Abortion Debate? Let’s cut it out…

The terribly insensitive title was a bit attention seeking I’ll admit, but it speaks to this notion that abortion is still a divisive issue for so many people and it’s frustrating amid a spectrum of social problems that require much of the activism and discourse that is wasted on what I feel to be a open and closed issue. Let’s simply and quickly breakdown the debate from the three most popular perspectives and I’ll add one caveat at the end.

Not a solution to unsafe sex-This idea that men and women actually consider the relative “ease” of “taking care of” the potential result of their subsequent sexual encounter before they engage in intercourse is quite hilarious. No one reaches the critical moment of decision and is comforted by the possibility that an abortion will solve the dilemma that having sex might bring about. So, why do we punish young women by arguing, “Hey you should have thought of this before. You don’t get an easy way out.” Well, we are past that point if she is already pregnant and we know that outlawing abortion would not act as a deterrent so therefore, that argument of “It shouldn’t be an option to erase a mistake” is unfounded because it’s not viewed as an option before the mistake is made, it’s viewed as a choice (a very difficult one) for someone who is already pregnant. Abortion is not an easy way out, it’s not a time machine that transports someone back to before their moment of conception, nor is it murder.

Religious Argument (God’s plan)-If it is murder, so is masturbation, sodomy, oral sex, homosexuality, wet dreams, protected sex, birth control…All of the potential sperm involved in those instances are being preemptively restricted from “babymaking” it’s just cutting out the middle man.  The idea that God treats conception differently because it’s “meant to be” and therefore that fetus is immediately a person means that every person who uses in vitro fertilization, a surrogate, or adopts a child is defying God’s plan because if he wanted them to have kids then he wouldn’t have forced them to be in their childless predicaments in the first place. I mean Jesus Christ, Mary and Joseph didn’t have sex (or so they told the town) and they had the son of God so he can make that stuff happen if he wants it to right? That fetus is a result of sperm fertilizing an egg, not some divine intervention.

Roe v Wade reversal-This is a popular harping point for a lot of right wingers. It’s funny, if you actually study politics you’d realize that the reversal of Roe v Wade would be incredibly detrimental to the conservative base. As it stands now, it is a rallying cry that segues into family values, religious traditionalism, and us v them galvanization that resulted from the Culture Wars of the 1970’s and 1980’s which catapulted Reagan into the Presidency. The idea being, find what people perceive to be integral to their lifestyle among a certain homogeneous base (the South in this case) and latch on to an event or decision (Roe v Wade) that exemplifies the heavy hand of the government telling that base that their way of life was inferior or that the government knew better. The republicans rode the coattails of the Culture Wars to win three consecutive elections from 1980-1992 and their next two term representative in the Oval Office was George W. Bush who ran a campaign based on? You guessed it, family values and liberty with an emphasis on religious freedom. Any republican who wishes to reverse Roe v. Wade is suggesting opposition to the true party line which benefits greatly from using that decision and this issue to further their propagandized mission to convince “the real America” that their religious and family values are antithetical to the aims of a left winged Federal government. Sorry, but it’s all bullshit.

Furthermore, the idea that Roe v Wade is recycled as a point of contention to rally the conservative troops around the “core” issues explains why people have such a visceral reaction. It’s programmed. Pro life is just a response born out of fear and fear-mongering in this case. It is a convenient argumentative position that directly opposes the pro-choice (which actually speaks more towards liberty and freedom despite the party connotations) movement while giving religious backing in order to degrade and judge women who choose to do what’s best for their bodies and their lives. I contend that we shouldn’t care as much as we do and I’ve outlined the reasons why so many think they should but few actually sit down and think about it. If you would, you’d be like me and you’d just want everyone to cut it out. Simply put, I do not feel I deserve the power to tell someone what they can and cannot do with their body. I have no right nor do I have a place. God has nothing to do with this and legally there could be few more restrictive laws than one that would outlaw abortion (which will never happen). So, can we just give up and focus on things that matter? People protest, they drive vans with obscene images of dead fetuses, they hound young women who enter abortion clinics and tell them that they are scum. For what? Where is your right? And don’t say, what about the baby’s right to life? Well, again, life is a result of a sperm and an egg so unless you advocate that every sperm is sacred you have no basis there. Let’s cut it out, protect our rights, and fix real social problems.

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I’m the Hero of the Story, Don’t Need to be Saved

On the way to work today, by the side of the highway there was a girl in a dress with her four ways on. It being 4:30 in the morning, it was not until I was significantly past that several things entered my mind. One, being that I could have stopped and offered to help. This enters my mind every time I see a car with their caution lights on by the side of the road, but even more so when it is a perceived “damsel in distress”. But in today’s day and age with cell phones, smart phones, and AAA, I feel like the majority of roadside situations are easily self-solved and don’t require the assistance of a stranger. Real life is not like For Love of the Game where strangers connect at the side of the road with the handsome car-savvy guy saving the girl from catastrophic engine failure, and the girl exclaiming “My Hero!” while driving off into the sunset with the man who could pass off for the twin of Han Solo.

My brain then went off on its usual tangential thinking spree, as I begun to ask myself who really are our heroes today? Usually they’re larger than life people such as singers, politicians, movie stars or professional athletes. Sure, there are our “everyday heroes” like firefighters, paramedics, soldiers and police officers, but there’s always that somebody we aspire to be or be like on a grander scale. It’s nice to say that our local heroes are the people we look up to the most, but when asked if you would rather be a suburban paramedic or President of the United States, I think I know what most people would choose.

Speaking of Presidents, how many people remember Bill Clinton saying that he “tried marijuana once, but did not inhale” or George W. Bush saying that he hasn’t done cocaine “in the past 15 years”? It’s laughable how much controversy and criticism these comments stirred up when our everyday heroes, like public servants, or a relative, have most likely screwed up in a similar capacity at least once in their life. Even our fictional superheroes are imperfect individuals. Tony Stark (Iron Man) is an alcoholic old man who doesn’t realize his potential to help humanity until it’s almost too late. Bruce Wayne (Batman) is a reclusive, angry, borderline bipolaric that struggles with more internal than external conflict. We idolize these people and accept them with their obvious flaws, yet we can’t hold the same standards for our higher level heroes. It’s okay for your parents to sit down and talk with you about their experience with illegal substances, and why you should avoid them, but it isn’t okay for entertainers, athletes, or politicians in the public eye to have been “caught” doing the same thing. It’s no wonder neither Clinton or Bush alluded to specifics when discussing their past; if they would have admitted to actually having human personal history they would have been tarred and feathered by the public.

But then again, I think that we need to distinguish between heroes and role models. A hero is like Hercules, a practically larger than life individual that does fantastic deeds to fame and glory. You’re wowed by their accomplishments because it’s something that you cannot do, but the truth is that they simply are not people who our lives should be patterned after. We shouldn’t try and be them because we are totally different individuals, and it isn’t worth trying to be something other than ourselves.

And that is where a role model comes into play. A role model isn’t someone whose occupation or lifestyle we covet, but rather a person we know on an intimate basis that makes the very best of the specific scenario that they are placed in. Granted, a role model is still a completely different individual than us, but we aren’t glorifying their specific personal traits that help them excel on their distinguished level. Instead we magnify and learn from their traits that are universal to humanity, such as perseverance, compassion, and courage.

To conclude, I’d like to offer up my own exemplification of a role model and what it should look like to be one. Regardless of your religious beliefs, it can be logically concluded that Jesus of Nazareth had some pretty significant teachings about humanity. In John chapter 15, he is quoted as saying “greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This can be taken one of two ways, the first and usually foremost being to literally forfeit their life for the sake of their friends. Although I’m not disputing this, my interpretation has always been “to set aside one’s life for one’s friends.” To lay aside their life and their problems and obligations because a friend is in need. You want a role model? Just look for the friend that is always voluntarily there for you and you’ve found it. And in reality I think that is something vastly more tangible than what any hero could ever give us.