The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘abortion’ Category

SLAUGHTERHOUSES AND PLANNED PARENTHOOD

It was late summer in 1964 when I arrived on campus at the University of Chicago to begin my freshman year.  I met my roommate and started to settle into college life.  But the second day as I returned to my dorm from one of the orientation sessions, I noticed an appalling smell filling the air.  I assumed that somewhere there had been a break in the sewage system and that was the cause of the foul odor.

That night at our evening meal in my dorm’s cafeteria I happened to mention this to the new classmates I had just met.  I asked if anyone else had smelled the same thing I had and if they knew the source.  One of my classmates who had been raised in Chicago rather matter-of-factly said, “Oh, that’s the smell of blood coming from the animals being slaughtered at the Chicago Stockyards.”  I remember looking at the piece of beef on my plate and decided that I was through with dinner.

The good news about the Stockyards, which were about five miles from my dorm, was that smell which was recurrent, only wafted my way when the wind blew from the west.  The bad news was that the wind almost always blew from the west.  I couldn’t even imagine how intense that smell must have been to those Chicago residents who lived in closer proximity to the Yards.

Well, the Yards finally closed.  Perhaps that was because Chicago had finally relinquished and grown beyond its position as a major animal processing center.  Or perhaps, like the clever plan that Hitler devised for the placement of his death camps, it was determined that putting these buildings devoted to killing in relatively remote places, shielded the activities that went on from the broader public view and thus allowed the butchers of humans and animals to continue with less scrutiny.

If we had our present technological capabilities in the 1940’s and an undercover group had secretly filmed the goings on at Auschwitz and Dachau and released that film footage for the world to see, I wonder if that might not have greatly shortened WWII as people worldwide and within Germany itself might have been so aroused to action that the Hitler regime might have been defeated far sooner by conscientious people who said, “This is unacceptable.  This is inhuman.”

If we had our present technological capabilities in 1964 and an undercover group had secretly filmed the “processing” of animals at the Chicago Stockyards and released that footage for the world to see, I wonder how many of us would set aside that T-bone or pork roast and adopt a vegetarian lifestyle.

Most of us would prefer to live in a world where horror and atrocity in its many variant forms was not something to which we were exposed.  That is becoming increasingly difficult as virtually all of us now have the ability to get the news and see what is happening nearly as quickly as the events themselves transpire.  That is both the good and bad news of living in a technological information age.  And as much as we might choose to ignore the disgusting and prurient, there are enough of us who actually enjoy that sort of thing and are only too pleased to bring the most appalling stories to the attention of those who might have tried to shield themselves from them.

Perhaps the reason that there has been so much outrage and disgust about the  video taped interviews with three different Planned Parenthood doctors, routinely discussing the “transacting” of human fetal body parts, is that we have removed the abortion “process” from behind the walls of one of those nice, innocent looking buildings, and seen examples of what that “process” actually looks like, particularly in the third of these films.  And for all but the most clinical of us, that picture is disturbing at the least.

Some of that anger centers correctly about the abortion process itself.  Others are focusing on a corollary issue – which is whether people who are adamantly opposed to abortion should be forced to pay for subsidies to Planned Parenthood – although that organization adamantly denies that any public funds are used for abortive procedures.  But this defense, of course, begs a larger and more fundamental question.

Why should the public subsidize Planned Parenthood at all since we now have Obamacare which was supposed to have cured all our insurance and medical ills and deficiencies?  Cecile Richards, CEO of Planned Parenthood is an ardent Obama supporter and activist and surely must be at least as well informed on the law as any of the robotic members of Congress who voted to pass this law without bothering to read it.  So if Obamacare is as efficient as the president claims, why is there a need for additional subsidies to groups like Planned Parenthood or any similar organization?

Perhaps Obama can address this issue when he returns from his trip to Africa having lectured the leaders of several countries on how they need to work on improving their record on human rights.

BUNNIES, BUSINESS AND BABIES

My first experience as an “animal rights activist,” although there was no such term at the time, came several weeks into my sophomore year in high school.  It was biology class and Mr. Donovan told us that the following week we were going to do a frog dissection.  I remember hearing that announcement and feeling that I was going to vomit.  The thought of dissecting a frog or anything else did not sit well with me.

I had spent many summers in Shandaken, NY with my grandmother.  Most of that time was consumed by playing in the Esopus River.  And a fair amount of that time was trying to catch bull frogs who were more elusive than I would have thought and watching their tadpole offspring swim near the shore.  Although I caught any number of frogs I never brought them back to our cabin.  After all, to my way of thinking, they had their tadpole kids to take care of.

After Mr. Donovan dropped this bomb in class, I debated what to do.  I knew that what I was not going to do was the dissection.  But before I did anything, I wanted to discuss this matter with my folks.  That was the subject of that evening’s dinner.  My parents advised me to speak with Mr. Donovan and explain my feelings, which I did.

Mr. Donovan was an MIT grad and a wonderful teacher.  He was an extremely heavyset man who was able to perspire on the coldest winter day but that never impeded his sense of humor or his attitude that making his subject “fun” would enable his students to become more interested in it.  And he was kind enough to listen to me and to excuse me from this exercise with the proviso that he would assign me as a “lab partner” to one of the other students and I would have to observe their dissection.  That seemed a reasonable compromise and I accepted his offer with gratitude.

When I finished college, one day an envelope was in my mailbox from an organization called, NAVS – the National Anti-Vivisection Society.  I read with a mixture of interest and horror about the experiments that were routinely conducted on laboratory animals.  Typically mice, rats and rabbits were the subjects of a variety of experiments, all of which were justified in the name of science and improving the lives of humans by developing new drugs which could combat human disease.  After reading the NAVS letter, I decided to become a Life Member but had to set the letter aside long enough for me to save up the hundred dollars to join at that level.

One of the tests which was routinely used was known as the LD-50.  “LD” stood for Lethal Dose – and the 50 referred to the concentration of a specific drug which, when administered to the animal subjects, resulted in only fifty percent of the subjects dying from the dosage.  That impressed me as barbarism at its fundamental level – irrespective of the purported good which these experiments were supposedly going to bring to humanity.

Other tests, primarily conducted on rabbits, involved putting drops in their eyes which typically would cause blindness.  There was no greater reason for the administration of these drugs than the development of cosmetics.  Somehow, blinding hundreds of thousands of bunnies so that we could develop new eye liners or blush was construed by those in the vanity business of cosmetics as sufficient justification for these acts of torture.  Thinking about this made me nauseous.

One of the basic premises of animal experimentation by researchers is that there is a trans-special relevance to the results that are obtained.  In other words, if there is “X” effect in rabbits there will be “X” effect in humans.  One of the drugs that was deemed safe was Thalidomide – manufactured by a West German pharmaceutical company.  It was extensively tested on rabbits and since it was virtually impossible to obtain the LD-50 level, it was deemed safe for humans.  Typically, it was prescribed for pregnant women to reduce the effects of morning sickness and as a mild sedative.

Thalidomide has since been described as “the worst disaster in pharmaceutical research.”  More than 10,000 children worldwide were born with serious birth defects including missing limbs as a result of their mothers’ taking this “safe” drug.  That was back in the late ‘50’s and early 60’s.  Subsequently, the FDA pulled its approval of the drug for use by pregnant women.

Thanks to high schools and medical schools there is a market for animal specimens.  For a mere $140 you can buy a preserved dog from Carolina Biological Supply Company (shipping included).  Presumably this will benefit those who go into veterinary medicine.  Notwithstanding, the photo below from the company’s list of products is disturbing to me.  In fact it makes my high school experience with frog dissection pale in comparison.

 

That there is a huge market for animal subjects for research is an undeniable fact.  And with the recent exposure of two separate Planned Parenthood’s doctors discussing how much it would cost for human fetal organs – well, should we be surprised?  But what should amaze is that when Hollywooders like Brad Pitt come out opposing the horrible conditions under which factory farm laying hens are kept they haven’t said a peep about PPF’s sale of human tissue.  And the silence is similarly deafening by those on the left who have no use whatever for business executives who make beaucoup bucks, hundreds or thousands of times the amount that the average Jane makes working for the same operation.

Enter Cecile Richards, the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood.  Up until a few days ago you might not have heard of her.  But she has made the news by responding to the two videos of the undercover interviews with two of her staff doctors.  In essence, Ms. Richards claimed in response to the first video, that the fees for human body parts which Dr. Deborah Nucatola was discussing were merely “reimbursements” for the cost of shipping those specimens.  The second video suggests that narrative may lack some credibility.

What has yet to be brought up is that Ms. Richards received compensation for Planned Parenthood’s fiscal year ending June, 2013 in the amount of $523,616 according to IRS Form 990 which this “Not For Profit” organization filed.  So much for the glass ceiling to which American women are subjected.  And the year before, Ms. Richards earned $583,323.  Why the pay reduction?  That’s because Ms. Richards took time off from her duties at PP to campaign for President Obama’s re-election.

During the latter fiscal year, Planned Parenthood performed 333,369 reported abortions as part of their service to their female clients.  That represents nearly thirty percent  of all abortions performed in the United States.  Or to put it another way, each abortion performed by Planned Parenthood resulted in $1.57 per head (yes, I used that term purposely) in the way of compensation to Ms. Richards.

When I was a kid I often heard that if you were to take a fully grown human and reduce that person’s body to the base elements and chemicals of which it was composed, the value of those would amount to $.98.  So I guess that if you take an unborn 18 or 20 week old baby and slice and dice it up for a couple of hundred dollars – well I guess we’ll just attribute that to inflation – and lack of conscience.

HYPOCRITICAL HIPPOCRATS

“With regard to healing the sick, I will devise and order for them the best diet, according to my judgment and means; and I will take care that they suffer no hurt or damage.”

– The original Hippocratic Oath – third paragraph.

Teddy Papadopoulos and I met during Orientation Week at the University of Chicago.  He was one of the few students among us who was a native Chicagoan.  A lifelong resident of the university’s Hyde Park community, he was brilliant and was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in physics.  In any event, we met over what passed for a typical dormitory dinner and both of us had equally unkind comments about the cafeteria’s culinary output.  Naturally, we hit it off and became very good friends – a relationship that exists still today.

Nikos Papadopoulos, Teddy’s father, was an extremely congenial man who was one of the partners in Café Hellas, one of the many restaurants on Halsted Street that comprised Chicago’s Greek Town neighborhood.  He could be seen there six days and nights a week greeting and seating the busy restaurant’s customers, treating regulars and newcomers with the same obvious joy that they had decided to patronize his establishment.

Nikos was an immigrant from Thessalonika who came to the United States when he was eight years old.  He met his wife Diana here.  She was the daughter of a green grocer, one of seven children, six girls and one boy.  They married when he was thirty and she was twenty-six.  Besides Teddy, they had two other boys.  Teddy, by the way, was named for Theodore Roosevelt.  Nikos admired the former president as a person who said what he meant and meant what he said..

Diana was typical of many women in Chicago’s Greek community.  She was, to use an out of date phrase, a homemaker whose enjoyment came from keeping the house neat as a pin and making dinner for her children and on Sunday for her husband when he wasn’t at the restaurant.  She made sure that the kids all looked their best for the lengthy Sunday services at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral which they attended.  She was a warm and very loving person who enjoyed nothing more than giving everyone a hug and if they were short enough like her, a kiss on the cheek.  Although it was never official, I thought of her as a foster mother.

During my third year in school, Diana was hospitalized.  She was in her late forties.  She was, I think more concerned about being away from her family than she was for her own condition.  But she tried to wear a happy face and joked about getting out of the hospital so that she could cook her family dinner.  “By now I’m sure the house is not fit for pigs to live in,” she said on one of my visits.  That was the visit when she got the news.

Teddy and I were in her room when a specialist whom she had not seen before came in.  He had the results of the tests and the lab work that had been conducted over the previous ten days – and had an analysis.  His name was Dr. M., an oncologist.

Without so much as a, “Hi, how are you,” he introduced himself.  Perhaps you’ve heard of bedside manner.  Well, Dr. M. had obviously cut that class.

“I have reviewed your tests and your lab work and I need to tell you that you have cancer of the pancreas.  It’s inoperable and there’s no treatment.  Based on the progression of the cancer I estimate that you have at most four to five months to live.  I’m sorry.”

And he turned on his heel and left the room.

Diana burst into tears and Teddy rushed to his mother’s bed, sat down and put his arms around her.  I was so shocked, my mouth wide open at the ruthless way in which this physician had delivered his news that I didn’t know what to do.  But in a few second my shock turned into serious anger.  I have only been really angry three times in my life – and this was one of them.  I rushed from the room to find the doctor, half intent on slugging him.

When I caught up with him I grabbed his arm and said, “Excuse me.”   By now my blood pressure was returning to only twice its normal range.  “I can’t believe that you as a trained medical practitioner who is supposed to try to help people could have told that poor woman her prognosis in such a cold and uncaring manner.  You should be ashamed of yourself.”

He replied, “Why?  She’s a dead woman.  If I waste my time on her I might be putting someone at risk whom I could actually help.”  And he walked off.

I remember standing there for a few minutes, totally numb, completely shocked and feeling the tears run down both my cheeks.  And then I returned to Diana’s room.

Well, Dr. M. was fairly correct.  But Diana lived seven months from that date and the outpouring of love and grief from her friends and members of the closely knit Greek community was amazing.  There were well over four hundred people who attended her funeral that September.

“Moreover, I will give no sort of medicine to any pregnant woman, with a view to destroy the child.”

– The original Hippocratic Oath – fourth paragraph.

The original Oath has been changed many times.  Obviously, were the above portion of it still in effect there would be no abortions performed by any physicians who swore to it nor would we have things such as the “morning after” pill.

This week a pro life group released an undercover video in which Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Deborah Nucatolo discusses in a very off handed, dismissive and clinical manner the method of performing abortions so as to “extract the most tissue which can then be furnished for research.”  The link to the video and a CNN piece on what has become a very controversial issue can be found below.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/15/health/planned-parenthood-undercover-video/

One of the counter attacks by those who are Pro Abortion is that the video was edited.  So is every movie that is released by Hollywood and every news story that appears in print.  Many years ago I had two separate three hour conversations with a Wall Street Journal staff writer and when the piece on which she was working, appeared in the paper she had reduced our conversation to two lines.  Editing is not the issue.  Nor is the motivation of the group that produced it – so long as the facts presented are actually the facts.

What really is the issue, something about which people who are both Pro Abortion and Pro Life should be concerned, is the level of ethics – both in our society generally and by extension among our medical practitioners.  In a self-centered, self-absorbed society that is a serious question.

Presumably, most of us would have no question about returning a guilty verdict in the case of a mother who suffocated her three  year old Downs Syndrome child because she couldn’t handle the stress of dealing with a youngster with this disability.  So why then would we applaud the woman for aborting that child as a fetus if it were clear the child would be born with this genetic defect?  Or for that matter, a child who would be born with Cystic Fibrosis?  Or for that matter, a child who was a female when the parents wanted a boy?  Or a child whose hair color would be red when they wanted a blond?

Today, whatever your philosophy, this is a choice that is purportedly left to the parent.  But those who press most strongly for further government entrenchment in our lives may not fully perceive where their efforts, if successful, may lead.

Because the truth is that government might one day decide that the right to reproduce is not a right but a privilege and it is they, (in the interest of the greater good) who should determine to whom that privilege should be granted and to whom it should be denied.

After all, the right to have children is not specifically enumerated in the Constitution, that venerable document that receives as little attention from those on the left as some members of the medical community pay to the original Hippocratic Oath.

SUPERFLUOUS

(more…)

WHEN IS A FETUS ACTUALLY A PERSON? IT DEPENDS.

If you are concerned that the object of this post is to revisit the question of abortion you will be disappointed.  I’ve expressed myself on that issue quite clearly and those who have read this blog for some period understand that I argue against this “procedure” on Constitutional, rather than moral grounds.  Nevertheless, with the advent of Roe v. Wade, abortion procedures are the law of the land.  So is Obamacare and so was slavery.  That something is the law of the land does not mean that it is necessarily a good thing.

Clearly, whether your position, is Pro Life or Pro Abortion, if we knew with certainty that a fetus, at some given moment in time, was a person, we would feel compelled to offer it all the protections to which any person who was born was afforded by our Constitution.  But we can’t.  Frankly, looking at the number of mass murders both in this country and elsewhere throughout the world, describing the perpetrators of these atrocities as human seems a stretch.

Those who are Pro Abortion justify their position variously.  One such justification is that performing an abortion to save a mother’s life seems reasonable to me.  I have more difficulty with the case of rape or incest – but I suppose a person could make an argument in those cases as well.  As we all know, these represent a very small percentage of the millions of abortions which have been performed since Roe v. Wade became the “law of the land.”

Returning to my original thesis, by defining a fetus as a “non-person”, we can justify performing abortions.  Were it otherwise, I think even those who are morally moribund might find it difficult to justify their views.  That a fetus is nothing more than an “appendage,” to be dispensed with as desired, is the official position of this administration.  Or is it?

In the previous post, I wrote about Obamacare’s first day as the “law of the land.”  As part of that post I published the regulation which deals with the question of whether a person, seeking insurance on the health exchanges, would be entitled to receive a “subsidy,” based on that person’s income and family size.  I suspect that this regulation, which was approximately four times the length of the post in which it was included, might not have been as diligently read as the language in which it is written is confusing and about as interesting as reading the list of preservatives contained in a box of Rice-A-Roni.

So for purposes of extracting something that is germane to this post, the following is a quote from the regulation which enables a person to determine how many people are in a household so that their insurance “subsidy” can be calculated accurately:

“Family size means the number of persons counted as members of an individual’s household. In the case of determining the family size of a pregnant woman, the pregnant woman is counted as herself plus the number of children she is expected to deliver.” – 42 CFR–PART 435

There is little in the regulation which is easily understandable to the average person.  But this particular paragraph seems crystal clear to me.  At the same time that Obamacare mandates that all insurance contracts pay for abortion procedures, presumably because the fetus is a non-human appendage, it then goes on, in this regulation, to define the unborn fetus as a person or, in the case of multiple births, persons – calling them children.

With this administration in charge, it’s got to be a confusing and dangerous time for kids – especially ones who have yet to be born.

REFLECTIONS ON INDEPENDENCE DAY

As usual, last week on the 4th of July around 5:00 a.m. I arose and Gracie and our houseguest Zeus headed over to the dog park.  Apparently, for dogs as well as humans, bodily functions do not recognize the significance of official Holidays.

We went to the park but stayed only briefly because by 6:30 it was already beginning to get hot.  I could see that the fire that has now consumed about 7,000 acres north of Las Vegas on Mt. Charleston was still out of control.  Large almost cumulus-like clouds hung in the air, but rather than being white they were charcoal in color.

Perhaps it was the poor air quality that started me sneezing.  To my knowledge I don’t have any allergies.  I also didn’t have any tissues with me nor did any of my friends at the park.  So, getting tired of snorting the mucous back into my throat,  I decided to stop by the little convenience store on the way home and pick up a small pack of tissues.

It took me a few minutes to find these and pay for my purchase – which I began using in the store before I had paid for them – ah, what a relief – and when I went outside there were three teenage boys standing at the side of the door.  One of them very politely said, “Excuse me.  Could you help us?”

I thought that they were going to ask for some change.

“How can I help you?”

“Well, we was wondering if we give you the money, would you go inside the store and buy us a can of malt liquor?” said the one I took to be the oldest – perhaps 15 years or so.  Of course, doing so is a violation of our liquor laws, and more importantly is just wrong.  So that wasn’t going to happen.  But I didn’t say that.

Instead, it being the 4th of July I said, “I’ll tell you what.  I’m going to ask you a question about America – this being Independence Day – and if you can give me the correct answer I’ll think about buying the malt liquor for you.”

They seemed to perk up with the hope that I had given them.  But before I asked them my question I inquired what grades they were in at school.  Two were in the eighth grade and the oldest had completed his freshman year of high school.

“Okay, guys – name any one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.”

I thought this was a pretty easy question and I know that at their age I would have had no difficulty naming quite a few of them.  But instead of a response, I got a dazed look from all three.  Then came the most telling statement from one of the eighth graders.

He looked at me and said, “Foundin’ Fathers.  I don’t knows none of dem.  Hell, I don’t even know who the M*ther F*cker was whoz my own  father.”

To dredge up the old aphorism, “You could have knocked me over with a feather,” at this response.  I’m sure that my mouth was open wide enough that you could have easily fit a large pizza in it and had room left over.

But I recovered and told the boys that by asking an adult to buy them liquor, everyone could get in trouble and there were reasons that we didn’t allow minors to drink.  I doubt I made much of an impression as they were still hanging out at the front of the convenience store as I pulled away with the dogs.

Perhaps this is what we now consider the new “normal”.    One of my dictionaries defines “normal” as “conforming to the standard or common type; usual; regular; natural.”   It goes on to give a secondary definition:  “free from any mental disorder; sane.”

I would put forward the argument that there is nothing sane about any government’s policies which encourages mass reproduction in an already over-crowded world and rewards those who conform to that normality with increased compensation which is insufficient to raise a child in a wholesome manner; at the same time, mandates the universal availability of abortions in the event the mother at that particular moment has something more pressing to do than bring another offspring into the word; that then provides an inferior education – if any at all – to these offspring who are allowed to be born, leaving them with little alternative but to repeat the mistakes their mothers (and absent) fathers made; and then preaches that the greatest threat to planet Earth is global warming.

Or perhaps we are missing something from the equation.

I don’t want to sound cynical but I do not believe that the government’s concern for this underclass that they have created over multiple decades goes to the welfare of these slaves.  But they serve an important, albeit momentary, purpose.

That purpose is to allow those in office (and who manipulate their strings behind the scenes) to seize more power for themselves.  Once entrenched, propelled into their positions by a mindless electorate, fawning, as though they were dogs at their master’s table, hoping that a crumb or two will drop for them to devour, the great unwashed will have fulfilled their purpose and at that point become irrelevant and their continued existence unnecessary.

And tyranny will have come to America.  But a far greater and more brutal one than the world has ever seen.

Why the dichotomy between rewarding the natural process of child bearing through government subsidies and, at the same time, offering unnaturally to terminate that process?  Might it not be to condition our thinking into “normalizing” the idea that an unborn fetus has little worth and no rights.  And if something unborn that merely looks human has no worth – why not apply the same principle to those who have been born but who do not produce or contribute anything that society deems important and of value?

I have argued since the advent of Roe v. Wade how that decision leads us down the slippery slope toward that kind of “ultimate solution.”  That argument was not based on any religious philosophy or morality which is, essentially, unarguable.  It was based on a doctrine of self-preservation.

We have already marched in the direction of being able to discriminate about who it is we allow to be born (in the same way that Hitler proposed eugenic solutions to the world’s problems).  And while those choices, however heinous they might be, are presently left to the individual, it is not a far reach to imagine that soon that choice may be made on our behalf by those “enlightened” ones who will be running our healthcare system.

At one point, with a limited population and comparatively primitive methods of producing food, we needed an underclass to spend their lives in slavery, in the fields, bringing in the crops that the privileged required to survive.  They may have been second class citizens but they were a necessary part of the economy.

Today, technology has largely eliminated the need for this group of people.  And rather than being important, though humble contributors, they are now devouring the fruits they once brought to the table by the sheer numbers in which they exist.  In other words, they are more of a burden than a benefit to society.

Is it really difficult to make the transition from the concept that “abortion is a woman’s right” to “it is the right of the government to determine how many children may be born and to whom?”  China went down that road.

And from there, is it really all that extreme to imagine a government which has taken to itself the right to determine “for the common good” – not only those who might be allowed to reproduce – but which of those who have already been born, serve a meaningful purpose that conforms to the government’s concepts of what is in everyone’s best interests.  The step toward euthanasia is a very short one from where we are today.  Obamacare and its equivalents in other countries where the state runs medical care are the first step down the path to darkness.

So in light of all that, it shouldn’t surprise us at the President’s statement that “Global Warming” is the greatest threat to planet Earth.  Assuming that he actually believes that, what better way is there to reduce human impact on our planet than to cull and reduce the human population?  Problem solved.

Like the Founding Fathers who girded themselves for the battle, let this be an open statement to the future Eugenics Police who may come for me.

I’m armed and won’t go down without a fight.

Happy belated Birthday, America.

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