Thursday, January 19, 2006

Overjoyed to death, part 2--responses

Gotten some feedback--good and bad--relating to my post yesterday about SCOTUS' decision to uphold the Oregon "right to die" law. Usually i'll respond to comments in the comments field on the blog, or email back if I feel it warrants it, but some of the criticism is broad based, so I thought I'd respond to it here for a change. I'll lay them out and give my responses point by point:

1. In response to my comment that St. Paul tells us our bodies are not our own:

No, no, St. Paul tells you that so I don't see how it pertains to other people.
Well, actually St. Paul says it to everyone who reads and believes the Bible. Last time I checked I wasn't the only one who read and believed the Bible. And our bodies are not our own; as St. Paul continues, "we were bought with a price." Jesus died to save us, God gave us the gift of life. We aren't to play Russian roulette with it.

If you want to live a life devoid of quality that is your business and right. I'd be happy to take a bullet to protect said right.

"devoid of quality"? Well, who determines quality? I mean, to some people it's the ability to dance the pas de deux from Sleeping Beauty or be able to play Beethoven. To others, it means simply being present, being alive, and being with family, as much as possible. Law should not be determined based on such a broad definition. God decides when our lives don't have "quality" anymore. As scripture says, "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away." Only He gets to decide when we're done living.

However, what you fail to understand is that just because you believe something that doesn't make it right nor does it mean everyone else has to believe it.

Thios is a charge Republicans (and Catholics) get a lot. That just because we feel this way doesn't mean we can make everyone else feel this way or that we're right. Now, this may apply, say, in my opinion on ice cream (Chocolate is the best!) or that I think Rachel McAdams and Reese Witherspoon are good actresses. Obviously I cannot say these opinions are finite and absolutely correct and force them on the general population.

But let's phrase this is something more similar. If I said, "murder is wrong, but I can't inflict my opinion on anyone else," people would think I was nuts. Murder is wrong, plain and simple. If I kill you for no good reason, I'm a murderer. Society inflicts its opinions on people every day--it's part of living in society, the giving up of some "rights" for the good of others. Most of us have come to the conclusion that you can't steal, kill, rape, etc., another person withouit consequence.

So it is the same with these "personal" decisions, like assisted suicide and abortion. There are some things (like these) that are intrinsicly wrong. They thoroughly disrespect life at the most basic level. These laws say that only certain people are worthy of the "right to life." That's not cool. It is not good for society to sanction the killing of its members. In Europe, where many of these laws are in place in countries such as England and Holland, the reach of this legislation has expanded to include infanticide (doctors killing babies who they deem unfit for life) and "wrongful birth suits," such as one in England where a mother sued for damages after she gave birth to a handicapped child (the child, by the way, was seven at the time of the lawsuit;. Can you imagine?). We have no right to mess with life.

If someone is sane and an adult and they decide they've had enough of life it's none of your, mine or anyone else’s business if they end it.

I really don't think sanity should be a criteria. Plenty of sane people have done some nutty things; note the rare use of the insanity defense in court. "They've had enough of life"--well what's next? Teens getting approval to commit suicide? If doctors have an agenda, they'll say no one is "fit for life" and that they are "sane" and able to determine that they are ready to die. Some of these people (again, as seen in Holland) are clearly not, and doctors and families use the law to deplorable ends to terminate lives. Slippery slopes, here we come!

2.:

Maybe my copy of the Bible is defective, but surely yours, too, also includes Matthew 7:1, which admonishes, "Judge not lest ye be judged."

This isn't judging. Like I said above, there are some things that are intrinsically right and wrong. If I say a rapist is a criminal and what he did was bad, that's not being judgemental. It's stating a fact. I hear this a lot in gay-rights debates. There are certain things in the world that are not open for discussion. Jesus did not come to Earth for all of us to hold hands and sing 'Kumbaya' (one of my favorite phrases) He gave us the 10 commandments (including "thou shalt not kill") and the Beatitudes, and such so that we would know how to live the way He wants us to--the way that leads to Heaven. He say forgive your neighbor, but he didn't say tolerate everything your neighbor does and write it off as OK. When He forgave sins, He said, "go, and sin no more." Jesus didn't give anyone a free pass, and He didn't expect His followers to, either.

Whatever your experience in suffering might be; whatever the martyred saints tell us about suffering, it's all just prelude to an individual's personal commune with God and the spirit of Christ. The decision of what a mentally competent person does at the end of his or her life is the decision of that person, not yours, nor the Supreme Court's. You're free to follow your conscience as follows. Kindly allow others to do the same.

Isn't this sort of "relativist" Christianity that the Pope warns us about? I mean, if this is a valid point, then why have the 10 commandments? Why have rules? Why have laws? Let's just let everyone do whatever his conscience tells him. That just doesn't wash. Sure, it's not my decision, but laws affect more than just one person. They affect all of society and what society thinks about an act. Look at abortion for an example. So many times people say, "well I don't feel guilty, because it's legal, and since it's legal it can't be wrong." Huh?

This isn't about a power trip, it's not about controlling other people's lives. It's about setting a standard in our societies and countries that says we respect all life, even when a person is ill and suffering. We still love them and see value in their lives. We still value their contributions to humanity. The Church used to condemn people who committed suicide to Hell, because it was seen that those who committed suicide were basically saying that their lives were so bad no one--not even God--could help them. Dante saw it as a sin of the flesh, leaving those who committed suicide to be constantly mutilating their bodies in Hell.

Life is the greatest gift we have. It cannot be treated cavalierely. We must fight to protect it, and to convince people that life always has worth, even when it is hard to see. It is then that God can use us most effectively, if we can trust in His will and not be so wrapped up in what society says is "worthwhile." God has His own standards.

5 comments:

salvage said...

>Well, actually St. Paul says it to everyone who reads and believes the Bible. Last time I checked I wasn't the only one who read and believed the Bible.

Sure lots of people read and believe it; lots of people also read and believe in the Koran, the Torah, Scientology, Atlas Shrugged, Mein Kampf, Beyond Good & Evil and thousands of other works of religion and philosophy just as strongly as you believe in your Bible. So what? You want to live your life centered on a facet of the Judeo-Christian mythology, cool, as John Lennon said “Whatever gets you through the night it’s alright”.

But the problem is you’re starting from a fallacy; that you are right in the eyes of all. You may be right from your and millions of other’s point of view but from mine, for instance, you are wrong. I don’t see a difference between your beliefs and the Scientology faith that all of our ills are caused by dead aliens trapped in volcanoes. Both are unproven, don’t make much sense and collapse under any sort of critical scrutiny.

>And our bodies are not our own; as St. Paul continues, "we were bought with a price." Jesus died to save us, God gave us the gift of life. We aren't to play Russian roulette with it.

And I say that life is a mystery that has yet to be solved and that Jesus is a myth does that mean I can tell people what to do?

>"devoid of quality"? Well, who determines quality?

The individual who’s living the life of course.

>Only He gets to decide when we're done living.

Maybe that’s the way you see it, others not so much. You need to understand this; not everyone thinks the way you do.

Your perception of the laws in Europe is… limited, you may want to research them outside the framework of a pro-life organization; they tend to slant a wee bit. But I will say you’re comparing apples and oranges.

We have laws against murder because it’s one person taking something from another; in fact most laws are like this. It’s the state protecting the individual from others for the betterment of society as a whole. A lawless civilization does nothing except consume itself so making laws to prevent this from happening is a snap. Now when we start to get into gray areas like abortion and euthanasia things get very murky indeed. While I am pro-choice I understand and sympathize with the pro-life movement. I believe that aborting a fetus kills a potential person (when the fetus goes from lump of splitting cells to life is something I don’t know, it certainly doesn’t happen when the egg come apart any more then when the baby crowns. Some nebulous point between I think) and I would never have one. I wouldn’t advise anyone to have one and would and have encouraged people not to have one. BUT, if a woman decides that she is going to have one than that’s all there is to it because one thing I do know is that our bodies are our own and this is protected by our laws. As long as the fetus is part of the woman they are one in the same and she calls the shots.

Aside: You know what would end or at least reduce abortion? If everyone had access to free birth control, I know your beliefs disapprove of such a thing but ask yourself what’s worse; a teenager having sex or a teenager having an abortion? Sure in a perfect world neither would happen but alas this is the world we are in. Teenagers are packed with hormones and our species breeds like crazy. To think otherwise is to be willfully blind.

>I really don't think sanity should be a criteria. Plenty of sane people have done some nutty things;

Fer sure, but I’m talking the legal definition.

>note the rare use of the insanity defense in court.

The reason why that’s rare is because the onus is on the defense to prove that their client is crazy, a very tricky thing to do and if it fails you’re all but guaranteed a guilty verdict.

> Slippery slopes, here we come!

That is not a reason to make or break laws, the “slippery slope” argument is usually spurious and one can use it to argue for or against pretty much anything. Our society has more than enough friction to prevent anything slipping anywhere. Our laws go exactly as far as we want them to, no more and no less.

You don’t seem to understand the use of “right to die” laws, it’s not to support suicide for teenagers, (if a teen tries to kill themselves they obviously need to be helped not encouraged and no one is saying otherwise) it’s for people who are seriously ill, people who do not want to live on a machine or in a wheelchair or in pain. Now if you would want to live like that, great, like I said I’d take a bullet to make sure you could, and if you didn’t I would be equally supportive of your choice.
The dark stories of Europe using these laws as a way to make murder legal are apocryphal at best. Again you should do a bit more research there, one cannot simply check Grandma into the nearest Death Center to have her whacked for the insurance money.

Put simply; despite how divinely guided you may think your beliefs are, your religion is no more significant than any other and it certainly does not give you a monopoly on truth or other people’s lives. Live yours the way you see fit and allow others to do the same.

antonia said...

Hi Salvage,
Although I disagree with just about everything you said, I feel compelled to pipe up about one point because, as a student doctor, I feel REALLY strongly about this issue:

"You know what would end or at least reduce abortion? If everyone had access to free birth control"

I live in England where the pill & condoms are given out FREELY in every government school, as well in sexual health clinics, at the doctors, pharmacies, hospitals, youth clubs etc etc. Honestly, as a teenager you have to have a serious problem if you don't know where to go to get artificial contraception as it's everywhere.

Yet England has the HIGHEST teenage pregnancy rate in the whole of Europe.
and that's not counting the number of girls who get pregnant but take the 'morning after pill' to end their pregnancies

So no, I don't think that free access to contraception will do anything to reduce teenage pregnancy rates....but we have it here & teenage pregnancy rates have risen year after year. One in 10 babies concieved in England are concieved to teenage mothers.

Furthermore, one of the actions of the oral contraceptive pill is to prevent implantation of the human embryo, which is on par with an abortion anyway (as it's intentionally ending the life of a human before birth), so I wouldn't be in favour of this apparent "lesser evil" in an attempt to reduce abortions (as well as for other reasons).

"Sure in a perfect world neither would happen but alas this is the world we are in...To think otherwise is to be willfully blind.""

I very much disagree with this defeatist notion that 'it happens ergo there is nothing we can do about it and we shouldn't bother trying'.
It's pathetic and it is the CAUSE of it happening.

Accepting that someone is going to do something before they do it, and facilitating them in doing it, will OBVIOUSLY increase the likelihood of them doing it, and this has been proven time & time again in social psychology studies.

"Teenagers are packed with hormones and our species breeds like crazy.

Erm, I'm not entirely sure what to make of this statement bar the fact that teenagers don't have sex in order to 'breed'.
Furthemore, it is very shortsighted to suggest hormones are the major cause of teenagers having sex.
I would venture as far as saying that the MAJORITY of teenagers have sex because they think it's expected of them, because they believe they are 'abnormal' if they dont, because they are pressurised into it, because they believe everyone else is, because they desire to feel loved.....and not because they are controlled by hormones.

Plus, 'our species' is not breeding like crazy.....EVERY single country in Western Europe has a higher death rate than birth rate.
So actually we are slowly extincting ourselves.

Teenage pregnancy rates will only be reduced when

1. We encourage teenagers NOT to have sex, and show that we believe they are capable of such self-control, and are not on par with uncontrollable animals going wild due to hormonal instincts.

2. We teach them to respect their own bodies and not to allow other people to use them as objects for their own pleasure, then to be discarded when they've been used enough.

3. We don't facilitate them having sex as this demonstrates that we expect they will have sex....and so a large number will!

4. We don't facilitate them getting rid of the unborn babies.


I could go on to talk about the dreadful need for family stability and what a blessing that would be in reducing teenage pregnancy rates, and well as the suffocating need people have of the Catholic religion, unconditional uninhibited pure & true love,...but I will end here.

salvage said...

Hi Antonia,

>Yet England has the HIGHEST teenage pregnancy rate in the whole of Europe.

See I didn’t know that, fascinating and after a bit of research I found one of the reasons why is that there isn’t the education that’s needed to go along with the contraception. You’ve have to know how to use the tools, so to speak. Now since the pill is 99.99% effective (it only fails when the user doesn’t use it) that makes a lot of sense.

So the facts are teenager in the Uk are having sex and children, you can tell them to stop but odds are they are not going to listen, one of the more endearing traits of a teenager. So the next best thing is to give them the pill, this is the reality.

>Furthermore, one of the actions of the oral contraceptive pill is to prevent implantation of the human embryo,

While I don’t agree with that in any way that is your choice and I’m glad it works for you. I could argue that not having sex does the same thing; that each month you are letting an egg / embryo / person die.

As for the rest, look it’s obvious that you think that your lifestyle works so well for you that you can’t understand why others don’t do the same. The reality is people are different and some teenagers have sex. They have hormones that create a need. That need is part of what’s made humans such a prolific species.

I have news for you, we are animals, clever ones capable of a great deal of self control but we are still animals and animals breed. To exasperate the situation further teenagers often don’t think things through, the future is distant and nebulous and the immediate is often all that exists for them. Again this is not all but enough to create a problem.

Of course you’re right if they didn’t have sex it would be best, and if they didn’t get into car accidents that would be great too.

But they have sex and they crash cars, is refusing them birth control and seat belts and air bags the best course of action? Life happens and sometimes the lesser of two evils must be chosen. I’d rather have a teen on the pill than on their way to the maternity ward. Your example of free birth control not working is certainly sobering but hardly compelling to abandon the idea, it just means something in the system isn’t working and needs to be fixed.

But my overarching point is simple, live your life the way you see fit, respect others’ choices and don’t interfere. One of those “Do unto other” deals.

antonia said...

Hello Salvage,
Thank you for your reply!

I will just pick out a few things from your post...

1. Regarding England's unbelievably high teenage pregnancy rates...

"See I didn’t know that, fascinating and after a bit of research I found one of the reasons why is that there isn’t the education that’s needed to go along with the contraception."


Ah, the good old 'not enough education' explanation from the British government.
Yes, that's a typical excuse to give when you don't want to accept what facts are telling you.
So apparently there isn't enough 'education' in this country on how exactly one takes a pill a day?!
So when the packet says "Take one a day" and your mother says "Take one a day" and the doctor says "Take one a day" and the school nurse says "Take one a day" and your friends say "Take one a day"....

Yeh, I can see how taxing that would be for a girl to understand.



2.
"So the facts are teenager in the Uk are having sex and children, you can tell them to stop but odds are they are not going to listen, one of the more endearing traits of a teenager. So the next best thing is to give them the pill, this is the reality."

No no, that is the reality society has chosen to accept and it is the reality society is choosing to construct.

But it is not inevitable.


3. Based on your next comment, I would guess that human biology is not your favourite subject...! :)

">Furthermore, one of the actions of the oral contraceptive pill is to prevent implantation of the human embryo,

While I don’t agree with that in any way that is your choice and I’m glad it works for you. I could argue that not having sex does the same thing; that each month you are letting an egg / embryo / person die. "



errrrr......where to begin?!

The 'egg' (oocyte) released by a woman each month is NOT the same as an embryo!!!!!

EGG DOES NOT EQUAL EMBRYO.

The egg must be FERTILISED by a sperm in order to produce an embryo.

EGG + SPERM = EMBRYO

It is absolutly ridiculous to suggest that a egg is the same as an embryo!

A egg only has half the number of chromosomes as any human, whereas an embryo has the full number of chromosomes and is an entirely new and separate human being that will grow and develop into a baby and be born.


When a woman ovulates she releases an egg.

That egg may die or it may be fertilised.

If it is not fertilised, it will ALWAYS die.


If the woman has sex while the egg is still alive then the sperm from the man will be present in her vagina & uterus.

This sperm will then fertilise the egg.

This 'fertilised egg' is called an EMBRYO.

This embryo then implants into the lining of the woman's uterus and starts to grow.

An EMBRYO is completely and totally different from AN EGG.


It is not my 'choice' to say that the pill prevents the implantation of a human embryo...IT'S A SCIENTIFIC FACT!!!!!

That is one of the actions of the chemicals in the pill !

The pill works in 3 ways;

1. It increases the thickness of mucus in the cervix so that it forms a thick plug and attempts to stop sperm from getting into the uterus.

2. It tries to prevent an egg being released (i.e. stops ovulation)

2. It changes the lining of the woman's uterus so that if an egg IS released and if sperm HAVE got through, then the resulting EMBRYO will not be able to implant into the uterus and will die.

Scientific papers I have read estimate this latter fuction occurs about 30% of the time.

THIS is the action of the pill that I was disagreeing with.
It intentionally acts to prevent the EMBRYO (not egg) from implanting, and so therfore the embryo dies.

This embryo is HUMAN (and noone can argue otherwise! You may be able to argue about whether it is a PERSON, but not about whether it is LIVING or HUMAN because are objective scientific facts).

So the pill acts to prevent the life & growth of the HUMAN EMBRYO....and I equate that to preventing the life & growth of ANY other human at any other stage of their existance, whether it is when they are babies, teenagers, adults, elderly etc
....that is why I disagree morally with the pill.
(well, one of the reasons!)


anyway, about teenage sex... my point was basically that I don't agree with the attitude "it'll happen anyway so we may as well accept it and facilitate it happening".

I firmly believe that that very attitude contributes significantly to it happening.


Furthermore, the "lesser of two evils arguement" is one that I can't understand....

the statement says it all...the lesser of two EVILS.

I dont want to do ANYTHING evil, and I dont want to make it easier for anyone else to do anything evil either.

And it's not as if there isn't another non-evil option.


Finally, it is the very quote "do unto others as you have them do to you" which makes me desire to say something.

I genuinely don't believe that teenage sex is good for teenagers.

and you are totally 100% right! Teenagers don't understand the future; it is a big nebulous cloud that they don't really consider. I would say that it is therefore the duty of those older & more mature than they, to point out the future risks and regrets of underage sex; health, emotional, psychological & spiritual problems.

Sexually transmitted diseases which can make you infertile, girls' cervical cancer risk shoots up as soon as they've has 3 or more sexual partners, there are a million problems associated with the pill (not least breast cancer risks which increase hugely after 4 years on the pill), emotional turmoil, unplanned pregnancies, feelings of being used & being unloved, heart-ache....I could go on.

I genuinely believe that I would not be doing them any service whatsoever by happily allowing them to have sex.

I was gald that someone had the courage to tell me to wait.



But this is has been a very interesting discussion!
Thanks again for your comments!

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