Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Abortion at Home and Abroad

Today's online edition of The Independent (of London) ran a pair of articles dealing with the upcoming abortion debate in the UK. One article goes into some of the facts and history of the issue. This article had some interesting pieces of information:

From the 16th century, the Christian doctrine of passive conception held that the foetus was only given a soul in the fifth month. Then, in 1869, Pope Pius X changed the timing of "ensoulment" to conception.

The other article goes into the current political chessmatch about lowering the time limit when abortions can be done legally. Some want to lower the time limit from the current 24 week limit to 20 weeks. Of course, as the article points out:

Advances in medicine have seen babies survive at 23 weeks and, very rarely, 22 weeks. But the poor outcome for those suggests the limits of viability have been reached.

Of course, the same article also mentions this:

The book, Watch Me Grow, by Professor Stuart Campbell, former head of obstetrics at the King's College Hospital, London, captured pictures of babies at 12 weeks "jumping off the sides of the womb like a trampoline," opening their eyes at 18 weeks and apparently smiling at 22 weeks.

What I take from this is that the issue of abortion is an important issue in more than just the U.S. And as the first article mentioned describes, the role of religious groups also effects British politics:

Cardinal Cormac Murphy- O'Connor, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, hinted that all Catholics should vote Tory but the Prime Minister has said he believes it is a matter for a free vote and conscience on both sides of the House.

I bring this up, mostly to mention the Nick Kristof op-ed that appeared in the Times today. I think these two parts sum up some important points to ponder for Democrats and progressives:

The Democratic Party commits seppuku in the heartland by coming across as indifferent to people's doubts about abortions or even as pro-abortion. A Times poll in January found that 61 percent of Americans favor tighter restrictions on abortion, or even a ban, while only 36 percent agree with the Democratic Party position backing current abortion law.

That doesn't mean that there's no middle ground on abortion. In fact, most of America is standing, conflicted, on middle ground. Many people are deeply uncomfortable with abortions, but they also don't want women or doctors going to prison, and they don't want teenage girls dying because of coat-hanger abortions.

Since few will probably read this far, I can opine for a minute. I think this hits on very important themes. But I particularly want to call to people's attention this part: coming across as indifferent to people's doubts about abortions or even as pro-abortion. I think the same could be said of religion/morality generally. Almost everyone has a set of moral values, even atheists or "heathens".

One of my favorite Biblical parables is the one about the "Good Samaritan". While all the supposed righteous people walked passed a man who needed help, it was a supposed unrighteous one who actually helped the man. The better values in this case were that of the Samaritan. If you are a non-Christian, you can hold Christians accountable by demonstrating your values: When Bush proposes a budget that will hit the poor harshly, propose a budget that helps them out...be the "Good Samaritan". (But please don't try to use the Bible against us. Actions speak louder than words.)

Check out The National Council of Churches. I'm sure you'll find that even as non-Christians you can share a lot of values with Christians. Why not work with them to accomplish common goals rather than running from them?

3 Comments:

At March 16, 2005 7:21 PM, Blogger Grace LaVance said...

Gilbert, not to be ridiculously PC here, but this is ridiculous:

"Almost everyone has a set of moral values, even atheists or "heathens"."

Maybe you're not aware how many of your fellow students are atheists. I'm positive you're not aware that ANY of your fellow students are "heathens".

Nice to meet you. I'm a Pagan, which is under the umbrella of what I think you mean by "heathen".

EVEN atheists or heathens? Stop pretending like monotheists or even theists have a monopoly on "moral values". Why do you think the "secular left" cares so much about the poor, the weak, the defenseless, the common good? BECAUSE WE FEEL MORALLY OBLIGATED! Furthermore, as a Pagan, I'm tired of being used as an example. If you'd look into our beliefs instead of treating us like every other fringe group, you would see that we have a highly developed sense of collective morality. There is no "even" about it. We can debate the points of our various ethical systems in private, if you like, but I promise mine will give yours a run for its money...

I'm sure you will be defending yourself vigorously to this post, but I wanted to let you know: that comment reeked of arrogance and righteous superiority over "atheists," and "heathens".

And yes, I am a freshman undergraduate at Stanford and have been to Stanford Dems meetings.

/rant

 
At March 16, 2005 8:25 PM, Blogger Gilbert Martinez said...

Grace,

I'm not sure you read the entire post. Surely you noticed this comment: "The better values in this case were that of the Samaritan. If you are a non-Christian, you can hold Christians accountable by demonstrating your values: When Bush proposes a budget that will hit the poor harshly, propose a budget that helps them out...be the "Good Samaritan"." The very point of the post was to emphasize the fact that you don't have to be a christian or theist to demonstrate your values; that you should feel comfortable saying that you are proud of your values; and that you should take a little more time to attempt to understand where people of various faiths/non-faiths or moral values are coming from. This goes both ways.

I apologize if you took offense to the "heathen" comment. However, if you've ever talked to me or noticed the tone of this post (calling Christians to task, not atheists) and the fact that "heathens" was in "quotes", you'd surely conclude that that was more of a knock against Christians and theists than vice versa.

To be fair, most of my best friends are atheists and I've had a great relationship with a number of Wicca. But I fail to see the relevance of that. But I think you state the relevant point of this post when you ask and answer, "Why do you think the "secular left" cares so much about the poor, the weak, the defenseless, the common good? BECAUSE WE FEEL MORALLY OBLIGATED!" I thought I was saying the exact same thing, but perhaps I wasn't clear enough.

 
At June 22, 2006 3:26 AM, Anonymous Howdy said...

When we are born our brains are like empty computers waiting to be fed information. As we grow our peers act as our programmers, they supply us with the knowledge which we channel through the conscious mind into the subconscious (our hard drive). The subconscious mind is the biggest hard drive ever developed - it stores everything we come in contact with and by no means is all of this information of a positive nature.
All that we have heard, touched, smelt, tasted and seen are stored in the recesses of our minds. The subconscious mind holds on to this information until we need to recall it. For example when you were young your curiosity lead you to investigate your surroundings. When you approached a substance that was dangerous, such as fire, your parents or guardians would most likely have rebuked or scolded you if you ventured too near the flame. Perhaps you may even recall an incident when you were physically burned. Your subconscious mind then began to relate scolding (or pain) with the intense heat of the fire and would therefore feed the feelings of the scolding incident back to you whenever you got too close to fire again, thus acting as an early warning system.
This is the mechanism used by our brains to learn. It is also the same method employed by the mind in every situation. The subconscious mind has a tendency to emulate what it sees - it tends to replicate its environment. This is why so many people find themselves in similar relationships and situations that they saw their parents in while they were growing up. Most people also hold very strongly or similar views of their parents.
Think of a time when you gave yourself praise. What words did you use? Do you use the same words that your parents or peers used when they were praising you? The same is applicable when you scold yourself.
Watch your internal dialogue. Look at it closely. It takes diligence to change the way you think. When you notice yourself thinking a negative chose to think the opposite. This way you neutralise the negative thought. Now the think the positive thought again! You have just reversed the negative thinking in that moment and remember you only have this moment. No other time exists!
Daydream about what might be. Imagine things they way you wish them to be. If you catch yourself thinking "this is just a daydream - a fantasy" then stop! Think the opposite. It is not a daydream it is your reality. Now think it again.
By doing this simple procedure you will begin to retrain your subconscious mind to think positively and you will ultimately begin to consciously create a life that dreams are made of! subliminal messages

 

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