Archive for January, 2009

It’s Friday after all…Here is the first one that came up. I like it!

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Abortion on TV: Law & Order

A homophobic doctor/researcher is looking for gay gene so parents can terminate pregnancies if gene is detected in fetus. Pregnant woman undergoes research, not knowing the intent, her gay brother-in-law finds out about the study and plants bomb, killing doctor and injuring sister in law who ends up in a coma. Husband of pregnant women in coma decides to abort his baby because it has gay gene. Gay brother in law confesses to bomb, to prevent his gay nelaw-and-orderphew from being aborted. Wow.

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Tuesday Night Dinner

After weeks of soup (don’t ask), was ready for something cheesy and crispy…boboli pizza with bacon (yes, bacon again!), blue cheese (yes, blue cheese again!), and sauteed onions (yes, again…are we seeing a pattern when it comes to ingredients?). pizza

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A Pro-Voice Solution

I re-wrote the January 21st New York Times Editorial, “The One-State Solution” by Muammar Qaddafi on the Israel/Palestine conflict to address the Abortion War. To read Qaddafi’s and compare: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/22/opinion/22qaddafi.html

Here’s my re-write:

In one day and with only a web page, President Obama reversed eights years of the White House’s pro-life agenda and replaced it with a new pro-choice one. The cycle of war – victory and retribution, triumph and payback – continues, reminding us why a final resolution to the so-called abortion war is so important. It is vital not just to break this cycle, but also to deny the leaders who feed on the conflict an excuse to grow their fight and further the divisions.

But everywhere one looks, among the speeches and the advocacy there is no real way forward. A just and lasting peace between pro-choice and pro-life people is possible, but it lies in the history of those who have fought over this conflicted issue, and not in the tired rhetoric of “common ground.”

Although it’s hard to realize, the cycle of war between the pro-life and pro-choice people has not always existed. In fact, many of the divisions between pro-life and pro-choice are recent ones. People on both sides of the abortion issue worked alongside each other for years delivering babies, helping families in need and opening up the adoption process to make it more supportive and respectful of women, adopted children and their families.

Pro-choice and pro-life people can be members in the same family. Throughout the decades both faced hostility and judgment from others for their views and they often found solace in each other when they talked, and learned about their different perspectives. Pro-life people can support the legal right to have an abortion and pro-choice people can hope for a world free of the need for abortion.

The history of abortion is not remarkable by human standards — over the course of history, people have found – and continue to find – ways to manipulate and control nature to make our lives easier, healthier, and longer. But it is our cultures – our values, beliefs, morals and norms – that help us make sense of our power and give us codes and direction for how to relate with nature. Yet, across the world and throughout history, there is great diversity in how cultures value women, the unborn, children and abortion. That is why it gets complicated when members of either side proclaim the moral high ground.

The basis for the legal right to abortion is the historic inequality of women, which is undeniable. Women used to be the property of their husbands, unable to own their own land, not to mention left legally unprotected when raped or abused. Women want and deserve their equal rights, especially to their own body.

But the value and treatment of human life is of great importance to cultures throughout the human race and the growing life inside a woman is viewed by many as sacred, including by the woman herself.

Thus pro-life people believe that protecting the growing life within a woman is paramount, even if the woman herself does not want to carry the child. And pro-choice people believe that her right to do as she chooses with her own body is more important than the value of what’s growing inside of her. Now, as a pro-choice agenda has been re-established in the White House, calls for “common ground” persist. But neither will work.

A “common ground” solution will create unacceptable conditions for pro-life and pro-choice people. A country where abortion is legal, but abused teens have to get permission from their violent parents and dying women late in pregnancy are refused abortions no matter their circumstance, is a country that has written off entire segments of women as undeserving of equal rights and protection, an unacceptable concession for pro-choice people.

For the same reasons, a country that only seeks to reduce abortions, rather than eliminate them, with free contraception and comprehensive sex education does not take the strong, moral stand against the practice of abortion and only slows the loss of life, a weak-kneed attempt at appeasement that pro-life people will reject in the face of their higher calling.

In absolute terms, the two movements must remain in perpetual conflict or a compromise must be reached. The compromise is “a life choice” for all, a pro-voice agenda that would allow the people on each side to feel that their values are respected throughout the country and they are not deprived of practicing any part of their beliefs.

A key prerequisite for peace is safety for every woman who has had an abortion and the right to speak the full truth of her experience – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and be heard from all sides. It is an injustice that these women who have not done anything illegal have been marginalized, stigmatized and silenced from all sides despite their experiences being at the center of this conflict.

It is a fact that when abortion is made illegal, abortions don’t end, instead numbers of abortions go up as do deaths of women. It is important to note that pro-life people do not hate women, nor are they advocating for women to die. Yet, they must understand that this is a consequence of their political actions and the onus is on them to figure out how to uphold and promote their value of life for both women and unborn children. Only a pro-voice solution can accommodate all the voices on this issue and bring about the justice that is key to peace.

Integration of pro-choice and pro-life values is already a fact of life in the United States. Most Americans want fewer abortions, are against making it always illegal, and value the human life that grows within a pregnant women. This successful integration can be a model for “a life choice.”

If the present interdependence and the historical fact of Pro-choice/Pro-life coexistence guide their leaders, and if they can see beyond the horizon of their own recent wins or losses and thirst for revenge toward a long-term solution, then these two peoples will come to realize, I hope sooner rather than later, that living under pro-voice is the only option for a lasting peace.

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Inspiring Sites in DC


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Fave Pasta Dishes I Make at Home

lemonLemon Spaghetti, recipe courtesy Giada Le Laurentis, Food Network. Lemon juice, olive oil, parmesean, mixed with pasta, some pasta water and tossed with fresh basil. I can eat this every day!

carbonaraCarbonara, recipe courtesy Tyler Florenence, Food Network. I like it with real American bacon, not that pancetta stuff. Fry up the bacon in olive oil, add some garlic, add cooked pasta. Remove from heat and add in a mixture of raw eggs and parmesean. Coat the pasta with the concoction. Don’t scramble the eggs!

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Peace for the Abortion War

This piece was submitted to the transition team of President-Elect Obama at change.gov and is cross-posted on rhrealitycheck.org.

The mixture of excitement, nerves and anticipation will be felt by every woman gathered in the Roosevelt Room. Big, goofy grins, solemn, serious faces, nervous chatter, a hand held or two. We will be in our best clothes or the ones that make us feel the most comfortable, feel the most ourselves. Some of us will avoid each other’s gaze. I like to imagine that I will sit calmly, holding eye contact with the person across the room from me, and nod to her in recognition of this historic moment. Together, we will wait for him to arrive.

We are a room full of women who have had abortions and we are the first to ever be invited by a President of the United States to a White House meeting to tell our personal stories. This meeting is a public acknowledgment of our shared experiences and a statement of Presidential support and respect for every woman who has had an abortion. This is the first political step of a peaceful approach for resolving the abortion war.

For more than 35 years our country’s conversation about abortion has been stoked into a divisive war. It is time to begin the healing process and chart a new path for resolution. I believe abortion peace will exist when each woman who has lived this experience can tell her story and be supported, not shamed. A White House meeting focused on personal story-telling is a concrete and symbolic action that the President can take to demonstrate his intent to forge a new path for addressing abortion in the United States.

One in three women who will have an abortion in her lifetime, but our voices are seldom part of the public debate and there is little social understanding or acceptance for what we experienced. People go to war over our experiences, as we’ve become caricatures, myths, people to be mocked, feel sorry for, hide, shame, protect, or put on a pedestal. When we are acknowledged, it is often as pawns, prepped to tell prescribed version of events: “Abortion made me hate myself” or “Abortion brought me to life.” Our deeply personal stories are never accepted without concern for their political implications and portrayals of our stories in media and culture are far too often based in stereotypes and myth. We often do not even see ourselves in each other. This war has divided us too.

The truth is our stories and personal experiences with abortion are far more nuanced than the simplistic – and antagonistic – debate that rages around us. After my own abortion, I remember thinking that the public debate had virtually nothing to do with how I felt and what I needed. I remember feeling in awe of the fact that I could safely and medically end a pregnancy and realizing that my whole life wasn’t at the mercy of nature or circumstance. My decision to have an abortion felt like a decision to play God and that was powerful and scary beyond words. Choosing to not change my life was a life-changing experience for me. Afterward, I needed space and time and understanding to process all of this and reflect on my own values and beliefs about the meaning of life, including my own. But, when I tried to engage with the broader political debate over legal abortion, I was asked to simplify my decision and silence the emotional impact of my abortion in favor of defending my right to have had one in the first place, or to become a victim of abortion rights and deny my ability to cope and grow and be whole after such a life-changing experience.

I couldn’t believe the debate had sounded the same for so long, despite how much the world had changed and how many of us women, and our loved ones, have had their own experiences with abortion. Our rights, values, lives and needs are really what this debate is all about. How could the debate not respond to us and better reflect our experiences?

It must. Not only to be more supportive of women who have had abortions but because a more honest, reflective, responsive dialogue has the potential to overcome the years of damage the divisive debate has had on the health and well-being of our nation.

Roe v. Wade celebrated its 35th anniversary last year. In the next 35 years, the United States has the opportunity to have a very different conversation about abortion than it has for the past three decades. We can extend a baseline of universal respect for the beliefs others in our nation hold about abortion. Dialogue can replace war. Reproductive health policy can grow from our loved ones’ lives and needs and our media – books, TV, and films – can represent women who have had abortions as we truly are. How would our world change? Consider the debate over informed consent laws – laws that require doctors to tell women seeking abortion that they are terminating the life of a unique human bring. It is obvious that informed consent laws impinge on women’s right to access medical care free of state interference – and we can respond to informed consent laws by referencing women’s constitutional rights. But we can also respond by asking women who have had abortions what kind of relationship with a provider would have been most helpful to them in considering and seeking out abortion. If our response to informed consent laws were informed by research on what type of information and counseling would have helped women seeking abortions feel best supported and informed, we could learn about significant gaps in services that must be remedied, unnecessary hoops that could be eliminated, and best practices to be promoted. Most importantly, this approach focuses the debate back on women’s own, personal, specific and real needs for information and counseling.

What if the voices and experiences of women who have had abortions were featured in major women’s publications, and treated with the same level of respect and significance as given advice about how to best cope with divorce or find the right gynecologist? What if there were online support groups in which women who have had abortions could come together and connect with each other without fear of targeting or attack? If we review and assess potential policy through the lens of women’s real, lived experiences with abortion, and we create public forums for women to speak for themselves, we can build a more open, more respectful, process for making these important decisions, one that invites new voices and opens up new ways to understand abortion and its role in our society.

This approach will ensure the debate is about real people with real problems and real needs. And women’s responses will point the way towards peace by revealing new opportunities for engagement, connection and actual dialogue. I don’t know where this path will lead, but I do know that if we let ourselves listen to women’s lived experiences, our individual opinions about abortion will be anchored by and respectful of the reality of women’s lives.

It is exactly the right time to take up the cause of abortion peace and President Obama is just the man for the job. He can begin by taking yet another unprecedented, historical step to build unity in place of partisanship. A White House meeting to publicly acknowledge the experiences of women who have had abortions is a peaceful approach to transforming the abortion war and sets a tone for new possibilities for the next 35 years of abortion in the United States.

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frpicEllen Papazian interviews Jennifer Baumgardner, author of Abortion & Life, at Feminist Review.


“My irritation with the yelling and the lack of personal stakes in reporting on this issue led me to want to approach it only personally—get right to the women and their stories, their faces and their lives, and get away from their political opinions.”

“I learned that every woman (and man) experiences abortion differently and that they revise their feelings over the course of their lives as new things happen to them. At the moment of having an abortion, women often feel relief for having made a decision. There is often some sense of sadness around the fact that the relationship they are in that caused the pregnancy isn’t strong enough to bring a baby into it, the fact that they never thought they’d be in this position. (many people who get abortions nonetheless do not see themselves as someone who would get an abortion.) There’s a fear that they have “sinned” if they are religious. I have met women who feel some sadness or nostalgia at forty for their abortion at sixteen, when they realize that it was their one pregnancy. I have met women who suffered with self-hatred when they got the abortion and found a way not just to make peace with themselves, but to help other women with their abortion feelings.”

“As a woman who has had two unplanned pregnancies, but no abortions, I have a lot to learn from women who have had abortions that laws and political treatises can’t teach me.”

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