Who Has the Right to Live?
Last Saturday I went downtown for the opening of the Austin Farmers Market at Republic Square Park on 4th & Guadalupe. I was looking forward to seeing and buying some pretty, organically grown vegetables. I was highly disappointed. Only two stalls that I walked by had any kind of produce. One was some kind of leafy greens that the bugs had gotten to and the other was some wilted green garlic.
Most of the rest of the collection was the kind of stuff you could have found at any street fair. There was a guy who made cheese at his own dairy farm. He was impressive. The rest were representing a vineyard, food vendors (as in sausage on a stick fare), and a woman who made and glazed her own pottery. I’m not knocking the artisans, but there couldn’t have been more than three actual farmers in the entire park. In my mind, it was a wipe out.
The Farmers Market is run by a non-profit in town called the Sustainable Food Cooperative. I think they’re a good group and would love to write more about them some time, but I’m afraid that I can’t put my stamp of approval on this endeavor.
The other big thing that made the debut of the Austin Farmers Market a complete bust was some big Right to Life Rally that was camped out at Republic Square Park, waiting to march a protest on the Capitol. Most of the protesters were kind, polite, and well-behaved citizens. Most of them seemed respectful about expressing their viewpoints. They completely overflowed the park, and I got the feeling that there were more protesters than there were actual shoppers at the park.
There’s always a few stinkers in every group, however, and the kind of crazed woman who gives an entire group a bad name was present for this protest. She was a blonde woman with a mane of untamed hair, John Lennon glasses, a look in her eye that called, “Electroshock Therapy,” and a thick smear of globbed bright red lipstick that had missed parts of her mouth and landed on parts of her face.
Instead of carrying the pre-printed banners everyone else carried, this woman made her own. The pre-printed banners read, “Women Do Regret Abortion” – a perfectly inoffensive statement in my mind, since I’ve had some friends who have had abortions (probably more than I know about), and some women do regret their abortions. Crazy Lady had her own white poster boards and green magic marker. She was writing her own slogans.
The slogans were really catchy sound bites, obviously designed to educate others about God’s enduring love for His creation and God’s own personal views on abortion. I have absolutely no doubt that God spoke to this woman personally, but I think this could be remedied through the proper dosage of psych meds.
The first poster I saw her scribble was shocking and offensive, but I’ve forgotten what it said. The second poster said, “Your baby and your pregnancy are a punishment from God that you must accept.” The unborn baby whose mother bears and raises it with Crazy Lady’s mantra in her heart will, no doubt, want to thank her personally for saving her miserable life in another eighteen years.
The third poster read, “This [referring to a small green dot that she drew] is either a baby or a taco stain. Either way, you’re going to hell.” I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why the taco stain was green. Verde sauce, perhaps? And why would I confuse a green taco stain with a baby? Was it a Vulcan baby, perhaps? Maybe I was going to hell, but what did the green dot have to do with it? I’ve never had an abortion. I’ve never even been pregnant. It was all too confusing.
I actually happen to be somewhat sympathetic with the Right to Life movement. I do believe that life begins at conception. I like to think that I would bring to term any pregnancy I had, even if I were raped. I agree that unrestricted abortion on demand results in many fetuses being aborted out of inconvenience.
A father’s rights are not taken into account in the equation at all. When it takes two people to create a life, why are the father’s wishes not taken into account? We knock men for walking out on women when they turned up pregnant and washing their hands of the affair. But when a man steps up and wants to be responsible for an unborn life some of these same women would call him a pig if he doesn’t support a woman’s right to choose.
It all comes down to the age-old question of landlords’ rights versus tenants’ rights. After all, it is the woman’s body that’s being lived in rent-free for nine months. I gotta admit that until we find a way to transfer a fetus from a woman to an incubator, unharmed, that is a damn good argument for choice.
And finally, in this day and age of easy access to cheap and reliable forms of birth control, why should there be any need to abort a fetus? Why should there be a fetus to begin with? Well, because no birth control, short of abstinence, is 100% effective. Also, sometimes women in abusive relationships or violent circumstances don’t have access to birth control or even to emergency contraceptives within the time that it takes to make a difference.
For some people, the question of abortion seems to be a simple one to answer. There is a baby, and it has a right to live. But there is more to be considered than just the baby’s right to life. Who has the right to life and how do we determine that as a society?
During the Holocaust years, rabbis sometimes sanctioned abortions for Jewish women as being humane and ethical. Given the fact that Jewish women did not have access to adequate medial care and basic necessities of life, it must have seemed the choice that God might have made given the circumstances. Would God rather that a woman and child both suffer?
If even a rabbi can make the decision that an abortion is sometimes the moral and ethical choice for women in given circumstances, then who am I to tell someone that her choice is immoral, selfish or convenient? Those who believe in God believe that God’s is the ultimate judgment and the only judgment that matters. If an abortion is a simple case of infanticide, then the Lord will come to judge that behavior appropriately one day.
But the thing that really gets me about the right to life versus pro-choice debate is this: hypocrisy. Some of the same people who are so very vocal about the unborn baby’s right to life would claim that their beliefs stem from a faith in a god who believes in the sanctity of all life but also fervently supports the death penalty. Apparently, their god doesn’t really have the power to forgive everyone their sins, and their god thinks that some bad people are so bad that even god isn’t powerful enough to redeem them.
The babies, and not the bad people, are owed the right to life. It never occurs to these people that some of the “bad” people they want righteously executed were once the unwanted children of women who didn’t cross the picket lines of their local abortion clinics but did manage to read the message that their pregnancies and their babies were a punishment from god that they must accept. The babies are then “saved” to be raised by mothers who resent or neglect them and, in many cases, bring them up with limited resources.
It seems to me that if you truly believe in the right to life that your time is better spent in more positive pursuits. Give of your money and time to charities that make a difference in the lives of single parents. Write out a check to a charity like Any Baby Can or Lifeworks. Tutor a child who needs time and attention. Adopt a special needs child or an older orphan, or foster a child who needs temporary care.
Better yet: make a difference in the life of someone in your inner circle. See a single parent who’s hurting? Go buy some groceries or volunteer to babysit for a night. If all the people who marched on the capital last Saturday did these things, then I just might be naive but I bet the abortion rate would drop all by itself without a single piece of legislation being passed.