Posts Tagged ‘Reproductive Health’

I woke this morning to sun, and the promise of new beginnings. Then I remembered.

SCOTUS’ opinion yesterday, to allow states to criminalize a woman’s right to choose, settled like a veil around me. How could we let this happen? It turns out there’s an easy answer.

We’ve allowed an illegitimate Supreme Court to bring their extreme religious/originalist interpretation of constitutional law to light. We’ve allowed a Majority Leader to ignore a Presidential pick, namely Merrick Garland. In short, our laws are beginning to reflect the minority of fundamentalist Christians in this country.

“They cling to their guns and their religion.” Maybe the mic was supposed to be off, but presidential candidate Obama was right on.

My reaction has surprised me. I am buried, I am burdened by grief; it’s as if a family member has died. Maybe it’s a part of me that was killed yesterday. That part of me that felt like I was an equal partner in my world, in this democracy. Did my country just divorce me? I know first hand what the consequences will be now in this red state. My daughter was interviewed for the local paper last week.

“What will the consequences be for an ER doctor if Roe is overturned?”

She was working in her ER yesterday when the 6-3 decision broke and texted me – I was doing a Zoom Pilates and not watching or listening to the news. I was practicing self-care, starting the day with exercise instead of watering the garden after breakfast. After rolling up the yoga mat, I picked up the chiming phone and sank into the couch.

She had told me the decision would probably come down on Monday…we all knew it was coming because of the leak. Still, I thought just maybe SCOTUS would see the light.

Here’s a sampling of what the Bride will likely see in her Catholic hospital’s ER.

Teenagers with belly pains who are pregnant.

Women and girls in septic shock from a botched illegal abortion.

Ectopic pregnancies.

Rape and incest victims.

Homeless women who are pregnant.

When a woman walks into the Bride’s ER, in the middle of the night, experiencing a miscarriage (whether self-induced or natural, it’s hard to tell), will my daughter think twice before helping her end the pregnancy? And if she does save the life of this miscarrying woman, could my daughter be arrested?

Will her hospital insist that she save the life of a fetus above all else? Above the life of a woman? Will our local Planned Parenthood clinic even exist? Will there be an ‘underground railroad’ to ferry girls back and forth to Illinois? These are fair questions.

Back in the 60s, girls from certain families flew away for weekend “vacations.” Some flew to Mexico. And before that, women who found themselves in ‘the family way’ hopped on down to Florida and sailed to Cuba. Afterwards, those privileged, upper class girls were sent off to a fancy young women’s boarding school. Their indiscretion was never spoke of again.

Then you had the middle-class girls who were sent off immediately, to some quasi-religious, unwed mother’s home. These teens got to carry their pregnancies to term in secret, in a dorm-like environment of their peers. Shame was served with every meal. After they gave birth and signed the baby away to foster parents, they could be re-integrated with their families and back into their communities. Maybe they were visiting an elderly aunt for six months.

What were the poor, the disenfranchised women left to do in the 60s? – the married Catholic woman who already had six children and couldn’t possibly handle another – the single mother who was living on welfare and on the edge of addiction – the teenager who couldn’t possibly tell her religious parents she was pregnant – that girl might try to hide her condition, and carry the fetus to term only to deliver in the public bathroom at her Senior Prom.

But today, or I should say before yesterday, teens account for less than 9% of abortions in this country. Surprised?

The other women living below the poverty line, women with children, had to seek out illegal, back alley abortions before Roe. What was the statistical probability that these women would not develop an infection? How many died, or were made infertile by a hack butcher? These will be the real life consequences of a conservative court.

We are going back there, rolling back 50 years of precedent. We are treating a woman’s body like a commodity again, to be regulated. We must codify Roe, for our grandchildren.

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Happy International Women’s Day 2014!  http://www.internationalwomensday.com If I were sitting at a cafe on my favorite island in the French West Indies, I would have been handed a rose already. Instead I’m watching the snow melt this morning from my aviary and reflecting on that Virginia Slims ad; we have come a long way baby and we’ve got a long way to go.

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights” Gloria Steinem

We Americans can feel smug when we read about countries where women cannot drive a car, or a woman cannot feel safe on a public bus from being gang raped. But if we truly pay attention, our sisters are under assault in a myriad of ways. A recent, hideous example is a misogynistic and homophobic judge in Arkansas – “Sluts are just whores in training.” Did I mention this is a family court judge? http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/03/07/3376181/sluts-are-just-whores-in-training-and-other-wisdom-offered-by-a-sitting-arkansas-judge/#

And then there’s the Army’s top sexual assault prosecutor being charged with…sexual assault. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/06/us-army-prosecutor-suspended-assault-claims

One of my favorite comedians, Sarah Silverman, schooled me on my retro-feminist views. In a YouTube sketch, she asks us to stop telling our girls they can be anything they want to be. I was guilty of this. I wanted the Bride to know she could be President if she wanted – thank God she didn’t. But why, why stop saying this to our daughters? Silverman said:

“Because it would never occur to them that they couldn’t.”

Over the years, I’ve written about and marched for reproductive freedom, because without that essential human right, women worldwide have shortened expectations and shortened lives. Pro Choice women are Pro Life women, we just continue to care about the lives of mothers and children.

Like the first woman rabbi, Sally Priesand, once said, I too look forward to the day we can stop making a news headline out of the “First Woman” anything.



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A nineteen year old intern is lured through a White House tour, which includes the First Lady’s bedroom, and then raped seduced into losing her viginity by the first Catholic President. She waits upstairs while he averts a nuclear showdown over Cuba. Cut to the present, Cuba is on my short list of places to see soon and we have a Catholic convert, a confirmed serial adulterer, running for the Republican primary. Newt, who brought us the Monica Lewinsky hearings all while he was philandering himself, is now the most vocal opponent to President Obama’s recent health care law that would ensure access to birth control for millions of women.

“The Obama administration has just launched an attack on Christianity so severe that every single church had a letter read from the bishops all across the country…freedom of religion in America is now being attacked by Obama.” Really Newt?

Doctors and nurses, cafeteria aides and ultrasound techs who may be working in a Catholic hospital, would have to pay for birth control. Women who are saving lives without a thought of their patient’s religious or ethnic background; running up to helipads in the middle of the night, would be asked to go elsewhere for family planning? Just to be clear, anti-choice, religious zealots are playing with words again. This is not an attack against religion people. It is an outright war against women. More than 90% of American women (including btw Catholic women) believe they should have their birth control covered in their health insurance policy.

An antiquated dogma against contraception, one that American Catholics have ignored for nearly 50 years, is now being used by the GOP to try and defeat a popular President; to derail his overwhelming passage of health care reform. And just an aside, Obama has stayed faithful to his wife Michelle for twenty years!

Let’s not allow the few, to discriminate against women of many faiths, including those who declare no faith. I remember being a young college student when the birth control pill first became available, however the caveat was you had to be “married” in order to obtain it. Today there are condom and morning-after pills in vending machines on college campuses. A friend at lunch yesterday used the term, “Christian Taliban.” If it wasn’t so chilling, I’d laugh.

“Religious freedom is about protecting people of all faiths, not imposing the values of some on the rest of us.” Amen and thank you Mr President, for standing firm on women’s reproductive health! ps, No Catholics were harmed in this blog post.

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