Thursday, February 16, 2012

Season of Love

The season of love was upon us this week. On Monday Washington state Governor Chris Gregoire signed into law a measure that legalized same-sex marriage in Washington state, making it the seventh in the nation to provide gay and lesbian couples the right to wed. That was right in time for Valentine’s Day – another holiday with origins in the Church that has been commercialized. I missed my tradition of going out with unattached friends to a romantic restaurant to celebrate our singleness while mocking the lovebirds we’re surrounded by. Our annual fun wasn’t always universally appreciated. Oklahoma State Senator Constance Johnson can relate to people not getting the joke.

In response to a ‘personhood bill’ Senator Johnson offered an amendment that said: “Any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.” The blogosphere lit up that Oklahoma was outlawing masturbation. Some people still don’t quite get that the amendment was designed to be outrageous.

The issue of abortion is one which divides the nation, families and communities. One’s position is impacted by the totality of one’s human experience – faith, custom and societal considerations amongst a whole range of criteria.

A powerful argument exists that a woman’s body is hers and she must controlled it. Ask anybody who has gone through or been around a pregnancy and there’s a powerful argument that life begins at contraception. These two statements are not as diametrically opposed as they appear. It’s when politics gets involved that it gets messy.

The Democratic platform says: “Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.”

The Republican platform says in part: “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”

The Libertarian platform states: “Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.”

According to the CDC the abortion rate in the U.S. in 2008 was 1.6%, constant from the prior year. 91.4% of the procedures were performed prior to 13 weeks. The CDC’s statistics indicate that 98.4% of pregnancies are completed, and a microscopic 1/100th of pregnancies undergo a later term procedure. The energy, effort and dollars that are aligned with both ‘sides’ of the abortion issue seem to be disproportionate to the impact abortions actually have.

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation nearly destroyed themselves by circuitously wading into the abortion issue when they attempted to revise the funding of mamograms. Republicans threatened to shut down the U.S. government last August over funding of Planned Parenthood. In both of these instances the proponents of one political perspective have tried to win the political debate by eliminating access. Abortion is legal. There are three branches of government that could be utilized to address the issue. Trying to short circuit the process takes an already emotional and volatile issue just distorts it further.

I celebrate life and am the proud Uncle and Godfather to my niece and nephew. I passionately believe in individual liberty and in a woman’s right to control her own body. I acknowledge the dichotomy of these statements. I’m not unique in the conundrum. My desire in this season of love is that the reconciling of this issue happen individually and privately.

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