[The following mostly unedited conversation appeared in the E-edition of the Herald-Dispatch in August, 2017. Explanatory notes placed appropriately; otherwise, it appears as originally printed. The exchange was brought on by the editor’s response to a column in the H-D by a local columnist, who shall remain unnamed. The subject of the original column was anti-abortion and the body of the exchange, after a bit of back and forth on criticism, is on the subject of abortion.]
BILL: Milt, as you so often say when facing criticism regarding what you write in your own column, this is the opinion section. What’s good for the goose?
MILT: So it is. And so, I expressed my opinion above, as I generally do when I disagree with comments about my own columns. Also, it irks me and many others that [unnamed whose column was on the subject of “abortion”] never comes here to defend, explain, comment on criticisms, or expand on his thinking, etc., etc. Sometimes, he writes like he’s the voice of God, and anyone who disagrees with him (especially us liberals) is bound for the lowest levels of hell. Balderdash! I’m certainly neither goose nor gander, so what’s your point Bill?
BILL: My point, Milt, is that you lash out at people who criticize you on your column seemingly using the defense that it’s your opinion, therefore immune from criticism. And here you are lashing out at [unnamed] for his opinions. Seems rather hypocritical.
MILT: Bill, sometimes I’m hypocritical. What’s so strange about that? Most people are from time to time. Actually, it’s not hypocritical to be aggravated by responses to what you have to say, while being really critical of a completely different person. What you’re confusing here is oranges and apples. Oh, well, yeah, I don’t like to be criticized, but since I am frequently criticized, I think it’s perfectly okay if I lash out now and then. Whatever….
BILL: Well if [unnamed] criticized you, you would certainly be entitled to criticize him back, but he doesn’t. But at least you admitted you are sometimes hypocritical, so kudos on that, and yeah, you’re probably right, most of us are from time to time.
MILT: Bill, I think you have missed something. There are times when [unnamed] entire column is a rebuttal (or criticism) of one of my columns. He never uses my name, but the material and the theme is familiar…. Bill, opinion is never exempt from disagreement or criticism. That doesn’t mean I have to like it!
BILL: Interesting comments, some of which I see your point. I haven’t seen much of what you refer to as [unnamed] entire column being a rebuttal (or criticism) of one of your columns, but maybe I just missed that. I couldn’t find that in this particular column. I take it from your response to him that you’re fine with abortion?
MILT: I wrote a three paragraph response giving you two real examples I encountered as a minister, and hit a wrong key on my computer and deleted it before I could send it…but yes, I do believe in abortion under certain conditions if that’s the mother’s choice. And it is the mother’s choice (along with her physicians, family and mentors). As I remember my bottom line, it is definitely not MY CHOICE, YOUR CHOICE, OR ANY RELIGIOUS GROUP’S CHOICE. I also believe if a person believes in abortion under certain circumstances, then they believe in abortion, period. For me, it’s an either-or situation.
Some fetuses, i.e. severely deformed, without brainstems, without limbs, situations where there are defective chromosomes and genes, etc. that should not be allowed to term. I believe abortion is warranted for conception by rape, incest, and other situations that a woman must live with for the rest of her life. If you believe what it says in the book of Genesis, it says, “And God breathed into man the breath of life and man became a living soul.” To me, that means that a fetus is NOT “a living soul,” until it takes breath outside of the womb. Man, I wish I had not lost my first response, but it vanished for good. I hope this explains my belief satisfactorily. But, I will confide that it took me a long, long time to come around to this way of thinking. My wife helped. When we were married I was 100% definitely opposed to abortion, period!
BILL: “To me, that means that a fetus is NOT “a living soul,” until it takes breath outside of the womb.” I agree with that, Milt. If even then. I’ve always wondered about the fact that we seem to accept that when a person dies, the soul leaves the body, which recognizes that the two are distinct from each other. It’s the entry point which to me is totally in question.
MILT: I hear you. I’m skeptical of such an ancient statement from the earliest chapter in Genesis on which to base such a critical decision…but…in my lengthy post I lost, I gave two examples of children I saw while I was in the ministry that never should have been born. I was very close to both families. Frankly, they were living in hell with a child that should have been, in most anyone’s opinion, I think, aborted.
One was a 11-12 year old boy, no speech, no measurable IQ, no awareness of surroundings or recognition of family members, completely confined to an apparatus with a feeding tube and requiring the 24-hour attention of his parents and one older sister, who was not only normal but quite bright [intelligent]. The boy developed pneumonia, which [in his condition] he contracted fairly often and was hospitalized. The doctors consulted with me and asked if I would help them [convince] the parents to decide to let them stop medications [and food and water] and allow the child to die. I conducted the boy’s funeral. The daughter was then able to go on to college, and I think she is a master’s degree teacher now. The parents, too, have a life. The boy never should have been born [aborted], in my opinion.
The second case is almost unbelievable…but I was totally shocked when I saw the situation. The boy, probably 17-18 years old was kept in a cage [literally]. He had no normal human abilities or capabilities. He made screeching noises like an animal and swung back and forth in his cage, holding onto the upper bars. He was, for all intents and purposes, an animal. He was somewhat vicious [savage], so his food was placed in the cage and, of course, they had to do their best to keep the cage as clean as possible. [I don’t know how they accomplished this.] The explanation I was given was that while he was being born, he had to immediately have a blood transfusion and was transfused with the wrong type of blood [blood type]. Okay, he was born, but, in my way of thinking, immediately upon understanding the gravity of the situation, he should have been immediately aborted. I know lots of people would say that would have been murder, but, in my thinking it would have been a medical, post-partum abortion…and a blessing to his family. Actually, his condition (which required the immediate transfusion) should have been identified in the uterus and the entire situation could have been very different. I don’t know. [Perhaps, doctors did not have that capability back then.]
I just believe that sometimes the consequences or results of a birth are not a moral issue at all…but a humane and ethical one. With these situations (and others) I still remained anti-abortion until I married my wife. Over the years, she helped me to understand that abortion is a woman’s choice…. Isn’t it strange that those people who are so anti-abortion seem to have no such compunctions about taking the life of someone who has committed a heinous crime? It just seems to me if we as a society so value life we ought to be very careful to allow compassion and understanding in situations where a life is to be taken. This is what has shaped my way of thinking on abortion. It also seems to me that those people who so vehemently oppose abortion should be willing to adopt an “endangered” child to insure that life! Such an unwanted child was adopted into my aunt’s family and became a well-educated professional who is of great service to his community.
Bill, for your information, I also believe in euthanasia. I would hope that should I ever be completely inhumanized by some fatal disease, i.e. Alzheimer’s or A.L.S. or a disease that completely debilitates me and steals the quality of my life, that my wife would take me to a state where euthanasia is legal that that my life would be humanely terminated. What a blessing that would be!…WOW! I really laid it all out there, didn’t I?
BILL: Yes, you did (lay it all out there). I’ll never agree with you politically, most likely, but I do on these things you just wrote about…I definitely do not believe life begins at conception.
MILT: I understand that, Bill. But my politics is based on the general moral and spiritual principles I discussed in my responses. Let me give you another thought. I could never be a Republican conservative if Donald Trump is an example of that party. I can sum him up in one word: disgusting! I cannot agree at all with those who think he is good for America, i.e. [unnamed]. Yet, I was a moderate Republican until Bill Clinton’s second term, when I liked what he was doing with the economy and switched parties. To attempt to compare Clinton’s moral lapses with Trump’s total lack of respect for women and marriage is ludicrous. No comparison. As far as I’m concerned I got out of the Republican Party at just the right time!
[I admit this conversation might be boring to many; but, to others it might give some insight into how one might form a tenable, sensible opinion on such important subjects as abortion and euthanasia…and political affiliation. –the Editor]