Abortion

This is the 1,453rd post since I initiated this blog in March, 2009.  It is also the first time where I’ve used a previously used title for a blog.  The first use of the word ‘abortion’ as a blog title was here, October 12, 2009, where I told my personal story.  I invite you to take a look at that post, which was written in the first year of the Obama presidency, and about the debate about abortion funding in the not yet enacted Affordable Care Act.

A few months earlier, May 17, 2009, almost exactly ten years ago, President Obama spoke at Notre Dame University.  The concern was he’d touch the topic of abortion.  I wrote about that here.  (NOTE:  links included in both posts are no longer current or accessible).

(Word search indicates that I have used the word “abortion” in 23 posts over the years, should anyone be interested.  Personal opinion: this issue has never been about “life”.  It is totally about power and control.)

*

Now, ten years later, May, 2019, the alarm bells have sounded, and these alarm bells are a call to action – particularly for those of us who have concern about the rights of women.

Within the last two weeks, ten states have passed obviously coordinated laws to challenge Roe v Wade, hoping that the new configuration of the Trump Supreme Court will reverse a Supreme Court interpretation which has stood since 1973.   A Move-on alert  May 20 said “abortion bans have been introduced in at least 28 states , and the Senate is holding hearings on a nationwide, 20-week ban.”  Groups like Planned Parenthood and ACLU will be crucial sources of support and action and information.

While the specific laws have differences in language, there is absolutely no question that their introduction and enactment were orchestrated and very intentional.  The thought is that this new Supreme Court will, after 46 years, get rid of Roe v Wade.  No one can predict this for certain; on the other hand, the odds are much more in favor of success than they were before.

The so-called “pro-life” constituency is energized.  The evil “baby-killers” (people like myself who believe in the woman’s rights over her own body) will now be powerless, legally.  The current president is forgiven for all his “exaggerations” (lies, as described by a Trump supporter) as he promotes “sanctity of life”, as defined by the most conservative moralists.  There is no lack of outrageous hypocrisy.  Trumps foot-soldiers are the evangelical Christians, marching to war.  The old phrase, “the ends justify the means” seems to fit, perfectly.

There is a word of caution here to the moralists, one of many messages: this won’t work, even if it appears to be succeeding.

Ours is, of course, a bitterly (and deliberately) divided country at this point in our history.   Nonetheless when embarking on a ‘civil war’, as this (and other) issues certainly have become over the last quarter century), zealots best exercise considerable caution.  The deadliest war in American history was the Civil War, which in effect was the war to save slavery.  We all know the results of that war.  The cost of division was enormous.  Those who think they can now control the minority by controlling the law-making and ultimately the judicial decision making, will ultimately find themselves on the losing side.  And everyone will lose.

*   

I have followed this “life” situation very carefully for many years, starting with the 1976 political convention I attended in Anoka County Minnesota.  It was the DFL Convention, typical to a usual convention except for one particular conflict I remember.  Resolutions were proposed, as usual.  They required, as I recall, 60% to pass the convention.  A resolution was proposed to oppose Roe versus Wade; it failed.  A contravening motion also failed to meet the 60% threshold.  After the Convention, the supposed “pro-life” bunch deserted the DFL, and the past is history.

When I wrote those blogs ten years ago, we were in relatively benign times.  The choice now is ours: to be engaged actively, or to be defeated, albeit temporarily.

I choose to be engaged.

COMMENTS:

from Bob: The best line I have heard about the abortion issue was this bit of advice to each of us – and particularly to politicians: “Mind your own business!”

from Eileen: Agree. It’s about power and control.

from Greg: How can the catholic church call itself pro life when it really is pro birth?  It is free to march in protest to planned parenthood. But, to really be pro life requires effort and spending time and money. This holds true for parents and grandparents alike. Not all are able to provide for their children so that is where and when society must step up to help parents.   But isn’t interesting that abortion opponents invariably support politicians who oppose funding social programs that would benefit many young lives? So, who said they have to be consistent? Keep up the fight.  I agree with your characterization of what is behind the church opposition to abortion (note comment in below section of on-line comments].

from Jermitt: Thanks for your posting, Dick.  It is a powerful warning.  Everyone should take action to avoid what seems to be evitable.

 

6 replies
  1. Joyce Denn
    Joyce Denn says:

    This is a long essay, but I believe it gets the issue exactly right: “Let’s start by acknowledging that women are not things. Before we talk, like we have to, about what the attacks on abortion access mean for this anxious, awful political era, let’s establish as a ground rule that women are not vessels, or incubators, or an undifferentiated natural resource. Women are human beings whose human rights matter…

    …It’s time to be completely clear. Forcing a woman to give birth against her will is morally equivalent to rape. It’s exactly the same logic of entitlement and abuse: Men get to control women’s bodies. Female sexual agency must be punished. Women’s consent does not matter.

    This is not a moment to mince words. This is a moment for moral clarity. Women’s personhood is not conditional. Women’s sexuality is not shameful. The only shameful thing, the only thing that no citizen who believes even fractionally in freedom should tolerate, is a world in which women are treated like things.”
    I recommend reading the whole thing.

    https://newrepublic.com/article/153942/criminalization-womens-bodies-conservative-male-power?utm_source=social&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=sharebtn&fbclid=IwAR3W_KEE_XfYTwiyNXJkVj4gH79ZHhtZ8885TvRBQ5DC6g4ZRYhCAtVXibY

    Reply
  2. Louise Pardee
    Louise Pardee says:

    Ono huge fact that is never discussed is this. MEN are the CAUSE of 100% of unwanted pregnancies. They care only about their own satisfaction and have no concern for the consequences for a woman to carry a pregnancy to term. She endures pain ranging from morning sickness (for some) to backaches, incontinence, trouble sleeping as her belly gets large and then the pain of giving birth, with labor sometimes lasting for 24 hours. No man would want to go through that. Men should be held accountable. This should absolutely be part of the conversation. .

    Reply
  3. Peter Barus
    Peter Barus says:

    Making abortion illegal is the worst possible way to prevent abortions. It can only result in the repression of women, while so polarizing public opinion as to foment civil unrest and public distrust of democracy.

    Many innocent lives have been lost or ruined, as I witnessed personally while working in operating rooms in the 1970s. Young women came in bleeding and dying from desperate attempts to end pregnancies they could not sustain. They had taken the only choice available, using a coat hanger, household chemicals, or worse methods. Those were heartbreaking, soul-wrenching experiences; and I was only the guy with the bucket and mop.

    What we really need is a harm-reduction approach. The money and energy this issue consumes would be far more effectively applied to public education and a guaranteed basic income for all. This would reduce pressure and harm, and maybe even unwanted pregnancies as well.

    In the space that would provide, advocates could approach the matter with respect instead of self-righteousness and violence, and probably have more success. With the decision in the hands of the patient, as with every other medical decision, the results would be as good as can reasonably be expected from either point of view. Perhaps more importantly, a great many more lives would be saved or repaired than is now the case.

    As Dick points out, the issue as presently debated is power, not the life of the fetus. With these two distinct issues mashed together, the whole argument is useless, bankrupt and extremely harmful to the most vulnerable among us.

    Roe versus Wade decided the issue of power, placing it with the pregnant woman. As yet, the life of a fetus, and for that matter, the desperate situation of countless millions of living, breathing children, has yet to be honestly addressed in any effective way.

    love,

    Peter

    Reply
  4. Carol Turnbull
    Carol Turnbull says:

    Dick,

    I second everything your commenters have said thus far – esp. Joyce’s comments.

    My Trump-voting right-wing cousin was just here from out-of-state for a surgery, and spent part of the time with us. She was my guest, and so I determined to keep my mouth shut about politics. However, when someone gives it, they are going to get it back… It started with her declaration that “Christians are losing all of their rights.”

    We had quite a discussion. And she did listen – and seemed to agree with some things. But then she flatly said, intending to end any criticism of Trump, etc.: “Abortion is murder.”

    I did bring up my daughter’s friend, who had an abortion when it was found her fetus had no brain. And I told her that, in my opinion, brain activity (or lack thereof) is how it’s determined if someone is clinically dead at the END of life – so she wasn’t going to tell me that a fetus which has no brain waves yet is a “person.”

    And I’m making a list of the total hypocrisy of the “right-to-lifers” (she’s returning in September :\

    1. As has been pointed out recently, if the right-wing REALLY believes that abortion is murder – then do they believe it’s not really murder if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest? (Since almost all of these laws are written with those loopholes.)

    2. If they REALLY believe abortion is murder – then why do they only want to incarcerate the abortion provider for a jillion years, but no penalty for the woman? If I paid someone to “off” my husband, for example, I’m pretty sure that both of us would be heading to the Big House.

    3. If they REALLY believe a fertilized egg is a person – then why do they not propose laws forcing those women who have frozen embryos in storage to retrieve them and attempt pregnancies? I mean, after all, that’s PEOPLE in that thar freezer… On the contrary, those embryos are the woman’s property, and she can do with them what she sees fit.

    Dick, I doubt that there are too many Catholics who view this issue as you do. You came to your viewpoint from personal experience – which is how many have, on both sides. And you are right, it is about control. But also, it’s about votes – and it always has been, all my life.

    Carol

    Reply
    • dickbernard
      dickbernard says:

      Thank you, Carol. I do want to comment specifically on the first sentence of your last paragraph. I disagree with your assessment, there. I regularly affirm by both word and action that I’m an active Catholic, and not one who’s a follower of the latest edicts of whoever happens to be Pope or Bishop. They do not speak for God. Of course, for some, this may mean I’m obviously not Catholic, or a sinner, or something, but for every day of my life I’ve been Catholic, mostly active, and I thus know a great many Catholics in all sorts of contexts.

      In this, and any, issue, especially controversial, it is impossible to get truly accurate data on what people really think. Back when I had my epiphany moment – I was 24 – the last thing Barbara and I had on our minds was to go to some meeting and get into an argument about this issue. Our situation was desperate. It has always been such for people in desperate situations. No one takes out the law book and asks, can I do this or that?

      More to the current moment, I have always maintained that of ‘typical’ Catholics who actually go to Church (I think that’s perhaps a third or so) the actual demographic is that more than half are people like me, and I think that number would be higher – much higher – if those who disagreed with me were actually forced into the situation like your daughters friend.

      Just a couple of days ago, really, I ended up in an unintended argument involving three Catholics and an Orthodox person. What led to the argument is unimportant, and we departed as friends, as we were beforehand, but at some point I mentioned what I thought was a reality from the Catholic Church, years ago: if a baby was born dead, wasn’t it true that the fetus didn’t count as a person unless alive at birth, and lived long enough to be baptized? Yes, the person contrary to me said. Such creations went to limbo, which we always understood to be something of a nowhere land, not heaven, not hell, not even purgatory. It was a simple expression of a historical reality. This theological ‘fact’ is probably the reason my parents had me baptized within 24 hours of my birth. Even though there were no problems, no one was sure….

      The official church seems have dealt with this vexing problem in more current days by basically proclaiming that “life” is seamless, from before conception to unnatural death (Terri Schiavo). Life is life. There is no need, then, to deal with the infinite messy situations that people encounter in this journey called life.

      And here we are…. Thanks again.

      Reply
      • Carol Turnbull
        Carol Turnbull says:

        Dick, I was not making an attempt to disparage all Catholics (sorry). I think we all know that American Catholics pretty much disregard the Church’s edicts on birth control, etc. But I’ve always been a bit bitter about those poor Catholic countries where the women are told by their Church that birth control (and horrors, we don’t even CONSIDER abortion…) is evil (not to mention, unavailable). So they have babies… and more babies… and we wonder why they have stayed poor and desperate…

        OK, rant over. Yes, personal experience often forms our opinion on the issue of abortion – and then it’s pretty much set in stone. For me (altho’ I was raised very right-wing evangelical), it was actually my schoolmate/neighbor/friend who suddenly turned up pregnant. She had been raped by her drunken father. She had 11 siblings – there certainly was no money to go to some other state/country (this was before Roe v. Wade) for an abortion. She had to drop out of school and hide. I never forgot. We cannot go back there…

        Carol

        Reply

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