Thank you for the many words of encouragement following my last two postings. I have heard from many of you who appreciate the honesty with which I present my views. I am certain I have lost some of my old Carepage readers, people who may have followed Austin’s story from the beginning, and wished and hoped on our behalf, only to be dismayed to hear me proclaim such a pro-choice stance. And I am sorry to have lost those people and deeply appreciate everyone who cared (and cares) about Austin, but this is who I am in my entirety; take it or leave it.

So, since I seem to be on a roll here. . . In response to a comment from my friend Jason, which read in part,”Until our government and religious institutions can look themselves in the mirror and present a consistent argument for life, they have no business meddling in personal health decisions,” I am copying below a letter I had published in our local weekly newspaper in 2005. I wrote this letter after turning on the news to an image of a young woman with tape across her mouth that read “LIFE” in big bloody red letters. My initial thought was that she was protesting the second anniversary of the war in Iraq and I was deeply disturbed to learn moments later she was instead protesting the removal of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube.

Dear Editor,

I was struck this week by the juxtaposition of two major news events: the two-year anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq and its attendant protests, and the removal of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube and its attendant protests.  The so-called pro-life movement has proven itself disingenuous yet again.  While they organize prayer vigils and protests outside the hospice center of the woman who has been in a persistent vegetative state for fifteen years, they remain curiously silent about the combined 62,655 Iraqi, Afghan and Coalition troops and civilians killed in the War on Terror.  These people who claim they are for life have allowed our government to fool them into justifying the murder of men, women and children around the globe in the name of national security.  Why are they not protesting the bombing of Iraqi school children?  Why are they not praying over the bodies of Afghani wedding guests?  Why are they not crying out against the murder of suspects in US custody?  Where is their moral outrage?

A small number of extremists have managed to focus the attention of our nation’s lawmakers, judges and media on one woman, who cannot think, speak or respond.  Yet they ignore the deaths of hundreds of thousands around the globe who actually had the potential for long and productive lives.  Their hypocrisy is shocking.

I recognize that this is a tragedy for Schiavo’s parents and I even understand why they might try to hold on to any small bit of hope that they have.  But I do not understand how right-wing lawmakers and activists can justify butting in to this very private dispute between a grieving husband and grieving parents, while they remain silent on so many other issues of injustice.

The way they pick and choose just whose lives they value is shameful.


Well, lo and behold, there was another letter the following week, which read:

Dear Editor,

KDG’s March 31 letter certainly caught my attention, being a long-time pro-lifer, although with a decidely liberal bent.

Her letter reminded me of an evening several weeks ago, when I was walking to the parking lot with a co-worker and her husband. She noted the bumper sticker on my car that had several words with red slashes across them. Those words are: war, poverty, abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, and racism.

I said to her, “Yeah, I’m one of those liberal pro-lifers. I think there are three of us. Me and two other people.”

I may have vastly understated our numbers. There might be four of us, counting Gallagher.


Well, needless to say, I was stunned and a little bit outraged, so convinced the paper to print yet another letter from me more clearly stating my views:

Dear Editor,

When I read LP’s April 7 letter, my initial reaction was to emphatically type, “I am NOT pro-life!”  But then I realized that is not an accurate reflection of my position.  According to the dictionary, to be “pro” something means to value it or favor it.  Do I value and favor life?  Of course.  Before any more confusion arises, let me state, also emphatically, that I am 100% pro-choice.  The other side, which has co-opted the English language for political purposes, would have you believe that this means I am against life.  I most certainly am not.

Because I value women’s lives, I trust and respect them enough to make their own decisions about if, when and under what circumstance to bear children.  Because I value quality of life, I believe every American should have access to affordable health care.  Because I favor improving the lives of the hundreds of thousands of us living with potentially treatable and curable diseases, I favor stem cell research.  And because I care about life, I also care about that most natural and inevitable part of it: death.  I believe all people should be afforded the right to die with dignity in accordance with their own wishes.

So I agree with Mr. P that the number of so-called pro-lifers with views as consistent as his is pathetically small, and I do not count myself among them.  Yes, I value life, but most especially, I value quality of life and personal control over one’s life.