The problem with Pro-Choice v Pro-Life

A guest blog

Recent events, starting with the SCOTUS decision to overturn the “accepted law” of Roe v. Wade, have again brought to the fore not just access to abortion (mostly for lower income and BIPOC women), but also a debate on what life actually is and what life isn’t – and how that is determined.

From the Pro-Life side, the argument is that a soul is created at the moment of conception. The problem with that viewpoint is that it can only be attributed to a religious belief in, not only a soul, but when a soul is recognized as coming into being. For many Christians, as previously mentioned, this is the moment of conception, and that’s fine for them to believe, and for them to define the ways they live their lives based on that belief. That is their right under the Constitution of the United States, according to the First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law on establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”)

Many Jews, however, believe that a soul is recognized in a body only after the first breath, and there are numerous Jewish scriptures which specifically state the welfare of the mother (including mental wellbeing), in all cases, takes precedence over the welfare, and even the life, of the fetus inside her. That is fine for them to believe, and for them to define the ways they live their lives based on that belief. That belief, too, is protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Atheists and agnostics may believe that there is no soul granted, or that a soul is unproven. That non-belief is also protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The argument that an embryo — defined as the beginning stages of a fetus, which is where many Pro-Life supporters start protecting the “child” — is a fully fledged human being is difficult to rationalize scientifically. Take, for instance, the freezing of embryos, which can be done within five-six days of conception. The embryo would still be viable, potentially decades from now. An actual infant, by contrast — whether the child was actually delivered as a live birth, or at any stage after what medical science considers viability(approximately 24 weeks) — would die if frozen.

What it really comes down to, and what a Jewish congregation in Boynton Beach, Florida is currently suing the State over, is that there is no scientific basis for determining that the health, life or welfare of a fetus should take precedence over that of the mother caring it.

The ONLY basis for prioritizing the fetus over the mother — or prioritizing the mother over the fetus, I am not saying otherwise — is RELIGIOUS IN NATURE.

Therefore, any argument which prioritizes the fetus over the mother, if set into law, must therefore either create a de facto establishment of religion, or will prohibit the free exercise of a religion by another with different beliefs.

And, to be clear, the same is NOT true for the opposite argument, that the mother is prioritized over the fetus, because, if someone disagrees with that, and feels the fetus actually is more important, they have an easy, legal option: Don’t Have an Abortion. By contrast, saying that, because one religious group feels abortion is wrong, and it is therefore illegal to obtain an abortion, those with the opposite — and equally valid, in the eyes of the Constitution — view will have no legal recourse.

Roe v. Wade was originally decided as a Right to Privacy issue. But it was always — and still is, today more than ever — a Freedom of Religion issue, also.

The Possible Fate of Putin

Putin’s War has sparked speculation about his eventual demise. Theories abound concerning how the Big Shot in the Kremlin could be toppled from his throne. Since the Russians have invaded Ukraine in February, heavy Russian losses on the battlefield have made the war increasingly unpalatable for the Man in the Kremlin. His original plan for his War isn’t working out the way he intended — or expected. The Ukrainian people have proven to be tougher, stronger, braver than he ever gave them credit for being.

I am sure Putin assured his inner circle and the Russian people that this was going to be a quick and simple takeover of the Ukraine, easily toppling their government and being welcomed by their citizens.

What Putin is actually facing now is growing decent within his inner circle over his leadership. This has promoted claims that he could face a coup or even an assassination by those who are closest to him. Those in his government, his friends and possibly those in his family, are all contenders for said coup or assassination. One such attempt may, according to the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, be a plot to poison Putin and replace him with the FSB Director.

The CIA’s Moscow Station Chief has been quoted by the Daily Beast as saying the assassination may be a simple as a hammer to the head.

According to one expert, Putin could meet an even more gruesome end by “suffering the same fate” as his fellow dictators Colonel Gaddaffi and Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqi President Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging, and was taunted by his executioners as he was sent to the gallows. This came after he was convicted of crimes against humanity.

Gaddaffi was the de facto leader of Libya after a military coup. Rebels shot him dead and paraded his body through the streets.

Last year, the Russian who has invaded Ukraine signed off on legislation that would allow him to remain in power until 2036. This gives him two additional six-year terms of power; his current term is set to end in 2024.

We must get him out of power before he has more time to murder more Ukrainian men, women and children; before he has more time to destroy Ukraine.



Next in line: Putin warned could go Gaddafi's way

Next in line: Putin warned could go Gaddafi’s way (Image: GETTY)

Putin facing grisly end as 'could suffer same fate as Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein’

Putin facing grisly end as ‘could suffer same fate as Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein’ (Image: GETTY

Ukrainian Farmers Strike Back

(excerpted from Daily Beast article by Allison Quinn)

Russian authorities have gone all out to tighten their grip on cities taken over by Putin’s troops in east Ukraine.

Ordinary Ukranians are fighting back with arson attacks and poison fruit. That’s not a typo. Actual Poisoned Fruit. (No word on Snow White’s involvement at this time.)

The latest surprise for Russian troops came in Melitopol, where Mayor Ivan Fyodorov said local farmers had caused “mass illness” among Russians by poisoning cherries.

“Our farmers prepared another gift for the Russians: recently treated sweet cherries which caused mass illness among those who stole them from the farmer. It’s the latest kind of partisan resistance on the territory of Melitopol,” Fyodorov told reporters on Thursday.

He said pro-Ukrainian sentiment remains strong in the city, despite Russian authorities portraying themselves as saviors who “rescued” citizens from Ukraine. There is a very big difference between rescued and being forcibly torn away from your country and your lives. It’s like saying that the Jews in World War II concentration camps were “rescued” by the Nazis.

“Melitopol residence fully ignored the celebration of Russian Day. The whole country of Ukraine saw only 15 people of the 70,000 residents who stayed in the temporarily occupied city stood in line for Russian passports,” he said.

Even Russian troops in the Kherson region appeared to be keenly aware of the Ukrainian resistance, according to audio released Thursday by Ukraine’s Security Service. In a nearly two-minute recording as what Ukrainian Intelligence describes as an intercepted call between Putin’s troops, a man identified as a soldier, tells his friends “the guys on the front line there are going crazy. “

“Where they are located…no one is sure about the locals: who they are, what they are doing. Maybe they are f****** with us at night, while they are peaceful people in the day. No one can be trusted. An old woman walking around with pies, might be a f****** Colonel acting as an artillery spotter at night”

Russian authorities have begun opening up passport processing centers in the occupied territories, and in Kherson, residents were informed this week that any babies born after February 21, would be given Russian passports, Russia’s Ria-Novosti news agency reported.

But Ukrainian residents are not letting the Russians get off easy for the forced “Russification”. A new report by the Institute for the Study of War this week listed a series of recent guerilla style attacks by Ukrainian partisans in cities including Berdyansk and Mariupol.


“Russian authorities are continuing to face difficulties implementing their occupation agendas due to pro-Ukrainian pressure in occupied areas,” the report noted, describing teachers refusing to teach under Russian curricula in Berdyansk, and unidentified Ukrainian partisans targeting staffers of Russian’s emergency ministry in Mariupol.

Petro Andriushchenko, an aid to the Mariupol mayor described the latter incident in a post on Telegram on Wednesday. He said two tractors and three large truck trailers parked outside the Russian’s Emergency Ministry headquarters “suddenly” went up in flames on June 9, due to an arson attack. Two days later, he said, on the even of the city’s “Day of Russia” celebration, a staffer for the same ministry was stabbed in the back while standing in a crowd.

“The injury turned out to be fatal,” he said. “We’re talking to you, scum. Start looking behind you. Retribution is already near.”



Aging in 21st Century America

What people are looking for in aging is different than what it has traditionally been. American society needs to change several areas to make life more inclusive of older Americans. Many traditional beliefs about aging are no longer true. Many seniors don’t see aging in a negative manner; they are actually optimistic about aging. People in their 70s and 80s consider a longer life to be a positive thing. They enjoy having more time with friends and family, and many report being happy about the changes they see in life.

The medical establishment needs to evolve its definition of “good health”. It isn’t just that your kidneys and your liver and your heart are working well. To older Americans being in good health means being independent, mobile and of strong mind. You can have heart disease, cancer, diabetes and still consider yourself healthy, by these norms. The more the doctors acknowledge and support these goals, the better they can support their patients.

One of the hardest choices we ever face for ourselves or our ailing parents or other loved ones is whether or not they should undergo the next medical procedure or surgery. This is very important, and can impact their future quality of life. Quality of Life is more important to most older people than the length of their life.

The housing section should embrace people aging at home. Posh retirement communities in sunny areas of the country provide very elite homes. Studies shown that most Americans do not want to live in those locations, but would rather stay in their own homes as they age. (I, personally, want to live in a sunny climate — but then, that’s why I moved to North Carolina years ago.)

Unfortunately, few homes in the past were designed with older Americans in mind. They did not build multi-generational homes; homes that were equally accessible for the older and younger members of the family.

We need to be building what they are now calling “forever homes”. We can serve each generation in the family from the first nail.

In today’s economy and the future economy, we need to do a better job educating young adults about retirement finances. The typical life pattern has us working for some 40 years, then living for another 20 years — or more. It’s clear that we each need ample savings, yet too many young people are not saving enough for their retirement years.

We all want our retirements to be comfortable, but increasingly the younger generations – Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z alike – are unable to plan for any of the milestones that the Baby Boomers took for granted — college, buying a home, and finally, a pleasant retirement. As the economy worsens, and college and home costs continue to rise, it becomes more difficult for the next generations to see or plan beyond today. One medical emergency would be devastating for many people, wiping out what little savings they have.

Americans must help the next generations do better, while at the same time helping our aging population to thrive.

Banned Books in America

Last year in 2021, the number of attempts in the U.S. to ban books in schools and libraries surged.

The recent report Banned in the U.S.A. by PEN America tracked more than 1586 instances of individual books being banned in 2021, and that book bans have occurred in 86 school districts in 26 states.

A fire-proof copy of The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, was auctioned by Sotheby’s to help fight book bans. Proceeds will go to support PEN America’s work to oppose book bans.

In a promotional video for the auction, the 82-year-old Atwood tries, unsuccessfully, to burn The Handmaid’s Tale with a flamethrower.

Sotheby’s is auctioning a special, fireproof copy of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale. Proceeds will go to support PEN America’s work opposing book bans.

The Handmaid’s Tale seems to be a favorite target among those who are afraid of the written word. The dystopian novel about misogyny and other dangers of oppression became a best-selling novel, and Emmy-winning TV show, and a regular on banned books lists.

“I never thought I’d be trying to burn one of my own books, and failing,” said Margaret Atwood in a statement.

The Handmaid’s Tale, originally published in 1985, has been banned many times, sometimes by whole countries, such as Portugal and Spain; sometimes by school boards; sometimes by libraries.

Sotheby’s estimated the unburnable book would fetch $100,000 at auction. A spokesperson said “it feels like a regular book even though it’s made of fire-proof material.” According to the book’s designers the special edition is printed on heat resistant aluminum material, bound with nickel wire and stainless steel used in aerospace manufacturing, and printed with ink that won’t be destroyed or degraded even when exposed to temperatures of 2200 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Let’s hope we don’t reach the stage of wholesale book burnings as in Fahrenheit 451″, says Atwood. “But if we do, let’s hope some books will prove unburnable; that they will travel underground as prohibited books did in the Soviet Union.”

Meanwhile, the American Library Association has released their list of 100 most challenged books of the past decade.

#1. The Absolutely True Diary of Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexi

#2. Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey

#3. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

#4. Looking for Alaska by John Green

#5. George by Alex Gino

#6. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell

#7. Drama by Raina Telgemeier

#8. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

#9. Internet Girls series by Lauren Myracle

#10. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The list, overall, is a mixture of old standards such as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and more recent works such as Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Suzanne Collins’ multi-million selling The Hunger Games.

As the number of banned books continue to rise, Atwood’s fears of actual book burnings may or may not come to pass, but it seems her hope for underground access has already been exceeded, as libraries around the country are stocking extra copies of books banned by local school boards and prominently displaying them for all to read, sometimes even including them on Summer Reading Lists. Many librarians, at least, still hold the written word, it’s unpopular opinions and it’s uncomfortable historical truths in high regard.