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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-06-02 - 11:47 a.m.

Between Iraq and a Hard Place

by Joan Callaway

Yesterday, U. S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton declared the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act unconstitutional, as it infringes on a woman’s right to choose. This is especially relevant as the Vatican has joined forces with the evangelicals by urging that communion be denied to politicians who support a pro-choice position on abortion, specifically John Kerry, the Democratic candidate for President. The incongruity of this seems paradoxical at best – abortion is not the only life and death issue the Church faces at the moment. It would seem they are between a rock and a hard place, denouncing abortion while turning a blind eye toward the scene in the Middle East, which is maiming and killing thousands.

Have the pro-lifers deplored (and denied communion) to those who kill in Iraq? Or who kill in self-defense? Or who carry out the death penalty? The United States is one of the very few industrialized countries in the world, which continues to execute criminals. Further, it is one of a handful of countries in the world, which executes mentally ill persons, persons with very low IQ, and children who murdered when they were under 18.

The ideology that frowns so vociferously on abortion, let alone partial birth abortion, also frowns on condom distribution in the schools, sex education for teens, and urges promotion of abstinence as the only means of birth control. These same ideologues have not provided financial support for unwed mothers, adequate childcare, and often education is even halted because pregnant teens are considered a distraction and bad influence on their peers.

I find myself in the same camp as John Kerry and former President Carter, both of whom have said while they could not countenance abortion for their own families, they defend the woman’s right to choose. They believe there should be a separation of their personal views and their public responsibilities. I have a few questions that I mean to ask my physician daughter though: What are the reasons for third trimester abortions? If life of mother is endangered and there is a choice between a marginally viable fetus and mother’s life, it seems to me there should be no question as to which should have priority, but why not a C-section?

I remember the horror stories of the days of illegal abortions. We surely would not want to go back there. But neither in my opinion should abortions be used as another form of birth control. Back in the 50’s, we had not really planned any of our five children. Each, however, has been loved and cared for. Somehow, we managed financially and emotionally to make room in our hearts and home for another baby each time. I can’t imagine which one we’d have done without – which one might have been expendable. Valerie, our first, and possibly the most inconvenient as we had been married only a short time and were both in college when she was conceived, neither financially independent nor ready to start a family? In 1951, even if abortions had been legal, it would never have occurred to us to take that route. And, somehow we managed. I dropped out of college after her birth and never returned to get my degree. But I've learned in many other ways.

As it turns out, Valerie has a collagen disease, which went undiagnosed until she was about seven years old. In today’s world, that diagnosis might have been made during the first trimester. How sad it would have been had that fetus been aborted because it wasn’t perfect! How sad, for the world is a better place for her being in it. How sad, for as a family, we are better for the many lessons we learned because of Valerie and the trials she endured so courageously.

President Bush, who is abhorrent of abortion and stem cell research, apparently was not abhorrent of and opposed to persons being sent to their death on his watch when he was Governor of Texas. When a law prohibiting execution of the mentally disadvantaged was defeated, he commented, "I like it the way it is." So, it would seem pro-life does not apply to the mentally or socially disadvantaged. And I’m sure he would argue that, yes, he is abhorrent of the casualties and deaths of the Iraq war, but the end justifies the means.

From where I sit, war is a man’s right to choose. And as one of my readers pointed out, pro-life seems to really mean pro-fetus.

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