Author Archives: Wendy Garfinkle

Poetry: Coin Toss


 

When I was a child

I

railed at

argued with

those who

disagreed

with me.

 

Everything

was personal

I wailed in

anger

impotence

inability

to make others see

and agree

with me.

 

When I grew up

I understood

it’s not personal

these debates

one side against the other

it’s

ignorance

fear

intolerance.

 

I do not need to justify

my opinions

my beliefs

only stand by them and witness;

time

and life

will educate,

communicate

illuminate

and we will

either

stumble and fall

or

step and rise

climb

the mountain of wisdom.

 

Vitriol

solves nothing

starts wars

causes

death

estrangement

 

Let us,

instead,

drink tea (or coffee, if you prefer) and debate

as adults

our opinions. An honest, open discourse

and agree to disagree

if we must

each,

tolerant

respecting

the other’s right to be

wrong.

 

(Image credit: jordan-rowland-wtlloyrn70e-unsplash.jpg)

 

 

 

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Filed under Life, Morality, Musings, Poetry, Politics, Real Life, Relationships, Writing

I Challenge You to be Respectful in the Face of Conflict


Did you know that it’s possible to be friends and/or maintain positive connections with someone even when you fundamentally disagree with each other about how to do life? If you’re friends or colleagues who keep in touch outside of the work place/space, then there must be something you like or admire about each other. Perhaps you like their ability to tell a story if they’re an author or perhaps you like their sense of humor or you admire their experiences or their ability to see the good in everything.

These are all reasons why I have rarely ever unfriended or unfollowed anyone on social media, and why I’m careful about who I do friend or follow. About half of my social media contacts are colleagues in the literary and/or academic fields, and in the ideals most important to me – Faith, lifestyle, fundamental freedoms, and yes, even politics – we rarely see eye-to-eye.

But that isn’t reason enough to turn my back on them. I love the diversity – intellectual, physical, spiritual, emotional – of my friends, family and colleagues. I don’t seek to agree on every topic with all of my connections. That would be disastrous to my growth as a person of intelligence and reason. People who seek to befriend and network only with those who agree with them are severely shortsighted and, dare I say, foolish. I’ve been persecuted and denied for my beliefs and opinions, and refuse to do that to others, as long as we’re able to preserve a mutually respectful connection. I maintain constant vigil on my conversations to ensure that I remain respectful, even in the face of disagreement.

I did recently unfriend someone on Facebook and unfollow another person on Twitter. The former Facebook friend is someone I know in real life, someone who’s company and conversation I’ve enjoyed on multiple occasions. What I couldn’t stomach and refused to make excuses for any longer was their constant disrespect and vitriol (talk about hate speech) toward my conservative friends. All of whom I’ve known longer than this individual. It got to the point that some people were questioning whether they should unfriend ME because of this person. Which quickly raised my anxiety level. I made the decision to unfriend this person for my sanity and to save my other connections; one person wasn’t worth further endangering my established network.

I don’t have a problem with debate and disagreement, especially when I’ve posted something encouraging it on my page, but I DO have a problem when you can’t keep a civil tongue in your head, and post a hateful, mean-spirited word vomit on my page. Especially when said words are uttered (or written) by someone who is supposed to be mature. An adult. At least according to their chronological age. If nothing else, dealing with people should teach you that you draw more bees with honey (respect will get you further than truculence).

To me, descent into name calling and hurling insults is something that we learn to rein in somewhere about the time we graduate from high school and realize that the rest of the world doesn’t operate that way. Or it shouldn’t, anyway…as our minds and bodies mature, so should our conversation and ability to disagree or debate with courtesy and civility.

The person I unfollowed on Twitter is an author I’ve followed for years. Someone who’s books I’ve read for years. I will probably continue to read their books. But their constant foul-mouthed and hateful comments against the current presidential administration – and that’s ALL they have been tweeting about lately – were triggering. This person has the absolute right to think, feel and say whatever they want, just as I have the absolute right to unfollow them so their vitriol won’t continue to blow up my Twitter feed and make the blood vessels in my eyes burst.

Here’s what I believe – what I’ve always believed (well, at least since I hit mid-twenties and actually began to THINK and not just ACT or REACT) – and have found to be true in 8 out of 10 cases (because there are always those who cannot sustain a relationship when they disagree on fundamentals). Treat others the way you want to be treated. AKA: The Golden Rule. And it IS golden. That’s it. Well, with a healthy dose of humor thrown in for good measure. That’s the secret to gaining and maintaining friendships and connections across dissenting views on lifestyle, religion and politics.

No matter how my connections respond – whether they love me or hate me, or something in between – I have to stay sane, be true to myself, be able to look at my reflection in the mirror every morning and every night. I have to be able to sleep at night and wake in the morning. I have to be able to meet my Maker with a clear conscience. Treating others the way I wish to be treated, with a side of humor, even – maybe especially – when we disagree, ensures that I can do all of those things.

Everyone has something to give. Everyone is unique. Everyone has something about them that makes them special. Everyone has a story to tell. I encourage you – I CHALLENGE YOU – to focus on those things, the qualities you first admired most about them, and let the rest go.

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Pro-Life and Pro-Death Penalty Don’t Compare


Photo by Alicia Petresc on Unsplash

 

Trigger warning and offense disclaimer: The title should be sufficient, but in case it’s not, consider yourself  warned that this post discusses abortion. I present facts, statistics, my own experiences and opinions, none of which are meant to offend or trigger. That being said, I’ve no doubt that some people WILL be triggered and/or offended. You continue reading at your own risk.

___________________________________________

 

Although I’m writing this post in response to a Facebook post authored by one of my cousins, it’s long been on my mind and in my heart, so I decided to make it a blog post.

 

My Personal Stance

I am both pro-choice and pro-life. The two do not necessarily cancel out each other. Life is just as much of a choice as abortion. I just happen to believe that abortion is the wrong choice. I don’t condemn women who make this choice (it’s not my jurisdiction), but it does fill me with sorrow for the innocent life taken and with sadness for the woman who made that choice, because, unless she’s severely lacking on the emotional quotient scale, that choice will affect her mental health for the rest of her life.

I don’t believe there’s any difference between aborting an unborn child and murdering a five-year-old child. Both are living human beings. The survival of one should be just as important as the other.

The Bible supports the sanctity of human life (yes, I have to bring “religion” into it, because it influences my beliefs). Just a few scripture references: Genesis 9:5-6, Exodus 23:7, Psalm 22:9-10.

 

Death Penalty Versus Abortion

I am also pro-death penalty and don’t believe this to be hypocritical, as there’s really no comparison between the two. Abortion takes an innocent life before she or he has had a chance to live and exercise his or her God-given free will. The death penalty takes the life of someone who has used his or her free will to hurt others and deny them of their free will. In this case, the laws of our country and the balance of justice have weighed the evidence and testimony and judged them, as is their God-given right to do. (Romans 13:1-4, I Peter 2:13-17)

I’ve found that most people who are against the death penalty are also against murder and blood-shed in general.

Have you ever seen photos or videos of abortions? I have. (I won’t include any of those here. You’re welcome.) It’s one of the bloodiest acts I’ve ever seen. Make no mistake, abortion is VIOLENT and that unborn baby (by 6 weeks gestation, the unborn is FULLY FORMED) FEELS EVERY MINUTE OF THEIR DISMEMBERMENT.

At least in most states, the death penalty is carried out by lethal injection. How about we hack them to death while they’re awake and aware instead?

That would be cruel and unusual punishment, you say? You are correct.

 

My Argument

I present to you an argument against abortion that I have rarely seen or heard: abortion is NOT the woman exercising free will over her own body. Abortion is the murder of an innocent human life that resides WITHIN the woman’s body. A woman’s freedom to do as she likes with her body ends when that freedom endangers the life of another human being. In this case, the unborn child living within her.

This is NOT a choice of what to do with your own body; this is the decision of what to do with the body, life, soul and future of another human being. And according to the laws of this country, in any other situation, that is a crime punishable by death in some states or life in prison without the possibility of parole in others.

 

Legality vs Illegality

Prior to Roe v Wade, abortion was prohibited (illegal) in the USA. EVERY state had a statute against abortion, some more lenient than others, but most made abortion (except for fetal abnormality or rape or incest) a felony, and the 14th Amendment supported those statutes. (You remember this one: “…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”)

It was the height of irony then, when in 1973, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun used this same Amendment to support his (majority) opinion in Roe v Wade that abortion is protected based upon the woman’s fundamental “right to privacy.” And one of the most controversial precedents to ever be set by the U.S. Supreme Court was born.

That is the ONLY thing it stands on. Abortion isn’t covered in the Constitution (like so many proponents claim), yet a judge set a precedent for it, in violation of states’ statutes against it. That’s all legal abortion is; a precedent.

The reason it’s such a hot topic in this country is because it was never put to a vote. It was never presented as a bill, it was never listed on a federal ballot. Instead, one man made the decision that said “it’s okay,” and his fellows voted either with or against.

 

Current Politics

What states are doing now with their abortion ban bills – Alabama, Georgia, others – is forcing this issue. It will eventually have to be brought to a vote to avoid a potential political civil war.

(Oh. Wait. We already have one of those.)

THIS – voting on issues that affect the nation – is how our system is supposed to work. We are a democratic republic, not an oligarchy.

 

Abortion Rate Facts: Florida

Since I live in Florida, those are the abortion rate facts I will share. For statistics in your own state, have a quick conversation with Mr. Google.

Florida records a reason for every abortion that occurs within the state. The most recent data available from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and Guttmacher Institute (research arm of Planned Parenthood) are from 2015. That year, there were 71,740 abortions performed in Florida:

  • Pregnancy resulted from an incestuous relationship: .001%
  • Pregnancy that endangered the woman’s life: .065%
  • Pregnancy resulted from rape: .085%
  • Pregnancy threatened the woman’s physical health: .288%
  • Pregnancy threatened the woman’s psychological health: .294%
  • Serious fetal abnormality: .666%
  • Pregnancy aborted for social or economic reasons: 6.268%
  • Elective abortion (no reason): 92.330%

According to the state-level data (CDC data and Guttmacher Institute data typically have a 2-3 years reporting lag), so the more recent than 2015 details aren’t yet available, but overall in Florida:

  • Total abortions (2018): 70,083
  • Total abortions (2017): 69,064
  • Total abortions (2016): 69,770

 

What About Rape or Incest?

Do I believe that abortion is wrong in the cases of rape or incest? As a woman and a survivor of child sexual abuse, I’m still conflicted about that, and probably always will be.

As I said before, I won’t judge other women for it, but since you’re asking my opinion (thank you), I think it should be a case-by-case situation, just like the death penalty and any other legal consequence.

By the way, pregnancy resulting from rape or incest make up LESS THAN ONE PERCENT OF ALL ABORTIONS, NATIONWIDE.

You want to know what accounts for the highest percentage of abortions in this country? I’ll tell you anyway. INCONVENIENT & UNWANTED. If only there was a way to see into the future and have those women sterilized upon birth. Then they wouldn’t have to worry about a small human – INCONVENIENT & UNWANTED –taking up temporary residence in their wombs.

Something to remember: rape and incest themselves leave the victim traumatized. Aborting a pregnancy resulting from either of these will cause the woman even MORE physical and psychological trauma. When the woman is physically capable of carrying the pregnancy to term, I believe it’s best to do so, and then if she doesn’t want to keep the child, give him or her up for adoption.

 

Mental Health Issues

Which brings me to the mental health issues side of things. As I live with depression and anxiety and suffered post-partum depression, the mental health issues involved in abortion are always on the front burner of my mind.

Among other validating research, a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 2011 found that “women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems, and nearly 10 percent of the incidence of mental health problems was shown to be directly attributable to abortion.”

Other documented mental health issues directly relatable to abortion are:

  • A suicide rate that is 3 times higher than the general suicide rate, and 6 times that associated with giving birth
  • Women who end their first pregnancy in abortion are 5 times more likely to report subsequent substance abuse than women who carried to term
  • Mood disorders substantial enough to provoke attempts of self-harm

 

The Case for Abstinence and Contraceptives

The best case scenario is abstinence. No sex until you are ready to live with any resulting pregnancy. Even the CDC advises that “the only sure way to prevent pregnancy, HIV, and other STDs is not to have sex.”

  • If you cannot afford a child, don’t have sex; if you’re in a committed relationship, use contraceptive.
  • If you aren’t mentally prepared to carry, birth and raise a child, don’t have sex; if you’re in a committed relationship, use contraceptive.
  • If you have a medical condition that would cause problems with you or the child during or after pregnancy, don’t have sex; if you’re in a committed relationship, use contraceptive.

Of course, if you’re LGBTQ, this argument doesn’t really apply to you. Most lesbians of my acquaintance who are or have been pregnant did so because they WANTED a bio-child. Otherwise, I suppose a happy side-effect of being LGBTQ is knowing that you don’t have to deal with an unwanted pregnancy.

 

The Case for Adoption

There’s also the option of carrying the child to term and giving him or her up for adoption. There are plenty of people in the USA unable to have a child who would be happy to adopt. This has the added benefit of financially supporting the pregnant woman and ensuring the child has a loving home with parents who want him or her. Ever see the movie Juno? Like that.

 

The Father’s Right

I know this is argument is at least as controversial as the topic of abortion itself. Maybe more so. (I feel thousands of hostile glances as I write this.)

Unless the case is rape or incest (in which case the male in question should be denied ALL basic human rights), I believe that the father (if known) has the right to consent (or not) to the abortion. It took two to create the pregnancy (as long as it results from legally consensual sex); it should take two to decide to terminate the pregnancy.

If the woman wants an abortion and the man doesn’t, then the man should make it worth the woman’s efforts – financial support, mental health support, etc. If the two are married, I hope they would agree on the pregnancy anyway. But if not, and the woman is healthy enough to carry the child to term, but doesn’t want the pregnancy, then the father needs to step up and be supportive enough to weigh the scales of decision in his favor.

 

My Story

I was born with a congenital heart condition, commonly known at that time (1970s) as a heart murmur. The diagnosis has changed several times in the past 45 years, but the one that’s stuck is bi-cuspid valve stenosis (of the aorta). This used to mean that at some point in my forties or fifties I would need open heart surgery to replace my aortic valve with either a metal, pig or human valve. But medicine has advanced – and my condition has stabilized – to the point that I may NEVER need a valve replacement. I give God all the glory.

Hayden, 2019.
Photo credit: @kcaphoto (https://www.kaleenacarolannphoto.com/)

What all of this meant when I became pregnant at 26, was that I was high risk, and therefore under careful scrutiny by a team of doctors. Even more so as I lived in Wichita Falls, Texas, at the time, and two women with my condition – one previously diagnosed, one not – had died on the delivery table.

Things like that have a tendency to make the doctors fussy. Hence, not only was my cardiologist nervous, and I ended up being sent to Fort Worth for an induced, early delivery, but one of my doctors wanted me to have an abortion. I refused. I saw it – and still see it – as God’s jurisdiction.

This situation is what is referred to as “medically necessary.” And yet. I survived. My child survived. We both thrived. In fact, my son is handsome (see above photo evidence) and brilliant. He will graduate high school later this month, and plans to go into the field of cyber security. I’m a proud mama.

There was NO medical necessity as far as I’m concerned.

I have a friend who was also high risk. For her, it was breast cancer. She refused to have an abortion and refused chemo until after her daughter was born. Like me, she trusted God. Her delivery was successful, as was the chemo. Today, both mother and daughter are healthy and thriving, and the mother is cancer-free.

 

Friends and Acquaintances

I have friends who have had abortions. Some of them, multiple abortions. As already stated earlier, there are life-long consequences to abortion. All of these women have suffered varying degrees of depression, anxiety and PTSD:

  • One woman, when she decided she WANTED a child, was not able to get pregnant; abortion had destroyed her womb
  • One woman hadn’t told her living children (although she may have by now; I haven’t inquired) about her abortions, for fear of their disgust
  • One woman had an abortion as a young teen – her parent’s choice – and still struggles with depression, many years later
  • One woman had an abortion because she was unwed. Though she had several children later, she has never stopped mourning the one she aborted

 

In Conclusion

Happily, statistics show significant drops in abortions over the last 25+ years. Total abortions have dropped more than 27 percent since 1998. According to Guttmacher, the first time abortions fell below 1 million since Roe v Wade was in 2013. They have continued to decline since then.

Yes. By all means, allow the woman to make the choice over her own body. The life she carries IS NOT HER OWN BODY.

I will always treat women who choose to have abortions with love and compassion. But I will never stop trying to convince them to choose LIFE over death.

 

Comments are welcome, but please be rational and respectful.

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