Thursday, February 02, 2012


Political Mayhem Thursday: Abortion (we had to get there someday, right?)

Yesterday, I had this piece on CNN, which has generated more than a thousand comments over there. Let's have some here, too!

Here is the meat of the piece (as many of you know, the grandfather I describe is Tom Featherston of Baylor Law School):

We may disagree about whether life begins at conception, but it is now irrefutable that life is viable at 27 weeks. To deny this plainly observable fact is akin to denying the existence of evolution or global warming.

Much as Troy Davis (who was executed in Georgia last year despite troubling exculpatory evidence) and Hank Skinner (who received a stay of his execution in Texas to allow DNA testing to be pursued) personified the problems with the death penalty, there are those who do so just as starkly when we ponder late-term abortion.

For me, that person is named Rees. On a hot summer day in Waco, Texas, his proud grandfather carried him across the street for me to meet, months after his birth at about 24 weeks. His eyes were clear in the Texas sun, he was wrapped in a blue-and-white blanket, and he was surrounded by love.

He was, and is, a person, and that matters as much as Troy Davis and Hank Skinner.

"In the same way that the law had to change to accommodate advances in DNA evidence that can exonerate those on death row, state laws must change to accommodate that with modern medical care, a child born at 27 weeks is very likely not only going to live, but live a fairly normal life."

And that is why, agree with his arguments or not, I like reading Prof. Osler's stuff. He has an ability to find moral clarity that punches you in the face.

Request for next week... would like to read Prof. Osler's comments on the Haley Barbour pardon in Mississippi.
Mark … nice piece on CNN. I am not clear what you are advocating for … for the law to be changed from 28 to 27 weeks, or earlier ... or something else?
It's a choice, and it ain't mine to make for anyone else.

Does that mean you are comfortable with allowing abortions right up to birth, regardless of the reason?
That's an honest position then; albeit, one I don't share.
I think it should be allowed if the life of the mother is at risk. That is the ONLY circumstance I see that is appropriate.
Still not an easy or GOOD choice It is HORRIBLE but...
While I support the great majority of Prof. Osler's article, I prefer Marco Rubio's:

My wife and I recently lost a baby that lived almost 2 days after birth. Those hours were probably the sweetest of my life.

On the other side, I was truly disgusted when multiple doctors presented the abortion option to us early in the process. I understand that they were probably just doing their job, but I'm uncomfortable that our society makes them feel they should suggest it.

We were grateful for the medical advice and advocacy of a doctor at Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas (where doctors don't even bill patients) on behalf of our daughter. The doctor has dedicated his practice, and from what I can tell his life, to helping children with developmental disabilities. We need more doctors like him.
I am just interested in what the end game is. So we outlaw abortion after 20 weeks. Do we police pregnant women to make sure they don't throw themselves down the stairs? Do we conduct UAs weekly to make sure they aren't drinking? What does it look like when abortion is outlawed? And how about the fathers. The county is overwhelmed with the responsibility of tracking down men for child support, I would like to see these men also contribute to the medical costs of bringing their child in to the world. I just need to know what this is going to look like. If it is really great health care for pregnant women, adoptions options presented in an honest and compassionate manner or affordable day care I might be able to get behind it.
It looks almost exactly like what we have now-- it just moves the dates a little.
Yeesh...Anon, perhaps there is bravery in your extreme position but I find you taking that position anonymously a bit cowardly. (Prof. Osler is usually the one to make this point but this one struck me.)

I am a pro-choice mother of two and Roe v. Wade is a bad opinion. Scholars have long complained about the flimsy legal reasoning, which is followed by medical criteria the Justices were, frankly, unqualified to make and which the medical community has now far surpassed. Fortunately, most women are not thoughtless barbarians that would exercise the option of killing a fully formed, sleeping, eating, in utero baby because of a change of heart. However, if it were medically recommended or even required for the survival of the mother, it should be and always should have been a decision an individual makes with their doctor and not a right granted to a woman by law. Once there is a viable baby a doctor is treating two patients. The majority of the obstetricians I’ve spoken to about this (which admittedly is 4, but between them they had about 150 years of experience) see late term abortion as a medical decision and not a matter of one individuals’ choice. In fact, it is often a crushing and uniquely parental choice.

Statistics do not show that restrictions on late term abortions would dramatically effect population, family services, or our legal system. According to the Guttmacher Institute (researchers on sexual and reproductive health), the number of abortions since 2000 has gone down and the number of abortions at 24 weeks has gone down with it, to fewer than 8%. There is very little information on what the most prevalent reasons for a late term abortion are, but a requirement that some medical concern be behind such a choice is humane for everyone involved. I vehemently disagree that being pro-choice requires an irrational allegiance to not recognizing that a fully formed, albeit fragile, life exists before birth.
I know it's off topic, but what never ceases to amaze me, I mean never, is the oft quoted statistic that 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned. If we were more responsible on the front end of things, the need for many of these decisions would never arise. Really, 50%!

It's near 100% in Providence.
Pawtucket is outside Providence Mark, outside Providence.

Spot Anon
I wish the fervor of comments, often our "rightness", as concerns restrictions on life (lives) would be as vocal and inclusive with the lives society all too often marginalizes through station, income, BMI, ethnicity, gender identity, criminal record - the list goes on...

Professor Osler's menu of topics for discussion and his courage to "stand up" and be heard is a call to all.

With dignity and respect, we need all stand up, be heard and while stepping out of the shadows (often our closets of choice) offer an ear, a shoulder and extend a hand and come together as family, neighbors and citizens.

We are temporary visitors, called to share in word and deed outside of our comfort zones.

The professor offers daily opportunities personally and through the entrance of - as he likes to say "...The Holy Spirit".

Many hands are extended to each of us, Mark's is one - His another. "Rightness" often an impedement, marching behind "banners" often as impeding - What has value unless shared? Who are we as visitors?
Thank you NC! I think Jesus said it best and most simply: "Love your neighbor." He could have qualified it by saying "... if your neighbor is like you," but he didn't-- in fact he defined "neighbor" by telling the story of the good Samaratan, who was part of a despised caste.

I had this amazing talk with my sister as we were skiing last weekend. She is a social worker (a saintly occupation), and daily goes out to check on and help people in need, many of whom are seriously mentally ill. Even though she isn't as "religious-y" as I am, she told me that what she finds herself telling her clients the same thing over and over: That God loves them, as they are.

Hmmmm.... I think that can be the topic for my Sunday reflection!
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