Sunday, June 30, 2013

Saturday, June 29, 2013

What did Women do before Roe v Wade?

I posted this in March of 2006 - in light of recent events, I thought I would re-post it.

(The original post has been viewed at least 6 times a day - it is my sincere hope that viewers are researching for information purposes only and not that they are in a desperate situation to abort a pregnancy.  It isn't that I'm against abortion as much as I am empathetic to the party who finds themself this difficult and painful situation.)

I was born in 1963, so for me, though it hasn't been a piece of cake working my way in this world as a single woman, there are many things I had that weren't available to women until I was born. For example, when I was 17, I was able to obtain birth control pills without my parent's consent. I could get the medical help I needed. Since abortion has been legal for all but 10 years of my life, the only time abortion comes up is when the Religious Right is screaming about it. So, I did some research. I wanted to know what women did before it was legal. Below is what I found.

My source is a very very interesting and informative report that was written in 1998. It was a case study and the author followed the lives/stories of several women. The study discusses how they got pregnant, what they knew and understood about sexuality and then how each one attempted to terminate her pregnancy. If you would like to read the article/study in it's entirety here is a link. The article is titled: No Choice

Statistics say that 40% of all women will end a pregnancy by abortion(link).

So, here is what it was like:

The Techniques of Illegal Abortion

"Many women in these stories first tried one or more traditional folk recipes, such as taking laxatives or castor oil or douching with potassium permanganate, to bring on a miscarriage. Nancy’s experience was typical: “I tried all the things I knew — hot baths and gin, jumping down stairs, scrubbing floors, carrying heavy things up stairs, taking quinine, punching my stomach — nothing worked.” Such attempts were miserably unsuccessful. Ursula describes how she tried to induce a miscarriage: “I drank a bottle of quinine and I didn’t know if I was standing on my head or my feet. Quinine and gin and I got into a hot mustard bath and nothing — you suffer, mentally and physically.”

There were a couple of successful exceptions, however. It is perhaps such exceptions that account for the fact that folk remedies continued to be passed on. Nicola aborted after taking a patent medicine called “Silver Pills” — a purgative. And Gillian attributed her mother’s abortion to quinine.

The abortion method most commonly described by the women involved the insertion of a foreign object into the cervix: slippery elm bark, a knitting needle, a ballpoint pen, a hard rubber catheter, a douche nozzle or some kind of “sharp instrument.” In one method, the inserted object was left there, held in place by gauze packing which plugged the vagina. In a variation on this method, a solution was introduced into the uterus through the catheter or nozzle. These same basic methods were used both by abortionists and by women on themselves. Here is Andrea’s description of the method she used to self-induce an abortion:

One should do it ten days before the next period. One needs an enema with the thin nozzle, warm soapy water (carbolic soap), Dettol, patience and courage. It is such a lonely thing this abortion business. It’s like being born and dying. It always took at least two weeks. If the womb was placed high then you were just out of luck. You had to find the entrance to the womb, hold the nozzle in place, and gently but firmly, pour in the water. When the fetus finally appeared it wasn’t much bigger than a bean.

Carbolic soap and water was the most common douche, but the recipe could be anything from glycerine to an “acid-like liquid.” Joan’s waitress-abortionist made up a solution of “lye, soap, quinine, and oil which she had boiled on the stove.” The solution would be inserted once or twice by an abortionist. If the woman was self-inducing, she inserted it much more frequently.

Both these methods involved a delay of hours, days or weeks before the interference produced contractions of the uterus which expelled the fetus. “It was not a quick process,” comments Betty. The woman usually suffered hours of painful contractions “as bad as any labour pains,” and a great deal of bleeding. She was often alone when she aborted the fetus and would have to dispose of it herself.

By the time most women reached this point, they were often three months pregnant or more, according to their own reckoning. There were a disproportionately high number of late abortions in these women’s stories, due at least in part to obstacles involved in finding and carrying out the procedure illegally.

Some of the medical doctors who performed illegal abortions used these same slow-working, rather primitive methods. However, the professional physicians we encounter in Pat, Natalie, Karen, Julia and Kirby’s cases used the D&C (dilatation and curettage) method, a relatively fast and simple operation in which the cervix is opened (dilated) and the uterus is scraped out using a curette.

In decade after decade after decade, the same basic abortion methods are used under the same tawdry and dangerous circumstances: an illegal abortion story from the 1960s describes the same primitive procedure as a story from the 1920s. It is interesting that by the 1960s heart transplants were being performed in Canada, while abortions, being clandestine, remained such remarkably crude and dangerous operations.

Ellen’s story was unique, in that she described the experience of an illegal abortion using the modern vacuum aspiration method. It was done at Dr. Henry Morgentaler’s clinic in 1968, the year before the abortion law was liberalized, and is basically the same abortion technique being used in Canada today: “Dilators were ... used and a vacuum aspiration tube applied and turned on. There was very little feeling, just noise and some vibrating. All the while those two lovely humans talked to me ... It was all over within ten minutes.”

It is not surprising to find that most women having illegal abortions received poor medical care from their abortionists. Often nothing was done by way of proper preparation, as Gail’s story makes clear: “I was taken to the bedroom, asked for the money, told to keep my coat on and my shoulder bag in my hand — in case I left evidence behind, I assume — and to pull my underpants down to one ankle.” There was often little or no attempt at sterility: Muriel remembers that her abortionist “hadn’t washed his hands first.”

Most women were given no anaesthetic and described their illegal abortion as a torturously painful procedure. While undergoing the operation without anaesthetic, the patient “was not to make a sound ... not one!” Women like Mary and Louise remember “biting a pillow to keep from screaming.” Most women were given no rest or recovery period, nor any aftercare whatsoever. They were told to leave right after getting off the table. The instructions were usually the same as those given to Mary: “Don’t you dare tell anyone. If anything goes wrong don’t call a doctor or the police because you’ve just broken the law and you can go to jail.” Although infection was highly possible, antibiotics were almost never provided.

These stories contain several incidents of women being sexually abused by the abortionist or by his “middle man.” Joanne, Patti, Nicola, Louise, Mary and Muriel all encountered this problem; most suffered in silence. As Joanne says, “Since you are terrified that you aren’t going to get the abortion, and that’s all you are thinking of, you submit to a lot of indignities that I probably would never have submitted to otherwise. Fondling and things like that.”"

Rick Perry - the new Taliban

I was just talking the other day to someone about this thing that happened in our Texas Senate.  It's as if the Republican Party has decided to take it's direction straight from the Taliban's play book.  

I really thought this whole issue of abortion was behind us.  That the people in this country were sensible enough to understand that it is better that abortions take place where it's safe and clean than in back alley underground places.  

I thought they understood that Planned Parenthood was a sole source of health care for many people who could not afford it otherwise.
But the good people of this state have lost their minds and their vision.  Women have had the right to vote for just under 100 years.  I'm no longer convinced that that right is secure.  

This photo really does say it all, doesn't it?  He's an idiot cowboy who likes to play with guns and believes women should be at home barefoot and pregnant.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Liberty Without Virtue

I have been unable to get this concept that Laura Ingraham brought up during the debate out of my head:

I believe that her argument is the basis of the Republican position as to why they believe certain things cannot be allowed i.e. abortion and gay marriage.

Neither party will argue that it is ok to murder someone.  That is not a liberty with virtue, neither is theft nor fraud.  You will not find it part of any political platform. Why?

Because, I believe, intuitively both parties DO agree that liberty without virtue is meaningless.  I think most Americans believe this but they may not be able to articulate it. The GOP has hi-jacked this argument.

So, the question is, does the Republican Party believe that the Democratic party lacks virtue in their perception of Liberty.  I get the impression that the Republican Party is saying "hey, here is this round hole and if you shape yourself into a round peg, you'll fit it and your life will be ok. And we really only want policies in place that make it possible for the round pegs to do well and thrive. If you are not a round peg and you cannot conform yourself to be a round peg, then your liberties are without virtue and therefore they are meaningless. We don't want to protect them.  It's your choice not to be a round peg.

I want to address the issue of gay marriage, again.  What in life can be more virtuous than a lifelong commitment to another person?  If two people consent to love and commit to one another and to take care of one another for the rest of their lives, how is this lacking in virtue?  How is it lacking in Morality?  Why is it that the Republican Party feels that protecting this liberty between two people of the same sex would be a breakdown in the direction of our country?  There is no Moral breach in this act.  Simply because a heterosexual cannot comprehend that the love and connection between two homosexual individuals is as real as it is between two heterosexuals does not make it less real...i.e. less valid.  Why does the Republican Party believe that only they know which liberties are virtuous and which ones are not.  
Do the parents of these homosexual individuals see their children lacking in virtue or morals simply because they want to marry the person they love?

What I find interesting as it relates to abortion is how they are able to dismiss the woman altogether in an effort to save an entity that is not yet here.  They want to dismiss her even when the life is simply a zygot.  Where is the virtue in this? Where is the virtue in forcing a woman to give birth to a child she does not want?  Where is the virtue in removing the government assistance programs she would need if she gave birth to this child?  I don't understand where they are coming from.

Are they assuming this woman is single and that her problems will go away if she gets married?

Why do they dismiss her from the equation?  Why do they believe that her life can no longer be her own once she becomes pregnant. Will we get to the point that if someone suspects that a woman will abort her pregnancy that it would be justifiable cause to incarcerate her until such time that she gives birth.  Is that where we are going with this?

How is it that the fight to protect this woman's liberty is lacking in virtue?  

The Democratic Party needs to do a better job at demonstrating that we do believe in liberty with virtue.  We need to help people understand that the Republican Party is NOT the authority on right and wrong, on Morals and on Virtue.  Indeed, the Democratic Party is a much stronger champion of personal liberty and I think it's a stretch to accuse the Party of lacking virtue.  It's time to help people understand that we believe there is virtue in individual liberties.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Debate over the center and the GOP

I listened to a fabulous debate on NPR titled Will the GOP Die If It Doesn't Seize the Center.  There was an exchange, found on the Charlie Rose Show that really stuck with me.  It goes as follows:

Ralph Reed:

"Well, I think conservatism in a nutshell is a philosophy that argues that as government gets bigger, that freedom necessarily constricts.  And we believe people are best able to rise as high and as far as their God-given talents, abilities,ambitions, and desires will carry them when government gets out of the way and allows free men and women to do those things that are best left to them.  Government should be small. It should be limited, and it should be confined to specific enumerated purposes"

John Donvan:"Where do the social issues fit in?"

Laura Ingraham:

"It's the idea of ordered liberty. Jefferson wrote about it.  Madison, Mickey's favorite framer, wrote about it, that liberty without virtue is really meaningless because my idea of liberty could conflict with your personal space or everyone does what everyone wants to do in his or her own time, and obviously you'll have natural conflicts.  So ordered liberty is obviously the best. And a moral core, encouraging moral behavior,society changes, maybe society will change what the meaning of the world "moral" is, and I understand that.  But the morality has a place. We see it playing out today with the reaction to what happened in the horrible attack in Boston.  Morality is around us.  We can try to ignore it, we can try to say that -"

End of exchange.   And then:

Ralph Reed:

"But the fact of the matter is that what the Republican Party stands for, what it fights for and what it seeks to advance, is policies that will strengthen marriage, family, childbearing and rearing, so that young people are not left behind in circumstances where this young girl could end up finding herself. We seek policies that strengthen the family, because we know that if somebody gets married and stays married, bears children within the institution of marriage, and gets a job, any job, and graduates from high school --that person that I just described, in the United States of America, you know what that-- what chance that person has of living in poverty? 

Two percent. You do the opposite of those four behaviors, you don't graduate from high school, you don't get your first job, you bear children outside the institution of marriage, you have an 85 percent chance of living in poverty. And I read “Losing Ground.” And Charles Murray's exactly right. But the sociology and pathology of poverty in America today is largely as a result of government policies that don't strengthen those institutions "

Wow.  Where does one begin?

I find it interesting that she bring up the reaction to the bombing in Boston as an example of morality "playing itself out".  Not sure what she means here but it's an easy example because NO ONE is going to debate the lack of virtue or morality in the act. And the left certainly is not interested in pressing such liberties.  But I wonder if Laura would point that event out if instead it was an abortion clinic that had been bombed.  Would that continue to be an example that she would bring up as an immoral act?  

But let's address what was really implied in the question with regard to social issues: First, gay marriage.  How is it that gay marriage is a moral issue and how is it that the Republican Party is the authority on what's moral?

Her argument implies that progressive or liberal movements are not moral if they don't follow the moral code or principles prescribed by the Right.  Because, after all, the Right strongly believes  "people are best able to rise as high and as far as their God-given talents, abilities,ambitions, and desires will carry them when government gets out of the way and allows free men and women to do those things that are best left to them."  But according to Laura, only if those people are following the correct MORAL freedoms.  As opposed to freedoms the Right deems as "IMMORAL."  

Their Achilles heel is their belief that only THEY know what the correct moral freedoms are. 

There are a ton of Christian believers on the Left who have morals and who do not believe that gay marriage is a moral issue.  But the Right believes that it is a moral issue and that their perception of morality is superior to that of the Left.  So to abandon or compromise on their point of view on this issue is to turn their back on morality.  I keep hearing Rick Santorum saying "What a snob" when I think of this.

This even goes with the issue of Pro-Choice.  It is moral to remove the reproductive rights of a woman in order to force her to bring an unwanted pregnancy to term and to force her to have a baby she does not want.  That in the Republican point of view is moral and the right thing to do.  And the Left's moral point of view that a woman has total control over her body and can make decisions with regard to aborting a pregnancy is considered IMMORAL and therefore it would be considered a liberty without virtue; and therefore not a liberty worth protecting.

I have to say, I'm very glad she cleared that up for me.

My question is to what extent does the Party believe they should go to protect their virtuous freedoms from "corruption".

Now this leads us to the issue regarding this issue of marriage.  Something else the Republicans do not understand.  We have a pretty high divorce rate in this country.  We also have a pretty high number of single women who do not want to be married.  Why?  Because marriage is no longer a path to survival for WOMEN.   In order for the GOP's ideal society to exist, they would have to promote and push policies that prevent women from being healthy, happy and productive outside of marriage.   Divorce would have to be more difficult.