Monday, August 07, 2006

Narrowing Freedoms

My grandmother, who was born in November of 1899, gave birth to five children in her first seven years of marriage. At which point she wrote to her brother, a physician who lived in Ohio, and asked him how to prevent more pregnancies. His letter back began with, "Beloved Sister, Memorize this information and burn this letter, as I could go to prison for helping you."

If we allow the forces of darkness to prevail, honest doctors will once again be forced to make these decisions and letters like this will return. The far right movement for forced pregnancy and the return of the patriarchy, currently personified by the theocrats being courted by the GOP, will take us back to the bad old days when a woman's body was owned by men, most of whom she had never met and who could not have cared less about her life and that of her family. Men who were unconcerned about the health costs of bearing child after child or the unintended neglect of children that occurs when a mother has too many to care for properly or the burden of supporting large families that falls on working parents. Men who refuse to consider raising the minimum wage without lowering taxes on the very rich. Men who narrow welfare and defund Pel grants. Men who should know that a woman's first step out of poverty for herself and her entire family is to control the number and spacing of her children. Men who claim to be Christian, while having not a single Christian thought of the poor in their entire lives. Men who choose to believe that poverty is a matter of laziness and their inherited position of privilege is a matter of their own individual virtue.

The decision to keep Plan B, the "morning after" contraceptive so useful in cases of rape and other unprotected intercourse, prescription only and when it is advanced to over-the-counter status behind the pharmacist's counter and subject to the whims of the pharmacist on duty, was not made in regards to the scientific data as to whether Plan B was dangerous to women, but rather for political reasons. The fact that the far right, which claims to be opposed to abortion for the sake of the unborn child, is really motivated by the need to control women is made blatantly obvious by the fact that Plan B would cause a major reduction in abortions. So, instead of getting behind it, they claim that it works by causing abortions.

FDA staff, outraged by the politicalization of what should be medical decisions, have come forward to testify that scientific data was simply ignored in this article Plan B Decision Made Before Data Review, FDA Staff by Susan Heavey.


Deja Pseu said...

Just like "Cider House Rules"...the people who write the rules aren't the ones who have to live by them.

Ally Bean said...

"Men who choose to believe that poverty is a matter of laziness and their inherited position of privilege is a matter of their own individual virtue."

well said.

my mother always said that if men had babies there'd be an abortion clinic on every corner. i think of that thought often these days.

Zan said...

As a women who may one day need Plan B, I'm praying that reason reigns and it becomes available OTC. Of course, I'd still have to contend with pharmacists who may or may not want to give it to me, but I'm assertive enough to cause a huge stink should I be denied a pack. If it does become available, I'm going to buy a bunch of them and give them to all my girl friends, so none of them gets caught without it should they need it.

Nothing in this world terrifies me as much as religious fundamentalists. I escaped from them once, but the reality that I may one day be forced back into religious slavery is terrifying to me. These people don't know anything about God and they've certainly never meet Jesus.

I grapple with the notion of punishment as a first reaction to something you don't like. I don't understand that reaction and I never really have. Well, that's not true. I understand the impulse, but we're human beings, not animals. We have the ability to pause, think and reason our way to a better solution. Punishing someone is not the way to improve the world, in a good 99 percent of all cases. Punishment dehumanizes, it reduces people to actions, to objects. The sad thing is, there are far, far more poor people/women/othered classes in our society. We are the majority, and yet we don't have the power. There should be something we can do about that. And punishment ultimately leads to rebellion. So all these people who are so scared of losing their position and control are setting themselves up to be dethroned. It's true that people should be free and if they're not free naturally, they'll find a way to become that way.

I just don't want to have to live through the carnage that it will take to get back there, if these theocrats win. It's going to be nasty and no one is going to come out unscathed.

Maya's Granny said...

The thing we need to remember about Plan B going OTC -- it is already in some states, and Wal-Mart leaves it to the individual pharmacist whether or not his pharmacy even stocks it. And, in many small communities, Wal-Mart has forced all competing pharmacies out of business.

This is very serious stuff.

Tabor said...

This is so complex and while I agree with everything you said Maya I also have inner arguments with myself on where I stand on abortion. Yet, I would never force someone else to live with my beliefs.

Maya's Granny said...

I also have concerns about abortion. However, contraception prevents abortion as well as unwelcome children. I worked for years in child abuse intervention and prevention and I can testify that unwelcome children do not have a happy life.
I think that if people really don't want abortions they need to do everything they can to prevent unwanted pregnancies. And preaching abstinence obviously doesn't work. It is a complex problem and won't be solved for a long time, particularly when the feds seem determined to do everything they can to make it worse under the guise of making it better.

Deja Pseu said...

There's also a lot of confusion out there about Plan B; it's NOT an abortion pill (that's RU486). The anti-choice factions have deliberately tried to muddy the water and as a consequence a lot of people are confused about what Plan B does and does not do. What it does is prevent ovulation.

Rain said...

Good for you to have the courage to bring this topic up.