Tag Archives: abortion

What is a Doul-a and What Do We Do?

When I first heard the term doula, I literally spoke the words: “a what-nah?” Fast forward two years and here I am: a practicing doula. The term ‘doula’ is ancient Greek and roughly translates as “a woman who serves.” For a professional movement that aims to empower, advocate and offer caring, non-judgemental support during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period, this definition, while providing the gist, falls short. (Oh, and there’s no rule that men can’t be doulas.) If you don’t know about doulas, or if what you do know makes you scratch your head in confusion or suspicion, do me this favour and bear with me as I hopefully debunk some common myths and share what I know to be true about the doula role.

A common doula image has been the hippy-dippy, placenta eating type (while the healing benefits of this practice can be argued) the bottom line is that doulas do not force-feed their clients placentas, a myth that can create real barriers to doulas being taken seriously in broader systems of care – someone who wafts into a room ripe with patchouli oil and is dismissive of doctor’s orders.

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Art courtesy of the author, Rachel.

Here are some frank but concise things to know: 1) if a doula has been trained well, they will know the role is not a clinical one, and 2) that while a ‘hippy-dippy’ approach is often scoffed at, it seems clear that our culture is starved for what might better be termed ‘holistic care.’ I feel lucky to have attended births where medical staff and holistic practitioners worked symbiotically. The outcome was stunning. Our mutual respect and willingness to complement each other’s roles disproved the notion that ‘medical births’ and ‘natural births’ must be separate entities. This type of bridging is one of a doula’s most astonishing tasks and achievements. The doula’s role is that of an impartial diplomat, offering translations, support and conflict resolution if tensions may be running high. A doula also runs interference between expectant parents and well-meaning but occasionally overbearing family members. Continue reading

Why Ben Carson Shouldn’t Be President

The past two decades has not been kind to American Christians.

In spite of the Bush presidency, largely supported by Evangelicals, the former administration’s efforts were focused on the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than at home. In 2000 only a single state recognized same-sex marriage. Today only 12 states do not, and gay rights have rapidly moved from a fringe issue to a widely accepted stance. Support for Roe V. Wade has seen a slow but steady increase, and belief in evolution has seen similar growth- even among conservatives.

With these defeats, it would be understandable if conservative Christians claim that their once mighty “Shining city upon a hill” has fallen into disarray, with the forces of secularism closing in for the final siege.

Enter Dr. Ben Carson, 2016 presidential hopeful, and, to hear many talk, one pale horse shy of the second coming.

Continue reading

The Stupid Stops Here

Life is a lot like a dairy pasture, in that you can’t get from one side to the other without wading through some serious bull****.

Existence is full of little irrationalities and absurdities, and we’ve got to be able to shrug them off if we’re going to maintain any sanity. That said, every once in a while we’re going to come across a steaming load of stupidity too gigantic to ignore.

Let me show you what I’m talking about:

This “12-Week” Fetus Model

I’ve probably got as many conservative friends on Facebook as I do liberal and leftist (liberal and leftist being two separate categories), so every once in a while I’ll catch something on my news-feed mocking the president, or gun control, or over-regulation. And I don’t have any issue with that. What I do take issue with is what popped onto my screen yesterday morning:

This photo claims that this is what a 12-week fetus looks like.

Let me be clear as possible.

No, it ****ing doesn’t. Continue reading

The Problem with Purity (When Christian Values Distract from the Message)

I wore a purity ring throughout my teens. It was pretty easy to honour the contract I associated with that ring because I only dated once during that time and pretty well never saw my boyfriend outside of a group setting.

When I started having more complex relationships in my 20’s I suddenly began to realize that “purity” was a more complex idea than I first thought. At what point was I “giving myself away”? Did I need to Kiss Dating Goodbye if I wanted to hold to this contract ( a topic Evan has touched on in previous posts)? Or did I just push the line as far as I could, as long as I could “technically” tell people I was still a virgin (a practice Elisa critiqued in a past post)?

As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to a couple different conclusions about the purity culture trend than what I first believed. I don’t want to make it seem like all sexual restraint needs to be thrown out the window. I do, however, want to take a look at some unpleasant consequences of the purity movement, and consider why they came about.

Continue reading

Shame Day: The Abortion Debate

I’ve seen both sides of this debate.

I grew up in a devotedly pro-life home. I was taught pro-life apologetics and arguments (largely from books by Peter Kreeft [go read The Unaborted Socrates]). In spite of that, my study of the development of life and my debates with pro-choicers led me eventually to cross the line. I concluded that if personhood ends with the cessation of brain activity, surely it must begin with it as well.

All that’s to say I’ve had first hand experience with both sides of the highly contentious issue.

But I’m not here to talk about abortion. I’m hear to shine the spotlight on the supreme nitwits who scream the loudest from both sides of the argument. Let’s break it down here. Continue reading

Hitler, Ray Comfort, and the Dismal State of Discussion

I did something bad for my health that I do not recommend. I watched “180”, a half-hour documentary made by Ray Comfort.

It is a bastardization of discourse from all sides. In an interview with Steve, a neo-Nazi punk type of young man, Steve says that he’s certain of his opinions about the falsehood of the Holocaust and other offensive things. To combat this, Comfort asks Steve to spell shop (Steve does) and then asks: “what do you do at a green light?” The question is a trick to get the mind to quickly respond “stop”, which is semi-associated with green lights and rhymes with “shop”, and the person answering looks silly. Sure enough, Steve responded “Stop” and looked silly. And then – well, then Comfort treated that like an actual argument for something.

The documentary was dipped in dramatic music, photos of piles of dead bodies, and use of gratuitously violent photographs. What is most interesting to me, however, is the use of what seems to be the universal argument-ender: comparisons of things to Hitler.

Hitler, the Nazis, and Lazy Discussion
Hitler and the Holocaust have become mythic elements of American culture, I think, and to the detriment of the truth of the actual historical events. I was recently visiting a small church where the members, after the service, started (sort of randomly) to wax poetic about the horrors of Hitler and the Nazis. They weren’t saying anything new – everyone was just affirming that Hitler was inhuman and the Nazis were too. It was the fervent insistence that “real humans could never do that sort of thing” that struck me – I thought of all of the other genocides and massacres of the past century alone, of the killing of civilians in wars by troops of every nationality, of atomic bombs. But even in light of all of these things, current conversation about Hitler seems to serve contrast to our new, very human, very un-barbaric society. We talk about Hitler basically like Satan – an ultimate evil; a rhetorical catch-all.

Ray Comfort and 180: Unethical Discourse

Steve, in the movie "180" by Ray Comfort

Comfort’s specific use of the Hitler argument is reductive and tired. It is, if anything, an exploration of how charged and empty rhetoric in the realm of politics is being mirrored in general culture. His interviewees are inconsistent, and seem to know very little about philosophy, theology, or basic logic. Comfort’s questions are also always precisely and pseudo-cleverly leading, and it doesn’t seem that he wants to engage with the interviewees at all: “Does this mean you’ve changed your mind about abortion?”, he asks. “Are you going to vote differently in the future?” It is not a conversation, is the point: it is a poorly executed set of rhetorical acrobatics. Is this the way to foster discourse and an informed public? Probably not. Arguments depending on rhetorical cleverness are insulting to both parties.

Comfort’s series of interviews are not only annoyingly inconsistent and poorly constructed, however: the movie is also a manipulative presentation of complex issues and events, presented crassly and with a smugly triumphant attitude. One of the less graceful moments was when Comfort asked a woman if she’d had an abortion; she said that she had. He then immediately asked: “Do you feel guilty about it?”

As the big finish, Comfort sets up a game-show setup of moral responsibility and the afterlife, and awkwards them into admissions of fright and death anxiety:

  • Comfort asks people if they have lied/stolen/been lustful: most of them say that they have.
  • Comfort then gets them to admit that this makes them liars/thieves/adulterers.
  • Comfort gets them to admit that liars/thieves/adulterers go to hell.
  • Comfort elicits from the interviewees an understandable anxiety about the prospect of hell.
  • Comfort asks them if they are going to go read their Bibles.
  • Some of them say yes.

Alesia, from Ray Comfort's movie "180"

Theologically, morally, rhetorically, and logically, this is one of the most horrible things ever. Comfort’s quick-talking way of “tricking” people into professing a fright of punishment does very little for the moral health of humanity or the search for truth within rhetoric and theology. The triumphant music and photos of bloody sheets are no help for the legitimacy of the movie.

There are also 40 thousand comments. I do not recommend those either. They are not a happy picture of humanity.

It makes sense to protest the legalization of abortion and to be horrified at the amount of deaths occurring if one believes that life begins before birth. Comfort’s smugness and “gotcha” questions, however, lack earnestness, humility. The whole thing turns a serious situation into an awkward and unproductive onslaught of unhelpful rhetorical inconsistencies, devoid of integrity and, therefore, real efficacy.

In sum, the movie is a disjointed account of unproductive discussions with unproductive people with vague and uninformed opinions. It’s a disheartening representation of the state of discourse on American sidewalks.