Sunday, November 02, 2008

handing out opinions like candy

So, last week?

I wrote a couple posts about my political and religious viewpoints.

In response to a few of the comments that I received on those posts ... I have decided to issue what I consider to be my final thoughts on the matter. These very well may be my final thoughts on anything political or religious of nature. At least until something new comes along that fires me up to the point that I can't think about anything else.

Mary wrote, "I cannot for one second comprehend the people who say that life begins at conception and yet consider themselves "pro-choice." That is the saddest thing that I have ever heard. I am an ardent Catholic myself, but regardless of my faith, I realize how much of a direct contradiction that this thought process is. I think that people need to believe more in themselves and in humanity and to put their own selfishness aside. How is having a child the most horrible thing that can happen to some women? Obviously I recognize that not all women want to be mothers at all and that there are more or less better times to become a parent, but bringing new life into the world can never be a bad thing. NEVER! I can relate to you with the struggles with infertility. Five years for me and still no baby. There are so many people out there who would love and take care of that baby. But, I would think that you especially (and myself included) would want to change our world to a culture of life that believes in women and the need to allow even the most "unexpected" babies to be born. We should help and empower women and help everyone see the beauty and absolute importance of the children in their wombs. I pray that you will change your mind. I do not mean to offend you, but some of your comments truly do directly contradic the teachings of Christ. Preserve the family and work to keep one of the most established and fundamental structures of our world: that of the family and the marriage between a man and a woman. You will be in my prayers."

An anonymous commenter wrote, "... Maybe I was reading hastily, but it looks like you are against abortion but want it to remain legal. I just don't understand why you would take your friend to an abortion clinic rather than allow her to her own devices - however wrong either one may be. I[n] M[y] H[onest] O[pinion], it's the equivalent of knowing your friend wants to murder her two-year-old and the only weapon she has is a shot gun that kicks back, so even though you disagree with her decision, you hand her a more accurate pistol. Same job is done, only she doesn't have to deal with as much pain or danger to her own body. You still would have helped to kill a child."

I want to respond to both of these comments because they really struck a nerve with me regarding my "perceived" position on abortion, and I want to make my opinions perfectly clear.

Many people would strongly disagree, but I don't think abortion is strictly black and white. Although I don't have a bumper sticker on my car, if I did, it would read, "CHOOSE LIFE." It is my belief that life begins at conception. It is my belief, that destruction of that life, via abortion - or stem cell research - is wrong.

The arguments that I have heard for stem cell research declare, "It's for the greater good!" and "It's just a clump of cells in a petri dish".

The stem cell research that I am opposed to surrounds using viable human embryos. Viable, in that if they were to be placed in to a hospitable environment, they would/could grow in to a human being. Yet, to use an embryo for stem cell research, that embryo and potential human life would be destroyed. Although some might argue that so many lives could be saved or improved from the research conducted using embryos ... who is to say, except God, what unique human life exists within the human embryo that would otherwise be sacrificed in the course of research?

Think about it. I have a father that is battling Parkinson's disease and a sister that is battling breast cancer. There are potential cures for both of these diseases (which my children and I may be genetically predisposed to develop at some point in our lives) and a host of other diseases through stem cell research. Yet in my opinion, it is morally and ethically wrong to destroy the embryo that contains the blueprint for human life.

An embryo is not merely a clump of cells.

To indicate such, suggests that there is no sanctity or holiness in the cells that exist. A clump of cells is something that you dig out from beneath your fingernails. If those cells, or cells that sloughed off from someone's skin were placed in to a woman's uterus, they would NOT result in life. Within six weeks time, they would NOT split and divide and multiply into a being that has a beating heart and a rudimentary brain. Within 24 months, they would NOT be capable of scooping out the pumpkin seeds from their own jack-o-lantern.

And within 56 months they would NOT be capable of bobbing for apples.

Or changing their minds regarding what they want to be for Halloween five times in five minutes. "I'm a butterfwy!" "I'm a faiwy ballewina!" "I'm a pwincess!"

"I'm a witch!!"

"I'm a superhewo!"

Abortion is defined as: 1. The deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy. 2. The expulsion of a fetus from the uterus by {natural} causes before it is able to survive independently.

I am opposed to terminating life, whether in utero or not.

I have recently reduced (and almost completely eliminated) my consumption of meat for this very reason. Although Charlie reading "Fast Food Nation" and "The Omnivore's Dilemma" has also facilitated our family moving in to the realm of vegetarianism. (Not to mention, I am so offended by the Carl's Juniors commercials that degrade both women and animals, I have been on a boycott for 10 years and counting.)

If the anonymous commenter and Mary have spent any time reading my blog, they would know that it was only by the Grace of God that I carried our triplets as long as I did. My body ceased operating the way it was supposed to.

I was toxic.

My doctors made it very clear that if I attempted further incubation I would, not could, die.

So, what if I had developed HELLP Syndrome a month earlier?

What if the only choice that I had was to terminate my pregnancy, or my life would be terminated? It is still considered by definition abortion - because my children would have been delivered before they were able to survive outside of my body. And even if I had begged, "Let me die, just keep my heart pumping to give my babies a shot at life!" I suspect that my fetuses would have perished because the host was shutting down.

What then? Is it right to terminate the pregnancy to save the mother? If there was a law against abortion, a woman would have NO choice if she was faced with her own mortality in the process of creating new life. Even if it meant that both she and her fetus(es) would die.

Even if a pregnant mother is not physically at risk as I was, in the case of my aunt she was mentally at risk. And, she was prepared to exercise any means necessary to terminate her pregnancy, even if that meant compromising her own life. I find it hard to believe that someone would stand by and say, "Well then go to it, because I am going to do NOTHING to help you in your desperate state."

Really? Do you think you could do that?

Because I don't think I could.

Now, I can see the point that anonymous was trying to make with the shotgun and pistol analogy. But in my opinion, it isn't quite the same thing because with a two-year old, someone could physically intervene. They could throw themself between the child and the gun wielding mother. The child isn't entirely dependent upon the mother's body to survive. They could be scooped up and taken off to a park to blow of steam while their mother decompresses.

I think that there needs to be more regulation on abortion, such as the regulation that comes in the form of Proposition 4, on which I plan to vote "Yes." This has to do with parental notification before a girl under the age of 18 can have an abortion performed. Or rather, those women who are most at risk (i.e. my teenage aunt) for taking their lives in to their own hands when they discover that they have an unwanted pregnancy.

The repercussions of this Proposition, if it passes, truly worries me because I fear for those young women who will harm themselves out of desperation that their parents will find out. I don't believe that this Proposition will (significantly, if at all) stem the number of unwanted pregnancies or in any way prevent teenage sex. But if it was one of my daughters who found themself in a difficult situation? I would absolutely want to know.

And because this post wouldn't be complete without my concluding opinions on homosexual rights ... it's important to note that I have thought about and discussed Proposition 8 ad nauseam, both on my blog and with every neighbor within the past week that has come knocking on our door questioning the sign we have on display in our front yard. I have told everyone, particularly our Christian neighbors, that my position on this Proposition, in Biblical terms, is very simple. It is the ethics of reciprocity, better known as the Golden Rule.

"Do onto others as you would wish them to do onto you."

We are walking this earth together and people should support and love one another. If someone were to vote "No" on Prop 8, it does not mean that they condone a particular lifestyle. It simply means that they believe every person should have equal rights under our man-made laws. They certainly should not be denied civil rights based upon their religious viewpoints, race, gender, age OR sexual orientation. From what I have researched, the rights under a domestic partnership are NOT the same as those rights afforded under the union of marriage.

And moreover, what business is it of anyone what someone else's "sins" are, particularly when they do not cause ill harm to another person? Some might argue that it is an even greater sin to knowingly support (or fund via taxes) sending soldiers in to a war torn region of the world where they are faced with the dilemma of killing, or being killed.

For my sins, their sins, your sins, our sins ... let God be the judge. It's His job and I hear He's pretty good.

Now. Moving on to a different variety of sole saving matters ... my next post will be all about closets and shoe management. It is HIGH time I got back to discussing the intricacies of organization.

EDITED TO ADD: The responses to all the posts I've written on these very touchy and personnel subjects have been great. I don't feel like I - nor any of the people who have graciously shared their opinions - have been attacked for what we believe is right.

On Halloween night, Charlie and I sat down with two of our fundamental Christian neighbors and together, we worked through every Proposition in our voter ballot guide and any of the political candidates that could directly impact the future of our country. We discussed our opinions, they discussed theirs. We didn't agree on everything, but it was a great experience for all of us to hear the "other" side on certain subjects. In some cases, we adjusted our opinion(s) based upon things we'd never even considered.

So, i
f you leave a comment on this post, please be respectful. Otherwise, negative (attacking) criticism will disappear from the comment section faster than a Snicker's bar from my children's Halloween basket. Peace out.


  1. Hi. I'm delurking to say thank you for your honesty with your opinions. While I may not agree with everything you have written these past few days, I congratulate you for having the courage of your convictions to share them. I'm sorry not all your commenters have been as respectful. Love your blog. Cheers, Ela.

  2. Jenn, I heard a progaramme on the BBC that you may enjoy! BBC radio 4 at about 8.30 English time. It was about a catholic monk named Thomas Merton who wrote over 100 books about many of the things you have been thinking about. I think what he wrote would resonate with you and stop you from feeling that paradox is such a vad thing to be living with. He said the Jesus was a paradox - man and God and therefore it shouldn't be hard to accept that life itself is full of them. Also that a Christian should try to accept the paradox of a multifaith world and work with other faiths to achieve a spiritual union through prayer together and yet be able to allow each other to follow different paths.
    I have no idea if that sounds helpful but I thought I'd throw it into the mix and maybe it'll be interesting.

  3. Jen, I was with ya right up till the end! =)

    I applaud your ability and willingness to voice your views on a stage where people not only CAN but DO comment and speak their peace.

    You have a way of writing that really makes it feel like you're sitting across the table from me and we're chatting away over a great cup of coffee.

    That being said, I just need to add one little point:

    The Homosexuality Union/Marraige issue, for me, isn't about what I think homosexuals's about the fact that my 5 year old will be taught in school that Suzy has 2 moms...and Billy has 2 dads...and because it's legal...they don't need to tell me about it before they teach it! And then I have a 5 year old that knows WAY TOO MUCH WAY TOO EARLY!

    Honestly, I'd rather my kids stay "pure" in thought MUCH LONGER than Kindergarten or 1st grade. Unfortunately, I'm not cut out to homeschool...and sending 5 kids to private school in this economy might mean we'll starve to death.

    I guess I'm thinking about the ripple effect of that vote...not just about the "weddings" that can take place.

    Thanks for getting us all thinking...and talking. Knowledge is key and other people's views help us find our own!

  4. It is courageous to put yourself out on a limb with your opinions on such touchy subjects.

    I recently posted about abortion on my blog (I think it's called "Stepping on Toes") Like Ela Beach said, we do not have to agree with each other one hundred percent; but in my opinion we do have to express our opinions lovingly and with grace, which you most certainly did.

    And if we live our lives lovingly and with grace, our opinions should be taking a back seat to the compassion we show our fellow man, which you appear to succeed at also.

    Shoe management? I am on the edge of my seat...

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  8. In response to Jessica (who responded to Mamma of 5).

    I know you do not think that homosexuality will be taught in schools if Prop 8 is not passed, but take a look at this article.

    It has already begun. 1st graders are being taken to marriage ceremonies and being taught that it is ok for two women to marry. And none the less, they are being taken by San Francisco's Mayor, Gavin Newsom.

    I don't want to sound prejudical or discrimatory, but this is not what children should be learning in school. If parents want their children to know that it is ok for men to marry men and women to marry women, then they should be the ones teaching their children.

    Voting YES on Prop 8 doesn't mean that people want to discriminate against homosexuals; they want to protect the rights that were intended to be between a man and a woman. That was how God created it. While it is taught in the Christian religion that we need to love one another regardless, it is also taught that marriage is between a man and a woman. And to me, you can still love one another while keeping marriage between a man and a woman.

    Vote Yes on 8 to keep marriage as defined between a man and a woman, not to discriminate.

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  10. Momma of 5,
    I have to ask you, do you think if Prop 8 passes "Suzy" wont have 2 moms and "Billy" wont have 2 dads? There are many same sex couples already raising children.

    I'm sorry but I have to disagree with your opinion that legalizing same sex marriage means it will be taught in school. I learned about marriage at home and in church (and probably on television). I don't recall it ever being a subject in school.

    And if we really want to talk about how God wants things when it comes to marriage, all us fornicators who had sex before marriage shouldn't be allowed to be married either.

  11. The second time I've posted a response here in as many days...

    Jen, I just wanted to say, I tripped (pardon the pun) upon your blog while reading comments to a post on "Notes from the Trenches". I started reading out of curiosity about your triplet pregnancy. I've been unable to stop reading because you express yourself so well and I continually find myself nodding my head vigorously in agreement with your words.

    Why can't I meet someone like you in my real life????

  12. Jen, I appreciate you for putting your feeling out there in public. That was pretty bravel

    While I don't agree with your opinions I'll fight to the death for you to have those opinions.

  13. Good grief, Jen. I'm zabasearching your mother right now to get you on some medication before your commenters blow up. :0

    I don't care if they teach my kids about the "homos" in first grade so long as they do it in English. That's all I'm asking for. Other than that, I'm good.

    Sarah married Amanda yesterday and Gregory was the bridesmaid. I can only imagine what THEY'LL be teaching the other kids in 1st grade. We all know triplets are CRAZY!

    I honestly have to laugh though when I read how insecure people are in their own beliefs. I'm not. I'm not afraid of what "THEY" will teach my kids, because I'm a stronger person that that. I'm not going to hide in my house from the terrible outside world and cry either. (okay, I do, but that's the triplet thing again.)

  14. Concerned Mommy in Cali11/2/08, 3:24 PM

    Hi Jen,
    I wanted to ask you a question on a different but really important topic- the melamine contamination in foods ...
    You seem really knowledgeable on a wide variety of topics and protective of your kids so I wanted to know your stance on this-- Do you just steer clear of ANY processed food (anything in a box, plastic, any form of packaging), whether Halloween candy (I read that Snickers, Kitkat, Nestle Cadbury & M&Ms contaminated) or crackers or organic mac&cheese??? Do you make everything from scratch? How do you know which companies source dairy product from China?? Most packaging will give only the factory location information and not give detailed information of sourcing, etc. Do the companies disclose this information somewhere ? What do you do to stay safe??

    A concerned mommy in Cali

  15. I believed that abortion was incredibly black or white(I am adopted and was born two years after Roe vs. Wade was put into place) until last year when a friend discovered at 16 weeks gestation that the baby she was carrying was not viable outside of the womb. Heartbreaking, devastating, and earth-shattering were words to describe such a diagnosis. My friend's health was not great and doctor's did not believe she should carry a baby who would not survive outside of the womb (or possibly inside the womb) to term. My friend was induced a few days shy of 20 weeks. She buried her percious baby girl and still mourns the loss. However, she has great peace with her decision.

    Other friends considered this to be abortion. I consider this to be a wise decision made by a loving mother, a loving father, and a deep faith they have in their God. Suddenly there was a lot of gray to me in the abortion issue.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Loved how you and your neighbors sat down and discussed different thoughts openly and honestly and remained friends in the end.

  16. I just hope that on Wednesday morning (in europe) I will wake up to some good news.
    'Cause we cannot afford more of the same!

  17. Ashley Concerned Mommy in Cali11/2/08, 4:22 PM

    Hi Jen,
    This is Ashley again with some questions I forgot to add to my previous post:
    Also, do you grind your own flour or dehydrate your own fruit instead of buying? Do you try to buy organic everything to avoid GMO sugars and ingredients? How do you be safe without being paranoid?
    Thanks again,

  18. Girl, those snickers never even made it in the bag!!!!!
    How you always find the right words almost drives me crazy. So eloquit.
    I too wish I could find a friend like you in RL!

  19. Wow! Amazin post!

    ~Cindy! :)

  20. Jenn,

    I am too delurking from my corner to applaud this and many of your recent posts. I found your blog accidentally and have been unable to stop reading.

    The idea that someone is willing to question your morals and faith is crazy...opinions are just that and need to be taken with a grain of salt. My faith is of highest importance to me, but it does not distract me from the fact that there are extenuating circumstances to abortion and that people (no matter their gender) have a right to be happy with the person they love and be respected for such a decision. My faith and opinions do not need to agree with everyone else's, as long as deep down within me I believe.

    Thanks for this post and all your related recent posts for opening my mind and the minds of so many other people who read your blog.

    Keep those opinions flowing!!!


  21. Why are Snickers so darn yummy? That's my question! Is it the peanut butter nougat or roasted peanuts and caramel or the milk chocolate casing? That's the real dilemma...

  22. I really respect and enjoy your opinions -- although I disagree. But keep them coming, please! I commented a couple of days ago that I believe in ensuring the right to practice religion above the "civil right" for all to be married. While I love my marriage, I don't think it's a civil right. Religion IS protected in the constitution, thank goodness. Although things like this certainly threaten the freedom to worship... An NPR article from June 13, 2008 describes my opinions exactly and explains how the freedom to worship is being threatened already. So if I was in CA, I'd vote yes on prop 8.

  23. Jen,

    As another mom through IVF, I thank g-d and our team of doctors every day for the incredible blessing and joy that is my child, however, it has been a source of great pain to me that the church in which I was raised is completely opposed to IVF and all ART. I feel so grateful that I was never faced with an unwanted pregnancy but many if not all of the same arguments that would limit a woman's reproductive freedoms in regards to abortion could limit my freedom (and yours and your daughters) to do ART and thus concieve my precious baby. I simply do not trust the government (made up mostly of men like my former church) with the ability to limit or regulate ANY of my reproductive freedoms. I believe that these very personal and agonizing decisions are between a woman/ girl, her doctor, her g-d, and her partner if she has one. There are countries in Europe where ART is so *regulated* that is basically inaccessible and couples have to travel abroad if they want to create their family through ART. What a burden!

    I also think that you are not a mom who will need a law to force her daughters' confidence. You will have it because you have earned it. I do worry (having worked with teens) about other daughters how are not so lucky in their mothers and will vote no the parental notification iniative. I hope that my child will know that my love is unconditional and will come to me when they are suffering or in trouble, no matter how bad knowing I will listen with compassion.

    I know that you don't plan to blog more on political issues for a while. I must say that I have appreciated your thoughts, even when I disagree, and opportunity for civil discourse, so often in our society civil discourse seems dead. Bravo on speaking with your fundamentally Christian neighbors about your differing views, so often we only speak with those with whom we agree.



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  25. As a fellow triplet mom who also suffered the effects of HELLP Syndrome ... I couldn't have said it better myself!

  26. One of many cuzzins!11/3/08, 8:35 AM

    Hi Jenna!

    First Halloween in 17 years that no one went Trick-or-Treating in my house! And to boot, it was a beautiful 60 degrees on a Friday night, in a you know what that means. NO CANDY LEFT OVERS!! With nobody's loot to steal it was a very depressing weekend here.

    Love, love, love this post. Great job expressing yourself and your true feelings. Whether we all agree or not, your honesty and courage to speak from your heart is very inspiring.

    Too funny that you & Charlie actually sat with your neighbors on Halloween night to discuss politics...hopefully there was a little witches brew to pass around!!

    High five!

  27. Great post - you make so much sense.

  28. Thank you for expressing your opinon so articulately and calmly...and without judgement.

    I agree with much of what you have to say, and disagree with a few points. Regardless of my agreement or disagreement, it was wonderful to read another calm, rational point of view.

    As for those opposed to abortion in the case of incest, here's a story to ponder. I knew a girl in junior high who became pregnant. She tried to commit suicide rather than face her parents. At the hospital, the doctor informed her parents that my friend was pregnant. They insisted she carry the baby to term, at 15.

    Who was the father of the baby? My friend's abusive father, who had begun molesting her at 10 years old, and who had raped her repeatedly for years. My friend, unable to abort the child due to her age and her family's virtual imprisonment (she was allowed to go to school and church, and that was it), tried twice more to kill herself, with pills she bought from someone at school.

    Her baby was born with severe problems due to the pills she took in her suicide attempts -- and he died at 7 months old. My friend has been in and out of mental institutions in the intervening years, and refuses to even entertain the idea of EVER allowing a man to touch her in any way. She's in her early 40s now.

    If she'd been able to obtain an abortion, without being forced to notify her parents, perhaps her life would have turned out differently.

    I am not "pro abortion" -- I am pro-life. My husband and I are struggling with infertility, and trying very hard to adopt (a very difficult proposition). I am also pro-choice, until every child is a wanted child.

    (I have to admit I also carry a burden of frustration, as someone who desperately wants to adopt. Any 14-year-old crack addict living in a cardboard box can carry a baby to term and receive government help in order to bear and keep her child...yet those of us who want to adopt must spend thousands and thousands of dollars, be "judged" by home-studies, be within a certain age range, make a certain income and otherwise jump through a thousand hoops -- and STILL not come out the other end of the gauntlet with a child. Just something to ponder.)

  29. Hi - I'm also a "lurker" who came across your blog from someone else's. Thank you for your comments. Today I think you're blog and the comments of other readers - is the only thing keeping my mind from turning to mush! -- and your kids are adorable!

  30. Jen -

    As a lurker, I want to encourage you to keep on doing exactly what you're doing. You will never know how many lives you are touching in a wonderful way...your humor, your creativity, your honesty, your ENERGY, geesh...if I didn't admire you so much I'd probably hate you!!! You're EveryWoman!

    I found your site through my friend Krissy's blog (Two Are Better Than One) and I am a faithful, maybe even ADDICTED, reader. I especially love when you do "strikeouts," you have a gift!!!

    Anyway, Krissy and I were talking about your blog the other day and we BOTH mentioned the entry where you talked about the fact that some people DO get divorced because of the stresses of life, which could include kids. Krissy and I are both in great marriages, but we heard you LOUD AND CLEAR and independently made our husbands read your wise words!!! You really hit on something with that entry, thank you for your insight and again...honesty.

    I agree with your fans (wish I could do strikeout there and then write "commentors")...your writing makes us feel like you are talking right to us, like we're old friends.

    Seriously, thank you, thank you for sharing who you are with all of us! I know you have MANY more lurkers out there who, like me, wake up and go to your site first to see what's going on with the Amazing Trips family!

    Oh...and even though I once completed a marathon (in San Diego, no less), and even though I hauled my way-too-flabby self out for a jog today...I just consumed a whole bag of Fun Size Snickers and therefore know better than to enter one of your contests encouraging healthy behavior! But you're planting a seed, Jen, you are...! I'm going to really try to get better at not being a horrible pig! Largely due to your inspirational life!!! Thank you again!!!!

  31. Thank you so much for sharing your opinions and for being so open and honest!

    To the individuals who believe that abortion should not be allowed regardless of the situations (rape, safety of mother, etc...) I first wish they would stop saying what they would or wouldn't do in that position because seriously... you will NEVER know what you would do in either of those positions until or unless you are ever IN one of those positions and god forbid that ever happen.

    And then... for the people who feel that a woman who is raped should give the baby up for adoption... would you knowingly adopt a child whose father was a rapist?

    It's a tough question... one which many people don't consider that a pregnant woman has to think about constantly. A friend of mine was raped and became pregnant... her biggest fear was that her child would grow up to be the kind of person the man who raped her was.

    It's pretty simple really.

    You will never know the thoughts that plague a woman's mind until you're in those shoes.

    Who am I to take away another person's rights.

  32. I don't have time to read these post at this time but wanted to tell you that kids look adorable! (Will come back to reading later)

    I may be out of line with my comment.... because I am not sure whether you posted on the upcoming election or not but I had to tell you a story of a woman on the coast of SC who before handing out candy asked the children which candidate their parents were voting for... If they said McCain - they got candy and a Christian flier. If they said Obama - they didn't get any candy at all!! Of course several children went away crying and the parents called the media. It makes me sick to think that people who "claim" Christianity have become so righteous that it is actually hurting so many.... What would Jesus do?????

    I believe he would hand the kids bigger candy bars give them a pat on the head and prayed silently over each one...........Interesting times ahead. ;-)

    Heading out for a up to 6 miles!! ;-)