Tag Archive: Abortion

Some Missourians claim that after departing the state for better waters, one eventually returns ‘Home’ to the ‘Show Me State.’ (We’ll ignore the fact that Missouri’s statehood originated from the 1820 Missouri Compromise that allowed slavery.) After listening to friends describe the wonders of their home state, I neither lingered nor mixed words. “Well, St. Louis has an arch and a muddy river.” What originated as a ‘do the one-year of hell and get promoted’ turned into ten-years. However, one form of Missouri entertainment remains unique: Politics.

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The abortion debate has been presented as a battle between religious faith versus personal freedom, where people argue their values, usually via screaming. When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, several glib ‘right-to-life‘ speakers on MSNBC stated ‘God’s power’ had come forth. Yet, just as expected, upon waking this morning, God sent no angels, no great trumpet sounds screeched throughout the sky, and God’s elect had not gathered from across the world. The Lord did not descend from heaven, people did not rise from the dead, and no one was caught in the clouds (at least that I could see). 

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I Believe

imageA very pro-woman’s rights friend uttered something utterly shocking, “Unborn children are people. The killing of unborn children is tantamount to murder.

For a woman who stood at the forefront of women’s rights, I was stunned. I’ve listened to this woman for years, fighting for equal pay, equal healthcare, equal benefits and opposing the sometimes strict conservative values proposed by some candidates. She even fought for a woman’s right to choose and rallied against the closing of Planned Parenthood facilities.

Still, to hear the words, “… killing of unborn children is tantamount to murder” from was a complete surprise.

She briefly commented her university approved study of women who’ve had abortions sometimes commented, ‘I hope God will forgive me.’ When asked what those same said participants feared most that drew them to the abortion clinic for assistance, she could not answer.

However, several weeks ago I was contacted by a charitable organization to repair parts of an outdated, rundown computer network. While working, I engaged a young woman in conversation who freely echoed thoughts she felt were common among women her age:

“Most of those adamantly against abortion freely spew their beliefs but rarely ask what my goals were. Personally, I didn’t see anything possible. No one asked what my fears for the future were. Yet, I have many: facing even further pain of loneliness, suffering the humiliation of losing more of her body and life; being unable to care for a child with special needs.

To whom would I call at night when my child refuses to sleep? How could I get out of poverty, when I’m in poverty? Who will watch my child while I go to college? How will pay for food, shelter and quality life for my child.

How come everyone will prejudge me, while the man who claimed he’d stay at my side left for parts unknown. How come he’s not punished, ridiculed, heckled and hated? Who will go for me to some rundown bar, find my ex and get the rent money from him?

It’s easy to say abortion is murder sitting behind the walls of a warm home. But I dare anyone to live my life for 30 days and see the hell I live.”

Some accuse the Unknown Buddhist of playing both sides, i.e., wanting to reduce the number of abortions while simultaneously upholding the rights of all women. If one so chooses to judge accordingly, guilty as charged.

As a man, the Unknown Buddhist is in no position to judge any woman, let alone decide for all women. Accordingly, I believe all women should access to all information and options available, in a timely fashion, so that they can determine their own best course. I believe being in favor of the right to a safe, legal abortion by a trained medical professional who adheres to board-approved standards and practices. I believe we must provide this option available to any woman, without judgment. I also believe being in favor of tax dollars allocated to healthcare provision for those on the lowest income scale, because being poor does not mean you should receive lesser care or have less access. And I also believe being pro-choice means being adamant that we are not going back to the back alleys.

SinelessLast week, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, wrote he was “a little bit disappointed” that Francis hadn’t addressed abortion since being elected.  Pope Francis acknowledged that he had been “reprimanded,” but responded:

We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible,” he said. “The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

To me, the more important statement made occurred several months ago.

A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?

Having been personally condemned by the Catholic Church, I concur with Pope Francis that the church’s pastoral ministry cannot be insistently obsessed with a disjointed multitude of doctrines. The church must find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to crumble, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.  The Catholic church should be thinking we are the home of all, not just small group of selected people.

Someone recently queried my thoughts of homosexuality and abortion. To dodge the question, I carefully stated neither is a true, ‘black or white,’ ‘yes or no’ answer. But in truth, I genuinely sail my ship to a more holistic path.  So when I look at someone who may have had an abortion or someone who believes that gay and lesbian couples should have similar rights, I often think of John 8:7, “…let he who is sinless cast the first stone.”

Like Jesus, I won’t condemn a woman or homosexual relationship. It’s not because I am some free thinking whacked out liberal nor is it because I condone either. The real truth of what I see is that the men and women who make such black or white arguments are hypocrites. And hypocrites use the Bible to drive home hatred, bias and ignorance. As such, Americas’ churches are filled with such hatred. We believe more in hatred and guns than love and integrity. Don’t believe me? Then research Scott Lively, the Westboro Baptist Church or Terry Jones, who was recently arrested with thousands of kerosene-soaked copies of the Muslim holy book in his possession.

The most important goal for Buddhism is to awaken, to realize one’s true nature, putting an end to suffering. Pope Francis has thrown an olive branch of sorts by making it abundantly clear that we need all members of society. Not because there is some magic in numbers or the loss of time and dignity spent fighting personally partisan issues.  But more so because all of us are interconnected. We always have been and always will.

Scales of JusticeSeveral days ago, the Republican-led House passed an anti-abortion bill conservatives saw as a milestone.  Democrats condemned the measure as yet another example of the GOP war on women.

Everyone agrees that adult human beings have the right to life. Some people would say that the fertilized cell resulting from conception does not have the right to life. Therefore the right to life occurs sometime later between conception and birth. For others, the exact point a fetus reaches a right to life cannot be determined. Thus, society should assume it does have the right to life.

Allow me to sidestep the right-to-life or right-to-choice decision.

Personhood Ballot Initiatives would give legal rights to newly fertilized microscopic embryos (i.e., when life begins). Thus, for the moment, let’s presume abortion becomes illegal. Should the fetus have a “right” to life, how should we punish expectant mothers who are presumed to drink, eat, and participate in life events that may directly impact the health and safety of the fetus? For instance, when you’re expecting, what you eat and drink influences your child’s health, possibly forever. Some everyday foods and beverages take on new meaning, as some presents a danger to a developing child.

What if an expectant mother suffers heat stroke during a hot afternoon?  Should she miscarry, would she be required to prove her miscarriage was natural or face felony charges? For Christine Taylor, an Iowa mother of two girls and pregnant with her third child, a feticide law enacted in that state because of anti-choice efforts has wreaked havoc on her life. Being distraught and distracted, she tripped and fell down the stairs. Ms. Taylor found herself arrested and sent to jail for admitting uncertainty about her pregnancy and fear about raising three children on her own.

What if you’re a pregnant teen in the rural south?  Rural Americans live with the burden of poor health than those living in suburban or urban communities. There are fewer primary care physicians and emergency room doctors. Treatment options are often nonexistent and exacerbated by a lack of transportation. And using health care can be difficult, where tight-knit communities can amplify concerns about moral standing and confidentiality. Should society punish a mother for not ensuring their child receives the benefit of adequate healthcare? Should she be punished for simply not traveling long distances to a quality health facility? In the “personhood initiative” era, all of this basically means “… sucks to be you.”

So how do we police potential mothers and the rights of a fetus? How do we police every expectant mother fairly, equally? Who’s going to be the judge? Will a Buddhist or atheist be allowed to judge? Can a deeply conservative judicial system fairly and morally judge all?

Another thought? Do we punish those million or so women who had an abortion each year? As of 2008, there were 2.8 million people in jail. So what’s another 1 million more a year, right? For all the fighting over abortion, criminalizing women is not the solution; never has been. But then again, if abortion is equated to murder, should not the offender be adjudicated?

So when a national religious or political leader claims a woman should be criminally punished for having an abortion, questions must be asked and answers must be given. Does second hand smoke harm an unborn child? If so, do we punish the mother for harming the child or punish both the mother and smoker?  Here’s another; the automobile is great for personal freedom, but exhaust fumes are toxic. Should a car owner be punished for assault if their vehicle passes a pregnant woman? If “personhood initiative” backers really want to be fair, should we not ban air fresheners, ammonia, bleach, antifreeze, drain cleaners, laundry detergent and oven cleaners? Do we jail company executives who make, local stores that stock and sell and friends, family and neighbors who use such products? If a pregnant US citizen travels overseas and experiences a miscarriage in another country, how do we investigate and apply proper jurisprudence? Or do we simply perform extradition back to the country where the crime occurred? Can abortion doctors be tried for crimes against humanity?

So what’s the solution? The solution does not easily fit the into the black and white world of pro-life or pro-choice. Real solutions never do.

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