Tuesday, June 5, 2012

They Call Me Fascist

[Today's post is written by Evelyn Fennelly, originally posted on her blog, "flamingo." The article is reposted with permission.]

They call me fascist. They call me extreme. They call me a retard. They wish the worst for me.

Nothing can prepare you for the first piece of hate mail you receive. It’s so violating, this dark external force invading your life for the moments it takes to read the message. Sometimes I want to cry when I read the things people say about me. I want to cry, I want to curl up in a little ball and weep and never face the world again. I want to scream, because what they have said has been so personal, so hurtful to my passions and my vocation.

I have been shocked by hate mail in the past and I think I will always be shocked. Shocked by the anger, by the bitterness, by the malice and by the intensity of the hatred focused on me. But mostly, I have been shocked at the ignorance and closed-mindedness that prevails amongst the authors.

You see, I believe in the “crazy” idea that every life is worth respecting and defending. I believe in supporting people to achieve the best life they are capable of. I believe in giving freely of my time so that others may live and live fully.

I am pro-life.

There is nothing extreme about my views – au contraire! In my opinion, thinking that the death penalty is an acceptable form of punishment is extreme. Thinking that a woman should be allowed to kill her child inside the womb is extreme. Sending hate mail to me because I have decided to dedicate my life to helping others is extreme.

People have even made off-hand comments to me like “you only care about babies before they are born, after that, they’re f*****”. People have actually said that to me. I care about all life, not only the lives of the unborn. I campaign with anti-abortion groups on behalf of the unborn because I want to be a voice for the voiceless – aborted children will never be able to speak out against this great injustice. I want women faced by crisis pregnancies to realise the humanity of their child and to know that life is always the best choice. I want them to know that there are supports for them and for their child.  

The lives of the unborn are not the only lives that are close to my heart. I am passionate about achieving a high quality of life for all. For this reason, I volunteer as a helper at a homework club in my city to help refugee children do their homework. I hope that those children will go on to second and third level education. I hope that they become volunteers at homework clubs, I hope that they become ambassadors for high-quality education in under-resourced and under-funded neighbourhoods. I am also a peer support mentor for young people with intellectual disabilities. The life of a person who has a physical or intellectual disability is no less worthy of respect than the life of any other person. I have only just begun working with this mentoring group and I’m having an amazing experience already.

Without bothering to get to know me or find out more about my beliefs or what I do, people make a massive assumption about what it is to be pro-life.

To be pro-life is to constantly challenge oneself. It is not just about theorising or talking; it is about taking real steps towards making this world a better world in every possible way. It is about making sacrifices so that others may live full lives.

Most of all, it is about realising that none of us has the right to take away another person’s life – whether that person is an unborn child or a convicted criminal, we all have the same fundamental, unalienable right to life.

Being pro-life does not mean believing that one is perfect – it is something to strive for; a challenge to live up to. I am human. I have acted selfishly.  I have hurt others. I have not spoken out when I saw injustices. I have failed, I fail and I know that I will fail again.

Realising that we are imperfect should not mean giving up on life. I want to live in a world where every life is respected and I’ve made the decision dedicate my professional and personal lives to help see that goal achieved.

Thankfully, I am not alone in championing this cause. I am cheered by seeing the amount of people who agree with me and are willing to take action. I know that for every horrible e-mail I get, there are far more people who support and respect how I have decided to live my life.

I got one e-mail this week from a person I had never met before. It was from a man named Jimmy. This is what he wrote:
“Evelyn, What an inspiration you are, to think a young woman studying medicine is overtly pro-life, fair play, we need more Evelyn Fennellys and hopefully through pro-life work we will.
Keep on fighting for Life
Yours Sincerely, Jimmy” 

His e-mail did not take away the hurt that the other e-mails had caused me, but it did encourage me and remind me that I’m not alone – there are many more Jimmys out there.

I am but one of many who dream big dreams for our world.


Jameson Graber said...

Thank you sincerely for the reminder of what our real purpose in life is.

Anonymous said...

Evelyn, thank you for your post. I am not happy that you have experienced all this, but I am happy that you have expressed it. I often feel confused by similar reactions from others. Particularly those accusing me of being "extreme". (I view myself as being very mild - and loving.) This can be very confusing.

Reading your words has helped me to feel a little more grounded, centered, and confident today. Thank you!

Unknown said...

this piece is just self-congratulating flattery

Gordon said...

I don't hate you, I just think you are terribly wrong. I do think your position is extreme.

Anonymous said...

When you want to control other people's bodies, don't whine about getting hate mail that calls you a fascist

Anonymous said...

It is possible to be both pro-life and pro-choice. They're not exclusive. Practicing it means helping people through pregnancy and beyond while at the same time respecting their freedom to decide what to do with their own bodies.

Margaret Mary Myers said...

You are so "right on". Thank you for sharing with us, as you take a stand for the lives of others.

enness said...

Oh yes, I have gotten the "retard" one too. The irony of it was that this was a MAN getting in my face and lecturing me about women's rights all because I chose to stand in a public place and hold a sign with a non-threatening message...but I guess some people are determined to see even that as an attack on their character. Perhaps they have really already convicted themselves.

I happen to be a Catholic myself, so I just try to smile and think of the Beatitudes...but I think there are many reasons to smile when you get hate mail. I mean, to be sure, there are reasons to grieve: they may have had an abortion and be lashing out in pain; I get the feeling that people need to justify it so badly that they will fight tooth and nail to preserve the rationale they've constructed, or the world as they know it might fall apart. The idea that we have quietly killed tens of millions of people is a lot to bear. But when you can, try to find the humor in the situation (like the one I mentioned), and smile, because the truth is that the unborn are human persons and the truth will prevail. Smile, because I firmly believe that widespread legal abortion's days are numbered.

Nevermind the person who called this "self-congratulating flattery" either. You are damned if you do, damned if you don't (when I have provided counterexamples the answer has always been that they were somehow not good enough). Our modesty is going to be our Achilles heel. We have to get the word out somehow, not to boast, but to deconstruct the myth and show that we are emphatically not the heartless monsters many people think we are. It will cause a question mark in many more minds and hearts than you will probably ever see evidence of.

Keep it up! :)

Anonymous said...

If "defending life" means that you are advocating we grant an individual the right to use another person's body and their bodily resources without their sanction or approval, all for the sake of their own survival, then your views are, in fact, extreme.

Wyatt Derp said...

I don't think you understand what "pro-life" and "pro-choice" mean if you claim that they're not mutually exclusive.

They are diametrically opposed, and intentionally so. Abortion is a wedge issue that political parties use to draw voters to thier side, even when the party platform does not have anything else that would appeal to them.

Kara said...

This is key; the tendency for people in the abortion debate to assume they know everything about you and your stance before you've even had a chance to open our mouth, is really retarding the social progression our country is and needs to edge towards. We need to get away from this false notion of pure individualism, that each person is an island, and what they do on their island, their coal mine, their monoculture corn field, with their born children, with their unborn children, is their decision and theirs alone, because they own it and what they do will not impact you. We need to develop a holistic understanding that every action, good or bad, has ripple effects that you might never see or appreciate. To be compelled to act in ways that safe guards individuals against those ripple effects, acid mine drainage water, pesticides our food, an increased risk of community wide illness because of a mass refusal to vaccinate, the destruction of an individual, unique human life, is not an assault on freedom. A culture that respects life and quality of life sees these as ground rules to a free life.

Respect of Life: that is what drives us, not some desire to enslave ourselves and other women. But too easily they take our goals and insert their own derived motivations to them.

Pro-woman said...

"I want women faced by crisis pregnancies to realise the humanity of their child and to know that life is always the best choice."

Because naturally you know what's best for all women.

"people make a massive assumption about what it is to be pro-life."

Yes, I assume that being a pro-lifer you don't respect women's right to control their own body, and that their bodies should be able to be co-opted for use by others.

Anonymous said...

(1) Perhaps we don't know what is best for all women, but it is obviously ridiculous to claim that abortion can sometimes be best, because the child, who had NO choice in the decision to be conceived, always dies a painful, violent death.

(2) Their bodies are NOT co-opted for use in the case of elective abortions. In the majority of abortions, the mother and father decided to have sex, and thus create their baby. The baby is therefore forced into existence by his or her parents, and then violently killed for the crime of existing.

Anonymous said...

1.) "always dies a painful, violent death."

Untrue. There is no violence involved in a medical abortion (that is, by taking pills), nor does a fetus even have the requisite neuropathways to feel pain until well into the second trimester.

2.) Consenting to sex is NOT consenting to pregnancy.

Host trumps parasite.

M said...

2) It is if you're a man.

JoAnna said...

Anonymous @ 11:30 PM: You said, "Host trumps parasite."

A parasite, by definition, is of a difference species than the host. Therefore, an unborn child is not a parasite. Biology 101.

Sarah said...

I disagree that one cannot be pro-life and pro-choice. I identify as both.

I believe that, in reality, I favor more comprehensive "choice" than many of my exclusively "pro-choice" sisters, who foresake and overlook many of the available choices to women. Overlooking, also, what a really crappy "choice" abortion even is, for women (for women's bodies and health).

At the same time, many people who identify as pro-life wish to raise awareness. Which is different from those who wish to work towards changing policy such as outlawing or restricting abortion options.

It's important to remember: these positions are not solely political, in nature. They are also philosophical points of view. To insist that they are exclusively polarized political extremes, is inaccurate, and, in my opinion, kinda outdated!

Sarah said...

I disagree with the statement above: "Consenting to sex is NOT consenting to pregnancy".

That is not logical.

Any time any of us adult women consent to allow a penis to be placed inside our vagina, and allow the man to ejaculate INSIDE of us, we are consenting to participation in the specific act that we know is what CAUSES and leads to pregnancy and parenthood.

(UNLESS we are mentally challenged, and unable to understand cause/effect and the most basic functions of the human body.) Indeed, there ARE people who are cognitively unable to process and comprehend these facts, and I'm not putting them down or making fun of them here. I'm noting that some women are legitimately incapable of full "consent" in sexual matters, and don't understand the magnitude and consequences of what they may be consenting to. We need to protect those women.

Those of us who are mentally competent know that pregnancy is a natural outcome of intercourse.

However, regardless of mental competence, none of us are physically exempt from this basic fact of human existence: Pregnancy is caused specifically by intercourse, and ejaculation of semen into the inside of our bodies!

The Toby Keith/Mike Huckabee sex tape said...

This was really sexy, you should write an erotic fiction book.

You could include a pregnancy theme, and you could base it in the twilight universe. Imagine how many teenage girls and young women will read your BDSM vampire werewolf abortion sex story.

Simon said...

If you put another moral entity in your body don't you think you are repsonsible for their welbeing? & even if you don't grant body use compensation, like any other situation where you cause existential dependency that leads to death you should be held accountable and punished for it.

Diane said...

Kara, this is really interesting and well-put! Do you have a blog, or do any other writing that I could check out?

Julie Thielen said...

Beautiful article! Thank you. :)

Anonymous said...

You do understand that your natural role on this earth is to fucking procreate and put your mark on the earth. There is nothing parasitic about a child and if you do not want one, simply take the readily available options to make said child never happen. What is extreme is comparing a child growing in the womb to someone sucking resources out of another. You make it sound as if every woman dies after birth. wtf man.... wtf