inner home

Coming Out of Challenging Times & Finding “Inner Home”

As those close to me know, since late 2017 I’ve had big challenges and change in my life. After seven years of dealing with my mother’s descent into Alzheimer’s, near the end of 2017 she fell and passed away shortly after. Four months later, in the midst of a two-month stay in Point Loma, California, immersed in researching and writing an upcoming book, my godson’s father (a dear friend of mine) called giving me horrible news.

Continue reading “Coming Out of Challenging Times & Finding “Inner Home””
childfree sterilization

On Childfree Sterilization: Shifting from Paternalism to Reproductive Autonomy

I sure like seeing more pieces out there these days on childfree sterilization in popular women’s publications. A recent piece in SELF on this topic deserves mention. After Deputy Editor Nina Bahadur relays a few women’s frustrating experiences and describes what male and female sterilization procedures involve, she gets into the ethical issues that need more talking about. Continue reading “On Childfree Sterilization: Shifting from Paternalism to Reproductive Autonomy”

Why Ashley Judd is Childfree

I am reading Ashley Judd’s memoir, All That is Bitter & Sweet. I have been a big fan of her acting work, and now learning more about her international humanitarian work –  Amazing and inspiring.  And she is childfree – Early on in the book she describes why she chose not to have children… Continue reading “Why Ashley Judd is Childfree”

Dodged Electing a Personhood President!

First, hats off to reproductive rights supporters who won last night!

If we had elected a “personhood” President, there would be cause for great concern.  While personhood and abortion were hot issues during the campaign, one aspect related to both that didn’t seem to come up like it could of, at least in my observation, is the discussion of the definitive answer to the question, When does human life begin?

Anti-abortion factions are stuck on “the moment of conception” as the answer.  But as Tamara Mann writes in her Huffpo piece, “Heartbeat: My Involuntary Miscarriage and ‘Voluntary Abortion’ in Ohio:”

“There is little consensus among biologists, doctors and ethicists on when life begins. The language here can be tricky. There all sorts of things they agree are alive — from cells, to animals, to people. But that is not what they mean when they discuss life in utero. In this case, they mean life as something endowed with humanness, and worthy of rights…”

It is not just about whether something is “alive,” but at what point is it human life, or the term that has now been used in many of the legislative attempts to prevent abortions – personhood.

As Mann points out “…the literature reveals a litany (italics mine) of standards for determining personhood: conception (day 1), implantation (day 6-7), detectable heartbeat (approximately week 6), detectable brain activity (approximately week 8), quickening (when the mother can feel the fetus moving), development of the cerebral cortex (at the end of the first trimester), viability outside the mother’s body (now as early as 24 weeks with medical support), when the head is visible during labor, and when the baby takes its first breath. Smart, thoughtful people genuinely disagree.”

supreme courtAnd really smart people in the highest court in the land have not come to the answer. Even as far back as 1973, the Supreme Court indicated that people trained in “respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus” and the Court itself “could not resolve the question of when life begins.”

Where do many people go for the answer to this question? To their church. When her doctor told her fetus was “not compatible with life” – that  it would not “survive the pregnancy” and that it should be removed, this is what Ms. Mann did.

The fetus had a heartbeat, and she was not sure what to do, and went to a rabbi for counsel. She learned that “In Judaism, the dominant metaphor for life is not the heartbeat — it is the breath. In Genesis 2:7, God breathes life into man: ‘Then the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man become a living soul.’ Even that final word, soul, nefesh, can be translated as breath.”

Jewish law errs on the side of the mother’s health, and does not see a fetus as “a life.” As Jodi Jacobson, Editor-in-chief of RH Reality Check describes it, Jewish law “does not recognize an egg, embryo, or fetus as a person or full human being, but rather ‘part and parcel of the pregnant women’s body,’ the rights of which are subjugated to the health and well-being of the mother until birth.”

The Vatican disagrees, and see the fertilized egg is a “person” with full rights under the law.  The United Methodist Church – it sees it differently and “recognizes the primacy of the rights and health of women.” And “Islamic scholars, like Jewish scholars, have debated the issues of “ensoulment” and personhood, and continue to do so with no over-riding consensus.”

There is clearly not one answer to the question of personhood.  The problem is the “Moment of Conceptionists” do not accept this, and feel so right about their religious position they want all of us to follow it.

As we head into the next four years, expect this contingent to continue to attempt to make personhood, not Roe v Wade, the law of the land. Expect them to try and chip away at this law any way they can.

However, we will have a president at the helm who can make sure the highest Court continues to see the answer to “when life begins” for what it is – a matter of personal belief, and the right to privacy to make personal choices based on those beliefs.

Laura Carroll

Happy World Contraception Day

Today is World Contraception Day (WCD). It’s been organized by the European Society of Contraception since September 2007.  According to WomanCare Global, it is a global campaign that recognizes the importance of access to contraception for women around the world” and has a “mission to… Continue reading “Happy World Contraception Day”