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Monday, February 4, 2013

Trying To Bridge The Divide Over Abortion

Demonstrators both for and against abortion rights protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Demonstrators both for and against abortion rights protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

January marked the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Roland Merullo is author of "Lunch with Buddha."

In the years that have followed Roe v. Wade, the debate over abortion has continued to be polarizing and even violent at times.

There seems to be an impossible divide over abortion, but author Roland Merullo says the two sides must try to find common ground.

Merullo is an author who was raised Catholic. He has friends on both sides of the debate and admits to being in favor of keeping abortion legal.

But he says both sides need to have one goal in mind: reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies. Do that, Merullo says, and the number of abortions will decrease, too.

Do you think it’s possible to bridge the divide over abortion? Let us know in the comments or join the debate on our Facebook page.

Note: Merullo’s latest novel is Lunch with Buddha, and excerpt of which you will find below:

Book Excerpt: ‘Lunch with Buddha’

By: Roland Merullo

Lunch with Buddha by Roland Merullo book cover.

Chapter 23

Gilligan Neufaren, my author and friend, had recommended a bed-and-breakfast in the hills outside Ennis and a restaurant there called The Continental Divide. I do not, as a rule, like bed-and-breakfasts, nice as so many of them can be. It’s some kind of a quirky privacy issue. I like people. I have a long list of men and women I consider friends. But there are times—and it took Jeannie a while to understand this side of me—when I need to retreat from humanity altogether for an hour or a day, have some quiet time to myself, not feel obliged to be sociable, affable, interested, or talkative.

In this way the Fisherman’s Paradise Bed and Breakfast was not the perfect spot. Before my dinner with Gilligan (who refused to be called “Gill”; he said he liked the rhythm of his full name) I had hoped I’d have half an hour in my own room, meditating perhaps, or thinking of my wife, or pondering the puzzle the visit to Landrea had set before me. For all its manifold psychological levels, that puzzle was actually a very simple one; I see that now. Could a person explore the territory of the interior world, the world that lay beyond the logical thought process, and still keep one foot in the mainstream world of New York business and suburban respectability? Or would there always come a day—after years of meditation and a horrible trauma, say—when one had to make a choice? “Take hold of this,” as the Tao Te Ching put it, “and let go of that.” Rinpoche and my sister had clearly made their choice, not for visions and séances (Celia had, in fact, given up her regressions and palm reading when she moved to North Dakota) but for a contemplative life, an unmeasurable inner pursuit. My neighbors and office mates had clearly made another. I tried, and failed, to imagine Celia at a desk in Midtown, poring over sales numbers, or my boss, Frank Denig, sitting cross-legged on a cushion. It wasn’t so black and white, of course: Celia paid her bills, and there was a chance, however remote, that Frank had a side to him that wasn’t driven by power and status. But after the hour with Landrea I was torn. Since Jeannie’s death my work life, my whole persona there, even my daily getup of sport jacket and shined shoes, had come to feel oddly artificial. Yet people like Celia and Landrea were too dreamy and flaky for me, wandering too far from the herd. I thought about Rinpoche’s talk in Spokane—which seemed now less like a failure and more like a lesson that had been too advanced for me at the time. The point of it was: Don’t make your own life in reaction to others. So maybe the whole trick of the spiritual search was “To thine own self be true.” Maybe the real work was just scraping off layer upon layer of conditioning, assumption, and imitation, and finding, somewhere in the depths, your actual face. Maybe that’s what Rinpoche meant by “you understand you’re not you.”

On the way to our B and B we passed signs showing fish and hook, which I took to mean places where one could put a boat into the river and cast a line. From Gilligan’s descriptions of his summer cabin in the wilds, I knew that this part of the state was supposed to be a fly-fisherman’s paradise, the rivers bubbling with rainbows and browns, men in expensive Orvis outfits standing in boats and flicking an artificial fly across a brown-blue surface. And indeed, after we turned onto a gravel road, wound this way and that up a long hill and pulled into the driveway of the place where we’d arranged to spend the night, we were greeted by a large wooden sign, professionally lettered: ANGLERS WELCOME. The house was set on a hilltop and offered a view of baked hills to the north, and mountains in the eastern distance. There were antelope grazing in the fields below.

Fisherman’s Paradise was run by a couple of friendly folk who’d retired there from Kansas City. Lena suffered from arthritis. Giorgio suffered from an inability to stop talking. Shortly after our arrival we had lemonade on the verandah, gazing down at the view, and within twenty minutes Rinpoche and I had gotten most of the good fellow’s history: his service in Vietnam, his passion for hunting elk, his parents’ courageous move from the grit of Trenton to the friendlier middle west. He and Lena had four sons. We soon learned what each of them did for a living, to whom they were married, and how they were raising their children. Between these factual mile markers stood great stretches of anecdote—everything from the neighbor across the way, who insisted on raising lamas even though there was no money in it, to the long, rambling tale of Giorgio’s ascent from apprentice in an ad agency to owner of a small company that made the fibers used in 79 percent of the world’s toothbrushes.

Lena, for the most part, sat quietly by, occasionally adding a drop to this sea of words. I tried to simultaneously be polite and check my watch. At one point, as Giorgio taped this line onto the trailing edge of the toothbrush story, “And just one more little one from the time we—” Rinpoche’s head lolled over to the left and he let out a snore.

“My brother-in-law’s exhausted,” I explained. “He gets up very early to meditate, and—”

But Rinpoche’s quiet wood-sawing seemed in no way to offend our host. He didn’t even seem to notice. We existed, the good monk and I, as two sets of fresh ears, our own stories unimportant, our schedules secondary.

At last I took advantage of a pause for breath and stood up. I tapped Rinpoche on the shoulder and he was immediately alert, so immediately that I wondered if it had all been an act, a wesson. We made a safe retreat to our separate accommodations—large, airy rooms with identical views and Bibles placed conspicuously on the night tables—settled in, met to review our plans for the next day, wished each other a good night, and then I headed back down the hillside into town.

The Continental Divide occupied a low, modern building a minute and a half north of tiny downtown Ennis. Gilligan Neufaren had already arrived and taken a table, and was at work on a bottle of white. He was six feet five, a former Harvard oarsman, light-skinned and light-haired and living on the proceeds from two very successful books—Breakfast Abroad and Lunch Abroad—that concerned themselves with the morning and afternoon dietary preferences in places as diverse as Zimbabwe and the Islands of Yap. His style was erudite yet conversational, his sense of humor inventive, if touched at times with an acerbic edge, and he’d made both himself and Stanley and Byrnes millions. I’d enjoyed his company on his visits to New York, and I’d been the acquiring editor of Breakfast, so it was a pleasure to see him there, a face from the predictable world.

He poured me a glass from his bottle, conveyed his condolences. We ordered the Caprese salad to prepare our stomachs and made small talk about fishing and road trips. The Caprese was superb, the warm rolls nothing less than spectacular. Carrying in my pants pocket a remnant of East Coast elitism, I’d begun to worry that, in crossing the actual continental divide earlier that day, we were entering a penitential desert of the culinary world. Here was an oasis.

Gilligan ordered the flank steak. I felt obliged, in those parts, to go for the trout, and in the midst of my first taste of it he said, “Word has it you’re traveling with a maharishi.”

“My brother-in-law. He’s a sort-of Buddhist monk. How’d you know?”

Gilligan’s teeth were as oversized as the rest of him. The face was rectangular, papered with a Scandinavian’s pale skin and topped with a boyish shock of yellow hair. The lake-water blue eyes had a happy certainty to them: he expected the best from this world. When he smiled, his ears lifted out and away from each other. “Someone in Denig’s office let it slip.”


“And I’m not familiar with the sort-of Buddhists. What’s the deal? They sort-of come back from the dead until they qualify for Nirvana? They’re sort-of vegetarians?”

“In his case, yes, actually. He eats a little meat.”

“And he’s your brother-in-law, you said? Not celibate?”

“I don’t ask. That’s my sister’s business, I guess.”

“No offense meant.”

“None taken. This trout is excellent.”

“So’s the steak. But what’s the deal? I mean, you get what, three weeks off a year?”

“Eighteen days.”

“I’d expect you to go out to the Hamptons with your kids or up to the Berkshires to golf with Denig or something. You’re driving around with a monk? In Montana? Does he fish?”

“He might. We’re going to Yellowstone tomorrow. I might ask around for a guide.”

“Look up Danny Schoen if you’re anywhere near the Little Bighorn. World class.” Gilligan pondered a moment, sliced his steak neatly, chewed it thoughtfully, like the professional food-man he was. Unmarried, childless, free to travel the world with one or another in a series of marvelous women, there seemed to be a species of magic associated with him. Good things happened to him, extraordinarily good things. His Harvard crew had won at Henley. His books were fine, solid books, aimed toward the layperson’s end of the food audience. Well put together, informative, funny, but, I feel obliged to say, not in any way exceptional. In someone else’s hands they would have sold ten or twelve thousand copies, perhaps gone into paperback and sold another few thousand a year to a claque of ardent fans. We had dozens like that on our backlist. Somehow, though, both Breakfast and Lunch had caught on, gone mainstream, found their way into twenty languages and almost a million households. Jeannie’s friends read them around the pool at the tennis club. College kids read them on the commuter trains. There had even been a pair of film options—exceedingly rare in my corner of the book business.

Gilligan seemed to expect all that, to bring it into his life the way others, more negative, brought on disaster. It wasn’t conceit you detected in his bearing and tone of voice as much as a complete lack of surprise that the world should have rewarded him with a life so many people envied. He was fond of referring to his style as “the Neufaren way”.

“You know,” he said, “you’re kind of an odd duck.”

“I’m the least odd duck in the world.”

He laughed, handed his empty dish to the waitress, convinced me to go for the pear tart and coffee, a glass of port. Outside the big windows the late Montana twilight moved in leisurely fashion toward night, no sense of rush here. We might have been reviving the lost art of the two-hour publisher’s lunch.

“No, really,” he persisted. “Denig said he went into your office and found you meditating or something.”

“Once. It was lunch hour. Jeannie was dying. I was under tremendous stress.”

“An awful thing. Sorry again, pal.”


“But, you know, meditation, the monk, the road trip out here when you don’t fish. What’s the real Otto Ringling story?”

Gilligan couldn’t help himself. This was how he made his living, getting people to talk, working them like a massage therapist, pressing the tissue here and there until the pain, the quirkiness, the frustration, or the secret recipe leaked out into air. I felt—unusual for me—vaguely intimidated. I sipped the port and stalled.

“Out with it, man.”

“You’re intrigued by the way other people eat,” I said. “I’m intrigued by the way other people live. By the idea that maybe we shouldn’t be making some of the assumptions we make.”

“Such as?”

“Such as that the main purpose of our being here is to earn money and collect things and pleasures and insulate ourselves from discomfort to the extent humanly possible before the hour of our death.”

He stopped eating. “Wow!”

I tried to smile it away. I suddenly had a new appreciation for the manner in which my father and mother had used words, as if they were a collection of golden coins to be set out in plain view very very carefully, and only in front of certain trustworthy merchants.

“You some kind of socialist or something? Income redistributor? That’s a joke. But this is unusual. I mean, I encounter this from time to time. In my travels I run into people who say things like that. But most of the others, most of the Liberians and Lithuanians and Cape Verdeans, the vast majority of them would be all too happy to make money and collect things and pleasures and have a little less discomfort.”

“Sure, of course. I didn’t mean that.”

“Clarify, if you would.”

“I suppose I just feel like I have everything I need.”

“Always more women out there to get to know,” he said carelessly, and then he caught himself and said, “Sorry, you know how I meant it,” and offered me the last bite of his pear tart in apology.

I waved them both away, pear tart and careless remark. “I know what you mean. But don’t you ever feel like there might be something else to life? If you stop for a second and look around?”

“Don’t want to stop, man. Having too much fun.”

“I want to say my parents’ dying—they were killed in a car crash six years ago—and then Jeannie’s death, I want to say those were the things that made me, I don’t know, question. But the truth is, even before those tragedies I was looking around and asking myself, ‘What’s going on here?’ Even as a kid.”

“I had a spell of that, too,” he said. “I looked around and I saw that some people had a summer home on Martha’s Vineyard or a yacht in Monaco, and other people were sweltering in housing projects and I thought: Let me figure out a way to get into that former group and stay there.” He signaled the waitress that he wanted the check, and no amount of protesting on my part could convince him otherwise.

“And you did it.”

A nod. “And it’s as much fun as it looks, believe me.”


Just for one second then, just for one snippet of an instant, the crew shell wobbled, one or two of the oarsmen falling out of time, or stroke, or whatever the correct term might be. The big rainbow trout slipped off the hook. The sexy woman said no, she didn’t really want to go with him to Kazakhstan, interesting as the name sounded. I might have imagined what I saw in that second, but I don’t think so. It was similar to reading a novel and coming across a moment when you say to yourself, That’s false, a false note. It doesn’t ruin the whole book any more than Gilligan’s flash of doubt broke apart his uber-confidence, but it was memorable nonetheless.

He seemed to be aware of it, too, seemed to feel the need to recover. “You know,” he said, signing the credit card slip with a flourish and slipping his wallet into a jacket pocket. “I’ve seen a bit of illness and death in my travels. I don’t need to tell you this, probably, but there’s nothing redemptive about it, nothing fine, no lessons to be learned. I stay as far away from it as I possibly can.”

But you can’t, I wanted to say. Not forever. Doesn’t that matter?

Gilligan was stretching his wide shoulders back, admiring the view. No more of this depressing talk, his body language seemed to say. I inquired about his next project, Dinner Abroad—we’d already given him a healthy advance, and we talked about that as we stepped out into the still warm air. Night now. A bloom of stars over the mountains’ dark silhouette. Gilligan shook my hand in a way that made me feel almost his equal, a good editor, a good man—if older, shorter, chubbier, grumpier, and less rich.

“Where to next?” he asked.

“Yellowstone, Billings, then back to the farm.”

“South Dakota, yes.”

“North. Near Dickinson. Not much in the way of great fishing or food there.”

He smiled. “Don’t go too far into that navel-gazing stuff,” he advised. “That way lies sorrow.”

We parted friends. I stood in the parking lot and watched him drive off.


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Ellen Whalen

    Your guest keeps saying that 98% of Catholic women use contraception.  Like Catholic men are miraculously not using the contraception their partners are paying for!!!  

  • boston mom

    OMG- a reasonable voice on this debate?!! I’ve been saying for years, to myself it seems, that arguing about abortion is a mistake. It’s figuring out how to prevent unwanted pregnancies to begin with. 

  • Sahannan

    Very thoughtful, reasoned discussion of the issue. Bravo!

  • http://twitter.com/lobijaa Mary Jane Watson


  • Newton Mom

    Roland is very unfair when he says “asking pro-choice people to say “yes, let’s reduce abortions” is the equivalent of asking NRA members to say “yes, let’s get automatic weapons off the street.” There is no slippery slope here.”
    PRO CHOICE, folks are for CHOICE!! I want sex education to be taught to teenagers about abstinence, birth control, speaking your mind etc. I believe that each individual is different and that they should be able to CHOOSE!  He is being very incorrect in his generalizations about PRO CHOICE folks. I am for abortion being one option. Are we really going to go back to coat-hanger abortions? Is that what Anti- Choice people want? Roland IS right when he says abortions will never go away. They’ve been around for ever and they will never be gone in some form or another. 

    • Andyt

      No don’t go back to coat hangers. Go forward to respecting ALL human life even the unborn.

  • Indiana Mom

    Since bumper sticker politics is the level of current debate. Let’s create a middle ground label.
    I suggest: Pro Safe Choice. For people who care about all lives involved and the best choice for them.

    • Andyt

      As long as you include the life of the unborn child.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

    Show me someone who thinks you can have a reasonable discussion with a religious whacko, and I will show you someone who has never tried to have a reasonable discussion with a religious whacko. 

    The Catholic Church isn’t a democracy and the Pope doesn’t care what the average American catholic thinks about birth control.

    • Andyt

      Not all of us who are “pro-life” are catholic.  And if being prolife makes me a wacko then so be it. I just don’t think it is reasonable to solve one person’s (the pregnant woman) problem by taking the life of another PERSON (the unborn child).

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

         Well, then I suggest you never have an abortion when you get pregnant. 

        However, there are many people who think it IS reasonable to voluntarily terminate a pregnancy before viability and they have the legal right to do so if they chose.  A 20 week fetus is not a PERSON.

        I think it is UNREASONABLE for you to feel you have a RIGHT to CHOSE how someone else lives their life.  You religious nutjobs just can’t live without preaching to the world about how we can live up to YOUR standards.

        Meanwhile, you talk about Heaven and Hell like they are real places and not ancient fairy tales.  You are deluded.

  • ProChoiceLiberal

    Where are the WOMEN in this discussion?  While it’s nice that Roland wants both sides to discuss abortion, it IS a women’s issue as ONLY women get pregnant and have the abortion.  This issue is personal to me as I’ve had an abortion (with NO regrets), and at that time when I had my abortion had to deal w/waiting to see if my doctor would show up to perform the procedure b/c the anti-choicers were murdering abortion providers in the 1990′s.
    I’ve been a clinic escort,  and was attacked by an anti-choicer, and went to court and won, worked for a family planning center, have daughters of my own, and been a vocal advocate of the pro-choice movement and shared my pro-choice story in numerous op-eds.
    We need to STOP making abortion a ”bad” thing as it is a useful medical option and a women’s legal right.  The anti-choicers goal is to SHAME women by making them read material on options, on counseling and protesting clinics.  For me, I found all these alternatives made me push harder to get my ”legal” abortion.  Yes, we must push birth control at a young age but we need to stop making abortion a ”sin” and realize it is a HUMANE choice for women to choose that they are NOT ready to be a parent and to WAIT until they are.  There are too many unwanted children in foster care, or abused, abandoned by their ”parent(s).”  Also, religion has a hand in the abortion debate, and we need to tell some religious institutions to bring their policies into the 21st century and accept birth control, and abortion as reasonable options for women.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

       You seem to view abortion as just another form of birth control — you are part of the problem.

      • Zebra_Blue

        Or the birth control failed (which it does) and this was the backup plan. You need to look up who gets abortions and why.
        You seem to part of a bigger problem. ;)

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

           I don’t need to look anything up, I was simply responding to someone who seems to think abortions are an acceptable alternative in a wide variety of contraception choices.  You are reading my statement and making a narrow interpretation and a false assumption.

          • Zebra_Blue

             I didn’t see anything in the original post that would suggest what you were accusing her of  (interpretation/assumption) or warrant the mean response (which sounded exactly like the thing she was talking about). She seemed to be to be commenting on societies multilevel shaming of women who (for what ever reason) are in this situation.
            Also — important distinction — abortion is not contraception as it doesn’t prevent conception. Abortion only applies to the post conception situation. Besides (I and many people think) abortion _is_ an acceptable option in that case.
            And if someone decides (this obviously excludes rape) not to use any preventative measures, gets pregnant and has an abortion… so what? They are dealing with the consequences with one of the few options now available at that junction of the decision tree. There’s no reason to shame them. They evidently have enough issues without people piling on.
            [It's odd  if phrased: Sally didn't put her seat belt on, had a header and was ejected from the car. . . shame for choosing a wheel chair cause she should be burdened with immobility to remind her of her poor choice.]
            Besides the action of a few irresponsible people has very little bearing on the issue anyway.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

             You mistake being direct for being mean.  Please spare me the pointless and irrelevant contraception lectures.  Your analogy is pointless and flawed.

            While the latin roots of “contraception” means to avoid conception, the word is not defined in such a narrow way in our common culture or medical community.  It means to avoid pregnancy through both the prevention of contraception or implantation.  It is also used synonymously with the word “birth control.”  So, when you say abortion isn’t contraception, you seem to be agreeing with my first statement.  If you defined contraception as narrowly as you do above, you would potentially have to remove IUD’s and even birth control pills off the list of contraceptives, as there is some uncertainty as to how they work on a cellular level.

            It is still obvious to me the original post seems to imply we should have elective abortions used as contraception.  I also find the rationalization of abortion via examples of abused and unwanted children to be a chilling response.  But that’s just me…

          • Zebra_Blue

            That’s part of the point. Sure we can redefine things [ie common folk may use 'theory' in a mutilated/watered down way and scientists in its proper specific way]. But that doesn’t mean we lower to the least uninformed denominator. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the “medical community” categorizing it that way either. I just checked Planned Parenthood’s “Birth Control” info area. Nope no abortion there either.

            Abortion is neither a contraceptive in reality nor the abstract. Saying “it is not contraception” is not the same as saying “it should not be used as contraception” as it it not the thing it can not be used as. ["Hammer is not a piano." vs "Hammer should not be used as a piano."] I can’t agree with odd equivocation.

            –{there is some uncertainty as to how they work on a cellular level}– ??? Nope. The people who invented them figured out what would work and then made them that way.

            I’m even pretty confident of my understanding of how they work. Simplified:
            -The pill (mix of a range of hormones like estrogen & progestin) makes you pseudo-pregnant. Can’t get pregnant while yer ‘pregnant’. Prevents conception = contraception. Other kinds like ‘the-morning-after-pill”/Plan B/etc are just a big dose of the same hormones as above … instant pseudo-pregnancy. Ovulation averted. Doesn’t inhibit implantation of an already occurring conceptus though so only ~75% effective.

            -IUD: The plastic hormone one with above hormones: contraception. The metal ones usualy contain copper which is a spermicide: contraception. 

            Both of these also make the cervical mucus thicker which also impedes the sperms.

            If it did imply that abortion should be available to prevent conception … er implantation … er continuing a pregnancy & having a kid. Then ok … yup and yer point is?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

            Despite your confidence in your own understanding, you are incorrect. 

            Is English your native language?

          • Zebra_Blue

            Please explain where I’m incorrect in my summary of how these two forms of contraception work. Just proclaiming someone is wrong with no attempt to back up your claim is useless.

            These are internet posts not formal writing. They are in an abbreviated form to ease reading/save time. Besides ad hominem? Who cares if there’s a typo if the point stands…

            Wait is this a game of troll bingo? Cause my card has a few squared filled from this page and that last line is putting me closer to *BINGO*.

          • Zebra_Blue

            Besides I agree with most of your posts below. Let’s stop quibbling and fight the fundies & their imaginary overlord instead. :)

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

             You are right, we do seem to be arguing about nothing…

            When I asked if English is your native language, I wasn’t trying to be sarcastic — I just looked back over our exchange and we don’t seem to be communicating very well…

          • Dan R

            It seems like you did the same thing to ProChoiceLiberal that Zebra_Blue did to you…

          • Zebra_Blue

            Yup that’s what I did there. :)
            “Stop poking yer little brother. *poke* How you like to get poked. No fun is it?”

    • Maryanne

      You mean ProAbortionLiberal

  • letsbehonest

    Has Mr Merullo ever bothered to visit a Planned Parenthood? Every woman who goes to a Planned Parenthood regarding an unintended pregnancy recieves counseling as to the whole range of options available to her. She recieves resources and even referals to other agencies if she decides abortion is not her best choice. Counselors are realistic and clear about the impact of abortion – both physically and emotionally.

    No one has been more active in trying to help women prevent unintended pregancies than Planned Parenthood. They make contraceptives and reproductive health care affordable and available. They offer accurate and effective sex education classes and resources for parents who want to have those conversations with their children.

    And what does Planned Parenthood get in exchange? Picketing, bomb threats, murdered doctors, denial of funding, legislative attacks, etc.

    I’ve never seen any billboards or bumberstickers saying “yeah! Have an abortion it is fun.” No one takes the seriousiness of unintended pregnancies more seriously than those who pro-choice organizations who are doing their best to provide women with safe, legal options. I hope that the two “sides” can unite around prevention and move forward to promote policies that are safe and healthy for women and families. But I am not convinced that the “pro-life” movement is truly committed to stopping unwanted pregnancies. I guess we will see.

  • Dsa

    I agree with the guest’s position. That said, religious arguments (by laymen as opposed to established theologians) tend to muddle these debates with undefined terms and concepts of human life/dignity which tend to be fundamental and difficult to peal from common preconceptions about one’s religious doctrines. Perhaps if we suspend our faith-based (read Christian) reasoning long enough to arrive at a common consensus on the value and dignity of pre-birth human life, we could form a useful set of attitudes and policies for abortion and sex education which reflect all our belief systems as honest, concerned Americans.

    • Andyt

      Maybe we should assume that human life begins at conception until proven otherwise just to be morally right.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

         Why stop there?  Maybe we should assume life begins when sperm are created in the testes.  We need to outlaw masturbation, coitus interruptus, and wet dreams.  Millions of babies are killed every time a man ejaculates!

        • Andyt

          No It becomes a unique individual at conception.  different DNA from both the mother or father. But you knew that-I hope.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

            You didn’t say “when does it become a unique individual” you said “human life begins at conception.”  I think it requires more than a single cell to be considered a human, but we are going by what YOU said. 

            At conception, there is a single cell with the potential to form a  human.  Both a fertilized ovum and an unfertilized ovum has the potential to form a human being, both need a lot of outside help. 

            Also, what about all your little humans being held in cryostorage waiting for their chance for in-vitro fertilization?  Some of those frozen embryos are over 18, should we allow them to vote?  Can they be drafted?  I assume they won’t pass the physical, but who knows for sure?  You know, when they are implanted, most of them will die.  How do you feel about that?

            So, why stop at conception in your definition of a human?  While you think it is a logical place to “draw the line” it is in fact
            very arbitrary when you understand the physiology of human reproduction.  It is also stupid.

          • anon

            In real philosophical arguments we don’t assume the definition of terms without explanation, sorry. How about we call it a genetically unique clump of cells at conception and define “human” from there.

  • momenough

    Another white, straight man explaining to women how we should forfeit our rights so that other people can argue about those rights less? how refreshing!

    • anon

      While I see the underlying point you make (interference of the other on the insular decisions of the individual), we need to move past our prejudice that the arguments of white, straight men contribute nothing to women’s issues. Can a man feel the subjective emotional turmoil which accompanies an abortion? No. Can he understand its force and motivation? Yes, its called abstract thought and we’re all capable of it. Please don’t assume women’s issues are incomprehensible to men; they aren’t.

  • Raoul Ornelas

    You can’t have it both ways, although we try, abstaining from sex at an early age and at the same time advertising sex in every format 24 hours a day creates a never ending problem. Soon we will have a CIALIS commercial with two gay guys or perhaps two lesbian women performing some daily activity when the announcer in the background states: “When the time is right, don’t let some form of sexual dysfunction hold you back! So the real and only choice is contraception to this never ending problem of two many unwanted births that are problems for a couple and for child that is unwanted……..period! It is always about big money. In this case the condom producers make huge amounts of money, and because sex sales, those that promote their product via all sorts of media events or sitcoms with blatant sexual innuendos can’t or refuse to stop because of the huge amount money made from sub products. If I had it my way I would drastically limit the sex on T.V. but if I could have it my way I would be like some Catholic celibate priest 
    who somehow is an expert on sex and reproduction. Without huge amounts of reproduction, the Catholic church is out of business. Sex, politics and religion have been brothers in sisters since time began. It is about money, for money is the root of all evil.

    • Andyt

      Actually. The LOVE of Money is the root of all evil.

  • Velma Sommers

    Folks on both sides of the issue, please bear in mind:  (1) Yes, abortions are emotionally and physically difficult. (2) More needs to be out in the open about the physical and emotional dangers of pregnancy.  Our culture glorifies pregnancy as the peak experience of a woman’s life. Remember: in those areas where abortions are safe & legal, more women die from complications of pregnancy & childbirth than from legal abortions.  And some women who carry pregnancy to term suffer various miseries & illnesses during pregnancy that ONLY pregnancy can bring about.   Some women experience post-partem depression after giving birth.  (3) Some teenage girls hope that if they have a baby their boyfriend will stay with them. Yet some men get several women pregnant. They can’t stay with ALL of them. (4) Single parenthood is challenging, tiring, & expensive.  Because childcare is not readily avialable & affordable, the lack of it can harm a parent’s career potential.   (5) Let the anti-choice side provide free childcare and services for mothers and their children instead of disparaging folks who are on welfare.  When children & adults are better educated about all of these things, there will be fewer unplanned births–and both sides will be happier.

  • Timber3013

     @font-face {
    font-family: “Times New Roman”;
    }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }table.MsoNormalTable { font-size: 10pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }I think we are missing the main questions.  The first that has to be asked and
    answered is when does a child receive full protection under the Constitution of
    the United States, or under the Law of the Creator?  In answering this we then know whether or not a woman has
    the right to terminate a pregnancy- she is either destroying a life or a simple
    group of cells.   We must
    ask:  are we in need of protecting
    the rights of one person or two?


    I hear from most that a child is a child only at birth;
    independence from the mother at the cutting of the cord is the time rights are
    endowed.  But I ask, how is it that
    independence becomes the factor that determines when rights are conferred?  If independence is the factor, then how
    do you reconcile that with co-joined twins or babies born prematurely at 24
    weeks that are not viable without a respirator?


    And why not provide full protection when form and function
    is unquestionably human (at 7 weeks of age?)?    If you believe in God, then why not at
    conception – when does the fetus receive its spirit or soul?


    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

      God performs more abortions than anyone.

      If you truly seek the answers to your questions, you need to consider whether your god really exists or not.

      • Andyt

        leave it to God to make the decision .Not to women.

  • David White

    I agree that if you are against abortions you should support contraception.  Seems to me.


  • rdfInOP

    It’s wonderful to hear what I’ve been saying for years.  He is doing a great job!

  • JGRL

    A reasonable man! Please keep speaking out.

    Although I don’t like it - it seems that a man speaking to men is heard more deeply than women saying the same thing! It is great that you are having a global approach to this issue – educational, cultural, gender roles, health care, etc. Yes removing the emotion to the degree possible is a great step.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/P4K23NJRP4ZDHQTH4UTI632OOM Audrey

    The biggest hurdle we would have to surmount in creating such a discussion is that religious groups are trying to effect legislation based upon their religion on this matter.  That is always wrong.  Religion must not be legislated.

  • Strapgod

    If people are uncomfortable with strangers teaching their children about sex, then more parents in this country need to loose their Puritan attitudes and talk openly with their children about it themselves. There is a huge population of adults in this country that have children that aren’t even comfortable themselves with their own sexuality, so in turn they avoid talking to their children.

  • Vermont Mom

    A curriculum called OWL, Our Whole Lives, created by the Unitarian Universalists and United Church of Christ addresses these issues from the exact perspective Mr. Merullo discusses, our sexuality is a gift, to be cherished, enjoyed, valued, and requires responsible discussion and thought.

  • mzrad

    Your attempt to provide some kind of equivalence between pro-choice supporters and NRA supporters fails because a gun is something outside the body and a uterus is something inside a woman’s body. Many women and their male supporters don’t want someone–often men–telling them what they can do with their own bodies. Also, going to the dentist for a teeth cleaning and getting an annual exam with PAP are both unpleasant. Mr. Merullo, should somone counsel us against participating in these procedures? Finally, why is a man with apparently no first-hand experience supporting a woman through the abortion experience writing op-eds about it? Mr. Merullo’s “can’t we all just get along” approach smells of uninformed Kumbaya.

  • Robert Hanserd

    Good disucssion. It is great to see Merullo de-politicizing such a hot-bed issue like abortion to get at more honest understandings. Your objectivtiy is instructive for tackling other issues such as racism and violence. 

  • 4STARS

    What is this guy talking about? I would like for him to cite or name one single person who advocates for choice who downplays or denies the pain and challenges of abortion. That exactly why we need women’s health care. Hillary and Bill Clinton are far from the only people making that argument. Of course we all want less abortions. That is not novel idea. It IS the pro-choice pr-choice/pro-women’s health. And the claim that women do not receive counseling or are not aware of other options before having an abortion is just ignorant and wrong. Has he talked to a single women who has made the difficult choice of having an abortion or a single health-care provider who preforms them? Of course we all want a productive, honest conversation about sexual health and education. But that cannot happen when people are allowed to propagate misinformation on the public airwaves.  Robin, I love your show, you usually do a great job of keeping your guests honest, but that was a bunch of bologna.

  • Jlfessler

    How about this simple idea:

    Unless you have had, or currently do have, a functioning uterus, STFU and keep your opinions about abortion to yourself.

    • Andyt

      Until the unborn child is no longer human I will never shut up. God bless you.

  • motherofmaddie

    I have not read the Globe article, so I won’t comment on Mr Merullo’s comments in the interview…believe it or not all people in interviews do not necessarily say what they want the listener to perceive all of the time.  Give him the benefit of the doubt, read the article, and re-post if your impressions change
    This isn’t what I planned to write, but I felt compelled to do so after reading the comments made before mine.
    What I intended to say is 1) all babies should be wanted babies and 2) giving up a child for adoption that isn”t wanted at that time or because the adopter(s) could provide a better life (however you’d define that) should be elevated to the highest level of anything that one could do/hold in this country.  These women should be lauded and admired…not filled with guilt or shame. 
    Before you say this could never be done, remember that we’re the country that abolished slavery and segregation, made all races/sexes equal (or at least legally), put a man on the moon, gave women the vote, are working towards gay marriage, etc…we can do just about anything if we all wanted to do it.
    There’s a whole bunch of people/couples desperately wanting children, and a whole bunch of children that could be their’s if there were more babies available
    If I ran the world, I’d have duplex open adoptions (information available only if child and mother agree), an adoption process that’s much easier, quicker, be less expensive, have the “mother” with the final choice of the “parents” etc
    PS I’m pro choice

    • http://www.facebook.com/sharon.f.diehl Sharon Fay Diehl

      All those babies wanted for adoption must be why the city attorney sends out pleas to the community here every few months to please consider taking in a foster child….

      …and it’s nothing for a woman to go through 9 months of pregnancy to then give up a child for adoption…it’s just her body that’s being used….she’s just a sack full of growing medium for those cuddly gelatinous fetuses…so what about pulmonary hypertension, or maybe placental abruption, or hemorrhaging, or spinal injury, or the fact that maternal deaths from childbirths are rising in this country…yeah…pregnancy is just a walk in the park…(big roll of the eyes here).

      • Andyt

        It sounds like all woman are at the mercy of men and have no conrtol on if they get pregnant or not.

  • CAS

     How refreshing to have such a guest on the program! Usually your guests have some knowledge and education on their topic, are an expert in some way. Yet today you elected to interview a man with zero qualifications beyond his own opinion and who threw about statistics with no backup or attempt to validate his sources. How honest of your program!

    Until we can agree that the “thing” being aborted is a human being, there is no common ground. When Planned Parenthood acknowledges that they are freely killing over 3,000 people a day, then there can be a discussion about choice.

    • Andyt


      • http://www.facebook.com/sharon.f.diehl Sharon Fay Diehl

        When the bible-thumping idiots admit that their “God” aborts 60-80% of fertilized eggs (life at conception, folks!) and 50% of pregnancies, maybe there can be a discussion about choice….Naw……my body…my choice….and no body else’s business. I think the pro-lifers are mental to spend every waking day worried about how to control someone else’s pregnancy. Dipsticks waving signs and annoying people outside of clinics are high on my list of irritants.

        There was a discussion of slavery above–slavery is forcing a woman pregnant from a rape or incest to bear a child whether she wants to or not. Forced breeding ala the likes of Paul Ryan, Richard Mourdock, Todd Akin, and any number of Teabaggers and their bible-thumping constituents. I’m no slave brood mare, nor an obliatory breeding machine.

        • Andyt123

          You assume i am a bible thumper. A lot of name calling really adds doesn’t add any impact to your arguement. your rights to your body end when it effects the life of the HUMAN. 50% of the children aborted are female. Wahat about the rights to control their bodies.

          The number of pregancies from rape and incest while terrible are a small percentage of the total of unwanted pregnacies. Even so we should not kill the incocent children  conceived of these crimes. We should penalize the cowardly men who are responsible.

          I am glad those dipsticks are irrating you. Have no desire to conrtol your pregnacy-just protect the life of your child. 

  • Barbara Cullen

    I am an attorney who, for many years, helped shepherd minor-aged women through the judicial bypass process required by Massachusetts when obtaining parental consent for an abortion is not a viable option for the young pregnant woman.   The referral was usually made through Planned Parenthood or another of the abortion clinics.  But before this young woman came to me, or before she could proceed with an abortion, she would be counseled by the appropriate caregiver at Planned Parenthood.  Information about the risks of having an abortion as contrasted with the risks of carrying to term, information about all alternatives available in lieu of abortion, all these were definitely shared and discussed with the young woman.  I am quite certain that Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts does not operate differently from its counterparts in other states.

    If we’re going to encourage a conversation with so-called Pro Life believers, then it goes far beyond providing contraception.  What about all the support programs for single parents that require state funding?  What about job training for upward mobility, or reputable, affordable child care?  These are often voted against by the very people who claim such regard for a fetus.

    And as an interesting observation, most of the young women who sought my legal assistance were Catholic!  They did not employ contraception because then they could be accused of having premeditated sex, something sinful, rather than “oops,” it just happened and I’m still a “good” girl!  I’m not sure there will ever be a conversation that places the interests of the already born woman ahead of a fetus, with promise and potential, but not a full human being.

    • Andyt

      I am not sure you are correct in your correlation between prolifers and their voting records. Maybe you are I would just like some evidence before I believe that. I hope you are not making an assumption based on a bias against prolifers.

      Many of the post her like to laud the counseling and other choices that planned parenthood offers to those who come to their clinics. please don’t forget that Planned Parenthood is in the business of performing abortions. is this not a possible conflict of interest. Also some of the hidden camera exposees of abortion clinics have not shown these in a very good light.

      • 4STARS

         Planned Parenthood is not “in the business of performing abortions.” It is a non-profit. Nobody is profiting. Personal politics are one things, but please get your facts straight.

        • Andyt

          Non profits have to have income to pay their employees. A big portion of Planned parenthoods income to pay these employees comes from abortions. These employees that do the counseling have a conflict of interest when they are dependent on their pay coming from the abortions. 

          • 4STARS

             Really? That’s your argument. If that were the case, then any doctor or health-care professional would have a conflict of interest in counseling their patients in any way. Very faulty logic.

          • Andyt

            No it is not faulty. You are right about doctors having a potential conflict of interest especially those who have stock in medcial equipement companies or other related products. that is why we should get second opinions. I am not accusing all workers at Planned parenthood of poor counseling due to this but you have to acknowledge the potential is there and there is little in the way to prevent it as fair as I can see. That is why I won’t trust the counseling offered at Planned parenthood to offer a true discussion of the choices available to the women coming to their clinics.

          • 4STARS

             Look, if you actually believe that anyone who works in women’s health, or any health-related professional would persuade people to make decisions that are poor for their health just to increase that bottom line that does not in the least affect their paycheck, that’s on you. But still, your logic is faulty. If you are going to make that argument because you assume a few PP employees might possibly be delivering poor counseling, then you must apply this to health-care professionals across the board. In which case, you are essentially arguing to wipe out the medical industry all together, for the sake of preventing potentially poor counseling due to self-interest. I am sure there are many people working in the healthcare who provide poor counseling for the sake of the bottom line, but making the care they provide illegal is not a reasonable, let alone remotely feasible, response. Have you ever seen a psychologist or a chiropractor? I don’t think counseling or self-interest is really the issue here.

          • 4STARS

             Also, it is not true that a “big portion” PP revenue comes from abortions. That is anti-choice-propogated misinformation. You can read their full annual report from 2012 here: http://issuu.com/actionfund/docs/ppfa_ar_2011_110112_vf

          • Andyt

            Non-governmental health services are 25%. I assumew the majority comes from abortion. Can’t tell from the report though so if you have more info please share. Thanks for the link.

          • 4stars

            25% is not nearly a majority. And you can assume all you want, but the truth I that most of PP’s work is in providing women affordable health care (papamears, mammograms, birth control that prevents unwanted pregnancies), often in locations where such services would otherwise not be available or accessible. Only a fraction of their clinics even provide abortions. So, if we all want the same thing here, which is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and, I can only assume, support women’s general health, then we should be funding PP a lot more. Not demonizing them for a single service that you don’t like.

  • Andyt

    Decreasing and preventing unwanted pregnacies is everyones goal on both sies of this debate. But apbortion will never be a moral answer to this problem. If you see the fetus as a human being then it is always immoral and should be illegal to take its inocent life. If it is not a human being then what defines  humanity for you?  When does the being become human?

    We as a counrty are allowing, for what we think are good reasons, the slaughter of innocent children. They have no way to speak for themselves. We feel horrible for the 20 lives lost in Sandy Hill, Conn. while at the sametime say it is  women’s rights to kill over a million unborn children a year. The mothers of those 20 children could have aborted there children before they were born and we would support her right to do so.

    You say abortion is hard both physically and emotionally. Why, emotionally? It is not human but merely a piece of flesh to be removed and then thrown in the trash behind the clinic or incinerated?

    It may always be legal.It will never be moral. That will never be compromised.

    • 4STARS

      Containing life and being human are not the same thing. Fetus’, until they are babies who can live outside of their mothers, are not human. They  have the potential to be human beings, but are not yet. As such, they should not be granted the same rights, legally or morally as living, breathing, conscious human beings. Regardless, ethics nor the law are that black and white. If they were, it would be illegal everywhere to kill prisoners. Or to go to war. Can I assume you are morally against these things too?

      • Andyt

        True life and being human are not the same thing. But if a fetus conceived by two human’s is not a human fetus then what is it? Dogs produce dog fetuses. Cows produce cow fetuses. Humans produce what? Human fetuses!!. What determines when the “potentially” human becomes a real human? Actually many fetus could live outside the mother’s womb with help. and in reality an infant could not live very long without asisstance even after it is born. So to say humanity begins once it is outside the womb, while very convienient for your arguement, doesn’t really hold water.

        Oh by the way your arguement about being human was also used back in the 1800 when slavery was being justified. If slaves weren’t human then we didn’t have to give them any rights. Abortion is the denial of human rights to defenseless innocent human beings.

        Yes you can assume I stand against war and capital punishment.

        Life and death are  black and white. There is no gray.

        • 4STARS

           Did you actually just compare fetuses to slaves? That’s a new low. Even for a fundamentalist anti-choicer. Pretty desperate.

          • Andyt

            tell me the difference between the two if my arguement is so low and desperate.

          • 4STARS

             Wow. Ya. Don’t really have time this for this. Clearly, critically thinking is sorely lacking in our education system. But let’s see if we can sum this up in short, clear terms. Why comparing fetuses to enslaved human beings was low and desperate?

            1. Your entire argument against a woman’s right to an abortion hinges on the belief that fetuses, from–I am guessing–the moment of conception, are full-fledged human beings, despite the fact that they are not fully-formed, conscious or able to live out of the womb. I fundamentally disagree with that. Which is fine. We can agree on these things without invoking unrelated historical atrocities in debased and cheap ways.

            2. But, if we are going to go there, I believe that the effort to define fetuses as human beings is purely political and not science- or even morally-based.  Just like the effort to designate slaves as inhuman was entirely political and entirely is opposition to science and morality.

            3. If there is any valid comparison between slavery and the abortion debate, it is in the sense that slavery, in the most broad sense, is a violation of the autonomy of a human being. Making abortion illegal, and health services unavailable, would grossly violate the  autonomy of women, who are, indisputably, human beings.

            From here, I could try to articulate the differences between pregnancy and slavery, but I really hope that is not necessary.

          • Andyt

            Thanks for taking the time to responed. i reaaly do appreciateyour effort. let me see if i undrstand. To be full-fledge human we have to meet three criteria
            1. fully-formed
                  so a child born without a limb is not a full-fldge human? If they get a prothesis do they then become full-fledged humans?
                 I person with a severe brain injury  and considered brain dead is not a full-fledged human? If they some how regain  consciousness do they then again become full-fledged humans?
            3. able to live out of the womb
                  I baby born but due to severe medical problems dies immediately was never a full-fledge human? How long do they have live to be fully fledged.

            By the way nice twist of logic. now the slaves are woman who are denied abortions.

            If this is education then i am proud to lack it. Maybe I have just not reach full- fledgeling yet. I am desperate to be a full-fledged human even if a lowly one.

          • 4STARS

             No, Andy. Women who are denied abortions are not slaves. That is certainly not what I said. What I did was to take your ill-used analogy and apply it logically. But again, if you are going to invoke slavery as an analogy to anything, please do so with more sensitivity to the issue. You sound really ignorant.

          • 4STARS

             The main issue is that people with your narrow view are willing to honor and fight for the life of a fetus (which is, again, I believe, fetus and not a human being) over the life of a woman. That’s the problem and the bottom line. If all life is equal and equally sacred, then no one should take medicine or have treatments when they’re ill for the sake of preserving the life of the bacteria inside them. No one should eat meat or vegetables for that matter. It is not that black and white. That is precisely why it is a complicated issue. Personally, I value the life of women and their power and autonomy to make choices that will best serve their lives. I don’t why you feel you are entitled to any say over that. And really, if you are so concerned about preserving innocent lives, go to africa or india or the south side of chicago where living children die everything from poverty because their parents and the societies they were born into are not able to care for them properly. Fix that and then come talk to me.

          • Andyt

            Not all life is equal. But all human life is equal and should be accorded the same rights. No one is advocating taking the lives of pregnant women. We are taking the lives of innocent children. these children never are given the “power and autonomy to make choices that will best serve their lives.”

          • 4stars

            Ya. That’s just thing. Fetuses have no autonomy. They are organisms dependent on the women who carry them. You’re argument holds no water. An again, it’s really backwards that the entire anti-choice argument focuses on a mass off cells and not the women-many of whose lives would be at risk should such policies change. If you care about human life so much, stop trolling forums about topics that have no bearing on your life and go make yourself useful. Later.

          • Andyt

            You are right we (I) need to do more to save the children who have been born. thanks for the challenge. We can do both.

          • Andyt

            If I am ignorant. educate me. you don’t aswer my questions. What are the differences?

        • 4STARS

           Also, you totally defeated your own argument. Of course the fetuses in human women are human fetuses. That’s exactly the point, they are fetuses, not human beings. My work here is done.

          • Andyt

            If it is human why doesn’t it have rights just like you and me?

  • RN55

    How about this idea…I’m pro-life and pro-choice! I am a Registered Nurse who has speant my entire 25 year career taking care of women and babies. How about we start this discussion with education? Some parents want to be able to educate their children about sex and reproduction for themselves. However, in my opinion, many parents need to be educated themselves first. Mr. Merullo touches on several areas that should be explored further. I like that he is suggesting we get both sides of this issue into the same room to have a conversation and act like compassionate adults towards each other’s point of view. Where is the middle ground here? We won’t know until we get together to figure it out. I am going to explore the OWL-Our Whole Lives program someone else on this discussion mentioned. I am also going to try to find Mr. Merullo’s article for free at my public library because the Boston Globe site charges for a copy on the web. I would love to start a movement of reasonable people who would like to meet and discuss this further. I would also like to say I have years of stories to tell of women who have made heart wrenching decisions either to keep their babies, give them up for adoption or terminate their pregnancies and believe me, not all the terminations were unwanted! Only the people who have made those difficult decisions know how those decisions have landed in their hearts. I for one would never tell another woman what is right for her. I would help her understand all the options, risks and benefits of ALL her choices. Then step away and let her decide what is best for her. Finally, if the significant other person in her life is welcomed, they would be included in all discussions. Making any major healthcare decision can be daunting and lonely when a person is alone. I have always considered it a privilege to be at a woman’s side to support her during a time of such a momentous decision whether she is staying pregnant or not.

    • Andyt

      Would you intervene if the mother was about to kill her child a day after it was born? If you would intervene as I assume you would, than what is the difference between that and intervening when a mother is going to abort the same child before it is born?

      • RN55

        Hello Andyt, I suspect you have never had to make a heart wrenching decision. What do you say to the family who has to make the decision to tell the doctors to stop the ventilator for their loved one? What do you say to the woman who has been told her baby has no lungs  because it was diagnosed by ultrasound at 20 weeks gestation and will die very shortly after being born? What do you tell the parents who’s unborn baby has no brain? What about the baby who has been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease like syphillis and will die a painful death, deaf and blind, covered with horrible lesions on their entire body? What about the woman who has cancer and has to decide whether to take chemotherapy and live a little longer but lose the baby or forgo the chemo to stay pregnant and surely die? This is only the beginning of years of stories that I have experienced with families. NONE of these situations are fabrications. I am a nurse. I have been allowed to enter people’s lives at their most vulnerable moments. I have cried with my patients over whatever their decisions have been because these decisions are never easy. But what I have learned over the years, is that it is NOT my decision to make. We all have to live with the consequences of the decisions we make in life. Some people have to make crushing ones and others are spared. But I do not sit in judgement. That is for a higher power. You know, I used to believe in the death penalty. Now, I have absolutely reversed my feelings. I was raised Catholic but I left the church when I examined my heart and realized that there were some tenets I could no longer abide like the ban on the use of birth control or priests being prevented from marrying or women not having leadership roles. I am a person of faith and I believe there is a divine design. In my opinion, we are very arrogant if we as humans think we have any clue about the infinite universe. Do you believe that women should be prosecuted for terminating a pregnancy? What about the woman who is addicted to prescription drugs and delivers a baby that will be born addicted too and have to go through withdrawal? What about women who are diabetic and do not follow their doctor’s directions and their babies are born so big they experience birth trauma and have a paralyzed arm for the rest of their life or worse, have head trauma and are brain damaged? What about women who smoke cigarettes and cause their placentas to be dysfunctional and deprive their unborn babies of life sustaining oxygen? What about women who drink alcohol during pregancy and cause their babies to have brain damage or deafness from fetal alcohol syndrome? Where do we draw the line Andyt? Or my question to you is, “where and how to we start this dialogue?” Both sides of the issue need to start listening and talking to each other, opening their hearts and their minds.

  • motherofmaddie

    Oh boy…if you recall, Mr Merullo’s point was to get both sides to the same table, have an adult discussion, and, hopefully reach some sort pf compromise.

    Based on many of the comments here, his goal might never be reached,  

    On the topic of “education”, I once spoke with a religious man who  told me t(with almost apoplectic zeal) that no child of his would ever be taught about sex in school…6 mos later, his oldest daughter dropped out of college b/o a pregnancy

  • Anon

    I was very disappointed with this segment.  The interview included no dialogue with someone who had a different perspective nor were there any questions by the hostess of the show.  Instead, it sounded to me as if the guest was simply repeating his ideas, views and suggestions multiple times. 

  • M.L.

    I’ll tell you one point that both sides totally have in common, & they can shake hands & smile at ea. other about it right now.  Both think that an abortion at 6 wks. & an abortion at 6 mos. are the same thing.

  • Stephanie Heeg

    As a former clinic worker, I found your guest’s comments rather naive. Every woman that came in to our clinic received counseling. Women who said they were committing murder or were ambivalent about their choices were turned away with referrals for pastoral counseling where appropriate and recommendation that she complete an abortion resolution workbook. No woman wakes up and says, “yay, I get to have an abortion.” And not every woman regrets her choice. The reality is, women talk and women know that they are terminating a potential life. To say otherwise is incredibly naive and offensive. Yet every woman has the moral agency to decide her fate without the pressure of so-called “right to life” propaganda, coercion, threats, and hostility. Please check out some independent clinics or read some work by Charlotte Taft. I left the field after my clinic was bombed and received an anthrax letter. It’s always funny to me that pro-choice people are expected to bend, but we aren’t the ones committing murder and acts of terrorism in the name of life. Your guest may want to check out Catholics for choice as well. That said, I appreciate the effort, even if it seemed that he made a whole lot of assumptions.

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A World Trade Center Health Program medical provider says chronic illnesses affecting first responders are lingering and becoming worse.

September 11 Comment

Dennis Lehane Takes ‘The Drop’ From Screen To Page

Author Dennis Lehane discusses adapting a screenplay into a novel.