Thursday, January 22, 2009

About choices

I was up half the night last night pondering some more, and these things kept coming to mind. It just wouldn't leave. It seemed so strong. A burden of mind, so to speak. That kind of thing is not accidental. It's time to speak up.

If you have a 4-year-old son, you have told him that he is not allowed to jump off the kitchen counter. You've told him why it's against the rules, that it's for his best, that he could get hurt badly. If he does it, he will get in trouble, because that is how you teach him to obey the rules and to listen to you, the authority. Have you removed his ability to choose to do so? Of course not. He can still climb up there, stand up tall, and leap off the counter. Maybe he will not hurt himself. Maybe he will land on his little sister who is watching this all from below on the floor. Maybe he won't get hurt *this* time. Nothing about you setting the guidelines has removed his human ability to make that choice. Now you will discipline him in the way you have previously laid out. You will remind him that what he has done is not allowed in your house. He is expected to comply with the house and family rules. But nothing strips him of his ability to choose to do it again.

If you have attended a slam-bang good party, imbibed in quite a bit of tasty spiked beverage, enjoyed a few glasses of wine, you are feeling really good, and are now ready to head home, you head to your car. You know that driving while intoxicated is against the law. You even know why, and you could tell others all the reasons, but does that mean you don't have the choice to get in the car and take off? No, the law making this practice illegal does not prohibit you from choosing to get behind the wheel. That is your innate human ability. You may have an accident, you may harm or kill another person or an entire family. You may make it home safely. If you are arrested, you will suffer consequences that were clear and understood prior to your making that choice. No matter what the outcome, what you did was illegal. But it did not take away your ability to choose to do it.

If a young woman is struggling to make ends meet, and she wants better food options than what she has available on her meager budget, she goes to the nice grocery store across town. She knows she does not have money to pay for what she wants. She knows it is against the rules of the store and the laws of her state to take items from the store without paying for them. But she chooses to go ahead and stash several items in her coat, heading for the door quickly. The signs stating the rules and promises of prosecution are very clear, but have they robbed her of her ability to choose to take things? No, she has the will and ability to make any choice, right or wrong. She may make it out undetected, or she may be caught. If she is caught, she will be arrested. Will the store manager listen to her story of living on mac and cheese for the last week and wanting something better, feel that it is valid, and give her the items willingly? Will the police who come to arrest her feel that she's been treated unfairly because she was not allowed to walk in and take whatever she wanted? No, she made her choice, she will have to then abide by the assigned punishment. But none of that took away her choice.

If your spouse spends all your money on gambling and frivilous spending, bankrupting your family and causing you emotional and possibly physical harm as well as traumatizing your children, you may be very angry and want to kill him. You know that is not acceptable according to the laws of our land. But he has humiliated you, caused sadness and pain to your kids, and been a general jerk, by all accounts. There are other options you have, but is taking his life still one of them? You have the ability to choose to do any number of things to end his life. All of them are illegal, not allowed, against the law. What he did was wrong, it was hurtful, it was horrible and unthinkable, but you are still not allowed by law to kill him. As a human, you have the ability to choose to do it anyway, disregarding the consequences. You're aware of them, you know it's called murder and will mean breaking the law. But do you have the choice to do it? Of course. Would we say that we shouldn't judge you because we don't know what you've been through? Would we say that we are improperly removing your right to choose by arresting you for murder and prosecuting you as the law states?

Guidelines, boundaries, and laws do not remove our ability to make a choice, they simply help to direct us, as a country, toward what is best for our people and right for our society as a whole. They are in place to protect all of us. Every person, man or woman, has the choice to abide by the laws or not. They have the ability to choose not to stay within the boundaries of our system of law and order, but they will suffer the consequences and be punished as the law states. That's the way order is kept, that's the way anarchy is avoided. That's the way people can live peacefully with each other. Those that choose to abandon that system will be stripped of their rights to some extent, but they still have that ability to choose to obey or not obey any given law.

If a couple has a child, takes him home, and soon finds out that they can't go out like they want, they can't sleep as much as they'd like, they are missing work more than they'd like, and they have to spend money on this child that they'd rather spend on other things, they decide they do not want this child any longer. They know that there are several options available to them. They also know that killing this child is against the law and will mean they go to jail if they are found out. Some options may be embarrassing, some may be difficult, and some may be invconvenient. Does this mean that they have no choice? Has their "right to choose" been taken from them? No, they have every option in front of them, legal and illegal. It is up to them to decide which way to go. If they choose to give the child too much medication and cause the child to stop breathing, they are humanly able to act on that choice. The laws against this act are in place to protect this child, but they cannot affect the will of the parents at their core. When they are arrested for this choice, they will possibly suffer harm in jail, they may lose freedoms that they had prior to this choice, but that does not invalidate the ability they had to make that choice. We would be outraged. We would call them selfish. We would convict them in the public instantly when the story broke. Regardless, nothing we do can will take away their "right" to choose.

So in case it hasn't been clear, let me be very forthright... This whole talk of "protecting a woman's right to choose" means absolutely nothing in my book. It has nothing at all to do with choice. Choice cannot be taken away in this sense. A woman can choose to do whatever she wants, as can your 4-year-old son, and any man or person on the planet. But every choice has repercussions and consequences, good or bad. Does that mean we should allow and, further, pay for her to kill her child? Of course not! This is so very obvious. If you're going to defend this position, call it what it is, an attempt to protect the woman's right to kill her child. And if that's what you're willing to defend, be prepared to defend Casey Anthony, Susan Smith, Andrea Yates, and all the others who have opted to do the same thing.

Will we give a spouse who may injure herself in the act of killing her husband a proper weapon and people to assist her in doing it safely? Will we provide a bag and cart and escort personnel to the shoplifter in order that she might not hurt herself carrying her stolen items out of the store? In the same way we don't provide hitman services for unhappy wives or husbands, it is unbelievable that we support an entire industry whose sole job is to assist in the killing of the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society.

16 comments:

  1. Good post! I agree - I do not believe that the "woman's choice" overrides the babies choice of life that she is killing- and yes, call it whatever you like, but it is a baby that is killed in an abortion.

    Kayla

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  2. Very nice post...I have experienced something this week that makes this that more real to me...will post about it on my blog as soon as my thought are together.

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  3. Well thought out and well said. You are very right. Remember when you were in DC 19 years ago today?

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  4. Wow,I agree completely. But, I never thought of it like that, thanks for posting this.

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  5. Great post! Thanks so much for putting this so well into words!

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  6. So well put RK. I had one thought about this, in reference to all the other situations you talked about.

    Why is it that our society has decided to remove the consiquences that should be imposed and to hide the consiquences that women who choose this will still face. See because even if they don't call it a baby, and they don't call it murder. As humans we know that is what it is. So we change the words to hide the pain that those women will face. Where is the sign telling them that if they make this choice...here are the consiquences. I mean in order to remain humane, should every woman not be told, it is a baby, and you are killing it. You are not going to feel better afterwards due to whatever the circumstances are that surround you decision. Should they not be warned of what that will do to them internally. I just really don't understand, how any person can stand back and act like killing a child is a simple medical procedure. How can those who do it, lie to these women, telling them, it's okay to choose, there are not consiquences here, this is you right. Where is the humanity in that.

    I just had this thought that every other aspect of our law is all about informing the person of both their rights and consiquences. Is our society not doing women a disservice by continuing to manifest these lies as truth?

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  7. I truly struggle with this RK.
    As someone who has long held the belief that it is not my place to judge what is right for someone else but at the same time recognises (as I think we all do) life from the beginning.

    I have never had an abortion but in my last pregnancy I was told at 26 weeks that my daughter had a fatal disorder, her brain had failed to develop, that she would never be aware of us, walk or talk or eat. I was not going to put all of us through that.

    Then there was disagreement about her diagnosis. In the end I developed serious complications, they could have been permanent or fatal but they weren't. I still struggle with what this means.

    Should a woman's choice always exist because pregnancy can always be a serious risk to her health? Do I believe women should be allowed the choice in some situations but not others? I have had to resign myself, when forced to choose a side, that I would rather allow all women to be able to choose . Why does it bother me more when women choose to terminate for genetic conditions - they don't want this baby as opposed to just not wanting a baby? I don't know. As I say, I really struggle with this.

    Since having Julia I have heard more stories of women like me who were in the position of choosing to terminate a pregnancy in which the baby would live a short while and suffer. Others who developed preeclampsia and whose much wanted babies had to be delivered just under viability. Some people, including members of those women's own families, feel that they murdered their babies.

    RK I think you know I admire your conviction and I don't say any of this to disagree with your point, I hope it comes across that way.

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  8. No matter what a child is a child, good or bad, health or unhealthy. You were given that baby for a reason and it is your RESPONSIBILITY to take care of them. There are other choices besides taking their life (adoption). You are having some VERY deep thoughts in these last weeks:) I comend you for putting them out there..

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  9. AM-A-ZING! I like how eloquent and thought out this post is, you put it all in perspective.

    I'm forwarding this link on to my mom at the "Center". I'm sure they will use it!

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  10. I think there are many of us who struggle with this due to those circumstances that just don't seem fair. If the pregnancy poses a health risk to the mother, should it be illeagle for her not to carry to term? If a woman is raped, should she be required to carry that baby to term, after the trauma that she has already faced?

    The first one, the health thing, is one that I think is a totally different issue, the reason being that the goal is not to get rid of an unwanted child, and in those cases where a baby must be delivered early in order to protect the health of the mother, the doctor is still going to do whatever they can to care for the baby and keep it alive if possible. The goal is not to kill the child. And those mothers' understand the severity of their choice. It is not one that is made out of convinience, but out of deep despair and loss for the baby they wanted to have and love.

    The second one is the one that I really struggle with and the conclusion that I have come to is that if a woman has been raped it is not going to fix the emotional trauma that she has been through to terminate that pregnancy. It may make it easier to not think about what happened for the next 9 months, but that doesn't make it go away. And the truth is that something good could come of that bad situation. Parents who can't have children could have the blessing of a baby. The fact is that it is a painful situation no matter what and taking the life of that child is not going to relieve the grief of what happened. This is one of those times where this woman would need an extreme amount of support and counseling; but isn't that the truth even if a pregnancy was not the result of the rape. I guess, I struggle with this because I can imagine wanting to hide from what happened, to make it go away, and if you're pregnant, it makes it difficult to do that. However, I just don't think it actually helps the situation to terminate and I don't think that carrying makes it worse either. Either way it is something that is so aweful that it is hard to imagine how a woman in that position must feel. So what our society needs is an extreme amount of compassion to help these women through the grief and the pregnancy. We can't judge them for the choice that they wish they could make, but we need to help them to make the best choice, the choice for life.

    I think that there are situations for all of us that make this a difficult issue, there are always those circumstances that make it easier to understand the choice even if we don't agree with it. And what do we do with that, how can we understand what those people are going through without having had the experience ourselves.

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  11. Very well thought out post. I see your passion clearly. And for myself would never get an abortion, never cousel anyone to get an abortion.

    However, I know a little something about choices. Some people clearly can make choices and others cannot. Personalities vary and while some people have no trouble standing up to pressure, others cannot.

    A young girl of sixteen, whose parents force the issue; a 23 year old homeless woman who turns tricks for a living; a girl who faces being kicked out of her home.

    For some, who are strong willed the decision might be easy, for others who have been raised in an atmosphere of abuse and threats, not so much.

    I am glad for the grace we have in Christ. Whatever our decisions, Christ's grace can and will forgive. Unfortunately humans are not the same and I have no respect for those who cannot and will not give grace to those who have suffered the horrendous loss of losing a child regardless of the method of loss.

    On the other hand, the government is something completely different. I have no idea why it is involved in Hitler-like actvities when we faught so hard against him in World War II. I cannot think of any reason for a government to endorse killing anyone, especially those citizens who cannot defend themselves...the unborn...the children...the "least of these."

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  12. As a labor and delivery nurse, I see many different scenario's of this issue and choice. I see babies being born into chaotic and angry homes, single moms with no resources or support, meth addicted moms delivering babies who can't wait to use again rather than care for their baby, and also parents who very much love and adore their baby. I wonder what kind of life these babies will be facing when they leave the hospital and can only hope they are eventually loved and cared for. I know we all need God's grace on this issue. And much compassion for women in situations that are horrendous and lonely instead of happily expecting. V

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  13. so i finally got time to read your post. and i will say that i agree completely. but what i also want to say is in all the instances you pointed out...each person has an instability. the child is too immature to understand, the husband has become an addict, the party goer is intoxicated...and so on. and they all get caught up in what they are doing that they can't think rationally. they feel that this is their only option or they fool themselves into believing it's their only option.

    so many times i have talked with people about abortion and they feel i am being heartless. they don't see how i can be so black and white about the issue. and the truth is that yes it is very black and white. in my eyes ALL abortions for any reason is immoral. but what i want to get across to people is that my heart goes out to women who feel that abortion is their only option. to have to go through an abortion has got to be horrible difficult.

    and i would think that the majority of women who have abortions know that what they are doing is not right. i don't care what the law says...i truly believe that deep down the majority of citizens know that abortion is bad. but unfortunately the unborn can not speak up for itself so abortion is allowed.

    the one thing that makes me furious about abortion are people that say it's wrong but would not want to prevent a woman from having one. i will never understand that. i will never be able to wrap my head around it. would that same person let a wife kill a husband or a child that is already born? would the same person turn an eye if he/she saw a parishoner stealing from their church, or even worse...would that same person turn an eye if they saw a person molest a child?

    yes children are born into very crummy situations and people can say well "it's better off she had an abortion, that child would have no chance if born." how do you know? there are people everyday that rise out of the rumble to become something great. you just don't know, just like you don't know if a child born into a privileged family will go onto to do something grand. look at the media...how many paris hiltons are there in this world that do absolutely nothing productive with their lives?

    abortion is a terrible thing for all parties involved. in the majority of cases the woman is just as much a victim as the unborn child. and i completely agree with one of the other people that commented on this post. why is it that women are not shown the aftermath? why is it that society doesn't focus on that...focus on the alternatives? i guess because that's not glamorous. society makes it seem like an abortion is like going inside a fast food restaurant. you're in, you're out and you go on your marry way. life is just another day....but that is so far from the truth.

    well i better quit while i'm ahead!!!

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  14. I choose to remain anonymous because I have to protect my privacy, I am a family member of a very good friend of yours, and I have two views on this, so i am sure you will find this very interesting, I have had a abortion, I had it because I was raped, severly beaten, which put me into a coma and then found I found out 7 weeks later that I was expecting, I was only 19 years old, I made that choice for several reasons, and it took me till I was 12 weeks to make it, beleive me it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life, I am now 29 years old, and I still live with it, frankly it kills me inside, I look back and think well the baby was a part of me, and I will cry even today about it, 10 years later, I don't believe that that pain will ever go away. It hurts, I have 3 children now and I have been married for 9 years, I once asked my husband if he still would have married me with a child conceved in rape, he said absolutally, I love you and that baby was a part of you and I would have loved the baby to, that to be honest makes me feel worse, I do beleive it should be a womans choice, but it is not a form of birth control, if you are not ready for a baby we do have options such as birth control and condoms, or just not having sex. I also know that as a woman who has had one, we should be able to talk to someone about these choices before we make a mistake, I came to my choice because at the time I thought it was right, but like I said knowing what I know today my views are different, I wish I had that baby, I sometimes wonder if it was a boy or girl and it just tears me up inside, and I will tear up, and now that I am approaching the due date of that baby it hurts worse, my baby was due on May 15th, 1999, and knowing that my baby would be 10 soon is just killing me. But I felt my view for all of you to hear would be helpful for you to understand my position. Also I was reading where someone typed adoption, well its not that simple, expecially in my case where they caught the rapist, the prosecuting attorney told me that they would have to terminate his parental rights, I freaked out, I mean how can anyone that raped someone have rights to a child, we they do, and they have to be terminated, which meant trial, for the rape (which I did) and then a whole another trial for the termination of parental rights, well my rape case was tried in June of 1999, I would have had a 1 month old, and that court case took 9 months to find him guilty and then my baby would have been 9 months old and then to turn around and start a termination of rights, and the states attorney said that there were no guarentees that his rights would be terminated, they said his wife, (yes he was married) could get the baby, and I certainly didn't want my baby to be raised by a rapist wife, absolutally not,once again I hope you all understand alittle bit more what women go threw to make that very hard choice, its the hardest thing and it should not be made quickly and I hope all women wanting to have one will sit back and really think it over, as maybe I should have just alittle longer. God bless.

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