On Demand, Without Apology

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I listened to an amazing podcast last week from the women of Hysteria, who drop a pod every week with their perspectives on what’s going on in the news and the world. They are part of the Crooked Media family. I know, I post so much of Crooked Media’s media that I seem to be a stan, and to be honest, I am. I listen to most of their stuff, don’t agree with absolutely everything, but I always learn something.

This episode of Hysteria was called Abortion On Demand, No Apologies, and it is where I got the title for this post from. Erin Ryan and Alyssa Mastromanoco begun wuth a conversion about last week’s news and outrage and then Erin is joined by Grace Parra, Megan Gailey, and Dana Schwartz who all share very personal, and very poignant stories of their experiences with abortion and reproductive health. It is something that affects all of us every day. It’s very emotional for the podcasters as well as for me the listener. I was transported alongside them and I was touched deeply by their words.

I’m pro-choice, but that is all I will offer by way of my own opinions. The women of Hysteria really lay their experiences on the line. I’ll leave it to them to share their stories. 

One thing that was said however that I do want to share, and it stems from the Me, too movement, Times Up, Male politicians who know nothing of women’s bodies regulating them and passing laws that are not only Draconian, but also physically impossible to enforce (reimplanting an ectopic pregnancy in the uterus is one example). Whenever a man, and it is almost always a man, decides that an embryo is more valueable than a real live women, women all across this country need to rise up, protest, and in doing so are forced into a retraumatization of their original hell, whether that is rape, incest, abortion, or any other trauma faced. They are expected to bare their souls, and then they are often ridiculed and the men are often astounded that what happened to them is real, and they are sorry, but not sorry enough to let women control their own bodies.

I really don’t know which is worse – the original trauma or the reliving each and every time a politician decides that women need their help in making medical decisions. They relive the trauma, and there is no apology for them in their living nightmare.

Please hear these women.

On Demand, Without Apology Link to Podcast, originally airing May 23, 2019..

A Surprise from the Pulpit

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I wrote this soon after the mass on Divine Mercy Sunday, and shared it on my Facebook page. I wanted to also share it here.

Whenever the topic of abortion comes up in a church setting or with church people, I tend to hold my breath. I don’t know how many people are aware of my pro-choice stance. If asked, I try to be clear that I am for women’s reproductive rights in all the forms that women choose to use them. My most vocal place is probably on my Facebook and Tumblr, and no one from church, save one, is on Facebook or knows about Tumblr at the moment. That’s not to say I’m hiding my beliefs, I don”t think I do, but that’s how it’s been.

I had been looking forward to our Bishop as presider of the Divine Mercy Mass a few weekends ago. When I entered, I was handed a song-sheet and offered a relic to venerate, which I did.

I was early so that I could participate in the recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, before the start of Mass. I find those group chaplet recitations and rosary prayers very moving.

The Mass went as it usually does except that it was the Bishop and there were four other priests in attendance plus the deacon. It gives the feeling of something special; not that each liturgy isn’t special in its own way, but the larger group of religious gives it a certain presentation. We have a really good music ministry and they are always outstanding and were on this day as well.

When the Bishop began his Homily with a reference to an unnamed political candidate who proposes punishing women for abortions, I cringed. I could feel my body tense up. I didn’t expect him to endorse this candidate. It also wasn’t because I expect my clergy to come out and talk about pro-choice or reproduction in any way that is not Catholic doctrine. This is something I accept within the church. In the particular case of my priest, he’s never brought abortion up in a political way; only as part of the prayer of the faithful for life, from conception until natural death, etc. with the exception of promoting 40 Days for Life. I usually add my own two cents of prayer silently to include all those who I feel should be included, and who are most often excluded – the women in their most difficult moments.

So when the Bishop brought up Donald Trump, not by name of course, I held my breath.

He talked about how that isn’t the way we should be thinking about the women who have abortions. He never once mentioned preventing abortions, banning abortions, birth control, adoption, none of it.

What he talked about was how we focus on the baby and we should be focusing on the women. He also used the word women, not mother. He talked about how women have their reasons for abortions and when they have them, we need to support them. Whether it’s their choice or their only choice, we need to show them this compassion we talk about. Real pro-life people don’t tell these women that they’re going to hell or that they’ll be punished. Real pro-life people are there for the women after their abortions and without judgment.

I’ve never heard such a pro-choice sentiment from a clergy person let alone a Bishop.

Of course, I know he’s not pro-choice, but this is the first time I’ve heard someone of his stature talk about women using another choice other than carrying the fetus to full term and having the baby.

I was pleasantly surprised on his focus towards the women.

Compassion and mercy are not talking points from Pope Francis; they are a way of living and I for one am happy to see it outside of the media and inside my own parish and diocese.

Roe v. Wade (1973)

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Today is the 43rd anniversary  of the Roe v. Wade decision. That’s the decision that maintains a woman’s right to choose; to do with her body as she feels; It gives her privacy. It gives her autonomy. Many people herald it as a pro-abortion decision, but any of us who have contemplated abortion know that it is not. We know that no one, NO ONE, is pro-abortion.

Read about abortions before this landmark decision for some perspective.

As a country, we’re okay with the death penalty, even in cases where the convicted party is mentally disturbed – not the Charles Manson crazy, but developmental disabilities like Down’s Syndrome and mental ages that are well below their chronological age.

As a country, we’re okay with war; perpetual war since 2011.

As a country, we’re okay with torture.

We’re okay with domestic violence and victim-blaming where women are involved. Where men are involved, we reduce them to women.

We can’t even pass a VAWA that includes ALL women.

What is going on here?

I read something recently from someone who I respect, who is pro-life, who is a good-hearted, loving, peaceful person describing abortion (in some instances) as a convenience. Women don’t want to be inconvenienced. I strongly take issue with that way of thinking; that stereotype. Women who have abortions because of economic reasons are not doing it as a convenience. These women, for the most part are living in poverty. They have children and are often single parents. There is no universal child care option for them to get steady work or they work several jobs for part time hours. They are living in abusive situations that they can’t escape because they have no control over their own money and/or bodies.

Women would choose to avoid pregnancy rather than terminate it, but increasingly this option (birth control) is being taken away because corporations are people, too, my friend. The owner of Hobby Lobby is against contraception for religious reasons and chooses to force his employees to follow his religious beliefs instead of allowing them the freedom to follow their own religion.

The sooner the people in this country realize and accept that this country was founded on the principle of not only freedom of religion, the freedom to practice individual religions by individual people as well as, and in addition to the freedom to be free of religion entirely, the sooner these arguments will be null and void. We need to stop inflicting our beliefs on others. This country was founded on our differences; we should embrace them.

When my church does their prayer of the faithful, they almost always include a prayer for life, from conception to natural death. Very rarely, but sometimes, they reference abortion directly, and my mind invariably wanders and prays for the women; that they continue to have the freedom of choice; that they have the support, the autonomy, the health care and the reproductive rights that they should have in a free society.

We should be supporting women who choose abortions instead of terrorizing them.

The most recent act of terrorism in Colorado Springs that targeted the Planned Parenthood there killed a woman, not having an abortion, but supporting her friend, a man on his cell phone on the street, and a policeman/security personnel. This is horrible, and the fact that many of us hand-wave it away as collateral damage is more than a little disturbing.

The sooner we get back to our basics of bodily autonomy and religious freedom, the sooner we can move on as a country to more important things – stopping our military involvement, the quagmire, eliminating the gender gap in pay and rights, giving Americans the right to have access to health care that is actually healthy and affordable.

Women, when left to their own devices will make the right choices and the right choice is whatever they feel is right for them, not what you feel is right for them.

In all matters.

A Note About Comments

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Yesterday I wrote about abortion. I’m sure that I will be doing that again. I write about many controversial issues and I’m not naive enough to think that my opinion is the only opinion. I don’t mind discussing facts and I have enough of an open mind that I listen to other viewpoints even if I continue to disagree with them.

I like comments. I like feedback. I don’t mind dissension. I will approve comments if they disagree, but where I do mind and won’t approve is if I’m talking about abortion and/or reproductive rights, you shouldn’t be commenting on illegal immigration and Obama’s policies on such. If you’re going to state “facts”, make them facts. Tell me where your information came from.

How many kids are in foster care?

How many kids are abused?

How many kids are murdered? In my area we’ve had two in the last three months.

The thing I will answer from this unapproved comment is two-fold:

1. It’s subjective to say that I sound superior but I’d agree. I am superior to a fetus that can’t live outside its mother. I’m alive, breathing on my own and capable of higher reasoning and cognitive thought.

2. It’s true that I’m here because my mother did not have an abortion. She, however did not have any choices in 1966. I don’t know what her options would have been if abortions had been legally available. I know that I and my siblings were clearly wanted and cared for and loved. I also know that if I wasn’t here to talk about a woman’s right to do with her body what she deems, someone else would be speaking out in my place and for that I’d be grateful.

Life and Living

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(It says: “Until life within the womb of a mother is safe, life outside the womb will never be safe.”)

(*Note: I saw this earlier today and I had an opinion on it to share. Not all of my reflections this Lent will be on my positive journeying through the forty days. I have many things that cross my mind in a day, and this was today’s.
Trigger warnings for abortion and choice.*)

I could not disagree with this more. In fact, I find it offensive that this is part of a so-called pro-life campaign.

In fact, I think the opposite is true: it is our obligation to care for those already born and through education and appropriate birth control, abortions will, and have been going steadier, lower.

The false equivalency of a fetus and a grown person having the same safety concerns tells me that the person who wrote this sign doesn’t understand the real issues that women in this country, pregnant or not, face on a daily basis.

Is abortion really less safe than being born without a spinal cord or a brain stem?

Is abortion really less safe than starving and dying in poverty?

Is abortion really less safe than living in a chronically abusive household?

Do we really care more for our unborn than our already born? Our persons of color? Our single parents? Our foster kids? Our child victims of rape who are forced to carry babies to term when their emotional states and their physical bodies are not ready for it?

Shouldn’t we begin with taking care of those outside the womb first? If we can’t get that right, how can we presume to know what’s the best options for inside someone else’s body?

We also know that a fetus could not survive on its own without its physical attachment to the mother, the host, unlike people who are already living, breathing, thinking human beings. It is not a symbiotic relationship; it is strictly one-sided. If you remove the baby from the situation, the mother will still be alive. The opposite is not true.

I would prefer less bumper sticker sanctimony and more real world options without the attack on pregnant women at every turn.

Rethinking the March for Life

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In his Evangelium Vitae, Pope St. John Paul II said, “In giving life to man, God demands that he love, respect and promote life.”

I realize that today is a day to remember and pray for the unborn child. However, I would submit to you that while that is a noble and admirable cause, it does not translate into protesting and marching against abortion.

When abortion debates come up, often forgotten is the mother. Her physical health is ignored. Her mental health is ignored. Her economics are ignored, as are her support or lack of it.

Instead of marching or protesting against abortion, which should remain safe and legal for anyone who wants or needs one, perhaps we could promote life in other ways, like volunteer at a women’s shelter, donate to rape crisis centers (with time as well as money), provide for the already burdened lower economic family who has the number of children they want, give back birth control choices to the women getting pregnant since we know that access to birth control reduces abortion. Put comprehensive and accurate sex health education in the schools since we know that sex education done properly reduces teenage pregnancies and abortions.

Stop co-opting the word choice when you only want to provide one option.

Stop murdering doctors and terrorizing already fragile women at their moment of crisis as they follow through on one of the most difficult decisions they will ever have to make.

Of course pray for women and babies, but don’t forget about the ones who are post-born, the ones struggling daily under stresses and health risks and abuse. Standing on a street corner protesting only scares already scared women. There are other, more positive ways to follow your heart. Didn’t Jesus call those who prayed out loud and in public hypocrites? Didn’t He think there were other ways to pray, contemplatively instead of as a show to their neighbors?

We should rethink these acts of terror we put upon women at their lowest low, and pray and care for all life even those whose choices and lifestyles we disagree with and not abandon the women and children whose lives we are trying to affect.

The Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

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Today is the forty-first anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Whatever side in the political abortion debate you’re on, we should all be of the same mind to equally protect the already-living and giving women the equality and the respect of autonomy over their own bodies.

I find it hypocritical that many of the same people who are anti-abortion are also pro-death penalty, anti-food stamps, anti-unemployment insurance, anti-birth control and anti- anything that will benefit women who choose to have their children and single mothers, some of whom are in crisis. Many lack health insurance and pre-natal care, which is the difference between a healthy pregnancy and a death sentence for the mother.

In all the conversations I’ve had with pro-choice people, not one of them has ever been pro-abortion. It is one of the most difficult decisions that a person ever has to make. The choices available should also be available to all women and not only the women in abusive situations. There are many reasons to have an abortion, and they are as individual as there are pregnancies.

For me personally, I had the right and the opportunity to make the choice. I don’t know what I would have done, given my mental state at that time without that choice. My choice was the right one for my family and me, and that should be all that matters to anyone facing that decision.

Everyone wants to eradicate abortion, but instead of shaming women (and some of these women are victims of assault, incest, domestic violence, economic disadvantage), we should be helping them. We should be making legitimate health, gender and sex education available, which includes how the body works and all those uncomfortable but anatomically accurate words, contraception, reproductive choices and rights for everyone instead of the constant barrage of misinformation about our bodies and suggesting that abstinence is the only answer when many of these pregnant girls and women didn’t have any choice or say in the matter of getting pregnant in the first place and would have chosen abstinence if their rapist had offered it.

We should put more value on girls and women as individuals, not as baby carriers and then maybe they would understand how their bodies work and have more respect for themselves.

Don’t misread that last statement. Having respect for yourself doesn’t mean not having sex; it means that you like yourself and can make informed choices without Puritanical shaming on every decision you make.

In fact, we give more bodily autonomy to cadavers than we do women. We need written consent to donate organs or to participate in ongoing scientific research. How is it even possible in this day and age that we are against reducing pregnancies and for abolishing abortions? It’s oxymoronic.

At least give out the correct information and the condoms. Continue to promote abstinence, but just like touching the stove for a toddler, we wouldn’t say no we’re not treating that burn – you should have abstained from touching the stove.

Whether you are for or against abortion, keep it safe and legal or many more than unborn will die. And please stop putting more value on unborn than on the already living.