Washington Babylon — August 26, 2009, 10:44 am

From The Tastes Like Chicken Files

“South Auckland man Paea Taufa was found roasting his pitbull terrier-cross in an umu pit at his home in Mangere,” reads a story in the New Zealand Herald. “The dog had been skinned and gutted and was partially charred when SPCA inspectors arrived.”

The story continues:

Mr Taufa said he had been surprised when inspectors arrived because dog was a delicacy in Tonga. “I didn’t know I couldn’t cook the dog. In Tonga, any time there I cook the dog and it is okay. Dog is good food.” He had decided to cook the dog because it was too skinny and had become unmanageable. He rendered the dog unconscious with a blow to the head before slitting its throat, which is regarded as humane.

Under the Animal Welfare Act it is legal to kill a dog in New Zealand if the animal is slaughtered swiftly and painlessly. However, SPCA Auckland chief executive Garth Halliday said Mr Taufa’s actions were unacceptable. “Although we appreciate the difference of cultures that exist in a place like New Zealand, the SPCA finds this sort of treatment of any animal to be totally unacceptable,” he said.

Meanwhile, columnist Brian Rudman added fuel to the fire with a clear-headed piece of analysis headlined, “Throw another pit bull on the barbie”:

The SPCA and the Minister of Agriculture, David Carter, are baying for the blood of Paea Taufa for bopping his pit bull on the head and recycling it in a backyard umu. They should be giving him a medal. If every pit bull owner in the land followed his lead, New Zealand would be a safer place to live.

Instead of Mr Carter harrumphing on television about the need for new citizens to adopt our cultural values, he should have been encouraging Mr Taufa on to the pre-news cooking slot to persuade the pit bull fraternity their pets, once barbecued, were as delicious as crayfish or rare sirloin…

[F]or some reason, our culture, unlike, say Tongans and Koreans, has decided to treat dogs primarily as pets rather than food. However, even with pets, the line is hazy. Pet sheep and calves do turn into the Sunday roast. So let’s not get too sanctimonious over one dead pit bull.

Rudman or the SPCA? The choice is clear: light that grill.

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Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

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In the exam room, she perched on the table with her feet crossed at the ankles, her blond hair brushing the back of her pink hospital gown. “I don’t know what’s available for me here,” she told her doctor, Katherine Degen, who sat facing her on a stool. “I figured nothing.”

 Some names and identifying details have been changed. 

“Big, fat zero, unfortunately,” Degen said, making a 0 with her fingers. The last doctor who provided abortions in Rapid City retired in 1986, three years before Ashley was born.

The baby was due in November, when Ashley, who was a nurse, hoped to be enrolled in a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner. Getting pregnant as a teenager had forced her to put that dream on hold, but she had thought that she was finally ready; she had even submitted her application shortly before the March 15 deadline. For the first time in her adult life, Ashley felt as if her plans were coming together. Then she missed her period.

It would be too difficult to attend school as a single mother of two, Ashley knew. She had made an appointment for three weeks from now at the nearest abortion clinic, in Billings, Montana, 318 miles away. But just a week and a half ago, her husband had said he wanted to get back together and offered to raise the child as his own. Was it a sign that she was meant to continue the pregnancy? As a rule, Ashley approached her problems with resolve. She was capable and tough; she liked shooting guns and lifting weights. She kept track of her stats and checked off her goals as she achieved them one by one. Yet the dilemma before her had shaken her confidence. She leaned back and turned to watch the ultrasound screen. The black-and-white image danced. A sharp, fast thumping emerged from the machine. As Degen removed the wand, Ashley wiped the corner of her eye.

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