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.
June 25, 2022 at 4:36 pm
Pat I am sorry. All laws in all countries were made by men.
In a Democratic system if women can have equal positions, to make decisions and the possibility to have good dialogues and voting rights there will be less war less sophisticated arms to kill easily. More water in all droughts lakes. The woman has the right to make decision in a situation like abortion.
June 25, 2022 at 7:32 pm
I agree about abortion and to a great extent about the rest of what you say, but still, women in power often act the same as men. Look at Margaret Thatcher and her “splendid little war.”
June 25, 2022 at 9:14 pm
I hear you, Pat, and I agree with you. As to why it’s happened, I think the fact that the last administration got three judges with right-leaning views has something to do with it. It gave the pro-birth movement the push they needed.
I’m hoping that Congress, possibly after the next election (because no way with Congress as it is right now), will put Roe v. Wade into formal law, but more likely, this might become a decades-long fight. In the meantime, I’m offering anyone who’s interested in “camping” to help them go to more “camping friendly” states, if you get my meaning. As to states trying to punish women who go to other states for “camping,” I’d love to see how they can do that without breaking numerous civil rights and liberties laws.
June 25, 2022 at 9:33 pm
I wonder if they would ever be able to make choice a law. Way too many states are against it.
June 25, 2022 at 9:35 pm
Way too many states were against civil rights, and while the nation still races challenges in that area, the country has made plenty of strides in that area.
June 25, 2022 at 9:18 pm
I tend to avoid talking to Americans about American politics, mostly because it seems so tribal and polarized. This issue in particular seems to lack any sort of middle ground. So, FWIW, here’s something like a middle ground from someone with no dog in the fight (but admittedly with a pro-choice bias).
What the court appears to have done is put the US on much the same footing as Canada. Abortion was removed from the criminal code (federal law) decades ago. It was controversial at the time, but there is (almost) no interest now in revisiting the issue in terms of the federal criminal code. It’s now (properly IMHO) a public health issue, which is a provincial matter. As such, provinces vary in access, funding, etc., just as they do on other public health issues.
All that said, where I tend to think the SC decision is the right one is whether abortion is a constitutional right. In my view, in order to operate effectively, a constitution has to represent a set of values to which the vast majority of constituents agree, and will defend even under pressure. They’re the fundamental rules we agree to live by, notwithstanding differences on issues outside those rules. If the vast majority of us can’t agree on a particular rule, it probably doesn’t belong in a constitution.
June 25, 2022 at 9:31 pm
It seems to me that for most of my life, there was a sort of middle ground in US politics. Most people were sort of in the middle, with some leaning away on one side and other leaning away on the other side. I don’t understand at all the voracious nature of politics today where there is no middle ground.
I agree with you that abortion should not have ever been made a constitutional right, though it should be a choice each woman makes for herself. The problem now is that everything is even more polarized than it was before. And oh, what a mess!
I always appreciate your considered opinions. You bring sanity to the issue. To any issue, actually.