Friday, December 10, 2010

"Well, I know you were influenced by......."

I really hate hearing this in debates. Yes, we all have biases, due to our upbringings, our status in society, and a multitude of other factors. At the same time, I find people use this one when they're so sure they are right that they pity your inability to come to their truth. I hate hearing this line because the person using it basically uses it to smear any credibility you have, usually without knowing or considering your life story, your thoughts, or your reasoning. I'm not going to lie. It pisses me off.

Guess what? I'm young. Yet I'm still an adult, I still possess a brain with relative intelligence. I've been living pretty independently for someone who is still in college. Hell, I've been living in Kenya for the last three months. Unlike most of my elders, I grow up in a much different time, in an era of constant exposure to information and enough mental stimulation to send the entire Roman Empire into a perpetual state of sensory overload. Thus I am quite capable of finding information, analyzing it and deciding my viewpoints on various topics after having that exposure to different viewpoints. It's how I've formed (and CHANGED) my political views, how I've researched for my IR and Economics courses and how I've decided (questioned and evaluated) my own religion. After living in Kenya, I've been exposed to even more diverse viewpoints, extreme situations and have been forced to reconsider views I long held to be sacred convictions. So, yeah, I think. I think a lot. I still have to make a decision about what I think.

No one decides my viewpoints but me. Not my parents, not my Church, not a rock band, not my friends, nor anyone who manages to sweep me off my feet. Yes, they've all shaped my viewpoints, somewhat. However, at the end of the day, it is I who decide what I believe and what I will stand by. I'm the one who stands before God. He gave me the gift of free will. Why don't we all do likewise?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I know I write about abortion a lot.........

Women's health has always been an issue of passion for me. I remember being ten and wanting to be a doctor, "the kind that delivered babies." Even today, I still waffle about going into nursing, midwifery, or public health or even back to a medical school path. At the same time, I remember being pro-life. In middle school, I accidentally found a website with photos of aborted babies and it haunted me. Even earlier, I remember being a second grader in Catholic school, being told (likely on the Roe v. Wade anniversary, it was January) that we were going to have a moment of silence for "unborn children murdered by their mothers." It horrified me. I think I came home and asked my mom about it and I wonder how uncomfortable she must have been with it. It seemed to always be part of my life.

My thoughts and beliefs, my ideas haven't changed. I still think abortion is hard. I don't think most of us wake up in the morning and think, "I'm going to have an abortion." I find that yes, there are ways to reduce the need. However, I have come to see that there are times when it may be necessary. Times such as, two doctors think this woman will die or harm herself. Times such as, birth will kill the baby. Times such as, there is just no other way for my family right now. I think we should absolutely provide more support to women who want to keep their babies, support such as, increased chances for education and employment, affordable housing, fair practices in the workplace, paid maternity leave, access to childcare and healthcare. I also think there should be increased sex education and access to birth control (hey world, married people use contraception too). I don't think most pro-choice people only support a woman's desire to abort. Choice also means the choice to give birth, whether to parent or place the baby up for adoption.

I also don't want women to feel their only option is to engage in dangerous activities to end pregnancy. I don't want women to feel trapped by issues (such as health) that make it impossible for them to have a baby. I don't want a girl, a little girl, to die giving birth (and lose the baby, too) all because she was abused. I don't want women to be without access to procedures that could save their lives (abortion procedures are also used to help with a miscarriage, to ensure that a mother doesn't get an infection). Finally, I don't think medical decisions belong in the hands of politicians or the public. What happens between a woman, God, and her doctor should remain between those parties.

I probably wouldn't have an abortion. I do still consider myself a Catholic. I do support organizations on both sides that genuinely want what's best. I still want to ensure that all women have access to health care that is right for them. I'm not God. I don't know all women's situations and reasons. I don't think it's fair to paint all women or all doctors with a broad brush. Women need to be trusted. End of story.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Older Post But Still.......

Some people in my life are extremely shocked by my switch from pro-life to pro-choice. I will admit, if you had told me three years ago that I would switch, I would have called you a liar. Back then, I was so committed to a pro-life vision, even planned on going to medical school to become a pro-life doctor (and would not have offered birth control *shudder*). Back then, I was also still pretty naive. I was always able to have good dialogs with pro-life and pro-choice friends yet I still believed in it. That was until I realized something: an ideology that puts an unborn's rights above all else can actually serve as a detriment to the child and the mother. It was when I started reading stories like these that convinced me to change my mind. Yes, this is a January post, but think about it.

If we were to give full legal rights to an unborn baby, what does that mean for the baby's mother? Let's say, she has a smoking addiction or a drug problem. Withdrawal is hard enough on an adult's body and can prove dangerous for a fetal one, so doctors will either put women under very strict care or tell them to wait till the baby's born (many rehab centers won't take a pregnant woman for liability reasons). With regard to smoking, they may think it's healthier for her to quit after birth for the same reason. Should this mom be put to jail for child endangerment?

If so, where do you draw the line? Should women be arrested for drinking alcohol, even one sip of champagne at a party? What about eating too much fast food? Or not exercising? Or not taking prenatal vitamins? What if women get so sick from morning sickness, they can't keep anything down and have a difficult time gaining a healthy amount of weight for the baby? (No lie, that DID happen to a friend of mine). If a baby is stillborn, should she be charged with manslaughter? What about if she miscarries?

Finally, what if a woman aborts a pregnancy? Should she be charged? I hear many pro-lifers say no, that she's a victim. OK, does that mean she doesn't have the agency to make a decision with full knowledge and consent of will? At the same time, is she really a murderer?

Having health issues during pregnancy sucks. Going through the pain of a miscarriage or stillbirth or having to make the decision to keep or terminate a pregnancy is extremely difficult. With all that pressure, do we need the State cracking down on every personal and private decision we make?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Finding a Mate

Oy veh. Dating. Those two syllables are enough to send shivers down my spine. As a young teen, if you asked about my relationship status, I probably would have told you dating was a fate worse than death. Even today, my response is usually to laugh in someone's face and make a snarky comment about not wanting to commit incest (as my male friends are "brothers" to me). Honestly, it scares me. It's not because I fear commitment. I've come to realize it's because I want it too much.

In reality, I don't want to date lots of people for fun. I'd rather learn about people, discern if there's a mutual attraction, compatibility in personality, values and life goals and, once I find that in a person, marry him. However, I find that I simply am not ready for marriage. I have hobbies, talents, and dreams I'd like to pursue first and I find my life simply moves too fast. After graduation, I don't know what will come next and I'd like to make a decision without a relationship deciding for me.

Then there's the issue of my "dude friends." I have a lot. People say the ideal person is found in someone who is already your best friend. Here's the issue. Some are truly like your brothers in the sense they may be good buddies, they may be attractive, and they may be someone you mesh with but you feel related to them. You don't feel a romantic context is possible. For friends that have the potential to be "something more", the prospect is terrifying. Especially if you are emotionally close, the risk of losing a dear friend to a bad breakup can seem too costly. Or, you may put yourself out there only to realize your feelings are completely unrequited and then it's just too embarrassing to try and go back to where you were. Though many couples are together because of a friendship, getting past that first barrier is a wee bit difficult.

Then there are my values. On the one hand, my Catholic faith is important. I attend Mass every Sunday, I do believe in things like Confession, I want to marry in the Church and raise my kids in the faith. I also don't want to have premarital sex. For some people, this is a problem. At the same time, I am very liberal politically and believe in gender equality (I probably won't take a man's last name when I marry). I've found it difficult because I know guys who will respect the faith aspect (as in, they'll go to church with you or couldn't care less if you did and wouldn't mind marrying/raising kids in church), are liberal themselves or respect a liberal viewpoint, but still expect premarital sex. On the complete opposite side of things, there are guys who would respect the premarital sex decision, go to church and practice the faith, but they'll tend to be much more conservative about even non-political issues. For example, there are those Catholic guys who think girls shouldn't take birth control pills for their periods (a situation I am currently in). Or there are those who insult other faiths which, as a descendant of Protestants and Jews and as someone who has friends of all faiths, would not sit well with me. And, I'm sorry, but I can't be with someone who defends the Pope in cases of sexual abuse committed by clergy yet thinks a woman who makes a difficult decision to abort a pregnancy due to health or caring for other children should be excommunicated.

My conclusion? I do hope to be with someone at some point. In truth, I'm not a complete cynic about romance. I understand the time will come and I will be ready to pursue it. I'm just realizing why, even as my friends are marrying, I find it so hard to cross the first bridge.