Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (93), August 18, 1989
Don’t Force an Alien Philosophy on Us
On July 26, Carol Yenawine wrote a letter outlining what people like myself must do if we oppose abortion. The thrust of her argument was responsible advocacy for born as well as unborn children. I agree. And any survey of pro-life people and organizations across the country will reveal such a moral and logistical commitment.
However, Ms. Yenawine’s letter is disingenuous in how she chooses what we must do. For example, she says we must support universal health insurance. False. We must be concerned about, and effective in providing for people’s heath needs — but there are much better ways than such “universal health insurance” which continues to vitiate effective family medical practice. I’ve seen the frustration in my father’s practice, in hematology and general practice for 45 years, where government imposed policies increase costs, decrease quality and drive doctors out of state, or in my father’s instance, into early retirement. One-third of his practice (or more) was to poor inner-city Blacks and Hispanics who could not pay him. He did this for decades, until Medicaid requirements and paper-work made him lose money every time he took such a patient. My father was raised a pauper in [financial straits] in the Depression, and he knows the pain of [it], and as a physician, has lived a frugal life and taught his children the same. He is angry with plans like “universal health insurance” because they ultimately collapse on the lower middle-class and poor people they are ostensibly designed to help. If Ms. Yenawine believes that universal health insurance is the best way, fine. But there are pro-life people who feel there are better ways, and the language that we must adopt her view is false.
Ms. Yenawine says we must support the taxes to support a federal and state housing program. How so? I’ve done volunteer work in Dorchester with Habitat for Humanity — a far superior model. I do support HUD Secretary Jack Kemp’s goals, and do inner city minorities. I support Kemp because of responsible use of our tax dollars to build esteem into minority and poor people to gain greater control of their own destinies. I do not support wasteful tax dollars that keep such people in constant dependency on the government. Yes Ms. Yenawine, we agree on the goal to abolish suffering and pain, but please do not say what plan or policy I must adopt. For though I disagree with you policies, I do honor their intent. Please afford me the same honor, and those pro-life advocates who think similarly.
The same problem is evident in Ms. Yenawine saying we must support state and federal day care programs, and increase them. Again I say false. My wife and I, in the early eighties, had a tax-funded daycare in our home, and we were judged by the social service workers as exemplary. But the ABC bill now before Congress, and others like it, blatantly discriminate against church-run daycare centers (which account for more than one-third of the national total), and they against women who prefer to stay at home with their children. Why not change the tax code to reflect inflation consistent dollars, which would make the income tax exemption per child nearly $6,000.00 instead of the present $2,000? Then we would be consistent with the reality of FDR’s presidency. On this basis, more children would be at home with their mothers, less would feel forced to work [outside the home], and those who do not have children to raise would share the tax burden more equitably. And has Ms. Yenawine seen the recent number of studies showing how daycare centers produce much less healthier children, and children who are intellectually lethargic compared with the norm?
Yes, opening our homes to adopting the “unadoptables” is praiseworthy. Has Ms. Yenawine done so? If she has, I commend her heartily. If not, I find no fault. We should do so as we are able. But many parents are stretched with their own children’s needs, and in a social and tax environment that exacerbates the challenge. So I would require this of no one, but recommend it to anyone.
In all of Ms. Yenawine others musts, they follow the same theme. The goals are most honorable, but her philosophy is one of government control of the family, and that I resist heartedly. She wants more money for the schools — fine. But what about about religious freedom in the schools, or sound discipline (so teachers can teach and not play referee), or textbooks that do not censor the religious and ethical history of the nation? I commend Paul Vitz’s book, Censorship: Evidence of Bias in our Children’s Textbooks (Servant Books, Ann Arbor, 1986). Vitz’s credentials are impeccable. I pay for the private education for my children because I want a sound education for them (they test 2-3 years ahead of the norm, as do most students in their Christian [Protestant] school). And there is no tax benefit for the freedom of my choice in this matter. Also, a recent Wall STreet Journal article revealed how Catholic Schools excelled with minority children whom the public schools judged beyond help. I am all for (desperately for!) the improvement of public schools. But please do not require of us the endorsement of federally controlled education.
Once again, in summation: I thoroughly honor Ms. Yenawine’s goals. I share them. But for her to force an alien philosophy upon us is a true violation of the First Amendment. I would force nothing on her or anyone — I just desire a a democratically free marketplace of ideas, and equal access for all opinions to be counted in the shaping of public policy. And I believe, passionately, that if we continue the wanton destruction of unborn human life, then we have undercut the sanctity of human life that is necessary for the affirmation of the quality of life.
John C. Rankin, New England Christian Action Council, 11 Pleasant St.