This is the third or fourth draft blog I have written this week since the “leak” from the Supreme Court. Each draft focused on a different aspect of my outrage, righteousness, and I have to admit, feelings of hopelessness. I have now reached a more reasoned position, though no less outraged, righteous, or hopeless. And how ironic all this is, being as it is Mother’s Day!
Here’s the thing. I became complacent. I am beyond my reproductive years, so I have less investment in protecting the health of women who still are. Also, I put my time in marching, back in the 1970s. Once the decision was handed down, I figured we would all move on somehow. And for fifty years we did. Somehow.
It was never about women’s health; it was always about men’s power. It was never, ever logical; it was always emotional. It was never about persuasion, but it has always been threatening.
I admit I am confused by inconsistencies. How is it, I wonder, that corporations can be considered to be individuals and not held liable for the consequences of their actions while women, because of some random egg and sperm connecting, will be considered murderers and potentially jailed should they elect to end a pregnancy?
Apparently, I must remain confused and just learn to live with these inconsistencies, because, well, I am not sure why . . . because six Supreme Court justices have finally achieved an anti-abortion fatwah?
Look, I am a trained and experienced psychologist. I understand fanatics. I have worked with people whose connection with reality is tenuous at best. One thing I have learned about these kinds of minds is that they are truly tortured. The Gordian knots of logic and faith they tie themselves up with will never be unraveled by legislation or logic. Which leaves us, as a democracy, with a vexing problem.
How Much Crazy Can Be Tolerated?
As Americans, we often hold out the ideals set forth in our Constitution as being our guiding principles. In order to form a more perfect union, we established this laboratory and grew a democracy. We argued, cajoled, bribed and fought one another. We found ways to tolerate those who didn’t believe what we believed, and we found ways to change our beliefs when new information and experience provided us with evidence that the old ways of thinking didn’t hold water.
Our tolerance for “crazy” is HUGE! And, up until now, it has been a strength. We somehow navigated economic depressions and corruption at the highest levels of government. We found ways to confront our prejudices and even made progress in addressing some of the worst aspects of our collective selves.
And, although we still aren’t very good at it, we are coming to terms with the fact that we did harm in the name of democracy. We enslaved, slaughtered, stole, and cheated fellow human beings out of the very promise of democracy, the pursuit of freedom and happiness. These are so much more than just mistakes. These are deep wounds.
And we are on the verge of doing it again. Like some addict who has relapsed, we are headed back into the nightmare of those days where an impossible choice needs to be made. Whose life is more important? Who gets to make that choice?
Answers and Actions
I know the answer to those questions. And there are many others out there who also know the answer to those questions, but our answers are diametrically opposed. And this is where the problem lies. Not with what should be done, but who gets to make the decision.
Red Herring Arguments
This is not about the rights of States or Federal government. That is a red herring. Government is government, no matter what its jurisdiction. This is not about the “rights” of the unborn. The unborn have no rights. Nor do the dead. There is no legal precedent (to my limited knowledge) that is based on before life or after life. Certainly not in the Constitution.
So, let’s just agree to disagree. What is guaranteed by the Constitution is that you can go to a church of your choice, practice your religion without my interfering, say pretty much anything that you want (except yelling “Fire” in a theater) and peaceably assemble to protest. Seems a pretty good deal.
Why Isn’t That Enough?
Live and let live isn’t a legal standard, it is a social and moral one. It is only when people disagree and can’t find a middle ground that they seek external authority to settle disputes. In this country, those disputes are settled based on a framework of laws passed by elected officials and then interpreted and enforced though our court system. On paper this is flawless. In reality, it is a clusterf*$k.
Currently this system is weighted toward patriarchal, conservative ideals, and is being held as inviolate using the argument that, “it was this way before, so it must be this way now.” Because abortion was a crime before, it must always be a crime. This is the famous, “Because I said so!” precedent used effectively by so many parents.
Standing Up to Power
This is not the first, or sadly the last, time that women have had to stand up to power. It has been a long slog, and too many women have sacrificed their lives in pursuit of being able to say what happens to their bodies, and having access to quality health care for their bodies. Too many of us are still denied that privilege because of economics, class, racism, and brainwashing.
For those of us who do have a voice and access to power, we must take a stand and hold accountable those who would claim to sanctify life. This is going to be uncomfortable for some time to come. But discomfort is not new to women.
A Personal Note
My birth mother gave me up for adoption. I will never know if she contemplated ending the pregnancy. It is all conjecture on my part. My adoptive mother couldn’t have children. While she conformed to the expected norms of a 1950s housewife, she was always a fierce advocate of women’s rights. This extended to the gains made during the Women’s Liberation Movement of the late 1960s and 1970s.
Because of these two women, I am able to take a stand for women. Our Constitutional rights do not need separate but equal treatment under the law because of our biologic differences. We are entitled to health care, regardless of race, creed, or religion. Those who choose to be mothers deserve access to adequate nutrition, pre- and post-natal care, and support and counseling in raising the child or children, as well as information on birth control. Those who choose to not become mothers deserve access to adequate nutrition, pre- and post-abortion care, counseling and support in managing the consequences of their choice, as well as information on birth control.
What we don’t need is Roe v. Wade to be over turned.