Tag Archives: abortion

Pitching the Vote

As we head into the big election week for the congressional midterms, the media is all aflutter trying to predict the outcome well in advance of actual voting. This is ostensibly in keeping with a trend of trying to be the first media outlet to accurately announce the winners. I think it is more than that, however. I believe that the media—ever so left leaning—is trying to use the cover of prognostication to actually effect the election results.

It is human nature to want to be on the winning side in any contest. No one wishes to be associated with a losing team, or losing effort, and those who find themselves in this unenviable position often try to distance themselves from the team to avoid embarrassment. If a candidate is predicted to win, this prediction may actually swing undecided voters to support the candidate based on their chances of winning, rather than voting for a candidate that more closely aligns with the voter’s ideology.  No one wants to vote for the losing side.

Look for numerous ads paid for by campaigns and political action committees designed to sway voters, but also, be on the lookout for articles run in newspapers, magazines and on TV that ostensibly are trying to cover the race, but are actually casting one side or another in a negative light—even if it is only saying something banal such as “this campaign is struggling with funding” or “this campaign is x number of points down in polls.” Those supposed news stories are nothing more than attempts to get voters to vote against those campaigns by painting them as losing propositions.

Also, look for stories that tout as successes that which has previously been panned as failure. An article on Yahoo from Business Insider this morning praised the successes of Obama Care even though it is pretty much recognized as an abysmal failure by both parties. The article says that it is a success because more people have insurance than had it before. It doesn’t mention any of the controversial issues that have arisen from the measure.

The most egregious issue with campaign ads are the blatant lies and obfuscations that campaigns issue during the elections. One candidate has taken an opponent’s words on abortion out of context to make it appear as if he supports rape. Ridiculous. Another ad for another candidate tries to intimate that the opponent would be a bad representative because he made millions as an insurance salesman. I’m sorry, but I think a person who earns millions of dollars in their job is a success and would probably make a pretty good representative. If he were running in my district, I’d vote for him.

People have been calling for campaign reforms for decades. Unfortunately, this will never happen. The first amendment provides for free speech and, aside from some case law that prohibits out-and-out lying, a candidate can say pretty much whatever they want in an advertisement and can buy as much air time as they can afford. What this means for you and me is that we get deluged in political advertising from TV, radio, internet, mail, email, and even phone calls from all directions until election day filled with some of the most inflammatory statements of dubious veracity ever imagined.

I would love to recommend a law prohibiting such commercials, but again, it is provided in the first amendment and I am an unrepentant supporter of the constitution and the bill of rights. The only way to combat this onslaught of lies is through education. Research the candidates and find out through their voting record what is fact and what is fiction. Caveat emptor applies to the electorate. Do not blindly accept the advertisements of political candidates any more than you would blindly accept a salesman’s pitch. But also, do not listen to the news media telling you who will win. You determine who will win only when you vote.

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One Land, Separate Ideals

America has never been so polarized, so divided or so fractured—or so says the media. Many pundits and analysts have offered observations and predictions based on this perceived dichotomy that is American society. Red states and blue states, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and republicans and other designations are the rally points for differing ideologies across the nation. Issues from immigration to gay marriage, from education to health care, and from foreign policy to domestic issues are driving the debates that separate the nation. Many people wonder why America has come to these crossroads especially given the advent of the Internet and the social media that was expected to unite everyone in the utopia that is instant connectivity of shared ideas. This is not just a fallacy; it is exactly the opposite of what is happening. The Internet is actually the tool that is dividing us.

idealpqThe mainstream media, ostensibly a long-time proponent of free interchange of ideas, touted web 2.0 tools such as Twitter and Facebook for their role in the 2010 Arab spring uprisings in the Middle East, which was expected to foster democratic movements in those countries. The ability to reach out and contact so many people at once is supposed to have been the cause for so many people coming together in such short order to force the revolutions and ouster of the supposed dictators of those countries.

While that may be true (and we have yet to see those Arab Spring revolutions foster democracy in any of those countries) the ability to communicate with so many instantaneously is also fraught with peril. The Internet is worldwide, to be sure. But in this wonderful wide world, there has long been a collection of disparate, different and dissonant societies, many of which who cannot tolerate those that are different. They have existed on the same ball of dirt simply because of the distance that separates them. Now that the Internet has removed that distance, those conflicting ideas ignite into hostility.

This is observable in America as well. The map of the United States shows how the divisions play out. People tend to cluster around like-minded people. This is how communities began. This is how the colonies got their starts in the 1700s. People gathered around those with whom they could identify; typically people of the same nationalities and ethnicities held the same beliefs systems. Thus the community prospered with minimal ideological conflict and churches fostered and nurtured the community.

With the advent of technology, people began travelling to other communities and clustering in cities and in those groupings, nationality and ideology were pushed aside for economic development and prosperity. But the stressors of ethnicity began a slow boil that eventually erupted into the civil rights movement. People of different ethnicities and nationalities began to bicker and fight. Legislation may have quelled the worst of it, but even today different ideologies thrust together into common geographic space breed hostility.

At the foundation of our nation, literacy was not commonplace. Only a few learned individuals possessed the tools and skills to communicate to the masses effectively. In those days, “the masses” was defined by those who gathered around the public square. Again, in those days, the public square was in a community of like-minded people with shared nationality and ethnicity and ideology. Today, anyone can say anything to anybody at anytime. Instant public speech is possible with a world-wide audience.

In England, the people were forbidden to speak out against the government. One of the founding principles of American government was the freedom to speak out against the government without fear of reprisals. It is inscribed in the first Amendment along with a line about how the government cannot dictate how individuals practice their religious beliefs. This freedom has been bastardized by those who think that it allows anyone to say absolutely anything they desire. This is not true. It just means one cannot be arrested for it. Many people have found out through lost jobs and lost relationships that speaking one’s mind on the internet can have consequences.

A teacher posted a picture in which she enjoys an adult beverage while on vacation. Her school terminated her for the posting. A healthcare worker posted a comment in which she advocated mass murder for criminals rioting in Ferguson Missouri. She was terminated by the hospital that employed her. A college professor was fired after joking on a Facebook post about hiring a hit man. Many celebrities have been called to task when they make comments that are picked up in the media and broadcast. Public outcry resulted in the forced sale of the L.A. Clippers after the owner made private comments that were made public by someone else.

In many of these cases, advocates claim these people should be protected by the first amendment for free speech. Again, none of these people have been arrested for their statements. None are facing federal charges. The first amendment is working in these cases. It is other people who are squelching the principle of free speech.

This is because people are communicating—albeit inadvertently—with a global audience and not a local community of like-minded people. A statement decrying abortion would gather great support in a small community where everyone shared nationality, ethnicity and ideology. Make the same statement on the Internet and it is likely to be met with hatred, vitriol and threats of violence.

Human beings are not the same. We still have unique nationalities, ethnicities and ideologies and many of these are incompatible with others. The crisis is the middle east is a glowing example. Ideologues from Palestine cannot abide the existence of an Israeli state and no amount of negotiation can change that. Radical Muslims will never accept any other religion and will always refer to any non-Muslim as “Infidel” and declare a Jihad to kill them.

Democrats and Republicans have different beliefs of the role of government. These differences are fundamental. The only way both can exist in governing is to be willing to surrender some of the ideals in order to achieve a greater good. This idea sounds great in theory, but those who are steadfast in their beliefs cannot abide surrender and they have the support of like-minded community members who rally around them shouting and holding signs. These people look crazy to the members of the opposing community who also rally together and try to shout down the opposition. This is where the dichotomy breeds and it is nowhere more apparent than on the internet.

We are products of our communities; we develop ideals based on interactions with those around us. The “Global Community” is a dream that cannot be realized because of the vast differences that exist between nations, ethnicities and ideologies. Perhaps in a century, if all national borders are eradicated and all ethnicities have blended into a homogenous amalgam of humanity, we might be close to a universal ideology. But don’t count on it. I, for one, would not want to live in such a world. And many in my community agree with me.

 

 

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It’s Not a Matter of Choice

Previously, we looked at the Pro-Choice argument in what is one of the biggest issues dividing our country. Many people, mostly (but not exclusively) liberals, feel that a woman has the right to determine what happens to her body. It is a laudable position and it is difficult (but not impossible) to make an argument against it. The flipside of the argument is the hot button and it is the language that sets people at odds. Pro-life. The term is inherently positive in its connotation. I like life. I am all for life. Are you not in favor of life? The opposite of life is death. Is not life better than death?

Who can honestly take the position opposite pro-life? Who would want to be labeled as being pro-death? Those opposed to the pro-life position cast themselves as pro-choice because it sounds better than pro-death or anti-life. So, in order to enter into a discussion on the issue, they do a rhetorical shift to a different, although related, issue.

To terminate a viable pregnancy is, quite simply, killing. Those who take the pro-death stance claim that it is not killing, since it is not born. In actuality, it is killing—if only the group of cells that form the fetus. Those cells die as a direct result of the intervention of abortion. If that pregnancy is left to progress to its natural conclusion, the chances are very good that a human being will be born. To intentionally terminate the pregnancy is to end that human being’s existence, which is tantamount to murder. Those who would champion a woman’s right to choose to not have a baby do not want to stigmatize themselves by admitting that. Many who align themselves with the pro-choice camp are opposed to abortion for themselves, but champion a woman’s right to choose for herself. These individuals are evading the thrust of the argument. It is not a matter of choice. To end a pregnancy is to kill a human being, and none of the usual arguments can justify that.

Some arguments claim that to deny a woman access to the abortion option will force the woman to subject her body to possible risks associated with childbirth. There are far fewer risks with child birth than with abortion. Child birth is a natural process. The human body was designed—among other things—for this purpose. Surgical or medicinal abortion is the opposite of natural; it is mankind altering the natural process and that is far riskier than anything natural. Life is a risky proposition in any case; one does not give up and die when the risks seem too high, so why should a baby have to?

Some would argue that to deny abortion would put more children into an already overtaxed adoption system, or put the single mothers on welfare. There are still many families on waiting lists to adopt new children, and there are many alternatives to welfare such as family or church support. And while many families find themselves burdened by an unwanted pregnancy, many others find themselves drawing closer and healing broken relationships during the process.

Some would argue that these children may not survive anyway, considering the child mortality rate. Life is always a gamble and any one of us could die tomorrow. Does that mean we should have been denied the opportunity for life? One can never morally deprive a person of the opportunity to be a productive member of society just because it is inconvenient that he or she exists. There are plenty of homeless that many in our society would prefer didn’t exist, but no one would suggest that killing them is a viable option.

Unfortunately the courts have not made the determination that killing an unborn baby is murder because there is debate on when “life” occurs. Is a fetus a baby? If so, at what point does it become so? Well, to put a point on it, it happens when the gamete is formed. That starts a sustained chain reaction of cellular division that grows into a person, therefore it is alive. Some would argue that it is not sentient, it is not self-aware and it cannot exist outside the womb so it must not be alive. There has been a consensus in the medical field that if the baby can exist and survive outside the womb, then it is alive and medical doctors have set that time limit at 20 weeks. This has led to a public acceptance of abortions prior to the 20-week mark, even though many people still try to abort babies past that time. This was set for political expedience: to appease both sides and try to quell the argument; something it fails to do. To say that a baby that cannot survive outside the womb is not a baby is the same as saying that an infant should be able to fend for itself and doesn’t need parents.

Life is precious and needs to be nurtured by its parents from the moment the sperm enters the egg. No infant can survive on its own, whether in the womb or out. To think otherwise is an exercise in delusion. Destroying a fetus is the same as killing the newborn and it is just as wrong. It is not an issue of choice. It never has been. The choice issue is choosing to engage in unprotected sex. Make your choices there…not after conception.

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Making the Right Choice

Superbowl Sunday has been about more than just the football game for several years as marketing companies use the event to debut the new clever ad campaigns. Many companies use the latest technology for special effects, others tell stories that span several commercials during the event, and some use the prime audience to put out a message. This year, one such message is drawing significant attention more than a week before the commercial is slated to air.

The spot was commissioned by Focus on the Family and features Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother relating the story of how his mother decided to carry Tim to term against her doctor’s medical recommendation. From reports on the commercial, it does not mention the word abortion or pro-life at any time during the spot. Yet the fact that CBS is airing the ad is polarizing the populous as it reopens an old argument that divides our country.

It is said that it takes two to argue. Many people try to take a peacemaker role by finding some common ground but find those efforts thwarted by rhetorical shifts in the message. In fact, in order to swing public opinion one way or the other, the two factions have given themselves positive names: Pro-Life and Pro-Choice. For this argument to truly meet head-on, the lines need to be drawn more clearly. If you are not Pro-Life, then you must be Pro-death. If you are not pro-choice, you must be anti-choice.

The argument of pro life vs. pro-choice is attacking the same issue from disparate platforms. The conflict of a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body versus the rights of the unborn can never meet on common ground because they are two different matters. Discussing the laudable premise of individual rights is one problem, and discussing the rights of the unborn is another.

Who shall tell a woman what she can do with her body? The body is considered by some the only true sovereign place left, a place where an individual has some degree of control. Or is it? Many people choose to smoke, yet legislation is in place in every state that limits smokers from indulging in their choice, and if the antismoking lobby gets its way, it will ban smoking for good. What about smoker’s right to choose? What about right to choose your diet? Foods fried in trans fats often taste better than other ways of cooking, but in several states, there are laws preventing people from buying them, since the restaurants can’t cook them. One phrase that pro-choice advocates repeat is “keep government out of my body,” but the government has been meddling in people’s bodies for years.

And is not the right to choose obviated in the choice to engage in unprotected sex? We make choices every day that may not be good for us. I love pie. A lot. I would eat pie at every meal if I could. If I choose to do that, however, I have to understand that there will be probable outcomes of getting fat or getting sick. Is it my right to be able to eat and not get fat? Is it a woman’s right to engage in unprotected sex and not have to deal with the consequences of that act?

That people will engage in sex is a given. We are human beings, driven by hormones and seeking pleasure, so sex is a common choice to satisfy those urges. Pro-choice advocates will say that teaching abstinence is unrealistic because of these urges. Kids will do what they will do and we have to have options to protect them from the consequences of unintended pregnancies. Perhaps they need better lessons in cause and effect. They need to learn that the choices they make may have life-altering consequences, and adults need to stop throwing their hands in the air and enabling kids to do whatever they want.

Free will and choice only goes so far before some level of responsibility has to come into play. If someone wants to engage in sex, one does so knowing that a possible outcome is a baby. Birth control devices abound that minimize the possibility of pregnancy. If the chance of failure is too great a risk, then abstinence is the only choice left.

Next blog: The other argument.

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