Tuesday, 11 November 2008

And Then I Fell to Earth

Hard to imagine as it is, there are a few Americans very disappointed in last Tuesday's election results.

My father is one of them. And do you know why? Not because of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Not because of the economy. Because, he said, Obama said eight months ago that the first thing he's going to do when he gets into office is legalise late-term abortion (or third-semester as my father called it).

I missed that news item, my father said, because I don't live in the U.S. and I don't have access to the same information he does. I reminded him that there's an internet now that allows me access to all sorts of information.

I didn't call my father to gloat or to argue. I called to wish him a happy birthday. I then made the mistake of asking him what he thought of the election. I had little doubt in my mind that he had voted for McCain. My father is a Committed Christian who is going to Heaven because he has been forgiven by God for his sins. Pity his children haven't forgiven him yet, nor has he asked their forgiveness.

Like most people, I think, I try to avoid the emotional subject of abortion. I've never had one. I've never had to have one. I have had two pregnancies that ended in the births of my children. I know what it feels like to feel life growing inside me, and I could never have a late-term abortion myself unless there were strong medical grounds. Many babies born at 28 weeks survive.

For the record, I googled Obama's stand on abortion. He is in favour of abortion rights, but waffles a bit, like most politicians. McCain doesn't: he says life begins at conception. So if you take the morning-after pill within 72 hours of sexual intercourse (which is how long it takes for a fertilized egg to embed itself in the womb, I believe) then you are having an abortion, according to that famous biologist John McCain.

But back to my father. Abortion wasn't and isn't the most important issue facing Barack Obama today, as I told my father. I'm sure he's got a lot of other issues on his mind and will push abortion onto the proverbial back burner.

What I find most alarming about my father is not his stance on abortion or his support of McCain. It's his lack of respect for my opinion and feelings or indeed those of anyone else who doesn't agree with his narrow-minded, judgmental, moralistic point of view, and this is something that has not and will not change no matter who is in office. It's a shame that he is this way. Last night I hung the phone up and uttered not a few expletives under my breath and over my breath and into hubby's ears. I vowed not to phone my father again. I said he's treating me the same way he used to treat me when I was in my teens and 20s. Only I'm almost 50. But today I feel differently. I resolved to get on with my life, rejoice once more that Barack Obama is president-elect, and perhaps do something (though I don't know what) to help women so they don't have to be in the position of having to make what must be a very difficult decision.


Annie said...

There are many in this area who share your father's views. What wrecks me though is these same people won't hear a word against Bush, and his actions and inactions equate to some of the most immoral in my view.

Abortion is a huge issue for me - it's not easy for me to set Obama's stance on it aside. But there are so many issues here and abroad that I firmly believe he will have a very positive influence on. I don't doubt Obama's intentions - and I respect his and others' hard held principles in relation to a woman's right to choose (although I disagree) - it's not like he's a proponent of abortion. Who is?

This coupled with the reality that McCain would have done little, if anything to address the abortion issue (like previous Republican govts in the past) mean that for many it wasn't an option to look solely at the issue of abortion as a basis on which to make a vote.

Fire Byrd said...

There is something so disabling about how parents can treat us when we are adults that disempowers in seconds flat. I really hope that I never get to that place where just because I'm a parent that I know best. I had enough when my father was alive to ever want to put my sons through it
hugs xx

Kaycie said...

I believe what your father is actually talking about is not late term abortion; Bush signed an executive order to stop federal funding for abortions, regardless of the age of the pregnancy. Obama is widely expected to reverse this with his own executive order, just as Clinton did. So-called partial birth abortions or any other abortion-related procedure that is currently illegal would be excluded from this type of order.

I would tell your father the same thing I have said to my own father: when you have a uterus and there is a life growing inside it, let's talk about your stance on abortion.

I'm sure that would go over like a lead balloon.

My personal opinion is that abortion is a medical issue and like other medical issues, it should be a decision arrived at by a patient and a doctor. Abortion should not be taken lightly. Abortion is tragic in most circumstances. But I believe that women should have a choice when they find themselves pregnant in dire circumstances.

Kaycie said...

Here is what I think your father is talking about, taken from an AP statement (if I remember correctly):

Some of the first executive orders will no doubt be pleasing to some of Barack Obama's feminist supporters and will anger pro life supporters. Barack Obama will lift the restrictions on foreign aid to abortions that were imposed by President George W. Bush. Obama will also lift restrictions for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

Neither of these proposed executive orders is unexpected. President Clinton, when he first entered office, issued similar executive orders to lift abortion restrictions imposed by both President Reagan and the first President Bush.

President George W. Bush had imposed some restrictions on embryonic stem cell research because such procedures destroy human embryos, which pro life supporters regard as taking human life.

Trixie said...

Sometimes we wonder how we ever came from the same genes as our parents.

kathy said...

About the abortion issue, I wonder why adoption isn't talked about more. My sister in law couldn't have kids, but it took her 13 years on a waiting list to adopt a baby.

I think everyone agrees that abortion is tragic, why then is it ok? Is it because it's legal? and if Roe vs. Wade was overturned would abortion then be wrong?

it is what it is.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

annie: abortion is a highly emotive issue, and rightly so. You and I both know how quickly your body changes as life develops inside you. What I don't know is the desperation some women feel about that life developing. To vote for a president based on his stance on abortion is, in my mind, very narrow-minded. To excuse Dubya sending off thousands of sons and daughters to their death in a misbegotten war as American or just is anything but. And how come these anti-abortionists are always pro-death penalty?

fire byrd: I struggle with my relationship with my father. Like you, I hope I never make my children feel that their opinions and feelings are worthless just because I am the parent and they are the child.

kaycie: It wouldn't be the first time my father got it all wrong. Obama also said that making a decision about abortion was above his pay grade, or something to that effect. I have only known one woman who used abortion as a means of birth control. She was a teen-ager and probably should have been better counselled by her parents. I also think it messed her mind up (or maybe she was messed up already). It is a medical issue. I just would hate to go back to the days before Roe v. Wade.

trixie: really. Wonder if my kids will ever feel the same?

kathy: If more support systems were in place for women, perhaps more would have babies that could then be adopted. It must have been very stressful for your sister to have to wait 13 years to adopt.

Expat mum said...

I have to say that I haven't heard Obama say much on abortion. It IS a very difficult issue for any politician to address because it's so divisive. What I would like to see is more sex education in the first place, and not just "abstinence" as that doesn't work. Perhaps then we'd have less abortions to worry about.

Anonymous said...

Not knowing your father I am in no position to comment but I do hope you make it up with him at some point. It must be difficult for you.

As far as abortion is concerned, I have supported someone close to me when she had one and it was the most awful experience for both of us, obviously 100 times worse for her, emotionally and physically. She is fine now but will have to live with her decision for ever. I couldn't do it myself but I have never been in a position to have to contemplate it.

Very interesting post.
CJ xx

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

My father was a very difficult and violent man. He used to phone up and still bitch about my mother when I was in my mid 30's and they had been apart fot 20 years. I bought an answerphone with call screening and only ever took one call in three from him to minimise the damage. I wondered if I would feel guilty when he died but I felt not a jot of guilt because he was a bully, violent and still trying to control me from afar. One night I told him that if he couldn't phone up and just talk without dronong on about my mother then not to call me until he could control his behaviour. He never called again and then he died. I felt nothing but relief telling him that for I was stopping him verbally abusing me years after I left home. When it dawned on me that I had let him do that to me years after leaving home I was truly pissed off with myself for letting him away with it. It was pretty good realising that I had taken control back by limiting his access to me. Don't fret over your father - they bring it on themselves.

ExpatKat said...

It's hard when parents refuse to accept that their children are adults in their own right with their own views and opinions. The lack of respect can be truly depressing.
I tend to play the damage limitation game too. Sometimes I feel guilty for keeping my Mum at arms length, but it really is a question of survival.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

expatmum: that's one thing I have seen Obama say on the subject of abortion. He'd like more sex education as well, but that will probably stir up the likes of my father as well.

CJ: I so envy the relationship you and your father had. I know there are men out there who love and cherish their children and make sure they know it. My father just isn't one of them. But some of it is in his DNA, I'm convinced. His own father gave up his firstborn son because his new wife, my grandmother, didn't want to look after him. And my father's grandfather allowed his second wife to treat his own children appallingly. He left his farm and possessions to his stepchildren when he died, nothing to his own children.

mob: good for you for finally finding the strength to stand up to your father. I think sometimes we get caught up in this parental mystique, thinking they are owed something when clearly they are not.

expatkat: I've contemplated cutting off contact with my father over the years but haven't done it. He's 83 now so what would be the point? I'm just trying not to be like him.

DJ Kirkby said...

Surely Obama is right, abortion is a woman's choice and the consequences are also hers to deal with should there be any, it is nobody else's business. I think abortion should not be used a a drastic form of contraception but can see that maybe there might be some women who would need to have a late termination of their pregnancy for a reason they feel is justifiable. I just thank Gods that I have never been in their position.

Braja said...

Well, I'm a little confused. Forgive me, but you've written this: "...his lack of respect for my opinion and feelings or indeed those of anyone else who doesn't agree with his narrow-minded, judgmental, moralistic point of view." I don't know, I might be wrong, but your judgement of your father sounds like the same thing; as does your posting about it and getting people to agree with you about how "wrong" he is for holding a viewpoint that is opposed to yours.

Just sayin'....