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Rock bottom

Lifestyle | Special Sunday abortions in Florida, nursing home junkies in The Hague

Issue: "The GOP and Hispanics," May 19, 2012

"LIMITED TIME SPECIAL! PRINT THIS PAGE AND BRING IT IN FOR $50 SAVINGS. ONLY ON SUNDAYS! VALID FOR ABORTIONS PERFORMED BY 5/31/12. You must present this page to the receptionist at the time of the abortion. ON SUNDAYS ONLY. $50 credit towards cost of abortion. No cash value."

That's the wording of an online ad: The day of worship and rest for Christians is now a discount day for abortion. The Orlando Women's Center is offering $50 off coupons for abortions performed on Sundays throughout the month of May.

That center performs both medical and surgical abortions through the 24th week of pregnancy. Its ads brag that doctors there have more than 150 combined years experience doing early and late-term abortions.

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Also bragging: "Woodstock," a nursing home in The Hague that is unique (according to the German magazine Der Spiegel) in catering to hard drug users who have been addicted for at least 10 years. The residents finance their habits with welfare payments and the money they earn by working three hours per day, three times a week. Those who can't afford drugs can buy beer for 15 cents a can (with a limit of 10 per day).

Three house rules govern behavior at the nursing home: no violence, no drug dealing, and no prostitution. Der Spiegel notes the Woodstock model has drawn interest from other countries, but some of the specific detail in the article doesn't sound wonderful: "a limping man with an emaciated, birdlike face; a man whose face is all but hidden underneath his hooded sweatshirt."

Web support

Our April 21 story about autism highlighted the difficulties families face. My Autism Team (myautismteam.com) promotes itself as "the social network for parents of children with autism." It is a free online place where parents can connect with other parents, ask for advice, and learn about local doctors, therapists, and other resources. Parents post updates on their day, describe problems and successes, and get feedback from others going through similar things.

Technology can be a great help for people with disabilities, including autism. The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism (thinkingautismguide.blogspot.com/p/resources.html) gathers in one place links to information and resources about autism, including technology. One helpful link is to a spreadsheet of app reviews written by a mother of a 10-year-old autistic son (squidalicious.com/p/on-ipads.html).

Another use of technology: Children in one New York City kindergarten class use Twitter during the week to inform their parents about what they did in school. Using a private account, teacher Jennifer Aaron helps her students at P.S. 150 in Tribeca sum up their day in 140 characters or less. She told The New York Times, "Twitter is like the ideal thing for 5-year-olds because it is so short. ... It makes them think about their day and kind of summarize what they've done during the day."

Cut-and-paste history

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

"This is the place where you can see what makes America ... America," says Marc Pachter, director of the National Museum of American History. The museum on the National Mall exhibits Abraham Lincoln's top hat, Michelle Obama's inaugural gown, Edison's light bulb, Dorothy's ruby slippers, and-until July 15-Thomas Jefferson's abridged version of the New Testament.

Since last November the museum has dedicated an entire gallery-more space than it devotes to World War I-to the exhibit entitled "Jefferson's Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth." The exhibit includes video screens and storyboards venerating Jeffersonian ethics. The original abridged Bible on display looks like a scrapbook of Jefferson's cut-and-paste theology.

The exhibit begins with notes explaining to visitors that Jefferson's Bible excludes miracles and other aspects that Jefferson thought "contrary to reason." Through his edited version, Jefferson believed he provided "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals that has ever been offered to man." The exhibit declares that Jefferson's Bible united Enlightenment ideals, Christian tradition, and American Revolutionary thought, and was emblematic of the spirit of the age, improving on backward and superstitious Christianity.

And yet, Jefferson's skeptical deism was not the major part of the Revolution. Revolutionary leaders quoted Deuteronomy more than any other book, and 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence held seminary degrees. The colonial Great Awakening, not the European Enlightenment, most formed American mindsets.

Jefferson's statement that "I am a sect of my own," displayed prominently in the exhibit, is no longer true. Skeptical deism is now the established religion, and his miracle-less Bible speaks more to today's dominant beliefs than to the worldview of his day. -Kira Clark

Susan Olasky
Susan Olasky

Susan pens book reviews and other articles for WORLD as a senior writer and has authored eight historical novels for children. Susan and her husband Marvin live in Asheville, N.C. Follow Susan on Twitter @susanolasky.

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