A "culture of life"
may be reality or deadly dogma.
Several neurologists examined Terry Schiavo and reported she had been in a persistent vegetative
state for several years, so her feeding tube was removed. Congressional
leaders and the President objected, trumpeting the “culture of
same Congressional leadership and President enacted a budget
that took Medicaid medical insurance away from hundreds
of thousands of children and their parents who struggle to care
for their children’s medical, food, and other necessities.
What kind of a “culture
of life” applies to that one woman, but does not apply to
so many children and their beleaguered parents? Is that deadly dogma?
Why do those conservative Christians
who talk so much about the “culture of life” limit it to abortion, birth control, embryonic stem
cell research, and end-of-life choice.
There is a belief by some conservative Christian groups that a zygote or fetus is more important than a living, breathing, caring mother. Then I read Exodus 21.22-25. So through studying the Bible, tradition and history, logic, and experience I find the mother infinitely more important than a fetus or zygote! Then I learned two things:
- Jewish religious law commands—not permits, but commands—that if a fetus threatens the mother's life, the fetus is destroyed so that the mother can live. This law covers the whole pregnancy up to the moment when a newborn breathes on its own.
- most women who have abortions are mothers. Their birth control failed or they feel that another child will overwhelm them.
I think a real “culture
of life” must focus on domestic violence, child neglect and
abuse, murder, war! These are
about living people facing traumatic, ultimate horrors. I
believe those who are so loud about a “culture of life” want
to distract us from the reality of child and domestic violence, of young children not receiving food and health care.
Instead of abortion
and stem cells, start with child neglect and abuse. In 1998 in the
U.S. 2,806,000 child abuse reports were filed, and 53% came from professionals.
How many abused children were not reported? 204 Texas children
died in 2004 due to abuse! Some of the religious
right teach that parents should punish their
over the last six years over a million women have survived domestic
violence, because they called or went to shelters. How many more stayed
in abusive, violent relationships? How many women were stabbed, assaulted,
murdered in your area? How many million survive physical and traumatic violence nationwide?
Worldwide? Some of the religious right preach that men should dominate
and women should be submissive! Is that a culture of life? Or are men
and women to be in partnership?
In the U. S. murder
is an epidemic. In Los Angeles last year 592 were murdered and 489
in New York City—well over one a day! Why do so many Americans
jump from anger to murder?
Please recognize that child
abuse and domestic violence and murder happen in the middle and upper
World War II claimed the lives of 55,000,000 people, many women, children,
elderly targeted by invading armies and in their cities by what came to
be called "the blitz" and "carpet bombing." Is
the scourge of war an addiction of some leaders? See
the recent documentaries Fog of War and Why
We Fight both
a realistic culture
of life teaches
- how to resolve conflicts
- how to manage anger,
- how to respect differences
and reach across differences with understanding, with acceptance,
- respects and affirms women and men, old and young, as having inalienable
rights, and that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of
Are the real advocates
of a "culture of life" the volunteers at rape crisis and
domestic violence agencies and at shelters for abused children? The professional social workers and many other professionals who work
with abused children and adults to be survivors, who work with gangs
to reduce violence, who teach conflict resolution, and bridge the gaps
2005 John F. Yeaman