You’re a Roaring Twenties flapper. You like your jazz hot and your hootch cold. One morning after you had a few too many the night before you wake up and find yourself in bed with a man whose name you don’t remember. Thankful you woke up before him so you’re able to sneak out of his hotel room. Two months later you realize you haven’t had your period in, well, two months. You also have a burning sensation when you urinate. Sure enough you are pregnant. And you have syphilis. Both are courtesy of the man who is long gone. You can be treated for the syphilis but not while you’re pregnant, but if you wait to have the baby it’s likely to be too late to treat the syphilis. You need an abortion. With no safe place to go you turn to the local neighborhood woman who knows how to handle these things. She handles it so well you end up with a staph infection that ultimately makes the syphilis moot because you’re dead.
You’re a 16 year old girl in 1944. You’re a good girl, get good grades, honor your mother and father. You’ve always looked up to your big brother as your protector, but he’s off fighting Nazis now. One night you babysit for a neighbor down the street. After the couple come home, because your brother isn’t there to do it the husband walks you back home. On the walk home he violently begins to maul you. He’s an authority figure, you don’t know what to do. Finally he ferociously forces your legs apart and in just seconds your virginity is gone. His parting words to you are that if you tell anyone he’ll deny it and you’ll be branded a whore. Two months later you realize you haven’t had your period in two months. You’re too ashamed to tell your parents. You believe what he said. A girlfriend tells you there is a woman in the next town who can take care of it for you. She takes care of it so well you end up with septic shock syndrome and die on the bench outside the hospital where she dumped you.
You’re a 35 year old suburban matron in 1958. You have a husband with a well paying job, two kids under the age of ten, a neat split level three bedroom house with a girl who comes in twice a week to clean, a full social calendar, friends galore, and you even use (shhh!) birth control because sometimes the husband gets a bit randy after that post dinner martini. One night the condom fails. Two months later you realize you haven’t had a period in two months. You go to your family doctor and when he congratulates you on being pregnant you burst into tears. Your life is where you want it to be. You don’t want another child. Your husband’s job is good, but not great and another mouth means having to downgrade your lifestyle, maybe even move out of your three bedroom split level house. The doctor takes you into his private office where he hands you a slip of paper with a name and address on it. “He’s a doctor, well, sort of. He lost his license a few years ago. Now he takes care of things like this. But he’s really safe.” You get your best girlfriend to drive you to the address which is on the shadier side of town. His “office” is the backroom of a skanky looking storefront. He’s gentle and soothing and when you awaken he tells you everything is taken care of and that the bleeding is normal. But the bleeding doesn’t stop, even after your husband rushes you to the hospital in the middle of the night. The surgeon tells your widower that he was too late, there had been too much blood loss.
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Are you still imagining?
This is what abortion was like up until 1973. It wasn’t wanton hussies gayly sacrificing their moral fiber at the alter of sexual promiscuity. It was normal everyday women who found themselves in precarious situations, sometimes instigated by their own actions or sometimes the fault of a feckless felon or sometimes the result of trying to please their man but the damn dam broke.
Whatever the reason, the issue of whether to terminate a pregnancy is up to the woman involved. Like many others I used to say it was between a woman and her doctor but my opinion has evolved and frankly the doctor has no say. In this case, as in many medical procedures, the doctor is but a servant called upon to preform his or her specialty in the unique timeframe required. The DECISION is not theirs. The DECISION involves only one person, the woman who finds herself pregnant.
No one, no doctor, no clergyman, no Supreme Court Justice, has a right to interfere in that decision. Don’t tell me it’s a moral question because it’s not, but if you want to argue morality then allow me to get down in the mud and wrestle with you on that level. All moral questions regarding abortion seem to center on one simple question, does life begin at conception? Allow me to say, you’re out of your fucking mind if you believe it does. Were that the case than an embryo would be able to live on it’s own, outside the body of it’s host. Just to clue you in, no it can’t. It doesn’t breathe, it doesn’t think, it doesn’t perform any function recognizable as human other than grow. That it is alive is only because it is being sustained by the body of the woman within whom it is growing.
Even a COVID germ can survive outside it’s host and I suspect you’d have no problem killing it or is that bottle of hand sanitizer just for show?
If it is your belief that “God” says life begins at conception then please show me where that entity said it. I’ve read both the Jewish and Gentile versions of the bible and I can’t find it. There’s lots about fruits of the womb, but nothing about exactly when life begins. Actually an argument can be made that the only references in the bible as to when life begins is at birth and not before.
If you are going to claim this entity spoke to you personally and said life begins at conception, well we’re gonna have to have a whole other conversation.
And if your claim is that this is what “the community” feels is true, let me first point out that over 60% of the American community believes abortion should be safe and legal. Now let’s go over a few other things that “the community” has at one time or another held to be sacrosanct:
- Women should be seen and not heard
- Sunday should be a day of rest in which there is no work done
- If you plant different crops side by side you should be put to death
- Homosexuality is a sin (though if you are Anti-abortion, you’re probably also anti-Gay rights)
- Only white landowning men over the age of 21 should be able to vote
- Alcohol should be illegal
- Slavery is just fine and dandy
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think many people today would look at that list and say they believe in those things. Why is that? Attitudes evolved. People learned. People grew up. People learned that putting restrictions on other peoples personal choices just made the restrictor a morally lesser human being.
Whatever you believe, it ultimately is what YOU believe. If it is your belief that life begins at conception then by all means, don’t have an abortion. That is your CHOICE. But if a woman believes that life begins when that embryo inside of her can sustain life outside her body then it is her right, and only HER right, to make the decision about what to do with it.
Imagine if you were the one being told what you could or couldn’t do with that most private of possessions, your own body. You wouldn’t like it. Women should not have to face a future where they are not in control of their own bodies.
Here’s Cyndi Lauper telling the story of her childhood friend who died at the hands of a back alley abortionist.