Thursday, February 26, 2009


We've got each other's back...
(My sis and I circa 1971. Yes, I'm the one on the bottom... that time, anyway!)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Other Victims

(I wrote this in 2003. Sadly, it is still relevant today).

"Abortion 1. The expulsion of a human fetus within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, before it is viable."
"Viable 1b. (of a fetus) having reached such a stage of development as to be capable of living, under normal conditions, outside the uterus."
"Victim 2. A person who is deceived or cheated, as by his own emotions or ignorance, by the dishonesty of others or by some impersonal agency; a victim of misplaced confidence (Random House Dictionary, 1967.).
Women are being duped. When they are at their most vulnerable, they are lied to about a procedure that can steal their peace of mind, their health and even their lives. They are being cheated out of their children's lives. They are abortion's other victims.
I was twelve years old in 1973, when Roe v. Wade passed, and I remember all the slogans. The biggie was that a woman should have a right to choose what happens to her own body. Unfortunately, no one seemed concerned with responsibility for her body. Up until now a woman had the right to choose whether to have sex or not. She did this with the full understanding of the potential consequences, and when the inevitable happened, she took responsibility for the child that resulted, too. But someone started thinking it wasn't fair for the man not to have to be responsible for his part of the party, and rather than deciding the price of casual sex was too high, women decided there shouldn't be any consequences for anyone. So definitions began to be rewritten. Suddenly this child growing within her was no longer a child. It was a fetus, a product of conception, a part of her body that she could do with as she chose. And now the woman could be free, too, right?
But that has not been the reality at all. Women are still the ones who get pregnant, but now a man doesn't have to decide whether to marry her and support her and his child, or just pay child support for 18 years. No, now the man has a choice! He can use his considerable influence over her and insist she get an abortion or he's leaving. Far too often it is not the woman, who often is a very young woman, who chooses what happens to her, her body or her unborn child. I was discussing this concept with a classmate in one of my classes, and she unexpectedly said, "Yeah, I know all about that. When I was 17, my mother forced me to have an abortion. Two days before Christmas! I'm 34 now, and I'm just starting to be able to deal with it" (personal anonymous communication, February 20, 2003).
"Hey, that happened to me, too," the girl sitting next to her spoke up. "I was 16. My dad said he'd disown me if I didn't do it, and my boyfriend said he would have nothing to do with me or the baby otherwise. And they were so mean to me (at the clinic)! They didn't counsel me, and they said it would be no big deal, but it hurt! Really bad for a long time" (personal anonymous communication, February 20, 2003).
"Yes," added the first girl, "and not just physically, either," pointing to her head significantly.
The truth is that abortion is big business. Those "back alley butchers" of the past were just bad doctors making a little money on the side. Now they can make a lot of money legally. That doesn't make them better doctors. It seems when money or power is involved many people forget about the people they are hurting. Planned Parenthood used to be against abortion. In 1963, they put out a pamphlet called 'Plan Your Children' that stated, "An abortion kills the life of a baby after is has begun. It is dangerous to your life and health." Just when did it become a safe procedure that simply disposed of the product of conception? The politicians sway with the winds on what they 'believe' about abortion, too. Al Gore used to be staunchly pro-life, and now he hotly denies his past voting record. Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.), Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass), President Bill Clinton, and Senator Jesse Jackson all wrote letters, gave speeches, and even wrote an article for National Right to Life (J. Jackson), supporting life beginning at conception, opposing government funding for abortion, and talking about the dangers of abortion. This was as late as 1986, but all of them turned their back on it when it didn't suit them politically to support life (2001).
Women going in a clinic to get an abortion are not told the truth about what's going on there. They are not told about the developmental stage of their baby, or even the fact that it is a baby. No one explains that this baby is implanted in the uterus long before they even know they are pregnant, and it depends on its mother for nourishment and safety in order to grow to full size. They are told how much trouble it would be to have a baby, and how easy and sensible it is to just get rid of it now. They aren't told how beautiful this little baby is, just that it is a blob. I know firsthand that this is not true, because I saw my perfect, tiny, dead baby after I miscarried at 18 weeks. This was a baby, like a child's doll, small and perfectly formed. Nathan's tiny eyes were still sealed shut, and his skin was translucent, with blood vessels showing through. His ears were like little pink shells, and he had a tiny rosebud mouth, like Cupid's bow. He had ten little fingers and ten little toes, and he had the sweetest face. He was big enough to hold. He was not ready to live outside of my womb, and that is the whole reason he was in there. Not viable is not the same as not living. We are not viable if taken out of earth's atmosphere without a spaceship, which is why we have the spaceship!
But the women are not told any of this. They are told they will have a simple procedure and the problem will be solved. The reality is that the procedure is very invasive, scary and painful. Sometimes they can hear the vacuum, and they can certainly feel it. It is psychologically horrifying. They hurt, inside and out, and it suddenly hits them just what they are doing. But it's too late and then its time to go home. Often the women are in severe pain with cramping, nausea, and severe bleeding. Sometimes they can't even walk for a day or two, and it can take weeks before it doesn't hurt physically anymore. Mentally, it takes much, much longer. And for far too many women, there are serious complications.
Women are told that abortions are safe now, but that is not entirely true. In 1983 the U.S. Bureau of Vital Statistics provided data showing that the advent of penicillin in the 1950's and 1960's correlated to a dramatic drop in maternal deaths, well before abortion was legalized. Abortions did not become safer with legalization, but instead with the advent of penicillin to fight infection (Wilke, Dr. & Mrs., 1998). And still, there are many complications that no one seems to want to admit to. If most women realized the severe consequences that can occur from an abortion they might think twice about it. Even the big medical centers have complications regularly, and most abortions take place in free-standing clinics with a much lower standard of care. One doctor wrote in the OB/GYN Observer that "87% of 486 obstetricians and gynecologists had to hospitalize at least one patient this year due to complications of legal abortions" (Bulfin, 1975). Bleeding can be severe, and women can become anemic and even need blood transfusions. Infection is a common complication, and so is perforation of the uterus, or scarring of the fallopian tubes. These things are not only painful, but often lead to sterility (Wilke, Dr. & Mrs., 1998).
One pro-abortion professor of OB/GYN did a follow-up study of 50 teenagers that he had performed abortions on. He pointed out that a teenager's cervix, with a first pregnancy, is always small and tightly closed and very easy to damage with forced dilatation. He said the results of his study were dismal, considering what happened with their 53 subsequent pregnancies. "Six had another induced abortion. Nineteen had spontaneous miscarriages. One delivered a stillborn baby at 6 months. Six babies died between birth and 2 years. Twenty-one babies survived" (Russell, 1974).
But many doctors point out that for a teenager under 16 there are no more complications of pregnancy than for older women, and for 15 to 17 year olds it may even be safer than for those in their 20's (McAnarney, 1978, Hopkins, 1980, Sutton-Smith, 1979, Sukanich, et al., 1986).
Some doctors are beginning to find a possible correlation between abortion and breast cancer, with one doctor on the news noting that breast cancer used to be a disease mainly for older women.
But there are other complications that are just as devastating. Many people, truly compassionate people, want to help the frightened young mother so badly that they convince her that abortion is no big deal, and will take her out of her seemingly impossible situation and restore things back to the way they were. And she, desperate, wants to believe them. So she closes her ears to the voice screaming inside her that this is her child she is killing, and she has the procedure, often being told it is the only responsible thing to do. Sometimes, she even feels relief at first that she no longer has to try to figure everything out, like where to live, how to survive, and how to get through school on her own with a baby to raise. But the long term effects can lead to self-hatred, anxiety, anger, and substance abuse. And it leads to violence against children.
"There is a clear statistical association between increased rates of abortion and increased rates of child abuse. Indeed, statistical and clinical research support not only an association, but a causal connection between abortion and subsequent child abuse" (Burke & Reardon, 1998). Remember the slogan, "Every child a wanted child!" Somehow killing the ones we didn't want would make the lucky ones that we wanted better off somehow. Since so many babies have died, I wish that slogan were true. It would be nice to think that some kind of good had come out of all of this. Unfortunately, the rate of child abuse has risen dramatically over the past 25 years. Experts say that between 1976 and 1987 alone, 330% more child abuse was reported (Burke & Reardon, 1998). It is tragic, but not all that surprising. Did we really think that cheapening the life of children, so that they weren't even safe in their mother's wombs, would make us more caring and willing to sacrifice for the ones we let live? Parenting is about the hardest thing we commit to, being totally responsible for a weak, dependent, ever-present child. It takes self-sacrifice and that is the opposite of what abortion stands for. Women and men, even grandparents, who are not willing to make any concessions for one child cannot be depended on to have developed enough responsibility to give another the enormous amounts of care he needs. And the inhibitions have been broken down.
But there is another, less obvious, reason for the rise in child abuse. This is from guilt. Sometimes it hits right away, at the clinic even, and the woman feels guilty, empty, shamed and terrified. I can understand how this might happen. I had a miscarriage and I spent an awful lot of time blaming myself. I must have done something wrong, or my baby would be alive. Is it because I was worried about how I would cope with three babies at once (my other two were only 1 1/2 and 2 1/2)? Didn't I want it enough? Did I eat the wrong thing? Lift something heavy? What? I was angry, too, at the doctors, for not realizing what was going on when I went in that day. I felt I had to make it up somehow, help other children, something. We took on a foster child, partly because I was "supposed" to have three boys, not two. I still feel guilty sometimes, still think that he would be 19, wondering what would he be like, wishing I could have held him,thinking what it felt like when I was carrying him. So I can only imagine if I had deliberately caused his demise. I don't think I could live with myself, and many of these women can't either. They sink into depression, and have trouble relating to their surviving children. They see other babies and cry. And sometimes far worse things happen.
Psychiatrist Phillip Ney, M.D. has done a great deal of research into the link between abortion and child abuse. He has seen that abortion disrupts the bonding with other children and weakens the maternal instinct. Also, there is reduced inhibitions against violence, particularly against children. There is heightened levels of anger, rage and depression among post-abortive women (1988). Sometimes this is recognized as the trauma of abortion and counseling has been offered. Through this counseling, disturbing things have come to light. Counselors have recognized a syndrome, known as PAS, or Post Abortion Syndrome, that is very similar to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, seen up to ten years after the war in Vietnam vets. (Wilke, Dr. & Mrs., n.d.). Counselors are beginning to see a clinical reliving of the cause of the pain. While the mind tries to deal with it by reliving it over and over, it also tries to protect you from it by hiding the cause. What this has led to is women playing out scenarios of hurting their children, and the ensuing shame and punishment, and it horrifies them. One woman kept thinking about poisoning her children, and when she was asked to describe her abortion, she described it as poisoning the fetus. Yet she never made the connection. Many women feel a need to "make it up" to the baby by helping other babies, and open daycares, only to fantasize about or even hurt by shaking, these children, then feeling the guilt again like when they had an abortion. (Burke, T. & Reardon, D., 1988). It is only through grief counseling that these women are able to get through this so that their children are not in danger. But those who don't get counseling can carry through in ways you've heard about on the news. One woman killed her three year old son, and in court began talking about how she'd known the abortion she'd had the day before was wrong, and she should be punished. Another woman jumped off of a bridge with her children, and said later that she was trying to reunite her family (Burke & Reardon, 1998). Suicide is a result of PAS also, since symptoms include guilt, regret, shame, remorse, lowered self-esteem, insomnia, dreams and nightmares, flash backs, and even hostility and hatred toward men, including her husband. This can lead to hopelessness and suicide (Wilke, Dr. & Mrs., n.d.).
"The suicide rate after an abortion was three times the general suicide rate and six times that associated with birth...the rate for women following a live birth was 5.9 per 100,000; following miscarriage 18.1; following abortion 34.7" (Gissler, 1996).
Abortion, touted as a necessary choice to help women with their lives, leads to nothing but death. Thirty million babies have died, with all of their contributions to society silenced with them (Stevenson, Dr. K, 1998). Countless other babies have never been born due to sterility caused by abortions. Mothers die, too, emotionally and physically. The Centers for Disease Control grossly underreported these maternal deaths for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is "that a large percentage of CDC employees have direct ties to the abortion industry" (Crutcher, M., n.d.). Also, most abortions take place in clinics, but if there are complications such as hemorrhaging, infection, perforated uterus, blood clot, blood transfusion, salt poisoning, amniotic fluid embolism, drop in blood clotting ability, or even suicide, they are sent to hospitals, and the attending doctor lists the complication as the cause of death. Some of these deaths take place a while after the abortion and the connection is not always made (Wilke, Dr. & Mrs., 1998). And there are other kinds of death: the death of trust between other children and their mother, the trust between a woman and the father of her baby, and the trust a woman had in her own parents. Whether the woman decides to go through with the abortion over their protests or whether they force her into it, someone has lost a child or a grandchild, and other children have lost siblings.
Women have been lied to, causing great harm to them. They have been tricked into having even less choice than before. They have been cheated out of their own children. Abortion is not a solution. It is a destroyer, and women are its victims. But it doesn't have to stay that way. We can't undo what we have done, but we can certainly stop inflicting this pain on so many millions. We don't have to keep lying to our young women. We can take responsibility now and tell the truth about abortion. There are many caring people and organizations that not only oppose abortion, but spend a tremendous amount of time volunteering to help counsel and heal women who are suffering from the results of abortion. I am proud to say that a great many of them are Christian, but those aren't the only voices opposing abortion. The horror this is causing has come to the attention of groups as diverse as Priests for Life to the Atheist and Agnostic Pro-life League, and they are all starting to band together against the devastation. Abortion doctors have recanted their profession and are speaking out about the truth of what is really happening in those clinics (Priests for Life, n.d.) Brave, sad young women have begun writing their heartbreaking stories for others to read, so that maybe someone else will be spared their incredible pain. I believe women should be able to make informed choices about what they do, both with their bodies and their children, and they can't do that without knowing the truth.

(References provided on request)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Swimming Lessons

I stood shivering in the morning sun, eagerly awaiting my turn to get in the pool. Would this be the day? Would I finally do it?
“Listen to your teacher, Tracie,” my mother reminded me as she went to sit with the other parents. My sister was already splashing in another section of the pool with her more advanced class. My teacher gave me some last minute instructions and then it was my turn! Swim cap firmly in place, I slipped into the cool, shallow water with a sense of nervous anticipation. Would I finally be able to swim to the other side of the pool without stopping?
My mother, who couldn’t swim, insisted on lessons at the age of five. My sister had begun her lessons in Madison, Indiana at a pool within sight of the Ohio River. Sometimes we heard the calliope of the Delta Queen, an opulent paddlewheel steamboat. We would all go running down to the banks of the river in our swimsuits to watch it go by. But by the time I was five, we lived in Florida. We often played in Lion’s Park. From the top of the giraffe ladder I could see children splashing in the public pool across the street. That’s where my mother signed me up for my swimming lessons.
On the first day, my teacher had me get in the shallow end. “Okay, now hold on to the edge of the pool and lie down in the water. Gently, now, just let the water hold you up!” The sensation of the cool water licking my sun-warmed skin in random patterns was delightful! “Okay, good. Now kick your legs!” my teacher instructed. This I did with vigor and abandon, until my teacher got my attention again and began teaching me the finer points of straight legs and flexible knees. I worked hard at making my legs into useful tools. “Legs close together,” my teacher said, and I pretended I was a mermaid.
“Great, Tracie. Now it’s time to put your face in the water!” she said with enthusiasm. I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic. She taught me to hold my breath, turn my face from side to side, and breathe. I soon got the hang of it, still holding securely to the edge of the pool. This wasn’t so bad! At least as long as no one kicked or splashed too much, which made the water rock against me alarmingly. And then she was telling me to let go of the edge.
The moment of truth. Could I let go of the edge of the pool without sinking like a great, wet ball of fear straight to the bottom? With a good deal of coaxing from my patient teacher and the success of the other children giving me courage, I found that I could. I floated like a jellyfish for awhile. Then I began to learn to paddle.
The days flew by and the time for our final test came. I must swim from one side of the pool to the other without stopping. Swelled up with confidence in my hard won skills, I plunged in and started across, not listening to my teacher or anyone else. I got about a third of the way before realizing to my great surprise that I could go no further.
When my second turn came I was humbled and a little demoralized. This caused me to listen more closely, but secretly I was sure I couldn’t do it, so of course I couldn’t. I got about half way before I gave up. I felt I was letting everyone down. I didn’t care for the slightly contemptuous pity my sister offered!
The time came for a third try. I listened carefully to my teacher’s instructions. As I and all my butterflies slid into the water, I was aware that my swim cap was too tight, the rubber squeezing my head and tilting my eyes back slightly. I didn’t dare adjust it. If any of my hair escaped I’d have to get out of the pool. Soon it didn’t matter anyway. It was nearly my turn and I was listening to everyone screaming encouragement to the child in front of me. I noticed my mother, smiling sympathetically at me as only a mother can, and I resolved to see pride in her eyes when I was done. Then it was my turn.
As I breathed deeply, my teacher shouted a few last instructions. I slid down on my stomach into the water and began to swim. Sound dimmed as I concentrated on moving my arms in the prescribed manner, pulling myself through the water. Kick, kick, propel. Legs straight! Breathe, breathe, turn my head. Suddenly I touched the other side and sound burst back into my ears. People were cheering, rushing over to me, the sun was warm on my skin. I had done it! My sister was grinning at me, and my Mom looked - yes, proud!

(I thought now, while everyone yearns for spring, might be a good time to share this story about my childhood swimming lessons. Hopefully this will remind you there are warmer days to come!)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Waving at the President

See that car right there? It holds the President of the United States of America. A second after this picture was taken, he was right beside my husband and me, waving at us!

It all started last night when my husband came home from work and saw barricades being left at each intersection on his route home. We knew the President was coming to our town, but no one on the news was permitted to say which of several routes he might take from the airport to the convention center for the Town Hall Meeting. But we were pretty sure we knew, so this morning we went down to a main intersection from the airport, and sure enough, there was this large flag!

We parked across from it, got out, and waited for an hour or so. A policeman with a dog came and checked for explosives in the ditch, and confirmed this was indeed the President's route. Other people began gathering as well, all talking excitedly - then my husband spotted Air Force One coming down low and circling around to approach the airport! Soon policeman began barricading the roads, giving instructions to the crowd. "Don't step out in to the road for any reason," we were sternly warned. Then suddenly, here came the entourage!

Then the Presidential limo passed just a few feet in front of us, flags flying, President inside waving right to us! The election is over - now he is our President. And it was an honor we will not forget.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Football Magic Eye

Hey, remember those Magic Eye pictures? You stare and stare at them and they don't make a lick of sense - then suddenly the picture pops in to focus. Everything is crystal clear and you can't understand why you couldn't ever see it before. After this weekend, that's how I feel about football!

I've been watching football most of my life. Watching to see if the last 2 minutes will ever end and release my step-dad to come to the table for Thanksgiving dinner. Watching for half time so I could perform with the high school band. Watching with my husband while I am curled up with a book, only looking up when everyone starts cheering, to see the replay; or when I am bored, asking a lot of random questions during the game, which no one who actually knows anything about it wants to answer due to the fact that they are watching the game! But recently, all that changed. I finally decided I was ready. I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

I began asking my husband quasi-intelligent questions, when he was relaxed and not otherwise engaged. He gladly answered them, and taught me the basics. Like the difference between quarters and downs, for instance. I watched a game and for the first time ever, it made a little sense. I swear, in the past, it was just a bunch of guys tying themselves in knots, untangling, high-fiving, and doing it again. But this time I began to untangle the knots of my spotty knowledge, picked up in bits and pieces through the years. I mentioned this on my blog, and a friend, Ruth, graciously sent me a "cheat sheet" with the basics spelled out. The next game I watched, sheet in hand, someone attempted a blitz. I didn't have to interrupt my husband, I had only to look up "blitz" on my little paper.

Then came the Super Bowl - the acid test! I reviewed my notes, watched the game so carefully that I got a headache, and asked well timed, intelligent questions. It's a good thing I wasn't watching for the commercials this time, because with one exception (the one where the boss is in the lush office with comfortable furniture, book-lined walls and a moose head, the "worker bee" is on the other side of the wall, working through the legs of the hind end of the moose in a crowded, noisy mail room. Cracked me up), they stunk. The game, however, was really good! I guess you really can teach an old dog new tricks.
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