Sunday, September 03, 2006

Our Enlightened World

A chilling story in today's The Tennessean tells us what our brave new world now mostly does with the weaker and less savory elements of our society. We kill them off.

The Orwellian phraseology being applied to the lower number of Down Syndrome births is that the trend may result -- it almost certainly does -- from "improved prenatal diagnosis." People sometimes employ euphemisms in an effort to save feelings, but they also frequently use them as an instinctive flinch from reality. Better early diagnosis is normally cited as providing the opportunity to take curative action at earlier stages of an illness. In this instance, diagnosis provides the opportunity to eliminate the patient.

Concerns about life have unfortunately become regarded as issues for the religious, and the non-devout frequently wish to ignore these matters for the same reason that many northern Whigs wanted the slavery debate to go away: they were themselves opposed, but the personal and moral nature of an argument with otherwise respectable peers was messy and uncomfortable business. Be that as it may, these issues were -- and are -- among the most important of the day.


Blogger Donna Locke said...

Being pro-choice on abortion, I don't find it chilling to abort a fetus with serious health problems. On the contrary, I find it chilling to force a child into the world who will suffer because of a known and unfixable serious defect and who will need special, parentlike care all of her or his life. If the human journey is to be about anything, it should include, first and foremost, the alleviation, prevention, and eradication of suffering on this planet.

I have been friends with three teenagers and adults with Down syndrome. They are sweet, innocent, and a delight to be with. They also have serious physical problems, including heart problems common to this syndrome, and their parents are moving into old age and are greatly concerned about will happen to these forever-children after the parents die. Adults with Down syndrome are living longer now. These are considerations in which one must be fair to the person who will live that life -- if you have the chance to make that call, and we do now. Perhaps the prenatal testing that can be done now is part of a great plan for humanity that you must consider.

Markers for the hereditary and nightmarish Huntington's disease can be detected in fetuses. A number of women choose to abort these at-risk fetuses, and I believe that is a kindness.

So, on this issue and that of abortion in general, I guess we humans differ in what we consider kindness and compassion. My sense and belief come from something other than religion. Something both inherent and a product of my experience. I think I'm right, but I wouldn't force my belief on another. I just want people to think -- as Aretha Franklin sang. "Think about what you're tryin' to do to me." "Oh, freedom."

10:39 PM  
Blogger MCO said...

Whether born or unborn, it is always the weaker among us who are not given a voice. Plantation owners were quite sure that they knew better than anyone the needs of their "property," and many stand today ready to determine who among those with no voice should live or die based on our own perceptions of how much they will suffer. I disagree.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Donna Locke said...

Property. Women and girls and their bodies and their lives are no one's property but their own. We've already settled that in this country. Though I've lived long enough to know that no matter which way the wind is blowing, one can always catch a whiff of the Taliban, or some version of it, trying to regain control. The first rule of power always seems to be, control and subjugate all the females. In the end, that's what this is about. The life already here should have precedence and respect.

8:59 PM  
Blogger MCO said...

I won't bother responding to your comparison of me to the Taliban, as I think that is beyond the pail of civility and reasonable debate. I agree that women have the right to control their own bodies, and I would not abridge that right except to defend the rights of another human being who cannot speak for his or her self.

11:47 PM  
Blogger Donna Locke said...

That you took that personally tells me something, since the reference was a general one. Actually, I was thinking of that polygamist-cult leader in the news, and other male-dominating cults based on some religion or interpretation of it. Or just most religion in general. I grew up in a very fundamamentalist and restrictive Christian church, so I have some basis for the Taliban comparison. Hope I'm allowed to express my opinion, even though I'm female and disagreeing with you.

4:16 PM  
Blogger MCO said...

Donna, I don't understand your sudden concern that you as a disagreeing female would be permitted to comment. You have commented frequently here in the past, both positively and negatively, and I have never hindered your doing so. In fact, I recall that I once supported your cause when your comments were deleted by another site. I must say that I am surprised, as I have always considered us to be on cordial terms up until this exchange, even if we did not always agree.

My taking it personally was not a stretch, in that you were responding to things I had written, assuming your comment was relevant to my post.

Finally, though some American Christian fundamentalists are radical, unsavory, and sometimes even abusive, I would not compare these churches to the Taliban, which is hardly subtle in its willingness to abuse, torture, and imprison women who violate their dictates. Their are differing degrees of bad, and what the Taliban does constitutes a different category.

5:32 PM  
Blogger Donna Locke said...

MCO, we're still cool. Still cordial, at least on this end.

But you know that even in the United States, children, especially girls, are enslaved, raped, and killed in the name of religion and by order of religious "masters," such as Warren Jeffs and so many others. The kids and women may be in a brainwashing sex-slave cult like the polygamy thing Jeffs and others have going. Or the thing that evil Waco nut had going. Or some religion that believes in beating the devil out of kids even if it kills them -- this shows up in the news from time to time. In fact, many Americans would be surprised to know how common such things are.

I remember that 10, 15, or even 20 years ago, shows like Primetime Live or whatever were presenting well-done reports on the polygamist cults and "religious" militia-type cults abusing underage girls out West. So why was this activity allowed to continue? Why is it still going on? We know where they are. We have names and witnesses.

The answer is in what our country will tolerate and ignore in the name of religion and the god one dare not question: diversity.

For females, the burqa and the suppression and oppression it symbolizes, are never far away. It's the luck of the draw.

9:17 PM  
Blogger MCO said...

Donna, we have gotten a bit far afield from the original point, but I will venture a response. All of the things you discuss lamentably occur, but thankfully they are relatively rare in a nation of 300 million people. And I think that your final statement exaggerates the extent of the problem. I also think that the situations you describe above have a different sociological basis from conservative religious groups that have a somewhat more restrictive view of what gets referred to as "women's roles" than either you or I might prefer.

I also think that this is fundamentally irrelevant to the abortion debate for this reason. The American debate over abortion is a complex and emotional concern that at its root rises or falls on one simple question: is the fetus human life. If the answer to that question is "no," then opposition to the right to an abortion is an unacceptable imposition on a woman's freedome. If the answer to that question is "yes," then the rights of two human beings both must be considered.

As a result, I will stand with you on questions related to the rights and full equality of women under the law. Because I believe the answer to the above question, as a matter of biology, is "yes," I consider that to be a different question.

11:24 PM  

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