Monday, January 19, 2009

Toward More Justice at NAPAWF

Having an Asian heritage naturally makes me curious as to what Asian-focused organizations exist around the country. My latest internet surf has yielded my own discovery of the National Asian Pacific American Womens Forum (NAPAWF). On the surface, NAPAWF touts a decade of seeking justice for Asian women and girls around the world who have been abused. They promote awareness of human trafficking and sex slavery. They advocate legislation for improved access to adequate medical care for Asian women, especially those with difficulty understanding English.

All of this sounds terrific. However, all of this is not all there is. Alongside their efforts to help Asian women lies the open support and promotion of abortion, using a more commiserating term, "reproductive justice." As much as the other efforts receive attention, any casual look at their website shows that pro-abortion activism is a mainstay of this organization. For example, the last paragraph of their organizational statement says, "[NAPAWF] is where a longtime pro-choice activist finds young women ready to learn and keep the struggle for reproductive justice alive." Under the Programs & Projects tab, the very first item listed is their Reproductive Justice Program.

But I have found something very interesting about their causes that shows me a glimmer of hope in an otherwise tainted agenda. As much as it sounds like NAPAWF is a rank and file pro-abortion group (which it is on the surface), embedded in their literature and policy agendas is a value for human life that I believe NAPAWF might have simply overlooked in constructing their overall position on reproductive justice. Realizing this value and taking it to its logical end will truly give NAPAWF the solid ground on which to promote its causes.

First, the 2005 publication, RECLAIMING CHOICE, RECLAIMING THE MOVEMENT: Sexual and Reproductive Justice and Asian and Pacific American Women; A National Agenda for Action, states that "between 1994 and 2000, abortion rates fell in the United States for all groups except Asian and Pacific Islanders" (API) and suggests that (1) abortion rates remain higher because legal abortion in many of these women's country of origin (namely China and Korea) means greater acceptability for use of abortion as a method of birth control. Also, (2) lower use of prescription contraceptives than other ethnic groups contribute to increased pregnancy rates. The publication goes on to cite that 35% of pregnancies among API women end in abortion compared to 18% among White women, nearly double the rate.

Why cite such statistics? Why point out the disparity in abortion rates between Asian women compared to all women in the U.S? That Asian women are not having fewer abortions is an issue of concern within the publication. Intentional or not, this suggests something wrong with a steady abortion rate in API women against a falling trend among other ethnicities. In other words, just by calling attention to the disparity, NAPAWF is implying that API women should be seeking fewer abortions when everyone else is also seeking fewer abortions. That they continue indicates some cause for concern.*

Second, NAPAWF Organizing Director Yin Ling Leung points out a gravely critical issue in the abortion debate that I believe American pro-abortionists have intentionally suppressed--the glaring problem of abortion as a method of sex selection, particularly in Asia. In her article, "The Backwardness of Sex Selection Technologies," Leung reiterates the meagerly publicized fact that gender-based abortion/gender abortion is the reason for the disparate ratio of males to females in countries like India and China as ultrasound technology allows parents to know the gender of their fetus prior to birth. But while preference for the male gender is a defining feature of Asian culture, she believes we should not fool ourselves into thinking that the issue leaves us untouched here in America. Current biotechnologies have made much more than gender something to be considered on a consumer level. Leung writes,

"Commercialized sex selection poses several important risks for women and civil society. Gender is one of the most significant determinants of life experiences, and if we are willing to open the door to engineering this characteristic, where do we draw the line? Recently a research project documented that the vast majority of CEO's of Fortune 500 companies are male, heterosexual, light-skinned and 6 feet tall. Will couples wanting to give their children an edge in life select for such traits? Today we select for gender. Tomorrow will we select for homosexuality, skin color, eye color, IQ, height and muscles?"

"Sex selection challenges feminist and social justice activists nationally and internationally in significant ways. Much of the women's reproductive rights movement is based on a pro-choice paradigm of a "woman's right to choice" and the right to privacy. We need to grapple with and draw some lines about what "choice" and "privacy" mean in the context of the new reproductive and genetic biotechnologies. Certainly it cannot mean the unfettered right to a market-based eugenic future. The political climate in the United States is ripe to debate the language of "choice" and consolidate a framework that takes on these ethical challenges." (I checked the NAPAWF site this morning and, apparently, this article has been removed. Their opposition to sex selection still exists on their Sex Selection Factsheet.)

Leung, I believe, hits the target dead on. Instead of criticizing merely the occurrences of sex selection via abortion, she expands her consideration to the entire paradigm of abortion, specifically to the definition of choice. In effect, she is asking "The choice to do what exactly?" acknowledging that not all abortion choices are valid. The issue is simple to understand: gender abortion is a form of eugenics.

Taken together, these statements from NAPAWF are implicit and unmistakable admissions that abortion is intrinsically bad for women, even if NAPAWF supporters do not realize it. I believe Asian women are in a uniquely advantageous position to criticize and challenge the practice of abortion on demand. Our reckoning of the continuing cultural tragedy of gender abortion and gender infanticide as the moral failings that they are should serve to challenge the world into reconsidering abortion as an approved legal practice for widespread use.

Of course, more than a spoonful of sugar will make this medicine go down. Abortion advocates in the U.S. have been especially silent on reproductive technologies that hail the creeping of eugenics back into American society. From their perspective, abortion advocates know that "unfettered" rights keep the moral considerations against abortion at bay. The moment the public has a chance to deliberate reasons for limiting abortion even in any small way is to open the floodgates of conscience over whether killing the unborn is even acceptable. In other words, pro-abortionists must tolerate or even support eugenics if they don't want to end up eroding their own pro-abortion position, because all defenses of human life begin with the idea that life has intrinsic value without discrimination against race, gender, or age (even gestational age). NAPAWF must somehow succeed in convincing the reluctant U.S. pro-abortion power base that female fetuses killed by 'gendercide' should receive protection, even though such arguments contradict the doctrine of privacy and choice of a woman to determine the manner and reasons by which her baby should die.

I think this would be an obviously futile effort. We simply have no good reasons to curb the practice of sex selection or to even prevent it from spreading through biotechnology unless we first argue that the intentional killing of any fetus is a violation of her intrinsic right to life and self-determination. This, of course, is not a pro-abortion position but a pro-life position.

I would hope that this ethical dilemma will cause the leaders of NAPAWF and other Asian-based womens organizations to carefully consider what the pro-abortion position has really done to women across the world. If we reflect on the outcome, women in countries where females are devalued suffer the most as abortion and eugenic technologies advance and people use them to actualize their preferences. Here, I believe the pro-abortion position MUST fall apart. If the right to abort rests on a right to choose, then a woman has the right to choose the gender of her baby and the right to abort when her her baby fails to meet her preferences. This is the logic that maintains the injustice of gendercide.

We can do better. NAPAWF can advocate true reproductive justice by recognizing that support of abortion is a capitulation that injustice still has power over us; leaders can end the cycle of death and injury that destroys millions of innocent Asian girls and women by refusing to allow it to destroy the next generation of women while they are yet in the womb. If one views this 'right to life' as an extension of what it already advocates (fighting human trafficking and sex slavery), the affirmation of life dovetails seamlessly into NAPAWF's raison d'etre. Only in this way do we act as a sisterhood of human flourishing that rises above and seeks a more triumphant way to serve and value the rights of our Asian sisters everywhere.

*A strong pro-abortion stance needs no such concern, however; if API women prefer abortion as a primary method of birth control, then why not congratulate them on utilizing and maintaining abortion services here in the U.S?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Ourobouros -3-: Rethinking Choice

Reflections stemming from the anniversary of Roe v Wade

Pro-abortion advocates call themselves "pro-choice." The question we need to explore about choice is "The choice to do what?" For 95% of women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant, they have already made a choice. A child that is conceived is a natural, biological, and healthy consequence of that choice.

Most, if not all, people find this statement uncomfortable. Almost instinctively nowadays, we think "I signed up for a sexual relationship, not pregnancy and/or motherhood." Why is that? Though we know all about the birds and the bees, we commit cognitive dissonance on an incredulous level when it comes to babies being the result of sex! Our postmodern society speaks out of both sides of its mouth (as postmodernism typically does).

Postmodern Double-Speak
While social experts preach "personal responsibility" more than ever, many lawmakers and policymakers, media personalities, and celebrities speak just the opposite. They seek to remove natural consequences of personal actions, speak of rights and of privacy, and patronize the public into thinking that emotional impulses are preferable to prudential actions. For example,

1. We have separated sex from procreation.
Again, the cognitive dissonance is so loud it's screaming. Babymaking, mating, and even our obscene words are vulgar expressions of the mating act--all these terms refer to sexual intercourse. Under the right conditions, sexual intercourse can and does make babies. Sex is procreation. Duh. So why do some people and some groups spend so much time convincing the public that the two do not go together? Activist sex education programs in public schools dispense condoms (and in Maine, birth control pills), giving children (yes, children!) the message that sex can and should be experienced without the possibility of pregnancy or sexually transmitted consequences.

2. We have made pregnancy and birth into a medical condition.
Instead of looking at pregnancy as a natural biological process, everything in our culture has redefined pregnancy into a near medical condition that afflicts females. Nowhere is that reflected more than in today's routine of hospital birthing. I find it no surprise that this mentality has spilled over into our common understanding of pregnancy, especially when it concerns unplanned pregnancies.

3. We have elevated our sense of self over others.
In our culture of supercharged self-gratification, we can no longer understand true sacrifice of personal goals for the benefit of others, not even temporarily. Pro-abortion feminist groups preach an inflexible doctrine that fundamentally nothing and no one is worth laying aside one's ambitions or personal achievements or benchmarks in life. In fact, not only should women avoid obstacles, we should eliminate them, no matter if they happen to be people. This is ruthlessness in its ugliest form.

4. We have denied our children their personhood and their rights.
Since Roe v Wade, abortion supporters have intensely denied personhood to the developing fetus in the womb. They have redefined an unborn child as a "clump of cells," "conceptus," "blob of tissue," and so forth. This is really unjustified. Rabbits make rabbits; people make people. If an unborn baby is a blob of tissue, then her mother is a bigger blob of tissue, yet for mothers, we don't deny them their humanity.

The fault of many Christians is having put too much emphasis on shaming the young woman who gets pregnant and/or ignoring her true needs rather than giving her the grace and support she needs (from birth!) to avoid making a bad decision which results in pregnancy. I once listened to a speaker and pastor who said that if every professing Christian couple in America would adopt a child from a woman who might seek an abortion, we would effectively end the primary excuses for abortion in this country, that such children are unwanted and can't be cared for properly.

The fault of other Christians is in exercising silent disapproval for fear of social reprisals. What a shame that fear of hurting the feelings of someone dear stands in the way of truth and true liberation. True friends intervene in a case of endangerment to one's life. Abortion is worse, for one innocent individual definitely dies and the other puts her life and health at risk. It's time these believers find a way to speak the truth in love. Christians helping to rescue and preserve mother and child--what a concept!

For those who support abortion, I urge a rethinking of the idea of "choice." "Pro-choice" is not a pro-woman position especially if a majority of abortion's victims are female, as is the case worldwide. Neither is it pro-woman if it is intolerant of pro-life women, as it is most of the time. And finally, neither is "pro-choice" very pro-woman if it is in reality an encouragement to abandon the idea that every life is important no matter the gender, race, origin, or even present location.

It's time to rethink how, ever since Roe v Wade, we have turned life into an arbitrary thing, something we supposedly have a right to decide for some others. We have made the unborn into a class of people that only exists at the will of another who has more power. And most of all, we must rethink how such a state of mind that accepts the deprivation of rights of some can ever progress the rights of anyone.

This post is written in memoriam of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009), who dedicated the years since Roe v Wade to the defense of life at all stages of development.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

RIP: Fr. Richard John Neuhaus


A champion of the human right to life, beginning from the womb. I consider him a great example of the compassion of Christ. This world has lost a great mind and a great light. May he rest in the eternal joy of God's presence.

Justin Taylor's blog, Between Two Worlds, has a timeline of Richard John Neuhaus' life.

Other posts can be found at:
Secondhand Smoke

Monday, January 5, 2009

Brrr! It's Cold In Here!

It must be all the CO2 in the air!

Six months ago (doesn't quite seem that long ago), I was Not Sweating Over Global Warming. Six months ago, Al Gore's climate initiative was running ads left and right with Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson sitting on a couch together talking about fighting global warming. People like myself were made to feel like climate neandertals for questioning the wisdom of the climate elite (Sharpton!) and the apparent "consensus" of the scientific community for blaming everything on excess CO2 in the atmosphere.

Well, well, well. Last week, at the very end of a hated election year comes even more hated news about global warming: it might not exist after all.

What ever are we going to do now?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Resolving to Resolve

Ah, New Year's Resolutions, something I usually resolve not to make mostly due to laziness and indecision. This year, however, I'm motivated to actually do something specific. Crazy, 'cause last Sunday one of my church's pastors suggested not making resolutions this year. True to form, I'm contrary in every way. ;-)

In 2009, I resolve to
1) Read/re-read:
Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air (Koukl)
Introduction to Theology (McGrath)
In Defense of Life (Beckwith)
Reasonable Faith (Craig)
Systematic Theology
(Grudem) - eh, it's a big book...probably not every chapter!
The Lord of the Flies (Golding)
The Cost of Discipleship (Bonhoeffer)
10+ papers or journal articles

2) Go through 52 weeks of the Heidelberg Catechism as a family.

3) Read to my kids more.

4) Sing more.

5) Catch up on my photo albums.

6) Insulate my house.

7) Go on four dates with DH.

8) ? (I think I have room for one more resolution, but I'm going to let God fill this one in!)

Chinese New Year is also coming up, so do I get to do this twice?

May God fill your 2009 with great signs of His presence and love!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Why Believe in Atheists?

Spotted in DC, 2008's year-end pro-atheism campaign:

Just be good for goodness' sake? What the blink for?

As a kid, I loved watching the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon. One time, He-Man and the good guys enlisted the aid of the evil Skeletor to save Eternia from a giant meteor(?). Skeletor agreed reluctantly. In the middle of bad guy/good guy banter, Skeletor asked, "haven't you wanted to do something evil?" to which He-Man replied, "haven't you wanted to do something good?" The world of cartoons of my childhood almost always represented good and evil as a great universal dualism where the good people were the happy ones that always triumphed over evil, the winners in conflict (probably to avoid un-PC theism). And who doesn't want to be on the side of winners? That's how the DC bus stop slogan "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake" comes across to me. Good--an end unto itself. Simplistic, child-like, a morality without reason, without ultimate justification, just because.

Yes, well, I'm not a kid anymore, and neither are the atheists trying to campaign anti-God. Let's put things into perspective with a few parallel altruisms:

Why believe in a god? Just be moral for morality's sake.
Why believe in a god? Just be fair for fairness' sake.
Why believe in a god? Just abstain from sex before marriage for abstinence's sake.

Ah, I think the last one casts the issue in the proper light. If you think about it like the others, just being good for goodness' sake just sounds dumb. In the real world, we start asking "why?" at about age four and don't expect 'just because' as a viable answer. We look for a reason to act a specific way, because motivation based on 'just because' isn't motivation enough. Just ask a four year-old.

There are different standards and varieties of "goodness," are there not? Whose goodness shall we emulate? What are the limits to goodness? What are the exceptions, if any? The very heart of the problem is this: Is there such a thing as moral 'goodness' anyway? If you're an atheist, not really. For an atheist, goodness is social convention driven by pragmatic intents of, well, whoever has the most power, whether it be one person or a whole party of persons. OR, the atheist derives goodness from what benefits his own circumstances in life, which may or may not benefit anyone else. The slogan falls into a relativist trap. What is good for you may not be good for me. In any case, whatever 'good' he may appeal to is, on the whole, completely illusory. Moral 'goodness' is artificial, made up. Say, for the atheist, that would make goodness kind of like God--nonexistent!

The bottom line is, goodness is made possible by the existence of God. For the Christian theist, God doesn't simply behave 'good' but personifies goodness as its very source. To answer the ancient question (Euthyphro dilemma), "Is what is good/moral commanded by God because it is moral, or is it good/moral because it is commanded by God," God is good, and He cannot be otherwise and still be God. Goodness subsists in the mind of God and does not exist independently of Him. So an atheist trying to be good just for goodness' sake still pays homage to the fact that there is such a thing as goodness, which entails such a person as God.

We have gotten more sophisticated than hero cartoons from the 80's. Without God, there is little qualitative difference between goodness and evil. Every motivation degenerates into pragmatism, and even atheists can agree that people have done things for pragmatic reasons that are far from good.

So I say, why believe in atheists? Just be logical for logic's sake.

For a lengthier read concerning the Euthyphro dilemma, check out "An Analysis of the Very Complicated Doctrine of Divine Simplicity: Part. 3 of 3" by Jules Grisham.