Sort of Not My Business — About Abortion

I am aware at this stage of my life that I will never have an abortion. At her age, I’m pretty certain my wife won’t either. As Congress considers limiting abortion to 20 weeks from conception, I thought I’d write about the topic,

Both my and my wife’s lack of experience are good starting points for discussion, but they are not the same starting point that others have, and I think that’s part of the problem. This is one of those things where I don’t get conservatives, who are all about fewer laws, except when it comes to sex. (Yes, sex, but also gender. I’m sure we don’t want women to have sex. I’m not so sure we don’t want women to be women.)

Anyway, I’m all for having fewer laws, I’m all for assuming people are “big people” and can make up their own minds about things. They can take responsibility for their own lives. The difference is that I think of women as people. When men — or women — make laws about what others are allowed to do with their own bodies, we have problems. I have never assumed that a woman’s body was mine to police, or mine to hurt.

So, there it is: what I believe. I’m pro-choice and I’m anti-hurt. Anytime a women gets hurt and a baby is the result of that hurt. The man who did the hurting has lost all right to say anything about the baby or its existence. Time’s up. Thanks for playing, now go directly to jail.

After that, whether a man and a woman want to terminate or keep a pregnancy is up to them. If there’s a question about the decision, the decision should go to the one doing the work: The woman. If the man wants to raise a child by a woman he loves (whether she does or not) that should be taken into consideration,but ultimately, since the baby is located in her, she should make the final call.

Ok. That’s what I believe, from my lack of experience. Take it for what it’s worth.

Here’s the tricky part. I know a whole lot of women who have had abortions, and have grieved it their whole lives. I have also known a few women who have had them and didn’t regret it, but those seem to be the minority, by far.

Having seen my wife be pregnant, and listening to her experience, I have absolutely no clue what it’s like to be pregnant, Women and their embryos — later children– are literally connected, or attached, in some way that I just don’t get. They feel things that I don’t (and vice-versa. They don’t understand having a teenage — or adult –erection).

Some of the things they feel are joy, sadness guilt, relief, loss, gain, helplessness, power, and all the other things they are capable of feeling. When they choose to have an abortion, they need to be aware of all of the possibilities of that, and live with their choices. I assume that they can because, well, they have to.

You will note that I haven’t said anything about the life of the baby. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know when it’s a baby, when it’s viable, a fetus, or a mass of cells. Again, it’s a woman’s experience of it that matters, because I don’t have any experience to draw from.

What I do know is that once a baby leaves the birth canal, no matter what, we as a society are responsible for it. It has always bothered me that the same people who say a woman should have the baby because it’s sacred refuse to give it the necessary food, clothing, and shelter it needs — as though it’s not sacred anymore. You can’t have it both ways, it seems to me.

Yes, I believe that all life is sacred. I just don’t know when it becomes a life. I also believe that because such a decision has so many effects on a woman’s life that the decision shouldn’t be made lightly… ever. Women are capable of making those decisions. They are capable of living with the consequences of those decisions, as well.

Resisting with Peace,



Questions For The Next Presidential Candidate

Skipping ahead to 2019, assuming we make it that far, and taking into account the lessons of the present administration, here’s what I think we should be asking:

1) Who do work for?

2) Have you read the Constitution?

3) Tell us why Democracy is a good idea…

4) How do you feel about the press?

5) Is there ever a good use of nuclear weapons?

6) Have you ever been called a liar?

7) Have you ever groped, harassed, or sexually assaulted another person?

8) Define the word “Americans”

9) Who will cabinet members work for?

10) Define “racism”. Are those behaviors you have engaged in?

11) Do women deserve equal pay for the same work?

12) How will you fix wealth disparity?

13) Do you agree with”Citizens United”? What can be done to fix it?

14) How will your Presidency reflect the diversity of modern America?

15) Is any citizen above the law?

16) Is the Department of Justice an independent agency?

17) Define the difference between “voter” and “citizen”. Will you work for both?

18) Explain for us the “separation of Church and State “.

19) What is your view of Global Climate Change? If you believe it exists, will you fix it?

20) Do you believe in public schools? How will you address any issues with them?

21) How will you pick your Cabinet?

22) Do you believe we can prevent mass shootings? If yes, How will you do that?

23) Why should we trust you?

24) Do you believe healthcare is a human right?

24) What do our children need? How will you help them get it?

25) How will you address hunger?

26) How will you address homelessness?

27) How will you address addiction?

28) Do you believe in mental health parity?

29) What do you think America’s role in the world should be?

Many of these used to be easy questions.…We can’t take their answers for granted anymore.

Puerto Rico and The U.S. : Us At Our Worst?

Puerto Ricans are human. That ought to be enough for us to help them after a natural disaster. People who live in the U.S. Virgin Islands, who I never hear about, are also human beings. They, too, deserve help if they need it. In addition to that, of course, they are our human beings. Is it better to neglect a child who doesn’t cry or one who does? Both are unconscionable if they are your family.

I say “child” not because the Puerto Rican people are “babies”, but because they are –for better or worse — dependents. We have a moral imperative to help them if they are equals, we have more than that if they are our dependents. We have still more ethical crisis if we made them dependent.

Before all of this, I knew nothing of Puerto Rican history, but a fair amount Puerto Rico today from clients over the last 10 years. As I understood it, Puerto Rico is loved by people who live there. I gather it was busy, teeming with life, but often hard to make a living in. People come to Massachusetts because there is work and education on the mainland, but they frequently travelled back home to see relatives. They are proud of both lives. There are long, white beaches there.and houses with tin roofs and crime and gangs.

Among White people here, there is a legend that there is a sign at the San Juan airport that says, “Fly to Holyoke, Mass. They give out the most in Welfare payments” (“I seen it!” Or “My cousin’s uncle saw it once!” is always added, just to make sure you believe it). I have heard that story hundreds of times in my life, but, amazingly, never from my Puerto Rican clients. I tend to trust experience over “knowledge”, so I’m going to guess that there isn’t really a sign there… I say this, because I bet Donald Trump has heard this story all of his life as well, probably replacing “Holyoke” with the words “New York City”.

Prior to the hurricane last year, the above was all I knew about the island off our shores. That, and I knew there was a controversy over statehood vs. independence, but I didn’t know much about why.

Since the hurricane, I have learned that many people don’t think of Puerto Rico as American because of that messy status of “not really a colony but not really a state”. I have also learned that there is an arcane shipping rule that makes it difficult to get aid or other things shipped there. Regarding tax policy, we once made it almost tax free for corporations to move there, and that Big Pharma did. When that tax break was removed, many of the businesses immediately left at the prospect of having to pay any taxes to be there. They used the resources of the labor but gave little or nothing to the country/state (though, to be fair, I bet Puerto Ricans pay income taxes to the island, so it wasn’t totally unfair to the island). To make matters worse, when the money dried up, big banks restructured their loans to make it nearly impossible for the government there to get out of debt. This is colonialism at its worst.

We say we own them, we mess with their laws, and our own, to bankrupt their economy, and once that’s in place, we claim no responsibility for them until they can pay their debt. We told them they are dependent on us, we made them dependent on us, and now when they want us to be dependable, we refuse. This is a chapter in U.S. history to be ashamed of. The country of Puerto Rico would have been better off if we had never claimed them in the first place.

So, months after a natural disaster hit the island, 1/3 of the Place still has no power, and our government blames it on them. Then there was a scandal about who we gave a contract to fix things. (Yes, we tried to screw them once again — when they were down). Their debt is more important to our government than the lives of their people. This is unconscionable. This is not how we are supposed to treat human beings!

Let us live up to our responsibilities. Let us live up to the morals that allow us to believe we’re a Christian Nation. At least two churches, the United Church of Christ and the American Baptist Churches,USA have made long-term commitments to be their with them, and bring aid. That’s the difference between a moral view rather than an economic view. We need, as a country, to fix this whole mess, and I hope we will. In the meantime, though, people die and get illnesses that will read havoc there. If ever there was a way to make gangs powerful, this is the way to do it. We raise crime, while ending lives, through our actions. This must change!

Resisting with Peace,


A special shout-out to Bruce MacCullagh for reminding me of this moral crisis.