The Thing I Don’t Get

Someone I knew in high school posted this image on Facebook, along with the comment, “Thoughts?”

Guns dont abortion clinics do

I know that abortion politics is one of those swamps that we are advised to stay away from, but I have a problem with the whole life-begins-at-conception position.

Back when I was in graduate school, I knew a man whose brother had leukemia. As it turned out, only two family members, my friend and his father, were a match who could donate blood products weekly to keep the sick brother alive.

Perhaps surprisingly, the brother’s father simply refused to do it. There was no way that he was going to have to go to a hospital every week and make the donation. I don’t know whether he was callous or incredibly busy, but either way, he refused to do it. That left my friend, who was gay, as the only possible person who could make the blood-related donations that would keep his brother alive. It meant that he couldn’t move to a city to study art and begin a more open and enjoyable life. He was stuck in a rural, antigay town for ten years to help keep his brother alive.

Here’s the thing I don’t get: There exist no laws that could have forced the father to donate blood products weekly, just as there are no laws that say, for example, that if I need a kidney and you have a compatible one to spare, I can make you give it to me. If my friend’s brother would be allowed to die, or if I could die for a lack of your kidney, couldn’t the brother’s father — or you — be said to be a murderer for letting it happen?

Note that it’s also been said that over 40 people watched Kitty Genovese be stabbed to death in New York City a half a century ago, but as far as I know, no one went to jail for not doing a thing to stop the murder.

How come people put their energy into opposing a Supreme Court decision that says that a woman has the right to control her own body, that she does not have to carry a first-trimester fetus to term against her will? They seem more concerned about the rights of a few thousand cells that might never make it to term than they do about the flesh-and-blood, living-and-breathing, thinking-and-feeling people around them.

How can a society that lets a father allow his son to die lest he be inconvenienced by having to go to a hospital for an hour once a week turn around and tell a women — even a woman who has been raped or a child who has had her innocence destroyed by a family member — that she has to carry to term a fetus she never asked for and doesn’t want?

Congressman Barney Frank once quipped that someone who is “Pro-Life” believes that life begins at conception and ends at birth, but I have this sneaking suspicion that those who have a knee-jerk opposition to abortion never really pondered what he meant by that statement.

It seems like every week some town votes down funding to educate its children — the ones who have already been born, that is, and those desperately anti-abortion legislators are famous for voting against things like Headstart or school lunch programs. I don’t get it. How can they pretend to care about fetuses but make it clear that they do not give a damn about the children who are already here?

It’s not like I think abortions are wonderful. I don’t think I’d have had one, but that’s my personal opinion, based on my personal morals and untroubled by the vicissitudes of real life. Personally, I think that most abortions are a tragedy, but I cannot stand in front of an incestuously raped nine-year-old and tell her or her parents what to do. I cannot tell a woman who wasn’t exactly raped (but who didn’t consent) that she should drop out of medical school and work in a diner to support the child I’ll force her to carry to term.

Pro life cartoon

I’ve seen so many unloved, even hated, children, who grow up to be hate-filled and destructive to themselves and others. A child who grows up in a home without love and support can be worse off than a child who grows up on the streets.

Don’t tell me that you’re a Christian — show me. If you spew hate or intolerance or rain down judgments like summer sunshine, you’re not a Christian, or a Muslim, or a Jew, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist, or especially a UU. If your faith does not soften your heart and open your mind to the suffering of others, then it’s got no place in such discussions.

Isn’t it too bad that we couldn’t sit down without our affiliations or slogans or Bibles and just talk about these issues like real, live people? I hope that day comes — and soon.


Reference for Barney Frank quotation: Pierce CP. To Be Frank. boston.com News. 2 Oct 2005.


Copyright © 2013 by Candace L. Van Auken. All rights reserved.


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I am a writer and an activist for people who are disabled by chronic illness. I am also interested in issues related to the LGBTQIA community and to women making music.

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Posted in Politics, Public health, Women's health
One comment on “The Thing I Don’t Get
  1. Marlon says:

    An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I do think that you need to write more about this subject,
    it may not be a taboo subject but usually people do
    not talk about these issues. To the next! All the best!
    !

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