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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 4:41 am 
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I believe Alito is the majority vote needed to overturn Roe v Wade. I believe it will happen, sooner rather than later. I have mixed feelings about this. I love children, and would rejoice in a world where every child was wanted and welcomed. But... I also know that young women (and men) make mistakes. I completely believe in birth control. But "after the fact" birth control poses complicated philosophical problems that I have no wish to deny. Although, for the record, I personally support abortion rights. Though not without limit. At 8 weeks I have no problem. At 20 weeks? I do.

Where do you stand?

It's a vexed problem, and it's one that has nearly dominated US politics for my entire adult life.

I will observe this: being opposed to abortion has worked extremely well for the Republican party. There is a passionate minority who are single-issue voters on this subject. For the Republicans, the best case scenario is for them to continue to be opposed to abortion, but for it to continue to be legal.

But that can't go on. Not with the Republicans controlling all three branches of government, and being beholden to the Christian Right.

The Christian Right is counting on Alito doing what they want - overturning Roe v Wade, and turning the issue back to the states. I think they will not be disappointed.

And then... what? I daresay California and a dozen other "blue" states will explicitly make the procedure legal. I'm more interested in what will happen in places like Alabama. We've heard people proclaiming for decades that abortion is murder. If it's murder, should the penalty not be death? Or life in prison? And who should pay this penalty - the woman, the doctor, or both?

Sorry - just musing. Would appreciate your thoughts!


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 4:53 am 
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Good time to be discussing this, Ethel. Let's plan our own strategy sooner rather than later. :)

<we need a nail-biting emoticon>

My personal preference would be a six-week cutoff on abortions. Before that, completely legal. After that, only to preserve the life of the mother.

Fathers should automatically be notified (if known) but should have no legal status to overturn the decision of the woman. Sorry guys, but since there's no way for you to do the time ...

BUT, if Alito overturns Roe v. Wade, women are going to have to decide what their response will be. You hit the nail on the head, Ethel, when you said that the best thing for the Republicans would be to not get what they say they want, forever and ever. If the directionality of the issue reverses, how will politics and behavior change?

We've taken this right for granted for so long that I can't imagine what the response will be if it is taken away. I suppose it will be like prohibition ... there will be lots and lots of illegal abortions. The price, of course, will soar for qualified physicians willing to perform the procedure.

Or, the drug companies will get on the stick and come up with newer and better 'morning-after' pills. Then I suppose we'll be thrown into a religious argument as to how far down the fallopian tube the little egg had gotten when Suzy popped the pill. Eh?

Jn

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:37 am 
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Oh dear. This discussion? Always causes an itchy finger problem. Darn it.

Ethel, the specific response to your question:

Well, if Roe was to be overturned, in a sense it doesn't concern those of us in the more progressive states - not for a long time, and perhaps not ever. We will have access to abortion near our homes for the indefinite future. In a sense, it does not concern those of us who are educated and reasonably well-off - even if abortion was illegal nationwide, we could (and would) travel to Canada or to Europe should our uteri be invaded with highly unwelcome contents. Me personally? Pregnancy is something that I don't expect to have to worry about too much - but if it came my way, I would do whatever necessary to end it, ASAP. (Predicting how one would act given circumstances not yet faced is always a tricky business, but I can only picture how I would respond if I was told at this very moment that I was pregnant, and comment based on that.)

In any case...my concern is for the women in red states, and for poorer women. These women's access to reproductive care, including abortion, has already been severely hampered by the efforts of the right-wing. My concern is that some of the women least able, whether physically, financially, emotionally, or all of the above, to care for a(nother) child will be the ones forced by the "religious" into bearing that child, or into unsafe and illegal abortions. And that causes me to see red, fittingly enough.

EDIT I should add, however, that I am uncomfortable with reading most nontextual rights into the Constitution. Much though I like the practical effect of Roe, I'm incredibly uncomfortable with the opinion. In an academic, legal sense, I would not be sorry to see it overturned. I believe abortion should be affordable, accessible, and legal to women in all fifty states for well into their pregnancies, if not to the very end of their pregnancies - but I'm not sure it should (or even can) be this way as a matter of constitutional doctrine. However, in light of the - shall we say, nonprogressive - nature of many states, I would sooner have what I believe to be faulty con law doctrine than have women experience the practical effects of inaccessibility of legal abortion. Some here would call this hypocrisy, but I am very much a pragmatist when it comes to Supreme Court opinions.

Jn:

Fathers should automatically be notified (if known)

How on earth does the male sexual partner, a third party, gain the right to know what medical procedures the female sexual partner elects?

...and what of all the men who would respond with physical or emotional violence against women choosing abortion? What safeguards would you set in place to protect these particularly vulnerable women?

My personal preference would be a six-week cutoff on abortions.

What if the woman, for completely legitimate reasons, simply did not realize that she was pregnant? As you are aware, many times women don't even notice that they have missed their period for that long! "Nope, sorry, you're stuck carrying an unwanted, undesired fetus to term, forget the practical or emotional consequences that you might suffer"...? Why six weeks? Why not four, or eight, or ten?

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Oh, you will see me thrive
Can't write my story
I'm beyond the archetype
I won't just conform
No matter how you shake my core
'Cause my roots, they run deep, oh

When, when the fire's at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They're whispering, "You're out of time,"
But still I rise
This is no mistake, no accident
When you think the final nail is in, think again
Don't be surprised, I will still rise


Last edited by nerdanel on Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:11 am 
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I think abortion should be available on demand without limit.

I realize that is an extreme view, but, in fact, that's what it comes down to in my mind: abortion is either legal or it isn't, and I don't think it is a matter for anyone but the pregant woman to decide.

For myself, I cannot imagine many circumstances under which I would ever have had an abortion. I think abortion is a great evil. But I think refusing women the option of legally ending unwanted pregnancies is a greater evil. The law should have nothing whatsoever to do with it, actually, but I suppose the matter has to be mentioned. Just why, I don't quite understand.

Our new Canadian PM once used to mutter about abortion, but the law in Canada won't change.

I think it is very sad and disheartening that an issue like this has such divisive power in the US. It is a matter entirely personal to the woman involved and should remain so.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:32 am 
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It really comes down to one person. No, not Alito, and not Roberts either. The true decision-maker is Anthony Kennedy. My best guess is that he will allow abortion rights to be further whittled down, but that he will not vote to overturn it. Remember, Kennedy joined in O'Connor's majority decision in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case in which O'Connor upheld Roe but redefined it in a way that was more restrictive but more legally supportable (in my opinion). Since that time, Kennedy has been more willing to but additional restrictions on abortion rights then O'Connor has been, but there is no reason to belief that he will reverse himself and vote to overturn it altogether. I don't think that he will allow himself to be pressured by the conservative justices to join them; he certainly has gone his own way on many issues. And I doubt that "Chief Justice Roberts" will have nearly the standing or influence that Justice Rehnquist wielded, at least not for another 15 or 20 years.

So unless President Bush gets a sudden opportunity to name another justice, or another conservative president gets elected in 2008, I think that Roe is still safe.

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Last edited by Voronwë the Faithful on Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:45 am 
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One problem with setting time-limits on abortions is that some of the cases that even conflicted people might agree seem like good reasons (for instance a severely deformed fetus) only become clear quite late in pregnancy.

Jnyusa, you can't have meant "six weeks," can you? Six weeks is just a late period, since the weeks start being counted at day one of the previous period. I'm guessing we must be counting differently. Six weeks from when a regularly menstruating woman might figure out (if she were on the ball and keeping tabs) she was pregnant would be ten weeks gestation.

I think abortion as a moral issue is a huge grey area, shading to black in some places, fairly close to white in others. As a legal issue, though, I become a kind of absolutist on the side of a woman's right to choose. This is because I really do think that if women can't control when they reproduce, they can't control anything about their lives. Already we know women often do not have control over certain aspects of their sex lives. If men can make women pregnant, despite her preferences, and THEN say: you MUST have this child -- then we're sunk.

I'm just as adamant about outsiders not being allowed to tell me when NOT to have a child, when to abort, even that I must have a C-section.

Frankly, I'm a bit touchy when it comes to these things. :D


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:22 am 
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This is Rome

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Voronwë --

To what extent do you think that Kennedy's dissent (joined by Rehnquist) in Stenberg constituted a retreat from the position he took in Casey, where he joined the O'Connor plurality? Or, do his notable citations to Casey (and related) in Lawrence suggest that he still sufficiently supports the doctrine (such as it was) of Casey?

Perhaps Kennedy's apparent concern for stare decisis and "detrimental reliance" - which received prominent mention in both Casey and Lawrence - will serve to protect what remains of Roe. I tentatively agree with you that he will not outright reverse himself. However, with Kennedy as the "swing voter" - if we can even refer to him as such - my fear is more that Roe will continue to die a death by a thousand cuts rather than death by a swinging machete.

_________________
I won't just survive
Oh, you will see me thrive
Can't write my story
I'm beyond the archetype
I won't just conform
No matter how you shake my core
'Cause my roots, they run deep, oh

When, when the fire's at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They're whispering, "You're out of time,"
But still I rise
This is no mistake, no accident
When you think the final nail is in, think again
Don't be surprised, I will still rise


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:49 am 
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tp and Teremia - sorry I mispoke. Eight weeks from the onset of pregnancy would be my preference. That is when the brain stem forms and, in my philosophical view, the fetus ceases to be a potential person and is an actual person. (I agree with Ethel, in other words.)

[sigh] I know this is a step backward from the rights we enjoy now, but I feel rather strongly that abortion should not be contraception for procrastinators.

There is also another angle from which to look at this ... My feeling is that a late abortion is indication that a woman controls neither her sexual organs nor her life choices. I can't imagine a self-possessed woman deciding to abort in the fifth or sixth or month of pregnancy after carrying the fetus that long.

It would be better, in my opinion, if we addressed directly the causes of powerlessness in women so that they could make decisions based on their own self-interest. Surely in the majority of cases, the woman does know whether she wants a child or not from the moment she finds out she is pregnant, and it is not that her own ambivalency that causes her to be indecisive but rather the social, economic, religious consequences of her choice that must be carefully weighed. It is her status in the eyes of others that must be weighed.

Well ... poo on that.

Women deserve the information necessary to use contraception effectively, to protect themselves from STD's effectively, to receive wages for comparable work that allow them to support a family if they want one, the right to decline marriage or leave an abusive relationship, to be pregant as many times as they wish to be so and no more, and on and on. Allowing late abortions does not solve any of these problems; it just gives a woman more time to agonize over them before making her final choice.

There is also the health issue to be considered. Depriving women of everything except abortion forces them to employ the highest risk option available.

Yes, and I did not address all the legitimate exceptions - deformed fetuses, etc. The ideal is to have a viable mother and a viable child, and I think the grey areas in between will be grist for debate for a long time. But right now we don't even have a guiding principle for the cases that are typical or average.

As I understand the status of fathers right now, they can use the courts to oppose an abortion. I would like to see that end. tp, you mentioned the possibility of abuse by a husband against a woman who has an abortion, and I had not thought through all the possibilities, so I have changed my mind that anyone other than the party receiving the medical treatment has a right to know about it. But that is another reason for urging a quick decision upon the woman. Even an eight week pregnancy is difficult to hide.

Jn

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 10:38 am 
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I am very grateful that I have never had to make the decision about whether or not to have an abortion. I never had an out-of-wedlock pregnancy or a pregnancy where I feared for my own health or the health of the baby-to-be.

However, I cannot honestly say what I would do in such circumstances. I am 51 years old now and single. If I became pregnant now, what would I do? Theoretically, I suppose I could carry the pregancy to term, but it could very well wreck my health and the baby could very well be severely disabled.

Whatever I decided, though...it would be my decision. Between me and my doctor.

In general, I am opposed to late-term abortions, or even abortions after 12 weeks (a bit longer than Jny's cut-off, but the end of the first tri-mester and nature's cut-off as well - it is between 8 - 12 weeks that most natural miscarriages occur.) However. There are some circumstances that may dictate a later abortion and I have known a couple of women who have been in those circumstances. They are agonizing. Both of the women wanted a child desperately and the decision to abort was not made without terrible pain. It had nothing to do with birth control as convenience or procrastination.

I am always struck by the single-mindedness of the anti-abortion-rights people. They want to end safe, legal abortions, period. There is no plan about what to do afterwards. About how to help the mothers who were unable to get abortions and so had to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. There is no plan about how to provide for the children then born and likely growing up in poverty. There is no plan to prevent unwanted pregnancies or empower the women to make choices (as Jn was saying.)
They have no plan. It's as if by making abortion illegal again, the problems will all go away.

It won't go away; women will still have abortions and many will die from them, as they did before Roe v Wade. Women with unplanned pregnancies can and do become desperate. Where is the plan to help them?

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 12:18 pm 
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So not getting involved in this one.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:17 pm 
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I'm really upset about Alito being confirmed, as much as it concerns potential rulings on the environment, civil liberties and Presidential power as abortion.

Ethel, I think the Anti-Abortion forces will be smarter than to try and outlaw abortion outright. That would probably create concern among 'mainstream' America about the logical consequences, such as trying doctors and women for murder (not that a fringe element wouldn't absolutely delight in that). And as you said, that would take away an enormous political advantage from Republicans, except perhaps on a state-by-state basis.

For the record, I'm in agreement with you. Early abortions seem more acceptable to me than later ones.

The questions that concern me have to do with consistency on the abortion question. Why is it ok for frozen or extra embryos to be destroyed but it's not ok for a woman to abort a very early pregnancy?

How can a fetus be considered a person under law when a pregnant woman is killed by someone, but not a person under law when a woman aborts an early pregnancy?

What makes someone a person? If a day-old embryo in utero is a person, why is not a day-old embryo in a test tube? If a day-old embryo in utero is not a person, then why is a 6-month old or a 9-month old fetus in utero a person? What is the soul? When do we gain the soul?


Jnyusa wrote:
My personal preference would be a six-week cutoff on abortions. Before that, completely legal. After that, only to preserve the life of the mother.

Not to preserve the health?


Quote:
Fathers should automatically be notified (if known) but should have no legal status to overturn the decision of the woman.

I disagree. Fathers should not automatically be notified (for the same reason that parents shouldn't).


Quote:
I can't imagine a self-possessed woman deciding to abort in the fifth or sixth or month of pregnancy after carrying the fetus that long.

At what point, for example, is Down's Syndrome diagnosed?


tolkienpurist wrote:
Much though I like the practical effect of Roe, I'm incredibly uncomfortable with the opinion.

I seem to recall that Justice Ginsberg posited a different grounds for constitutionally supporting the right to abortion during her confirmation hearings. Do you recall what that was? I think it was somehow based on the idea of equality -- that having to bear children would make women unequal in some sense of enjoying liberty.


vison wrote:
I think abortion is a great evil. But I think refusing women the option of legally ending unwanted pregnancies is a greater evil.

Vison, can you explain why you see abortion as a great evil?


Quote:
It is a matter entirely personal to the woman involved and should remain so.

Yes, that is the overriding factor for me, as well, regardless of whatever else a person might think of abortion in the abstract.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:29 pm 
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Wait a second. Are you suggesting that its ok to abort a child with Down's Syndrome? That only perfect children deserve to live?


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:37 pm 
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I know families with Down syndrome kids who would never have considered abortion and who do not at all regret that choice. The grocery store where I shop employs a number of Down syndrome adults. They are delightful, cheerful people who seem to be enjoying life and love to joke back and forth with customers.

There are degrees of disability or injury that would justify late abortion to me, though—a child who can't survive outside the womb, for example, or an anencephalic who will never have a sentient existence.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:39 pm 
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That I can understand, but Down's Syndrome? Next step is only blond and blue-eyed kids.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:40 pm 
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Alatar, I was responding (with a question) to Jn's comment. She had said she couldn't imagine a self-possessed woman deciding to abort in the 5th or 6th month. That made me wonder when the diagnosis for Down's is done, because there are women who decide to abort when they learn the fetus has this condition. I've heard it said that is a particularly agonizing decision because the diagnosis can't be made until later in the pregnancy.

As to your question about deserving to live, I think the question for women who find themselves in that circumstance isn't about whether the fetus deserves to live, but whether they are prepared to take on the difficulties of loving and raising a child/adult with Down's Syndrome. I would not presume to judge a woman in that position, as I've not had to face that situation myself.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:44 pm 
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Cerin wrote:
As to your question about deserving to live, I think the question for women who find themselves in that circumstance isn't about whether the fetus deserves to live, but whether they are prepared to take on the difficulties of loving and raising a child/adult with Down's Syndrome. I would not presume to judge a woman in that position, as I've not had to face that situation myself.


I'm afraid I believe that's a decision they made when they chose to get pregnant. Of course, in todays "tailor fitted" world, people can't be expected to put up with anything less than the ideal. Frankly I find the idea that a mothers comfort level trumps a childs right to life appalling and horrific. In the case of Rape, I can see where there is an argument to be made, but when we get into the realms of convenience and "off-the-rail" babies, my blood starts to boil.

Now I'm going to follow my initial gut feeling and step out of this discussion.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:49 pm 
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And now you know, Alatar, why I never joined in to begin with.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:51 pm 
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Alatar, I am glad that you shared your thoughts here. :hug:

So often only one side of the argument is represented, and I feel that the whole spectrum of thoughts being expressed certainly reflects a more realistic picture of this vexing problem than just the one judged more "progressive".

However, having said that, I understand your decision to stay out of this, and I think I will do the same.

:)


Edit: Oops! Missed Whistler, there! :wave:


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 8:21 pm 
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Cerin - sorry, I corrected my earlier statement in a later post. I meant not six weeks but eight weeks. It's the stage of development that ought to be the criterion, imo. I cannot think of a collection of cells or a differentiated soma as a person, but I can think of a fetus with a brain stem as a person because they have begun to process their world.

Alatar: Frankly I find the idea that a mothers comfort level trumps a childs right to life appalling and horrific.

This is very much the crux of the matter for me too, and I think that the balancing of rights is the decision we will ultimately have to make as a society. I just hope it will be made rationally.

To my thinking, it makes no sense to recompense a woman for powerlessness by making some other being even more powerless than she is. I would like us to be able as a society to turn our heads around and approach this issue from an entirely different direction. We can grant civil rights to a fetus at a certain level of development but only if we first guarantee (as much as we can) that a woman is not forced to bring a fetus to that stage of development.

As with many issues, I feel that the 'rights' grudgingly granted to the least powerful members of society have been carefully crafted not to end an injusutice but to serve the most powerful, at the ultimate disadvantage of someone else. It is this ... 'trick' ... that we need to recognize and oppose.

But I am talking here of what I prefer and not of what is likely to happen.

Jn

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 8:23 pm 
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Alatar, I understand your feeling that every child, no matter what his or her imperfections, deserves a loving home. Believe me, that's how I'd want things to work in this world as well.


I will say that the question is not about "convenience," really. Having a child is not just an "inconvenience." An inconvenience is not finding a parking place or having the Internet connection go out on you. Having a child means totally changing all of the rest of your life and also (for the mother) risking death in the process of carrying the child to term and giving birth. Many of us are glad (GLAD!!) to make those sacrifices and take those risks. (Heck, speaking from personal experience, we weep for months and go through terrible depression when a longed-for pregnancy doesn't work out, even if the loss comes very, very, very early.) That does not erase the gravity of the sacrifice or the risk, however.

I also think it's important to remember that women do not entirely control their own sex lives. There are far subtler pressures than outright rape. So any woman who has sex can't really be considered a person who has made a considered decision to spend the rest of her life raising a terribly deformed child, possibly without much support at all from the man who impregnates her. I think all of these hard situations should be looked at with as much mercy as we can muster. And certainly we need to surround with love and support those people who are raising children with handicaps. For that matter, we need to surround with love and support those people who are raising children, full stop.

On the topic of love and support, here's an anecdote from a different sort of situation. A woman in my Quaker meeting is helping take care of her stepdaughter who is dying, very young (and leaving a young child), of brain cancer. She said the other day: "It's funny -- I look around and there are TWELVE of us helping to take care of this one person, people cleaning and lifting and helping with medicine, and helping with her child, and STILL it feels like a huge undertaking!" And then we laughed and decided that maybe even each of us healthy people could really use twelve support people caring for our minds, homes, and bodies! And of course most of us actually have, oh, between zero and three, and are tending to the three as much as the three are tending to us.

We all probably could use a lot more mothering, fathering, and befriending than we're getting! :)


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