Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obama Starts Off On The Right Path

First, apologies to the two people who sometimes read this blog. I've been traveling and am now preparing to leave Israel to return to the US.

Now, today I read that President Obama has reversed the ban on US support to international family planning organizations that offer abortion or even information about abortion. This ban has been on (Reagan/Bush I), off (Clinton), and on (Bush II) again. Now it's off again, and I can only hope that it is off permanently.

Justifications for the ban are generally that no American tax payer should be forced to pay for what they believe are morally reprehensible programs. This is a silly argument on its face in that we all pay for things we would rather not - with our tax money. I would certainly prefer not paying Blackwater to terrorize various parts of the world on behalf of the US. I would certainly prefer not to have paid a penny towards the war in Iraq, which I was against from the very start. I would prefer not to pay for religious-based rehab programs. There are several morally reprehensible things my tax money supports.

Justifications for lifting the ban include the fact that funded programs offer many, many valuable services to women and families, including HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention programs, birth control provision and counselling, and general health and preventive care programs. It seems unfair that poor women and families cannot have access to these things while wealthy women and families can pay to go to private clinics, even traveling out of the area to do so.

This is one of the many reasons I have a problem with abortion restrictions here in the US as well. The wealthy seventeen-year-old who chooses abortion can afford to go just about anywhere to get one. The poor seventeen-year-old has no choice. She can't afford to travel to another county, state, or even country. Even if she can scrape up enough cash to go to some other county, she has to be "counseled," shown ultrasound pictures of her fetus, and otherwise delayed and delayed and delayed until she risks being fired from her job, missing important classes at school, or otherwise forced to take chances that the wealthy seventeen-year-old is not. This is a class and gender issue, not a moral one. If one set of morals apply to one woman and another set to another woman, that is just the type of moral relativism that the so-called Right to Lifers abhor. It is also annoying that, as the immortal George Carlin pointed out, right-wing fanatics' concern for life stops at birth - after that, they're on their own and social conservatives who made damned sure that they were born, wanted or not, able to be cared for or not, do not want to lift a finger to help them survive and thrive after they're born. Again with the moral relativism!

An interesting video is up on Youtube. A man visited an abortion protest and asked this question: If abortion is made illegal, what legal penalty should be placed on women who get an abortion. Most of the respondents were stumped by this question. One woman had the intestinal fortitude to admit that if abortion is killing a human, than murder laws and penalties should probably apply. She still hemmed and hawed with talk of "looking at the circumstances," but at least she is aware of the problems inherent in making abortion illegal.

Hmph. Rant over. Thanks President Obama. Let's try to work together to provide education and birth control to all the world so that abortion will be minimized.

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