controversial thought pieces on contemporary culture

May 22, 2020


by Kree/Michael Montgomery

Copyright © 1998 Michael Montgomery, All rights reserved

Editor's Note: Michael (also known as "Kree" on-line) was prompted to write this essay after an unfortunate incident in which he and his seven-year old son inadvertently drove past a pro-life demonstration near a local abortion clinic. Demonstrators, mistakenly believing they were about to turn into the clinic, stopped the car and plastered a poster depicting an aborted fetus in a toilet across the windshield. The event, needless to say, profoundly shocked and terrified Michael's little boy. This essay is Michael's attempt to grapple with a sensible solution to the social dilemma which inflicted some lasting psychological scars on both father and child.

The stillness of the night was broken by the sound of an explosion. Broken glass, fire, the screams of the injured echoed through a place of learning, assaulting the sleep of those learning to heal the body and the mind. Thudding footsteps running from the scene of chaos. Sound of a truck starting. A single man fleeing the scene of destruction. The wail of sirens, blue lights, red lights, white lights, all converging on a scene from hell.

What was destroyed on this quiet night in a peaceful place of knowledge? Some would say a building. Some would say an idea. Some would say a place of crimes against nature. Some would say a needed place where crime was committed.

Some would say the man behind the thudding footsteps is a hero; many would disagree.

In truth, what was destroyed was bricks and mortar, two humans that happened to be in the wrong place, and the illusion that law enforcement agencies have the ability to protect citizens engaged in a legal pursuit from those who feel that their religious beliefs are above that law.

The bombing of a women's clinic in Birmingham thus joined the killing of a doctor in Pensacola and the threats of violence against other doctors and clinics as a blight on our society. These actions and threats are coming from within a group that claims their God is a loving God. A God that promises them an afterlife if they repent their sins on Earth.

Defining what is a sin is a job for clerics and religious philosophers. Defining what is a crime is far easier, since abortion is legal in the United States. This is a fact, regardless of what the opponents of Roe vs Wade choose to argue in their picket lines in front of the clinics designed to remove unwanted fetuses from the wombs of those who feel a necessity to remove them.

I personally abhor the use of abortion as a means of birth control, but I accept it is legal and feel a deep sadness for the women that are abused by the pickets as they make one of the most difficult decisions of their lives. The faceless taunters with the signs, some of which are offensive and obscene, don't care about the emotional damage they inflict on these hapless women doing what they feel they must. The rape victim made pregnant by her attacker, the woman with children she can't feed, the woman who forgot her pill and doesn't feel she can handle a child, all have the right to terminate their pregnancies. Whether any of us agree with their choice, it is their choice and it is legal. The sign-carrying picketers need to remember that at some time a relative of theirs fought someone, somewhere, to protect the Constitution that gives each of those women that right.

Why have I chosen to address this? Why didn't I go out and enjoy the sunshine on the beach and leave philosophy alone? It is simple. I have a solution to this problem. Will it ever happen? I doubt it because it is easier for a coward to hide behind a deer rifle or place a bomb in the middle of the night than to address the problem. It is easier for those carrying picket signs to disassociate themselves from the crimes committed in their names--while in the back of their mind yelling, "YES!"-- than to see the wisdom of my solution. Having said that, let's see who has the guts to carry out a solution.

The givens in my solution are facts that can not be currently challenged. Abortion is legal, period. Abortion is a crime before the God worshipped by these people. Federal and State laws protect the clinics and those that work inside. Federal law prohibits pickets within a certain distance of the clinics. The people that picket, threaten, shoot, and bomb do not respect these laws, or those they are designed to protect. Those are the facts.

My solution will require registration of pro-life supporters plus registration and special licensing of clinics. Pro-life supporters will register in the same manner in which they have registered to vote. These registrations will be used to prepare a grid of the United States showing where the registered participants reside.

Clinics will be required to submit an application for inclusion in this program or they will be closed down. They will have to have permission to relocate, which will be granted as long as they do not leave the county of their initial registration. No new clinics may open without being opened in an area where there is a need for the clinics. Need being defined as location in an area where there is no clinic in a given county and the adjacent counties have a usage level of 125% of the average in the United States. This isn't difficult, since most hospitals have to apply for beds to a state agency, so there are people skilled in writing these proposals.

We now have a population grid, with the locations of clinics overlaid on that grid. We know where the protesters are and where the protested are. Now we must provide some means of diffusing this situation. What do the protestors really want? Do they want the clinics closed? Do they want to harass those using the facilities? Do they want to save a human life? Obviously they want two of these things and the harassment is an addition that happens regardless of intent.

What do the clinics and their patrons want? The clinics are there to serve a need and to make money. The patrons have a mixed assortment of needs, but underlying many of those needs is a financial obligation. Many women visiting a clinic do so as a last resort after tear-filled nights and after the procedure is completed many will carry their scars for life. They are as much victims in many cases as the unborn fetus.

My solution attempts to resolve these issues for both sides, or at least find a middle ground. First, picketing and protesting would be a Federal crime with an automatic sentence of twelve months. No appeals, no excuses. This would be an electronically monitored sentence with an automatic extension of sentence if abused. In place of the pickets, each clinic would be required to provide an office for counseling prior to the procedure, except in the case of rape victims. After counseling, there would be a seventy-two hour period before the procedure could be done. The counselors would be volunteers selected from the list of the registered pro-lifers from that geographic area.

Those proposed for this duty would have to be screened at their expense by psychologists and would be required to have degrees in religion or the social services. These volunteers would be given thirty minutes to interview the patients in order to explain the religious and social implications of their decision. There would be guidelines written to prevent scare tactics and harassment. The interviews would be taped to prevent abuse of this privilege. After counseling, the patient would fill out a form designed to allow for complaints if the counselor harassed or abused her. A counselor found to be abusing the patients would be fined for each instance, as determined by one representative from the clinic, one from the pro-lifers' group, and an impartial arbitrator.

After the counseling session, there would be two possible outcomes. One, the patient would proceed with the abortion and that case is over and resolved. The second possibility would be that the woman changes her mind and chooses to carry the child to term. The abortion carried out in the first outcome ends the involvement of the system I have devised. The woman is responsible for the charges incurred and for any follow-up care, medical or psychological.

The second result, carrying the child to term, keeps this woman in my system. It would be assumed that the counselor had been successful in presenting the pro-life ideals and the system would begin its work. The group of people registered in the grid where the abortion counselor successfully prevented the abortion would now be financially responsible for the child to age eighteen. The child support would be based on the support paid by a divorced parent at the median income level of the locale. Payroll deductions would be made and submitted to the State agency regulating the collection of child support payments from court ordered assessments. Employers would receive two percent of the collections for the collection effort. The State would receive two percent of funds collected to defray the hiring of additional staff. The funds would be held in a separate account and disbursed monthly to the various women who qualified.

Contributors would be allowed a deduction on their Federal income taxes of one half of the payroll deduction. This would be cost effective because of the savings in welfare benefits. The collection effort would begin on enactment of the legislation and registration of those so inclined to participate. There would be a pyramid effect of funding that would lead to a plateau where collections effectively equaled disbursements.

In the event of a shortfall, the amount collected through payroll deductions would be increased to bring the system back in line. Pro-life participants would be encouraged to offer to adopt children and they would be exempted from the payroll deductions until the child reached the age of eighteen.

To provide children staying with the birth parent an opportunity to excel in later life, a prepaid college tuition plan would be bought from the excess funds accumulated during the initial stages of collections when expenses were low. (The cost of a prepaid college plan is very low if purchased at birth!)

The prepaid plans held by the State agency for these children would be cashed in and returned to the Educational Trust fund balances under the following circumstances:

Children drawing on his benefit would have six years to complete college, or remaining balances would be returned to the Trust fund.

This would complete the obligations and responsibilities of those inclined to feel that pro-life is an ethical, moral, and spiritual need.

To prevent abuse of this system, married women would have to show cause for acceptance into the program based on financial need and would be required to report family income annually by providing copies of Federal Income Tax returns. A percentage basis would be applied to determine if assistance was still needed.

Utilization of this program would be limited to two occurrences per lifetime with a seven-year time period between pregnancies required. The point isn't to allow women a method of being rewarded for irresponsible behavior. It is to care for children that might never be allowed to contribute to our society if they were aborted.

There is my solution to the problem. It provides abortion availability for those that have the need and feel it is the proper thing for them to do. It provides the pro-life segment of the population a better opportunity to sway those who desire an abortion without threats, implied and real, to those who provide the service. It requires the pro-life segment of the population to prove their devotion to the ideals taught in their homes and churches by stepping up to the plate with their resources. Finally, it provides security to a young woman faced with a difficult decision: the freedom to make that decision knowing that she will have the resources to raise her child to be a productive member of society.

Will it work? In theory, yes. Will the pro-lifers put their money where their mouth is?

The program presents an interesting dilemma. It doesn't cost anything to stand across the street from a clinic and harass those entering. Of course, it doesn't change their minds either. All it does is add to the guilt the patients already feel and cause undue stress both to patients and workers.

The answers from the pro-lifers reading this will be quite telling. Will they scoff at the idea? Or, will they realize that if one seeks to impose their will on others there IS a price to be paid?

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The Civil Libertine's Sounding Board is devoted to opinions, rants, gripes, and even articulate essays on social and political issues. If you have a burning desire to speak your mind about our world at the verge of a new millenium--and if you can say it passionately, thoughtfully, or humorously--send your contribution to the gloria brame mailbox.. You don't have to be a professional writer, just an intelligent individual with something worth saying. All points of view are tolerated as long as you don't advocate violating the rights of the people with whom you disagree.

Key to the Castle





ME, MYSELF, AND MOI: Sordid Confessions






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Gloria Glickstein Brame