Sometimes it's hard to be a woman
This is a long article. So if you're one of those people with ADD that can't read more than 2,000 words at a time, skip it -- unless you have an interest in the women's rights and reproductive issues. I have never written or spoken about this subject, preferring to keep my private beliefs to myself. But recent events
disturb me and it’s time to explore what is really at stake when it comes to
women and their reproductive choices. I have chosen to allow no advertising on this hub, and no links to other articles. For those of you who choose to stop following me after reading this, thank you for your support so far.
Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman …
And getting harder
Patricia Schroeder who served as a Democrat in the US House of Representatives as Colorado's first Congresswoman, 1973-1996 is famous for the quote, “I have a brain and a uterus, and I use both.”
I would change that quote to “I have a brain and a uterus, and they are both mine.”
My brain functions quite well, though granted, I’d hardly be the first to know if it did not. Inside my brain lives my belief structure, the product of 58 years of experience, a lifetime of learning and observing the world around me, thinking, evaluating, weighing the possibilities, making decisions and judgments and finally forming conclusions. The great thing about my beliefs is that they are entirely mine. Private.
I have no right to inflict my beliefs on others. We are all free to believe that which best fits our lives. This is the fundament of all liberties. Even in the strictest dictatorship where my actions and speech may be curtailed, my thoughts and beliefs can still soar in freedom.
My brain belongs entirely to me.
My uterus also played a major role in my life, even more than my brain it sometimes seems. Two live births, one eight-month still-born birth and two miscarriages before it gave up and went into retirement. (hallelujah!) Throughout most of my life, from menarche at age eleven to menopause a few years ago, my reproductive system went on its merry way, driving the rest of me along the normal hormonal roller coaster ride of womanhood, surprising me by circumventing all attempts to control it through contraceptive means and landing me with not one, not two but three completely unplanned pregnancies. Yes, three. And two miscarriages after that.
But why is my uterus and what I do with it suddenly a public affair?
For the record
I cannot write on this subject matter without first explaining where I stand on the issue of reproductive rights and abortion. This is a subject I have long refused to explore publicly, but now I must. No more hiding in the closet on this one. But before I do, let me tell you a story.
As previously stated, three times in my life I found myself unexpectedly and undesirably pregnant, the first time at seventeen. Did I practice contraception? Yes. But in 1969, more advanced forms of contraception such as the pill had just come into common use, and in the conservative world of Medicine Hat, Alberta, these medical marvels were not available to unmarried women. Even diaphragms were prescribed only to women with husbands. Seriously.
That left only the more primitive barrier method of condoms. (Or abstinence, as so many are quick to point out. Sorry. Not an option. The reproductive system often overrides the brain. Hadn’t you noticed?)
Faced with what was truly a catastrophe, I had decisions to make. Granted, abortion was then completely illegal but not unobtainable. Dangerous yes, but more common than people want to believe.
I couldn’t, wouldn’t, didn’t. Not from fear, but from an instinct that wanted that child as soon as the shock passed, from a belief -- entirely my own – that disposing of my child was wrong. That is: wrong for me.
So I did not have an abortion, a fact for which both my daughters are far less appreciative than they should be. At least as I see it. This pregnancy put an end to my education (I hadn’t yet completed high school,) threw all my dreams out to blow away on the wind and set my life on a completely different, difficult and impoverished course.
My mother decided I should go to the Salvation Army Home for unwed mothers. The child would be placed for adoption and that was to be that. I refused. The following two weeks will always remain vivid in my mind. My parents were more concerned with what the neighbors would think than what would become of their child or grandchild. Even my first doctor’s appointment was made in a town two hour’s drive from ours. Oh, the shame!
Two weeks of violent argument, verbal abuse and offers of scalding hot baths, castor oil and other such old wives’ tales and I was ready to leave. Anything, I thought, would be better than the nightmare of home. I went to my boyfriend’s family.
Quicker than you can say ‘She’s knocked up’ I was to be married. Hurry! A month later, wearing a dress cleverly designed to hide the slight roundness of my belly, I married an unsuitable, equally immature husband. To no one’s surprise, the marriage didn’t last two years.
But in the interim, I was – you guessed it – pregnant again, despite the diaphragm prescribed for me. And that old myth: you won’t get pregnant while breast feeding... A lie!
We were broke, living on an allowance of $200 month. Yes, you heard right. He was a student at a technical college. I stayed at home with the baby. Again, the option of abortion came under discussion. Again, I wouldn’t.
And that’s how I came to be alone with two children by my nineteenth birthday.
I spent my days with my babies and cleaned offices at night. I lived in subsidized housing – a cinder-block complex full of single mothers and their children called ‘Quail Ridge’ by the City of Calgary and ‘Tail Ridge’ by the young men of the area. But at least corralling us single moms in one place meant we could easily form alliances and help each other. I babysat one woman’s children during the day, and she mine at night. Bartering was big at Quail Ridge. None of us had a nickel to spare.
Later, when my children were older, thanks to subsidized day care at an excellent facility that my little girls loved, I was able to enroll in a government program designed to get drop-outs like me an education. I attended the Alberta Vocational Training Center, a facility as dire as its name, and learned the skills to work in an office. It was a beginning.
Thank God for those programs. Without that assistance, I don’t know how we would have made it. Working for minimum wage eight hours a night and babysitting during the day was not a sustainable life style. Nor did it do more than provide the very basics. And an equal thank you to the Canadian medical system, because my younger daughter had health issues, and not unsurprisingly considering the burden and a less than optimum diet, so did I. By the way, I also received free contraceptives.
The third unplanned pregnancy came in my early twenties. I was working at a good office job and taking classes, two a week, at night, at university, earning my Bachelor of Commerce degree. The father, a man I’d known for several months, was not interested in a family, which does of course bring up the question of why he was wooing a mother of two in the first place. Irrelevant, I suppose. But he would, he promised, pay for the abortion.
I should add, at the time I was using an IUD – 99% effective, or so it was claimed. It was removed by a doctor once my pregnancy was confirmed. ‘There should be no complications,’ he said, but to this day I wonder.
For the first time, I did consider an abortion. I had struggled so hard and still had a long way to go. I would be alone with three children. Yes, I spent many painful hours considering my options. In the end, I went forward with the pregnancy.
Unhappily, the baby died at some point around the eighth month. Labor was induced and my would-be daughter, Beth, was born dead, as expected.
“Just as well,” said an insensitive nurse who had been unpleasant and angry from the time she learned I was unmarried. It was not just as well. It was a bitter, sorrowful event. In spite of the difficult circumstances, I wanted that child with all my heart. The nurse did not press charges when I punched her in the face.
In my thirties, stable and remarried, I wanted another child, a child born to a mother and a father. I wanted that stick to turn blue and think, oh wonderful! Not, oh hell, what am I going to do? Twice I conceived and twice I miscarried, once at 12 weeks and once at 14 weeks.
Apparently my uterus had decided enough was enough. My brain came to agree with it and told my body to have a tubal ligation.
So now, here’s my stand on abortion
My decisions were my own, based on what felt right for me. I do not judge the choices others may make. I’ve held the hands of women close to me while they made this difficult and painful decision, accompanied them to the clinic, cared for them and comforted them afterwards. But these were all early pregnancy abortions.
If an abortion is deemed necessary (for whatever reason,) in my opinion, it must be done as early as possible, preferably in the first eight weeks, before the nervous system is functioning and certainly never later than the twelfth week. To me, that is the line in the sand.
I am decidedly opposed to late term abortions and consider them a savage act that should be against the law. The idea of partial birth abortions -- in fact abortion is not the right term here. Let's call it what it is: the killing of a newborn -- this is beyond my imagination. How such an act can be considered anything less than wanton murder, let alone legal, let alone a medical procedure is truly disgusting.
It is my personal opinion that abortion rights have gone too far. While I am in agreement that no woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy and deliver a child against her will, there must be a point at which we say 'too late.' Many, in fact from my research I found most abortion providers draw the line at the first trimester, or 12 weeks. Only a few perform late term abortions. If I were in charge of the world, I would stop the practice.
But I also accept there may be exceptions where a late termination is deemed appropriate. I can’t think of one off- hand, but then my knowledge of medicine is superficial at best. Severe birth defects subjecting the child to a short life of misery and suffering? Perhaps. Another touchy area, here. The mother’s life is at risk? Certainly.
The usual reasons given: a victim of rape or incest – surely such pregnancies can be terminated at the early stages.
I believe the life and welfare of those already living, the mothers, must come first. For this reason, I remain neutral in the face of early pregnancy terminations. In other words, if you can’t get it together to do what you feel you must by eight weeks, twelve at the extreme outer limit, you should have your baby. If you can’t provide the child a decent life, there are many who would love to adopt, as just one option.
So, with that proviso, color me pro-choice. Which means I am for the right of others to choose for themselves, not pro abortion.
But what I am really is 'pro' birth control and the accessibility of birth control to all women. Such a program would obviate the need for abortion to a large degree. Abortion is, and should be considered a secondary choice, to be used only when other methods fail and the situation and conditions require the woman make that decision.
And her decision it must be, and remain.
This article is about reproductive rights and choices, not the ethics of abortion.
Our uterus as public property
Lately, our uteruses have become public property, not our own. Our options, so hard won, are in danger. There appears to be a war on birth control and ultimately against women.
Now, not only the right to choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy is under attack, but so is the ability for a woman to choose whether or not to get pregnant in the first place. Though this is denied by those introducing such legislation, it behooves us to study what may be the unintended (we hope) consequences of poorly worded potential laws.
The egg as a citizen – the “Personhood” bills
Let’s go back to Patricia Schroeder’s home state of Colorado.
Just last year, 2010 Amendment 62 found its way to the ballot, which proposed all the rights of personhood be applied to an embryo beginning at the time of biological development, which is, according to its authors, at the time of conception..
Sperm finds egg and -- bada-bing! -- a new citizen is made.
One of the implications of Amendment 62 is that it would ban common forms of birth control, including the pill, IUD, and “morning after” drugs.
The pill, while it usually acts to prevent ovulation, can also prevent implantation when ovulation does occur (which it does in some 30% of cases.) If fertilization occurs, under Amendment 62, that would be deemed murder.
Don't take my word for it: The manufacturers of the popular brands of pill Ortho Tri-Cyclen and Trinessa both claim the pill “reduces the likelihood of implantation.”
Contraceptive pills thin the lining of the walls of the uterus (which is why they are effective as a treatment of heavy and painful menstruation) thus making the uterus inhospitable to implantation of the embroyo. (Which is why it often takes a few months for women coming off the pill to get pregnant.)
It is these two actions together that make contraceptive drugs the most effective method of preventing pregnancy.
IUD -- Intra-uterine devices act to prevent implantation and pregnancy. These would become illegal.
Which leaves the use of barrier contraceptives as the only legal method -- the condom and the diaphragm.
I have two daughters as evidence of how well they work.
Not only would this amendment make any intentional abortion, for any reason an act of murder, but it would outlaw the most common forms of contraception: the pill, IUD, hormonal implant, ‘morning after’ pills.
Because they interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg in the wall of the uterus. In other words, they perform what amounts to an abortion, according to these legislators basing their stand on biblical passages. It would also criminalize ‘in vitro’ fertilization, as such procedures produce many embryos and only a few are implanted. The rest are kept frozen or destroyed.
Amendment 62 was defeated – this time. This was the second attempt to introduce personhood for embryos in Colorado in two years, and is not to be the last. That, we are told, is a promise.
Next stop, South Dakota, which voted on a bill to outlaw all abortions – no exceptions. It was defeated. The newest bill with which South Dakota is attempting to control women wishing to terminate their pregnancies is convoluted and bullying. Along with the state mandated law which requires the doctor to read the following statement to his patient:
“an abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being,"
the women are now required to visit a crisis pregnancy center 72 hours before having an abortion. These cpc’s are run by anti-abortion groups, not staffed by medical professionals, where, as one woman states,
"we, already wounded and vulnerable having come to this difficult decision, are pounded to a pulp emotionally, psychologically"
after they have already consulted with their doctor. South Dakota is the first state to force women to go to these centers. The wording of the bill says it all:
"It is a necessary and proper exercise of the state's authority to give precedence to the mother's fundamental interest in her relationship with her child over the irrevocable method of termination of that relationship by induced abortion."
There it is in black and white: The state believes it has authority over a woman’s body and her decision relating to pregnancy, and a vested interest in her reproductive life.
Interestingly, in the same state, a bill being considered by state legislators would alter the definition of "justifiable homicide" to include killings in the name of preventing harm to a fetus, a change "that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions," says one report.
Rep. Jensen, one of the bill’s supporters insists it isn’t directed at abortion providers, but gives an example of a pregnant woman badly beaten by an assailant, who kills to protect her fetus. Which doesn’t make much sense. The law already protects people (including, presumably, pregnant women) who commit murder in self-defense, and those who might commit murder while defending someone else.
Seeing as we’re so close, let’s drive across the line into North Dakota. Rep. Dan Ruby introduced the "Personhood" bill, which affirms the rights of pre-born humans and states:
"For purposes of interpretation of the constitution and laws of North Dakota, it is the intent of the legislative assembly that an individual, a person, when the context indicates that a reference to an individual is intended, or a human being includes any organism with the genome of homo sapiens."
Any stage of human development that carries human DNA -- including a fertilized egg will be granted ‘personhood’ under this bill. It has passed the state house, but must pass the ND Senate in order to be law. This is the second such attempt. This first was defeated in 2009.
According to "Human Reproduction" by Drs. Wagner and Lowe, 2001 -- during her active fertile, sexual life of an average of 34 years, most woman will experience a number of conceptions that do not culminate in pregnancy. It is quite natural for a fertilized egg to pass through the uterus without implanting, and that fertilization passes with the normal menstrual cycle. In a woman who does not take contraceptives of any kind, this will probably happen at least fifty times during her fertile years.
Nature, it appears, does not consider all fertilized eggs to be sacred.
Now we drive west into Montana. SB 406, which defines person for the purposes of application of inalienable rights, states,
"All persons are born free and have certain inalienable rights...person means a human being at all stages of human development of life, including the state of fertilization or conception, regardless of age, health, level of functioning, or condition of dependency." This motion, which passed the Senate, failed in the house of representatives on March 27, 2009
As of February, 2011, the following states have introduced similar ‘personhood’ bills, all stating life begins at fertilization of the egg, a view not consistent with medicine or science which has long held pregnancy begins with the implantation of the embryo in the uterine wall:
Maryland, North Dakota, Montana, South Carolina, Alabama, Iowa, Virginia, Mississippi, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Colorado
Keith Mason, cofounder of Personhood USA told Christian NewsWire:
“[W]e are witnessing a historical movement to finally end the destruction of human lives and to protect women and children at all stages of life.”
To protect women from their own choices? To force women who become pregnant to carry to term and deliver an unwanted child, no matter what? And at the same time, restrict their access to contraceptives that may prevent pregnancy by making the uterus a hostile environment and impede implantation of the embryo – the most common and most effective methods available.
The state wants authority over the uterus.
I'd like to ask Keith Mason what protection he will provide once those unwanted children are born. What will he do to protect the women and children alive, breathing and walking the earth?
Considering all the misery of poverty, abuse and desperation I've seen as a child-protection worker, this is a valid and pressing concern.
Reducing other options – restricting funding and access to health care and contraceptives
Now we’re in Missouri, where past governor Matt Blunt held a signing ceremony of what he described as “one of the strongest pieces of pro-life legislation in Missouri history” as he spoke (and signed legislation into law) from a cross-shaped lectern in the sanctuary of Concord Baptist Church. This legislation brought several women’s health clinics under government control by designating them as ambulatory care centers. Several of these clinics did not perform abortions, though they would make referrals. Their primary purpose was counseling in contraceptives, reproductive health and pre-natal care for low income women. This is where women came for inexpensive pap smears and other gynecological care.
Further, the bill states, no group affiliated with any organization that provides abortion procedures or referrals could teach or offer counseling in sex education – no, but instead the state did provide grants for ‘abstinence only’ sex education. (Good luck with that, Missouri!)
Oh, and as a last order, Blunt also cancelled state funding for contraceptives for low income women.
Huh? Forgive me, but does Representative Phillips mean that only single women have sex and therefore require contraceptives, or that married women are never poor, or that married women don't need contraceptives because, of course, they're going to have as many babies as they possibly can? And what exactly does she mean when she says “… promiscuity is OK as a state?” She doesn’t support promiscuity for single women, we are to understand. What about men? And if the women are not to have sex...
Since when did elected officials get to decide how much sex individuals may have?
You cannot legislate morality -- no matter how hard and how often you try.
“If you hand out contraception to single women, we’re saying promiscuity is OK as a state, and I am not in support of that,” --Rep. S. Phillips, (Kansas City,) author of the bill.
Phillips' amendment did not save the state money. Instead, it imposed restrictions on how state agencies could spend $9.23 million earmarked for public-health programs, mainly for people who are poor but make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. The House also turned back several efforts to boost funding for health-care programs by trimming farm and agribusiness subsidies.
Let’s drop in on Washington – the capitol, not the state. Since 2001 federal funding for family planning has been frozen, to the point that in inflation-adjusted terms, funding is now 61% lower than it was in 1980. Now, a bill sits waiting for final approval that will remove federal funding from Planned Parenthood, under the guise of “no funding for abortions,” in spite of the fact that not a single cent of federal funding went to abortions. All of it went to providing affordable birth control, cancer screening and safe sex programs.
Several states have already slashed programs providing contraceptives for low income women.
At the same time, costs of contraceptives have sky-rocketed by more than 500%. Since 2005 and an obscure provision in the Deficit Reduction Act of that year which stripped away a long standing incentive encouraging drug companies to provide discounted birth control to low-cost health-care providers. What was once $10 monthly is now $50-65 each month.
Yet, apparently pots of money was available to “abstinence only sex education.” In 2001, $80 million dollars went to this dubious plan and by 2005 it was $176 million.
Surely only coincidence, the rate of teen pregnancies rose by 11% during that same nine year time-frame after 14 years of a steady decline. Critics have long questioned the efficacy of these programs, and they got a clear answer in an April report conducted on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services: It showed that abstinence- only education does not prevent young people from having sex, nor does it influence the number of sexual partners they have or the age they first engage in intercourse.
Along with this, contraceptives are not covered by most insurance plans – not since 2001, when GW Bush successfully put a stop to the mandated coverage in federal employee’s health plans. (The rest soon followed suit.) Did that bother the then head of the HHS Office of Family Planning. Not one bit. In fact, Susan Orr, a longtime opponent of birth control, which I’m sure somehow qualified her for that position, said:
“We’re quite pleased, because fertility is not a disease.”
Do you not get the feeling we’re being told we must choose to either keep our legs tightly together or our uteruses occupied?
Fetus First Legislation
Representative Joe Pitts, Pennsylvania, has introduced the “Protect Life Act,” a bill that would “give doctors the green light to let pregnant women die if they have a life-threatening condition and need an emergency abortion."
Apparently, Representative Pitts does not see the mother’s life worth protection.
In 37 states, it is illegal for women to do anything while pregnant that may injure the fetus.
Here’s what happened: following a telephone argument with her recently estranged husband, Taylor became lightheaded and fell. She immediately called the paramedics who declared her healthy, but it was Taylor who insisted on going to the hospital to ensure all was well. Alone, frightened and upset, she confided to her nurse and doctor, that earlier in her pregnancy following the breakdown of her marriage, newly single and unemployed and already the mother of two, she had had doubts about having this baby. An hour later, she was arrested and charged with attempted feticide.
According to Iowa state law, attempted feticide is a trying "to intentionally terminate a human pregnancy, with the knowledge and voluntary consent of the pregnant person, after the end of the second trimester of the pregnancy." Under this law, an Iowa woman, Christine Taylor was arrested and charged with attempted murder following a fall down the stairs, because she told her nurse and doctor that at some point earlier in her pregnancy, she had doubts about having the baby.
Although the charges were later dropped, this pregnant woman spent two days in jail before being released. And for what? For admitting she had considered an abortion at an earlier time. Oh – and apparently medical care providers in Iowa have a pass when it comes to the laws regarding patient confidentiality.
Melissa Ann Rowland of Salt Lake City, Utah was charged with murder in 2004 after her refusal to undergo a caesarean section resulted in one of the two in her twin pregnancy being stillborn. Rowland was later sentenced to 18 months probation as a result of secondary charge of child endangerment.
The state ruled that Rowland’s right of autonomy over her medical treatment was trumped by the needs of her unborn child, even though medical testimony revealed the twin fetus’s viability was questionable even if a caesarean procedure had been undertaken.
Utah is not alone.
In 17 states, women have been jailed and charge with murder for experiencing a stillbirth after refusing surgical intervention.
Under state "fetal homicide" laws pregnant women are more likely to be punished for behaviors and conditions that are not criminalized for other people, such as drug or alcohol abuse. Some states have proposed punishing pregnant women in abusive relationships who are unable to leave their batterers, and desperate women who resort to unsafe self-abortions.
We focus our attention on "bad" pregnant women who are poor and who use drugs. We expect them to provide their fetuses with the health care and safety that they themselves have not been granted.
The worst offender is South Carolina, where dozens of pregnant women with drug abuse problems have been jailed under fetal protection laws, even though they had virtually no access to drug treatment programs.
Colorado recently tried to introduce a bill that would charge women whose pregnancies failed or stillbirth occurred when “extraordinary health” measure could have prevented it. Of course, there are no funds available to pay for these extraordinary measures.
Back to Utah a new bill waiting final approval by the governor does not address legal abortion but allows punishment up to life in prison for an "intentional, knowing, or reckless act" that leads to a miscarriage or abortion without a doctor's supervision.
Using the legal standard of "reckless behavior" all a district attorney needs to show is that a woman behaved in a manner that is thought to cause miscarriage, even if she didn't intend to lose the pregnancy. Drink too much alcohol and have a miscarriage? Under the new law such actions could be cause for prosecution. Women might also make themselves open to prosecution if they failed to wear a seatbelt – even though seatbelt use has been proven to be dangerous in late term pregnancy -- and got in a car accident. Or if they stayed with an abusive partner. Or if they went horse-back riding. Or rode a motorcycle. Or, or, or… Utah's new bill would apply throughout pregnancy.
All of these issues beg one question. How do these proponents of abstinence or birth intend to ensure these laws are upheld?
For a majority in government that campaigned on smaller government, less interference in our lives and frugality, one wonders how all this proliferation of laws aimed at pregnant women are to be enforced. A law is only as effective as its compliance organization, and that costs money.
Money that could have gone to health services.
Control and Enforcement
Representative John A. Cosgrove of Virginia has introduce HB1677, “Report of Fetal Death by Mother, Penalty.” Cosgrove’s bill requires any woman who experiences ‘fetal death’ without a doctor’s assistance to report this to the local law-enforcement agency within twelve hours of the miscarriage. I had trouble believing this one, too, so I give you the text below.
When a fetal death occurs without medical attendance, it shall be the woman's responsibility to report the death to the law-enforcement agency in the jurisdiction of which the delivery occurs within 12 hours after the delivery. A violation of this section shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
One in three pregnancies end in miscarriage. It is often a time of great sorrow for the mother – indeed for the entire family. Here, John Cosgrove wants to intrude on what is surely the most private of matters in the most odious manner possible.
Is there a registry of conceptions kept somewhere? Are we to start one? Shouldn’t this bill have been prefaced by a previous one called the “Report of Positive Pregnancy Test by Mother, Penalty?” Failure to comply – if you later report a loss or have a baby and did not register your conception, you are subject to… what? Or if you register a conception but no fetal death and no baby shows up later?
Ridiculous, I agree. But this bill proposes that a woman report a LOSS of a pregnancy to the government whatever the gestational age of the embryo/fetus.
As if this wasn’t bizarre enough, Representative Bobby Franklin of Georgia wants the police to investigate all miscarriages to ensure they were natural ones.
Yes, true -- your eyes did not deceive you!
Franklin wants police to investigate miscarriages, and requires that any time a miscarriage occurs, whether in a hospital or without medical assistance, it must be reported and a fetal death certificate issued. If the cause of death is unknown, it must be investigated. If the woman can't satisfactorily explain how it happened, then the police can interrogate family members and friends. Hospitals are required to keep records of anyone who has a spontaneous abortion and report it.
This makes sense. Sure.
Start at the section of the “personhood” laws above, go forward and add it all up. The Uterus Police (to borrow from another article on this subject) or the Embryo Nazis, if you prefer, are surely the rational result of all this legislation over women and their uteruses.
I can envision them already. Black uniforms with an armband, on which is imprinted the red triangle, symbol of the uterus. They knock at the door and demand to know what happened to that pregnancy of which you so happily told your neighbor. You didn’t register a fetal death, so here it is nine months later – where is it?
You are hauled off to Pregnancy Court to explain yourself to the Fertility Magistrate.
Surrender and Submission
I sit here and tick off on my fingers all the points made above, and I do apologize for the repetition, but it does seem necessary:
- Not only have contraceptives become increasingly expensive because of a technical problem created by the federal government in 2005, but funds to agencies who assisted women who couldn’t afford them have been slashed
- Personhood bills would make the most common and effective forms of birth control akin to abortion and make them illegal.
- Pharmacists can refuse to fill prescriptions for contraceptives based entirely on their own beliefs. But this is not true for other prescription medicines – legal narcotics for example. Or Viagra.
- Abortions, expensive and emotionally devastating, are often the only recourse left for women who just cannot have their babies, but their availability is under attack.
- Pregnant women can be criminalized for their behavior during pregnancy. Though funds are not available to help those mothers who have drug or other addiction problems. Even accidents, if some over-zealous medical practitioner decides you did so deliberately, so a pregnant woman cannot safely confide in her doctor.
- A pregnant woman can be criminalized if attacked by her partner, resulting in a miscarriage, if he has a history of previous abuse.
- Pregnant women can be criminalized for refusing extraordinary medical procedures and that refusal results in a still birth, even though funds for such care have not been made available. They can cut you open and take out your baby whether or not that is what you want – or even if you have cultural or religious objections.
- If a pregnant woman has a life threatening condition, the doctor attending can decide, based entirely on his own beliefs, to let that woman die in an attempt to save the fetus.
- Sex education cannot be taught by any organization that is connected in any way to another that provides abortions. Funds for education in contraception have been slashed, except for that which preaches abstinence only.
Add his to the fact that a perfectly safe vaccine against HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that cause cervical cancer, that must be administered at or around the age of menarche (the onset of menstruation) has been denied to our girls under the dubious guise of "encouraging promiscuity." Do you not get the message that women, if they have sex, should have that sex screw up their lives as much as possible?
Let’s move forward in time and assume the present day trend has become law. In which case I can also move myself back in time to the point where I was facing my third unplanned pregnancy, alone and already the mother of two. Of course, now I’m in the present day United States of America, not Canada of the seventies. If you paid attention when you read my baring of my soul, you know I and my children owe much to government funded programs in place to help us find a way to move forward and become self-sufficient and successful. Without these, who knows?
Now, in this brave new world, all of those programs are non-existent, which means I am still without education and laboring at minimum wage to feed, clothe and house the two I have – but oh! Wait a minute. I wouldn’t be in subsidized housing, nor have subsidized day care. In fact, I’d be trying to raise two children with no help at all. Oh God!
I’m human. I’m going to have sex. So call me a slut. But I’ll
bet you’re having sex from time to time, too.And we all know those politicians are.
Now that the pill and the IUD are illegal, I’m relying on a combination of timing and barrier contraception, and I’m pregnant again!
I can’t get an abortion, and if I somehow miscarry, which is all too possible seeing as I’m not in good shape, working as hard as I have been and running a household of three on minimum wage which means I’m not eating too well, I then have to face the state and explain why.
After all, from the moment I conceived, the authority of the state has a vested interest in my uterus. In fact, I’m no longer me, but a baby carrying machine, and if I get sick, the doctor will let me die rather than abort my fetus.That potential life inside me takes precedence over my life.
What about the two children I already have?
Well nobody cares about them too much. They’re already safely out of the uterus and therefore nobody’s concern anymore. They can starve for all anyone cares, so long as I carry this new one to term.
How do I know this?
All across the country, politicians who got into office by promising to concentrate on new jobs have rather turned their attention to dictate what women do with their reproductive systems.
For example, in Frederick County, Maryland, Board County Commissioners vote to end funding for the Head Start Program. These men justified their decision to cut this funding — which provides early childhood education to the children of low-income parents -- by saying what amounts to: women should be married and at home taking care of their kids, rendering the program unnecessary.
I think its very significant that we did make this marriage week announcement today, because that is the best long-term way to help our children, as marriage is strengthened in our community. As many of you know, I had a lot of kids, and my wife stayed home, at significant sacrifice, during those early years, because she knew she had to be with those kids at that critical age. I know everybody isn’t able to survive doing that, but clearly, as we can strengthen marriage we can decrease the children that we have to reach. – Commissioner C. Paul Smith
My wife, college educated, could go out and get a very good job. She gave that up for 18 years so she could stay home with our kids, we had to give up a lot to do that. I agree again with Commissioner Smith, you know, the marriage thing is very important. I mean, education of your kids starts at home, okay? I never relied on anyone else to guarantee the education of my kids. – Commissioner Kirby Delauter
This is just one example out of hundreds of thousands. In fact, I could fill dozens of hubs with equally antiquated views of American family life as expressed by our politicians. .
In truth, many low-income households simply can’t afford to get by on one income alone, making it necessary for both parents to work; neither can single parents afford to take off from work for years. Nearly 4 in 10 mothers (39.3 percent) are primary breadwinners, bringing home the majority of the family’s earnings, and nearly two-thirds (62.8 percent) are breadwinners or co-breadwinners, bringing home at least one half to one quarter of the family’s earnings.” In fact, “only one in five families with children (20.7 percent) are the traditional male breadwinner, female homemaker, compared to 44.7 percent in 1975.
Nor can they afford to pay for pre-school, leaving their children behind. Once behind, it is difficult for children to catch up. As it is unlikely that impoverished families can pay for tutors or other privately funded solutions, and as the public school system is both at the whim of other politicians private beliefs and inequitable in quality, we set up yet another generation to live a life without the benefits of scholastic achievement.
But so long as the daughters don’t seek extra-contraceptive solutions to unwanted pregnancies, no one cares.
Funds across the country for health services, early childhood evaluation and education, subsidies for low income family housing, for health care, for child development, even funds for food subsidization have been cut and slashed to levels well below what they were a decade ago.
At the same time, women face draconian existing laws and potential laws regarding family planning.
So long as those children slither down the birth canal un-aborted, no one much seems to care what happens next. When the streets of America resemble the scenes of third world nations with half naked, uneducated and hungry children rummaging around in waste heaps searching for something edible – then will we wake up to what we’re doing?
Or shall we leave it up to the women to decide when is the right time, and the wrong time to have a baby? After all, it is the women who will raise these babies – or fail. Women have as much right to seek their potential in life as any other citizen. They should not be held slaves to their biology.
To those who wish to impose their personal beliefs on others, I say back off. If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one. If you think contraceptives are akin to abortion and therefore a sin – fine, don’t use them.
But stop trying to decide for everyone else.
In case you’ve forgotten, and with such an emotionally charged issue people often forget what was said two seconds ago, I’ve made my personal opinions on the issue of abortion crystal clear. The difference is: I don’t claim my beliefs apply to everyone.
In my research -- and this hub took several weeks to research and write -- I’ve read many views on the issues of family planning and abortion. Some of it is so very extreme – on both sides. And I agree; there will always be those who act irresponsibly. But my own experience with women who have made the decision to have an abortion is that the majority acted with the best of intentions. They simply could not have another baby at that time. They were not selfish, not immature, not immoral. For all the women I’ve known, it was painful and who knows what regrets they will take to their grave.
But one comment on a discussion panel caught my eye so I copied it here:
"Back in history women didn’t feel the need to kill their babies. Abortion is not what our founding fathers had in mind when they built this great country." – a male commentor
To which I will say, you're right. The founding fathers would not, but as for the founding mothers, most definitely they did. I’ve read some of the journals kept by women of that time, and one of their most profound joys was to find that the herb, pennyroyal, transplanted easily from Europe to the colonies. Do you know why? Pennyroyal, a member of the mint family, far too camphoric to be used in diet, is an extremely efficient abortificant.
And they brought it with them on the Mayflower. It was that important to them.
Another popular method of the 1700’s was the insertion of a smooth round pebble into the uterus. A primitive IUD if you wish. Of course, it often caused profound life-destroying infections, which just goes to show you, women will go to any lengths to control their reproduction.
One last final word (redundant yes, I know)
All views and opinions are welcome in the comment section.
It will be moderated, and the one thing that will not be tolerated is disrespect to anyone's point of view. I know this is an emotionally charged issue and for that very reason, I demand a civil discussion. Disrespect, rants, degradations of others opinions will be deleted. As long as the comment is rationally stated and does not insult anyone else, it will be accepted. This will hold true equally for everyone.
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