Monday, April 21, 2008

Dialogue on Abortion, Part III

In which my friend, Jeromy, and I talk about the big A.
Part I and Part II

I didn't expect, Jeromy, that we would have wildly divergent views, however, I do find it interesting to explore the topic.

To point 1: "Pushing to overturn Roe vs. Wade is not helpful..." I don't think that pushing to overturn Rove v. Wade has resulted in the cultural language shift surrounding the debate, as you suggest. Rather, I think that this shift in the way the argument is framed is a result of the pro-choice movement gaining even more traction in the mainstream media. We should continue to fight the Roe v. Wade decision for two reasons:

I suppose I didn't make my point clearly in that I am certainly not opposed to overturning Roe v Wade. What is not helpful in my mind is is pushing for a complete overturn of it right now. I think that it has become so entrenched that it is going to take a patient, tactical approach to get to that point. You said:

When faced with something as blatantly dark as this decision, we've got to do everything within our power to see it overturned, even if it is a David vs. Goliath battle.

I agree, but there are other ways of tackling a problem other than a heads-on approach. Abortion is certainly an issue to get fired up over, but we need to not let that blind us to ways of dealing with the issue. Attacking the issue around the edges by moving to limit abortions and educating people on this issue will be more effective in my opinion than jumping straight to overturning Roe v Wade.

I agree that we need to take these steps, along with fighting Roe v. Wade. The danger of course is that people think they have won the war by winning a few battles.

This was in response to my idea that we need to take steps to limit abortions first. No matter what the cause, though, people will almost always become complacent if it isn't affecting them directly in some manner (look at the torture issue). That is why we need leaders on this issue, people who are taking up the mantle. And I'm not just talking about someone with a national podium, but people in their families, neighborhoods, and churches who will champion the cause and make sure that people they know do not forget about the matter. Unfortunately, most people are sheep in desperate need of a shepherd.

Re: parental notification of minors wanting abortions
To point 3: Yes, yes, and yes. When I was going to college in Minnesota there was a piece of legislation before the state congress that stated that 1)women contemplating abortion needed to be informed of the possible health and psychological consequences of their "medical procedure" 2) parents of minor girls needed to be informed of their child's intentions (which is already required for nearly every medical procedure but abortion) and 3)required a 3-day waiting period.

It was easily shot down by the pro-choice lobbyists, despite a great deal of public out cry.

Was there enough "public out cry," though? Politicians are for the most part rather pragmatic and if enough of their constituents tell them what they want they are probably going to get it. They know if they do not, they may not get elected again. This is where having community leaders can help because they can get people talking about the issue and working together to tell the politicians, "This is how we feel about legislation __________ and if you don't do __________ about it, we will elect someone who will." Get enough people together and it will happen.

Re: abstinence education vs. teaching about birth control
This is an entirely different issue in my mind, but is somewhat related.

Related in that if fewer children are getting pregnant, we are going to have fewer chances for abortions.

The mere fact that our children are "educated" in school about such a deeply moral and personal issue is ludicrous. I know the immediate argument is "well, parents aren't doing it, so the school has to." I'm not sold on that argument for several reasons: school sex education has made little difference on teen pregnancy, the education system's attempts to take over on such integral issues only encourages parents to be less engaged on this issue, and it s one step closer to a homogeneous view on sex (the majority of educators appear to be pro choice, by the way).

I don't think parents need to an encouragement to be less engaged than they are. Most are not engaged whether or not their kid has sex ed in school or not. I also think that you can have a program that teaches all sides of an issue. Teachers could explain that some people do not believe in birth control or that sex is something only for married couples. I think that school is the perfect place for moral discussions as long as viewpoints are not being forced on anyone.

I'm also curious on your comment that most educators are pro-choice. Do you have anything to back that up? I haven't seen anything about that.

That said- school sex education is here to stay, so should abstinence be taught? How about this for a curriculum change- each student is given a set of questions and discussion points to take home to their parents, or somebody they respect. The students' grade is dependent upon them turning in a report detailing the discussions they have with their parents about their family's values and stances on this issue. This facilitates an important conversation, fulfills the school's perceived obligation to educate kids about sex, and allows families to retain influence over their children's views on this issue.

That sounds like a great idea, but the pessimist in me has a hard time imagining this actually working out. You mention parents not being engaged, but then want to do this? I don't think kids bringing home assignments like this is going to magically make parents become more involved with their children's education. Oh, sure, some may take the time for a meaningful discussion, but I see more of them going one of three routes.

1) "I don't have time for this. Ask your [mother, father, uncle, whoever]."
2) "Goddamn schools. What kind of assignment is this? I'm calling the administrator tomorrow. If I wanted you to know how the birds and bees worked, don't they think I would have told you all ready."
3) *embarrassed look* "Uhm, sex is, uh, well it's when a man and woman, uh, well, you know..." *gestures* "It's when they, you know, uh...come together and, well, uhm, make, uh babies. You should probably be married before you, you know, uh, do it, but if you don't, just, be, uhm, careful, okay?"

Like I said, I think school is the perfect place for moral discussions. It needs to be carefully regulated so that teachers are not pushing one set of beliefs over another, but I think this is doable.

Your thoughts?

No comments: