Archive for March, 2019

Healing Thoughts

Monday, March 18th, 2019


I hesitate to wade into the abortion debate again because it is so emotional and divisive.

The reason it is so emotional and divisive is because it is in that difficult place between religion and politics that has ALWAYS been a challenge for our country. Some of the first settlers fled religious persecution in England and then proceeded to persecute other religions and native people here. We fought a civil war over slavery because both sides believed that they had God on their side. Even Lincoln recognized that folly when he said, “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

Into this toxic brew of religion and politics, we have the horrific image of babies being killed after surviving a “botched” abortion.

The facts are that it never happens. The reason why it never happens is because the abortion process is highly regulated. What Trump described in his State of the Union message is illegal in all 50 states. If any medical professional acted as Trump had described, they would be prosecuted for murder. If any medical professional assisted in that procedure, they would be an accessory to murder. We don’t need more laws prohibiting this practice because the existing laws appear to be working just fine.

Here’s what does happen.

Abortion after fetal viability is rare because most pregnancies progress to a successful end. Abortion after fetal viability also requires medical consent as well as patient consent. In Michigan, multiple physicians have to attest that the pregnancy is endangering a woman’s life. In other states, fetal viability is also an acceptable reason but still requires multiple medical confirmations. Generally abortion this late in pregnancy is the last choice rather than the first.

The main reason why a pregnancy can turn deadly after six months is that something goes terribly wrong with fetal development. The last three months of pregnancy is when the brain and other major organs go through dramatic growth. Physicians can detect these abnormalities. In some cases (holes in the heart), surgery in utero or post-delivery can correct the program. In some cases, the deficiencies are so severe that the pregnancy is unlikely to go full term. In most cases, these pregnancies end in miscarriage. When a natural miscarriage doesn’t occur, the pregnancy is terminated medically.

The laws regarding abortion after fetal viability require confirmation that the fetal heartbeat has stopped before anything else is done.

In some cases where it is possible to have a normal delivery, some mothers ask that labor is induced. They elect to go through a delivery so can provide comfort care as their baby passes.

Do the women who make this choice and the medical professionals who assist them sound like the monsters described by President Trump?

The reality is that no woman chooses this path after six months of pregnancy. Instead this is a family tragedy that should be cause for compassion and empathy.

Here’s the rest of the story.

Only 18% of the country believes that abortion should illegal in all circumstances. That number hasn’t changed significantly in 43 years.

The pro-life movement has failed to make their case for 43 years. The reason that they have failed is not because the rest of America is godless or uncaring. They failed because rest of America rejects being demonized. They appreciate how difficult a choice this is and accept that no one should attempt to make this choice for anyone else. Finally they simply reject the assertion that any group has the right to dictate the beliefs of anyone else.

The crime here is the demonization of those who suffer a failed pregnancy.

It is so simple to create this horrific image of innocent babies being cruelly killed.

For those who have a political ax to grind, it is really easy to fire up the outrage machine by suggesting that a vote for a Democrat is an endorsement of the practice of killing babies after they are born. The reality is that Democrats love babies just as much as Republicans because loving babies is built into our DNA as humans. Democrats find the prospect of killing babies just as repugnant as Republicans.

So why does our President suggest otherwise?

Because it is an emotional issue that creates fear and outrage. Politicians like Trump use fear and outrage to motivate their base to take action.

The “action” generally involves more “ends justifies means” thinking. It justifies treating the “other” (the ones we disagree with) as something less than human. It justifies repeating a lie even when you know it is a lie because that lie supports the larger mission of “getting something done”. It justifies rationalizing hateful behavior in the name of God.

Even though American voters agree on more that 80% of the issues that face us, we have allowed politicians to divide us into warring camps over a small handful of issues.

It is time for this to stop.

Change starts with a willingness to accept that rational people can have reasonable differences and that those differences don’t diminish their humanity, piety, or patriotism or enhance our own.

It continues when rational people admit that words can be used to harm or to heal. When we use words to harm, we attack the very fabric that holds our society together.

Emotional issues like abortion, immigration, race, religion, or sexual preference have the power to divide us when used by people who don’t believe in treating others with love and respect. Change gains momentum when rational people who are willing to treat each other with respect, reject politicians who try to use words to incite hate and violence.

We heal the country by healing ourselves. We heal ourselves when we start to hold our representatives accountable for their failure to model the same sort of behavior we personally aspire to. We heal ourselves when we stand up to defend the rights of others to be treated with respect even when we may disagree deeply with some of the things they believe in.

If we can leave our children anything, let’s leave them an example of how to defeat hate and restore love as the dominant force that shapes our country.