I have put a bit of thought into what to do with this blog. I only reactivated it to record the pandemic, for others to peruse afterwards for historical content. I’m an analog man as much as anything. Computers and their progeny have burst forth during my lifetime. When I was a boy a flip phone was science fiction on star trek and computers filled large rooms with magnetic tape.
A phone was something for emergencies and to tie up the line was a sin, because it was an emergency device primarily, and grew from that to an everyday gab machine. First the cords got longer and longer, then came cordless, and then cam cell phones, but a part of me still feels like it is for emergencies and for professional, work purposes.
Part of me remains an analog man.
“The whole world’s living in a digital dream
It’s not really there
It’s all on the screen
Makes me forget who I am
I’m an analog man”—Joe Walsh
I recall when Roe V Wade was decided. I recall only too well how Christians supported Roe because otherwise it was some government agency, bureaucrat, or politician who was making very personal choices for women, instead of minding their own business. It was “women’s business” and personal to women.
Abortion was not talked about in those days. It was an unspoken reality which cost the lives of many young women.
“Estimates of the number of illegal abortions in the 1950s and 1960s ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million per year. One analysis, extrapolating from data from North Carolina, concluded that an estimated 829,000 illegal or self-induced abortions occurred in 1967.
One stark indication of the prevalence of illegal abortion was the death toll. In 1930, abortion was listed as the official cause of death for almost 2,700 women—nearly one-fifth (18%) of maternal deaths recorded in that year. The death toll had declined to just under 1,700 by 1940, and to just over 300 by 1950 (most likely because of the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s, which permitted more effective treatment of the infections that frequently developed after illegal abortion). By 1965, the number of deaths due to illegal abortion had fallen to just under 200, but illegal abortion still accounted for 17% of all deaths attributed to pregnancy and childbirth that year. And these are just the number that were officially reported; the actual number was likely much higher.
Poor women and their families were disproportionately impacted. A study of low-income women in New York City in the 1960s found that almost one in 10 (8%) had ever attempted to terminate a pregnancy by illegal abortion; almost four in 10 (38%) said that a friend, relative or acquaintance had attempted to obtain an abortion. Of the low-income women in that study who said they had had an abortion, eight in 10 (77%) said that they had attempted a self-induced procedure, with only 2% saying that a physician had been involved in any way.
These women paid a steep price for illegal procedures. In 1962 alone, nearly 1,600 women were admitted to Harlem Hospital Center in New York City for incomplete abortions, which was one abortion-related hospital admission for every 42 deliveries at that hospital that year. In 1968, the University of Southern California Los Angeles County Medical Center, another large public facility serving primarily indigent patients, admitted 701 women with septic abortions, one admission for every 14 deliveries.
A clear racial disparity is evident in the data of mortality because of illegal abortion: In New York City in the early 1960s, one in four childbirth-related deaths among white women was due to abortion; in comparison, abortion accounted for one in two childbirth-related deaths among nonwhite and Puerto Rican women.
Even in the early 1970s, when abortion was legal in some states, a legal abortion was simply out of reach for many. Minority women suffered the most: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 1972 alone, 130,000 women obtained illegal or self-induced procedures, 39 of whom died. Furthermore, from 1972 to 1974, the mortality rate due to illegal abortion for nonwhite women was 12 times that for white women.” — Rachel Benson Gold, Guttmacher Institute 2003
For myself abortion has always been a women’s issue, I do not have a vagina or uterus, I will never be pregnant or experience childbirth, and I could never have an abortion. Thus, in the case of unexpected pregnancy I left it to the women to decide and tried my best to support them.
In the late 70’s my girlfriend became unexpectedly pregnant. Both of us knew we were not of the age or ability to properly care for a child. We were at a “boarding” school and my girlfriend was terrified of her parent’s reaction. Despite being after Roe, an abortion was not readily available locally. I had to come up with several hundred dollars for the procedure and the travel, she was less than a month along.
A few years ago, when my own child got me to try Facebook, we found each other. We never talked about the abortion, but rather about how we had both gotten married and had children down the line. None of those children would have ever been if she had decided to keep the child, our lives would have skewed sideways, and not for the better.
Abortion is not about just an unborn fetus, unable to survive out of the womb of the woman carrying it. It is about the effect adding a child to the individual aspects of a person’s life, without consideration of all the things it will affect. Since each circumstance will be unique, involving unique humans in unique circumstances, it only makes sense to let the people in those circumstances decide how to proceed.
To decree otherwise because some people hold a religious belief is to mandate that belief in law and thus force the rest of society to live by the dictates of that belief, even if they do not share it. Anti-abortion activists believe human life begins at the moment of conception. I think it begins like the Bible says, when they are born.
The religions centerpiece is the celebration of that birth, not the moment of conception. Jesus was not Jesus, until he was born. If Mary had fallen down a stone stairwell and miscarried, there would be no Christian faith at all.
Further the Christian faith itself is silent about abortion. It was a father son duo of evangelists in the early 70 who championed anti-abortion to evangelicals who thought “It is none of our business”, like I still think. Women have spontaneous miscarriages all the time. Since God’s plan covers all and includes spontaneous abortions we call miscarriages, God must not only favor abortions, but included them in his plan.
Not all Christian denominations are anti-abortion, there are still many churches where they believe that is between a woman, her doctor, and God, not the government acting in response to a cadre of Catholics. In fact, when all this began, both Billy Graham and the Southern Baptist Convention were in favor of letting women decide, saying “that is why God made Mothers, to make such hard decisions.”
It is not anyone else’s business.
An abortion is not something anyone is “pro” about any more than people are pro tooth extraction. No one wants a tooth extraction, but sometimes it is the best course of action. Now who should decide that, the government, or you? I feel the exact same way about abortion.
The GOP used to be the party of small government, but with Roe being overturned they will be the party in your underwear. That is not small government. This is how a democratic republic turns into an authoritarian theocracy, and it all turns on one concept, the human soul.
Believers in souls think that a soul either enters or is created at the moment of conception. They believe if a woman miscarries, God was sparing the unborn some horrible fate. Yet if a mother sees medical reports of a horrible medical fate awaiting her unborn fetus, she is not allowed to avoid that fate for the fetus, that is up to God in the believer’s mind, because that fetus is a soul to the believer. If that mother chooses to abort and save the unborn years of suffering, that is seen as a bad act, an immoral act, even a murder because the believers in the soul see it as murdering that soul.
Never mind that they also believe souls are eternal, consistency in beliefs is not their strongest attribute.
In the late 1970s early 1980s the newly formed religious right, headed by the “moral majority”, saw in the abortion issue a political/religious weapon. It was an issue they could use to rile up those who believe in souls (believers) and to paint abortion as Satanic, Demonic and evil, and thus the women who had one were painted as evil, demonic, or somehow twisted by Satan.
They have never stopped, and now their constant campaign, just short of a half century, has arrived at a stacked court of Catholics removing a woman’s right to bodily integrity and privacy over her own medical affairs will be revoked, to protect those unborn souls no one can prove are even real.
It is a religious belief being legally forced down every American’s throat by a court which believes anyone who thinks differently is corrupt, of the devil, twisted by demonic or satanic thought; otherwise, they would agree with the court.
Can you weigh a soul? Can you show me hard proof of a soul? Actual evidence that such a thing exists? Never in history has anyone been able to do so.
Souls are a religious/spiritual idea which many people ascribe to, but not all. Not all believers believe the same way or the same things about souls. So now in my view a women’s rights to control her own medical care is about to be usurped to protect the life of a soul no one can show exists.
All this made me think about what happens when they undo Roe? From the legal perspective the basis for Roe is also the basis for Brown Vs Board of Education, it is the basis of all the rights three generations have grown up with, rights they see as normal and will feel as if those rights were stripped away. Interracial marriage, segregation, gay rights, disabled rights, and others are all based on the exact same legal rationale as Roe. If they overturn Roe, how long till they reinstate segregation, or Jim Crow?
If the legal notion of Roe is unsound, then so too are all these others, and I am sure even more which do not come to mind, like birth control, IUD’s, and more still I am sure.
All this led to my decision to keep the blog active, and I will occasionally throw my two cents in, as an essay, like this, because there are now several generations who have no recollection of these things. It turns out such recollections might have some value, and to me the value lies more in processing the BS we are all coping with, by writing.
Covid remains a pandemic, and Maine is in bloom right now. America on the other hand seems to be paying it no mind. I hope it does not mutate to a more virulent and deadly strain because it would catch America with its pants down, again.