Sunday, May 06, 2007

You're Entitled? Really? Says Who? And to What?

What with all the fiscal brouhaha surrounding the various "entitlements" today, I'm often struck by my own lack of a sense of entitlement, or at least lowered expectations of entitlement. My mother and a now unnamed Catholic priest disabused me of "entitlement" some sixty years ago.

Mother first: I desperately wanted a toy of some sort, and I carefully planned my statement of need to my mother. I can't remember the specifics of the actual approach, but I've never forgotten the immediate result, "No. I need new shoes, and I can't afford a toy right now."


There was no appeal.

Around that time, a couple of seconds, perhaps, in terms of the longevity of the earth, I was sitting in church with my Mother (Where was my father during all of this?), listening to a sermon about family. I remember being very pleased with myself--this was a sermon about me, since I was part of a family. All of a sudden, the priest said something to the effect of (I'll use quotes, but, really, who can remember the exact quote of a sermon decades past?), "Remember, the relationship between the husband and wife is the most important part of a family. Not the children."


No. No. No. I am the most important part of this family!

I remember looking at my mother, shocked, and she looked back at me with the (memory may fail the exactitude, but not the message) equivalent shrug of, "What? You're surprised? Get real."

Eventually, I did.

All of this is remembered today because of the lead opinion column in today's Los Angeles Times. Dan Neil, a writer for the Times has penned a personal essay about abortion. It is engrossing.*

The Neils, for medical reasons, and, after much consultation and deliberation, underwent a medical procedure which ended the pregnancies of two male fetuses, leaving two female fetuses intact.

The reason Neil gives for the decision was simple; without the abortion, "[Her] health would have been in jeopardy, according to her doctor. The fact is, multiple pregnancies are high risk, and they can go bad very suddenly. I wasn't going to allow that, though the fires of hell might beckon."

The Neils wanted children very badly; they had been in consultation with fertility specialists. The pregnancy, however, had not been easy. He was, rightly, concerned most about the health of his wife. The fetuses were secondary.

Neil goes on to discuss the recent Supreme Court decision to allow the federal statute banning certain late term abortions to stand. He particularly mentions the comments of Justice Kennedy which, patronizingly, states this law is good for women because it protects them from "the mental and moral trauma of the procedure."

We should thank the Neils for their courage. Making their story public can't have been an easy decision. Surely it wasn't as difficult, though, as the decision to undergo the procedure.

Neil also raises other issues, such as time limitations and the macabre law in South Carolina where a woman must look at a sonogram of her fetus.

There are alarm bells ringing out there. Is anyone listening? This is an "entitlement" women really don't want to lose.

No one is pro-abortion; everyone should be pro-choice.

*The print copy is titled "And then there were two," while the on-line copy if called "The abortion debate brought home." Why does the Times do that?

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