We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Bird flu - Sim Science, esp epidemiology. Very cool.
From Captain Ed: " I, for one, would rather have the NSA checking on valid leads on al-Qaeda terrorists here in the US than to have my granddaughter vaporized by Islamofascists at the Mall of America." No doubt.
Good questions in the piece on abortion. Particularly those asking the 29 year old teacher. Would you want somebody who engages in casual sex to be with your child day in, day out? By the age of 29 she is getting long in the tooth, so should either be resigning herself to celibacy or making damn sure she uses reliable birth control. She certainly shouldn't be wasting her time on any relationship that isn't potentially headed towards marriage.
There are rarely accidental pregancies. The technology for avoiding them is obnoxious, diminishes the quality of sex for the man (or the physical and mental health of the woman--women with modod disorders are frequently destabilized by the pill) but is nevertheless accessible. If you can teach 30 kids all day, you can keep from making a baby at night.
My rough and ready code for premarital relationships was stark and simple: never go to bed even once with somebody unless you had become pretty clear over the course of a loving relationship with them that you would want to raise a baby and suffer through a teenager with them. If you felt confident enough of their character to even consider those activities, then you could go to bed with them. Not the Catholic view of sex as solely for procreation, but just that however fun it might be, its real purpose is to make babies, so don't do it unless you are "ready" to welcome one. I should add that I am a big advocate of birth control. Also, that in an ideal world people would wait until marriage for sex. But, better to give in to physical temptation some in youth and avoid marrying for all the wrong reasons. Divorce is a greater sin than premarital sex.
I worked for years with teenagers in the inner city who were constantly getting pregnant, ruining their lives, and generally pretty rotten mothers. Despite the tragedies we experienced, it was the most rewarding ministry in my life. I loved my kids. Many of them lived in radiant love of God in the face of situations that would have made one of us pampered middle class intellectuals give up on faith.
I worked in a Catholic agency and my job was to give support to the agency staff, teach religion classes and (amongst other topics) to preach abstinence at retreats for as many as a hundred or more of the kids, and police the grounds between the boys and girls cabins at nights. I was a good police woman, no one ever got pregnant on one of my watches. No, I was not an ugly nun. I was good looking, single, traversing the romantic shoals myself in the city.
I was also to counsel the pregnant teenagers (typical kid, precious to me,brightest light of my religion class, went home for the summer, came home before her 12th birthday, pregnant, she didn't know by which cousin). To visit the group home kids under our care and provide them with religious and moral instruction. To reach out to the wayward adolescents in our care for three months of evaluation. Etc. They taught me a lesson about treasuring life. (My college and grad school friends had ruthlessly aborted inconvenient babies when they got pregnant). My city kids believed, with me, that abortion is a sin.
But the question that haunted me then and now (having since had children and progressed to struggling with beloved but trying teenagers) is that having a baby does not automatically make you a good mother. The children and adolescents I served were in care because their teenaged mothers had prostituted themselves and their kids for crack, or had let their boyfriends abuse their kids, or just walked out and never come back, or just totally neglected them. They would have thought you a murderer for suggesting abortion. But they didn't know how to love or care for a child except as a toy, evidence of their own feminine worth, an attempt to hold on to a man, or the pathetically common desire by an unloved and brutalized girl for a baby-as-teddy-bear, hoping to finally be loved by someone.
Please do not call me an elitist, but my experience taught me that motherhood does not always redeem and help a girl grow up. Many do mother amazingly well, despite having been abused and neglected. But many people in our society are simply not fit to be parents. I care more, frankly, for the children who will be their innocent victims than for the excuses of those chronologically adult.
Since living in my glitzy suburb, I have seen plenty of women unfit to be mothers despite humongous houses, good provider husbands, good educations. But when they have children, there is at least the chance that they will be able to buy kind help to actually raise them, or put them in strict private schools that will help to make up for parental narcissim, drug abuse or lack of discipline.
Still, even married middle class women are often hideously cruel to their children, with far less excuse than the city kids I taught. There are certain women I know today who would have an abortion without a qualm if they got pregnant when they didn't want to be. Would I wish them on some hapless infant as mothers?
I wouldn't justify abortion. But I wonder if there couldn't be some way that ob-gyns could gently steer these selfish, unloving mothers to so-called support groups "Oh yes, I understand that this comes at such a bad time for you...how difficult...perhaps you would like to go to a group for other accomplished women like yourself for some mutual support" where they could get some remedial education in parental responsibility and the duty of sacrifice. Similar to the way a decent doctor is able to nudge the wallowing alcoholic towards AA.
As for me, I never had to make that awful choice about abortion. But I was a selfish jerk until I had kids and my family all told me that I probably shouldn't have them. Being a chaplain was easy. It wasn't until I had to be a mom and put my own kids first, that I had to try to be unselfish 24/7.
My heavy-handed point is that you can't discuss abortion without also addressing fitness for parenting. Don't say this is Big Brother, but we have millions of kids growing up in our own country without real parents of their own, in communities with vile values. How do we expect them to parent responsibly unless we teach them?! Parents should be the primary teachers of all kids. But when a generation of parents has absconded from their responsibility, what is to become of the next generation of parents?
And yes, I drew considerable flak (as culturally insensitive) for hammering home to my young charges "Boys, don't even think about sleeping with a girl unless you love her and want to marry her and have a job to support her and her babies." "Girls, sleep with a boy if you love him enough to marry him if you must, but use birth control and go to college so you can support yourself and never have to stay with a man who beats you." The kids didn't seem to mind.
Enough rambling. Abortion is a sin, but so is the slow torture and murder of an unwanted child by a self-obsessed parent.