in the womb” argument).  But, for the moment let’s say we are engaged in a war.   The question now is how far are you willing to go to win this war?  In the world of international relations, somewhere along the line we came up with the rules of the Geneva Convention which set some boundaries for conduct that warring parties are supposed to adhere to (although not everyone complies).  In this abortion “war”, I think there should be boundaries as well.  And recently, one pro-life group crossed a boundary that makes my head spin.

By now, everyone involved in this issue knows that Doctor Lee Carhart, a physician from Nebraska, has decided to carry on the work of the late Doctor George Tillerby performing later abortions and he

has established a practice in Germantown, Maryland.  He has been there for several months and has been so open about what he is doing that he even gave a front page interview to the Washington Post a short while ago.  I’ve written in the past about how I wish my friend Lee would just “shut up” and do his work quietly (out of fear for his safety), but Lee is not built that way.  He is an advocate as well as a physician.

Not surprisingly, there have been protests at the Germantown clinic.  That’s okay, that’s the First Amendment in action.  I don’t like it but I support their right to be out there on a Saturday yelling and screaming and parading around with their gross signs.  But now here comes a pro-life splinter group with a new tactic that boggles my mind.  It seems these folks found out who owns the office complex where the abortion clinic is located.  Yes, they had enough negative energy stored up that they probably combed the real estate records in the county for his name.  I have no doubt that they probably tried to find out where he lives but have not yet been successful.  But, after discovering the name of the landlord, they found out where his CHILDREN go to SCHOOL.  And, once they discovered that his children went to an elementary school in Maryland, they came up with the idea of picketing the kids’ school!   Yep, they went out there just a few weeks ago during the day and stood in front of the school with their ugly signs and blaring the name of the landlord (and, by reference, his children).

Dr. Carhart and Dr. Tiller

Just think for a second about not just his children, but all of the children as they jumped off the bus, already thinking about their lunch period or recess and then they see this sick group of people holding signs.  When they look closer, they may see the pictures of a dismembered fetus, they may see lots of blood, they might see the word “abortion” in big red letters.  Of course, they are probably too young to even comprehend what is going on but – as this group would say – THEY NEED TO LEARN ABOUT THE HORRORS OF ABORTION!

Who are these nut balls who believe it is up to them to introduce these young children to this difficult issue?  Aren’t they the same ones who scream about parental control?  The thing is I know who they are, they are the ones whose own children will be forced at a very early age to stand outside of an abortion clinic on a beautiful Saturday, be forced to hold a disgusting sign, chant a slogan, scream at the women. And they’ll say their six year old told them they’d rather be out there than playing soccer with their friends.

I have always encouraged a healthy, honest debate on this issue.  But a line has to be drawn somewhere.  Again, I would support their right to do this, but do these folks have no shame?  Besides, from a strategic point of view it’s a pretty stupid thing to do because they are pissing off a lot of parents, even those who are pro-life.

I wonder how these folks would feel if we went to their kid’s school and held up signs of women lying in a pool of blood after a botched abortion?  We could easily do it, we’ve got the pictures.

The difference is we’re too civilized.

ACLU

You gotta love the American Civil Liberties Union.

For many, many years, the political right wing has pounded them over and over again to the point where there came a time when few people would admit they were “card carrying members of the ACLU.”  Indeed, the last time I heard any reference to the ACLU cards was in that great speech by Michael Douglas in “The American President” where he smacks his conservative opponent for NOT being a member of the ACLU.  Brings tears to my eyes.

And although being a member of the ACLU may not be as much in vogue as it used to, it’s great to see that are still fighting the good fight.  It seems that last Thursday the ACLU of North Carolina filed a lawsuit against the state to force it to produce one of those “specialty license plates” that support abortion rights.  This is in response to some action last June when the state legislature authorized the issuance of a “Choose Life” license plate.  During the debate, several pro-choice legislators offered amendments to allow for other plates with messages like “Trust Women” or “Respect Choice” but I guess the anti-abortion legislators were in no mood to be fair, so they defeated all of the amendments.  The ACLU, in its lawsuit, is now arguing that the First Amendment does not allow a state to promote “one side of a debate while denying the same opportunity to the other side.”  Interestingly, they added that their position would have been the same “if the state had authorized a pro-choice license plate but not an anti-choice alternative.”

I’m trying to think this one through a little.  So, if the state of New York had voted to allow a “Support Abortion” license plate and rejected any attempts to authorize a pro-life plate, the ACLU would have filed a lawsuit on behalf of the pro-life movement demanding that the state authorize a plate for their side?  Now, I know that the ACLU has stuck its neck out defending the KKK in free speech cases and other controversial, conservative clients, but why do I find it hard to believe that they would have run to the aid of the pro-life movement?   If anything, that would have created an interesting scenario and I chuckle thinking of the rather testy meetings of the pro-choice coalition after they learned that the ACLU would be

Pro Choice License Plate

spending its money defending the anti-abortion crowd.

As for this case, let me remind you that I am not a lawyer.  Oh, I went to law school for one year which gave me some very basic understanding of the law but I left to take a job on Capitol Hill (and the rest is history).  But I guess I’m wondering what the big fuss is all about?  I ask because, if you really think about can you remember the last time you saw a car with a “specialty” license plate on it?  And, let’s face it.  Most folks, unless they are a little kooky, are not gonna go around advertising how they feel about the friggin abortion issue, are they?  I am as pro-choice as they come, but I would never think about putting a pro-choice license plate on my car.   If anything, I would be very concerned that some anti-abortion nut ball would see my car and have a little fun with it.  I prefer to advertise my pro-choice credentials when I am questioning a candidate or when someone makes a simple statement that I disagree with.  Indeed, I always look forward to asking a candidate how they feel about the abortion issue because ninety nine percent of them don’t even want to talk about it and, when forced to, it’s fun watching them squirm.

So, I applaud the ACLU for taking this action, for fighting the good fight.  But if they lose, it’s a signal to the rest of the state legislatures that are considering taking similar action that they don’t have to worry about being “fair” and, if they win, how many people really will put a pro-choice license plate on their car?  I would hope it would be a lot, but I’m just a little cynical.  But, yes, I still have my twenty year old ACLU card!

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….

Sex Selective Abortions

After getting my kids off to college this weekend, I actually sat back and read the newspaper!  Thumbing through the New York Times, I came across an article about a new medical test that would help couples identify the sex of their unborn baby much earlier in the pregnancy.  Today, you have to wait until about 15 weeks or so to get a definitive answer.

This is a great scientific advancement so, of course, the pro-life groups are up in arms and expressing grave concern.  That’s because they think that women will start aborting fetuses because they wanted a boy instead of a girl or they already had three girls and were hoping to mix it up a bit.  And, of course, if the male has anything to say about it, he would abort that silly little girl over the next Derek Jeter.

Let’s all acknowledge that in certain cultures boys are preferred over girls and the practice of sex selection abortions is rather common in some of those cultures.  And, to be honest, while the idea of aborting a fetus because of its sex feels rather strange to me, I still have to support the woman on this one.  As I have always said, up until the point of viability the women should be able to abort no matter what the reason, no matter how uncomfortable it might be for others.  That’s because, if you start carving out exceptions such as sex selection, then you’re on a slippery slope and our lawmakers would soon be looking at other exceptions.

Of course, those who were raised in other cultures wind up coming to the United States so it is quite possible that a woman, for example, from India might want an abortion here in the U.S. because she knows she’s having a girl.  This new test will allow her to identify the sex much earlier which would allow her to have an abortion earlier in her pregnancy.  And, if you are going to have an abortion, earlier is always better than later, no?

So, yes, this new test might “encourage” a woman, particularly one from the East, to have an abortion for purposes of sex selection.  But let’s be real about this.

The fact is that when a woman goes into an abortion facility, after signing the paperwork, getting some medical tests, etc. she is then seen by a counselor.  The counselor discusses with her the abortion process, she reviews her other options, she talk about birth control and, well, sometimes they just plain talk.  But in the vast majority of reputable abortion clinics, the counselor does not ask why the woman is having the abortion.  There is no reason to know.  It would not change the abortion process.  That issue is left to the woman and anyone else she wishes to have involved in the decision.  Sure, a woman might just voluntarily offer why she was having the abortion but that question is not on the counselor’s “must ask” list.

So, in the future if a woman takes this new test and it indicates she is having a girl and she decides she does not want a girl, she may abort.  Personally, I think that would be a rare circumstance, i.e., to abort just because of the sex.  Even if you prefer a boy, when you learn that it’s a girl you perspective can change rather rapidly.  But if she wants to abort for that reason, no one is gonna know unless she decides to voluntarily talk about it.

Meanwhile, however, pro-life legislators have already indicated that they will be introducing measures prohibiting sex selection abortions.  I say go for it boys.  I think it’s a waste of time but if that’s where you want to spend your resources, go knock yourself out.  That’s because the reality is that, if you pass a bill prohibiting sex selection abortions, a woman will simply go to the clinic and, in the very unlikely event that she is asked why she is having an abortion, she’ll just make up another reason.

Duh…….

Emotional Terrorists

It seems that every once in a while, we get a new, energized abortion rights advocate who starts screaming about how every pro-lifer is a “terrorist.”  They usually also add how the Catholic Church has murdered more people than any other religion in the world, but I don’t have the time or energy to research what the Catholic Church has done over the centuries so I don’t opine on those comments.  However, I do have some experience in the world of abortion, so I would like to chat a little about whether or not all pro-lifers are “terrorists.”

I guess the first thing one needs to do is define “terrorist.”  In my head, the true terrorists are, of course, the folks who fly crowded airplanes into buildings, who blow themselves up in crowded market squares and who plot the death of innocent civilians or government workers.  You know who I am talking about:  Bin Laden, Timothy McVeigh, and that nut ball up in Norway who recently killed all of those kids.   Then there are the Micheal Griffins, James Kopps and Paul Hills of the world.  True terrorists, they.

But then, way on the other end of the spectrum, are those pro-lifers who just sit in their house, avoiding all demonstrations and who rarely opine about their position on the abortion issue.  They might pray at home or in church for an end in abortion and send some money to their local pro-life organization, but I have a very tough time calling them “terrorists” and I suspect that most pro-choicers would also be reluctant to affix that label to them.

Where I get stuck is when I think of those folks who go to their local abortion clinic on a regular basis and publicly demonstrate.  Are they “terrorists?”  Let’s talk about their motivations and their actions.

I guess your average protestorgoes to the  clinic in the hopes of stopping an abortion, whether it is by engaging in prayer (don’t even ask me how that would work) or, if they chance, talking one on one with the women as they approach the

Angry Protestors = Terrorism?

abortion facility.  Once they identify the woman, they might start screaming at them.  Some even resort to the use of a bullhorn.  Now, a woman who has made an appointment for an abortion usually is warned by clinic staff that there may be protestors outside so when she sees the anti-abortion folks out front, she knows they smell blood.  Then scream at her that she is “killing your baby!”  They may make a crying baby sound and shriek “Mommy, don’t let them pull my legs off!”  Sometimes it is just a simple “Murderer!”  The woman may have been warned, she may have seen demonstrations on television, but she is rarely prepared for this scene.  And, to top it off, she doesn’t want to be at the clinic in the first place.

Over the years, I have seen this scenario played out in the front of many clinics.  The unique perspective that I have, however, is that on a number of occasions, I have walked with the women passed the protestors into the actual clinic.  Some gave me permission to accompany them through the entire abortion process.  I have seen (and the protestors haven’t) how upset the women are when they sign in, whose blood pressure has risen because they are so angry at these strangers outside the clinic who don’t know her or anything about her personal situation.  I’ve seen women who have already shed a few tears as she contemplated her decision shed even more tears in the waiting room.  And then, after all of the theatrics outside, I’ve then seen them have their abortion.

Not all pro-lifers are terrorists.  That’s a silly statement.  But I would conclude that to the women who walked the anti-abortion gauntlet, who could feel the hatred, who heard the screaming, who would prefer to be just with alone with their loved ones – I would say that those particular women were indeed “terrorized.”

Pro Life Bumper Stickers

Like most Americans (the sane ones, at least), I watched in horror as our elected officials almost brought our country to the economic brink a few weeks ago with their outright silliness over legislation to raise the debt ceiling.  Despite the fact that every Congress has gone through this drill many times (including under Reagan and Bush), this time around the young Tea Partyers decided it was time to draw the line in the sand – the economy be damned.

They cried that they had been sent to the Congress to send the message that we needed to get control of the “reckless” spending that was running rampant in our federal agencies.  So, screw your silly debt ceiling, they shouted!  I don’t care, Mr. President, if you are cutting a few trillion dollars in spending.  It’s not enough!  And, while you’re at it, don’t even think about raising any taxes, even on the billionaires who could care less if they had another $1,000 or so taken out of their paycheck.   There will be no compromise – and let the chips fall where they may!

What a friggin mess.  It was a game of machismo and Obama, because he actually believes in governing this country, had to blink.

And so it is with the debate over abortion.  As followers of this award-winning blog have seen in the past, the “debate,” and I use that term loosely, generally boils down to a cyberspace shouting match where no one gives any ground, where no one dares say “hey, you got a point there,” lest they be accused of treason.  Yes, there are some who have a bottom line but at times do show that they are at least hearing the other side.  But, for the most part, it is dueling academic reports and quotations.

So, for example, a pro-lifer will make their argument invoking Genesis (“and Adam begat Cain who then begat Tommy after he smote his bro Abel all the while declaring that there shall be no abortion”) or St. Luke the Meek (“ye shall never abort a possible Savior”).  They will spend hours insisting that their book is the only one worth shit, that it is the all knowing edition that lays out everything that must be obeyed – even if you wear a turban.  It is the WORD of the munificent and compassionate God, pure and simple and, if you stray from his oh-so-loving WORD, you will spend ETERNITY SURROUNDED BY FLAMES IN HELL.  Sorry, but those are the rules.

Then there are the pro-choicers who quote their own Gods or, to be more exact, Goddesses.  Steinem, Abzug, Friedan, Madonna.  Theirs is the word, the woman’s body is sacrosanct, it’s our way or the highway.  They believe that every anti-abortion person is a true nut ball or, worse, a terrorist.  The crisis pregnancy centers are all run by freak-a-zoids who don’t give a crap about women and who, once they talk that woman into having the baby, will disappear forever.  Adios, mama, you’re on your own!  Meanwhile, the pro-choicers will insist that that damned thing floating around in there is a fetus.  It ain’t a baby you idiot!   It doesn’t matter that the mother calls it a baby when that eight week fetus is wanted.  Nope, when we’re contemplating abortion, it’s a fetus, pure and simple.

The problem in this country is that we live in a bumper sticker world where no one dares to give ground any more.  I am right and you are wrong.  End of story.  Indeed, when was the last time you ever heard anyone say “hey, you got a point there, I wanna think about that.”  OMG!  Hey, we got a wimp over here folks!  A flip flopper!  Off with her head!

So, much like we saw in Congress, the abortion debate has become one intractable mess.

Well, I’m sorry but no one has the monopoly on wisdom on this or any other issue.  The truth is always somewhere in the middle.  To be sure, I am totally pro-choice but, damn it, at 24 weeks it sure looks like a baby to me.  And while I still support the right to abort it, it pains me to see it happen.  On the other hand, to the pro-lifers out there, you are never gonna convince me that a 6 week fetus is a baby or a “person” as some of you would suggest.  Get real.

I say we toss aside the bumper stickers for a bit.

Let’s start thinking and actually TALKING for a change.

seek the truth about abortion

Seek Truth about Abortion

She was 19 and he was 21.   She just graduated high school and was working to save so money so she could ultimately attend the local community college.  She had dreams of owning her own nail salon.  He took construction jobs whenever available and had thoughts of being a site manager.  They were both good Catholics so they used the rhythm method for birth control.

Then she got pregnant.

They struggled with what to do.  They were too intimidated to go to their priest so, instead, they talked to a friend or two and some family members.  Ultimately, they decided to have an abortion.  At the time, she was nine weeks pregnant.  It was a very sad occasion for both of them but neither could envision how they could raise a child on their income and cringed at the thought of sending their child to a public school in the Bronx.  She knew, of course, that she could put the baby up for adoption but could not imagine carrying the child until birth then handing it over to another family.  She did not want to spend each day wondering what her child was doing in some other part of the country.   It was all a very sad occasion but they did what they thought was best at that moment.

Nine years later, things had changed.  They made their way out of the Bronx and started making a comfortable living in Pennsylvania.  She was a civil servant and he ran a local hardware store.  Then, she became pregnant again.  And this time they had their baby.

After giving birth, she started thinking more about her abortion and a transformation of sorts took place.  She started thinking that if she had had that first child maybe things would have turned out differently.  Maybe there could have been a way for her to finish college and turn things around.  She couldn’t stop saying to herself:  “what if?”   She started reading pro-life literature and discovered resources for women who had come to regret their abortion.  She dove in head first, joining organizations and attending rallies.

Like the others who had had similar experiences, she never went out and said that abortion should be a crime, that we should throw women and the doctors in jail for participating in the procedure.  No, their approach was more subtle than that, on its face more “caring.”  Because they knew that women knew absolutely nothing about their reproductive lives, they merely wanted to talk to them about the affects of abortion, the dangers.  They just wanted women to know the “truth.”   Their compassion for these women was dripping off the walls.

Of course, they never talk about the millions of women who have had abortions and who, dare I say it, are actually okay today!  They don’t’ talk about the person in my family who over the course of 12 years had two abortions and today has the

Anti Choice Manifestation on Abortion.ws

Anti Choice Manifestation

most amazing family.  Yes, in private conversations she will admit that she might think about the two abortions at times, but only fleetingly.  It certainly has not affected her to the point where she wants to go out and join some pro-life organization or seek counseling.  No, we can’t talk about those women.

Make no mistake about it – these women who have had abortions and now say they are total basket cases have one goal in mind – to make abortion illegal in this country once again.  They want to back to the days when women, despite the laws, sought out abortions, often with disastrous consequences.  Don’t let the sweet talk fool you.  In the back of their minds, they are thinking:  “You are killing a baby, my dear” but they will sugarcoat it by dangling before you the prospect that you will be totally paralyzed with guilt for the rest of your life if you get that abortion.

The irony, of course, is these women who now regret their abortion, including the one above, actually had an abortion!   They made the decision based on their moment in time, based on whatever information they could gather.  And this morning, there is a woman who is facing the same situation.

I have absolutely no problem if that pregnant woman wants to read volumes of pro-life literature.  She can go, if she wants, to a crisis pregnancy center and talk to their “counselors.”  The more information (if truthful), the better for her decision making process.

But, make no mistake about it.  Behind all the nice talk and the offers of assistance, the bottom line is that these women who now regret their abortions thought they were doing the right thing at the time.  And they now want to take away that decision making process from the hundreds of thousands of women each year who are in the same position.