Youve got to be leery of anyone who takes his lifes philosophy from bumper stickers, but I saw one that summed up perfectly my attitude toward a contentious issue. It read: If youre opposed to abortions, dont have one.
Thats also how most Americans feel. A Gallup Poll released in January showed that fewer than 30 percent of us favor overturning Roe v. Wade. But the current case of the Philadelphia doctor accused of killing babies after they were born is enough to make some people blanch and could change minds.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell could turn out to be the unwitting star for anti-abortion activists. He is accused of murder in the deaths of one patient and of seven babies who were allegedly born alive. The medical examiner in Philadelphia said he couldnt be sure whether any of the fetuses had been born alive, but witnesses have said some were and described horrible scenes in Gosnells now-shuttered clinic.
Heres my question: Is it possible to be in favor of a womans right to choose what to do with her body but still be horrified by what Gosnell is accused of doing, of essentially aborting a kid thats almost ready for college?
I was thinking about abortions as much as I usually do which is not at all when I got an impassioned phone call Tuesday from former schoolmate the Rev. Patrick Wooden, pastor of Raleighs Upper Room Church of God in Christ.
Shouldnt we be concerned?
He was incensed at the high percentage of young black women in his 27610 ZIP code who comprise the visitors to Gateway, a religious group that counsels women before they seek abortions. I was told its 62 percent. Im not going to sit back and watch this genocide, he said, before telling me that his church is hosting a fundraiser for Gateway on Sunday.
Pat and I rarely see eye to eye on anything, but shouldnt we all be concerned when it seems that abortions are being cavalierly used as a contraceptive a late-term contraceptive device?
Despite all of the various contraception available, with human nature being what it is, people will still make mistakes and get pregnant without meaning to. Or, even if they meant to, the woman may belatedly realize that the home slice with whom she laid down is no Heathcliff Huxtable or Ward Cleaver and will not make a good father.
For whatever reason she decides to end the pregnancy, the decision should be hers although common sense and common decency should play a part in the decision. Does it really take 24 weeks thats six months to determine whether youre ready to be a mama?
Hey, Im just asking.
Dreaded slippery slope
Neither side in the abortion debate is willing to concede anything, lest a concession lead to the dreaded slippery slope of caving in. For my measured, reasoned query, I suspect Ill be called everything but a caramel-colored kumquat by people on both sides.
The indisputable truth is, though, that both sides harm their arguments when they refuse to see any shades of gray.
For instance, pro-birthers, yall look like idiots when you equate taking the morning-after pill to murder. Pro-choicers? You appear complicit when you dont strongly condemn actions like those of the gruesome Dr. Gosnell. (Have you actually heard anyone but his attorney defend him? Neither have I.)
I asked Wendy Banister, executive director of Life Care, a religious organization that works with Gateway, how often that organizations counseling services succeed in dissuading women from having abortions.
Were not about the business of dissuading young women, Banister said. Were about the business of giving accurate information, including adoption options. What weve found is that most girls who know what they are choosing are much happier with their choices. Choices that are made in ignorance or without understanding are not really choices; theyre just a knee-jerk reaction.
Heres what happens, she said. Many girls come in with their own conception of their pregnancy. Oftentimes, when a girl receives an education on fetal development and where she is in the pregnancy many times, when they realize theyre carrying a 12-week-old baby and see that baby on the (ultrasound) screen, their decision becomes, My goodness. I had no idea this was actually a living human being. I am not choosing abortion for this.
There is vigorous debate about whether a 12-week-old fetus is a baby. Heck, some people think a 12-minute-old fetus is a baby and should be carried to term.
Theres a word for those people, but my editor wouldnt let me use it.
He did let me use the one I wanted for Dr. Gosnells alleged actions: ghoulish.
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