Does Women’s Rights Equal Abortion?

Me, at ceremony presenting resolution against violence against women.

Me, at ceremony presenting resolution against violence against women.

It seems I’ve run afoul of the atheist portal here at Patheos One. More. Time.

Nobody sticks in these folks’ collective craw more than I do. They love to hate me and they love to trash me. If one of them was slowly slipping away, I think the doc could show them one of my blog posts to get their poor little heart started beating again.

I’m  not sure how I do it, and to be honest, I don’t care, but I do get under their skin. They react to me the way Tribbles react to Klingons.

I’ve studiously ignored this carrying on up to now, and I intend to go back to that same path as soon as I finish here. But I do have a small bone to pick with one of the more outlandish claims against me that has been published on that portal.

Dan Arel, who blogs at Danthropology, has a big case of outrage going over my recent blog post about the Prez. It seems that calling President Obama an idiot is a bridge too far for Mr Arel. That’s his opinion, and he’s welcome to it. Writing blog posts trying to get at me is also his call. It actually would be difficult for me to come up with a description of how little I care.

I’m not even all that exercised about the one point that I’m going to discuss here. I just think it leads into an important point that needs making.

In his outraged defense of the president, Mr Arel — as atheists seem wont to do — veers off into personal attacks against me. As often happens with personal attacks against me, he immediately goes into fantasyland and presents made-up nonsense as fact.

This paragraph is a case in point (emphasis mine):

Rebecca Hamilton is a former politician who spent her career attacking women’s rights. Now it seems in retirement, her life will be no different. She does not think women are able to make the choices that are right for them and instead wants the President to give her and her religion the privilege of making these choices for you.

Oh me. Oh my. Such a big fat lie. 

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Lil ol’ me, speaking at a rally to end domestic violence.

Here’s just a sprinkling of things I’ve done (This is just off the top of my head. I’m sure there’s more.) during my career-long “attack” on women’s rights:

1. One of 6 founders of the first rape crisis center in Oklahoma.

2. Got first funding for statewide domestic violence shelters.

3. Author of the original protective order in Oklahoma. 

4. Creator of the first statewide rape hot line in Oklahoma. 

5. Authored legislation to allow rape victims and victims of domestic violence time off work for counseling, court visits, medical care without losing their employment. 

6. Authored legislation to provide state funding for day care. 

7. Authored legislation to make human trafficking illegal in Oklahoma.

8. Passed a law to keep rape victims’ information private.

9. Host and co-creator of the Oklahoma Day of Prayer for an End to Violence Against Women.

10. Authored bill to stop doctors from paying women to allow their bodies to be harvested for eggs.

11. Authored bill to stop forced abortions.

12. Authored bill making it a felony to beat up a pregnant woman.

13. Authored bill outlawing female genital mutilation in Oklahoma.

14. Authored bill to make rape by instrumentation a crime in Oklahoma. 

Lessee now. What might I have done that could possibly be construed as “attacking women’s rights?????”

Tap, tap, tap …

Could it be the fact that I oppose abortion? 

That’s all I can think of. And it does fit. 

Because in some people’s minds, “women’s rights” is abortion. They think that if you aren’t in favor of abortion on demand, then you must be opposed to “women’s rights.” On the other hand, they think that if you favor abortion on demand, then that’s all there is to women’s rights.

Oddly enough, even in this, Mr Arel’s hateful hyperbole overreaches the facts by a few miles. I opposed abortion in the second half of my career. During the first, pre-conversion half, I was the pro choice poster girl of Oklahoma. I’ve got enough Margaret Sanger awards and other pro choice attagirls from that phase of my life to paper the walls of my house with them. I was the de facto go-to person in the Oklahoma legislature for those who wanted pro life bills killed dead. And I delivered, because I was, as one of my fellow House members told me, “one hell of a legislator.”

Before I was ever elected to office, I was the Oklahoma director for NARAL.

So puhllleeeezzzz Mr Arel, consider who you are tarring with your abortion-is-women’s-rights brush. I know more about this issue — from both sides — than you will ever learn.

One of the things I know, and that I have learned to my horror and grief, is that abortion kills a living child. I can’t tell you how devastated I was when I realized the full horror of what I had done during my anti-God years.

Not only was I shattered by my own crimes against humanity, but as a woman who cares deeply about women’s rights, I felt trapped in a conundrum. How could I work to ensure women’s rights and prevail in my life-long work to speak out for justice for womankind and still protect these unborn children’s lives? That was the question.

I found the answer in the place where we all must look: The abundant mercy and love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is Lord of every life, whether the person acknowledges this or not. He loves Mr Arel just as much as He loves me, or you. He loves him and wants to offer him forgiveness and the free gift of eternal life just as He loves and cherishes the unborn child.

We are all His brothers and sisters, all God’s children.

Jesus loves women with a special depth of love because He is the author of life and women are the bearers of life. We are His cooperators in the life force. He chose to be born of a woman Himself.

This does not mean that God intends His daughters to be limited to that one single role. We are not walking uteri. We are human beings, made in His image with all the hungers, desires and needs for significance, achievement and the fullness of life that men have. Diminishing us to the role of childbearing as if that was all there is to us is not God’s plan. It is the devil’s curse on humankind.

Misogyny is the human race, at war with itself. And abortion, which strips women of their uniqueness, is an attack on women’s humanity at a profound level. Women should not have to chose between a murdered child and a ruined life. That, and not some nebulous “right” to murder both their own child and their own maternity is what women’s rights should be.

Pregancy and childbirth should never be used as a weapon to terrorize women or limit their lives. Rather than ending this discrimination and misogyny, abortion cooperates with it. Abortion is just the old misogynist double standard, turned sideways. It puts the whole burden of human sexuality back on the woman once again.

I don’t blame Mr Arel for being such a twerp about all this. He is, after all, both a man and an atheist, which is a combination that, based on my reading, seems to struggle with ideas of women’s rights based on women’s humanity. In fact, this group seems to struggle with ideas of intrinsic and universal human rights for any group of people. Based on things he’s said and done, I would guess that he’s also got a special hate going toward me.

All that adds up to a king-sized pair of blinders. When he puts forth the women’s rights = abortion equation, he is repeating the mindless cant he’s been taught around who knows how many intellectual campfires.

What I would like him to do is to take those blinders off, or at least peek around them, and see the love and compassion that Our Lord extends to him. Mr Arel is wrong about abortion, wrong about God and, in a far lesser question, wrong about me.

I wish him the best thing I could wish anyone, that he accepts the love of Christ and begins the journey to heaven. Whether he knows it, or wants to believe it or not, he is my brother; my lost and angry brother.

I pray for you Dan. You are a child of the living God.

Now, I’m back to ignoring the atheist portal.

And So It Begins: The Push for Polygamy

Newt polygamy

This is a random round-up of opinion pieces pushing polygamy.

It is by no means exhaustive or even representative. It reflects what I’ve seen in casual internet browsing. One article goes back to the time of the last presidential election. The others were written after the DOMA decision.

Events and behaviors form patterns. The pattern for quite some time has been that opinion makers in high-profile media begin what quickly becomes a coordinated political movement with trial balloon pieces such as these. The normalization of polygamy is fully launched with such television shows as Big Love and Sister Wives.

The piece that irks me the most is the one by the so-called feminist who’s calling for polygamy. If she’s a feminist, then George Wallace was a Freedom Rider.

Is this the beginning of a push to redefine marriage to allow polygamy? What do you think?

From CNN:

It’s time to reconsider polygamy

by Mark Goldfeder, cnn.com

December 16th 2013

(CNN) – Polygamy is back in the headlines.Last week, a federal judge in Utah struck down part of the state’s anti-polygamy law as unconstitutional, although he kept the ban on possessing more than one marriage license at a time. Fans of the “Sister Wives” reality TV stars, who filed the suit, are rejoicing in the news.At the other end of the spectrum, TLC debuted its newest docuseries, “Breaking the Faith,” which tells the dark story of women and children trying to escape from the practice.

Another lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice alleges that polygamous clans are secretly running the show in Utah and Arizona townships, manipulating the political process from behind the scenes. And in Texas, the Attorney General’s Office is inchingcloser to seizing a massive polygamous ranch.Across the country, angry citizens are calling for the government to follow its own laws and crack down on polygamy.

Meanwhile, celebrities like Akon and various news outlets encourage people of all ages to reconsider plural marriage.What competing narratives about polygamy in America reveal is that whether or not a white-washed, clean-cut version of plural marriage could in theory legally exist, in practice it does not, and what states like Utah, Arizona and Texas actually have is an unregulated, dangerous and harmful situation, where the strong prey upon the weak and helpless.The time has come to address this discrepancy. When the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in U.S. v. Windsor in June, opening the door to federal recognition of same-sex marriage, it also set the stage for a discussion of plural marriage.DOMA defined marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

While DOMA obviously prohibited same-sex marriage (by requiring that a marital unit consist of a man and a woman), it also enshrined the prohibition against polygamy, by requiring that such a union be between only one man and one woman. Even before Windsor the Supreme Court had declared morals-based legislation invalid, renewing interest in polygamy. But in calling DOMA definitions unconstitutionally restrictive, the court, perhaps unwittingly, also struck down the federal numerical limitation in a marriage, immediately re-opening the possibility of plural marriage at the state level. Activists have taken note, and are only getting louder.

From Psychology Today:

The Three Reasons for Polygamy

by Nigel Barber, psychologytoday.com

October 23rd 2012

Both candidates for the presidency owe their very existence to polygamy (1). President Obama’s father belonged to the polygamous Luo tribe. Mitt Romney’s paternal great grandfathers moved to Mexico to continue the Mormon practice of polygamy then outlawed in the U.S. So the time is ripe to ask what advantages polygamy has over monogamy.

Although plural marriage is banned in developed countries, it is surprisingly common, and popular, elsewhere with 55 percent of women sharing their husbands in Benin and an average of 16 percent of women doing so in less developed nations (2). Polygamy may be detested in developed countries but it is practiced to some degree in most societies studied by anthropologists. What did polygamy do for the Obamas and the Romneys that they could not accomplish with monogamy?

Studies in animal behavior show that polygynous mating systems (i.e., one male mating with several females) have at least three possible advantages.

From Salon:

Legalize Polygamy!

No. I am not kidding.

By Jillian Keenan

Sister-wives Valerie, left, and Vicki serve breakfast to their children in their polygamous house in Herriman, Utah, in this file photo from May 30, 2007. Polygamy, once hidden in the shadows of Utah and Arizona, is breaking into the open as fundamentalist Mormons push to decriminalize it on religious grounds, while at the same time stamping out abuses such as forced marriages of underage brides.

Recently, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council reintroduced a tired refrain: Legalized gay marriage could lead to other legal forms of marriage disaster, such as polygamy. Rick Santorum, Bill O’Reilly, and other social conservatives have made similar claims. It’s hardly a new prediction—we’ve been hearing it for years. Gay marriage is a slippery slope! A gateway drug! If we legalize it, then what’s next? Legalized polygamy?

We can only hope.

Yes, really. While the Supreme Court and the rest of us are all focused on the human right of marriage equality, let’s not forget that the fight doesn’t end with same-sex marriage. We need to legalize polygamy, too. Legalized polygamy in the United States is the constitutional, feminist, and sex-positive choice. More importantly, it would actually help protect, empower, and strengthen women, children, and families.

For decades, the prevailing logic has been that polygamy hurts women and children. That makes sense, since in contemporary American practice that is often the case. In many Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints   polygamous communities, for example, women and underage girls are forced into polygamous unions against their will. Some boys, who represent the surplus of males, are brutally thrown out of their homes and driven into homelessness and poverty at very young ages. All of these stories are tragic, and the criminals involved should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. (That goes without saying, I hope.)

But legalizing consensual adult polygamy wouldn’t legalize rape or child abuse. In fact, it would make those crimes easier to combat.

 

 

Christianity Helps Women Rise Out of Poverty, Domestic Violence

Jesus Christ is the world’s greatest revolutionary.

People who believe Him and follow His teachings are empowered on every level of their existence. It is impossible to be a true follower of Christ and not realize that you are worth something, no matter what the larger world has to say to the contrary.

This revolutionary aspect of Christianity is most evident in its impact on marginalized people, including women.

The women who are part of the “untouchable” or “Dalit” class in India are currently experiencing and demonstrating this powerful revolutionizing effect of Jesus Christ. It begins, as Christian revolution always does, with one individual who says “yes” to Jesus. This “yes” starts this person on the life-long walk with Christ that slowly changes who they see themselves to be and what they want to do.

Jesus doesn’t change what you do. He changes what you want to do. And by changing that, He works through you to change the world.

This power of conversion is what is so sadly lacking in the hearts and minds of tepid Christians here in the West. The rich-kids Catholic school in Seattle that I wrote about earlier today is an example. These people are salt that has lost is savor and is no longer of any use in the work of Kingdom building.

On the other hand, the Spirit is moving and empowering the “untouchables” of India to be more than their society has allowed them to be. That is the power of Jesus Christ. He levels the mighty and elevates the cast-offs.

Perhaps no one is more cast off and marginalized than the women of the bottom tier of a caste society. India is a caste society where women are so far down the scale that baby girls are routinely murdered both before and after birth simply because they are girls. A Dalit woman occupies the bottom of the bottom in that world; the place from which there is no arising.

Yet, by the grace of God and the leavening influence of Jesus Christ, these women are rising. They are seeking education, buying homes and reporting domestic abuse. They are exercising their freedom as full human beings made in the image and likeness of the living God.

That is the revolutionary force of Christianity when we live it as it is given to us instead of trying to shape it to fit the society in which we reside. We each face a choice every day of our lives as to who or Whom we will follow. We chose. And we make this choice one day, one moment, at a time every day of our lives.

In course of living out our choices, we become what we do. You can not turn your back on God when it is socially convenient and use Him for your puny purposes when you need a dose of feel good. That is an illusory Christianity, a “cheap grace” as Bonnhoeffer called it, that avails nothing.

From CNA/EWTN News:

From CNA/EWTN News:Rome, Italy, Dec 20, 2013 / 05:04 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A researcher at Washington D.C.’s Georgetown University has found that impoverished women in India are more likely to improve their economic circumstances after converting to Christianity.

“Conversion actually helps launch women on a virtuous circle.”…  said Rebecca Samuel Shah, research fellow at Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.

Shah presented her initial findings of a pilot study looking at “patterns and directions where conversion had an impact” on Dalit women in Bangalore, India at a conference on “Christianity and Freedom” held in Rome on Dec. 13-14.

Dalits are considered the “outcasts” of or “pariahs” of society in India.

“One is actually born a Dalit, you cannot leave a Dalit status. You’re born and you live and you die a Dalit,” Shah explained. “Dalits are employed in the some of the worst jobs…they scavenge, they sweep, they’re tanners. They do the smelliest, dirtiest work, and therefore they ‘polute’… they’re ‘untouchables.’”

… Shah’s study yielded some surprising results about the impact of Christian conversion on the lives of Dalit women in “a very violent urban slum.”

The majority of Hindu, Muslim and Christian Dalit women interviewed were illiterate. Many belong to a microfinance program which gives them access to loans which they then use towards their children’s education or to run a small business.

The first “unexpected pattern” Shah encountered was in housing. “The converts converted their loans to purchasing houses, and turned dead capital into resources to generate additional capital.”

…  The impact of home ownership is crucial, since “by being able to own a house, these poor women were able to get bank loans, commercial loans, which they didn’t have access to before that. When you have a house you can get a loan at 3 percent, instead of from a money lender at 18 percent.  So having a house is a very important investment in your future, so you can have access to very affordable credit.”
The second “dramatic” finding in Shah’s study concerned domestic violence.

A national family health survey in India in 2005-2006 indicated that 86 percent of the women interviewed nationally had never told anyone that they had been abused.

According to Shah, this large scale study indicated that a woman’s religion was an important indicator of whether or not she would seek help. “Only 24 percent of Hindu women sought help, and 22 percent of Muslim women, but 32 percent of Christian women sought help,” she noted.

Shah’s own study “echoed” the national health data, in that “57 percent of women – a very large number of women – actually tell their pastor” about domestic violence.

…  “It was a unique finding. We were not looking for this,” added Shah.

The Georgetown researcher then pointed to the underlying factors that accompany an improvement in circumstances after conversion.

“Conversion activates in the converts a powerful new concept of value and initiative,” she explained.

It offers “a radically different way of seeing themselves: seeing themselves as a new creation, a new identity, made in the image of God, seeking a better life for themselves.”

“Poverty is inherently depressing. It’s discouraging. It’s debilitating. It breeds hopelessness: ‘why bother?’” she reflected.

Yet with a new Christian vision, “The future is not terrifying. It can be achieved. Because God is with them, they can invest in the future. It’s not something to ignore, not something to be terrified of.”

Pope Francis and the Role of Women in the Church

Pope Francis made a few comments today on one of my favorite topics: The role of women in the Church.

I think this is an area that needs a little work. My primary concern is the worldwide plague of violence against and exploitation of women. This evil is so endemic that we take it as a given. I have been praying for years that the pope — whoever the pope might be — would address this with the force and uncompromising moral clarity that it deserves.

The Holy Father did not address violence against women today, but he had a lot of other great comments, just the same.

From Catholic News Agency:

.- Pope Francis met with experts on women’s issues today in Rome, affirming that the Church must continue to work for a more profound understanding of women and their roles.

“Also in the Church it is important to ask ourselves: what presence does woman have? Can it be valued more?” the Pope asked.

He met with experts who had participated in a seminar marking the 25th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic letter, “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.” The two-day seminar was sponsored by the Pontifical Council of the Laity.

Pope Francis said the presence of women in the Church is “a reality that is very much on my heart.” He said he wanted to meet the seminar participants “and bless you and your task.”

He noted that John Paul II’s apostolic letter teaches that “God entrusts man, the human being, to woman in a special way.”

“What does this ‘special entrustment’ mean?” asked Pope Francis.

“I think it is evident that my predecessor refers to motherhood,” he explained. “And this is not simply a biological fact, but it involves a wealth of implications both for woman herself, for her way of being, and for her relationships, for a way of extending respect for human life and for life in general.”

The Pope then warned of two ever-present dangers, “two extreme opposites that degrade woman and her vocation.”

“The first is to reduce motherhood to a social role, to a task, however noble, but in fact sets apart woman with her potential, not fully valuing her in the construction of the community,” he noted.

The second peril is that of “promoting a type of emancipation that, in order to occupy the space stolen by the masculine, abandons the feminine with its priceless elements.”

He said women can help provide better insight into the nature of God.


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