FROG HOSPITAL -- May 20, 2019
By Fred Owens
A Letter from Montgomery. A friend of mine from college days lives in Montgomery, Alabama, which is ground zero in the abortion debate. Knowing her to be a fairly conservative Catholic woman, I asked her to write a story about how she sees the new anti-abortion law in Alabama. Does she support it? I said I would put her story in the next Frog Hospital without editing or commenting. but just let her say what she wants. I told her that most of my readers are pro-choice so that is who she will be talking to. I am pro-choice myself, but my highest purpose in this conflict is to keep open the lines of communication. Her name has been withheld. She is the mother of five children and a retired French teacher. I know her to be a kind and decent person with a good sense of humor. So, without further ado ....
To: Frog Hospital, concerning the law just passed in Alabama preventing abortions from being performed in most cases.
From: People who have lived in Alabama for 40 years and are committed Catholic Christians.
Background on Alabama:
- We have lived in Montgomery, Alabama since 1979, moving here several months before George Wallace was re-elected for a 4th term. Since segregation no longer got votes, and since he was basically a populist, he won BECAUSE of the black vote. [If you can imagine, he was the liberal candidate.] In 1979 the majority of people were "yellow-dog democrats;" they would vote for anyone on the Democratic ticket, even if it was a yellow dog. Few would vote for the party whose first presidential candidate was Abraham Lincoln, and there were often so few Republican candidates that in an election the Democratic primary was basically the election result. But from Goldwater to Gingrich there was a massive shift of conservatives from the Democratic to the Republican party.. Now there is a Republican super-majority in the state legislature. The conservative positions are often spoken of in Christian terms [pro-life, anti- gambling], although some stances are not what Jesus would recognize [low funding for health care and help for the poor, homophobia, some latent racism still...]. There is also a latent fear and resentment of the Federal government, even though more federal money flows into Alabama than taxes go out. Remember that States Rights stance you learned of in US History class??
All that to say that Alabama, like every state, has its peculiarities. California ain't like anywhere else either!
This Alabama law is directly designed to be a challenge to the Roe vs. Wade decision that women have a legal right to abortion. It is based on the science that life begins at conception; that is why it is so restrictive.
We see ourselves as Catholic Christians and liberal Democrats, which is awkward, because neither party platform conforms consistently to principles of protecting, defending and supporting human life in its many stages and phases, especially the most vulnerable. To over-simplify: Republicans support embryonic human beings; Democrats support the poor, the sick and the marginalized. No party consistently puts reducing weapons, warfare and street violence before the fears of Americans and the interest of the military industrial complex. It is complicated; no political party supports all vulnerable groups.
“Thou shalt not kill” applies to the unborn child, the prisoner on death row and the incapacitated older person—not to mention civilians in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen, and families in places with polluted water, etc. It is only consistent that the unborn child, recognized as a human being in laws that protect her right to inherit and in laws that characterize the killing of a pregnant woman as a double homicide, should have her right to life protected before she is born. And it is consistently pro-life that a pregnant woman be supported and have access to medical care and physical needs.
Respecting human life and supporting those in need includes the unborn child and the pregnant young woman, children and young adults prey to sexual assaults, the poor and the sick who cannot pay for all their needs on a non-living wage, those marginalized and stigmatized as "other" because of race or sexual orientation, inconvenient older people who need care, and those victimized by violence—including those victimized by our warfare abroad. You can’t protect only one group or exclude only one group. The needs of some do not need to be pitted against the needs of others as they claim their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Well, that's all she wrote, as the saying goes. I thank my friend for this well-thought out contribution to the discussion. I ask my readers to consider what she has to say and I will leave it at that.
until next week,