Wednesday, May 4, 2022

For 25 years people have thought I was a drama queen about this

 I remember a news report from about 25 years ago. It was about another anti-abortion case that was brought before the Supreme Court. The reporter was talking to young women about it, and every last one of them was blithely dismissing the danger, insisting that "they can't make it illegal now" and "they'll never put that genie back in the bottle."

It's been about 15 years since the right to abortion became irrelevant to my particular body. And believe me, it's been tempting to just say "the hell with it; you don't care about your rights; why should I?" But then I remember that every generation rolls its eyes at being lectured by the previous one about "the way it used to be." After all, isn't "You kids don't realize what it was like when an unwanted pregnancy meant shame and guilt and either putting your health in danger by having an illegal abortion or putting it in danger by having a baby before you're even mature" just a variation of "You kids don't appreciate what we did in World War II," as my late father-in-law used to lecture us? Isn't it just another rendition of "both ways, uphill, in the snow"? 

And yet here we are, on the precipice of a country where college women will go back to bargaining with God to bring on their periods, where women with ectopic pregnancy will die because too few people understand that there can be no baby, where women were utter slaves to our own anatomy. Except that this time, it's going to be worse.

My mother had an illegal abortion in 1949. Why she became pregnant, got married, and THEN had the abortion is anyone's guess, but with my father in grad school and her being a newlywed and already suffering from the depression that plagued her for her entire adult life, a baby was more than she could bear at that point. She was lucky. Somehow she managed to find an actual doctor to perform the procedure and went on to have my sister and me. So I grew up in a household that supported women's bodily autonomy long before it was even mentioned.

It's a fallacy that everything was just fine until Donald Trump was able to put Anne Gorsuch Burford's son, a man who is a credibly-accused rapist with obvious anger management issues, and a woman whose faith group has been accused of being a hotbed of emotional and sexual abuse on the Supreme Court. The roots of the Dominion Theology theocracy we are now staring in the face date back to the 1980 campaign of Ronald Reagan, when the Christian Right used abortion as a shield to hide their real agenda, which was perpetuatins segregated schools. A candidate who started his campaign in the very town where three civil rights workers were murdered told them loud and clear that the actor-turned-California governor would be the savior of segregation.

The Christian Right may have lost (at the time) their battle for segregation, but being anti-abortion warriors gave them a weapon that served their agenda almost as well -- putting women back into their place.

I didn't always know that what I was jumping up and down and screaming about for a quarter century was at its core, a theocratic movement, though that's been pretty clear all along to anyone who paid attention. I am not a religious person, at least not in the established religion sense, and especially not an adherent of any of "the big three" religions that came out of the Fertile Crescent. I have never hidden that I have a strong cultural Jewish identity, but as I tell people, I have all the food and all the neurosis and none of the religion. My spiritual system involves "Make people's lives better as best I can while I'm here and not leave too much of a mess when I'm gone."  I don't fault people for being religious. Whatever gets you through what Mr. Brilliant called "this God-forsaken level of reality" is A-OK by me. Just leave me, and leave government, and leave others who do not believe the same way, out of it. And I have never understood why people who profess strong faith need everyone else to march in lockstep with them. And yet, here we are in the 21st century, with robots that have faces and CGI people and phones that play movies and electric cars -- and we're fighting off having a country run by Iron Age mythology.

I needn't go into gory details about what the implications of overturning Roe and sending the abortion issue back to the states are, because much ink and video has gone into it from even the corporate media that have been complicit in the tiptoeing around theocracy that has affected both political parties as well. Of course there are some things that HAVEN'T been covered in detail, such as the implications that affirming "states rights" could have in, yes, the re-legalization of segregation, and perhaps even slavery. (Do you think THAT couldn't happen? Are you still asleep at the wheel even now?) The women who are screaming about child support haven't thought through the nightmare of being tied for the next 18 years and perhaps beyond to the man who raped you, to the ex-husband who beat you, to the father who impregnated you when you were 12. Men who spew sperm into a woman get visitation and custody every single day no matter what their status is in that woman's life. Ask anyone who practices family law in Florida, where "fathers' rights" seem to supersede everything else.

You know what? I'm tired. For 25 years I've voted, I've sent money to candidates, I've argued with people about the bigger implications of essentially deciding that a pregnant woman ceases to be a human being and is nothing but a uterus with legs. I've marched and sent letters to the editor and blogged and stuffed envelopes and canvassed and done all the things you're supposed to do. And here we are. And I'm tired. And I don't know where we go from here.

1 comment:

  1. Didn't a bunch of Jewish women sue for abortion rights, saying they're essential to the practice of Judaism (i.e., anti-abortion laws are an imposition of Christian values on non-Christians)? That seems like an excellent legal argument (being true-ish, among other things), essentially because anti-abortion laws violate the free practice of religion, a major protected area under the law which CANNOT be violated.


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