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Guest Commentary

Feb 16, 2012
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What’s the difference between an abortion and a miscarriage?

By John Hicks

Sports commentary by By Sean Keeler (click here)

Not long ago, I wrote about how Republican politicians want to get rid of abortions but are perfectly content with almost a BILLION hungry people on this earth, more than the entire populations of the USA, Canada and the European Union. They don’t even care about 15.7 million children in America living in poverty. And now presidential candidate Romney says he could not care less about poor people and he wants to eliminate abortions.

One of the major efforts in the Republican drive to eliminate women’s rights is to remove any and all opportunities for abortions and any and all drugs and paraphernalia which prevent pregnancy. At the same time, no one mentions miscarriage. Recently I asked a few kindred spirits what they felt was the difference between an abortion and a miscarriage.

One source mentioned that abortion is an intentional act whereas a miscarriage is an accident of nature. The end result, of course, is the same. (Maybe a miscarriage could be an intentional act of nature?)

A second source responded with a similar definition. “One is an abortion by humans; the other an abortion by nature or God — although some miscarriages are caused by accidental or deliberate injury.” He added, “You would think Republicans would be gung ho for birth control as an effective way to prevent abortions — instead of against it, like Santorum. But you have to remember that impregnating a woman and producing a child is a sure sign of male virility. What certain people forget is that abortion is not a modern phenomenon. It is almost as old as civilization or older. Ancient people in native cultures around the world knew which plants and compounds would abort an unwanted child, and I don’t recall anthropology textbooks making a value judgment on this primitive knowledge and practice. They also forget (or never knew) that North American fundamentalism is a modern phenomenon born of the late 1800s-early 1900s religious fervor/revival and anti-modernism.”

A third response was a bit more vehement. “It is with considerable disgust that I consider pro-life anti-abortion Republicans religious extremist crack-pots of the worst sort. The reason I say this is that abortion is a very reasonable, clean and honorable solution to an otherwise problematic unwanted pregnancy within an overloaded world population. Thank goodness for Planned Parenthood. The idea that this is a political issue is one that results from the rather silly idea that religious extremists have the right to invade our privacy and trample our rights.”

I never hear that conservatives want to stop miscarriages. To ban all miscarriages as well as abortions might be in the future, however. Now here’s a thought for you: “Women in jail for abortions and miscarriages.” Of course, all these proposed rule changes are coming from male politicians who are influenced by highly religious males who think all political decisions should be based on their religious beliefs. So the question might be: “What is the difference between an abortion and a miscarriage?”

In some dictionaries, abortion is defined as a miscarriage, a termination. Miscarriage is defined as stillbirth, spontaneous abortion and nonfulfillment. There appears to be little or no difference between the two except for religious beliefs.

I have been told that God speaks to everyone. The religious extremist says, “God tells me there will be no abortions.” On the other hand, a young woman hears God talking to her saying, “Your life will be better with an abortion. You should have an abortion.” Let me get this straight. Some man believes God has talked to him and said, “No more abortions.” Some young woman believes God has talked to her and said, “You will be much better off with an abortion.” Who is right? Let me guess who has the power to dictate whether women are important.

There are legislators and religious leaders who believe our society should be based on the Bible rather than our Constitution. It has been said by our early immigrants, and by historians, that reasons for coming to this country were based on religious restrictions, lack of religious freedom and the need to get rid of religious dogma. I wonder if the majority of United States citizens are ready to replace the Constitution with the Bible, ready to lose their freedom, and ready for some high-powered religious dogma?

Maybe we’ll find out in November. CV

John Hicks is resident of Des Moines and a professor emeritus at Drake University.


Sports commentary

By Sean Keeler

It’s BracketBusters weekend

When they’re good, they’re very good, and when they’re bad — well, hide the women and children. The roller-coaster ride that’s been the Iowa men’s basketball team this winter offered up another clunker against Northwestern in Evanston last week, where Fran McCaffery’s Hawkeyes acted as if they’d never seen a 1-3-1 zone before, let alone practiced running an offense against it. Look, it’s probably too late (and unreasonable) to entertain realistic thoughts of even National Invitation Tournament consideration for this bunch, but the Hawkeyes (13-12, 5-7 Big Ten) are going to be a factor in the Big Ten’s postseason picture, regardless. Two of Iowa’s final three contests are against Illinois on the road (Feb. 26) and versus Northwestern at home (March 3); The Illini (16-9 as of Monday) and Wildcats (15-9) will both be trying to make a case for at-large consideration from the NCAA Tournament’s selection committee. Iowa’s in a perfect position to ruin somebody else’s March — especially in the case of Northwestern, which could very well be coming into Carver-Hawkeye Arena with seven or eight conference victories in tow and dangling by just a pinkie on the NCAA tourney fence. …

Like Iowa wrestling, the Iowa State women’s basketball program has been so good for so long that we almost take it for granted. But when the Cyclones opened Big 12 play with five straight losses, it created a deep (and rare) hole for coach Bill Fennelly and his roster to climb out of. Sure enough, here they come: A month later, and Iowa State (14-9, 5-7 Big 12 as of Monday) has won five of its last seven to crawl back into the Bracketville conversation; projected them to host as a No. 9 seed as recently as last week. And while the Cyclone men have been grabbing a lot of 2012’s early headlines, it’s the Cyclone women who have the most to gain this week, with three home games against Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri all on the docket from Feb. 15-21. …

Needless to say, the Big Ten married Nebraska for its money — er, football, not because of men’s hoops. Doc Sadler is a fantastic quote, but, barring a miracle, he won’t be coaching the Big Red next season. The Cornhuskers (3-10 in the league at the start of the week) are slated to move from the moribund Devaney Center to the new, $179-million Pinnacle Bank Arena in downtown Lincoln for the 2013-14 campaign, and athletic director/godfather Tom Osborne wants to get some positive momentum rolling for the program by the time it enters the upgraded digs. The problem, of course, is that Huskers hoops is perceived to be an uglier coaching graveyard than, say, Iowa State football — and while Paul Rhoads is changing national thoughts on the latter, Sadler, who’d done some solid work at UTEP, has had little luck with the former. Nebraska hasn’t been to the Big Dance since 1998, begging the question: Where have you gone, Danny Nee? …

It’s BracketBusters weekend, and ESPN 2’s paired the Cinderella of the 2010 NCAA tourney, Northern Iowa, with the Cinderella of the 2011 dance, Virginia Commonwealth, in a prime-time matchup Friday night at Richmond, Va. And something’s gotta give: The Rams (22-5 as of Monday) finished the weekend ranked second in the NCAA in steals per game (10.2) while UNI (17-10) sat at 15th in the nation in fewest turnovers committed per contest (10.7). Pick your pace — a waltz favors Ben Jacobson’s Panthers; a lambada, um, not so much. …

From Des Moines to Da Bomb: The darling of New York/The NBA/ESPN, Jeremy Lin, was bouncing between Golden State and the D-League’s Reno Bighorns at about this time a year ago. But Lin, the rising new star of the Knicks, was center-stage for a back-to-back series between Reno and the Iowa Energy at Wells Fargo Arena Jan. 22 and 23, 2011. On the first night, Lin collected 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in a 100-98 Iowa win. The next day, Lin was even better: 21 points, 11 boards and three assists during a 107-102 Energy victory. So now you can say you saw him first, even if nobody saw this coming. CV

Sean Keeler was a sports columnist at The Des Moines Register from 2002-2011. He can be reached at

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