Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Pro-Life? What's the Point--More Schaivo

In the past few days I've become fascinated with the Schaivo case and also Anne's case who is having an pre-mature induction of a non viable baby (and is being accused by some pro-lifers of being an abortionist).


I saw this Amy Welbon thread about the Schaivo issue and of course, it is an open invitation to pile on the Bishops, etc.

I will say up front that I was surprised that some commenters on Welborn's thread refused the invitation to pile on and took the other side. Good for them. It's not that there should be sides in this issue. It is a tragic issue, but the insertion of red hot politics in this has forced everyone who considers the issue to take sides, unwittingly.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am appalled, but not surprised at the pro-life frame of the issue in which the "adulterous," "murderous husband," seeks to kill wife so that he can shack up with girlfriend and spend wife's settlement money. How on earth does it come to this? First off, I never believe the pro-life side. When they say someone is evil, muderous, killer, etc, what that means is that the killer is nothing of the sort, they just simply have an opposing viewpoint. I can, and other Catholic pro-choice Democrats can, tell you some of the hate mail and choice words we have heard from pro-lifers. Besides emails and blogs, I have had people come up to me in a quasi-Demonic rage to tell me that I am an evil abortionist baby killer and they are glad I lost my job, etc. The political pro-life movement has moved predictably to demonize anyone in this situation who does not support their view and Michael Schaivo is Satan right now.

More importantly, I think this has become less about the principals and more about the issues. Again, the difference between competing partisan philosophies, people v issues. For instance Welborn says:

However, this is a very high-profile case dealing with end-of-life ethics, and one which a lot of people are watching and learning from. What the bishops have said so far is not bad nor untrue, but I just keep wondering if there is more instruction to be done re/the case, knowing that all eyes are on it, and figuring how to deal with their own situations in light of it.

Basically, let's use this as a good teaching moment, let's make a point. Unfortunately for the people involved, this is not a teaching moment, this involves a person. I've come to realize through these issues that I value choice, privacy and personal freedom more that I realized I did. I strongly feel that at the point of decision, after all the debate, we need to recede and let the principals come to terms with their decisions, whether they are right or wrong. But even moreso in a case in which we know how it is going to end, we have to simply learn to deal with it. Let people live their lives and let us deal with it. This situation is sad enough as it is. Michael Schaivo ordinarily would have to deal with the extreme sadness of pulling the plug in the first place, now there is the national attention and murderous charge on him from the millions. This is not a teaching moment. No personal tragedy ever is. If we want to do case studies after the fact, then so be it, but for God's sake, not in the heat of the tragedy.

Another thing in my view, what does it say about the primacy of sacramental marriage when for the sake of the political pro-life cause, parents all of a sudden become more important than the spouse? Anyone who is married with kids has a sense of the parent v spouse tension. As a parent you have made decisions and guided your child all her life and then you are forced to hand her over to someone else who will then supercede you in his union with her, so to speak. But that is the biblical teaching on marriage, that a "man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves unto his wife and the two shall become one."

Now, because it is to the purpose of the pro-life movement, they have decided that the parents trump the spouse. Again, I don't dismiss the anguish of the parents. Spouses can always go on and do go on with their lives and find someone else. However, parents can't "go on." A dead child is a dead child. There is more of a sense of desparation for the parents and perhaps unwillingness to let go. I wouldn't and pray that I never find myself in that situation. But I think the thing to have done here is to recognize the spousal sacramental perogative, but work it out between the parties so that everyone can get closure in their time. That's one thing that the Church could have done, it could have mediated between parties. If there is need for a spirituality to contextualize this, then use the Blessed Virgin Mary. She's an example of a parent who had to give her only son over to death.

Again, I speak from the view of point that I don't condemn Euthanasia, so I am of the viewpoint that if she had expressed a desire to not live in a vegetative state then her husband can and should follow her wishes. I think these type of issues are personal and ultimately have to be settled within the consciences of people involved. I think it is shame that Fr Pavone and the political pro-life movement have decided to use this as a point-making issue. I will say, granted, it is not all darkness on the pro-life side and light with the other side, I just haven't been privy to what's going on politically on the other side. I will say in touring liberal blogsphere today, there has been barely a peep, so it isn't like nationally it is being used to make a Right-to-Die point.

Truth is I am sad for Terri Schaivo and her husband. Any moment like this is a very sad moment and people should be preparing to grieve and not dealing with all this.

On a different front, Anne at Our Homeschool blog who has decided to go along with an early induction had this to say:

I knew that some people would disagree with our decision. I knew that they would think it was better to carry the baby to term. It never occurred to me that people would think that I was having an abortion. That I was responsible for my baby's death if I did this, and not the complete malformation of her brain. It has shocked me that people have come here calling me a "wolf in sheep's clothing" saying that it's easy for me to kill my baby because I've done it before (referring to my abortion at age 17 which still brings me pain and for which I have confessed and received absolution). . .

My husband are wondering where this leaves us. Should we still be Catholic? It's a question I refuse to answer right now. I have enough to think about. But we are not hypocrites. I have never believed that an early induction for a baby with fatal prognosis was wrong. Nor have I ever stated so.

The highlighted question, to be or not to be Catholic, stunned me. This is why I think the pro-life movement needs to do some serious soul searching. When you badger a woman going through the worst days of her life to the point that she is considering leaving a faith that brought her joy, something is not right.

You always have to ask, what is the point of what we are doing? Are we just trying to make a point? Again, this is the conservative "issues" vs the liberal "people." I clearly fall on the liberal side, which says that it is all about people. There are times when you have made your point and then it is up to the people and you then have to decide how to deal with it. What is God thinking in her case this moment? He certainly does not have a casuitry manual and is not watching to see how many conditions she's met for full intent to kick in, nor is he holding catalog of punishments to administer. For those of us who are parents, we know how we feel about our children and most of all how we feel when they hurt. This woman is hurting and she is God's child. What is the response of the pro-life movement to her? You are evil? you are wrong? Go ahead but we will never let you forget about this? You've let us down? Or should it be, "We understand your pain, we respect your decision and we will be there for you regardless of what you decide"?

I don't know if the pro-life movment was ever on track. I was a serious part of it at one time. But it certainly has lost its way. Until it remembers that the point of all we do as Christians and humans is "people" and not "issues" it'll keep wandering, lost.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Again, this is the conservative "issues" vs the liberal "people." I clearly fall on the liberal side, which says that it is all about people."

Ono, I find myself alternating between jealousy and sadness:
I'm *jealous* of your capacity to so neatly erase cognitive dissonance and see complex issues in such stark 'good guys vs. bad guys' terms. Life must certainly be easier that way.
I'm *sad* that prolifers so wounded you that you've abandoned any sense of perspective or nuance on matters relating to abortion.
Peace, Mike McG...

8:33 PM  
Blogger Ono said...

Nuance can be bear. It is liberating to break things down into good v evil.

But Mike, I keep telling you (have said it before and will say it again), the anger for me comes from how the Pro-life crowd treated John Kerry and not with Deal Hudson and his minions.

John Kerry is by all accounts a good man. Prior to the election, Republicans who spoke about him would preface their comments with "John Kerry is a good man . . .", we're talking Mitt Romney, Trent Lott, Robert Novak on CNN's Capital Gang, etc and then the Pro-lifers started and turned this guy into something that makes Satan look like child's play.

Here's a man who goes to Mass every week (unlike the President). This is a man who could be at anyone of our parishes. John Kerry could be on your parish council, or you can see him as a priest. My point is that this is a good and devout man who in Vietnam went through a faith crises and then reconciled with God and recommitted to his Catholic faith. This is a man who had considered the priesthood at one point. This is a man who visited the Mount Olives and was so moved that he read the sermon on the mount to all present. This is a man who was in Brazil for an environmental conference and went to Mass and it was there, while he was fumbling through the Portuguese missal, Theresa Heinz, also there for the conference, noticed him belting out the songs in bad Portuguese.

There are many anecdotal stories about Kerry and his faith out there that I haven't verified but they sound like him. For instance, I heard a story about how he talked to a young man who was wavering in his faith and convinced to go to confession and reconcile with the Church.

John Kerry is a good, devout man, who did not deserve to be demonized by the pro-life movement. But that's what they do, isn't it? They demonize and spew vitriol.

The John Kerry affair showed me the true colors of the pro-life movement. Republican, heartless, mean spirited, unburdened by truth or nobility, uncaring, unworthy of the name Christian.

But don't take my word for it, "by their fruits, ye shall know them . . ."

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