Thursday, October 29, 2009

April Fool's Day

A friend sent me one of those many-times-forwarded emails about a judge in Texas who gave atheists a holiday -- April Fool's Day.  I like her a lot -- she is good hearted and has been a good friend, and we have the same birthday, including the year.  That's a bond that has kept us friends over the years.  She acknowledged that it was a hoax, but said she wished it were true.  She doesn't like atheists a bit.

She told me it shouldn't matter if people put up public crosses on government land, which only offends a small minority of people, and that we should require that the ten commandments be displayed in all the courhouses and everyone should have to learn them because Christians and Jews alike are taught those and "our laws are based on them."
This is not true, of course.  We have no laws on the books that say we must love God or our parents, and none that outlaw coveting our neighbors ox, or that forbid adultery or making graven images or anything else on that list except murder and theft.  Constitutional law's roots are in the Magna Carta, not the bible. 

Jews are taught 613 commandments, not ten, and as far as Judaism is concerned, gentiles are only required to follow seven -- the six given to Adam and Eve, and the one added later for Noah -- not to eat the flesh of living animals.  Damn!  There goes biting the heads off live pigeons! 

The commandments in Hebrew are wonderful -- not a "thou shalt not" -- or even a "thou" -- in there. Very clear: "No murder." "No steal."  Period.  Hebrew is wonderfully simple and direct -- says a lot with very few words. 

My friend said she felt anyone could believe as they want, but she objected to someone trying to tell her she can't believe as she wants because "they don't believe the way I do."  I told her that's exactly how the atheists feel, too. Well put.

I am one of those people who objects to the dominant religion displaying its symbols in public exclusively, as if it were the "official" one, and I also feel very strongly that church and state should stay totally separate. In an area like the south, where Christianity is so overwhelmingly dominant, I believe Christians tend to forget the rest of us exist.  They are taught theirs is the only true faith and the rest of us must convert or go to "hell" (an idea derived from a place outside Jerusalem where garbage was perpetually burned and unruly children were taken for punishment).  To a non-Christian, a big cross displayed in public can be very offensive. In fact, many Christians are offended by this, too.  Commercialization of religion cheapens it. 

Jews are not plastering stars of David all over the public domain, are they? Or insisting the Shema be said before every public meeting or at the beginning of every classroom day?  I think it simply doesn't occur to people that a thing so beloved by them might have a completely different meaning to someone who doesn't share their beliefs.

I told my friend that atheists don't give a rat's elbow if one practices Christianity or Zoroastrianism, so long as we don't try to make them do it or make them watch it being done in a government-sponsored venue or ceremony. I'm with them.

When Laura's mother died, the Episcopal priest who did her awful funeral insisted on praying over us privately in his office before the service. We thanked him and told him we were Jewish and preferred he did not do that, though we appreciated the thought. He went right ahead, with gritted teeth, and did it anyway, "in Jesus' name."  It was a physical shock.  We could not believe he would do such a thing.  He had to deliberately go out of his way to do it, too, because that phrase is not part of any Episcopal liturgy I have ever heard and he was reading his prayer from the prayer book.  That phrase was his own addition.  It was doubly bad under the circumstances -- we were burying Laura's mother -- and it was grossly disrespectful.  He added it again and again throughout the service, defiantly glaring at us from the altar as he did so, using those words as a weapon.  Her mother, who was born Jewish and did not accept a lot of standard Christian ideas, would have hated that service as much as we did.  It was also disrespectful to her.  I believe his behavior was the product of a two-edged bigotry -- we are Jews, and we are a same-sex couple.  He was not, in my opinion, sufficiently mature or balanced to hold the position of parish rector. 

Mature people respect that other people don't necessarily share their beliefs, or deserve to be unwillingly subjected to them in public places. They are not threatened by differing ideas.  No one objects to anyone praying in public as long as they do it privately. God hears it loud and clear.   In fact, Jesus' own instruction in prayer is to go to your room where no one can see or hear you and not to make an ostentatious show of it.  A moment of silence does not require the world to stop so you can take it. 

Atheism is actually one of the normal phases of the cycle of belief.  Judaism acknowledges that and makes room for it. Everyone has occasional periods of doubt or disbelief. If not, they're just not paying attention. It's even in the gospels: "I believe; help thou my unbelief." 
Photo credit: Google images, William Merit Chase 1875. 

The Curtains Open and There You Are

You know it's fall when you can't see the street for leaves.  This stock photo is not the street I drove on earlier today, but close enough to be an almost perfect representation.  Mine was a city street, without sidewalks but well-populated with houses.  This is what the surface looked like, and this is what the trees looked like.  The word "spectacular" falls flat as a descriptor.  This photo was taken somewhere in Tennessee, but I don't know the exact location.  Really, it is a close enough replica of North 14th Street to be the perfect stand in. 

The trees are in their full, show-stopping glory today.  This is it.  They have been preparing for this performance since April or May when the leafing out began or June when it was fully done.  It's amazing when you think about what a short time trees actually have leaves, but leafed out and green is how we think of them, even though they spend most of the year bare naked and letting in the sun for us.   Green they stay for four or five months, and then comes the show we were all waiting to see: in amazing, glorious, mind-blowingly vivid living color.  Ladeeez and gentlemen!  I now present to you, just in from her tour of the northern reaches of Canada and the rugged fjords of Newfin Land: Autumn! 

I see a standing ovation and hear thunderous applause.  It's the only possible response (except Shehekianu). 

I should have driven down Maxwell Street, the one that runs by the bank, which has the best trees ever on it.  I know every one of them on a first name basis, though I am more respectful with the older ones.  Those trees have been through it.  When I drive on Maxwell, I am in awe of those trees.  Those are the most glorious trees I know.  They are mystical trees.  When I look at them I experience an altered state of consciousness in which they seem preternaturally three-dimensional... They stand out in vivid relief against the simple houses they guard and shade.  Each one is a living entity that has a life and character of its own.  I love driving down that street. 

While I was driving home from Kroger today and admiring the glory of those amazing trees, I paused at the corner of Douglas Avenue for a moment of silent reverence for the trees that were lost in the tornado.  Twenty thousand trees lost their lives when that tornado came actoss the river from downtown and tore a half-mile swath of fury through East Nashville.  Twenty thousand trees. 

I wish I could have seen them.

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech ha-olam she-lo chi-sar b'ola-mo k'lum, u'va-ra vo bri-yos to-vos v'ila-nos to-vos ley-ha-nos ba-hem bnei a-dam.
[Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has not made His world lacking in anything and has created its goodly creatures and goodly trees to give pleasure to mankind.]
photo credit: Google photos

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Once upon a time in a town called NashVegas there lived an old lady who totally lost her mind and signed up to write an entire novel during the month of November -- 175 pages in 30 days. 

That would be me.  I went to the NaNoWriMo website and filled out the sign-up form. I have no idea about the plot or subject or who the characters will be.  I am banking on stream of consciousness and a lot of coffee to get me through it.  The rules say quantity (50,000 words), not quality is the goal here.  That's a good thing.  You can't use anything you've written before.  That means I can't use this as an excuse to whip out my old St. Francis biography, clean it up and pass it off as something new.  1667 words per day.  That's more than half again as long as my 1032 word Ronnie's Legacy blog entry, which is longish. Still, it's doable. 

Even with a trip to Noblesville for Thanksgiving with Jennifer and John and the kids?   So some days I will write more than 1667 words and some others, fewer.  I'm going to try. 

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.  It's an annual event which began in San Francisco in 1999 with 21 participants and last year, it had 100,000 participants from all over the world.

I have been writing all my life, but this is a first.  Never a novel.  Well, Grandma Moses started painting at 80.  I figure that gives me a 9-year head start...

How about you?  There's still time left to sign up!  This is amateur night on a grand scale.  No experience necessary.  Come on -- I dare you!

Photo credit: NaNoWriMo


Monday, October 19, 2009

Ronnie's Legacy

It was Ronald Reagan's fault I got into nursing.  In more ways than one.  He closed all the mental hospitals without providing an alternative and suddenly there was a desperate need for community mental health care.  I was newly divorced and needed to support my five children and they grabbed me right up and sent me to nursing school.  I wanted to be a marine biologist, or even an art therapist, but nursing was it.  It was faster, though that time in school seemed forever, with 11 and 12 hour days when we had classroom work as well as full shift clinicals.  Sometimes I was gone from 6:30 AM until 11 at night, and then there was studying to do.  How we survived is another story altogether.  (300 people applied for the class.  31 were selected.  Eleven of us graduated and we all passed state boards.)

My first job was at the Hunter's Point Methadone Clinic near Candlestick Park.  My only preparation for this job was basic psych nursing training and life experience.  As an artist married to a jazz musician, I had lived in the general milieu.  As one of my patients put it when she explained why she felt safe confiding in me, "You were in the life."  Though I was never a drug user, I had lived among people who were.  After I had worked there for a few months, another methadone clinic job opened up at San Francisco General's Ward 92 and I transferred over. 

We got a lot of material from the government and when things were slow, I read it.  We had a mountain of pamphlets printed on newsprint covering the entire history of the drug wars and the cultural changes that had fed into them.  I was amazed at what the government taught me.

Opiates were dirt cheap and over-the-counter legal until the early 20th century, and in fact doctors often transferred alcoholic patients to opium because they could hold down a job on opiates where this was impossible when they were drunk.  There were few if any drug crimes.  The Harrison Narcotics act of 1914 put a tax on them and from there on it went downhill.  Like prohibition, outlawing drugs created drug outlaws. More than half the people in our prisons today are there either on drug related issues or for crimes committed to get money for drugs.  Of course with the added glamor of being illegal, drug use went up.  Humans have no sense a lot of the time.

During the Hippie era, the drugs of choice were hallucinogenic -- pot and acid, and occasionally organic substances like amanita mushrooms, peyote and morning glory seeds.  These caused an introspective mystical or spiritual high and did not produce any collateral crime the way opiates do.  They were not addicting, and though really unsafe for people with mental health issues, they did relatively little damage.  No AIDS.  No hepatitis C.  No endocarditis epidemics.  No deaths from overdoses.  Peace, love and joy pretty much prevailed.  Healthy organic living, what we call Green Living today.  The Haight Ashbury was a great place to live and raise kids in those days.  People smiled a lot.  There was a terrific sense of community.  I miss the Haight the way it was in those Summer of Love days.  I will never forget the feel of warm sunshine in the meadows of Golden Gate park with my family around me and Gracie Slick belting out White Rabbit.  Magical times.  

Ronald Reagan was governor of California then and his drug people decided to get rid of the marijuana, and maybe those pesky Hippies would go, too.  We can argue about motivation, and there are some very good conspiracy theories out there which, according to the government literature I read, are pretty much true... They managed to close the Mexican border as tight as a drum.  (Take that, Lou Dobbs!)  Imports dried up.  There was a serious pot drought.  Now remember, the government line was that marijuana was a "gateway drug" (by those standards, so is milk) and was addicting and all manner of other things the people using it knew not to be true, so when they heard heroin was a bad drug, they did not believe a word of it.  The marijuana stories were so outrageously false, they believed the heroin stories must be, too, so when the pot vacuum was quickly  filled by enterprising heroin dealers, many didn't hesitate.  (where did the heroin dealers come from?!!  They were not neighborhood guys.)  Gone were the gentle hippies whispering "grassacid?"  The results were death and destruction and general horror and painful, often lifelong addiction.  We watched friends lives destroyed and young people murdered in that once-peaceful neighborhood, including a friend's 17-year-old brother who had just arrived, rosy-cheeked and innocent, from Appleton Wisconsin.  That put a permanent end to the flower children.

My boss at the time was the neighborhood merchants' president and the police/community liaison.  When Mendel wanted to get rid of the heroin dealers in front of his store, he watched very carefully until he found the supplier.  He knew the street dealer was not the problem.  He followed the supplier to his home, got his license number and address and turned them over to his good friends at the police station.  His first jolt of real political reality was when he realized they had no intention of doing anything about it.  At all.  

Heroin eats away and replaces the myelin sheath on your nerve endings, so when you stop taking it, you are in hideous pain.  Violent vomiting and diarrhea ensue.  Patients can't even stand water on their skin -- the pain is unbearable.  The worst of this lasts about 72 hours, the length of time it takes to get the drug out of your system.  Few people have the courage to go through that without help.  Methadone replaces the heroin and takes away the pain without the high.  It enables addicts to get out of the criminal part of it and they no longer need to steal to come up with drug money.  But it is even more addicting.  There is no such thing as a free lunch.

photo credit: unknown artist -- classic photo


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Demeter's Rampage

It's cold out there.  Early winter?  Snowing already in places that don't usually have it this early.  It is plenty cold out here and I have to make my way out to the car to bring in some sodas before I go to bed.  Too cold altogether to go out there.  Feels like December and it's only October.  Frost tonight -- lows in the 20s they say.  I didn't pick the last of the basil, and that's that.  It won't take the least bit of frost.

Why is it so cold so early?  Who knows.  Well, I think it's all Persephone's fault.  Why not?  It makes as much sense as anything.

One night Persephone was out picking narcissus with her girlfriends when out of the earth rose a fierce black horse pulling a chariot with a fierce dark rider who galloped up and rode away with her, disappearing back into the earth.  It was Hades, King of the Underworld.  Her friends ran to her mom, Demeter, and told her what had happened.  Her mom was sorely pissed.

She was so pissed that she froze the entire earth in a winter so deep nobody had ever seen such a thing.  She was, after all, the Earth Mother.  She invented cereal.  And the seasons.  And she wouldn't let up. She got her friend Hecate and they took torches and searched the entire earth, but Persephone was nowhere to be seen.  When she found out Hades' brother Zeus was in on the abduction, she was even madder and would absolutely not defrost anything until she got her daughter back.

Meanwhile, Persephone was not exactly hating being Queen of the Underworld. What teenage girl would hate being queen of something?  Today teen girls are smitten with vampires.  Persephone was actually Queen of the dead!  Still she knew if she ate anything while down there, she would be doomed to stay forever and she was not so sure she wanted to do that, exactly.  Always keep your options open. When Hermes showed up and told her that her mother was freaking completely out and the earth would die if she didn't return, she agreed to go back.  Not so fast, said Hades.  You must be famished, down here all this time without a bite to eat.  Won't you just have a few of these luscious pomegranate seeds?  She pretended to fall for it, but was very careful not to overdo it.  She just ate six, so she was only required to return for six months each year.

Nu, when Persephone is home with her mother, it's nice and warm and the crops grow and all is well, but when she's back with her lover Hades, Demeter freaks and everything goes cold and dark again and we get winter. And I freeze my tuchas going out to the car to get the sodas. 

What, you think it has something to do with the earth's orbit and rotation and the position of the jet stream?  Well, have it your way.  I like the Persephone story better.  Have a Pomegranate?

Persephone painting: Kris Waldherr

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ruby's Birthday

Ruby is five today.  As usual, her Grandma is behind the curve with the birthday gifts.  So, Shabbos or not, I went online to find something suitable for Ruby.  I looked at several websites that had nothing at all that seemed right.  So I fell back to my default shopping site:  Endless choices. And some pretty weird ones.

I searched for gifts appropriate for children ages 5-7.  Ruby is pretty smart and intellectually she is probably closer to 10 or 12 than 5.  She is also a very wise child.  I think she is an old soul.  What would suit her?  I have bought her Polly Pockets before.  I know she loves those tiny dolls with the impossible clothes that only small  fingers can manipulate.  I began to search through hundreds of options.  And some of them were unbelievable.

Among the suggestions for five-year-olds were several vampire dolls.  OK, they're Barbie-like and vampires are hip these days (though "hip" probably isn't). Another of my favorites was Walter the Farting Dog.  Oh right, I'm buying that for sure...  And then, the crowning glory of the five-year-old's suggested gifts list: "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 27 inch Chainsaw."  Complete with bloodstains.  Say WHAT?

I ended up getting her some beautiful art supplies and a great stamping kit and some magnetic wooden "paper dolls" I know she enjoyed at her cousin Emma's house.  She'll get them 2 days late, but then, that just makes her birthday last longer. 

No vampires.  No chainsaws.  No farting dogs.

Think about it: someone actually buys those chainsaws, which are offered by a costume manufacturer, or they wouldn't be listed there. I'm just hoping it's not for a five-year-old...

Photo credit: Loyd Sherwood

Monday, October 12, 2009

Big Gay Splash in the Pan?

I am amazed at the dearth of coverage of the huge Gay Equality march in Washington DC yesterday.  The Birthers and the Carpetbagger/teabaggers  got tons of publicity and broad media coverage.  Their images were plastered all over everything.  Was it because they were a regular Barnum and Bailey sideshow but the gays were orderly, neat, well behaved people and therefore not as newsworthy?  Their signs were not misspelled; their clothing was tidy and contemporary.  No one had anything hateful to say.  They were almost uniformly young, attractive and well-behaved.  And nobody is covering the march.  Even Huffington post has nary a word about it today.  CNN barely mentioned it.  I doubt it even showed up as a brief mention on the network news.

Some terrific speakers addressed the march.  Julian Bond was outstanding.  The Broadway cast of Hair showed up and did a rousing rendition of Let the Sunshine in.  Did you know that Harvey Milk was one of the producers of the original Broadway production of Hair?  Not to mention Jesus Christ Superstar.  Wonder what Harvey would have though of the march?  He would have seen that it got a lot more publicity than it did, I'm sure of that.  His name was mentioned there many times.  We need his brash and determined attitude.  we need his outrage as well as his outrageousness.

President Obama did not show up for the rally, but he spoke to HRC, the big gay lobbying group we feed money into, rain or shine, and which produces next to nothing for our efforts yet takes full credit for whatever happens by serendipity or otherwise.   He said yes he supported gay rights and one day we would have equality, which was a good thing for everybody, and he was working on some stuff, and that's why he had already included gay families in the Easter Egg Roll on the White House Lawn.  His speech made me cry, because he was the first president to ever come to a gay event and speak, and he did say a lot of positive things.  But in the cold light of day, what sticks with me is the actual results: an Easter Egg Roll.

The Easter Egg Roll is not going to cut it, Mr. President.  I love and support you, but you still do not get it.  Few straight people do.  Julian Bond does, though.  He really gets it, and he articulates it very well.  He says all people deserve full civil rights, including people who have "immutable differences." And gay people are immutably different, however much the conservative Christians would like you to believe otherwise.  We are born gay and there is nothing anyone can do to change that particular reality.  We know it from an early age and because of your attitudes, we carry our shame like a second skin.  People are going to have to get it, because little children must not be made ashamed of who they are by birth.  Whatever the preachers may tell you, scientific reality is what it is.  And scientific reality IS "God's law," like it or not.  If you believe God is the creator, this is the reality that God created. 

If you look at the faces of the people at the rally, you will see they are not the stereotypes of gay people that non-gay people usually carry in their minds.  These are your neighbors, your co-workers, your friends.  Not some "Internet left fringe" who need to get out of their pajamas and get a taste of reality, as one of the president's spokespeople actually described us today.   These young people got together with a new resolve, and the broken or deferred promises the administration reiterated Saturday night at the HRC dinner will not, must not, defray their anger.

We will see an end to Don't Ask Don't tell and we will see DOMA overturned.  Not in 20 years.  NOW.

A dream deferred is a dream denied. And we are not in denial.

photos: Huffington Post

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Knitting Lust

I want to knit this coat.  This is a gorgeous coat and I would love to wrap up in it on a cold day and just snuggle in.  This picture is not as good as the one on the cover of the Interweave Knits, the magazine that has the pattern for it.  The problem is, the  yarn for it, 16 skeins of Manos de Uruguay Classica, which is a gorgeous unevenly spun single-ply wool, hand-dyed by a women's collective, would cost about $240.  This does not include the three big beautiful designer buttons, most likely about $10 apiece.  So I looked at other resources and other yarns about the same weight and color.  The best substitute I could come up with (nowhere near as textured or beautifully dyed) would cost $80 if I used my cheapest resource.  But there is still no way I could justify spending $80 on yarn for myself, let alone the time it would take to knit the thing.

So I will look at the picture and think about how nice it would be for about a minute and go back to knitting this one for my granddaughter Isabelle instead.  Not in purple, but a gorgeous golden green baby alpaca from Peru.  Soft as a kitten.  Warm for the Indiana winter.  Hope she likes it. 

Photo credit: Interweave Knits

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Choose life!

Moses exhorted the people: Choose life!  He was talking to that obstinate bunch who wandered in the desert for 40 years and were about to enter the Promised Land without him.  He was telling them to move forward into the future, where their lives were taking them.   It's a wise admonition, in its broadest sense. 

Today that phrase has gained a very different meaning.  It has been reduced to a partisan bumper sticker favored by conservatives who want to overturn Roe V. Wade.   It is the rallying cry of people who want to interfere in the most intimate, heart-rending decision of a woman's life.  It is often men who are the loudest proponents of the "anti-abortion" stance.  They are angry enough about it to tell lies about the nature of it, making up fear-inciting names like "partial birth abortion."  They get angry enough about it to go out and actually kill people over it. 

Take a deep breath, guys.  Everybody is anti-abortion.  Every pro-choice person is anti-abortion.  Nobody likes it.  Nobody is for it at all.  What the true-believer "anti-abortion " people are really for is controlling and imposing their religious beliefs on others regardless of the beliefs of the people they are wanting to control.  Most especially, it is about controlling women, which is why there are so many very militant and vocal men involved in that movement. 

Pregnancy is not a picnic in the meadow with little butterflies flitting around and sweet little bunnies cuddling up to the mommy.  She may be all aglow, but she is actually experiencing a life threatening condition in which a total stranger --an alien being! --inhabits her body and takes over her kidneys, her circulatory system and her bladder.  It grows inside her body until it crushes her innards and will not let her slump forward or lie in a comfortable position or sleep.  There is no guarantee she will not bleed out after giving birth, or get a horrendous infection that may kill her, of be overwhelmed by such a hormonal imbalance that she will go into a deep depression.  The hormonal changes during pregnancy are similar to going through a rapid adolescence in a period of 9 months.  Did I mention the shooting pains in the legs?  The muscle cramping?  The danger of gestational diabetes or of pre-eclampsia, in which the blood pressure suddenly shoots through the roof and can kill both mother and child?  We're not going to talk about the actual birth, in which the cervix, a small donut shaped gadget, suddenly pulls itself flat and opens from nothing to four full inches in diameter in a matter of hours, causing almost unbearable pain, so a child with a 14 inch head can pass though.

I'm going to repeat myself: it's life threatening, even for a healthy woman.

When I was 33 years old, I discovered I was pregnant with my fifth child.  I discovered this on the same day I discovered I had to divorce my husband.  I was utterly horrified.  My youngest child, Cheryl, was 6 years old.

Our wonderful Jewish GP, a man who, when the kids were little, would stop by with boxes of baby vitamins and toys for the kids, just to make sure we were OK, told me I would not live if I carried her to full term and that I must get an abortion.  I had what was called an "irritable heart," which would speed up and become erratic, and I also had high blood pressure.  He was afraid the stress of birth would precipitate a crisis with both these things. 

The Jewish belief is that life begins at birth, and a child which threatens the health of the mother is considered as one who is chasing her with intent to kill.  The life of the mother is the primary concern, especially if there are other children.  His concern was for my life.  I obediently went to the OB-GYN and told him what my doctor had told me.  We scheduled a date for the abortion.

I went home and lay down on the bed and cried my heart out.  Our loving old mother dog, Frieda, came up and put her head on my chest and looked up at me with such compassionate eyes, she really touched my heart.  I knew then I couldn't go through with it.  I called the OB/GYN and told him how I felt.  He said he would just as soon deliver me a healthy baby. 

My doctor was supposed to have scheduled a c-section but hadn't taken me seriously when I said "this is my fifth child and I am always two weeks early."  Two weeks early to the day, still unscheduled, I went into labor.  I took a bus to Mt. Zion Hospital, angering the baby's godfather, a wonderful Scotsman named Norman Crosbie (alias Brother Bede, SSF), because he had wanted to take me and be there for the delivery.  I hadn't wanted to disturb him at 6AM.  In I went and as the procedure progressed, my pulse went erratically over 180  and my blood pressure shot up.  "What did your doctor say he was afraid would happen?" he asked.  I told him, and he said, "Well, he was right."  I have never been so terrified. 

Nevertheless, Jennifer was born healthy and we both survived none the worse for the wear and she now has three children of her own.  I am very glad the old dog reassured me and the OB/GYN agreed to go through with it and I did survive it, despite the near miss at the end.  A miss is as good as a mile, I always say. 

But the point is, it was my choice.  I made the decision myself.  The Catholic church did not decide it for me.  Congress didn't decide it for me.  The courts didn't decide it for me.  My decision went against the religious beliefs of my doctors.  What if they had been the majority who had the power to dictate what mothers had to do?  A Jew would never do that, as witness my OB/GYN's willingness to support my decision which was contrary to his own beliefs.  No one has a right to impose their religion on another in such a circumstance.  No one has a right to make that decision except the mother herself.  Not even the father, I think, has a right to decide that kind of life or death issue.  The family has a right to weigh in on it, but in the end, it is the decision of the person whose body and life are put at risk. 

Choose life, whatever that means for you.  Don't let it be a bumper sticker sentiment.  Move forward into your life.  Keep dancing onward.

 photo credit: Laura Hoffman (the "baby" and me, 37 years later...)