Sunday, September 21, 2008

40 Days for Life

40 Days for Life is a prayer vigil and protest that starts in two days, in Los Angeles, California; Boston, Massachusetts; and Fargo, North Dakota; and about 170 other places in America.

I realize that abortion is an unpleasant topic, but it's also a vital one: in several senses of the word.

Why Talk About This?

This blog is about "following Catholic beliefs and practices in America." From one point of view, that'd mean concentrating on "spiritual" things, like what prayers to say, how often to go to church, and whether or not I can have steak on Fridays.

That's important, but it isn't all there is to being a practicing Catholic. A hackneyed quip refers to people who are 'so heavenly minded, they're no earthly good.' In other words, my beliefs aren't worth much, if they don't translate into what I do as a member of my community.

At Mass recently, we were told about the 40 Days for Life program: and that we should participate and/or tell others about it. So, I picked up a pamphlet, did a little checking around, and now figure that this post should take care of the 'tell others about it' directive.

40 Days for Life: This is Doable

The website does a pretty good job of discussing the program, but I'll summarize part of one page here:

A program called program "BeingHuman" aired on EWTN tonight. I understand that you can watch it online. If you missed it, a DVD copy is available through Coalition for Life for $29. This is part of what "BeingHuman" had to say:
  • "This is your business."
    • "Many people feel abortion is wrong, I would never do it, I hope it stops.
    • "But if someone else chooses to have an abortion...who am I to interfere with their choice?... "
    • "...These children are not simply entrusted to their parents, they are entrusted to us all...."
  • "...we went in the back, and after each abortion we had to to reconstruct that baby to make sure all the body parts were there...."
  • "...abortion destroys an innocent human life...."
  • "...what are we going to do about it?"
"beingHuman Preview Video"
YouTube video
Video 2:29

I think "40 Days for Life" is a good idea. The program has three components:
  • Prayer and fasting
  • Constant vigil
  • Community outreach
I'm not going to be engaging in all three, but I can at least pray. And this post should count as some "community outreach."

Why Do I Care About Abortion?

I've already been born: so from a strictly self-centered point of view, I shouldn't care.

One reason that I'm against abortion is that the Church says so. These days, we're supposed to think that's simplistic, or stupid, or subservient. I can live with that. I was a teen in the sixties, and being counter-cultural doesn't have quite the horror for me that it might for others.

As for why the Catholic Church says not to kill our babies, the United States Council of Catholic Bishops put together a pretty good fact sheet.

As for how I see the abortion issue:

Abortion: It's Traditional

Abortion and infanticide are ancient traditions. Roman fathers had the right to abandon infants they didn't want. Reasons could be eugenic, letting a deformed boy die; or economic, discarding a girl whose dowry might become an unwanted expense.

People haven't changed all that much in the last two millennia or so. Eugenics and economics are still two reasons given for allowing parents to kill their children.

New Times, New Reasons

Time has brought some change, though. The Eugenics argument has shifted from a focus on 'improving the race' up to about the 1940s, to a concentration on a sort of lethal compassion.

A new twist is the invocation of psychological well-being for killing a baby. The argument there is that either the mother will feel bad if she doesn't off the kid, or the kid will feel bad. Since 1980, American law has given children the right to sue their parents, if the parents didn't kill them, and let the child suffer.

That was the case of Curlender v. Bio-Science Laboratories, where a judge ruled that "the child could have sued the parents, had the parents brought the child to term in the face of information concerning serious risks to the child"

No Matter How You Slice it, Abortion Still Snuffs Someone

My own views on abortion formed quite early, back in the sixties, when the emphasis was on 'quality of life,' and not letting people suffer a life with disabilities. I was born with defective hips, which needed considerable repair before I could lurch around.

As a high schooler, I realized that being alive with a painful and limiting deformity was better, on the whole, than being dead. My guess is that quite a few people who don't measure up to societal standards feel the same way.

Although Personally Opposed...

"Although personally opposed to abortion, I don't feel that I have the right to force my values on anyone else." That sounds very open-minded, and I've heard a pretty close paraphrase of that old chestnut within the year.

But, it won't wash.

Change the terms, and I think you'll see what I mean.

"Although personally opposed to honor killing, I don't feel that I have the right to impose my values on anyone else."

We've learned that honor killing is a time-honored tradition in some cultures. How dare we Euro-Americans presume to force out cultural mores on someone else?

I think that one reason we don't hear that argument is that, by and large, Americans, Euro- and otherwise, think that women are people. And that, as such, they have some rights. (To avoid any confusion here: I do not approve of the ancient custom of killing people, generally women, who allegedly offended their family in some way.)

I think that babies are people. Even if they haven't been born yet, and look funny. So, I think they have a right to life: just as much as the guy who took my parking space, or the person with a full cart and coupons in front of me at the checkout.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.