Pro-life: More than anti-abortion

Pro-life: More than anti-abortion 

Jeanette Strong, September 27, 2013

I am pro-life. To me, that means more than just being against abortion. It means not sending our troops to an unnecessary war of choice, where they can be killed just as dead as if the war was necessary. It means requiring minimum standards of competence from companies such as KBR, so our soldiers don’t get electrocuted while taking a shower. It means regulating fertility clinics, so they don’t produce excess embryos that need to be thrown in the trash when they are no longer viable. It means not executing people who may be innocent. For those who support the death penalty, the Bible requires a minimum of two independent eyewitnesses before an accused person can be executed. (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15-19). That sounds like a reasonable standard to me.

Commentators such as Ann Coulter seem to think that calling names and being snide are enough to be called “pro-life”. I would like to ask her what real-life solutions she can provide. “Just Say No” isn’t a solution to unwanted pregnancies. Ask Bristol Palin how well that worked. Women have been having abortions for thousands of years, just about as long as unintended pregnancies have been occurring. Making them illegal didn’t stop abortions. If Roe v. Wade is repealed, that puts the problem back on the states. If some states make abortion illegal, women will just go to another state. If all states make abortion illegal, who will go to jail when they are performed? The woman? The doctor? If no one goes to jail, what is the point of making abortions illegal?

I am not a multi-million dollar pro-life organization, but I have received material from them, asking for money. They claim the money will be used for pro-life causes, but it soon became apparent to me that their strategy is basically: 1) elect pro-life politicians, and 2) rename the “pro-choice” movement with terms such as “pro-abortion”, and “culture of death”. I rarely see any mention of programs that would actually prevent unwanted pregnancies or reduce abortions. These groups seem to think that sticking labels on people and calling names are fine; all I see are groups who have found an issue they can use to divide people, without actually having to find a solution.

Under President Reagan (pro-life), the number of abortions increased every year. Under President Clinton (pro-choice), the number of abortions decreased every year. Under President Bush (pro-life), the decline leveled off. (Statistics from National Right to Life website). I really don’t care what label someone puts on him or herself. What I care about is that fewer babies are killed. Wouldn’t it be more productive to see why abortions went down under Clinton, than to call him a baby-killer because he is pro-choice? Wouldn’t it be more productive to see why so many other industrialized countries have lower abortion rates than the US does? Wouldn’t it be more effective to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place?

Many so-called pro-lifers say they are against abortion except in cases of rape or incest.  If abortion isn’t murder, then what right does anyone have to interfere in a medical decision between a woman and her doctor?  If abortion is murder, then why should a baby be murdered because its father was a rapist or a pervert? And please do not use the emotional well-being of the mother, or the chance of birth defects, as the reason abortion is acceptable in cases of rape or incest. If it’s acceptable in those cases, it’s acceptable in any case where the emotional health of the mother, or possible birth defects, etc., in the baby, are a factor. So, all those who say rape or incest are acceptable exceptions are actually pro-choice, but with a very limited criteria for that choice.

The best way to prevent abortions is through education. We need to teach our young people about birth control, just in case they decide not to be abstinent. We also need to teach them about the development of the unborn baby, so they will not think they are disposing of a “blob of tissue” or a “clump of cells”. I know a young woman I will call “Susan”, who got pregnant when she was 15. Her parents had taught her abstinence, but her boyfriend’s advances prevailed over their cautions. When Susan realized she was pregnant, she went to her parents. They are pro-life, but they said they would support whatever decision she made. She decided to have the baby and give her up for adoption. When I asked her why she had made this decision, she said she had learned in her high school biology class about how developed the baby was even at 2 months or so, and she knew she could never kill her baby. Susan had her baby girl, and gave her up for adoption. In a marvelous end to this story, when Susan’s daughter was grown, she sought and found her birth mother, and they have established a wonderful, loving relationship. This is just one instance among many where education helped prevent a young woman from making a decision she would later regret. Do people such as Ann Coulter really believe that calling Susan names would have had the same result as educating her?

Currently, a debate is raging on whether stem cell research is equivalent to abortion. I will believe that groups such as National Right to Life, Americans United for Life, Family Research Council, and Operation Rescue  really care about this issue when I see them protesting outside all the fertility clinics that are now allowed to create an unrestricted number of embryos, thousands of which will be discarded eventually. I fail to see how using embryos for research is morally wrong, but throwing them in the trash is okay. If these excess embryos are implanted into the mother, the result is Octomom, the single mother whose 14 children, all from in vitro fertilization, face a future of deprivation and abuse. Adopting embryos sounds good, but there are an estimated 500,000 excess embryos; a few hundred have been adopted. Most will lose viability before they can be adopted. Where is the outcry against these unregulated clinics, which create life only to dispose of it?

It’s easy to call pro-choicers names such as “baby killers“. It’s a lot harder to actually do something to reduce the number of abortions. When the day comes that pro-life organizations lobby in favor of health insurance for children, and shelter for homeless families, and adequate child care, I will believe they actually care about children’s lives. I will believe they are actually “pro-life”. Until then, the best they can be called is “anti-abortion”, and that is not nearly enough.


Ayn Rand – Prophet of selfishness

Ayn Rand – prophet of selfishness

Jeanette Strong, September 27, 2013

The Tea Party has a patron saint. Her name is Ayn Rand, and if you’re not sure who she is, just look at some of the signs at a Tea Party rally. “Atlas is Shrugging” and “Atlas Shrugs” are direct references to one of her most famous books, Atlas Shrugged.  “Who is John Galt?” is a reference to one of the heroes in that book. “Ayn Rand was right” goes to the heart of what Tea Partiers believe.

Many spokesmen on the Right claim Rand as their inspiration. Paul Ryan has said Rand was the reason he got into public service. He bragged, “It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff. We start with Atlas Shrugged.” In June 2010, Glenn Beck said, “Ayn Rand, you’ve got to love Ayn Rand. She’s great.” Rand Paul and Ron Paul quote her frequently. In his autobiography, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas held her up as an influence in his life.

Other right-wing spokesmen who quote her and think she was brilliant are Andrew Napolitano, John Stossel, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was very close to Rand herself; her philosophy influenced much of his economic policies. So since Rand seems to be so popular and influential with the Tea Party and much of the mainstream Republican Party, just exactly who was she and what did she advocate?

Rand believed in what she called “enlightened self-interest.” This basically means it is a virtue to do whatever it takes to get what you want, short of breaking the law, and offensive to practice any form of self-sacrifice. She even wrote a book called The Virtue of Selfishness, a collection of her essays on the subject. Rand identified selfishness as concern for one’s own interest, regardless of the consequences to others. She believed unselfishness had held mankind back in its moral development. Rand thought abortion and adultery were valid practices, because having an unwanted child would hinder someone’s goals, and not giving in to temptation would cause unhappiness, a serious violation of Rand’s beliefs.

Rand was also a militant atheist.  In a March 1964 Playboy article, she was asked if religion had “ever offered anything of constructive value to human life.”  Her response was, “No… faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life.” She actively discouraged any of her followers from any form of religious beliefs or actions. Jesus’ ideas of caring for the poor and those who were outcasts in society were the exact opposite of Rand’s belief in doing whatever makes you feel good.  It’s kind of ironic that many of the same people who claim President Obama is anti-Christian are actively embracing a woman who despised everything Christianity stands for.

Rand also believed no one should receive anything they hadn’t actively earned, including love. Again, Jesus never commands us to decide on the “worthiness” of recipients before we help them. He just commands us to help those in need, a philosophy completely at odds with Rand’s world view.

Rand even believed a baby must earn its mother’s love. From the same Playboy article:

PLAYBOY: “In Atlas Shrugged, you wrote that “one neither asks nor grants the unearned.” Did you mean this to include unearned love as well as unearned aid and material support?

RAND: Yes.

PLAYBOY: Well, then, why should a mother love her newborn infant who is still too young to have done anything to earn her love?

RAND: You don’t really mean this as a serious question. To begin with, if the mother is a responsible, rational human being, she does not have a baby by accident; she has him by choice. At first, a child has a value to her simply because it is a human being created—physically, at least—by her. The child’s parents owe him support until the legal age of 21, which means until such time as he can support himself. This is a chosen obligation that rational parents accept when they decide to have a child. They have to accept the consequences of their own decision. But do they have to love the child? No, not necessarily. That will depend on their evaluation of his character, as he grows up. He has to earn their love—as they have to earn his.”

Tea partiers claim they want to go back to the values of the founders. That would be true if the founders were atheists who believed atheism, adultery and selfishness were virtues. In reality, most of the founders believed in God, and they definitely believed in self-sacrifice. They risked their lives and fortunes for others, without any assurance that they would benefit personally. They believed in an ideal, and were willing to take risks for the benefit of future generations. When Tea Partiers say Rand was right, they are denouncing everything the founders lived and died for. There is no way to reconcile these two foundational philosophies.

Any Tea Partier who doesn’t hold the same beliefs Rand did, might want to ask themselves if they want to belong to a group that holds her in such high regard. If you are a Tea Partier and understand how skewed Rand’s beliefs were, you might ask yourself why she is held in such high regard and who is behind the whole thing.

The next time you see someone holding an Ayn Rand banner, think about the values she championed: atheism, adultery, abortion, avarice. Then think about the kind of people who would invoke her name as a symbol of everything they believe. Is this the America we want to live in? I hope not.