Why #IStandWithPP Today

September 29, 2015

After months of vicious attacks involving videotaped conversations portraying Planned Parenthood employees selling “baby parts” on the black market for profit, our country’s budget is nearly stalled out as right-wing Republicans call for “investigations” and threaten to shut down the government.  This is not the first time women’s rights have been under attack, nor will it be the last, because we live in a misogynistic culture.  Even though I live in a mostly upper middle class white neighborhood, I see signs of it each and every day among affluent women – grown women who choose to dress, speak and live according to “norms” and standards that a male-dominated culture has established for them – and they don’t even seem to notice or mind.  Well I do.

"Pipe Women" by Fox Photos on Getty Images
“Pipe Women” by Fox Photos on Getty Images

To be clear, I think abortion is a tragically sad thing and I assure you, nobody that has one is thrilled about it.  I have seen many women experience gut-wrenching self-examination and heartache as they consider their alternatives when they find themselves pregnant before they are ready to raise a family.

For them, abortion should be a legal, accessible, safe procedure.

Cutting federal funding to Planned Parenthood clinics only restricts access to many important and life-saving services that women, mostly poor, desperately need:  cancer screenings, sexually transmitted disease screenings and treatment, and birth control, to begin with.

Engaging in campaigns to change women’s minds once they have decided to have an abortion is both ineffective (even though the Pro-Life movement can always drudge up examples of a select few unborn they have “saved” outside an abortion clinic) and harassing.     It is also deeply egregious to assume that a woman who chooses to terminate a pregnancy has neither the will nor the capability to consider all her alternatives.

Women-Quotes-in-English-Quotes-of-Madeleine-Albright-There-is-a-special-place-in-hell-for-women-who-dont-help-other-women-Famous-Women-Quotes.

This quote by Madeleine Albright really pertains to the workplace.  I don’t even know if she is pro-choice.  Nonetheless, I feel moved to share it in this context because it is shameful that any woman would presume to bully a sister rather than support her in her time of deepest need and possibly shame.  To those women (and men) I say this:   It does not matter whether you believe life begins at conception or not:  are you going to raise the unwanted child?  

“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”. — Sister Joan Chittister, Catholic Nun

Even though adoption exists, even adoption experts report that there are barriers to a pregnant woman choosing this option that go beyond just the accessibility of the choice:  shame, fear, lack of financial and social support, psychological inability to cope with carrying a baby to term and then losing it.  It takes a very strong person to carry a pregnancy to term knowing that at the end there will only be heartache and loss.  Those women that choose this option/path are to be praised.  But we cannot all emulate them. That’s the fact.

So, today, I join millions of men and women across the country in simply asserting that Planned Parenthood is an important organization – especially for women – that provides many critical services to the poorest among us and that, dismantling it by restricting access through funding or any other means is just wrong.  Abortions will continue regardless of whether they are legal and safe.  Shouldn’t women live in a culture that supports choice and promotes safe, affordable, legal access to reproductive services?  I think so.

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Rummage Sale Treasures

veThN3II am a chronically late, flighty, completely disorganized, unprofessional but very caring and easy to get along with person.  I love meeting new people.  I enjoy the “glamour” of shopping.  And I love the men and women I have gotten to know over the years at my church, which hosts an annual rummage sale that serves mostly homeless and working poor people.  When someone tapped me on the shoulder at church and asked if I’d consider heading up this year’s “Main Street Marketplace,” it sounded fun to me and not terribly difficult.  I’d figure it out the week before – like everything else – I told myself.  Pulling-Cart celebrate-father-s-day-with-these-20-awesome-tv-dads7 Little did I know the “Main Street Marketplace” would become a lively 3-ring circus that really just required some steady, loving guidance – which really suited me perfectly.  I am so grateful to the many kind and wise people at my church for choosing me to be involved with this ministry – because, like many ministries, I discovered that I was being changed and “ministered to” by the steady roll of “street people” who shopped our sale those busy 4 days.  Here is what I learned:

  • There is DIGNITY in selling used and gently worn items to a very appreciative public.  Much more than a simple exchange of goods for dollars, I discovered that overseeing the transactions occurring at my church’s rummage sale were celebrations of humanity and the roads we must sometimes take to nurture our bodies and care for loved ones.  I don’t know where I ever got the idea that to buy something from a rummage sale should feel “shameful” because, if anything, my experience at Main Street Marketplace was the complete opposite:  resounding JOY and ABUNDANCE were the equalizing themes at our sale.  Everyone who walked through the door was greeted warmly and treated with dignity – you did not need a “VIP” pass to experience our exclusive shopping experience.
  • There is VALUE in everything.  We humans are so very clever and industrious.  There were people digging around our tables looking for specific articles of clothing or kitchen utensils – to be put to use again in the service of their households.  If anything could be considered “repurposed spirituality,” I would argue that the transactions taking place between purchasers and sellers at the church rummage sale are such.  From the hands of Christians unto the households of other Christians, Jews, Protestants, Muslims, agnostics – what have you – our sale put otherwise discarded items to good use for the greater good of other souls.  What higher purpose is there?

Never before have I witnessed such courtesy and exquisite manners as I did those 4 days from the patrons of our community rummage sale.  I expected Walmart nation – rude, careless, thoughtless behavior – and I was astonished to experience the opposite.  One family with 5 children under the age of 10 came to the sale and stayed for more than 2 hours.  The children were clean, quiet, sweet and very attentive to the needs of their youngest sister, the baby in the carseat.  An elderly woman from the neighborhood insisted on carrying her own items – no matter how many trips it took – back to her apartment, and thanked us profusely for holding her treasures for safekeeping until she could manage to return for the remaining items.  Each time she greeted me with hugs and “thank you’s” – enough to last a lifetime.  Finally, there was the homeless man with the cart who requested we roll his winter clothes he purchased in such a way that they would fit snugly into the saddle bags he had attached to the sides of his cart.  After all, he had a 10-mile walk back to Wyandotte County that night, and securing his $11.00 worth of purchases was extremely important.  He smiled graciously with bright and happy eyes – and told me he loved me when I gave him the “grand total” for his purchases!  How can this experience not forever change one’s idea of what is valuable and meaningful in life? My takeaway thought:  If I am not asked to head of the Main Street Marketplace again next year I shall INSIST that I do so!  The time spent in service to our community with fellow church members was invaluable to me.  I think it is one of the MOST IMPORTANT ministries of our church.