Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Columbia - Bill O'Reilly's "Paradise on Earth"

Bill O'Reilly is some piece of work. He's certainly opinionated, which is okay. So am I. But the difference between us is that I rely on verified facts to guide my views, whereas Bill makes the stuff up as he goes along. Many readers already know about O'Reilly's interesting statistics about the need for abortion when the mother's life is in jeopardy, but I'll restate it here simply because it is just so asinine: "South Dakota, as you know, has voted to outlaw abortions unless the mother's life is in danger, which is never the case, because you can always have a C-section and do those kinds of things." It never ceases to astound me what things Bill can pull out of his own ass.

First, there's ectocopic pregnancies, the condition where the egg implants itself outside the uterus. The worst case is when the implantation site is the Fallopian tube and accounts for 9% of all (according to Bill, nonexistent) pregnancy-related deaths. According to the Mayo Clinic, "The developing embryo can't survive, and the growing placental tissue may destroy important maternal structures. Without treatment, life-threatening blood loss is possible." Bill's comeback? You can always have a C-section- as long as you live long enough to get one.

How about preeclampsia, which is abnormally high blood pressure and protein in urine? It occurs in one in seven pregnancies world-wide and can lead to seizures after the 20th week of pregnancy (eclampsia) resulting in permanent damage to organs, coma and death. Bill's comeback? You can always have a C-section- as long as you live long enough to get one.

So, what would Bill's ideal world where abortions were outlawed look like? Unfortunately, we do not have to use our imaginations. Thanks to Mother Fucking Theresa and the Vatican, we need look no further than South America. (For those that think that Mother Fucking Theresa really was a saint, I suggest either viewing Penn & Teller's Bullshit episode on the subject, or read Christopher Hitchens' The Missionary Position. She had no interest in helping the poor out of their plight, since she felt suffering brought one closer to God and who was she to change that?)

I was listening to a documentary on The Current yesterday morning about a woman named Martha Solay that lived in Columbia. (Unfortunately, I can't give a link since "Due to various rights issues this segment is unavailable for internet use".) While abortion is illegal in Columbia, 400,000 procedures are performed each year under unsafe conditions. At the time she was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, Martha was pregnant and could not legally undergo radiotherapy because it would kill the fetus, becoming a de facto abortion.

Martha's story lead to Columbia's Supreme Court partially lifting the ban on abortions, the penalty for which is outrageously severe. The all-male court legalized abortions after sexual assault or incest when the fetus is expected to die, or when a pregnancy puts a woman's life at risk. How gracious of them (dripping with sarcasm). Her struggle also lead to her excommunication from the Catholic Church, despite the fact that she was never able to obtain an abortion enabling her potentially lifesaving treatment. In fact, the church has vowed to excommunicate anyone having an abortion. I for one can not 'conceive' why this would be a bad thing, but apparently some do. One priest was quoted as saying she should have more faith, as if that has ever done anything. I'd like to meet that bastard in a dark Bogota alley.

Martha was not sorry she gave birth to her last child, of course. But she knew that because of the seven month delay in her treatment that she would not live to see them grow up. Sadly, Martha died on June 11 of this year, leaving behind four motherless children. They lost their house and the children have been split up and live apart from each other. But I guess anti-choice people can console themselves knowing that they accomplished their goal

It has always galled me that there are people will fight tooth-and-nail and even to kill in order to deny access to abortion services, but these same people do nothing to help once they have achieved their goals. Why should they? It's a fait accompli, not their problem. I lose all respect for people like that. To equate a blastocyst with being a person is simply ridiculous. I had one discussion with a Catholic on this and he brought up the 'silent scream' propaganda that we so often see. The problem with that argument is that the fetus has no capability of feeling pain before the 24th week (hence the 26-week limit on abortions in Canada and the US), and some place this point even later into term. How do we know this? The connections from the thalamus (a brain structure critical in pain sensation) to the cortex have not formed. Certainly, pain perception is impossible before 12 weeks gestation, the first point at which there is a measurable EEG signal.

I'm not trying to push an agenda whereby everyone should have an abortion, and the idea that it ends up being used as a form of birth control is pretty damned stupid. The only absolutist view here is anti-choice, not pro-choice. The vast majority of planned and/or wanted pregnancies are wonderful experiences, and why would I have a problem with that? But not everyone finds themselves in such happy situations and I firmly believe that the option should be available. People that picket abortion clinics, or worse, organizations masquerading as abortion counseling services when they are really pushing their victims take their pregnancies to term no matter what, have no concern for the harm that they cause. Am I supposed to respect them for their beliefs? Not when they are actively engaging in twisting a pregnant woman's psychological suffering.

Oddly, I do not want Bill O'Reilly to shut up. He has a right to say his say (but I don't have to listen, and generally, I don't), even though I doubt he would say the same for me. But this does not mean he should be immune from criticism and Fox has an obligation to keep his stupidity in check. I mean, The O'Reilly Factor purports to be a journalistic (sort of) program for crying out loud, so Bill should probably include some facts for once. As such, I reserve the right to call him for what he is - an asshat.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I think your example of science informing us about a fetus' ability/inability to experience pain is a great one. This is a perfect case of science making an important contribution to resolving a moral dilemma.

Has religion really contributed anything as meaningful as this to our morality?

Hint: no.