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Defending Dr. Tiller
A memorial of flowers outside the Women's Health Care Clinic in Wichita, Kan., on June 1, 2009. The clinic was owned by Dr. George Tiller, who was gunned down during church services the day before. (AP)

A memorial of flowers outside the Women's Health Care Clinic in Wichita, Kan., on June 1, 2009. The clinic was owned by Dr. George Tiller, who was gunned down during church services the day before. (AP)

Ten days ago, abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was shot dead in the foyer of his Wichita, Kansas church.

Yesterday, Tiller’s clinic in Wichita was closed, after years of threats and attacks — and now murder.

Abortion opposition has spoken with gunfire. Today, we’ll hear from a prominent defender. Episcopal priest Katherine Ragsdale has called abortion a “blessing.” She says there’s been too much compromise with opponents, too little straight-up defense.

This hour, On Point: In the face of gunfire, a full-throated defense of a woman’s right to choose abortion.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guests:

The Reverend Katherine Ragsdale joins us in our studio. She is the incoming dean and president of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and outgoing executive director of Political Research Associates, which tracks right-wing political movements. She’s a board member of NARAL Pro-Choice America and a former chair of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. She has been Vicar of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Pepperell, Mass., since 1996.

You can read her remarks on abortion as a “blessing,” in a speech in Birmingham, Alabama, in July 2007.

Joining us from Washington is Jim Wallis, founder and editor of Sojourners, a progressive evangelical Christian magazine and faith community. An influential voice on religion and politics in America, he’s the author of several books, including “The Great Awakening: Seven Ways to Change the World” and “God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It.” (Listen to his previous interview with On Point in January 2005.)

More links:

The Boston Globe profiled Rev. Ragsdale, with a look at her involvement in national political issues, this past March.  Last week The Boston Phoenix ran this longer consideration of her thinking on abortion.

In a lenthy interview with Christianity Today last year, Jim Wallis explained his thinking on abortion, gay marriage, and other issues.

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  • Michael

    Can u ask your guess if those groups that put up the information(address,workplace and such) for the 2 remain doctors who perform late term abortion can be held accountable if another loon tries to kill them thanks to the information from these groups?

  • Michael

    The late George Carlin on abortion.

    Why, why, why, why is it that most of the people who are against abortion are people you wouldn’t want to fk in the first place, huh? Boy, these conservatives are really something, aren’t they? They’re all in favor of the unborn. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you’re born, you’re on your own.

    Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don’t want to know about you. They don’t want to hear from you. No nothing. No neonatal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you’re preborn, you’re fine; if you’re preschool, you’re fd.

    Conservatives don’t give a crap about you until you reach ‘military age’. Then they think you are just fine. Just what they’ve been looking for. Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers. Pro-life… pro-life… These people aren’t pro-life, they’re killing doctors! What kind of pro-life is that? What, they’ll do anything they can to save a fetus but if it grows up to be a doctor they just might have to kill it?They’re not pro-life. You know what they are? They’re anti-woman. Simple as it gets, anti-woman. They don’t like them. They don’t like women.They believe a woman’s primary role is to function as a brood mare for the state.

    Pro-life… You don’t see many of these white anti-abortion women volunteering to have any black fetuses transplanted into their uteruses, do you? No, you don’t see them adopting a whole lot of crack babies, do you? No, that might be something Christ would do. And, you won’t see alot of these pro-life people dousing themselves in kerosene and lighting themselves on fire. You know, moraly committed religious people in South Vietnam knew how to stage a good demonstration, didn’t they?! They knew how to put on a good protest. Light yourself on FIRE!! C’mon, you moral crusaders, let’s see a little smoke. To match that fire in your belly.

    Here’s another question I have: how come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette? Are we so much better than chickens all of a sudden? When did this happen, that we passed chickens in goodness? Name six ways we’re better than chickens… See, nobody can do it! You know why? ‘Cuz chickens are decent people. You don’t see chickens hanging around in drug gangs, do you? No, you don’t see a chicken strapping some guy to a chair and hooking up his junk to a car battery, do you? When’s the last chicken you heard about came home from work and beat the junk out of his hen, huh? Doesn’t happen. ‘Cuz chickens are decent people.

    But let’s get back to this abortion stuff. Now, is a fetus a human being? This seems to be the central question. Well, if a fetus is a human being, how come the census doesn’t count them? If a fetus is a human being, how come when there’s a miscarriage they don’t have a funeral? If a fetus is a human being, how come people say ‘we have two children and one on the way’ instead of saying ‘we have three children?’ People say life begins at conception, I say life began about a billion years ago and it’s a continuous process. Continuous, just keeps rolling along. Rolling, rolling, rolling along.

    And say you know something? Listen, you can go back further than that. What about the carbon atoms? Hah? Human life could not exist without carbon. So is it just possible that maybe we shouldn’t be burning all this coal? Just looking for a little consistency here in these anti-abortion arguments. See the really hardcore people will tell you life begins at fertilization. Fertilization, when the sperm fertilizes the egg. Which is usually a few moments after the man says ‘Gee, honey, I was going to pull out but the phone rang and it startled me.’ Fertilization.

    But even after the egg is fertilized, it’s still six or seven days before it reaches the uterus and pregnancy begins, and not every egg makes it that far. Eighty percent of a woman’s fertilized eggs are rinsed and flushed out of her body once a month during those delightful few days she has. They wind up on sanitary napkins, and yet they are fertilized eggs. So basically what these anti-abortion people are telling us is that any woman who’s had more than more than one period is a serial killer! Consistency. Consistency. Hey, hey, if they really want to get serious, what about all the sperm that are wasted when the state executes a condemned man,

    Now, speaking of consistency, Catholics, which I was until I reached the age of reason, Catholics and other Christians are against abortions, and they’re against homosexuals. Well who has less abortions than homosexuals?! Leave these people alone, for Christ sakes! Here is an entire class of people guaranteed never to have an abortion! And the Catholics and Christians are just tossing them aside! You’d think they’d make natural allies. Go look for consistency in religion. And speaking of my friends the Catholics, when John Cardinal O’Connor of New York and some of these other Cardinals and Bishops have experienced their first pregnancies and their first labor pains and they’ve raised a couple of children on minimum wage, then I’ll be glad to hear what they have to say about abortion. I’m sure it’ll be interesting. Enlightening, too. But, in the meantime what they ought to be doing is telling these priests who took a vow of chastity to keep their hands off the altar boys! Keep your hands to yourself, Father! You know? When Jesus said ‘Suffer the little children come unto me’, that’s not what he was talking about!

    from the late George Carlin

  • Michael
  • Ed Helmrich

    Dr. Tiller should not have been killed because only the state can execute people, the rest is done by vigilantes. But he killed – dismembered, decapitated, and burned alive – thousands of our brothers and sisters. This is what happens when one commits great crimes. He is a warning to others. Am I sorry he was killed? I hope he repented of the evil he did, but no. If an abusive slave owner was killed by a slave, would one be sorry?

  • R.M.

    ED if you don’t like abortions , its simple don’t have one …Can men like you stop trying to control women’s bodies? If you believe that a fertilized egg is a human being …that’s your fictitious problem , but stop propagating that myth. People like you force women to take care of children they can’t afford . Why don’t you concentrate on abandoned ,abused and desperate children all over the world ? How much more poverty do you want ? Wherever in the world you see women badly treated , you will see poverty . Our earth can’t take any more the destruction from overpopulation .

  • EIO Boston

    The slave reference in most discussions here is off the mark. All slave owners by the very natyre of the system were abusive. If a sleve killed an owner, that slave does not live to see another day.

  • Putney Swope

    Ed and to all the other anti-abortion crowd read the Carlin thread that Michael posted.

    Why is it that people like you are so into the fetus?
    Why is that as Carlin states that most of the anti-abortion crowd is so anti-life. How do you reconcile the possibility that a fetus might grow up to be a doctor who performs abortions.

    You people are the very definition of hypocrites, and you call yourselves Christians.

  • LinP

    Michael,

    Superb.

  • Ed Helmrich

    Why not have someone on who isn’t pro-abortion?

  • Eric M. Jones

    Comment for you to use–

    Some people, usually right-wing religious zealots, insist that human life begins at fertilization. Of course, the fertilized ovum may or may not successfully implant in the uterus and among sexual active females a reasonable percentage of fertilized ova merely pass right through the uterus and are expelled with menstrual flow. Perhaps the coroner should be called to inspect the menses to examine whether or not women are disposing of “Human Beings”. Fertilized ova are not human beings

    Although I sympathize with the idea that “Momma brought you into this world and Momma can take you OUT!”—it’s better to mark the start of the real human being as beginning at the quickening in the second trimester as has been done for millennia by most cultures. And it’s better still to keep men from interfering with female biological matters that they can’t possibly understand.

    Regards,
    Eric M. Jones
    113 Brentwood Drive
    Southbridge MA 01550-2705
    (508) 764-2072

  • http://Nashville Mark

    I know the anti-choice guys think that closing all the clinics will be a good thing, but it’ll only lead to more grief.

    If they really cared, if they really REALLY cared, so much that they would do ANYTHING to stop abortions from happening… and alot of them claim that… They would be howling at the doors of Congress to make contraceptives available to anyone, anytime, anyplace….

    But their iron-will, the unshakeable conviction to stop abortions seems to hit a brick wall when it comes to that. All of a sudden, the lives of the unborn really don’t seem to mean that much… when they often go out of your way to try and prevent people from getting the contraceptives, which by default would prevent abortions.

    It’s pretty evident to me, that while these guys truly do value life, and wish to protect it, that drive pales in comparison to the blinding desire for the thing they hold far more dear…

    Obedience.

  • Rachel

    If you don’t want opposition to abortion, don’t perform them.

  • Steffani

    I am enjoying this program. A woman should always have control over her reproductive rights. If you are against abortions, then don’t have one!

  • R.M

    if you don’t want an abortion don’t have one , and mind your own business.

  • Gwyneth

    Why is it that most of the prominent anti choice spokesman are men? Is it some kind of socio-biology thing or control issue.

  • Tom Barlow

    I am pro-life – I don’t eat meat, I don’t kill animals, I believe there are other EFFECTIVE and PROVEN solutions other than killing in War — but I support a woman’s right to choose because a fetus is part of the woman’s body. Period. It belongs to her. A baby has been birthed, and is not part of the woman’s body.

    As your guest said, most so-called pro-lifers do not want the woman or doctor to go to jail, therefore they are PRO-CHOICE by definition and they don’t even know it. This point needs to be pressed more.

  • Mark

    Sorry, I’m not done.

    My eldest brother got aborted. He was also my uncle.

    If a police report had been necessary in order to get the operation; I have no doubt that my grandfather would have done the work himself; probably with a fire poker, knowing him. Even if Mom survived this, she probably wouldn’t have been able to have any more children.

    So if the anti-choice crowd had their perfect world, I probably would never have been born. I wonder what they’d like to say to that.

  • Maaza

    I am sorry that Dr. Tiller was killed. It is sad that some of those who say life are using violence against others.

    Yet, I do believe that he has been performing violence action against many lives in the womb.

    We are a violent nation when we are stopping a beating heart for any and every reason. We dismember the body in the womb and inflict pain on a person that is not able to protect himself.

  • John Michalski

    I am (reluctantly) pro-choice, because abortion is not a criminal justice problem and doesn’t have a criminal justice solution. But to call it a “blessing” is going WAY to far the other way.

    I’m saddened that my Episcopal Church is dominated by its most extreme voices. Dean Ragsdale is doing no good service with this rhetoric.

  • j

    This is not a snarky question, can someone please clarify “viable” and “not compatible with life”? What do those terms mean exactly? They are bit too vague.

  • Ed Helmrich

    This is the most upside down program in the world.

  • Mari McAvenia

    So glad that Rev. Ragsdale has stated the reality of the anti-choice agenda on this program: It’s about control, misogyny and power, often at the point of a gun, when men dictate the basic functions of a woman’s body.

    Thanks and praise to the valiant, eloquent and brave Rev. Ragsdale!

  • Ed Helmrich

    Where is women’s outrage? You can’t be pro-life and pro-choice. Men can be against abortion because it’s not an issue of whose body it is: see Roe v. Wade. See the women in the Silent no more campaign. These children are our brothers and sisters, we have to try to defend them, even if their mothers won’t.
    Why is Tom Ashbrook so biased?

  • Ellen Dibble

    “Pro Choice” begins to reveal itself as institutionalized validation of some of the worst abuse by men against women: impregnate you against your will and make you carry the child to term and thus you can’t afford to escape me…
    What a horrible scenario.
    The heat versus light has occluded some of this. I appreciate the comment above about the number of miscarriages of fertilized ova. I read the proportion long ago; there are a lot of incipient lives (millions, I believe) that women, unbeknownst to them, “let go.”

  • Emily

    As someone who self-identifies as pro-life, but also as a feminist, I frequently am rethinking my views, listening to those of people I respect, and trying to reconcile the two identities. Perhaps it’s my upbringing that makes me the former, my education and later life experience the latter. One thing I do not think I will ever be able to recognize is Reverend Ragsdale’s claim – one shared by many others – that when a “fetus is incompatible with life,” an abortion is a blessing. Who decides what is incompatible? The woman? Out of fear of social stigma raising a mentally or physically handicapped child?

  • Sally

    I can’t believe the hatred surrounding this subject. I don’t know anyone who “believes” in killing babies. But this is a moral issue, one that requires creating options and changing hearts. I choose not have an abortion, but I cannot make that decision for anyone else. Why is it that people who are so against government, are the power behind legislation that governs a personal, moral choice.

    I want to see these Pro Life folks standing in line to stop child abuse, to adopt disabled children, willingly paying more taxes to support family programs and to provide for unwanted children.

  • Linda M

    I am a pro-life (or anti-choice, if you prefer woman) and I do abhor the killing of Dr. Tiller. However, this guest you have on is completely wrong in her statement that those who are pro-life are all about men being in charge of women’s bodies. Views such as hers – the inability to see the truth as it is – is the reason we will never come together. It IS about when life begins, it is NOT about men being in charge. Of course women have rights, but many of us simply believe that the unborn also have rights. Why can you not see that??? You may believe that a woman’s rights should always prevail over the unborn child’s right. And I may believe otherwise. It’s a serious debate of serious points of view. Positioning this debate as women rights vs. men’s control is a red herring and always has been.

  • Linda Peters

    The issue of abortion necessarily leads us to a discussion of responsible sex. We will not truly have this until we have a reliable male contraceptive. Until then, the responsiblity will continue to fall back on women.

  • Ed Helmrich

    I’m all for women’s rights, but do women have a right to decapitate, dismember, and burn alive human beings? No. But the men are also responsible, the fathers.
    President Obama is the most pro-abortion president, is the abortion president. The government is in the hands of Planned Parenthood.

  • BHA

    >> J “This is not a snarky question, can someone please clarify “viable” and “not compatible with life”? What do those terms mean exactly? They are bit too vague.”

    I am far from a medical expert, but I think the term ‘not compatible with life’ is used to describe a fetus with birth defects so severe they would keep the child from surviving once born. Some may be brain dead already, or have no more than a brain stem.
    As far as ‘viable’, see this page:
    http://www.ppacca.org/site/pp.asp?c=kuJYJeO4F&b=139571
    it is a medical term, meaning the fetus can survive outside the womb. Especially this section:
    “A fetus is viable when it reaches an “anatomical threshold” when critical organs, such as the lungs and kidneys, can sustain independent life. Until the air sacs are mature enough to permit gases to pass into and out of the bloodstream, which is extremely unlikely until at least 23 weeks gestation (from last menstrual period), a fetus cannot be sustained even with a respirator, which can force air into the lungs but cannot pass gas from the lungs into the bloodstream”

  • Pam K

    I am a mother of two, and am outraged by the killing of Dr. Tiller. I am ashamed at the brutality endorsed by otherwise normal Americans with opposing views to mine about a woman’s right to choose. I greatly appreciate the way your 2 guests today are helping to explain the politics, the philosophical problems and the legal necessity and importance of maintaining a right to choose to bear children, as well as not to bear children. The questions involving when a woman could choose not to bear life are moral, and must be left to the individual. We NEED to hear more from both of these people to help us sift through the misleading media we are bombarded with.

  • Frederic C.

    There’s a name for the people who sympathize with the Dr.’s murderer:

    THE AMERICAN TALIBAN

  • Robin Bugbee

    Hillary Clinton is correct: abortion IS a moral tragedy and Ms. Ragsdale is very much out of touch. Although I have no difficulty recognizing the rights of women to make the decision as to if and when to get pregnant, an “open throated” defense of abortion by an Episcopal priest is both sad, wrong and ignores the reality of life itself. The reality, I think, is that this issue is past the point of people on both sides yelling at each other which has accomplished very little. Abortion is NOT a blessing as Rev. Ragsdale has claimed. She is simply wrong and is misusing scripture to make her point. The taking of any life for any purpose cannot be called a “blessing”. I can tell you that the lastest medical technology is going to largely make this discussion moot. When a woman can look at a three dimensional photo of the fully formed baby they are carrying, I doubt that many will be able to continue the fantasy that they are ending a life that has not begun. Thankfully, our growing medical knowledge on this issue will hopefully have more of an effect on reducing the use of abortion than all of the ridiculous concepts Ms. Ragsdale and those on the opposite side of the issue have continued to throw at each other to very little positive effect.

  • Mari McAvenia

    “Why is it that most of the prominent anti choice spokesman are men? Is it some kind of socio-biology thing or control issue.” -Posted by Gwyneth

    It is my belief that because men do not carry and bear children, themselves, they are often unable to “walk a mile” in any woman’s moccasins. The failure to understand the biological differences between themselves and females is a major problem here, too.

    I think it was Gloria Steinem who said : “If men got pregnant, abortion would be considered a holy sacrament.”

  • Frederic C.

    The reason abortion is legal and the reason there is so much debate is because in part ABORTION IS A RELIGIOUS ISSUE.

    Dr. Tiller was killed by a zealot.

    Zealots tend to have mental issues.

    Those who get on the airwaves who call an OBGYN a murderer are no different to those who shout ‘fire’ in a movie.

  • Cecilia

    If we are to lower the numbers of women who elect to have abortions then we must do something about access to contraceptive care. Why do insurance companies easily cover erectile disfunction drugs but usually do not cover contraceptives. Men still don’t become pregnant but they still would like to engage in sex.

  • Brinna Sands

    I think using words like “blessing” and “moral tragedy” are inflamatory in themselves. Can’t we find “common ground” by calling it a procedure that is emotionally difficult, even a moral conundrum, but a relief as well? We humans can operate on more than one level!

  • Michele

    “I want to see these Pro Life folks standing in line to stop child abuse, to adopt disabled children, willingly paying more taxes to support family programs and to provide for unwanted children.”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. There has to be a balance in this country. We can’t force women to have children and then abandon them once they do. I would never encourage a woman to have an abortion, but I could never look a woman in the face and tell her that even though she cannot financially afford a child she must become a mother, based on my own morals.

  • Joe B.

    According to a recent Gallup poll, 51% of all Americans are pro-life. Abortion will be overturned, but it shall be done through peaceful, civil, and democratic means. Praise Jesus!

  • Ellen Dibble

    Eeks, back there I said “Pro Choice” and meant “Pro Life.” Reminds me of that poll that came down 51 percent pro life. People don’t know which is which, me included. Pro Life is institutionalizing abuses within — call them “troubled relationships,” I meant.

  • Dr. Taam

    my wife had an abortion the week after I met her (from her previous relationship). If she hadn’t, I wouldn’t be married to her now, and both our lives would have been radically different. because she did that at that time in her life (she was quite young), she was then free to finish college, go on to graduate school, and now, we are married 22 years and have two very fine children of our own. It’s a woman’s choice, period. The woman can apply whatever morality she wants to it, but it’s her choice alone. As a man, I would feel LESS MALE and less of a man by trying to control any woman’s choice in this matter. THAT would be shameful.

  • Ed Helmrich

    There are two lives involved here, so why can’t we try to protect both lives? And what happened to adoption?

  • Brian Howey

    I am pro-choice but my thinking on abortion was profoundly complicated during a visit to Japan 10 years ago. Touring the city we stopped in a small shrine that was covered with toys. I was told they were offerings for children who had died. I expressed shock at the number, and was told that the offerings were also from women who had had abortions. Here I was, outside of my “Judeo-Christian” background, witness to the fact that abortion is not simply a medical procedure to which a women has a choice. I saw the offerings as an acknowledgement that there is something in human wiring (Biology? Spirituality?) that considers abortion the loss of a child. This lead me to thinking about post-abortion trauma.
    I can’t get a flu shot without signing a form warning me about a one percent chance of “redness at the injection sight”, but pro-choice people seem to have their hands tied concerning full “informed choice” (including post-abortion trauma) because it requires recognizing what I saw at that Japanese shrine.

  • C. Jacques Jones

    Can you link this to fertility treatments? population? Is it ethical to have eight instead of zero kids?

  • Ed Helmrich

    By the way, the law didn’t say that women have a right to abortion, it just decriminalized it.

  • Jay

    The reality is, regardless of anyone’s moral fever on either side, there are and will always be women who will choose to have abortions, whether they are legal or illegal. Roe v. Wade did not materially affect the rate at which abortions occured; it only ensured a basic level of safety for the proceedure.

    Victory for the anti-choice crowd will only mean more women dead or maimed by unsafe back-alley proceedures. More dead, not less.

  • Keri

    Thank you for having this conversation today. It’s frank and honest and desperately needed. I completely agree that women who have had abortions need to start ‘coming out’ – if those who oppose abortion realized how many women have had them, and for what reasons, their attitudes might change. It’s the most common surgical procedure in the country – it’s virtually guaranteed that everyone knows at least one person (if not many) who’ve had one. Would they be able to look their friend/sister/mother in the eye and say ‘you are a murderer?’. They would see it’s not that simple.

  • BHA

    Those in the ‘make all abortions illegal’ camp need to pay attention to Dr. Ragsdale’s comment that if it is made illegal, women will get abortions anyway. There is no difference in the rate of abortion per 1000 unplanned pregnancies where it is legal and illegal. Where there is lack of reproductive health education, access to contraceptives and abortions are illegal, illegal abortion is the highest cause of maternal death.

  • Linda Pilgrim

    I think that what Reverend Katherine Ragsdale has said about language is critically important. In recent years, the word “CHOICE” seems to have been forgotten. The pro-choice movement is not anti-life. It’s about who decides what happens to a woman’s body — the woman or the government.

    We need to bring the word “CHOICE” back into discussions about abortion.

  • david

    I don’t think this “Dr.” should have been shot and harrassed all these years, but then again, I don’t think he should have made millions of dollars killing babies either.

  • George

    CHOICE may be abused
    LIFE could be a confusing concept

    But SUFFERING is real

    I am prochoice and prolife.
    Buy first anf foremost I am PRO-NON-SUFFERING

  • Heather

    Thank you so much for providing a forum for Katherine Ragsdale. I am heartened to hear her views. I am a mother of two who has never needed an abortaion, however, I am relieved to live in a country where I and other woman can get an abortion when we need it.

    Abortion must be available even when the life and health of the mother or fetus is not at issue. Having a child is no small thing and no one who is not prepared for the responsibility should be forced to become a parent. I also believe that pregnancy can be such an overwhelming experience even for women who want to be pregnant, that a woman who does not want to pregnant should not be forced to stay pregnant because of the lack of access to abortion.

    I am apalled at the murder of Dr. Tiller and worry that the anti-choice movement has been successful in closing his clinic and making access to late term abortions even harder for families to access.

    I fear for the future of abortion given what I understand is the paucity of medical schools that train medical students in the procedure.

  • Alan Kirkpatrick

    Estimates are that there are 1.2 million abortions/yr, but there are more than 10 million children who die before the age of 5 in Africa alone due to poverty and aids. The “pro-life” movement appears to be taking the easy comfortable way out by attacking abortion rather than attacking world poverty.

  • Ed Helmrich

    We have to have conscience rights. To not have them is anti-American. Get a clue.

  • http://npr.orgtalk lucille magnus

    I wish that someday this topic would not be on an open mike, as that one caller said. It is so simply a private matter between a woman and her Doctor, and her own conscience or God.

    Adoption may not be an answer. It is simply that a particular woman may choose not to have a baby. It is really so simple. I am sick of MEN talking and railing about this topic. THEY have autonomy over their bodies; leave ours alone. Control, misogyny, power — always has been — read history. Lucille Magnus

  • Ed Helmrich

    These people are a disgrace to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they stand for legal killing of human beings.

  • Andrea Chasen

    There is one point missing from these discussions and that is what has happened to the women who were unable to obtain an abortion and who gave their babies up for adoption. I grew up in the period of time just as abortion was being legalized but not fully available. For those friends who gave their babies up, they were, many cases, left with enormous guilt about these decisions and there are serious repercussions from the decisions for many of these women.
    I had a legal abortion and for me there is no lingering guilt, unlike my friends who have been dealing with this for their entire life.
    Please comment on this issue as well.

  • Putney Swope

    Ed you can’t have it both ways. You say your for women’s rights yet you want to control their bodies with your moral convictions.

    Linda B so your standing up for the unborn, read Carlin.
    By the way have you adopted any unwanted crack babies this week? Are you willing to go back to having thousands of orphanages to house these unwanted babies? What about the compassion for the living?

    Are you for the death penalty?

    Do you believe that the state should raise more revenue through taxes to support institutions to house, educate, feed cloth the children these unwanted babies will become.

    Bottom line for me is stop telling my daughter how to live her life and mind your own business.

  • R.M.

    Do something for people already living . Do something about Darfur !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Wanda Hendrix

    Why is it that the anti-abortion people are the same ones who fervently support the Death Penalty? Can someone explain that blatant contradiction?

  • Keri

    BTW, I work at an abortion provider. For those who say that we (being pro-choicers) have issues with ‘informed choice’ – you are completely wrong. Every single woman who comes in our door is counseled on her options – we do not force women to have abortions. Period. Women make the decisions themselves (keep, adopt or abort) – we provide a non-judgemental space for them if THEY decide to seek an abortion.

  • Linda M

    Wanda – I agree with you. Anyone who claims to be “pro-life” but also pro-death penalty is a hypocrite. Pro-life is Pro-life. Period.

  • Michael Schirmer

    Abortion is a right. The church needs to stick to worshiping God and stop playing politition. This country is being destroyed by religion based politics!

  • RM

    My brother and his wife were told at 21 weeks that their fetus had a genetic abnormality that was “essentially incompatible with life”–that if it survived the pregnancy the baby would die within days of birth. Though they are not particularly religious people, they decided to press ahead with the pregnancy. My niece was born with severe problems. An ultrasound showed large gaps in her brain. She had a “hole in her heart” –a condition that many babies experience. They decided they’d try to support her in whatever way they could. Sadly, they had to fight with doctors, and ultimately change hospitals, to get her the heart surgery that would save her life. Several doctors felt that the baby shouldn’t have the surgery because of her genetic profile. Fortunately, they found a hospital and doctors who agreed to perform the surgery. She came through it and has thrived. Though she has continued to need lots of support and is not the baby my brother and sister-in-law was expecting and hoping for, she has survived, is responsive and, I’m happy to say, will be starting pre-school in September as she turns 4 years old.

    The sad truth is that the mortality that is associated with this genetic condition (full, i.e., not mosaic, Trisomy-18) is exaggerated due to lack of medical care and poor advice from doctors. Parents give up on their children because they have been told there is no hope.

    If the goal is to reduce the need for abortions, here’s a vote for encouraging the doctors advising parents to give full information and not “lead the witness” to a conclusion that has them killing their baby instead of loving and nurturing it.

    I am firmly Pro-Life. Not for religious reasons–I am not religious. This is a civil rights issue. Why is one person allowed to have control over the mortality of another person?

  • Linda M

    oh, and Wanda, I disagree with your suggestion that all anti-abortion people fervently support the death penalty. It’s doesn’t help the conversation to speak in terms so black and white.

  • Olivia

    I had an abortion in 1975, in Wichita, Kansas. Perhaps it was performed by Dr. Tiller. It was an unhappy, gut-wrenching experience, but I was so grateful to have the option. I was completely unequipped emotionally to deal with a pregnancy and felt a level of panic and fear that is hard to describe. I would have done ANYTHING to stop the pregnancy, legal or not. No one can understand unless they have been in the same situation.

    I made mistakes and regret getting pregnant in the first place. But I do not regret deciding on an abortion. I truly believe it would have destroyed my life.

  • Putney Swope

    We have to have conscience rights. To not have them is anti-American. Get a clue.
    These people are a disgrace to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they stand for legal killing of human beings.
    – Posted by Ed Helmrich

    Spoken like a true zealot. I’m not a Christian, I don’t believe in the gospel of Christ. Here’s a little news for you Ed we live in a secular country because our the Founders were very aware of the damage that religious ideologies could do society. They witnessed the tyranny of kings and wars fought in the name of religion. The freedom to practice ones faith without fear of persecution or to be an atheist is one of the things that make this country great.

    Your seem to lack the ability to come to terms with this.

  • joe guyon

    As a prolife Catholic, I praise Rev. Ragsdale for her wonderful ministry.

  • Courtney

    Reverend Ragsdale is a noble voice in a sea of rhetoric. This is about women’s rights, not God’s imperative. From my perspective as a pro-choice female, I would respect the argument made by anti-abortion advocates, or at least find it more reasonable, if those advocates directed their efforts at lessening the number of unwanted pregnancies rather than demonizing women who receive abortions and their doctors who perform them.

    Instead many of these people justify the killing of a living, breathing person (with a wife and children) because they are morally opposed to Dr. Tiller’s professional work. MURDERING A PERSON IN A PLACE OF WORSHIP–in the name of “life”–IS PERHAPS THE GREATEST HYPOCRISY ONE COULD COMMIT.

  • Shirley Brownstein

    I applaud the Reverend, physicians and callers who have spoken out in favor abortion rights. It is essential that sensible, knowledgeable people speak the truth to protect this very important right. We mustn’t allow reproductive rights be eroded. Sincere opponents of abortion can further their agenda best by supporting vulnerable women who wish to carry to term and enhancing sex education.

  • frederic C.

    Thank you Ed Helmrich!

    Thank you for linking your fervent graphic delusion that abortion is murder to the fetishism of your fantastical messiah.

  • J. Walker

    I remember the “bad ole days” before abortion was legal. In addition to the horrors of the back-alley butchery that left women infected, infertile, or dead, I also observed the impact of the ban on abortion on women who simply sought gynecological assistance for other reasons. For good reason, the relationship between a woman and her ob/gyn is usually the most intimate of all doctor/patient contacts. Since the weight of the law before _Roe_ fell upon the shoulders of physicians, every woman who visited a doctor complaining of cramps or delayed menstruation or mid-cycle bleeding or infections or impending miscarriage (of a desired pregnancy) was suspect. A renewed ban on legal abortions will inherently poison the relationship between all women and their physicians where reproductive difficulties are involved. And THAT would be a tragedy.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I’m looking at Olivia’s post about her abortion in 1975. I’m remembering that era. I don’t think it was that unusual for women to be brought up for a degree of subservience, compliance, and it seems to me it took various jolts (divorces, tragedies of various sorts) for women coming of age in that era to truly get their sealegs, be able to take control of their lives BEFORE getting pregnant, for example, rather than getting into the extremely difficult situations like an unwanted pregnancy that made for crises of all sorts of vulnerability, of traumatic dimensions.
    Hopefully the culture has made it easier for women to stand up to men, stand up for careers/independence, without these jolts.

  • frederic C.

    Thank you Ed Helmrich!

    Thank you for linking your fervent graphic delusion that abortion is murder to the fetishism of your fantastical messiah.

    That is to say, your fantastical concept of a messiah; not the general concept of a messiah.

  • Maaza

    I am sorry to hear a woman who says she believes God and then wants to force others to do contrary to their conscience. She seems to be in the pay of the Abortion Providers. Is she against the Hippocratic Oath? I think a doctor is trained to save life not to terminate it. I would like that type of a doctor not a soldier who is trained to kill others. Even a soldier does not kill an innocent and helpless person. he only kills one that is coming against him with a weapon.

    Is abortion in America a business? Do companies profit in the cause of the termination of life? Is it possible to probe the business and practice that is sheltered behind the politics. Should the government investigate these offices and the abortion clinics? I think it should.

    I wish Tom Ashbrook would be bold enough to a little deeper in to the practices of companies such as Planned Parenthood. They are public organizations and say they are in existence to help poor women. I am wondering if they are honest in their work. I pray that the light shines on their work, so that all would see the rightness of their cause.

  • Ed Helmrich

    The prohibition on murder is part of the natural law and is binding on everyone.

  • LUC

    I have mentally ill brother and also son. Without having even met each other but once, they both honed in on the one issue that they are “devoting their lives to”. You guessed it. The anti-abortion issue. Of course, it goes without saying they are adamantly
    AGAINST any form of contraception for both women and men. What is a parent and sibling of such sick human beings supposed to do–turn them in? To whom? If you think I exaggerate the danger the mentally ill anti-choice person could pose, my son has already been convicted of stabbing another human being and he fits the profile of the suspect in the Dr. Tiller slaying to a tee. My brother has devoted the past 12 years of his childless life marching around a state capitol in the mid-West with piotures of so-called “aborted fetuses” on a huge sign. Unemployed and proud of it (just like my son)they hang around the fringes of this movement and after 35 years of unrelenting rhetoric from the groups that hang out at clinics and numerous violent incidents attendant at same, it doesn’t surprise me that even Bush’s FBI had to warn that these groups could contain people who can honestly be said to be “potential domestic terrorists.”

  • Frederic C.

    The prohibition on murder is part of the natural law and is binding on everyone.

    Posted by Ed Helmrich, on June 10th, 2009 at 10:19 am EDT

    Thanks again Ed!!!

    However, abortion is not murder.

  • Anonymous, Women’s Health Advocate

    I have worked in women’s health for over 10 years, on the “front lines” in the reproductive genetics clinic, helping those who have a pregnancy diagnosed with serious fetal anomalies obtain access to ALL options…continuation of the pregnancy, adoption and, of course, the option of termination of pregnancy.

    I have seen women (and their families) who described themselves as staunchly pro-life or anti-choice make a complete 180 degree turn and choose termination of pregnancy. I have seen those who defined themselves as strongly pro-choice choose to continue pregnancies where the fetus had devastating (even lethal) anomalies.

    My personal and professional experience over the last 10+ years has been that REGARDLESS of their views on early/elective abortion for an unwanted pregnancy, MOST Americans believe that if they find themselves facing a pregnancy with serious anomalies that termination of pregnancy will not only be available, but that it will covered by their insurance and protected by the law. SADLY, THIS IS NOT TRUE. I have sat with women whose babies had NO CHANCE of surviving after birth and have had to tell them that termination of pregnancy was not an option for them unless they could pull together thousands of dollars to fly to Kansas and seek out care from Dr. Tiller. I still think about the tearful, desperate 17-year-old whose baby had no head and severe anomalies of the heart and spine. She begged me to help her find an option to end the pregnancy. I worried that she might harm herself in an attempt to miscarry. These are the stories no one hears about.

    Those who find themselves in the comfortable middle on this issue need to know that the right to end a pregnancy for medical reasons (like fetal anomalies) is DIRECTLY LINKED to a woman’s right to choose to end an unwanted pregnancy. Access to these services is being stripped away, piece by piece, day by day. The burden for performing these procedures is falling heavily on an increasingly smaller number of brave physicians.

    Dr. George Tiller’s murder is a tragedy. The women who went to him seeking 2nd and 3rd trimester abortion were not women with healthy pregnancies who just woke up one day and changed their minds. They were women who very much loved and wanted their babies and who faced the most difficult choice any woman (any couple, any family) will ever face. They deserve our support and our protection…it could be you or me one day (or someone that we love) and we would want the same rights.

  • C.D.

    Dr. Ragsdale said on this program that Dr. Tiller was “an obstetrician-gynecologist;” that he was in the business of “delivering babies,” no merely aborting them. Dr. Ragsdale repeated the statement several times; it was not an offhand or passing reference on her part.

    Dr. Ragsdale was and is wrong. Dr. Tiller never undertook the training to be a board-certified OB-Gyn, and he was never a board-certified OB-Gyn nor a practicing specialist in OB-Gyn. Dr. Tiller had no residency, fellowship or other specialty training. He did not have specialist privileges at any hospital in OB-Gyn. Dr. Tiller was never a member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) or any similar organization of specialty obstetricians.

    Dr. Tiller and his supporters frequently referrred to him as a “Family Practitioner,” but that also is untrue, insofar as Dr. Tiller was not board-certified, nor residency-trained, in Family Medicine.

    What Dr. Tiller was, was an ordinary General Practitioner, who had extensive experience in performing abortions because he did so many of them. Dr. Tiller’s expertise, if he indeed had any expertise, came about as a result of doing thousands and thousands of procedures that other physicians and surgeons were better qualified to perform, but who thought the procedures themselves to be morally or ethically suspect.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Is there some confusion that “conscience” belongs to the Constitution? I thought conscience, like character, belonged to an individual, evolves through experience, and is cultivated lifelong. Or is it simply the ability to comply, soldier-fashion, with a one-size-fits-all morality? I guess I know the Pope says such use of conscience is wrong, but I believe psychology comes down on the idea that sexual maturity comes about the same time one’s independent conscience begins to grow. Don’t cede it to the government.

  • R.M. / the first one

    The person who is posting RM should have a bit more consideration for the other readers who will be confused between R.M. and RM . Is this stupidity?

  • Lyell

    Thank you for this intelligent, informed, rational discussion. So often this topic has produced too much heat and too little light.
    I have been happily married for thirty six years and have three wonderful grown children. Although I have never had an abortion I am fervently pro-choice. I know many women who have chosen abortion and for many compeling and challenging reasons, in not one case has the decision been easy, frivolous or without merit. The critical issue is that it was a decision that was made by the women themselves often in consultation with their partners and always with the support and counsel of their doctors….their decision, their consequences, their human rights and their health and well being protected by our laws which is as it should be in a rational, well ordered, modern society.
    I think it is a tragedy that the good Dr Tiller was murdered by a hateful, mentally unstable, religeous zealot. With so many extreme religeous positions taken on issues like this which create polarity by promoting moral absoluteism, it was refreshing to hear the pragmatic, reasoned, compassionate voice of a woman of the clergy defend a woman’s right to choose whether to bring a new human being into the world, regardless of the circumstances informing the decision.

  • Keith

    I am totally ‘pro choice’ on this isuue…as long as the choice is made before the fact, not after. If a woman does not want, under any circumstances, to become pregnant she should not engage in activities that will possibly make her pregnant. If a woman chooses to accept the statistical risks of contraception, she must do so only after accepting the possibility of being pregnant for nine months.

    This is the simple message we should be sending our young girls …”you have control over your body…if you are unwilling to be pregnant for nine months then don’t have sex”.

    We must be held responsible for our actions. Being ‘pro choice’ after the fact simply condones irresponsibility.

  • B.M.

    I find it interesting that Dr. Ragsdale spent most of the interview defending the point that this is all about choice. She states that the “choice” needs to be made between the mother, her god, and her doctor (ok, I can follow her logic here…). She then states in another breath that a doctor should not have the right to refuse to perform an abortion, even if they feel it violates their morals (whoa, hold the phones!). She states that “it was their freedom of choice when they chose to become a doctor in the first place”. How are these two view points congruent? In one, she defends a persons right of choice, in another she violates it. This is just as inconsistant as an extreemest on the other side who condems the murder of the child but justifies it of the abortion doctor. Following her logic couldn’t a pro-lifer claim that the woman’s right to choice is when she choses to have sex (with apologies to the rare cases of rape)?

    Dr. Ragsdale also implies that pro-life folks should refrain from trying to convince others that abortion is morally wrong. She, on the other hand, feels perfectly justified in trying to convince others that her viewpoint is ok, even though it violates about 50% of the publics sense of morality. Freedom of speach works both ways. That is what makes our country great. Both Dr. Ragsdale, and a pro-lifer have equal rights to try to convince whomever they like of their viewpoints. She seems to miss the double standard here. She feels she needs to defend women’s rights (great cause), but the other side feels equally obligated to defend their since of morality as well (equally great cause). This ying and yang is what has made America work for so long.

    This is also why the aborion issuse is such a hot topic…because both sides KNOW that there is merit to both arguments…you will just never get them to admit it. Fact is that this issue almost equally divides us..not just extreems. There are plenty in the middle who really wrestle with the question, and it’s these folks that pro-lifers AND pro-choicers are trying to sway to their sides.

    I wish NPR had admited to the point that Dr. Ragsdale really is towards the extreeme pro-choice side of this. With no counter-balance pro-lifer in the interview, they really were implying that Dr. Ragsdale was moderate, which was certainly not the case. The counter-balance “progressive evangelical” was more of a middle-lander, not the balance to Dr. Ragsdale that was implied.

  • Ellen Dibble

    To B.M., I think the freedom of speech on this issue gets compromised by the very terms used: “Murder” is pretty absolute. No one should be in the position of trying to persuade someone else not to “murder” someone else. Courts can decide whether a murder was intended or not, that sort of thing, justifiable or not (as in war for instance), but with legal abortion, a doctor gets a voice and often a judge. Whether a doctor or a judge is part of the decision(as now happens in many states when a minor doesn’t want to seek parental permission), neither one is discussing whether or not the young lady wants to commit a murder. Neither should anyone seeking to “persuade” versus sort of blackmail her, sort of force her, by this terminology. There is a difference between born and unborn, which has to do with that umbilical cord. Women know this. I suspect most are more intimately aware of what is being lost than the persuaders around them, which is why special sensitivity is required.
    I tnink doctors often choose not to do this or that, feeling that some other practitioner can do this or that better than they. Fine. They refer. However, if their conscientious compunctions get in the way of access, especially if that access is being broadly denied through the actions of a presumably humane movement like ProLife, conscience and justice are both getting hamstrung.
    If conscientious objectors could stop war without bringing on defeat, great. This is a similar issue.

  • Mari

    “If a woman does not want, under any circumstances, to become pregnant she should not engage in activities that will possibly make her pregnant.” – Keith

    Thanks, Keith. And while I’m handing out kudos to men who feel the same way you do, I should thank the man who violently raped me shortly after my fifteenth birthday, too.

    So far, however, I still haven’t leaned the valuable lessons you guys meant to impart to me, a mere, brainless female. Get my drift? I’m being sarcastic, of course, while remaining deadly serious about the ignorance I see in Keith’s naive and misogynistic statement.

  • http://don'thaveone Al Murphy

    Why is it so difficult to see that women should have complete control of their bodies and lives?

    No woman should ever be raped–just because she’s female, no woman should ever be beaten–just because she’s female, no woman should have to be pregnant–just because she’s female.

    Men take utter control of their lives and bodies and safety for granted.

    The least we can do is treat women with respect: they are capable of running their lives, of making moral decisions, and of controlling their bodies. It’s high time we let them.

  • BHA

    Posted by C.D., on June 10th, 2009 at 10:28 am EDT

    ” Dr. Tiller’s expertise, if he indeed had any expertise, came about as a result of doing thousands and thousands of procedures that other physicians and surgeons were better qualified to perform, but who thought the procedures themselves to be morally or ethically suspect.”

    OR: Perhaps these other doctors were not willing to risk their lives and the lives of their family and co-workers even in the interest of helping a patient who’s fetus WILL NOT LIVE more than a day or two if at all once born. Look at the number of times Dr. Tiller and his clinic were attacked. How many people are willing to live like that even when what they are doing is LEGAL and ETHICAL.

    Then please consider the post by Anonymous, Women’s Health Advocate, on June 10th, 2009 at 10:26 am EDT

    Read this part OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN:

    “I still think about the tearful, desperate 17-year-old whose baby had no head and severe anomalies of the heart and spine. She begged me to help her find an option to end the pregnancy.”

    I suspect the trauma suffered by that child (the 17 year old) was extreme. NOTHING good can come of carrying such a fetus to term assuming it doesn’t end in a late term mis-carriage which can be medically dangerous to the mother.

    The ‘pro-life’ camp thinks every late term abortion is done by an ‘anything for money’ hack on women who decided at the ‘last minute’ that having a baby would be inconvenient. I think you’ll find that exactly the opposite is true.

    That 17 year old girl needed a ‘Dr. Tiller option’. Any doctor who would perform a late term abortion for the convenience of the mother when the baby’s state is ‘compatible with life’ lives in the sewer with the doctor that granted the ‘octomom’ yet another round of fertility treatments when she already had 6 children she could not support.

  • Jim

    I am against abortion, however people who kill doctors who perform abortion and people who believe in the death penalty should look at themselves in the mirror. it is repleted with hypocrisy and stupidity. they have absolutely NO rights to judge others.

  • M Clover

    If ever a more Orwellian interview has been held, would someone please let me know. What this woman is advocating should be stated in its most stark and truest terms: the will to power is now the rule of law. She, and in Reverend’s world it need always be a she, who has the most power can exert it however she wishes in the name of her own hyper-individualism and autonomy. This is not Christianity. This is not standing up for the opressed, those with no voice, and the weakest among us. It was an incredibly sad and depressing piece.

  • John Connolly

    Most Americans favor the killing of any unborn child provided the baby’s death is the mother’s request. It’s about the culture. American law and culture are built upon easy abortion. About 80% of U.S. abortions occur amoung single women between the ages of 18 and 29. Abortion on demand facilitates a lifestyle. And abortion is always medically necessary to save the life of the father. The right to life of the unborn child is not on the radar screen. Just keep the porn coming. Welcome to idiot nation.

  • justanother

    ***Anonymous, Women’s Health Advocate***

    Thank you for looking at this issue in a realistic way.

  • Keith

    “If a woman does not want, under any circumstances, to become pregnant she should not engage in activities that will possibly make her pregnant.” – Keith

    “Thanks, Keith. And while I’m handing out kudos to men who feel the same way you do, I should thank the man who violently raped me shortly after my fifteenth birthday too.” Mari

    Rape is a separate issue from the majority of abortion situations that, I suspect, arise from ignorance and irresponsibility.

    Rape issues aside, I say empower and encourage women to say no to unwanted pregnancies before they happen…not after.

  • Ellen Dibble

    There was an article in the New Yorker magazine about a decade ago about abortion as practiced somewhere in the former Yugoslavia, an area focused on because of the hostilities there at the time. But my recollection is that abortion was common in a way that is never remotely approached in this country. Maybe some Internet wizard can find that. I don’t know the statistics in this country either, but in this country contraceptives are easily available, which I don’t believe they were in the Slavic territory. Women were aborting themselves with herbs or something. I didn’t memorize the means. For those women, abortion was not especially difficult, and it was certainly reported as especially common.
    Our medical establishment is such that we lose touch with ancient ways and means. But they are there.
    I wonder, when people in this forum say that there is a culture of death and that abortion is used as a first resort, what continent are they living on? It is very easy to say that unwanted children should not be conceived in the first place. Lots of things should not happen in the first place. Absolutely.
    That is certainly common ground. Regrets.

  • B.M.

    I find it incredibly annoying that previous post was deleted. Non-biased middle of the road comment on interview…sure excuse is that it was long winded, but was no longer than some other posts.

    Inconsistent: Dr. Ragsdale speaks of choice for women but would deny choice for doctors who refuse to do abortions. Reguardless of take on issue, must be consistent to be intellectually honest.

    Unbalanced: Obvious pro-choice Dr. Ragsdale on one side balance by who? Pro-choice “progressive evalgelical”. Not a well balanced interview.

    Dr. Ragsdale says pro-life side should stop trying to persuade others to thier side, but she herself is trying to persuade to her side. Free speach works both ways.

    Listen to your chosen right-wing station and you will hear the exact opposite story. Only differnce is they ADMIT they are biased.

    Bottom line: without both sides continually standing up for their beliefs vocally, eventually you end up with extreemism. Run amuck it eventually turns into aborting children for unwanted traits on one side, or an opressive moral authoritarian state on the other. Everyone keep standing up for what you believe! It the only way to stay balanced. Think my example is too extreem…history is full of wacos on the “extreemes” who were able to squench the opposition enough to tip the table (Hitler comes to mind…)

  • Sam

    “Rape is a separate issue from the majority of abortion situations that, I suspect, arise from ignorance and irresponsibility.

    Rape issues aside, I say empower and encourage women to say no to unwanted pregnancies before they happen…not after.” – Keith.

    Thanks Keith the way you replied is really nice.

    I’m sure you never had a sister, nor a mother nor a wife nor any daughter or a niece who was EVER RAPED, good for you sir!!!

    FYI:
    Rape also means to indulge in unwillingly in a sexual (vaginal) intercourse, the very basic thing needed to conceive!

  • Sam

    I really don’t understand why there is such a melodrama over this subject. Ah, I presume its because of the Judeo-Christian background, (by the way, I’m a Born Again Christian), which brings the idea of Life Begins at conception, and I fully agree to that.

    Secondly, NO WOMAN, I repeat NO WOMAN, just plays with her life and takes Abortion like an Aspirin and forgets about it, its a daunting thing that really freaks them out, and most of them are FORCED to abort their own fetuses.. out of circumstances, mainly social, economical and emotional reasons. If ANY OF THE WOMAN disagrees to my view, she should visit a psychologist/psychiatrist.

    Now, if you guys really want the women to continue their pregnancies irrespective of the risks involved, please ensure that they get everything free from the day she is conceived till the child turns 18 or till the woman has a baseline income (not sure a Federal or a State cap would be better).. Yes, I’m talking about Welfare.. ohh.. is that Socialism???

    Well, you cant have it both ways, either provide FULL support for the woman who cannot abort the fetus till the child is capable enough to take care of himself/herself or let her do what she wants to do, despite the fact that we all (atleast I completely agree that Abortion IS WRONG, but sometimes we have little choice) and then there would be absolutely less opposition to ban this Evil of Abortion across the Nation!

    God Bless America!
    America Bless God!

  • Ellen Dibble

    Does it occur to a guy that his woman might have sex with him in spite of the fact she might get pregnant, engage in intercourse against her “better judgment,” because she thinks he might leave her and find another girlfriend? Might she make love partly because she enjoys it but also because she loves him and doesn’t want him to leave her? Because she depends on him and doesn’t want him to leave her? And so she engages in these risky behaviors that could lead to unwanted pregnancy?

  • frederic c.

    Hmmm. Fair and balanced.

    Why should NPR be obligated to give equal time to the perpetrators of terrorism?

    One side advocating rationalism, human rights and rule of law.

    The other side condoning and profiting from terrorism and cultural hysteria.

  • Jackie W.

    I am pro-choice and I thank Dr. Ragsdale for being right on target in identifying a woman’s right to control her reproductive life as a challenge to the tyranny of the patriarchy. Keith thinks women who don’t want to become mothers should refrain from engaging in activities that would make her pregnant. I heartily concur. Let me suggest a better alternative. Instead of participating in pro-choice marches and protests, we women should have declare a MORATORIUM ON SEX with men until our rights to control our reproductive lives are respected. What do think about that, Keith?

  • bethrjacobs

    Katherine Ragsdale did a pretty good job.But I must state that now is not the time to qualify any right to life speech.Next comes honor obey your husband and be fruitful and multiply.Then women and girls will be afraid to leave the house,then they won’t be aloud to.Then we are back to “stoning women made pregnant not by a husband.As it is rape is barely prosecuted and in prisons and mental health facilities not at all.

  • Judith Klau

    Most of all I want to voice my support for Katherine Ragsdale who in her measured way fully covers the subject. Abortion is indeed a blessing to those who need it; their reasons are rightfully their own. Is there any way to convey to her my gratitude for her integrity and intelligence? I thank her especially for her celebration of the gift of sexuality; what pleasure, what glory, what a mystery!

  • Mari

    Listening for a second time. Just to make sure I understand, correctly, what Rev. Ragsdale has said today during her conversation with Tom Ashbrook.

    Yes. I did. I do.

    To those who say that rape is a “separate issue” in the abortion debate: Guys, reign in your own self-defensive guilt!

    One out of four female American rape victims actually have the guts to report the violation to law enforcement authorities. My empirical research indicates that one out of two American women actually endure the atrocity of rape during their lifetimes and don’t dare to report the crime. Usually because they are still minor children (under 16) when the rape occurs.

    I reported. My father was a cop. He blamed me for being female and swept the crime under the rug of his own pride.

    There was a new drug available at that time (a BLESSING!) called “the morning after pill”. I took it.
    Made me sicker than I had ever been before in my life but there was no troublesome pregnancy resulting from the violent rape I suffered. Just a bad case of PTSD.

    My mother had delivered me to a dangerous place and left me there, alone and unequipped to defend myself against sexual predators. That’s why I was threatened with death by strangulation and simultaneously raped, knowing nothing about sex at all. I was a virgin.

    Do you men who advocate for the “Christian” way feel that what happened to me should happen to your own daughters? Are you willing to swallow your pride and admit that if half the women in America are raped by men that means half the men in America are rapists?

    Think about it before you pick up another gun to protect the “freedom” of women and children (born or unborn) in this crazy, mixed up country.

  • Diana Colbert

    Rev. Ragsdale is so right! Having an abortion is the best thing I ever did at that stage of my life, and, now, more than 30 years later, I can look back and say it continues to be one of the best things I’ve ever done. My ministers have all been members of the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights — why should I pay attention to someone else’s religion??
    Whenever anyone says it’s a “tragedy” I feel patronized and insulted. Don’t call it a tragedy until you’ve walked in my moccassins — or supported MY religious beliefs. I know the difference between a zygote and a human being!

  • Ruth

    I wish the Rev. could read my comment.

    I was a ‘love child’ of the hippie movement. When my mother (a single, hippie, poor woman on welfare in California pre-roe but when ‘life of the mother’ was an abortion option) was pregnant with me she was told I was deformed, retarded, and she would die if she had me.

    Being a woman who was concerned with ‘nature’ she refused the abortion. Turns out, none of his projections were correct. I feel that I existed then just as now. I believe that the reduction of abortion to discussing ‘zygotes’ is reductionary. Most abortions are conducted within the 11-18th wk of pregnancy. Far after the Zygote stage.

    My sister (in the last 10 years) was told one of her children was down’s syndrome. She was given the option of a late term abortion. She did not take it. Her daughter was not downs.

    I wonder how many of these cases are over inflated to protect not the Mother but the doctor against med mal. It does seem a tragedy to me that we cannot trust our doctors in our current medical climate of ‘scare tactics’ to do what is right, but rather to cover their asses.

    I am grateful that I am here. I see the reverend’s use of language as just as inflammitory as those who would ‘murder’ in the name of the pro-life movement.

    I don’t see abortion as a ‘Blessing’ nor do I see it as a male conspiracy. I have seen too many girlfriends dragged into clinics crying and unwilling by their husbands, boyfriends and parents to ever think that.

    I respect what Hillary Clinton said, because I believe it to be true. On so many levels abortion is a tragedy for women. I only wish that the Reverend could see that she is just as extreme as those she wishes to chastise.

    My family has been involved in the pro-life movement since I was born. Which meant that we took in single mothers, clothed them, fed them, helped them to find adoptive parents, helped them find a way to support their family, in certain cases took care of their children for YEARS until they could do so. And to note, when I mean family I mean my mother, my sisters…all women.

    I respect all life. I believe that Dr Tiller’s death was horrific act and I mourn for his wife and his children and for him.

    But, I don’t believe that the Rev. understands that her extreme view of abortion as ‘Always a Blessing’ is, in many manners, setting the discussion back. It isn’t helping to find common ground.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Mari, I think in more patriarchal societies, the shame to your family would have been beyond extreme. Those of us who have been allowed to go around unchaperoned by male family members, unveiled, all that, we have probably been less safe. I don’t know how the rape statistics compare (here to a shariya-governed society, say) but I suspect there is a price to pay (in added risk) for our freedom.
    Nonetheless, I totally disagree that if half of American women have been raped, half of American men are rapists. I don’t think a man rapes one woman and that is the end of it, a one-to-one correspondence.
    I just watched today’s TV show Democracy Now, hosted by Amy Goodman, half of it given over to the murder of the abortion doctor, with good speeches by members of Congress, etc. You can find that whole show, I think, on the web. The focus is on rule of law versus violence and fear, not on reproductive rights. A genetic counselor weighs in as well.

  • Judy

    I applaud the bravery of Rev. Ragsdale. I deplore the religious right’s attempt to take away the rights of women to obtain control over their own bodies. This issue is really about men’s control of women…world-wide. I wish women would suddenly gain the physical power to refuse sex with their mates/partners for about 6 months…until the men in their lives realized that they do not have the RIGHT to control their female partner’s lives….because as it stands, they sure do in most of the world. Until women worldwide can readily obtain effective birth control, MEN have no rights to impose their sexuality on women.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I am wondering what people think of Ruth’s point about the numbers of women she has seen being dragged unwillingly into clinics for abortions by their men, their families. I have no way to confirm that at all.

  • Mari

    “The focus is on rule of law versus violence and fear, not on reproductive rights. A genetic counselor weighs in as well.” Posted by Ellen Dibble

    Thank you, Ellen. Unfortunately, every woman I have known
    sufficiently well enough to broach the subject of rape with has admitted to putting up with unwanted sex.

    Half of those have said that the sex was violent and against their wills.

    I was born in this country. My parents, grandparents, great-grandparents. We are ALL part Native American.
    Cherokee and Onondaga.

    Thus, I say that rape is an American problem. Brought here by European settlers, probably, about 400 years ago. Normal is Euro, African and Middle Eastern cultures. Rape is NOT a Native American custom.

    If a man was found to have committed this offense to the tribe he was walked to a place, distant from the children and women, by other men and left there. Tribal Law. Not Islamic, not Christian, not Hebraic.

    Multiple offenders of sex crimes are common here in the USA. I agree with that. It’s not one-on-one quite yet.

    Who is willing to take responsibility for the common practice of these offenses against humanity, though?

    Not the American patriarchal legal system. They are the same guys who rape and get away with it. Always have done. No more.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Mari. Wow.
    Ellen

  • Ruth

    Mari, I am so sad that you had to endure that.

    My great grandmother was Cherokee (from Oklahoma but settled back in Bryson City, North Carolina.) We *Still* have such a long way to go to re-establish the love and equaliity between the sexes. I fully agree with that.

  • Carrie

    I appreciated hearing a person express her support for a woman’s right to choose an abortion – without apology. Pregancy is sometimes the result of irresponsible behavior – sometimes not. However it came to be, it isn’t just to subjugate the wishes, dreams, desires, future and physical well-being of a woman to the interests of a fertisized egg.

  • Mari

    Thanks, Sister/Friend Ruth.

    Equality is the aim. We shall get there.

    It’s like planting a tree.

    May not see it’s full growth while we still live, ourselves, but we did the right thing.

    Peace,
    Mari

  • luxI

    I really hate fundamentalist christians. They are the worst of the worst. Zelots. The kind that would lynch, or gas for the “greater good.” I really, really hate them. Really.

    My dear departed great aunt used to tell me that it was ok to beat it into people who don’t get it on their own — because you are really saving them.

  • Anonymous

    This killing was an act of terrorism. Why is it not called what it is?

  • Jennifer

    I was overwhelmed by the stories of the women that Dr. Zellers helped.

    Reverend Ragsdale spoke so beautifully about abortion and abortion rights. She is a true inspiration to women’s rights, and mankind.

    Everyone is pro-life! It should be relabeled anti-choice, because after all that is really what it is.

  • Alina

    Great topic, wonderful guest. Thank you!

  • mark

    Jim Wallis made an interesting and telling point, he stated we should stop shooting at each other. The shooting is going one way, it’s only the “pro-life” people who are committing acts of terror. Is Wallis trying to place both sides on the same moral ground? Rephrase it Wallis, you’re people need to stop toting guns, shooting, and killing.

  • Anonymous

    “Everyone is pro-life!” –Jennifer

    No, we are not all pro-life.

    Overpopulation combined with over-consumption is killing our planet. If you have descendants, then mine are less likely to survive.

  • Dr. Paul DiPietro

    It is unfortunate that at this point we still have so much misleading information presented in ways which obscure the issue. Dr. Ragsdale states that we do not know when life begins. No modern biologist would have a doubt about this question. A fertilized human egg is not only a life but a human life. Abortion and many forms of “contraception” which prevent implantation kill that life. In the simplest terms, any life which comes into being from a man and a woman, a human sperm and a human egg, is a human being and is alive. If Dr. Ragsdale would like a serious discussion of this issue which moves beyond mere rhetoric, we must ask if this fertilized egg, zygote, embryo or fetus is a human person with human rights.

    Dr. Ragsdale also implied that this is an issue of men controlling the bodies of women. The same gallop poll which shows a recent rise in the percentage of people identifying themselves as pro-life also shows that the percentage of men and women who identify themselves as either pro-life or pro-choice have since 2001 varied but on average are within one to two percentage points of each other. There is not a major difference between them based upon gender. Over that period, on average, 48.4 % of women and 47.1% of men identify themselves as pro-choice. 44.1% of women and 45.9 percent of men identify themselves as pro-life.

    Dr. Ragsdale would like to believe that many who identify themselves as pro-life do not fully understand the political implications of that term. It seems equally likely that those who identify themselves as pro-choice have little understanding of what that choice implies. One lesson I insist that my students grasp in this regard is that assuming that those who disagree with you are stupid, ignorant or evil is both mistaken and an excuse for not dealing seriously with the difficult issues involved in the abortion debate. Instead, I insist that they listen to each other and try to understand the reasoning or the opposing position and then respond to that in and intelligent and reasonable fashion.

    It is quite clear that Dr. Ragsdale attributes no rights to the unborn human being. It is also clear that she attributes little if any value to it. Despite her view that the pro-life movement is a mask for misogynism, pro-life advocates recognize the rights and intrinsic value of woman as human persons. If, as Dr. Ragsdale assumes, the human prior to birth is has no rights and no intrinsic value, then the woman can certainly do whatever she chooses with it or to it. However, we do not allow people to abuse puppies or kittens without prosecution and these are rarely abused in any fashion comparable with the process of abortion. It is no wonder that she would prefer not to engage in this conversation in a serious fashion. That however does not excuse the rest of us from wrestling with these serious moral issues.

    It is disappointing that neither Mr. Ashbrook nor Mr. Wallis challenged her apparently unquestioned assumptions regarding these issues.

  • Mari

    “Overpopulation combined with over-consumption is killing our planet. If you have descendants, then mine are less likely to survive.” Posted by Anonymous

    True enough.

    I submit that agreement upon who gets to have their genes propagated (either naturally or artificially- Like the California Octomom’s ) should be weighed carefully by an experienced group of Crones.

    Let’s go back to the Dark Ages, all together. This time with WOMEN calling the shots about who gets to live and who shall not.

    Chances are, Anonymous, that your progeny won’t pass muster.

    Game on.

  • David

    It is kind of odd that we Americans can debate about when life begins and when it does not. I have learned that when soneone wants to do something, they will come up with reasons to justify it. The guest states that if people decided slavery is OK, it still does not make it right because it is morally wrong. There is nowhere in Biblical teaching that states that abortion is morally right, yet! people have decided it is OK. The guest preacher has said that abortions are a blessing. Please give me book,chapter and verse in the Bible that she preaches from where that is found. There are cases where termination may be needed, but most of the abortion performed in the US are those of convenience. I also find it odd that we know exactly when life begins in animals. There is a federal law that protects the egg of an eagle. There are other laws that protect the unborn of other creatures. I for one, do not want to take a chance in explaining to God on judgment day, that an unborn creature was more important than an unborn human being!

  • Ellen Dibble

    If a man threw a woman down the stairs and she died, I believe he would have committed two murders, not one. I am thinking of Gone with the Wind, and Scarlett O’Hara with Rhett Butler.
    If a man threw a woman down the stairs and the child was miscarried and died, I believe in my state he would be responsible for manslaughter, at least, depending if he knew she was pregnant. If someone runs into her car and she subsequently miscarries but survives, losing the child, the driver that ran into her has a death to answer for.
    If a woman throws herself down the stairs and subsequently miscarries, I believe everybody in town comes around to offer condolescences to her on her loss.
    If she throws herself down the stairs in order to cause miscarriage, I think she keeps it to herself.
    If she throws a kitten down the stairs and it dies, I don’t know. There are trials regarding dogs that have killed and been killed, dogs that have been hounded, even, plain and simple, by abusive owners. But I don’t think the same weight attaches to say a kitten’s death as to the miscarriage or abortion of a fetus of any age. The potential (and responsibility) as far as our species is concerned is radically different.
    Most likely, though, the kitten would walk away.

  • Courtney

    The abortion debate will never come to an end if we continue to argue it as a moral issue. It must be debated as a rights issue; the law cannot (and should not) dictate morals — it SHOULD protect rights. Arguing for INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS is as American as it gets. Thus, if the fervent pro-life camp would devote substantive attention to debating this as a women’s rights issue, they might find…there is actually little to debate. A woman has the right to choose what happens to her own body. Just like a man has a right to choose what happens to his own body.

  • Mari

    Ellen:

    If I am anything, at all, I am like a kitten thrown down the stairs. Not at all willing to take flight. Yet. Air is for the birds. That’s not my place. No wings upon these shoulders.

    I shall spring and bounce away, landing on all fours upon God’s good earth, once again, tail up. Cats will be cats. Can’t stop that.

    And boys will be boys.

    No crew of carefully organized, gun toting madmen can rearrange the plans of Nature. Such is life.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The strength of the next generation is always so heartening to hear, Mari, and we need to take heart from each other.
    Ellen

  • Mike

    The american Taliban is here and been here in the name of the right-wing zealots.

    We go around the world telling people where a secular society and how disgrace for other reiligons to push there twisted beliefs on its citizens yet here we have some in america doing the same thing.(even killing a guy in church) and we have some cheering for it, like a Taliban would. who the same people (not all) who want government out of there life, no welfare or vote for people against almost all social programs for the poor, yet force a women to have a baby. Force the states not to allow gays to adopt, force the state to cut programs that help the women that do keep there babies, Force the states to cut programs for helping troubled youth, promote tough on crime and the death penalty.

    What was really sick is after the Dr died some of these ANTI-women ANTi-choice people post the names and address of the remaining 2 doctors as if to scare them into submission(like the Taliban )

    It not that These christian groups are better than those backward taliban thinking of reilgon its that our founding fathers had enough sense to make it a crime to do what the taliban does or would be more killing and violence toward women who have them, doctors and supporters, like in the past against blacks, gays, women.

    I bet if obama said he outlaw all abortion but our taxes would go up 5 percent, 10 percent, 20 percent to support all child the women who are forced to keep and raise the babies i beat they freak.

    Again if your against it fine dont have one, if your a male than sorry its not mine or your choice to decide someone else life esp a women who may decide to have one, I like to see under the last 8 years under bush if the adoption rate for crack babies, minorities in america increase, stayed the same or fell, as with the states with the toughest laws have the most social programs, welfare, after/before school,pre, mental help,prisoners rehabilitation programs and the likes. But i Doubt It

    as George Carlin says and still applies

    ow, is a fetus a human being? This seems to be the central question. Well, if a fetus is a human being, how come the census doesn’t count them? If a fetus is a human being, how come when there’s a miscarriage they don’t have a funeral? If a fetus is a human being, how come people say ‘we have two children and one on the way’ instead of saying ‘we have three children?’ People say life begins at conception, I say life began about a billion years ago and it’s a continuous process. Continuous, just keeps rolling along. Rolling, rolling, rolling along.

  • Pat

    Remember that nine Men decided Roe v. Wade. Nine men rearranged ‘plans of nature’. How many feminist’s have agreed with anything a man has decided?
    Rev. Ragsdale very well may be a defender of woman’s right ‘to choose’. Is she a defender of the unborn; those who have no ‘choice’.
    I found Ragsdale’s arguments lacking and her greatest argument to be that of requiring parity with men. I found her argument of parity a false argument; the argument does not advance the rights of the unborn.
    Who is being terrorized?
    Raise the bar of behavior. Always conduct oneself with an eye to the future. Avoid tragedy.
    The blessing is for us to conduct our lives well and in accordance to truth with love. No truth, no love. No love, no truth.

  • Ed Helmrich

    Putting aside fudges and inaccuracies, the guest’s main argument is that women have a fundamental natural and legal right to control their bodies and what happens inside their bodies.
    But is this so?
    Philosophically the position that women have this right goes back to Simone de Beauvoir in the 1940s, and is contradicted by the ancient philosophical tradition, as expressed in the original Hippocratic Oath ‘Thou shalt not give an abortifacient…’.
    Legally, to paraphrase Roe v. Wade ‘Do not think that we make this decision because the law can not tell citizens what to do with their bodies … it can, and it has.’ So the idea that women (or men) have absolute control over their bodies is not legally correct.
    Also, the right to abortion – which is really the right to privacy and the decriminalization of abortion – is not a fundamental right, like the right to free speech. It is a conditional right. To paraphrase Roe v. Wade: ‘If the society ever decided that human life begins at conception, then [abortion becomes illegal] because the fetus is protected by the Fifth Amendment’. It is allowed because of indecision, is not a fundamental right in itself.
    The basic position of the guest is incorrect.
    Pregnant women, however, do have the right to support from the father of their child, and then from society. Failure to provide such support is a serious moral flaw in the man. (Even without these, though, she does not gain the right to abortion.)

  • Shannon

    I was deeply saddened and outraged at hearing last evenings On Point program “Defending Dr. Tiller”.
    Allowing such an egregiously one-sided program to air during the most popular evening radio hours (6-8PM) with NO opportunity for callers out of the Boston area to offer their opinion is disgraceful journalism and in direct violation of your mission statement.

    The death of Dr. Tiller is undeniably a tragic event (and one that all major Pro-life groups are condemning). Pro-life groups offer more than simply abortion awareness, they offer crisis hotlines, diapers baby supplies and counseling. Find me a woman who walks out of an abortion clinic feeling like she did a good thing or accepted a “blessing” from God? The women I have seen while praying outside of abortion clinics are scared, upset and often remorseful. And what do the pro-choice groups offer to them? The hollow satisfaction that they were empowered as women to kill their own offspring?
    Fetus, embryo, zygote, infant, baby, it doesn’t matter, you’re missing the point. Throughout history people have attempted to justify acts of genocide by reducing the value of a human life. You can twist this issue into one of politics, religion, class, gender, but the bottom-line remains it is never permissable, justifiable, and CERTAINLY not a blessing to abort a human life.

  • Putney Swope

    It is interesting how the pro-lifer people will go on and on about when does life begin. The George Carlin statement sums it up nicely. On this forum we have had a doctor and some religious zealots and women all of whom are in the minority of this issue. This is a divisive that seems to me to based on religion and religion only.

    This points to how religion and a certain kind of conservative religious belief is now threatening the very secular foundation of or society. We have met the enemy and it is us…

    Don’t tread on me comes to mind in this debate.

    CNN / ORC
    5/14-15/09; 1,010 adults, 3% margin of error
    Mode: Live Telephone InterviewsCNN/Opinion Research poll, 69% of Americans do not want the Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade.

    At the same time however the Gallop poll is showing very different stats: Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs survey, represent a significant shift from a year ago, when 50% were pro-choice and 44% pro-life. Prior to now, the highest percentage identifying as pro-life was 46%, in both August 2001 and May 2002.

    So for me it shows that our country is getting more conservative and moving towards a religious right mentality. No surprises there, I think this country is moving towards theocracy in some areas.

    Frankly if abortion were to be made illegal tomorrow who’s going to pay for all the unwanted pregnancies and other health issues that are connected to this.

  • Mike

    wow diapers, baby supplies, that really helps oh now u make since, i mean that be great if the baby lived to 2yrs, who about aid after that? I still dont see the stats on adoption of crack babies, gays being able to adopt, better social care and programs in some of the most pro anti-choice states in the last 8years?

    why cause these same people who rail against abortion, dont care after its out, the diapers is probaby a PR tool to act like they care.

    Those women coming out of the abortion clinic who look scared was most likley due to these anti-choice people calling them names, signs, and the likes. How about counseling the women after and showing some compassion? wait that something Christ would do.

  • http://southcityconfidential.com KBO

    Not here to debate abortion, only to say how moving this segment was to me. Thank you, Reverend Ragsdale, for honoring Dr. Tiller for his brave work for women and your unabashed support for women’s reproductive rights.

  • Joe B.

    What about the rights of the unborn? Oh that’s right, liberals don’t care about unborn children.

  • frederic C.

    Talk about giving aid and comfort and validation.

    The American Taliban, er, I mean, Operation Rescue wants to make sacred the act of murdering a doctor by buying the site of Dr. Tiller held his practice.

    They wish to stand in glory over his dead body.

  • Putney Swope

    Joe B don’t tell me how to live and I wont tell you.
    It’s that simple. I don’t want a zealot defining how my daughter lives her life.

    You make these statements about the rights of the unborn. What about the rights of women to control their bodies. If you don’t want an abortion don’t have one.

    If you practice unsafe sex then you should be aware of the consequences.

    Don’t tread on me!

  • Karen

    For all of you….what we need is worldwide access to birth control of all kinds. Condoms both for men and women, diaphragms, cerival caps, male vasectomies, female tubal ligations, contraceptive sponges, rings, spermacides, birth control pills, contraceptive injections, vaginal rings, patches, good old abstinence, IUD’s…hell even anal sex practiced by many teenage girls so they can claim they are still a virgin would work to prevent unwanted humans.

    Past President Bush did a great job in increasing the human populaiton in the world by taxing my tax dollars and limiting birth control options nut just in the USA but in the rest of the World, in particular in Africa which really, really needs birth control with all of the hunger and illnesses and eating gorillas for gosh sake to feed themselves……..

    All of this time and effort spent on this when we all need to encourage our tax dollars for government sponsored birth control centers, 1/25,000 occupants in every state. Freely spend my tax dollars on neutering as many people out there who want their tubes cut, for everyone out there who wants condoms, birth control pills, rings, injections and IUDs. More birth control is the issue. It gives women tons of rights to control their bodies. Free, 1000% access to birth control is the answer not only to abortion but to the degredation of the earth. Less humans means a better world.

  • pro-moral-choice

    I don’t understand why anti-abortion group can’t look at this issue as a personal moral and medical issue. Early term abortion can be a medical choice or social choice. And most of late term abortion are medical choices. Women usually don’t just wake up someday and think gosh I just don’t want to have this baby anymore, no, late term abortion can be just as dangerous to women’s body.

    When does life begin, it really depends on how you view “life”. Even with science, we still have different views based on what we know from science. There are still plenty of religious people don’t believe dinosaurs which was proven by science. Same thing, if someday science proves the theory of big bang, it still doesn’t prove their god does not exist. So at the end of day, religious people need to learn not to impose their “belief” onto others.

    All I can say is, if that choice is not yours to choose and bare, don’t take away other’s right to choose, although those choices are so heart broken. Some anti-abortion compare abortion to murder and killing, there’s a big difference though, most women abort not out of hatred, at times it’s a choice between lives. We should value all lives equally, unborn or born.

  • Teresa

    My question is why the abortion debate does not more often include the welfare of children. I felt this program did a good job highlighting the high incidents of death among women who are forced to seek illegal abortions. What about the state of children in countries that don’t have advanced reproductive health care? What about the state of children in the American foster care system? I feel that the pro-life argument appeals so strongly to morality. But I question the morality of bringing children into the world that we as individuals and/or societies are ill-equipped to care for.

  • pro-choice

    ****What about the rights of the unborn? Oh that’s right, liberals don’t care about unborn children.– Joe B. ****

    How about I reverse your question? It is a endless clash of views. Come back and ask the very same question after you figure out all life born and unborn are being treated and defended equally. I feel your sympathy and compassion with the unborn, because I was born with those quality too. But I do have problem with your one sided narrow view, not viewing this issue case by case, instead generalizing.

    The most hypocritical part of anti-abortion people, they blind fold or reject all other consequences of getting pregnant or the quality of life of the born, not having a sensible view and long term plan, how can we take you seriously? And when no one can take your non-sensible view seriously, you start to murder and kill to gain attention. What can be more hypocritical than this?

  • pro-choice

    ****Pregnant women, however, do have the right to support from the father of their child, and then from society. Failure to provide such support is a serious moral flaw in the man. (Even without these, though, she does not gain the right to abortion.)
    —by Ed Helmrich****

    Maybe with that kind of thinking, you should pack your bag and move to Afghanistan, a country women are fully controlled by “man” who made the laws.

    Just listen to yourself, when “man” fail to provide such support, yeah, it’s only a “moral flaw”, not a legal issue, but when women choose to abort, it’s a “crime”, so they should be punished by “law”. Sorry, name calling is on its way — hypocrite.

  • Putney Swope

    pro-choice your wasting your time. Ed Helmrich has already made up his mind. He is not interested in a rational discourse on a the reproductive rights of women.

  • Elizabeth Yuengert

    In all the discussion of the “burden” of child rearing, there has been no mention of the adoption option. Millions of infertile couples desperately long to incur the “burden” of caring for an unwanted baby. Childrearing is not for every pregant girl and woman;couples seeking to adopt are more than happy to offer financial and emotional help to woment in crisis pregnancies.

    Perhaps we should look at the billions spent on the infertility industry and consider diverting some of that to the support of pregnant women willing give life to a child that is already most wanted – even with a drug using mom, with birth defects or a less than perfect genetic make up.
    With Pres. Obama’s health care reform, it is unlikely that government health insurance will cover the extravagant cost of infertility treatment but perhaps support for indigent pregnant women will be forthcoming.
    This would be valuable common ground.

  • Elizabeth Yuengert

    I would recommend that everyone woman who believes that abortion is a “blessing” visit http://www.silentnomore.org website. Women who deeply, deeply regret their abortion speak out on their experience.
    To label abortion as positive for women is a fallacy. Our feminist foremothers saw grave injustice to women in the practice, leaving out any danger to women’s health.
    Please be open minded enough to visit http://www.feministforlife.org and read what Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others thought about abortion.

  • jerry lambeth

    Dear Tom,
    I listend with saddness to the pastor defend the right to terminate an unborn human life. As a pastor, I view Rev. Ragsdale as a reproach to the Christian community. Her ideas are in direct violation of the moral code given to Moses and repeated in the New Testament. The other gentleman was willing to compromise with her. Why do we excuse the violence which an unaborn baby endures by an abortionist? When will you entertain the pro-life view point for an entire program? Would you interview women who regret their abortions? I suspect that your future programs will continue to reflect the liberal, progressive, and biased viewpoints of NPR. I challenge your bravery!
    Sincerely,
    Jerry Lambeth

  • George V.

    I was initially struck by Reverend Ragsdale’s reasonable tone, but I could not follow some of her reasoning. For example, she spoke of celebrating the “gifts from God”–such as human sexuality. Fine. Would she, I wonder, also consider conception and pregnancy as “gifts from God”? If not, why not? If so, would she say that we should accept some gifts from God but not accept other gifts from God? Is this the ultimate significance of “choice”?

  • Ellen Dibble

    I do wonder whether people know the difference between “wrong” and “illegal.” It is illegal to lie under oath in court, but otherwise it may be wrong, but it is not illegal. “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” even judges point out to lawyers, does not apply to what “all children do, which we call ‘fibbing.’” In the case of when does life begin, I believe the Bible goes back even BEFORE conception, and condemns “onanism,” as practiced by one Onan, who “spilled his seed” rather than impregnating a woman.
    I am seeing where George V wonders if the gift of sexuality is to be accepted to the exclusion of the gift of child-bearing. Is this the choice? Either/or: Intimacy/offspring.
    Shortly after Pope Benedict was elected he made a statement to the effect that sexuality is a blessing. I remember because I was launching e-mails in His Holiness’s general direction to the effect that Erik Erikson said human development is a set of steps, and one crosses the intimacy threshold via human sexuality, or else only with extreme difficulty. And apparently that got through. You can imagine I would be amazed and astounded. What a coincidence, but I took note. He too thinks the Catholic Church needs updating about the blessedness of the human body in its tendency to interpersonality.
    The pope didn’t therefore recall its standards with regards to procreation, but I don’t think the Pope is trying to get all peoples to follow his doctrine (or even expects total compliance by his flock). I expect he hopes his flock want to be special in this regard, needing the reinforcements of the particular faith, and remaining within the fold.
    It becomes a matter of extremism when people who have not chosen the particular standards are imposed on, not as a matter of conscience but as a matter of law.
    And making people feel bad for something they already feel bad about seems to me like a great waste of human effort. I see Ragsdale as an important counterbalance to that Big Downer. Weighed against the Pro-Life arguments (including bullets), her voice seems terribly needed.

  • Pete O

    I truly enjoy listening to NPR, not necessarily because I agree with everything on it, but to cause me to think. Listening to this show caused me to think. I was thinking, how can a person that is clearly well educated, and apparently intelligent, be so quick to give such judgemental views of those who oppose her thinking? Throughout the talk she gave she simply wrote off the people with different thoughts as close minded. I am a Catholic, and I have never believed that sex was only for procreation. I have attended weekly mass for 28 years and not once been taught or told that. Most Catholics are taught and encouraged about the responsibity of sex, but not that it is for procreation only. She is thinking of how the Church, including the Catholic church and most protestants believed long in the past. She needs to update her information on the Catholic church. I do agree with her in the fact that need for abortions should be prevented. I must admit that both “camps” do fall short in doing what is really best for the woman. The abortion industry has a very low percentage of counseling women to other options, and many of the people that claim to be pro-life do fall short in helping to care and provide for the poor and people in need. If either group truly had the woman’s best interest at heart, abortions would drop significantly. I can imaginine a time when society does give more help and resources for pregnant women. However, I do not see the abortion industry changing their attitudes, after all, it is there business and how they profit.
    I do not agree with her that abortion is a blessing to a woman whose “ministry” in life can somehow be hindered by being pregnant. I believe that many Christians would take offence in such a statement.
    I have always been a person that has had compassion. I can understand in some ways the fear and the uncertainty a woman may have with a pregnancy that she does not want, or cannot see how a child would fit in her life. I can understand that.
    I do have a terribly difficult time trying to understand how a minister that has an important position can be a proponent of abortion. The groups that she has aligned herself with are not groups that simply believe in the woman’s “right to chose” but are actually groups that are “pro abortion”, ones that are involved in promoting solutions like the one that has been used in China. If pro-choice advocates were truly pro-choice, i.e., the woman get to choose between having an abortion or proceeding with the pregnancy, they would have fought what was occuring in China as stongly as pro-life advocates were.
    I am hoping that one day there will become a thing of real liberalism, when people do try to do what is best for people..currently it seems the most vocal liberals are people that are very close minded and judgemental, quite the opposite of the image they want to have.
    As to Dr. Tiller, I didn’t meet him. I also will never meet any of the unborn humans that weren’t born, they might have been good people too. Losing people to violence is hard to understand. It is hard for me to imagine someone making the choice to do what he did. I imagine that he will be missed by the people that loved him. I do hope that women that had abortions and those that question or doubt that decision that they made concerning an abortion are not haunted by the news of his murder. The arguing between pro-abortion and pro-life people is not the important part. Are the lives of the women involved truly “blessed” by abortion, or the opposite?
    Something to think about. I was a biologist (i.e., have trouble with the idea that human fetuses are not human fetuses–1350–1400; ME < L fētus bringing forth of young, hence that which is born, offspring, young still in the womb,) before I was a Catholic. My decision to be pro-life occurred before I was Catholic. Maybe many Catholics are not pro-life simply because the are Catholic, maybe the other way around.

  • Mr.Independant

    Pete O it’s nice that your a Catholic. I’m not. I don’t want your religious ideologies informing my life, period.

    Also Dr. Teller performed late term pregnancies of highly deformed fetuses.

    Personally I think if sex education was better in this country there would be less abortions. The other interesting thing that not one person has brought up,
    abortions are going down not up.

    Women should have control over their bodies and their sexuality, period.

  • pro-choice

    ***** I do have a terribly difficult time trying to understand how a minister that has an important position can be a proponent of abortion. The groups that she has aligned herself with are not groups that simply believe in the woman’s “right to chose” but are actually groups that are “pro abortion”, ones that are involved in promoting solutions like the one that has been used in China. If pro-choice advocates were truly pro-choice, i.e., the woman get to choose between having an abortion or proceeding with the pregnancy, they would have fought what was occuring in China as stongly as pro-life advocates were. *****

    I haven’t listened to this show yet, so I won’t judge what priest Katherine Ragsdale said about the blessing of abortion.

    But being pro-choice never condone abortion, or condemning proceeding pregnancy, now, I am going to repeat this again (can’t understand why anti-abortion just don’t get this essential key point), being pro-choice is not condoning abuse of abortion, pro-choice have high moral ground level, that’s why we view every life- born or unborn equally. No pro-choice glorifies abortion, social abortion or medical abortion, whatever the cause is, every decision is a heartbroken decision. Giving what the circumstance of our society can or can’t offer.

    Pro-choice’s core moral value is not imposing and judging others, I really hope anti-abortion will remember this.

    Again, pro-choice is NOT pro-abortion, pro-life IS anti-abortion

    pro-choice IS pro-choice, pro-life is NOT pro-life

  • Ellen Dibble

    To pro-choice, I am wondering what action the pro-life movement is taking in China.
    You say:
    “If pro-choice advocates were truly pro-choice, i.e., the woman get to choose between having an abortion or proceeding with the pregnancy, they would have fought what was occuring in China as stongly as pro-life advocates were.”
    When a couple is only allowed one child, and the norm is to far-and-away prefer male children, I can imagine what happens.
    I am the kind of “pro-choice” person who spent her reproductive hoping and praying never to have to make the “choice,” fervently hoping the choice would be mine (and a qualified doctor and/or advisor of my choice). I am not an activist, I don’t see pro-life and pro-choice as two opposites, and one has to be an activist on one side or the other. As you say, pro-choice is pro-life, unless one has a very, very cynical cast of mind concerning certain pregnant women.
    That said, if I were going to pursue reproductive activism in China, I would concern myself first with the preference for boys, the skewing of the population into a mostly male society. Then I would address overpopulation and social stability, the role of family, extended family, in a still socialist state. I would have psychological studies done to find out what the scars are upon women/mothers under China’s restrictions. How do Chinese people regard unborn life?
    While I was at it, I would conduct a study of how India views its population situation. I recall a huge populist uprising when the Indian state tried to sterilize men maybe 30 years ago. I believe the politician responsible lost his/her office, and maybe his/her life.
    I think poor families historically use “extra” children the way modern Western families use retirement accounts, “estates.” So depriving families of this chance at security was seen as threatening, almost demonic.
    Again, as with China, how do Indians view unborn life?
    Also: How do Muslims in various parts of the world.
    I’m getting quite curious. This would be far more fertile ground for the Pro-Life contingent, for their advancing their cause, than the United States, I bet.
    As one interested in protecting human life, my very top cause is preventing the loss of a habitable planet, preventing our use of coal, oil, other kinds of energy, other resources, from destroying our environment. If one gives up on that, that’s 7 billion lives and over a million years of evolution that goes out the window, so to speak.

  • Putney Swope

    Ellen this is an American issue although does affect other countries, witness GW Bush’s pro life stance on aid for family planning organizations working in Africa.

    However what people do in China is really their business.
    Poor people have more children due to the high death rate of children, the lack of education on contraceptives and so on.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I agree with you, Putney, people should start their campaigns at home. “pro-choice” had brought this up. I actually agree, though, that the population issue is becoming global. We rise or fall together, given a longish time horizon — or not so long, depending whose projections pan out. Taking Asia and its reproductive problems and solutions into consideration, however, would provide some much-needed perspective to a debate here that can get pretty parochial about legal and medical options and their use/availability in this nation.

  • Jean Sullivan

    Thank you for having Dean Ragsdale on the program. Dean Ragsdale was masterful. I completely agreed with her. No one has the right to tell me what I can do with my body. This issue gives cover to the men who want to put women back in their place. The murder of Dr. Tiller was inevitable, given not only the new administration’s support of abortion rights, but also our deteriorating economy. Some white men (the majority of the prolife activists) are feeling more and more threatened by women. Our deteriorating economy “creates” a need for these men to identify scape goats, women, minorities and immigrants (to name a few). The obvious response for these white males is to strike back at women by gaining control over women’s bodies. It would be interesting to find some stats on current rates of domestic violence and rape during the past 18 months, I would imagine that they have all increased.

  • pro-choice

    to Ellen Dibble—

    ********** I do have a terribly difficult time trying to understand how a minister that has an important position can be a proponent of abortion. The groups that she has aligned herself with are not groups that simply believe in the woman’s “right to chose” but are actually groups that are “pro abortion”, ones that are involved in promoting solutions like the one that has been used in China. If pro-choice advocates were truly pro-choice, i.e., the woman get to choose between having an abortion or proceeding with the pregnancy, they would have fought what was occuring in China as stongly as pro-life advocates were. *****

    Uh…. I was quoting above from another comments, they are not my opinions. I was challenging above comments.

    At times “selfish personal liberty” clashes with even bigger issue liberty — like the sustainability of the planet. How to balance between “selfishness” and “broader love” toward the whole planet is really a big challenge to human.

    We as human claim ourselves as most intelligent species on our planet, than we should be more responsible for ourselves and this planet. When China and India were over producing human populations, technologies and science has not caught on the impact of this planet, but now we know better from what we learn, it is time to take action to control for the sake of our planet and our next generations. To this point, personal liberty has to be compromised, give and take, and balance is just a natural principle on this planet, the rest we can only leave them to the mother nature.

    I just don’t understand when some people believe proceeding pregnancy regardless of any complication, the core reason driven that is to fulfill our instinct of carrying “offspring”. Well, I want to ask them this question — is human being listed as an endangered species? or we are on the list of “overpopulation”? Ironically the same anti-abortion group believes in hunting and killing when other animals are overpopulated??

    It is so much better to control population by preventing them instead of being killed or suffered from human irresponsible behavior that has caused this planet to suffocate, after birth.

    “Spirituality” is high important to human life, but it has to be merged and coexist with “reality”.

  • Yuri

    As a white male, I have never felt threatened by women; so I grow tired of being told that “white men” (as opposed to what–Native Americans?)feel threatened by women.

    I also grow tired of both men and women who “announce” (as if it were some new discovery) that a woman’s body is a woman’s body. Of course it is.

    Moreover, I think that a woman has the right to do whatever she wants with her own body. I wonder, though, whether or not she has the right to do whatever she wants with someone else’s body–namely, that of the unborn child who might grow up to be a woman herself someday.

  • chris cody

    I just wanted anyone’s opinion on if I was in the wrong here, and what any of you guys would have done in this situation. So my wife is quite liberal and I’m more on the conservative side, and she’s about 3 months pregnant. She can’t work right now, so I’ve been forced to support her as of late. The thing is that about a week ago she started asking me if she could borrow $400, and being pretty secretive about the reason why. I soon found out that $400 was the average cost of a back alley abortion, which is ridiculous considering that she knows how vehemently pro-life I am. After refusing to give her the money and the countless hours of arguing that ensued, I ended up making a comment about how if she wanted to do something liberal with $400, she should take advantage of Obummer’s “ ARRA,” so that “instead of murdering our kid, he can have satellite internet at a smashing price!” (I linked it so you can actually see it’s about $400 in taxpayer money that our President chose to waste on this s**t, aren’t I so funny hah). The messed up part is that she went and told her dad, who happens to be just as liberal as her, and who also happens to own the house that we’re renting. To make a long story short, my tenancy has been “suspended” from his house (I’m now staying at my buddy’s place until this thing blows over) and he gave her the money to get the abortion. I haven’t talked to her in almost a week, so it’s pretty safe to say that she has already gone through with it. So my question is, do you think I was being inappropriate for mocking my wife and father in law’s political ideologies, or do you think I’m being unfairly persecuted because of my relative conservatism, and the Obummer joke I made has little to nothing to do with this? I’m thinking the latter.

  • http://thesusanbanthonycoin.com Susan B Anthony Coin

    The face, properly known as the obverse, has the profile of this beloved president, bearing a mintmark under his neck of an “S” if it’s minted in San Francisco or a “D” if it’s minted in Denver. You won’t find any mintmarks on Eisenhower dollars struck in Philadelphia. Coins minted in 1971 have an “FG” on them instead, for the coin’s designer, Frank Gasparro. The reverse, or the tail, changed dependant upon the occasion at that time. Apollo 11′s insignia decorated the reverse of the first edition coin, with an eagle holding an olive branch resting over the surface of the moon. The design was changed for the bicentennial, and although the moon was still present, it had the image belonging to the Liberty Bell in front of it. Minted from 1971 – 1979, these coins were known for being the very first without any precious metals but weren’t as widely circulated . Both these 1971 coins and the 1976 Bicentennial coins became mementos of the special years.

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President Barack Obama meets with Congressional leaders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, to discuss options for combating the Islamic State. (AP/Evan Vucci)

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