Thursday, August 18, 2011

One Example of Why Roe v. Wade Stinks

A couple of days ago I ran across this piece by Thomas Peters, the blogger more commonly known as The American Papist. Tom read an article in New York Times Magazine the other day called The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy, and it made his blood boil. The article is about how some couples, after conceiving multiple children through various fertility treatments, decide that they can't care for so many babies and therefore they must get rid of some of them. Tom lamented the fact that we have reached a point in our society in which children have become disposable. If having more than one baby at a time doesn't suit us, that's OK; we can just kill off some. We make lame excuses like, "I'll be a better mom if I have only one child now instead of two," or that if we get rid of the extra babies, then at least we can ensure that one will be healthy. Roe v. Wade has eroded our morals to the point that what I want is so important that I can do anything I want in order to get it--even killing my own preborn child.

Let me pause here, just so we're all on the same page. Killing an innocent human being is NEVER okay, EVER. Abortion is ALWAYS wrong. Period. I understand that pregnancy can be scary and difficult. Women abort for many different reasons--sometimes they are coerced and even forced by others, often they are frightened young teenagers who honestly don't know what else to do. Sometimes a woman has been raped and feels that carrying the resulting baby to term will prolong and magnify the trauma that they've already endured. This is why it is SO important to do everything we can to help women in difficult situations, and why we need places like Mary's Shelter and Paul Stefan Home and Birthright. Sometimes women abort (and "reduce," assuming the stories in the NYT article are true), I'm sorry to say, for purely selfish reasons. Call me judgmental if you must. God knows I'm not perfect, and I've made a lot of mistakes in my life; and if you have had an abortion or pregnancy reduction or you're staunchly pro choice and support Planned Parenthood, I do not think you are a bad person. No, I've never had an abortion and all three of my pregnancies have been relatively easy, and I've never struggled with infertility, but I do know right from wrong--and I am one hundred per cent, uncompromisingly prolife; no ifs, ands, or buts.

Yesterday I decided to read the article that made Thomas Peters so upset, and frankly, I wish I hadn't. It made me sick to my stomach. It's a seven-page chronicle of woman after woman who, after having spent thousands of dollars for various fertility treatments and procedures, found that the two or three or four babies they were carrying was too many, and decided to "reduce" their pregnancies in order to only give birth to only one child. The reasoning for these decisions varied: There were too many risks in carrying multiples, and killing one or two would at least give the survivor a better quality of life. They just couldn't deal with more than one. They thought they would be better mothers if they only had to care for one child. (As if killing off some of our children makes us better parents. Besides, the number of children you have doesn't determine whether you're a good or bad parent. I know plenty of good parents with seven, eight, nine children; and I also know many good parents who have only one.) According to the article, in the past, doctors would very often reduce multiple pregnancies down to twins, and now some are beginning to reduce them even more; including from twins down to a single fetus. (Ever notice that if a baby is wanted, he's a "baby," and if he's not wanted, he's a "fetus?" Kinda makes the killing of them seem less personal, doesn't it?)

Tom (or "T.P." as I sometimes like to call him) gives several quotes from the article that he finds especially disturbing; I won't rehash those here, but I encourage you to read what he has to say. I also ran across this post at "Christopher's Apologies" blog that expresses many of the same concerns Tom and I are feeling, and a few more that Tom doesn't mention; you should check that one out, too.

There were a few stories in this article that especially saddened me, including this one about Shelby:

After she and her husband tried for three years to get pregnant, they went to a fertility doctor near their home in Savannah, Ga. He put Shelby, then 30, on fertility drugs, and when that didn’t work, he ramped things up with injections. By then, her husband, a 33-year-old Army officer, had been deployed to Iraq. He left behind three vials of sperm, and she was artificially inseminated. “You do weird things when mortars are flying at your husband’s head,” she said. She soon found out she was carrying triplets. Frantic, she yelled at the doctor: “This is not an option for us! I want only one!”

Her fertility specialist referred her to a doctor in Atlanta who did reductions. But when Shelby called, the office manager told her that she would have to pay extra for temporary staff to assist with the procedure, because the regular staff refused to reduce pregnancies below twins. She contacted three more doctors, and in each case was told: not below two. “It was horrible,” she says. “I felt like the pregnancy was a monster, and I just wanted it out, but because we tried for so long, abortion wasn’t an option. My No. 1 priority was to be the best mom I could be, but how was I supposed to juggle two newborns or two screaming infants while my husband was away being shot at? We don’t have family just sitting around waiting to get called to help me with a baby.”

Eventually, she heard about Evans and flew to New York for the procedure. “I said, ‘You choose whoever is going to be safe and healthy,’ ” she says. “I didn’t give him any other criteria. I didn’t choose gender. None of that was up for grabs, because I had to make it as ethically O.K. for me as I could. But I wanted only one.”

She paid $6,500 for the reduction and left Evans’s office incredibly relieved. “I went out on that street with my mother and jumped up and down saying: ‘I’m pregnant! I’m pregnant!’ And then I went and bought baby clothes for the first time.”

OK. This woman knew that there would be a good chance that she would conceive multiples, but when she found out she was carrying three babies, she YELLED at the doctor that this wasn't an option. And abortion was out of the question? What did she think she was doing when she killed two of the three babies in her womb? An appendectomy? And when she finally had only one baby left alive, THAT'S when she decided she was PREGNANT?? Shelby is quoted as saying, "I wanted to make it as ethically O.K. for me as I could." I think this statement speaks volumes: This woman knows what she did was wrong, and feels the need to justify her actions.

And the article goes on to say this: "Today, her daughter is 2½ years old. Shelby intends to tell her about the reduction someday, to teach her that women have choices, even if they’re sometimes difficult."

Shelby may be in for a surprise. Her surviving daughter might not take too kindly to the fact that her mother decided that her two siblings were unworthy of life. It could just as easily have been her.

And this (emphasis mine):

Many studies show the vast majority of patients abort fetuses after prenatal tests reveal genetic conditions like Down syndrome that are not life-threatening. What drives that decision is not just concern over the quality of life for the future child but also the emotional, financial or social difficulty for parents of having a child with extra needs. As with reducing two healthy fetuses to one, the underlying premise is the same: this is not what I want for my life.

That was the thinking of Dr. Naomi Bloomfield, an obstetrician near Albany who found out she was pregnant with twins when her first child was not quite a year old. “I couldn’t have imagined reducing twins for nonmedical reasons,” she said, “but I had an amnio and would have had an abortion if I found out that one of the babies had an anomaly, even if it wasn’t life-threatening. I didn’t want to raise a handicapped child. Some people would call that selfish, but I wouldn’t. Parents who abort for an anomaly just don’t want that life for themselves, and it’s their prerogative to fashion their lives how they want. Is terminating two to one really any different morally?” "

I'm sorry, Dr. Bloomfield, but killing a child with an "anomaly" because you just don't want to deal with it IS selfish. Don't pretend it isn't. As for your second point--that reducing a multiple pregnancy to a singleton is the same ethically as aborting a baby with a defect--you're absolutely right. They're both equally reprehensible.

...people may judge two-to-one reductions more harshly because the fertility treatment that yielded the pregnancy significantly increased the chance of multiples. “People may think, You brought this about yourself, so you should be willing to take some of the risk,” [Professor Bonnie] Steinbock says.

Women who reduce to singletons sometimes think the same thing. “Most of the two-to-one patients have gone to incredible lengths to get pregnant,” Donna Steinberg, a clinical psychologist in Manhattan who specializes in counseling infertility patients, says. “They’ve paid a lot of money and put their bodies through tremendous stress, and they’ve gotten what they wanted — and now they’re going to reduce? Outsiders think, How is that possible? And that’s also where the patients’ guilt comes from.”

I'm not against fertility treatments, not at all. I've watched friends struggle with infertility. I've prayed and cried with them as they endured one fertility treatment after another with no results. I've rejoiced when they finally conceived, prayed with them through difficult pregnancies, and rejoiced again when their children were born. (And I'm not going to get into the ethics of this versus that type of treatment here; that's a can of worms I'm not ready to open just now.)

But here's the thing. If a woman seeks any type of fertility treatment, and conceives more children than she really wants, then yes, some people will judge her if she decides to eliminate some of them. But her guilt doesn't just come from what outsiders think and say. I feel certain that some, if not most, of it comes from her own conscience.

This is the legacy of Roe v. Wade. Only thirty-eight years ago the United Sates Supreme Court decided that children in their mothers' wombs were not persons. We've been brainwashed into thinking that until children are born, as T.P. points out, they just don't matter. But deep down, we know they do. Why else would we encourage pregnant women not to smoke, drink, or use drugs, and to eat well and get plenty of rest and exercise and take their prenatal vitamins? Because the babies who are growing in their wombs are people who need to be nurtured and cared for, and it starts as soon as they are conceived. And no, I do not judge the character of a person based on whether they are pro-life or pro-choice, or whether they've had an abortion or a pregnancy reduction. Heck, there was a time in my life (and I think I've said this before) when I would have been more than willing to drive you to the nearest Planned Parenthood if you wanted to get an abortion. The fact is, we've all been duped, and we need to wake up and stop this grave injustice called "choice."

I want to share one more thing I found today, from Janet Morana, who is the executive director of Priests for Life and co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. Janet sympathizes with the fears these women are facing because she is the mother of twins. She understands how overwhelmed and frightened a woman can be when she finds out she is carrying more than one child. In an article she wrote for National Review, she talks about the panic she felt when she learned she was having twins, and about how she made a conscious decision to face her fears and do the best she could. It wasn't easy, but she says if one of the twins had been aborted, her family would have missed out on all the joys that come with having twins. She concludes the article with this:

"I propose that all of us — the medical profession as well as society at large — make a collective decision to fight the fear. Let’s not abandon these women in the cynical belief that there’s not enough support for all of them."

One day Roe v. Wade will be overturned, and God willing, abortions and pregnancy reductions will be a thing of the past. In the meantime we must continue to stand up for all unborn babies, and do all we can to help their mothers overcome their fears.

UPDATE: As soon as I published this post I found this at Catholic Online, by Jennifer Hartline of "My Chocolate Heart" blog. Read it. It seems a lot of people are just as outraged as I am.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Story of a Switchplate

Do you remember the series, "Everybody Has a Story?" It was a regular feature on one of the morning news shows, I forget which. There was this fella who travelled around the country selecting random people to interview and put the story of their lives on TV. Apparently (from what I remember, anyway) he would randomly select a U.S. city by closing his eyes and pointing to a map. When he arrived in that town, he would find a telephone book, open it up, and call the person his finger happened to fall on. (Kinda like some of us read the Bible.) Anyway, he always found something fascinating about each person, and it was fun to see where he would go or who he would meet next.

As an amateur, relatively infrequent blogger I'm beginning to realize that not only does everyone have a story (if you don't believe that, check out Cheeky Pink Girl and Ginny and Therese and Allison, to name a few. There are so many fascinating stories out there in the blogosphere, I wish I had time to read them all!) but you can find a story behind just about anything under the sun. Like, say, a light switch cover.

In my last post, I told you about how we moved Larry from the room he shared with his younger brothers to his own digs across the hall. It looks like any other teenage boy's room: a desk with a computer (which I'm not convinced is the best idea, but we're giving it a trial run, anyway), trophies on the shelf, a racing poster on the wall--and I'm sure he will accumulate more teenage stuff as time goes on. After we moved all his stuff in, he told Joe he REALLY wants to get a new cover for the light switch; the cutsie Noah's Ark design just isn't going to cut it.

I started thinking--that switchplate is the last remaining remnant of our boys' babyhood that we haven't packed up and put away (or given away, or thrown out). It serves as a reminder that this room--which more recently housed their electronic piano and their computer and their books, not to mention the closet overflowing with clothes that should have been taken to Goodwill long ago--was once the place where we kept the crib and the changing table and the baby clothes. All three of the boys have slept in this room at one time or another, and as they grew out of the crib and into a big-boy bed, we moved them into the bigger room next door.

When I was pregnant with Larry, I was teaching in a large public school in Maryland. When it was time for me to go on maternity leave (which turned into a nine-year career as a full-time stay at home mom), the teachers threw a baby shower for me. The art teacher, who had organized the party, told everyone that I didn't know whether I was having a boy or a girl (which was true), and that I had chosen a Noah's Ark theme for the baby's nursery. Well, I don't know where she heard that, but I hadn't chosen any sort of theme. I figured we'd just fill the baby's room with basic run-of-the-mill baby stuff--in fact I wasn't aware that I was "supposed" to have a theme. The idea never crossed our minds. Of course, we ended up with a Noah's Ark theme, because my fellow teachers gave me all kinds of Noah's Ark baby things, and I'm sure the light switch cover was one of them. When Joe and I finally bought the furniture, we chose a Noah's Ark theme for the coverlet and the sheets and the bumper and things for the crib, since we had all that other stuff anyway, and after all, we liked the Noah's Ark theme.

(Even after all those gifts, the room was only slightly Noah's Ark-y. But we did have books and bookends and clocks and pictures on the wall with the caption, "God Keeps His Promises," and of course, the cute coverlet for the crib. As for the snowy picture on the far wall? My grandmother painted that.)

When we moved to Virginia, Larry was less than a year old, and we set up one of the bedrooms as the Noah's Ark Nursery. All three of the boys slept in that room when they were babies, and eventually they were all moved to the larger bedroom that they shared. The nursery became a storage (er, junk) room, and later their computer room. All that is left of the Noah's Ark days is the lonely light switch cover.

I suppose we'll eventually replace it with something more teen-friendly. Maybe I'll put it in our guest room. My grandmother's painting is in there now.

We ended up with a "theme" for the boys' shared bedroom, too. Sometime I'll tell you about how that came about.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

7 Quick Takes, Even Though I Don't Have Time Today...


In June of last year, when we spent Father's Day weekend with my parents, we took some family photos. This past week I took the boys to see them for a couple of days, and my mother showed me this drawing a friend of hers had done from one of the pictures. I asked Mom if I could borrow it. We look like we're in a Pokemon cartoon!

From left to right are Larry, Joe, me, Dad, Mom (with Curly and Moe in front of them), my sister-in-law "Aunt J," and my brother "Bro." So now you kinda know what we look like, sorta; except the boys are taller now and Moe doesn't wear his red hat much anymore.


Would you keep Bro in your prayers? Last week he tore his meniscus and he's having knee surgery on Monday. We're praying that he has a speedy recovery!


When we visit my parents, I have a great view from the guest bedroom window.

Summer mornings are cool and crisp; unlike the hot, muggy ones we have around here.

I can enjoy a cuppa and read the paper on their back deck

...and watch the birds.


My mother likes to tell the story of when I was about three, fully in the grips of celiac disease, and my grandmother made some cornbread for me without any wheat flower. Mom says I was so excited, and kept exclaiming gleefully, "Baba, you made me some bread!"

When we arrived at Mom's house on Wednesday I discovered that Mom had not only made a loaf of dairy-free, egg-free bread for Moe, but she had also made a gluten-free loaf for me. And she doesn't even have a bread maker.

Mama, you made me some bread!


One day a week ago or so, Curly was bored and got his hands on my camera. I didn't know it at the time, until I found these:

I suppose there is worse mischief he could have been doing.


I downloaded this book the other day, and started reading it.

I hope it will inspire me to keep up with this blog, and even give me new ideas to make it better!


We finally did it. Our boys have been sharing a room ever since Moe was big enough to sleep in a regular bed; last weekend we --Joe and the boys, that is-- moved Larry into his own room. (I'm not sure how long the computer will stay...)

My grandfather made this shelf--see how nice and tidy it is?

Gone are the piles of stuffed animals that blocked this window.

We took the bunk beds apart; I think Curly and Moe were tired of them. (That mess of clothes on the right? That was our chore for the next day.)

I can't imagine why Larry wants a new light switch cover.

For more Quick Takes, pop on over to Jen's Conversion Diary blog! (Jen, incidentally, is one of the contributors to The Church and New Media. She writes about how Catholic and Christian blogs helped her on her journey from atheism to Catholicism. How cool is that??)

OH, and I almost forgot--Soon I'll be starting a new part-time job as assistant teacher in a new Montessori preschool opening up at the nearby Episcopal church. The head teacher and director was Curly and Moe's teacher, and I worked with her for a couple of years when at the Montessori school where the boys attended for a number of years. I am very excited to be in a Montessori environment again, and especially to be working with my friend every day! I have to start work soon, and I don't know how much time I'll have for blogging; if I suddenly disappear for a while, you'll know why.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I can't imagine why you would want to see me right now. What have I done to deserve being here with you? Nothing, except screw up again and again. You've done everything for me, even gave up your life. You prayed for me and endured unspeakable suffering because you love me. Why? You knew I was going to betray you and deny you and ignore you.

Right now I'm out here and you're in there. It's nice and dark and quiet out here--but not too quiet; I hear the katydids and the crickets making their music. Their lives are simple. They don't feel the need to please anyone; they just go about their business with joy and purpose, and they're not afraid to sing your praises for all the world to hear. In there it's bright and utterly silent. I can see you through the glass doors, waiting. Usually I'm eager to come see you. I stride through the doors with confidence and anticipation. I look forward to each visit. But tonight I hesitate. Who am I kidding? Have I been trying to fool myself all these years into thinking I'm a good and holy Catholic because I say my prayers and come to Mass and visit you in Adoration? Have I been trying to fool you? If I come in you'll see me in the light and then you'll really know who I am.

Maybe I'll stay here in the dark. Your Mother is out here, a statue of her, anyway; she'll understand. Maybe I'll just have her tell you hello and that I stopped by, but you were busy listening to the prayers of those more worthy than me. But I know what she'd say. Go on, he's expecting you. He knows your heart. Do you think you have more sin than anyone else? Besides, He'd be awfully disappointed if you walked away.

So I come. And when it's time to go, I don't want to. I want to stay here all night to make up for all the hurtful things I've said and done; for all the times you were hungry and I didn't feed you, lonely and in prison and I didn't visit you; a stranger and I did not welcome you. Go on home, I hear you say, and get some sleep. Remember that I'm always with you and I always love you. But before you go, would you stop by and say hello to my mother? She's been longing to see you, too.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Get Thee to the Church: St. Mary of the Assumption, Upper Marlboro, Maryland

It's where I first started attending Mass with Joe, and where we met Father Joseph Jenkins, who married us (check out this post to see where). It's where I entered the RCIA program in the fall after our marriage (and I remember sitting on the couch in the rectory with the other candidates watching a videotape of a person I'd never heard of named Scott Hahn), and where, with my family in attendance, I was received into the Catholic faith. It was where Father Joe heard my very first confession and many more after that. (Did I ever tell you about the time in the confessional, after absolving me, a quite sick Father Joe asked me if I wouldn't mind running to the supermarket just up the road and getting him some NyQuill? He had a Mass to do and didn't have time. I was happy to oblige, of course; Father handed me a few dollars--so much for my anonymous confession--I got the medicine he needed, and left it and the change on the table in the confessional so he could find it after Mass. I like to joke that it was my best penance ever.) And it was where Larry was baptized--screaming his head off the whole time, and with a full diaper to boot.

We decided last weekend that it was high time we took the kids there for a Sunday Mass. We wanted them to see the place that was our parish so many years ago. Larry was too young to remember it; he was just under a year old when we moved to where we live now. It looked almost exactly the same. Except for a new coat of paint and the outdoor Stations of the Cross that wasn't there before, I smiled when I saw the same altar, the same tabernacle, the same slightly uncomfortable pews (I didn't mind, and the kids didn't complain); even the same cantor and the same deacon. There was a different priest, of course (who was wonderful, I might add), and after Mass I made sure I said Hello to Deacon K. I wasn't sure if he'd remember us, but he did.

A familiar sight. I remember the paint being a pale blue, though.

I forgot to look for the baptismal font. I wonder if they still have the one Father Joe used to Baptize Larry? Probably...

My favorite picture of Father Joe. Larry wasn't too happy that day, as you can see.

During Mass, the congregation used to recite the prayer to St. Michael, something we don't do at the church we attend now.

The parish hall, where I took RCIA, with Joe as my sponsor. Looks like it needs some work.

The outdoor Stations of the Cross were put in during the 13+ years since we left.

I wonder if this little statue of Our Lady was here before? I don't remember. I want one.

After Mass we took the boys to Grizzly's, the restaurant (ahem, dive bar) we frequented every Friday night. It hadn't changed much; the fare and decor was pretty much the same. I'm happy to report that they still have the best wings, really, we've never tasted wings better than these;

and the gi-normous beers they're most known for.
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