01 August 2014

A look at my new neighbourhood: religion in the public sphere

Through the local paper, I've discovered that my (new) local Catholic Church has set up offices around the corner from where I currently live (and in the neighbourhood where I hope soon to find a new place). The article (found at: http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/article/20140801/NEWS01/308010006) begins as follows:
"Lansing’s Church of the Resurrection this fall will take over space on East Grand River Avenue occupied by a women’s health clinic that provides abortions."

Reading the local paper is a great way to become acquainted with a new place, and it's a good way to discover more about the culture of a place. I'd walked by the office of the health clinic, named WomanCare, and it did not occur to me that this was a place that offered abortions until I saw the Catholic Church picketing that corner for quite awhile. It is surprising to me that such a name could be given to an abortion clinic - Woman Care. I assumed, when I first saw the name, that the clinic specialized in psychological and emotional help focused on women, possibly including health care issues, such as pregnancy, parenthood, fertility, and female-dominated cancers. It also occurred to me that the clinic might focus on women from certain religious groups where care from male health workers would be considered inappropriate. That the name 'WomanCare' would be given to a place that specialized in abortions seemed to be a euphemism at best; it was an insult to those who believe that abortion destroys life and harms women, and it neglected caring for a vast amount of the needs within the female population.

It is strange to me to realize again that abortion is such an issue within the Catholic and Evangelical communities of the United States. It is not that abortion is ignored here in the Netherlands. For one thing, the doctors in the community's crisis center are specifically not allowed to prescribe any kind of abortion-like medicine (and this is to a high needs population: one that is generally not insured, is generally undocumented, and for whom having a child could be a great burden). Secondly, the Christian political parties have a strong stance against abortion, but it does not come up that often within the churches or even in the party's political news. It is different here,and I do not know how that is good or bad. Seeing it through the eyes of others -reading the newspaper in my city and hearing the small victory of the local Catholic church in removing an abortion clinic from their neighbourhood - reminds me that there is still much to ponder about how one can best live out one's faith in the public sphere.

No comments: