Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another perspective on Roe v Wade

Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton has another reflection on the anniversary of Roe v Wade, as a then-Roman Catholic.

Later that evening, I came back to see her for our nightly drink. For as long as I could remember, she and my grandfather had a glass of brandy or schnapps (apricot was her favorite) before they went to bed. These days, she warmed it and put it in her evening latte - her own "dessert coffee".

She poured me a glass of wine. Red. "Good for the baby's blood. Good to build up your milk for the baby." Bad for fetal alcohol syndrome, but we didn't know about that then, so we had no worries.

I asked her about abortion. What she thought about the decision of the Supreme Court. What that meant to her.

It was then she told me about a friend of her's with whom she shared a room when she worked as a domestic in Boston in the early days of her immigration to this country.

The girl had been flattered into having an affair with one of the sons in the house - one she thought loved her and would marry her. Until, of course, she got pregnant. Then, he gave her some money and took her to a man near Chinatown who would, he said, "take care of everything."

She died three days later of an infection and bleeding that could not be stopped.

My grandmother looked around to be certain that no one was around and then she whispered to me, "The Supreme Court did a very good thing for women today," she said. "It is not something that should be used carelessly, but only when necessary."

"But," I said, "what about the Church? They say it's murder and its a sin and you will burn in hell for eternity."

A look of revulsion came over her face, "Yes, yes, that's what they want us to believe. But then, every year on the fourth of July, they dress men up in uniforms and parade them down the street and everyone cheers because they have killed - they have killed many men and women - some of whom are pregnant - as well as their living children. And everybody cheers and Father blesses them with Holy Water when they march by because they have done these things in the 'name of God'."

"When it is convenient for them, it is okay," she hissed, "but they would rather protect and defend the lies men tell than to allow her to make a decision about her own body, her own life, her own future, in the name of God."

It was then that I heard for the first time what I would later see in posters supporting the decision of Roe v. Wade. The logic is so simple as to be considered simplistic, but there is also great wisdom inherent it the logic.

My grandmother said, "If you don't want to have an abortion, don't have one." Then, she added, "But, if a woman needs to have an abortion, that is between her heart and God, and no one - NO ONE - should make that decision for her or have the right to take away her right to make that decision for herself."

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