Beyond Good and Evil

Dr. Ronnie J. Hastings

Archive for the tag “pro-choice”

Good Bye to Pro-Life and Pro-Choice

Kavanaugh’s views on Roe vs. Wade, pro-lifers shouting the mantra “abortion is murder!”, and pro-choicers defending Planned Parenthood are but three indicators of how powerful in the great social and political divide brought on by American conservatism are the issues over a woman’s reproductive rights and the alleged rights of her fetus. Yet in this melee of charge and counter-charge, little biological, medical, and pre-natal information seems to be used. It is as if people would rather demonize the other side than to find out information that possibly can make this whole divide over abortion in our country both silly and moot.

 
In the posts The “A” Word — Don’t Get Angry, Calm Down, and Let Us Talk [April, 2013] and The “A” Word Revisited (Because of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas), or A Word on Bad Eggs [July, 2013] — both written in 2013 and published on my website www.ronniejhastings.com — I suggested a solution to the controversy that so far does not seem to satisfy either the pro-lifers or the pro-choicers. However, in these posts I present my reasons I think the pro-choicers have a much preferred position than that of the pro-lifers. The history of modern prenatal care has put the pro-life position on the road to extinction, in my opinion. There appears to be a general public ignorance of this care, brought on by the failure of virtually all religious institutions and public or private schools to provide our children a respectful and comprehensive sex education program. This post plans to eliminate as much of that ignorance as I can and talk about the apparent future of having children in our species.

 
From this point I will assume the reader has read the two posts cited above on my website or read them on my FB notes.

 
Here is what can happen NOW for any woman who through a home pregnancy test knows she is pregnant: A sample of her amniotic fluid can be taken in her pediatrician’s hospital and attendant lab and the genome of the fertilized egg (or even of the blastula) can be displayed to look for any genetic defects. The discovery of any defects places upon the mother-to-be and her pediatrician (and the father, if involved) the decision to either abort (a very safe and routine procedure at this stage) or not abort and see if the defects can be eliminated by generic engineering, using techniques like CRISPR, which technically turns the baby-to-be, or baby-in-the-making, or proto-baby, into a genetically modified organism, or GMO. The cycle of amniotic fluid analysis and applied engineering can be repeated if the first attempt did not produce a “normal” genome. Repeated failures to reach a “normal” healthy genome increases the likelihood the mother would choose to abort. Of course, she has from the very beginning and each cycle the choice of NOT aborting, but this choice says she is bearing the financial and emotional responsibility of birthing and rearing a child afflicted with a congenital problem (Downs syndrome, etc.).

 
Of course, even if the proto-baby genome is normal, the “normal” risks of any pregnancy — miscarriage, still-birth, or forced abortion due to endangerment of the mother’s life anywhere during gestation — apply.

 
In other words, today any woman who can reach a delivery room with modern medical technology and attendant laboratories can be assured that the establishment of a normal proto-baby genome assures the birth of a healthy baby, outside unforeseen miscarriage or undetected trauma at birth . This is already a reality in the larger cities all over the planet, and with increased communication and transportation abilities in areas outside larger cities, an increasing number of women worldwide can choose the benefits of large-city births. As the number of hospital prenatal and natal programs equipped with genetic engineering technology increases and as the rights to medical care (medical insurance) expands to even third-world countries, this assurance spreads and grows, hopefully, exponentially. The greatest social effects would center about temporary “9-month” housing needed to house women living great distances from the large-city birth centers and who need multi-month monitoring.

 
Why then, would any woman want to take the risk of bringing upon their children-to-be a life afflicted with congenital defects? She never, ever has to risk that, technically speaking. This certainty of a healthy baby (not 100%, but very close for any woman who conceives) renders, in my opinion, the pro-life position almost absurd. Pro-lifers would suggest that a mother-too-be must “suffer the judgment of God” or something like that if her proto-baby has a congenital defect. No she doesn’t! If she cannot offer even a healthy child a good life and if the pro-lifers try to talk her into taking the proto-baby to term as they usually do (without willing to “foot the bill” until the child is 18 for a poverty-stricken mother who, say, is an addict and can’t afford to feed a child probably afflicted with the congenital defect of being born an addict), she should have the right to an abortion, right up to the time of birth and the umbilical cord is cut. (See The “A” Word — Don’t Get Angry, Calm Down, and Let Us Talk [April, 2013] and The “A” Word Revisited (Because of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas), or A Word on Bad Eggs [July, 2013]) No unwanted proto-baby, genetically defective or not, has be born. The pro-life position is rendered moot and useless, except for making mothers-to-be’s lives miserable with unnecessary doubt and guilt. Pro-life is becoming extinct, like the flat-earth movement, the creationist movement, and the intelligent design movement.

 
Of course, the mother-to-be can listen to sacred arguments that can doom her and her future child to unnecessary misery. That is part of her right to choose. She can have all the counseling from different sources besides her pediatrician she wants. But as information like the above becomes more widespread over the years and mother after mother has healthy children, taking advantage of miscarriages and abortions, the number of such women dooming them and their future child will get exponentially smaller — hopefully one day to practically zero worldwide. And also decreasing will be the number of mothers who want to be “surprised” and learn little about their proto-baby, not even the gender; for, what loving, responsible mother would risk something tragic for her child, all because she wants some serendipity in her life? How loving is it not to know all you can about your proto-baby?

 
So it is good-bye to pro-life. “Pro-choice,” by default, becomes a redundant and unnecessary wording, as child-bearing women species-wide choose the singular healthy, ever improving way to become mothers. So it is good-bye to pro-choice also.

 

 

 

Already available to couples who can afford it, is the opportunity to plan and control all the children with which they want to bless their marriage. Imagine a universal medical insurance covering all couples in future, to go along with generous features like maternal leave compensation from both the insurance and the employer. Knowing I am neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, the following is a possible option to all couples, instead of to the elite few today who have the finances and the facilities nearby; this is not fantasy or science fiction:

 
Mr. and Mrs. X, soon after their honeymoon, set up a multi-year plan with her pediatrician that collects all the fertilized eggs (actually “eggs” up to the blastula stage, perhaps) they produce over a chosen period of years before they practice some form of contraception. The couple may choose to intersperse this period with bringing a child or two to full term under the conditions described above, or they may not. The eggs are kept frozen, but before being put in “deep freeze,” each is mapped genetically for congenital defects and for the characteristics the proto-baby will have when it becomes a baby. The couple agrees that any eggs having verified defects can be disposed of or donated to the hospital for medical research. When a number, say N of the frozen, healthy eggs is collected to the satisfaction of the couple, Mr. and Mrs. X can then start ongoing contraception.

 
The time comes when Mr. and Mrs. X want another child. If Mrs. X is on any type of female contraceptives, she ceases them. They then go to their N-long “egg list” and, with the pediatrician, select exactly the kind of child they want — the gender, the hair and eye color, etc. Each selection from the “frozen egg basket” is assured to be free from defects and “designed” by the loving parents. The selected egg is “thawed” out and inserted into Mrs. X’s uterus at the “perfect time” of a natural or induced menstrual cycle. Or, in the far future, the couple can opt to have the proto-baby grown “in vitro” to full term. This is not to mention the techniques that will be developed that will allow a mother-to-be to avoid a Cesarean if she carries the fetus inside her body (e.g. Removing the proto-baby with attached placenta prematurely through the birth canal and placing it in an artificial uterus that will bring the proto-baby to term with computer-controlled feeding of optimum nutrients). After one birth, there will be N – 1 eggs in the X’s “basket.” The cycle is repeated as often as the couple wants and only at the precise times for which the couple has prepared. If for any birth the couple wants to be “surprised,” they can give permission to the pediatrician to “randomly” select any one from the remaining eggs on the list.

 
Say Mr. and Mrs. X want in their marriage C children and they at the beginning opted to have children only from the “basket” of N frozen eggs. When the “basket” contains N – C eggs, then the couple can opt to donate the basket of eggs to childless couples, donate the basket of eggs to medical research, or request the N – C eggs be disposed of. The nuclear X family with C children exists throughout its span with the assurance of optimized health for life. The concept of “pro-life” is like a Jurassic dinosaur among concepts.

 
(Here is an interesting thought: What if Mr. and Mrs. X, before they have the C planned children, get a divorce? What is the legal and moral status of the eggs still in the frozen basket? Not only am I not a prophet, I’m not a lawyer.)

 
Two closing thoughts: 1) The above scenario has NOTHING to do with those living today with any kind of congenital defect. This is NOT some ghastly resurrection of euthanasia. Any human being who survives birth, whose umbilical cord is cut, regardless of medical condition, is fully human, with full rights and privileges. My point is restricted to saying that lack of knowledge and information has obscured the opportunity we NOW have to eliminate tragic congenital defects in all children yet to be born.

 
2) If you are an adult, and reading and considering the above makes you embarrassed, squeamish, or uncomfortable (presumably due to lack of comprehensive sex education in your home, your school, your place of worship, and/or your many social circles), let me suggest you inform yourself about the basics of mammalian sexuality and reproduction, especially that of Home sapiens. It is NOT pornography, you know. The enlightenment I suggest can began as simply as Googling.

 

RJH

 

American Conservatism Belies History

[Waxing philosophically right now, so……CONSERVATIVE DISCRETION ADVISED!]
Seen as a parade of good and bad (and in-between) ideas instead of a parade of good and bad (and in-between) people’s lives, history reveals definite directions of advancement over, say, the centuries since the “discovery” of the American continents. These directions are easy to detect following the rise and fall of ideas along time’s arrow using a broad time scale (The Big Picture, [Sept., 2011]). Also easily detected are peoples’ ideas discarded along the way, ideas that didn’t “make it,” that didn’t “stand the test of time,” that history “left behind in its wake.”

For instance, the two world wars of the 20th century left in their wake discarded ideas such as monarchism and fascism (and certain forms of government they imply, like theocracy and oligarchy). Another resulting discarded idea was that of empires like the Roman, the Mogul, the Mongol, the Ottoman, the Spanish, and the British. The final “victory” of WWII was the end of the Cold War in 1989 when the idea of Soviet communism collapsed. These wars sent history toward liberal democracies (or democratic liberalism) in the form of republics (Reference former Republican Steve Schmidt for this terminology.). The economy of the victors was capitalism (witness how China today is employing a form of capitalism). But non-liberals (especially American conservatives) strive against the liberal capitalism that emerged victorious by practicing a perverted capitalism (They should read their Adam Smith.), wherein not enough profits are plowed back into business as capital and too much of the profit is selfishly stagnated as personal wealth — all of which opens the doors for oligarchy (striven for by Donald Trump) and its ancillary kleptocracy (striven for and practiced by Vladimir Putin). Autocracies of many forms, including “banana republics,” however, have yet to disappear.

(If you think democratic republics are “safe,” having been given the “nod” of 20th-century history, think again. Who was the only democratically elected President of Russia after the Soviet Union? Boris Yeltsin and Russian democracy are now gone. And just in the second decade of the 21st century, Turkey has collapsed into a form of fascism Mussolini, Hitler, and Hirohito would easily recognize.)

Also left behind by history are the ideas of the Luddites and those of American Tories at the end of the American Revolution (also called loyalists). Yet these are the same ideas animating the Republican Party led by Trump. (21st Century Luddites?, [March, 2017], and 21st Century Tories?, [March, 2017]) Despite history’s harsh lessons, “Trumpies” today fail to grasp workers adapting to new ongoing technology and even to what it means to be a citizen (“citizen” being well-defined by the blood spilled in the American and French Revolutions (Egalite: A Qualified Virtue, [Feb., 2018])).

Generally speaking, American conservatism has clung to antiquated, outdated, and anachronistic ideas history has “shaken off” like water off a dog’s back, such as isolationism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, nationalism, sacred political states, tariffs, elitism, class hierarchy, nepotism, non-universal health coverage, and non-universal suffrage. (Citizens (I) Call For the Destruction of the Political Professional Class, [Nov., 2012], Citizens (II) The Redistribution of Wealth, [Jan., 2013], Citizens (III) Call for Election Reform, [Jan., 2013], An Expose of American Conservatism — Part 1, [Dec., 2012], An Expose of American Conservatism — Part 2, [Dec., 2012], An Expose of American Conservatism — Part 3, [Dec., 2012], Some Thoughts on Trump’s Election, [Nov., 2016], and Dealing with Donald, or, A Citizen’s Survival Guide for Trump’s Apparent Presidency, [Dec., 2016])

The xenophobic “circling-the-wagons” mentality of so many American conservatives is based upon the human tendency to take on the “us-versus-them syndrome,” which served us well when we were all hunter-gatherers (about 70,000 to 12,000 years ago). That is, “They over there don’t look like us, so there must be something wrong and possibly dangerous about them.” The “sacred” “us-versus-them syndrome” serves all religions, ancient and modern, including Christianity, well: “They don’t believe the same things we do, so we must convince them to believe as we do or rid ourselves of them.” Here in the 21st century, I think there is no longer any need of the “us-versus-them syndrome,” nor of its attendant bad ideas of nationalism and evangelism; history has passed them by. (Going Global, [March, 2018], At Last, a Probable Jesus, [August, 2015], and Towards an Imagined Order of Everything, Using AVAPS, [June, 2018])

Speaking more specifically, it even seems Trump’s administration, in the name of historically despicable and bigoted immigration laws, is now using our tax money for systematic child abuse. (I have visions of him going down to the detention centers and throwing scraps of food and rolls of paper napkins over the edge of the cages and into the flaps of the tents — similar to his condescending actions in Puerto Rico.) The June 30, 2018 protests across the nation speak loud and clear: the crying two-year old trumps Trump and all his zero tolerance.

Some of the Trump supporters who have not repudiated him and would vote for him still, despite his despicable words, actions, and inaction, such as “evangelical ‘single issue’ Christians” who turn a blind eye to his plethora of “sins” so they can have their conservative SCOTUS in the name of anti-abortion or pro-life (or immigration, or campaign finance, or some such). Pro-life is such a historically unsustainable position, much like creationism and intelligent design. These positions place their proponents at loggerheads with nature, and just like “history bats last,” “nature bats last.” As opposition to evolution is without evidence and completely useless, so is risking future babies to the horrors of genetic defects, when such risk is so unnecessary. I’m angry that sex education courses in schools and sex education at home and in places of worship do not inform future parents that already we have the medical skills in place to assure every pregnant mother she has the right to have a genetically healthy baby. Yet the pro-lifers, by denying mothers the basic right to control their reproductive cycles, force the possibility of tragedy upon families — tragedy that can with certainty be avoided. (It is like inequality of wealth forcing poverty upon countless people of minimal means, which also can be avoided.) The modern technology of human birth and “natural abortions” — miscarriages — compel history to give pro-choice the “nod.” If expectant mothers want to go ahead and take to term a baby with genetic defects, detected early in gestation, that is their choice; there is a chance in future such defects can be rectified either in womb or just after birth. But such a choice is risky, especially based upon a religious belief. (The “A” Word — Don’t Get Angry, Calm Down, and Let Us Talk, [April, 2013], and The “A” Word Revisited (Because of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas), or A Word on Bad Eggs, [July, 2013]) To cling to pro-life is like clinging to slide rules and horse collars; it is out-of-date.

And moreover, such Christians as described above risk, by clinging to pro-life, walking into the theological quicksand of redefining Christianity (“You can’t be a Christian and be pro-choice.”), just as the creationists and intelligent designers have done (“You can’t be a Christian and ‘believe’ in evolution.”). (Creationism and Intelligent Design — On the Road to Extinction, [July, 2012]) You do not have to be anachronistic to be a Christian (Jesus — A Keeper, [Sept., 2015]) Nor do you have to be historically clueless to be a Christian. (The United States of America — A Christian Nation?, [June, 2012])

Historically, American conservatives has lost their way. History is not on their side. And it is their own fault. They let their own credulity get the best of them, and then somehow become too lazy and/or too busy to vet any and all political statements. And today with the sources we have at our fingertips, thanks to the social network, it often takes only seconds to vet almost anything. Liars like Trump thrive because not enough people, regardless of political leanings, vet what he says. What do you think history will do with the “birthers?” Like the flat-earthers, history, I think, will fling them into the dustbin of bad ideas, worth only a laugh or chuckle if ever remembered.

American conservatives, unless they start reading some history instead listening to Fox News exclusively, risk, in the long run, going the path of the Luddites, the American Tories, the flat-earthers, the creationists, the intelligent designers, the pro-lifers, and the birthers. Unless they start reading some history they risk becoming pawns of revivalist fascism, organized crime, communism, nationalism, isolationism, imperialism, and/or colonialism; they risk “warping” in their heads back into 1950’s America.

RJH

Some Thoughts on Trump’s Election

As I join all those who want our President-elect Donald J. Trump to successfully represent all Americans, regardless whether or not we voted for him, I would be disingenuous were I not forthcoming with some observations suggesting themselves in the wake of his election.

I hope my remarks here will supplement those made on Facebook already by fine contributors such as Dr. Rick Covington, Kyle Kent, and Ronnie Applewhite.
First, some particulars:

1) Polls in this election seemed out-of-sync with the population supposedly represented by the sampled. It was as if Trump supporters either avoided being part of the sample or gave false information to the sampler.

2) I think there was a false equivalency developed between the liabilities of the two top candidates fueled by misogyny. Paraphrasing Joy Behar of ABC TV’s The View, “This election shows men can get away with anything, while women can get away with nothing.” Seemed like a double standard to me. In other words, being reckless with e-mails pales in comparison with talking about grabbing a woman’s you-know-what.

3) Trump’s many liabilities were scandalously overlooked if even only one of his positions was zealously supported. A great example was his pro-life position. Pro-life, evangelical, “one-issue” Christians actually supported him, overlooking his tendencies of demeaning women to the point of sexual assault. These Christians, in my opinion, prostituted themselves — “sold their soul” if you please — because “the Devil” said he was against abortion. In this manner, they also “sold out their American citizenship” by siding with the intolerant pro-life position that denies women the right to make their own decisions about their bodies; pro-choice does not force an action or inaction on a woman concerning abortion; it is up to the woman; pro-choice protects women’s Constitutional rights. (See The “A” Word — Don’t Get Angry, Calm Down, and Let Us Talk, [April, 2013] & The “A” Word Revisited (Because of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas), or A Word on Bad Eggs, [July, 2013])

4) It seems to me that anyone who listened to Trump’s speeches and who took any history in school would see clear parallels between his campaign and that of a fascist dictator. His disdain of our time-honored peaceful transfer of power (if he lost) was incredibly and unprecedentedly disrespectful to our remarkable democratic traditions. Many of his poses behind the podium reminded me of Mussolini. I would encourage any of you who have not done so to read about Hitler’s rise to power in William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (Incidentally, it seems that Trump is not as bright an intellect as Mussolini or Hitler, as shown by Trump’s uncanny susceptibility to Putin’s pandering to Trump’s ego.)

5) Just like Al Gore in 2000, Hillary Clinton won the overall popular vote in 2016, but lost the election. Has American universal suffrage progressed enough to here in the 21st century for us to consider doing away with the archaic Electoral College and replace it with a nation-wide final tally?

6) The “racial vote” of white votes against Clinton in 2016 reminded me of the “racial vote” of African-Americans for Obama in 2008 and in 2012, and, curiously, to the white votes, “racial votes,” for segregation in the 1960’s, in the attempt to thwart the Civil Rights movement.

6) above is a nice transition to my final, more general and philosophical point:

One way of looking at our country’s history is to see it as a slow progression toward universal suffrage for everyone above voting age. As we were all reminded recently, when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 1908, neither women could vote nor were black players or players from Latin American countries allowed in the major leagues.

The 2016 Presidential Election reminds us that it possible to step backwards in this progression, even in the 21st century. I say we went back to parallels with the 1950’s, when white men ruled in the United States. I am embarrassed to say that I am now in the same demographic as the political “rulers” of the ‘50’s — an old white fart! However, I am proud to say that I am a Baby Boomer for whom the three social revolutions of the 1960’s, 1) the women’s movement, 2) the Civil Rights movement, and 3) the anti-war movement, “took.” (Historically 1) was the most successful of the three, in my opinion.) As I’ve said elsewhere, I can consider myself a reformed high school male chauvinist pig, who “saw the light” on a university campus.

In case you haven’t noticed, “We’ve come a long way, baby!” White men don’t rule anymore; nor do all whites or skins of any other hue. We have become the vision of our progressive Founding Fathers: a social melting pot of many, many diverse and different origins, colors, cultures, creeds, views, affiliations, bank accounts, and opinions — each group with exactly the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities as any other group.

Hillary Clinton failed to “break the glass ceiling” for women in our country, I am sad to say. The opportunities for my granddaughters may not arrive for them as soon as I had hoped, I’m also sad to say. We now have to work our way out of the “new 50’s” back to the true equality for women in our country the election of a woman President will portend. May this “breaking” election come for the generation of my granddaughters, if not sooner.  (See You Go Girl! (II), [March, 2012])

For the sake of our country, Mr. President-to-be-inaugurated-in-Jan-2017, please try and be the President of us all, and may we all unite to help you be so. Given the media and the plethora of hacked e-mails in our midst, we will know if you are trying or not.

RJH

 

The “A” Word Revisited (Because of Gov. Rick Perry of Texas), or A Word on Bad Eggs

In The “A” Word — Don’t Get Angry, Calm Down, and Let Us Talk [April 2013] I summarized my position on abortion, emphasizing the comparison of the pro-life position with the pro-choice position. I tried to develop the rational view that choosing between these two positions is a “no-brainer.” There basically are no moral, religious, cultural, or political grounds upon which to be pro-life, because the pro-choice position is no threat to the pro-life position; if a person chooses not to have an abortion, the pro-choice position does nothing to interfere with that decision. In other words, the pro-choice position respects individual rights and freedoms.

That the pro-life position blatantly does NOT respect individual rights and freedoms, showing how much choosing pro-choice over pro-life is a “no-brainer,” has recently been embarrassingly exposed in several of our States lately, nowhere better covered by the media than in the State of Texas. With Gov. Rick Perry (R) as the leader and mouthpiece, the pro-life movement in Texas has taken advantage of the gerrymandering performed on Texas by the Republican Party, and has tried to “broom closet” strict anti-abortion laws (absolutely NO abortions after 20 weeks) through special sessions of the State Legislature in the wake of recent right-wing Supreme Court decisions from Washington D.C.

Mimicking attempts in other States like North Carolina, Texas pro-life Republicans are trying to push through in special sessions of the State Legislature laws designed to close down most of the sites in Texas where abortions can be safely performed — completely ignoring that so many, many Texas women depend upon each and every one of those sites for health services OTHER than abortion! The “rationale” for closing down these sites, clinics where a full range of women’s heath services is available, is the imposition of irrational and unwarranted credentials upon personnel rendering health services to women (scare tactics), credentials shown by the history of these clinics to be entirely unnecessary; women attending these clinics have been healthy and safe for decades. As State Senator Wendy R. Davis (D) of Ft. Worth, the leader of the opposition of this “pro-life political railroading” has stated, Gov. Rick Perry represents a radical right movement that is putting women’s health all across the State “at risk.”

Without their consultation and without their consent, women in Texas are in danger of becoming second-class citizens, without the same rights to health care that men have. They are in danger of losing part of their basic rights, and, thereby, have become less free. They are in a sense becoming enslaved by a position taken by most pro-lifers (a minority in Texas) that foist their restrictive ideas on abortion rights upon the rest of the populace (a large majority in Texas). A lot of this majority has been represented by college-age women in the Texas Senate gallery in support of Senator Davis; in addition to the support’s orange shirts, I saw gallery shirts from the University of Texas at Austin and from Texas A&M University at College Station, the State’s two largest universities.

Imagine a small religious sect imposing their interpretation of the Bible on the rest of the church-goers in Texas without consent and consultation, restricting thereby the action of all believers not of their minority sect. (Wait, isn’t that what the State Board of Education in Texas in doing in our children’s textbooks by catering to pseudoscientific views of creationists and Intelligent Designers and to revisionist, right-wing expunging of our history?! But that is another story!) I hardly think Texans would stand for such an attack on their religious freedoms. Likewise, I think, would be Texan views on an attack upon the freedom of individual choice, upon the freedom of a woman to make the intimate decisions concerning her body.

Not only does the pro-life position seek to rob us of one gender’s freedoms, it does so hypocritically. Texas Republicans are so BIG on freedom, but, apparently, only the freedom of the male gender. Texas Republicans seek to purposely take away from women in Texas the freedom to choose, as if someone else besides the mother-to-be is better qualified to determine issues concerning her pregnancy than she! How sexist can you be?!?

Perhaps an analogy to the issue of slavery is appropriate. Just like African-Americans needed emancipation in order to have freedom of choice, women need emancipation, need manumission, in order to enjoy the full freedoms guaranteed to them by our Constitution. Pro-lifers too often behave as if they “own” a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion; pro-lifers are traffickers in that ownership.

As a segway into discussing Gov. Rick Perry’s role in all this, I remember as a young pre-schooler spending lots of time at both my grandparents’ places in the country. My maternal grandmother, my “Memo” McKinney, would allow me to assist her in tending to the hens in the henhouse, both day and night, in order to insure consistent household egg production and the hatching of new members of the henhouse. I learned that at night was a good time to inspect the eggs beneath the sleepy hens to cull the next day’s egg collection and to obtain eggs from hens who in the daytime wanted to hatch their clutch against the plans of Memo. I learned how to distinguish among fresh eggs for the house, eggs “too far along for the house” with a developing chick embryo, and, most importantly, rotten eggs, or “bad eggs.” It was important to identify a bad egg without breaking it and exposing its contents, for such an exposure “stank to high heaven.” (Borrowing from Asleep At The Wheel’s lyrics in “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road.”)

One of the biggest opponents to full freedom for women is Gov. Perry. When it comes to the present Texas governor, something is “stinking to high heaven.” Listen to his speeches in gubernatorial and Presidential campaigns. It makes you wonder….is he smart enough to see what a hypocrite he is when it comes to freedom? Does he know how hollow his scare tactics ring?

Rick Perry is a fellow Texas Aggie, but, to me, embarrassingly so. He received a BS degree from Texas A&M in animal science in 1972, the year I received my Ph.D. in physics from Texas A&M. He was in the Corps of Cadets, as was I for a year, and he was a Head Yell Leader while on campus. Despite these features in his biography, like so many Republicans without these features, he just does not seem very bright, or, else, he would see that the pro-life position is inhumane, unpatriotic, and downright non-Christian. (See The “A” Word — Don’t Get Angry, Calm Down, and Let Us Talk [April 2013]) Maybe being a Head Yell Leader kept him away from class too much?

During the 2012 Aggie football season, when Perry was running for President, my wife and I, as season ticket holders, expected to go down to College Station on home game days and see waves of Perry support as a sign of “Aggie solidarity.” We could count on two hands the number of Perry-supporting signs and shirts we saw ALL SEASON! Even his fellow Aggies know he is a “bad egg from the henhouse.” The contents of his politics have been exposed and they “stink to high heaven!” Personally, I do not know which Aggie over the years is more politically embarrassing in Texas, Rick Perry or Clayton Williams!

(Prejudiced though I am, I find bad eggs among Texas Aggies to be the exception rather than the rule. I can count on one hand throughout my life after college graduation the fellow “bad egg” Aggies to whom I’ve been compelled to say, “There are Aggies, and then, there are Aggies like you.”)

I’ll give him (Perry) credit for supporting universal vaccinations for cervical cancer for females in Texas. I only wish he was even a little bit more supportive of women in our State than that. And, I suppose, he deserves credit as providing the scapegoat vehicle by which to expand on the topic of abortion in this, my second post on the subject.

But, most of all, I am glad Rick Perry is not going to run again for governor of Texas.  Let us hope this portends a growing recognition of him as a rotten egg.

 

All of this is but my opinion, nothing more and nothing less, as well argued as I hope it is. But transcendent of my opinion is what makes its expression possible — my individual freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and freedom of choice — the rights with which we all should be blessed, including expectant mothers, no matter in what State we live.

Look at what the pro-lifers in Texas want to achieve. I hope you are, like so many others I know and myself, appalled and disgusted at this cowardly, calloused, and crushing attempt to destroy in a Nazi-like fashion human freedom, dignity, and health in our great State. The pro-life stance is unilateral, unthinking, and uncaring. The pro-choice stance is universal, respectful, and humane. The obvious “no-brainer” difference in the two stances is as blatant as the difference between Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, between a stinky bad egg and a good egg for use in the house.

RJH

The “A” Word — Don’t Get Angry, Calm Down, and Let Us Talk

Lots of issues draw emotional reactions whenever brought up in communication, but perhaps none more heated than the issue of abortion. Despite my experiences of angry lashings-back, of accusations or religious and/or moral consequences, and of frustrated resignation that there are no solutions to the impasse the issue creates to all forms of communication, I would like to propose we can have control over our emotional outbursts, we can conjure enough decorum and polite maturity to have civil discourse, and, consequently, we can actually carry on a calm, intelligent conversation about abortion.

To say I am trying to change the reader’s mind about the issue of abortion, or to say I am touting a view I dogmatically declare is the only rational way to reach a consensus on the issue of abortion is to assume wrongly before reading. I am merely saying we can without mindless anger calmly discuss abortion.

In my opinion, if we do not have deep, serious discourse about abortion, it has the potential to fester in our society as a divisive cancer of our own making. Ignoring it is futile, just as back in the 1960’s the issues of the Vietnam war, civil rights, and the women’s movement, all divisive in their own ways, brought questions for our nation that cried out for resolution. Without the resolution of these three issues, as gut-wrenching as they may have been, or still are to many individuals, our nation would have been torn asunder, perhaps irreparably.

An indicator of the need for dealing with the issue of abortion is clear when observing radical, pro-life, Christian opposition to abortion rights. The indicator is multi-faceted, from the overt murder of abortion clinic staff members to the covert redefinition of Christianity (similar to the redefinition of Christianity conjured by Christian anti-evolutionists — see “Creationism and Intelligent Design — On the Road to Extinction” [July, 2012]) based upon opposition to abortion. Communication on Facebook from a friend with whom I grew up was recently cut off (his “unfriendment” of me), in no small part because he could not discuss without irrational emotion his pro-life version of Christianity (see “What Did I Say or Write? WTF?!! (For Adults Only)” [Jan, 2013]). There are more such indicators than this, but just one is more than enough reason to have this discourse about the “A” word.

In addition, modern medicine has made possible for couples wanting children in the future options heretofore unanticipated. Many of these options directly or indirectly involve abortion. Ignorance of abortion or failure to enter upon rational discourse on abortion could limit the options for these couples, causing them avoidable and unnecessary pain and heartbreak.

I take the word “abortion” to mean any termination of the pregnancy of a mammalian female. (The exception among mammals is the egg-laying duck-billed platypus, so the definition does not apply to female platypuses; those mothers have no uterus in the traditional mammalian sense.) [There are, of course, other definitions, so, just to be clear, I am not talking about military missions called off due to unforeseen circumstances nor about some situation that was completely botched relative to the plans for that situation.] The evolution of mammalian motherhood has been ongoing for over 65 million years, so the emotional trauma of a terminated pregnancy for a female mammal is unavoidable; to want to bear a child, to want to be a mother, is deep within the human XX genes; mammalian mothers, whether of our species or not, that have consensually mated, willingly subject their bodies to a potentially threatening situation caused by a parasitic relationship (all fetuses “feed” off the mother’s body), with no guarantee of a successful termination and delivery birth — all in response to the genes whose origins go back to the earliest mammals.

Like all uterus-bearing female mammals, human females risk, during pregnancy, “natural” abortions; we call them miscarriages. The existence of a biochemically-based mechanism allowing the pregnant body to expel the fetus is part of mammalian existence for good reason — not all pregnancies, not all developments of a human-in-the-making are going to produce good results, are going to produce “normal” results. For the good of the species, miscarriages are necessary. The ability to miscarry is like “evolutionary life insurance” for the particular species; in addition to weeding out fetuses that have no chance of becoming a healthy, “normal” pregnancy brought to term, many mammals, especially “prey” animals to predators such as lions, have the ability to “panic abort” or “instantaneously miscarry,” in order that the mother can escape a lion attack by sacrificing the unborn fetus “on the run,” so that she can live another day to have another baby. Miscarriages are far more common, I suspect, than most of us realize — common across all mammalian pregnancies. Most of us humans as adults know by personal experience or by close association the emotional trauma and bitter loss of miscarriages; most of us are intimately acquainted with natural abortion. Though the sad blow of a miscarriage may not be softened by taking a broad biological view, it might be somewhat helpful if every couple or single mother suffering a miscarriage remembers that a miscarriage is the termination of a pregnancy for which something was biologically “wrong,” a pregnancy detrimental to the species, possibly dangerous to the life of the mother, and wasteful of the bio-energy being pumped into it by the mother’s body. A miscarriage, if alive at birth, almost certainly, would not be one the mother, if she could suspend her optimistic, hopeful XX emotions about giving birth, would not want under any circumstances; bluntly put, it would be a physical or a mental “monster,” or both.

(Incidentally, I like to point out that if all natural phenomena are seen as some kind of theistic manifestation — that is, if miscarriages are seen as part of the “will of God,” part of His Creation — then it seems logical that God is a divine abortionist; in fact, God must the be “Ultimate Abortionist.” I haven’t had much luck getting pro-life ministers and pew warmers to warm up to that “if-then” statement.)

Clearly, the biological outcome of both miscarriage and abortion is the same. Equally clearly, the issue of abortion we face today is not talking about natural abortions, miscarriages, but, rather, about non-natural, synthetic, man-made, deliberate abortions — intentional terminations of what otherwise might very well be healthy pregnancies on their way to term. And, the biological outcome of murder is almost the same as that of natural and un-natural abortions; murder is the termination of a human that is no longer biologically dependent upon the mammalian physiology of the mother in order to exist; miscarriages and abortions are terminations of humans-in-the-making, or potential humans, still dependent upon that physiology in order to exist.

Because killing others, murder, is detrimental to the species, we pass laws against it, citing consequences; “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” But, even murder is qualified, despite its disadvantages, such as in instances of war. We actually reward those who murder the “right” victims, the enemy; we honor soldiers who kill and risk their lives for their companions, especially in cases of close combat. I contend abortion is not detrimental to the species; we have overpopulation problems, not underpopulation problems. Therefore, abortion cannot socially and legally be compared to killing, to murder; there is no need for anti-abortion laws, for punishing those who perform or have abortions. This very stark legal difference arises from the very subtle biological difference between abortion and murder; terminate the physiologically dependent, it is abortion; terminate the physiologically independent, it is murder.

Deep motherly affinity, similar to the feelings we have when we see any baby mammal, like puppies or kittens, tends to make us call fetuses “babies,” as if they are already brought to term. All of us have no problem seeing the sonogram of a family member-on-the-way as a welcome new arrival, even if the arrival is several months away. If we were honest with ourselves, we would realize fetuses are not babies until they can live without the nourishment of the mother’s body, until they are delivered, premature or not, and are breathing on their own. “Fetus” seems too cold and detatched to many, especially to pro-lifers, and “baby” seems too emotionally charged and inaccurate, especially to pro-choicers, so I suggest instead of either fetus or baby a good scientific term, “proto-baby,” or baby-in-the-making, or baby-to-be. In the cosmological theory of the origins of solar systems, a glob of material growing in size via gravity pulling together countless chunks of rocky material is a “proto-planet,” and a growing glob under gravity pulling together an enormous sphere of interstellar gas, mostly hydrogen, not yet glowing by nuclear fusion, is called a “proto-sun,” or “proto-star.”

There is a moment in the evolution of a solar system when a proto-planet becomes just a planet, and when a proto-star becomes a sun or star — when the accumulated gas begins to generate light and heat energy through nuclear fusion (the “ignition” of the star), the same process as the basis of the H-bomb. I think there is a moment when a proto-baby becomes a baby, when the umbilical cord is cut, when the baby must live “on its own.” One moment the proto-baby lives because of the bio-chemical lifeline of the cord; the next, the baby lives because he/she is breathing air into his/her lungs. OK, maybe not as dramatic as the ignition of fusion in an unbelievably big sphere of the primal “stuff” of the universe, but to we humans, the successful cutting of the cord is as important to each of us as the energy we receive from the sun; we could not exist as we do without either.

The argument and conflict over abortion hinges on the question of when a human being ceases being a proto-baby to become a baby, to use the terms introduced above, which, hopefully, are devoid of vitriolic emotions. So hinges the rational discussion of abortion. It is possible for the moment of transformation to be as early as conception and as late as one or two years after birth, and the history of mankind has witnessed moral, social, legal, political, and philosophical definitions of the moment placed all along that time line. Catholics and radical pro-lifers have chosen the earliest possible definition, choosing words like “Life begins at conception.”, and primitive and/or warrior societies throughout history have chosen the latest possible definition with the practice of infanticide, especially the exposure of female infants to the elements and/or predators. In my opinion, reason and the biology of human birth suggest a moment somewhere in between; I think biology answers the question for us.

Already I have hinted above at the moment that distinguishes proto-babies from babies, a moment suggested by biology — the cutting of the umbilical cord. Note this definition of a baby does not put a necessary gestation period on the definition of a baby, given the survival nowadays of more and more premature babies. Among my many discussion buddies, with whom I talk about science, history, philosophy, and religion, are Dr. Jim Burns and Dr. Stephen Weldon, who recently thought biology does not suggest a defining moment. Their point was well taken; given premature babies and the human desire not to harm anything that looks human, even very young proto-babies, the time to define a baby seems arbitrary. But I still maintain the cutting of the cord is like a biological watershed, a point of no return, or a turning point — a climactic moment like no other in the span from conception to infanticide. A resolution to the “abortion problem” requires a defining moment, and the appointment of that moment has to be up to us; my friends are right to point out its arbitrariness, but I think biology comes closest to suggesting its own definition by requiring the severing of the cord in order for a symbiotic organism (the pregnant mother) to transform into two separate organisms (the mother and child). In my opinion, it is the most reasonable compromise definition of the beginning of a baby upon which moral and legal definitions logically follow.

With a baby defined by the cutting of the cord, then to terminate a proto-baby, to stop a pregnancy still “on the cord” is legal abortion; to terminate a baby, to kill a newborn whose cord has been successfully cut is illegal murder. The choice to bring a proto-baby to term or to abort the proto-baby has no legal consequences, but is, rather, an affirmation of one of the most important decisions made during our lifetimes. Whatever the choice, we as a species benefit; the joy of bringing a wanted and loved baby into the world will not change; the abortion of a proto-baby can, with the consent of the mother-no-longer-to-be, result in tissue donation for medical research — tissue with stem cells, for example — much like the donation of organs from deceased children and adults or like what is done with certain miscarriages.

I strongly feel the decision whether or not to abort is solely that of the mother and her physician(s); if she is married, the father is a third party in the decision; if she is a single mother, the father is not a third party, unless she wants him to be. It is not a matter that can be decided by her parents, by her family, by her friends, by her hospital, by her religion, by her State, or by her nation; nonetheless, she can ask for and accept or reject the counsel of any or all of these, if she chooses. If her physician finds the pregnancy endangers her life, or medical tests on the proto-baby reveal that if brought to term the child will have some congenital physical or mental disorder assuring the need for expensive medical and/or psychological care, she should be encouraged to abort, should a miscarriage not occur. In such cases, without a miscarriage, she has the right to ignore such encouragement, as long as she understands she will bear the full responsibility of bringing such special needs and burdens into the world.

Lest this sounds calloused toward the unborn proto-babies, advances in human reproductive science are well on their way to forcing greater consideration of abortion as a viable option for couples and single mothers — toward an option free of all guilt and moral stigmata. Sooner than we think pregnant couples or single mothers will all receive genetic counseling wherein genetic mapping of the proto-baby will give the prospective parent(s) so many choices, including: 1) bringing the existing package of genes to term, 2) repairing any existing genes that are defective and bringing the healed package of genes to term, 3) altering the existing genes closer to the idealistic tastes of the couple or single mother for purposes of bringing to term, 4) aborting because of detected defective genes whose repair seems improbable, or 5) aborting because the couple or single mother declare(s) the pregnancy an unplanned mistake that would produce an unwanted child.

My concern is that our education and moral counseling of today do not include the information for students in sex education classes, clerical consultation, or homemaking skills courses necessary to prepare future parents to reasonably make an informed choice among those like 1) through 5) above. If you believe that what I think is coming sounds too much like science fiction, reconsider. Already we have correlated certain defects and syndromes to specific gene sites on proto-baby chromosomes. Surgeries are becoming both healing and preventative, along with less intrusion, at an exponential rate. In less than a decade one major surgical procedure performed upon me was so updated and improved, that the recovery time now is about one tenth the time I had to go through. You can see these options coming for future parents, most of whom I fear are not going to be prepared to deal with them.

The continuation of the pro-life/pro-choice dichotomy seems hard sometimes to understand. Pro-choice seems the “no-brainer” of the two, as that stance makes no attempt to foist its position on the “other side,” as the pro-lifers seem to do. Any pro-choice advocate who “twists the arm” of someone to agree with him/her betrays the strength of the pro-choice position. Pro-choice calls for the right of everyone to deal with abortion in their own way; pro-choice advises a pro-life pregnant mother NOT to have an abortion, if that is her choice. Pro-choice respects the right of the individual to decide, asking that that right be protected and extended through time. Politically, pro-choice, therefore, must fight for abortion rights for all women, fight for the right TO have an abortion AND for the right NOT TO have an abortion.

For pro-lifers to claim God is pro-life is, to me, ludicrous. Pro-lifers push the definition of Christianity (or whatever is their religion) to a “must” inclusion of being anti-abortion, which smells of heresy. (See “An Expose of American Conservatism — Part 2” [Dec, 2012]) If they are theists, which they surely almost all are, then God, instead of being anti-abortion, logically is the “Ultimate Abortionist” because of miscarriages; that is an oxymoronic description of God. And all major religions, certainly including Christianity, were defined in a time when the issue of abortion was moot. Infant mortality was so high, with poor sanitation and poor nutrition added to miscarriages, unwanted children usually died from neglect of some form, with hardly anyone noticing; in addition, a potion-induced abortion could always be labeled as a miscarriage, again, with hardly anyone questioning that explanation. Only in recent times has modern medicine allowed fundamentalist-minded believers, like Christian pro-lifers, the ability to place an artificial moral judgement on synthetic abortions of proto-babies — a judgement named “God.”

Speaking of “moot” (perhaps it should also be “mute”), the verbal tact of a lot of pro-lifers will sooner or later include something like “What if you were aborted?” They ask as if that question is some profound point in their favor! If I was aborted? Clearly I was not! It is like asking “What if I was born female?” or “What if I was not born in the USA?” or “What if your children or grandchildren had been aborted?” or “What if the sky was not blue?” etc., etc. The only answer is “Then, things would be different, wouldn’t they?” And, in the end, no point has been made; nothing of substance has been said. Silly, if you ask me.

Finally, there seems to me to be great hypocrisy in the pro-life position. With grand religious zeal they will council a woman (say, a pregnant crack whore) to bring the proto-baby (probably destined to be already addicted to crack) to term (into a life of misery, pain, and destitution) unconditionally. That counseling only makes sense conditionally — if the pro-lifer(s) is/are willing to “foot the bill” in the raising of that potential child to, say, age 18, either through adoption or through a binding contract of meeting the child’s financial costs. Do they ever offer to do that? I don’t think so; after the birth they were responsible for bringing about, it is “out of their hands and into God’s;” suddenly the mother is responsible, as if she wanted to bring the proto-baby to term in the first place! Until the pro-lifers are willing to do something like this when they counsel and succeed, they should get out of the business of counseling mothers-to-be; they cannot afford it!

I hope I have presented a position respectful of all views, without forcing anyone to or preventing anyone from thinking or acting contrary to their conscience, and without “ruffling too many feathers.” If I have “ruffled” anyone beyond the “calm, intelligent conversaton” mentioned at the beginning, my bad — such was not my intention. At the very least, I hope I have demonstrated that meaningful and substantial content can accompany discourse on abortion. We must continue such discourse.

RJH

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