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The Tentacle


February 11, 2003

The Buzz Around Town

Bethany Stevenson

Weekly errands afford the opportunity to "buzz around" our town. Recent trips have brought protesters face to face with my car. Shockingly enough, these protesters are bold enough to invade my personal space.

The protesters are stationed on Toll House Avenue and sometimes on its corner with Seventh Street. Their main beef is a medical clinic that provides, among other things, abortions. It seems strange that even after 30-odd years, so many still feel the need to protest such legal businesses and yet stay far from All Saints and South Market Streets where many illegal businesses boom.

My personal beliefs in regard to abortion are a mixture of religion and life-experience streams that merge together for an interesting mix of colored waters in a river. I am sure there are many like me who have lived the majority of their lives on this earth during the time period since Roe vs. Wade. As such, we are a product of a different world than those born just 20 years earlier.

A mishmash of forces: religion, morals, popular beliefs, mainstreamed school bias, tolerance, and a socially defiant generation just ahead of us, has plunged us forward confused, seeking the truth in the gobblety-gook - seeking and seeking and seeking for truth.

Speaking for myself, I am quite confused on the issue of abortion. I definitely vote for political candidates who are "Pro-Life." I believe that every child created has the right to life. However, I also believe that every human on the earth is given the ability to choose for himself or herself. (Not to be confused with "Pro-Choice.")

This "agency" is a basic freedom that humans have fought for since Adam. Adam and Eve had a choice: to eat or not to eat. They were given the agency to make the choice. Their son was taught an eternal law and asked to live it: thou shalt not kill. But with that, he was also given the agency to choose whether to obey that law or not. No human and no deity took away his right to choose, even if his decision was wrong.

In this modern world, that eternal law still exists: thou shalt not kill.

Our states have chosen to uphold that law by punishing those found guilty of committing murder. But not one person has ever been denied the opportunity to choose for himself whether he would obey that law or not.

Of course, this is the same world that has made it against the law to commit suicide. The punishment? I don't know, but death seems like an ironic way to get that law to be respected.

Felons have been denied the right to choose their representatives in the government. But they still have their agency to choose to obey the law. The Constitution of the United States guarantees we have the ability to choose.

Our armies have been deployed to many foreign lands over the last 200 years to protect those who had their freedom to choose taken away. My mind's eye immediately transports to the films of Dachau's gates as they were opened to free people who had all freedom, all matters of choice, taken from them.

Corrie Ten Boom's account of her "choiceless" stay in one of these camps was made most clear by her implication that the only thing she had the right to choose in that camp was the attitude she carried despite the events occurring around her.

Freedom to choose: the freedom to make decisions regarding one's own self, one's future, one's happiness, and one's liberty.

Thus I find myself caught: a child, conceived and created with the most God-like power humans have been given, has the right to live. But, every human has the right to make choices regarding themselves.

Everyday millions of people make decisions that affect their own futurity, their own success or demise, their own freedoms. But ironically, those choices also affect other humans, known or unknown. It is a clause that is attached to the law of choice and accountability.

If I chose to run a red light and - as a result - a car accident claims the life or freedom of some human being unbeknownst to me, I have accepted the clause that my choices affect others, simply by making the choice.

If a man and a woman choose to use their God-given power to create life, and are surprised that the result is none other than: a life(!), they must accept the part of the clause that they must account for the consequences of their actions. Of course knowing the other laws that govern the universe, especially the law that dictates avoiding murder, this man and woman realize their accountability to this new life and that their decisions now affect this child's futurity, his success or demise,his freedoms.

So my dilemma exists within me: a human, created and given life; hoping for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; hoping to succeed in the tests in this world so as to earn a spot in the worlds to come, to receive true happiness: this human has the right to live.

And yet, all humans must be given the opportunity to choose for themselves. (There is no clause in that, saying "As far as they are able," because no person should ever have all their rights to choose taken from them.) Including the parents of this new individual.

In my own life, I married at 19 while in college. I wanted to finish my degree to become a special education teacher. I was even contemplating staying in school long enough to get my Masters of Education. But the surprise came in my junior year. I was pregnant.

I was a poor college student living on a waitress's wages, struggling to manage enough time to keep my Honor Student status. The legalization of abortion made it possible for me to contemplate opportunities that would allow me to continue my education without adding responsibilities.

But that thought stayed with me for barely a week, as the life that struggled within me, fought to hang on, and opened my eyes to the eternal nature of life. I could not even bare to think of destroying that life.

Now, I have a 12-year-old daughter whose "fight to hang on, no matter what" attitude reminds me of the joy I would have missed had I followed my selfish dreams. I cannot imagine how empty a life I would have now had her life not touched mine in such a dramatically positive way.

Am I a perfect parent because of the choice I made? No. Would I be a better parent had I waited for more maturity and wisdom? Of course. But neither of these questions boggled my mind as I wrestled the abortion question. What I wrestled with was: "Is this strange sensation inside my body more than just cells, than just a fetus? Is this a human being filled with life, and light and hope?"

I strongly feel that yes, it is a human, a life of opportunity from conception. But I had to know it for myself. No one, not even a friend, a parent or a spouse could make that decision for me. I had to know for myself.

So these protesters who stand outside clinics only cause anger in me.

They represent those who want to take the freedom to choose away from me. They represent terrorists who try to force their way with bombs. They represent the leaders of nations who pick and choose what decisions their citizens are allowed to make, because they cannot make them by themselves. They represent those who would force a choice on a person who has not been given the information to make it an "informed decision."

Mostly, they anger me because they take the name of Christianity and Jesus Christ to such excessive lengths of taking away agency that both of these terms have negative derivations in society today. It is almost as if there are the "Freaky Christians" and the "True Christians."

Because true Christianity and religion were later added to my life, I am able to see why I made the decision to allow the life of my child to continue. But my belief in Christianity will never force another human being to reach a choice without that person knowing for themselves the answer.

So the next time I buzz around town for errands on Toll House Avenue and am confronted with a freaky "In Your Face Christian" trying to protect life, they may need to protect their own. Anyone who wants to take away the freedoms of another person does not deserve the freedoms they receive.

Oh, wait, I guess that would be stooping to their level. I will just use my agency and choose not to buzz anywhere near them.



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