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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Infanticide's Darker Ages

In her Aug. 9 letter ``Abortion's Dark Ages,'' (Akron-Beacon Journal) Peggy Phillips decried the days of illegal abortion and feared the return to a time when ``many women will be forced to endure such dangerous procedures that put their lives at risk.''

Never did she sympathize with fetuses that may experience horrific pain during pregnancy termination. Medical advances now make us privy to more scientific data regarding childbearing from conception forward than in 1973, when Roe v. Wade was decided. DNA tests predict babies' sex at five weeks after conception. Pregnancy calendars inform us in Week 6 of the ``beginnings of the central nervous system,'' which receives pain signals.

Pro-abortionists' desire to keep abortion legal is more about parental convenience and abdication of responsibility than anything. It's a wrong mind-set I too employed in the past, growing up in a self-centered society whose laws during most of my life made it OK for me to murder children.

There have been darker times than the back-alley abortion days. In Sparta, circa 500 B.C., Greeks tossed healthy babies off cliffs. Infanticide was the accepted norm in their adult-focused society and reflected in their laws. No wonder many prosperous and egotistical ancient communities were obliterated. Divine retribution lives on.

Prenatal 3-D ultrasounds in living color make developing babies more real to us than ever before, morphing abortion into an exercise tantamount to infanticide. People who recognize this are putting political power behind newfound understanding. It's why more than double the number of African-Americans like me living in our crucial swing state of Ohio voted for George W. Bush in 2004 than did in 2000.

Despite the bloody war on terror, I'm grateful the Bush administration is winning another silent, sinister war. John Roberts and Samuel Alito sit on the Supreme Court poised to enact change. I look to states with legislation like South Dakota's with bated breath.

Yes, unwanted pregnancy because of rape is unspeakable. Irresponsible and lost teens bearing unwelcome children must be shamefully awful. Desperate pregnant women ingesting poison is horrible. But none of these arguments ever turns two wrongs into one right and makes me concede, ``OK, ripthose little limbs apart.'' Why should innocent children take the brunt of adult mistakes?

I agree with pro-abortionists on this: Right-to-lifers should put money where our mouths are and support disadvantaged kids -- financially, emotionally and spiritually -- who are already born. But this argument is largely a smoke screen evading the real issue: It is not OK to take the life of a baby, be it on this side of the birth canal or the other.

This op/ed was originally printed Tuesday, August 29, 2006 in the Akron-Beacon Journal.

"It is poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." Mother Teresa
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Friday, August 25, 2006

A Kept Woman

Jesus and Me

There’s been a big debate lately about college-educated housewives, and if we’re wasting our brains and baccalaureates by abandoning good jobs to wipe little noses and butts all day. It started with Linda Hirshman’s “Homeward Bound” article in The American Prospect, wherein she decried homemaking as a detrimental road leading to a “demonstrable future loss of income, power, and security for the woman who quits.”

Intense reaction to the piece landed Hirshman in “Good Morning America” segments that engaged career, hybrid and at-home moms in side-by-side tête-à-têtes. One homemaker was asked if she feared her husband leaving her destitute. Hesitating slightly, a nanosecond of silence masking her dumbfounded state, she offered a terse and defensive, “No.”

If only she’d let down her more-motherly-than-thou guard long enough to tell the truth: that some of us save promising want ads until late-afternoon lessons with our kids compel us to toss them. That after heated fights with our husbands, we stare into nothingness and long for the freedom our discarded dollars might have bought, mentally calculating the months since the end date of the last “real job” on our resumes. That sometimes we ask:
What the hell have I done?

When Two Bucks Become One
Housewives of the 1960s and ‘70s weren’t experiencing this dilemma; they were escaping their kitchens and storming boardrooms, copies of Betty Friedan’s 1963 call-to-work manifesto,
The Feminine Mystique, tucked into their rigid Samsonite briefcases.

Of the 5.6 million moms who stayed home in 2005, I bet a good deal of them are like me, still reeling from the emotional upheaval that accompanies losing one’s entire income to rely completely on that of another. My question is: If those ERA-fueled ladies of yesteryear gained economic parity, greater independence and more autonomy by joining the rat race, have contemporary women who’ve opted-out now lost all those same things?

Money, Power, Respect
I sought out
The Feminine Mystique for answers to my middle-class angst, to the “problem that has no name.” In it Friedan admits that monetary fulfillment isn’t everything, but writes in the epilogue that “only economic independence can free a woman…” I agree that money is key; I won’t go so far as to call it king.

Education is also a strong factor, but not a cure all. One lawyer-turned-homemaker said she wanted her daughter be career-focused, as if that would insulate her from economic dependence. “But when she gets married and has kids…and if she doesn’t want to put them in day care…” I trailed off, both of us speechlessly understanding the cyclical conundrum.

Marrying Up, Divorcing Down
Betrothing ourselves to business bigwigs isn’t the bottom line either, though you wouldn’t know it from the way some of us spout off our husbands’ company names and job titles as social-status markers. I’ve known homemakers whose mates made decent salaries but refused to give their wives credit cards or much cash. Some full-time moms bank on the divorce card. One well-to-do wife pointed out her hot nanny’s piece-of-crap car to her husband in case he ever developed designs on the young lady. “That’s what you’ll be driving, because I’ll have everything else,” she warned.

You Gotta Serve Somebody
Call me a romantic (or a proud and stubborn fool), but I’m determined to be a mom contributing serious cha-ching to the household income, with enough flex-time to still pick up my kids from school. Like Julie Aigner-Clark, who, as a stay-at-home mother, noticed a need to expose tots to the arts. Using $15,000 and borrowed equipment, she filmed in her basement the first two videos in the wildly successful Baby Einstein series, a brand she later sold to Disney for an estimated $20 million. Even when I’m rich and famous, I won’t put my security in fabulous lucre alone. Economies downturn, companies downsize. Black Mondays send “Masters of the Universe” sailing out of high-rise windows.

This is where get-to-work experts get the equation wrong and discount the intangible value of housewifery, so busy are they calculating our “million dollar mommy tax.” Yes, at-home childcare should be recognized as valuable work and compensated accordingly, but I’m not banking on Uncle Sam to cover my arrears. I subscribe to a fishes-and-loaves theory that says one plus one doesn’t always equal two. Sometimes it equals a thousand.

I’d be lying if I said the resurrected hotbed issue hasn’t made me rethink my working status. Maybe it is time to start chasing bigger bylines from the vantage point of a cluttered desk outside my house. But when I do, it won’t be from financial fear-mongering, but because I’m walking head first into the door opened unto me at the perfect time – not by the hardworking and well-connected bridegroom who is the conduit of my current prosperity, but by the only One who has kept me all along.

Paula Mooney is editor-in-chief of Real Moms magazine.

Paula Neal Mooney