Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tomthemick@gmail.com

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Choice To Do What?

Thirty years ago, my students did a lot of formal debates in class. After brainstorming current events topics, they usually chose abortion. First, we defined terms. I asked each class if someone could define abortion. Fourteen-year-olds have fully developed brains, but lack nuance. I’d call on a student whose hand was up and he/she would say something like: “Abortion is when a woman is pregnant and she kills the baby inside her.”
That plainly worded definition is typical of 14-year-olds. They’re refreshingly direct. Every year, in every class, the first student I called on would define abortion in almost exactly the same way.
“Does everyone agree with that definition?” I’d ask.

There would be nods all around, and I’d write it on the blackboard. Then I’d explain that people who supported abortion called themselves “Pro-choice” and people who were against it called themselves “Pro-life.” Pointing to the definition, I’d circle the words “kill” and “baby,” then tell them that a seasoned “pro-choice” person would never utter those words in a debate. A pro-life person, however, would nearly always use them. “A definition like that,” I’d say, pointing the board again, “indicates a pro-life bias. I can tell what somebody thinks about abortion by the words they use to define it.” At this point I’d look toward the student who gave it. “Is that your opinion? Are you pro-life?” Usually he or she was, but not always.
Then I’d ask how a pro-choice person would define abortion. Students would ponder what I said and offer suggestions like: “It’s when a woman finds out she’s pregnant and doesn’t want to be, so she goes to a doctor and he takes it out.”
“Not bad,” I’d say. “A pro-choice person would never say ‘baby’ or ‘kill.’ Instead, he or she would use words like ‘fetus’ for ‘baby,’ and ‘remove,’ or ‘terminate’ for ‘kill.’” Then I’d ask if anyone else could craft a pro-choice definition. Eventually I’d get one that sounded just like something out of NARAL literature, such as: “When a woman terminates her pregnancy,” which I’d also write on the board.
Often a student would ask my opinion on abortion at this point, and I’d say, “I’ll tell you after the debate is over.”
Then students chose which side they wanted to argue. If there were too many on one side or the other, I’d try to even them up by challenging some to argue the opposite of what they believed. Some of the sharpest students would usually offer to do so.
After that, I let them sit in their groups to prepare. My instructions were that they start recording their side’s strongest arguments on one list, then record their opponents’ strongest arguments on another.

“Why do you want us to list our opponents’ arguments?” they’d ask.
“So you can prepare counter-arguments to use during the debate when they bring up those points,” I’d answer. “It’s what opposing lawyers would do in a courtroom. You need to research all sides of any issue. As someone said once: ‘You don’t fully understand your own side unless you understand your opponent’s.’”
Then I’d write the names of organizations championing one side and the other, and instruct students to write to them, telling them they’re debating abortion in class, and could they please send materials. For the pro-choice side, I’d give contact information for Planned Parenthood, NARAL America - then called The National Abortion Rights Action League, and NOW - National Organization for Women, etc. For the pro-life side I’d give contacts for the National Right to Life Association and a local, Maine group called the PLEA - Pro-Life Education Association, which always responded right away.
Of course this was during years before students could download information from the internet. They’d have to write away for it and I’d allow time for that, usually a couple of weeks. The PLEA information always came first, maybe because they were in Maine - and they’d always send pictures of just what resulted from abortions at various stages. When those pictures arrived, they’d be shown around before my classes began. Students would come up to me in the hallway with solemn looks and ask me if I’d ever seen pictures of aborted babies.
“Yes,” I’d say. “Shocking, aren’t they?”

“Can we use these in the debate?”

“I’ll have to think about that,” I’d respond.
The pictures would be seen by some staff as well. Women, usually teacher aides (now called “ed techs”) who worked in my classroom, would approach me with serious looks just as my students had. “Have you seen the abortion pictures floating around?”

“Some, yes.”
“Are you going to allow them in the debate?”

“I’m not sure. What do you think?”

“Well, it’s hard to argue in favor of abortion after seeing them, and that’s not fair to the pro-choice side.”
Now, thirty years later, that is still the crux of the matter. Who can argue the pro-choice side after looking at exactly what the choice is?

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18 Comments:

Blogger karen smith said...

Great article, very compelling! We live in an insane world.

4/29/15, 8:04 PM  
Anonymous Claire said...

Excellent post, as usual Tom. Although extraordinarily difficult to look at, how can we not show the reality of abortion and the "pro-choice" argument? Abortion has now become one of the most common medical procedures performed on woman today; nearly 4000 times a day. What's wrong with informed consent?

4/29/15, 10:35 PM  
Blogger Amy Stern said...

I remember this debate in your class. It really helped me solidify my pro life view. I needed clarification and the discussions did that. You were an outstanding teacher. I don't care what the nay sayers say! THANK YOU!

4/29/15, 10:51 PM  
Anonymous Robert Smith said...

I see Tom has moved on from gay porn to abortion porn. What a sicko.

4/30/15, 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the madness of the pro-abortion left continues...

Last year a crisis unfolded as thousands of children, some as young as 6, made their way alone from their Central American home countries and attempted a dangerous crossing into the United States. Many little ones died lonely deaths in the desert. Thousands were fortunately rescued by federal authorities and now fall under our government's care.

Uncle Sam outsourced this work, as he often does, to the U.S. bishops' Migration and Refugee Services and other experienced refugee organizations, some of which are faith-based. That made sense.

But on Christmas Eve (presumably to avoid attention), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published an interim final rule that could disrupt this arrangement. It is designed to guarantee abortion access for minors in this precarious position, on the off chance that any of them might have become pregnant as a result of having been sexually abused.

Abortion does not heal abuse, and there is no law requiring it in these cases. This is merely a proposed regulatory change by HHS that would be finalized later this year, and perhaps another gratuitous shot at Christian agencies that have long been involved in this kind of humanitarian work.

The Catholic bishops have been assisting the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement for many years, yet "there have been no reported problems in terms of services to clients. The final rule therefore does not seem to remedy an actual problem or to address any actual past adverse impact on clients served."

The sad thing here is that the victims are the ones most likely to suffer as a result of this puzzling abortion power play. There is ample precedent for making a conscience exception regarding abortion and health care.

And herein lies the real question. Does this program and the migrant children it aims to help take precedence? Do victims of human trafficking take precedence? Or is precedence given to an ideology that holds abortion so critical to society's well-being that we are willing to make victims suffer more in order to make abortions happen more often?

4/30/15, 8:55 AM  
Anonymous Greg Benton said...

Tom, I've generally felt uncomfortable with the tactic of showing the horrid images of aborted children in that it can turn away many whom we hope will come to defend these innocent little ones. That aside, the shock of such a sight might quicken the minds of those who prefer to reduce human life to a matter of political choice.

I live in a country where abortion is an unfettered procedure at any stage of pregnancy. Any and all attempts by previous governments to find some limitations have failed. The Supreme Court has defined the culture and increasingly that is what St. John Paul the Great identified as the 'culture of death'. The current opening permitted by the court is 'euthanasia'.
Some years ago whilst visiting the sick in a Toronto hospital, I parked my car in a place at the back of the building with an entrance for quick access. It was also where the hospital kept its' garbage bins. As I returned to my car I happened to see a bin with its' cover significantly ajar. Looking inside, I viewed a large clear plastic bag filled with the remains of aborted and discarded children; their dead faces plain to see. I nearly threw up. Closed my eyes. And remained stunned as I drove back to the rectory. The scene reminded me of some of those images from the Bergen-Belsen Camp and others of the National Socialist programme of not just death but slaughter.
From the beginning when abortion was argued as 'rare' and only in the event of imminent danger to the mother, it is more and more common in Canada for even parents to choose to eliminate unborn children with unwanted defects; even those with Down Syndrome. In some places, parents are able to choose to abort the child according to their desired sex. According to some, most of these are, as in China, girls.
Yes, God, the Creator, has given each of us the ability to choose but a civil right to choose that contradicts both natural law and an ethical foundation built upon reason, principle and science is nothing but a lie; the same kind of lie used, like Margaret Sanger, by those so-called progressive movements who embraced eugenics in the 20th century.
There is little greater evil in the heart of 'man' than the purposeful slaughter of the innocent knit by God in their mother's womb. It would be better for thos who would that a millstone be put around their necks and thrown into the sea to drown.

4/30/15, 10:16 AM  
Blogger Dan Barrett said...

I remember those discussions in class. I guess I've always know what it was and in most cases I'm against it. It definitely should not be a form of "birth control". But in some cases, I can see where this is a viable option. Ultimately, it's the woman's decision. Not the Governments, or anybody elses for that matter. Hers & hers alone. Period.

4/30/15, 8:21 PM  
Anonymous Laurie Pettengill said...

Mr. Benton, Stunning..stunning observation of the "casual garbage bag in the dumpster"...wow!This IS what democracy looks like!Pope Benedict XV1.."TRUTH is not determined by majority vote" Amen

4/30/15, 10:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pro life? Really? How on earth can you possibly claim to be pro life and simultaneously push a Zionist agenda of endless war? Aren't you the guy who cheerleaders Israeli aggression and war crimes? Pro life? Christian? Seriously?
Maybe post some pictures of the innocent women and children murdered and maimed by our cowardly drone campaign. Maybe post a link to the rooftop Israeli snipers who target and shoot a little boy---then laugh about it.
There comes a point when you become so absurd and ridiculous you simply aren't to be taken seriously... Pro life! Haha good one!!

5/1/15, 10:49 AM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

This is our Jew-hating reader who posts under many names, but his racism comes through in every post.

Why don't you tell us just who you really are? You coward.

5/2/15, 6:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Racist? Jew hater? Hardly. Anti- Zionist ? Absolutely. America first. Always. I love my Jewish brothers and sisters as I love all my Muslim, Christina Hindu and Buddhist brothers and sisters. There isn't a more destructive force on earth than Zionism.
Of course rather than confront it it's easier to cry "anti-Semite" or jew hater. By the way, DNA research has proven a very large majority of Jews in Israel are in fact NOT Semitic !! They are khazarian. The Palestinians are the only Semites in the area!! Hmmmm....
So confront the dancing Israelis and apply the inductive reasoning you claim to practice. Or apply it to Larry Silverstein. You still haven't acknowledged bin laden wasn't wanted for 9/11. Easier to cry anti-Semite I guess. That way you can avoid every argument! Brilliant! I've seen the video of Israeli snipers targeting children.. Chilling... Especially when they laugh...

I've ways thought it rather pathetic that zionists can't argue the facts, instead resorting to the "anti-Semite" accusations.

5/2/15, 10:44 AM  
Anonymous A different anonymous said...

Tom, I double dog dare you to point out the racism in that post. What kind of a writer are you that you can't defend your position and resort to name-calling instead? How pathetic.

5/3/15, 11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Racist? Seriously ? Great answer! Unless you can cite racism it's called libel.
Do you realize how pathetic this argument of racist/ anti- Semite is? Especially when you consider the DNA research done regarding Semitic people in Israel. Hint, there aren't any. But that's just science.

The truth can stand up to scrutiny and criticism--so what are all you zionists afraid of...?

And still not one Muslim arrested for 9/11. The only arrests were Mossad agents. Huh... But I am racist for pointing out that fact I guess? Haha...

5/4/15, 7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Criticism = Racism? Please explain oh great educator !
The only racism I've seen lately is in Israel against the Ethiopian Jews. Guess you all have something in common--- hating black people. Go figure! And I'm the racist!! ? Hahaha

5/5/15, 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Criticism = Racism? Please explain oh great educator !
The only racism I've seen lately is in Israel against the Ethiopian Jews. Guess you all have something in common--- hating black people. Go figure! And I'm the racist!! ? Hahaha

5/5/15, 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coward? This from a guy whose only refutation is to cry " Jew hater " while conviently avoiding any facts he is confronted with.
Now I know why public education is such a miserable failure.
Coward? What war did you fight in again? Which one if your sons served in the military? Hmm? A coward willingly sends his neighbors son to fight another countries wars... Pathetic...

5/5/15, 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Phyllis Schlafly said...

The same people that cry the loudest about THE BAYBEEZ consistently vote in favor of policies that would eliminate food stamps and other safety net programs. These people that claim to love LIIIIFE so much are only interested in preventing abortions. The minute a baby is born, they lose all interest in it.


5/9/15, 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wtf is this fool serious? Isn't he the guy who celebrated dropping two a bombs on Japan's civilians? And justifies Native American genocide? And backs a policy of endless war in the Middle East? And actually and in fact celebrates Palestinian genocide? Wtf?? Pro life? I mean..... Seriously? Pro LIFE? Beyond hypocritical and the absurd..it would be funny if it weren't so vile....

5/9/15, 6:17 PM  

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