Saturday, January 20, 2007

National Sanctity of Human Life Day

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It's too bad I didn't have this to read the day before I had my colonoscopy. I would have been able to clean out my intestines without having to drink six glasses of foul toxic waste:

National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2007
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

America was founded on the principle that we are all endowed by our Creator with the right to life and that every individual has dignity and worth. National Sanctity of Human Life Day helps foster a culture of life and reinforces our commitment to building a compassionate society that respects the value of every human being.

Among the most basic duties of Government is to defend the unalienable right to life, and my Administration is committed to protecting our society's most vulnerable members. We are vigorously promoting parental notification laws, adoption, abstinence education, crisis pregnancy programs, and the vital work of faith-based groups. Through the "Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002," the "Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003," and the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004," we are helping to make our country a more hopeful place.

One of our society's challenges today is to harness the power of science to ease human suffering without sanctioning practices that violate the dignity of human life. With the right policies, we can continue to achieve scientific progress while living up to our ethical and moral responsibilities.

National Sanctity of Human Life Day serves as a reminder that we must value human life in all forms, not just those considered healthy, wanted, or convenient. Together, we can work toward a day when the dignity and humanity of every person is respected.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Sunday, January 21, 2007, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. I call upon all Americans to recognize this day with appropriate ceremonies and to underscore our commitment to respecting and protecting the life and dignity of every human being.

Here are a few examples of what "RESPECTING and PROTECTING the LIFE and DIGNITY of every human being" looks like, both under George W. Bush, and in the sort of "culture of life" Bush has in mind [all emphasis is mine]:

New Orleans, one year after Hurricane Katrina:

Nearly 1700 people died when Katrina hit Mississippi and Louisiana, and 153 people are still missing. Around 78,000 homes were destroyed in New Orleans and, one year later, just 200,000 of the original 455,000 inhabitants have returned.

The psychological legacy of 29 August 2005 is evident: suicide rates have trebled, with survivors twice as likely to suffer from serious mental health problems, according to a Harvard Medical School survey.

Nearly 85% of those taking part in the survey experienced significant monetary, income or housing loss as a result of the storm, Ronald Kessler and colleagues found. And about 23% said they had experienced extreme psychological stress.

The city’s 7000 prisoners, many of whom were shackled during the storm, face ongoing trauma. Abandoned for days without food, drink or sanitation as the waters rose, the incarcerated were left to fend for themselves amid violent riots and fires as some prisoners tried to escape.
In addition to the human lives lost, the forensic office in the New Orleans courthouse basement was destroyed, shattering hopes of reprieve for those wrongly convicted of murder or rape as vital DNA evidence was destroyed.

The additional loss of courthouse records means that those imprisoned for minor misdemeanours are still battling the authorities to be allowed out of jail, since no proof exists to confirm they have served their time or, in some cases, what their crime actually was.

On Tuesday, President George Bush visited New Orleans to attend a memorial service for the victims of Katrina. He acknowledged local people’s deep frustration at the slow pace of the rebuilding, saying: “People hear about help and wonder where it is. We know that.”

Teenage girls forced to give birth when parental notification laws did not exist because abortion was illegal:

As the feminist blogger on the People magazine beat, I want to highlight a very good article in this week's issue profiling several unwed teenage mothers of a bygone era. As was customary back in the day, they were forced by their families to disappear to maternity homes and give birth in secrecy, often being treated like delinquents in the process. They were accorded neither agency nor compassion in the process. Nancy Horgan, aged 56, recounts her experience in 1968 as follows:

The birth was humiliating. I was dropped off at the hospital entirely on my own. After laboring alone all night, I was taken to a big room and strapped to a delivery table. In the lamp over my head I could see the reflection of the child being born. When they noticed that I would see, they tipped it away; the child was for them to see, not for me.

I named the baby Chris and asked every day to see him. A social worker said, "I have these papers, and your father wants them signed now." In a file she wrote, "We are going to have problems with this girl. She talks about that baby all the time." Several days after the birth, the head of the hospital showed up. I said, "You can't keep me from him. He's mine." She said, "Yes, unfortunately he is, and let's hope it doesn't happen again." Some woman put me in a wheelchair and pushed me up to the nursery window. I asked, "Can I hold him?" She said, "No. Are you done?" Then the social worker took Chris away.

Nancy Horgan herself writes in the Comments section:

I'm Nancy Horgan and was one of the women interviewed for People Magazine several months ago. I just now ran across these comments and wanted to clear up a few points. I was 10 days shy of 18 years old when my son was born....and while in the maternity home I encountered dozens and dozens of other young women --only ONE of whom was 14. The shame heaped upon myself and others became hard wired onto our souls. We were completely striped of any and all rights to our bodies and our children. This went way beyond what one would consider appropriate to the "crime" of unwed motherhood. Yeah, I wasn't burned alive but losing a child to adoption is a close second. And worse, the child placed for adoption is punished as well. There is little or no acknowledgement for an adopted persons need to know the truth of his or her birth. Records are sealed from their eyes for life. I just wanted my son to know me if he wanted to. Losing him almost killed me. Becoming a mother changes matter your age.

Child poverty in the United States -- it's growing:

Americans don’t like to talk about poverty. We don’t like to believe that the wealthiest nation in the world has families without the resources to afford basic necessities, such as decent housing and sufficient food, or basic services, such as medical and dental care and quality child care. But American poverty is a reality.

Twelve million children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level—which is about $16,000 for a family of three and $19,000 for a family of four. Perhaps more stunning is that 5 million children live in families with incomes of less than half the poverty level—and the numbers are rising. Yet research clearly shows that, on average, it takes an income of at least twice poverty to cover a family’s most basic expenses. ...

Poverty rates vary widely nationwide, but in the group of states with the highest rates of child poverty, at least 20% of the children living in those states are living in families that are below the federal poverty line. Those states are Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, and West Virginia. The highest rates of child poverty in the nation, a stunning 30%, are in Washington, D.C. -- right under the nose of our human life-revering president.

Treatment of political prisoners in U.S. custody:

Where does one start? In the past five years, the Bush administration has demonstrated repeatedly that, far from respecting the lives and dignity of Arab and Muslim detainees in the so-called "war on terror," it is in reality utterly indifferent to both.

The Iraq war and occupation:

Over 3,000 Americans have died for a war of choice based on lies, and being dragged out as I write this to salve the ego of a president who believes himself to be accountable to no one.

Whichever estimate of Iraqi civilian deaths you believe, the twin realities are that (1) any estimate is almost certainly an undercount, given the well-known difficulties of counting civilian deaths in wartime, and the U.S. military's notorious unwillingness to cooperate with any attempts to determine the number of civilian deaths in Iraq; and (2) U.S. military planners were quite willing to accept very high levels of what they call "collateral damage." In November 2001, Robert Wright pointed out, in a Slate article about Afghanistan, that some human lives are by definition more valuable than others:

How many Afghan civilians is the life of one American soldier worth? There is no official Bush administration answer to that question, but there is an unofficial one, implied by American military strategy: It's better to kill numerous Afghan civilians than to lose a single American in uniform.

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