Ruthless Reality ~ Making Abortion Illegal or Unattainable as a political strategy to Win Elections:

by faithgibson on March 16, 2019

in Contemporary Childbirth Politics, Wise Words ~ Good Ideas

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Message to Men:

“If you don’t want to raise a baby, then don’t ejaculate in the birth canal !!!”

This is the second half of a political report from another of my websites. Here is the link to the first part of the story  

Part I tells a very different political story about the ERA and publicly-financed access to effective contraception and safe abortion as a regulated medical service. These policies were not something that originated with, was promoted by, or even supported by the Democratic Party.

Before the 1980s, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and access to women’s reproductive health services (including contraception and safe legal abortions services) were NOT partisan issues, except to note that historically, Republicans offered more support for the ERA, family planning, Planned Parenthood, and safe abortions services than the Democrats.

Political support for Planned Parenthood began in the 1920s, again with Republicans substantially outnumbering Democrats.

In the 1950s, notable conservatives like Barry Goldwater and his wife served on the board of their local office of Planned Parenthood, signaling that family planning was, politically speaking, a “family value“.

Legalizing access to contraception as provided by Planned Parenthood was broadly supported by both doctors and clergymen.

In 1960, Planned Parenthood’s Clergymen’s National Advisory Council issued a statement titled “The Ethics of Family Planning“. It described family planning as fulfilling “the will of God” by allowing “married couples to enjoy intercourse for the sake of love”.

When efforts to legalize abortion first began in the 1960s, it was not spearheaded by women’s rights organizations but the doctors, lawyers and clergymen that ran Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood, legal abortion and Title X were all supported by none other than and Republicans Barry Goldwater, and former presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

Part I connects up the dots between then and now by telling the story of how the political positions of common sense and compassion were turned on their head as a campaign strategy during Nixon’s bid for re-election in 1971 at the suggestion of his White House advisor, Pat Buchanan.

Here is an easy-to-share shortcut to Part ONE https://tinyurl.com/y6bpyw7f  


 

The GOP decided to make abortion illegal or unattainable as a political strategy to win elections.

That means wealthy women win, while poor women lose, as well as their families and all the rest of society. 

I cannot continue this part of the story without truthfully describing the actual reality of illegal abortions, facts that I lived with as an ER nurse in a busy hospital in the years before Roe v. Wade

Simply making abortion illegal and unsafe did not mean that abortions didn’t occur, just that they were dangerous illegal back-alley procedures sought out by desperate women and performed by people that didn’t know what they were doing.

Bungled abortions included unwashed hands and unsterile instruments; both dramatically increased the risk of virulent infection or torrential hemorrhage that ended in death or disaster for the mother

All About the Money: Abortions for the Rich and Famous ~ Easy-peasy!

The first and most fundamental truth about anti-abortion laws in the US is economic, that is, wealthy and/or well-connected women have absolutely NO problem getting an unwanted pregnancy lawfully and safely terminated.   

These wealthy women just get on a plane and fly off to another state or country where abortion is lawful. That ‘choice’ also provides these economically secure women access to a well-staffed clinic or hospital and well-trained professionals who have the knowledge, skills, sterile equipment and access to emergency resources that virtually assures a safe outcome.

But the benefits of wealth are not restricted to women along, as the men who impregnated them directly benefit from their ability – via wealth — to have these inconvenient problems just ‘go away’ almost as if my magic.

Newspapers occasionally run stories about right-wing conservatives — US  Senators, Congressmen or high-ranking political operatives — who quietly arranged and paid for a legal abortion for a mistress or paramore. Obviously permitting his girlfriend to give birth to his baby would have created a scandal and threatened his career. So he was delighted to pony up the bucks to fly his sweetie off to someplace that, for a price, would quietly and safely relieve him of this burden. 

Odd thing, but in the 45 years since Roe v Wade became the law of the land (1973), I’ve never heard a single anti-abortion activist mention this loophole for the wealthy. Nor have I heard any of them suggest passage of laws that would prohibit women of childbearing age from off flying to countries with legal abortion services unless they first provided the airline with a certified copy a negative pregnancy test performed within the previous 24 hours. 

I can only assume that millions of anti-abortion activists believe safe legal abortions are OK for wealthy women, but not for ordinary American women of limited means.  

When it comes to the not rich or famous — ordinary women of limited means, the vast majority of who already have families of several other children — my role as an ER nurse or working in Labor & Delivery Room nurse brought me face to face with terribly disturbing things that most anti-abortion activists are unaware of or they knowingly refuse consider

For example, ER nurses can tell that a botched-abortion patient has been admitted to the unit by the putrid and fulminating smell of sepsis. At this stage of a virulent infection, the fetus would have already died. If the mother was very lucky, the permanent damage would be only irreversible infertility, as this kind of infection eats up her fallopian tubes and ruins her ovaries. If unlucky, she would also die a painful and miserable death from the infection.

Funny thing, but when pregnant women die as a result of a botched abortion — whether self-induced or at the dirty hands of a back alley butcher — the UNBORN BABY always DIES as well. For anyone who wants to save unborn fetuses, I’m here to tell you that making abortions illegal does not accomplish this goal, no matter how worthy.

Me peeking over my mom’s shoulder at my brand new little brother Roger (Jan 1949)

Making abortion illegal or unattainable in the US, whether barriers are financial or geographical, disproportionately targets poor or very young women without an independent income. Often these are single mothers who are the family’s sole support.

This demographic cannot afford to drive or fly to another state or country to access legal and safe medical services. And for the same economic reasons, this demographic groups of women can least afford to lose their job due to pregnancy or the need to care for their newborn

A different but no less disturbing reality of our crazy abortion laws are the changes made to Title X some years ago by a Republican-dominated Congress 

When Title X was first passed (and signed by President Nixon) it specifically authorized medical facilities run by the US Armed Forces to provide safe abortions services to members of the military and their family. But Several years ago, the Congress amended this federal law in an “across the board”  prohibition of abortions services under all circumstances. It denies funding to women’s health clinics overseas if they so much as provide information to the mother about where she mother can find safe and legal services. 

This restriction also applies to military doctors and prohibits them from providing abortion services when the fetus has birth defects incompatible with life, such as anencephaly (absence of the brain). These mothers are forced choose between (a) an out-of-pocket expense over $10,000 OR (b) enduring their doomed pregnancy for 9 months, while the family lives every day with the knowledge that the baby will be stillborn, die at birth or shortly after. 

The Ultimate Nightmare

But the damage of unsafe illegal abortions is NOT strictly a problem for mothers or unborn babies. In many cases, these tragedies involve other family members, including small children, and ultimately ruins other lives. One example is provided by the first-person account of a man in his late 50s It’s a story you’ll never be able to get out of your mind

It began when this man was 7 years old and living with his mother and 15-month-old baby sister. One evening after the two children had been put to bed, his mother went into the bathroom and locked the door.

Early the next morning his baby sister woke up hungry and crying hysterically to be picked up and fed. But oddly, his mother did not come out of the bathroom to take care of the baby, in spite of his calling her again and again. So he got up and banged on the door and kept calling her, but she wouldn’t come out and didn’t say anything to him.

He didn’t know what was wrong or what to do next, except to give his crying baby sister a bottle. This settled her for a while, but her night diaper was soaked. He did his best to change her diaper, but he couldn’t get it to stay put.

Many a grown man has failed to figure out how to get a diaper to properly cover the business-end of a wiggling infant and keep it in place while trying to stick sharp pins into the diaper without harming the baby or jabbing one’s own fingers.  I can’t imagine trying to do this as a 7 year old child.

But that first bottle and diaper change was only the beginning of the many problems these children faced. By the end of the day, milk carton was empty so he could no longer give a bottle to his baby sister. He tried to stop her cries by stuffing tiny morsels of different foods in her mouth, while staving off his own hunger with dry cereal and cold leftovers.

The warm sunny day gradually faded into a cold dark night. There was no heat in the house and he didn’t know how to turn the overhead lights on. The little boy did his best to take care of his baby sister, but still, he was only 7.

He was lonely, frightened, and just  couldn’t understand why his mom wouldn’t come out of the bathroom in spite of his pleading and knocking on the door. After it got pitch dark, he took his little sister to bed with him, but his inability to diaper her properly meant that both of them got wet and cold and smelled bad. It was the longest and most miserable night of his young life. 

This living nightmare melded into a long and increasingly intolerable second day. By then all the accessible food had been eaten and the children had no more dry clothes. There was no one for him to talk to, no one to comfort them, no way to know how much longer this would go on, and worst of all, no explanation for why his mother wouldn’t come out of the bathroom and take care of them like she usually did.

Had he done something to make her mad at him? Was he being punished? Even so, why wouldn’t she come out to take care of his baby sister? Surely she hadn’t done anything to deserve being neglected like this. No answers came.  

Finally a neighbor happened by late in the afternoon of the second day and found the two children all alone. The reason was soon apparently. After breaking the lock on the bathroom door, they found his mother lying dead on the floor in a dark pool of her own blood, the fatal consequences of her attempt to abort an advancing pregnancy.

The brief but shocking glimpse of her partially-naked body smeared with blood and folded into a crumpled heap on the bathroom floor can never be erased from his adult mind. 

This badly traumatized little boy grew up to be a man whose life was forever haunted by this tragic experience.  Nonetheless he was willing to share the story of these horrific events with a national radio audience, hoping it would keep this awful thing from befalling other mothers and other children.

The take-home message is simple — society is obligated to be both ethical and compassionate by providing access to effective contraception and safe, legal abortion services.

The cost of the alternative is just too high — gruesome, painful and unnecessary maternal deaths and unborn fetuses and orphaned older children forced to bear the unbearable.  

The Endless & Illogical Gender War to Control Female Reproductive Biology

In general, men do not bear any of the burdens associated with pregnancy — not the physical experience of morning sickness, not stretch marks, awkwardness, anxiety over finances or the loss of income at a time of increased expense.

Instead, many men choose a one-night fling or have affairs and then go away, leaving the impregnated woman to live every hour of every day for nine long months, endure many hours of painful labor and the hard work of pushing an eight pound baby out and then breastfeeding him or her round the clock. This is inevitably followed by shouldering near-total responsibility to raise the child for 18-plus years.

And yet it is men with power and influence — priests, ministers, rabbis, legislators, lawyers, judges, governors, presidents, and big donors to partisan politics — who insist that the female gender does not legally or ethically deserve to determine their own reproductive biology and/or choose whether or not they are able to take on the life-long responsibilities that goes along with raising a child at that time in their lives.

It always wonders me when I see a room full of men in expensive suits and fancy watches pontificating about the woman’s absolute responsibility to avoid getting pregnant, as if men played no part in the act of conception.

My eldest daughter got the man’s part in sex and reproduction exactly right when she said:

If you don’t want a baby, don’t ejaculate in the birth canal! 

The way to end unnecessary abortions and irrational shaming of women must begin and end by immediately putting the responsibility squarely where pregnancy has always begun (with male ejaculation) and where it always belongs — with the men who chose have sex.

If any individual or any group wants a focus for their outrage, it’s proper place is on the man who fathered this “unwanted” child.

When a man chooses to ejaculate in the birth canal, he is logically responsible if his female partner become pregnant and it is he who logically must bear the cost for caring, feeding and raising the child.

By putting the blame, and shame, as well as the social and economic expense squarely, where it truly belongs — on the man who ejaculated in the birth canal — this debate, which is anti-woman, unethical, frequently fatal for both the woman and her unborn fetus, will no be able to be used and abused as a political football to gain a partisan political advantage.

Once we focus on the REAL ISSUE – men who ejactulate in the birth canal of a woman they don’t care about enough to be responsible for having impregnated them, the partisan issue of abortion will vanish like wisps of fog in the early morning sun.

This is where and how we stop abortions (both legal and illegal) and all their immediate and downstream consequences in instances were the termination of pregnancy was not a medical or personal necessity.

A Certain Class of Men

Until then, we will continue to have a certain class of men — mostly wealthy and in positions of political power, insulated by our social institutions against the effects of their actions — that will continue to insist it is solely the woman’s responsibility to prevent unplanned pregnancies.

And should she fail for any reason (he refused or forgot to use a condom or it broke) and her male partner decides not to “play house”, she is illogically bound to welcome the pregnancy gracefully and without complaint, and become solely responsible for supporting and raising the child.

These same men, and many others like them, boldly insist that it is “right and proper” to pass laws that make safe abortions either illegal or inaccessible. Likewise, they insist they are doing God’s bidding by sponsoring laws that permit the criminal prosecution of women they suspect of directly or indirectly causing a miscarriage or doing something while pregnant they believe might be risky to the developing fetus.

This kind of propriety “Father/Doctor Knows Best” thinking extends to term pregnancies when the obstetrician’s preference or the hospital protocols is to perform an elective Cesarean for any one of a long list of supposed problems they define as an “indication” for Cesarean delivery — a large baby, post-dates, normal twin pregnancy, breech, or if the mother had a previous Cesarean delivery, etc.

If she refuses this advice, the doctor or hospital attorney simply call a juvenile court judge and generally get a court order to perform Cesarean surgery without the mother’s consent.

All this is promoted by well-meaning people, as well as politicians seeking votes, and others who don’t know the real facts about unsafe abortions or just don’t care.

Nonetheless, many people who think of themselves as patriotic citizens devote years of their life collecting and disbursing many millions of dollars in order to convince state and federal legislatures to close clinics and criminalize abortion services.

This kind of “play to pay” wealth is also used to finances election campaigns that promise to bring about more favorable abortions-related rulings by the US Supreme Court (i.e. more restrictive and punitive, including criminal charges). 

Apparently, they want to be sure that other 7-year olds somewhere in America become orphaned and permanently traumatized when their mothers, desperate and in dire financial straits, attempt to end an untenable pregnancy, only to die on the bathroom in a pool of their own blood, leaving behind their orphaned children and a bottomless sorrow.

God help America, land of dispassionate, clever, mean and heartless hoards of arrogant, uber-rich and politically influential men who have convinced themselves that they alone know what is best for girls and women.

They believe they have the final say over all female reproductive functions, thus reducing the status of adult women to property, like breeder cattle, with “ownership” rights in the hands of male relatives, doctors, lawyers, and judges.

But these ‘alternative facts’ are flat wrong. Furthermore, no self-respecting man would stand for this if the gender roles were reversed.

The Critical Missing Ingredient – Civic Virtue

This is illogical and wrong for so many reasons, but the biggest of all is that it leaves out civic virtue — ethical principles that apply to a fair and functional government and the simple verbs of human compassion and caring for the weak and vulnerable with empathy and tenderness.

It leaves out the Golden Rule: 

Do onto others, as ye would have them do onto to you

 

 

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Me on the occasion of my 76th birthday with my eldest daughter (the one who was born in the back seat of our Renault in the hospital driveway in my attempt to avoid to routine use of Twilight Sleep drugs, general anesthesia , episiotomy and unnecessary  forceps delivery

 

 

A Note for those who wonder:

I am a religiously conservative Judeo-Christian. I was raised by Mennonite and Quakers who originally emigrated to America from Europe in the early 1700s to escape religious persecution that included extra-judicial imprisonment, torture, and execution of entire families.

I was a L&D and ER nurse for 15 years before cross-training into midwifery. As a professional midwife, I have a small private practice that provides community-based midwifery services.

Politically, I am an Eisenhower RepublicanIndependent and democrat with a lower-case “d”.

I believe that unwanted pregnancies should be prevented if possible; if not, they should be accepted if possible, and if that is not an option, based on medical or personal reasons, safe abortion services must be legally, geographically and economically available.

Period.

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