The only time I watch television is occasionally when the woman I am looking after wants to watch. Usually we watch Judge Judy, though sometimes we watch the news.
I’ve been feeling rather smug since the fear-mongering tactics of the newscasters don’t work with someone who’s already been there. For example, if the prime interest rates are the highest they’ve been in twenty years, as they said, that means that I saw even higher rates twenty-plus years ago. If inflation is the worst in forty years, as they said, it means that forty-plus years ago, I experienced a worse rate of inflation. Same with the ups and the downs of the Dow. Been there. Survived that.
I must admit, though, that any smugness was wiped out by the shock of yesterday’s news. Truly stunning — from one minute to the next, this country’s clock was turned back fifty years. I don’t see how it’s possible. I don’t see how it became possible, especially since it wasn’t that long ago various factions were trying to get late-term abortions legalized. Since in Roe vs. Wade, first trimester terminations were acceptable, but later terminations were acceptable only if the mother’s health was in danger, making late-term abortions legal would have effectively overturned part of Roe vs. Wade, but to overturn the whole thing, banning all abortions? What the . . . ?
It seems simple to me. If you think even first trimester abortion is immoral, don’t have one. But other than that, what possible difference can one woman’s struggle with impending motherhood have to do with anyone else? People who think pregnancy termination is murder, well, so is the death sentence, so is sending our young people to other countries to be cannon fodder in distant wars. So why not terminate death row? Why not stop sending people to war? While we’re at it, why not protect children in school?
Why not a lot of things.
I can understand taking federal funding away from abortion clinics, because truly, why should taxpayers who think abortion is immoral have to pay for them? But to completely remove the option of termination for any reason, even incest or rape (as will be the law in some states), is truly unconscionable. There could possibly be a case made for women who willfully participate in sex because they did make a choice (though the choice they made might not be the one they have to live with) but women — and girls — who did not have any choice in the matter shouldn’t be penalized. They were already penalized too much.
I have no idea what to make of any of this, especially since pro-lifers are only pro-life as long as that life is a fetus. Once it becomes a baby, those very same people stop caring. What is going to happen to all those unwanted babies? (Unwanted even by those who oppose abortion.) What is going to happen to all those mothers, especially those who are unable to support the children they now have?
And why are only women being punished? It takes two to make a fetus. If the woman is forced to be a mother, why isn’t the man forced to be a father? If the woman’s life and income are at risk, why shouldn’t the man also bear some of the risk? If pregnancy is God’s will, why is Viagra allowed — wouldn’t the inability to get it up also be God’s will? Couldn’t it be God’s way of preventing pregnancy?
You’d think from all of this that I’m a liberal; I am not, although I do hold some so-called liberal views. Nor am I a conservative, though I hold some so-called conservative views. But my bewilderment at the Supreme Court decision? That isn’t about being liberal or conservative. It’s about being intelligent and empathetic, seeing beyond the idiocy to the very real problems that will be arising. Some states are talking about banning women from going to another state to take care of an unwanted pregnancy, though to monitor such situations would be even more horrific than what is going on now. Other states are talking about banning morning-after pills; some are even talking about banning contraception. Does anyone else see beyond the politics and the immorality of the moralists to the insanity of it all?
I generally try to stay away from writing about the issues of today, but this most recent issue is so beyond the pale that I can’t get over it.
I suppose not having to deal with the specter of an unwanted pregnancy is a benefit of getting older. So not only have I been there when many of the worsts have happened, so not only was I there when Roe vs. Wade was put into effect to the revulsion of almost everyone I knew, I am also here at the end of that particular era.
I’ve survived all that. It makes me wonder, though, how many women won’t survive this inequity.
Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.