Saturday, April 13, 2019

Report on the Dialogue, Not Debate Event at SMU

It's been a busy week as I said it would be. I did go down to Austin to testify Wednesday on what ended up being three separate life-affirming, life-protecting bills. I'm going to blog about those soon. My good friend is still getting some video clips prepared. You're not just going to see my testimony and some of those who supported the bills, but also some of those who opposed them. It's going to be educational for you and I think further validate some things I've been saying on this blog for years. But right now, I want to tell you about the discussion panel at SMU Thursday night. 

I've been debating within myself (not dialoguing) about how best to present a report on the Dialogue, Not Debate event at SMU. It was rather eye-opening for some reasons that had nothing to do with the abortion issue itself. Rather than summarize what happened, I'm going to just link here the full video of the exchange and commend it to you for your education, awareness...and prayer for all involved. 

For my part, I wanted to meet this audience where it was and really get people to think about how the disregard for some life leaves everyone vulnerable. I also wanted to get people to think past the immediate shock, surprise, fear, and panic that might accompany the discovery of a pregnancy rather than just run to abortion as a solution. Sometimes the unexpected can be a blessing if we step back and stop trying to control each situation and see each change to that as something wrong, bad, and which must be prevented. In other words, as Christians would say, "Let go and let God." I also wanted everyone to know that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. Whether one believes that or not, one needs to hear it. 

I do want to highlight or expand upon a few points that you will see in the video and some things that I was unable to say for the sake of time, etc. 

I mentioned during this event a book that would inform women of their fertility because it had come up from the pro-abortion side that one of problems women face and why they need Planned Parenthood is because there is just not enough information about fertility and it's hard to find on the internet, etc., etc., etc. One book that helped me navigate Natural Family Planning, which I found was presented in an overly complicated way in Catholic books, was Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. I think women are smart and capable of reading and understanding the written word. I also think that certain motivations are exposed when you present a simple solution to a problem they raise - there's no information on fertility; here's a book; people don't have money for books... - tells us a great deal. Other than that, I'll let their response speak for itself.

Another thing I will note is that Dr. Kanter admitted that the government could withdraw all funding from PP and it would not go anywhere. In other words, PP doesn't need our government dollars. That is excellent to know next time the subject comes up in the legislature. As for the PP's argument that the provision of abortion is only 3% of what it does, that is inaccurate. A look at the study showed how those numbers are cooked. They also claimed that they do mammograms; you know, the usual things. You'll see links below for some of the things I reviewed. Not everything was said that I wanted to, but you have to make some calls about what points to press and which ones just aren't relevant to the overall message that needed to get across.

Then, I want you to understand the difference between abortion and preterm parturition which is the procedure that is done when a pregnancy is truly life-threatening to a woman. As I mentioned in my part of the panel discussion, there is a night and day difference in intent, purpose, and how the baby is treated. Indeed, if possible, the baby is saved. In the article I was referring to, Dr. Donna J. Harrison, stated: "There is a night and day difference between elective abortion and separating a mother and her unborn child for the purposes of saving a mother's life (preterm parturition)." Dr. Harrison continued:

There are times when separating the mother and her unborn child is necessary to save the life of the mother, even if the unborn child is too premature to live. In those tragic cases, if possible the life of the baby will be attempted to be preserved, and if not possible, the body of the unborn child is treated with respect, recognizing the humanity of the life which is lost in the separation.
A doctor friend of mine has expressed to me how other doctors recoil in horror at the use of the term "abortion" for these medically necessary procedures. They do not consider them the same because they are not in intent and how the baby is treated. They are not done primarily to kill the baby, whereas that is exactly the case with abortion.

As for abortion to save the life of the mother once viable or near the general viability mark, that is never necessary. As I say in my written testimony in support of SB 1033 which I will blog about later, you do not have to have abortion for that. Again, that is a case where the baby can be saved as well; at the very least, we try to save him or her. Killing the baby in that circumstance does nothing to save the mother whose life is threatened by the pregnancy. You can end a pregnancy and save both lives. Again, you would not use the abortion procedure, but preterm parturition. I was reminded recently that a baby born at 21 weeks in 2017 thrived despite the odds. Medicine is getting better and better and that is partially why I think we see arguments based on viability and when life begins going out the window and being replaced with versions of those doesn't matter, the woman decides who lives or dies.

I'm told by some in the audience that it was a hostile crowd. I sensed that only slightly - and you see me interact with one woman who was being slightly disruptive at times - and I certainly expected it. But I sensed that a great many were paying attention. I talked to half a dozen young women afterwards who sought me out to talk, seek advice, and thank me, in addition to those who organized the event. While on stage, I was primarily focused on delivering a message of love and hope and life for everyone. It is not complicated when you look at it that way. Yes, there are complicated situations; but respecting life is not complicated. There are scary, unexpected situations. But fundamentally, if we value all life, things actually become simpler. Not necessarily easier, but simpler.

This idea that life is complicated; who knows when it begins; who cares when it begins, we're women, we have the power to give and take, frankly, disturbing and appalling. As I said in my talk, yes, we have the power to give life but with that comes great responsibility. As women, we have a responsibility to nurture and protect life, especially that which we carry. Men, of course, have that responsibility, too. But in this case, the idea was that women call all the shots and the best man was one who said, "If you get pregnant, babe; it's all up to you."

As I said there, the time to decide you don't want to be a mother is before you are pregnant. And, yes, I did say that if the choice is between an abortion if you get pregnant and a 50 cent condom, use the condom. Am I pushing contraception now? No, I am not and I said that. However, you have to meet your audience where they are in these situations. Many are far from that point and if I can do something to plant a seed where they begin to question this "easy solution of abortion" then I am going to do that and not distract them by an unyielding anti-contraception rant - which they were expecting anyway and were surprised not to get. The audience will tune me out and we lose any effort to save any baby. The other panelists will focus on that rather than the ugliness of abortion and those saying certain life is not valuable and not to be protected. I wanted to stay focused on that mentality. Sometimes you have to make a judgment call and I did just that.

One thing I've learned, especially in the last year and a half, is that people are complicated and life is complicated. That is true. The issue of abortion, however, is actually simple. Unborn babies are human from the moment of fertilization and worthy of protection. (If you are interested, the article about the zinc fireworks set off at fertilization is here.) But the issue becomes complicated because, as with everything else, people are broken, man is in a fallen state, and everyone is on a journey. (It's made more complicated by people, including clergy, acting like there is some uncertain point at which the unborn are human and worthy of protection and by feminist or anti-life politics; e.g., that life does not begin until the born baby takes its first breath and experiences life. Watch the video.) We are to keep progressing forward even as we fall backwards constantly. Yes, there is black and white morality. But the application of it to each person in their particular state gets difficult. You push someone too far before they are ready, they will usually quit - and bitterly so. There is a balance that has to be reached.

None of us are there perfectly yet, that is, in that perfectly moral state without any sin or temptation to sin. We fall every day and our pride often prevents us from even seeing it, much less correcting it as we should. We try to move forward toward perfection and we are called to strive toward that every day in every way. But if we tell people who are far from God or who say they believe in God but are far from the idea that there is a right to life that X (no contraception) is the only way for them, when Y (non-abortifacient contraception rather than an abortion) gets them a little closer and doesn't cause death, maybe that will help them get closer to X (no contraception) and even to Z (where they reject the idea of abortion entirely), we are doing them a greater service than painting them in a corner they don't understand, and cannot yet, and where they harden their hearts against the entire idea of a right to life for the unborn (and others). I recognize that the contraceptive mentality often leads to the abortion mentality, especially in these circumstances. I fully believe that and I've said so for years. We'd not have had Roe v. Wade but for Griswold v. Connecticut (which established the right to privacy in the context of contraceptive access). But, again, this is a situation where we take baby steps and do what we can to try to get people to do the least harm as we hopefully help them progress toward a consistent ethic of life.

It was a unique experience for me to be on this panel and it was enlightening. I hope I also planted some seeds and represented life well. Please pray for all who participated and listened to this discussion. Pray for a society that begins to value all life and want to protect it again. My introductory remarks were from the heart. Society has become depraved with this idea that we kill whoever we think is inconvenient or not utilitarian, who is too old, feeble, disabled, potentially with a birth defect, an undesired gender, or whatever. The reasons are as endless as they are wrong. We have to take back the culture. I have not done enough. We can probably never do enough. But let's look for more ways to do that anyway and do our best.

Remember: We err, if we are to err at all, on the side of life. Always.

Thanks for reading! 

P.S. If you're interested in some of the other things I mentioned, the sources are as follows:

Regarding Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers and the services they don't provide, I reviewed this article, this one, and this one.

Also, the Texas Healthy Women's program is here. As you know, I have been critical of the Texas Women's Healthcare Program as I see it as a primarily contraceptive program, including abortifacient contraceptives, but in this case, they needed to see that there is something other than PP even for that which does not provide money for abortion.