Monthly Archives: February 2006

What is it About Abortion and Buffalo?

I just got done reading this article by Eyal Press called My Father’s Abortion War, which was in the New York Times Magazine on 1/22/06. For those of you who do not have a subscription, it is also here. Many of you may already know that this hits close to home for me for many reasons. First of all, I am a fervent pro-choice believer. Secondly, I am from Buffalo, NY, home of these crazy protests, namely Operation Rescue. Thirdly, a close friend of mine in high school used to attend rescues with her parents, and she and I used to debate the issue. Fourthly, Dr. Slepian, the doctor who was murdered in Buffalo for performing abortions, was my friend’s gynocologist. The list goes on.

In part, I was blind to some of these issues, espcially in their inception, partly because I was in elementary school at the time. But as Randell Terry came to Buffalo leading his rescues, I was in high school. I actually lived in the suburb Cheektowaga, so I didn’t see the protests firsthand, but I recall the news articles and I recall talking to my friend about these rescues. It disgusted me then as it disgusts me now.

I’m not sure what to say here other that Eyal Press does a very good job of capturing the mood of the time, and he eloquently explains the issue. For those who believe that pro-choice folks are single issue voters, the article should be able to depict the intricacies of why it is not. Press does not step by step explain those intricacies, but they are bound up in a society that forces individuals to live in fear. Religious fanaticism is not positive, and if we as a nation are willing to condemn it overseas, we should be willing to condemn it on our own shores.

Sometimes I wonder if we have the hard-headed religious zealots that we do because of the need in the seventeenth century for people to have religious freedom, that there were “fringe” groups in England, and so they came to be “free” to practice their religion, thus cultivating a a new continent of fringe religions. I have never lived in Europe, and while Catholicism seems to have a stronghold in Europe in many places, it does not seem that there is the same intensity of religious fanaticism. Perhaps I am wrong.

I’m teaching Julius Caesar to my kids now, and a student asked why the plebeians don’t think for themselves. While I had a teacherly answer that we are all plebeians, and at times we all do not think for ourselves, we get swept up with the group, I don’t have a true answer. Why don’t they (the Julius Caesar characters or simply people) think for themselves? Let me rephrase, why don’t we think for ourselves?

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Breakfast

Lately I’ve been enjoying weekend breakfasts out. I’d like to try new places. so if you have recommendations, by all mean: Comment! I’ve been to Effie’s Place on Park, a favorite of mine, if for only the service and decor alone. Good diner food. I’ve also recently been enjoying Harry’s on Farmington in WH. It’s a bit “fancier” than your typical diner-ish joint. And then there’s Mo’s Mid-town on Whitney. Hopefully I will be posting other good places soon. There’s nothing like a good breakfast out — diner coffee, my favorite! I miss Sylvester’s of Northampton. Yum! I also am a big fan of having breakfast at maple sugar shacks. It looks like that’s a tough thing to do here in CT, but I’m on the prowl.

Passing

It seems like many great people are passing in a short span of time — great people of a tough era: Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, and Betty Friedan. Thinking about these three great women, they truly are national heroes. (I hesitate to use the term heroines…, partly because it makes me think of the hapless protagonist of a novel and partly because it makes me think of the lesser counterpart of the hero, sort of like poet and poetess.) I think about the immense changes these women have made to our society, and I cannot think what life would have been like without them. Sure, it’s quite likely other people would have pushed for similar changes. Much of society was ready for these changes, but these women did do amazing trailblazing. I was listening to a tribute to Friedan, as she just passed away yesterday, on Weekend Edition Sunday (on NPR), and the report said something about how she effected change on such a large scale, that it was even beyond what she could have imagined. Thinking about it, it’s true in so many ways. The report talked about how the perception in the ’60’s was that women wanted to marry doctors and lawyers, not be them. Even my own to sisters-in law-to-be are each preparing for one of those two professions. My sister has a high ranking position in Human Resources, and my mother is a business owner. Clearly, we all know women who are in powerful positions. I look at myself as a teacher, in the female dominated and historically relegated position, and I am happy I have the freedom to choose to be here. I do it because I feel it is a place where I can share my passion for literature and be an agent of social justice and change. The passing of these three women will hopefully be following by other trailblazers.