Saturday, February 11, 2012


The recent Komen cure vs. Planned Parenthood battle has brought a few distractions to light:

Americans like to argue about who cares more about life.

Life, for the sides, carries different definitions.

It's a distraction, this bickering about whether a fetus is alive enough to be human; it's a distraction, these non sequiturs about whether it's a good idea to allow someone to undo a bad decision (either her own, a shared one, or one forced on her by an attacker of some kind).

The thing is, abortion is still a legal option, a legal medical procedure in our country. Sure, Ms. Roe reportedly regrets her decision. I think she regrets more the fact that she was placed on stage about it. I work for attorneys these days, and I have hints about what might go on in a trial or beforehand, the nitty gritty that compels a person to go under oath and fight for something.

The case lingered so long that she had the child anyway, and so, of course, she must face her offspring with the sentiment that it would have been wrong to have killed her/him off. Of course. And she's no one, I'm sorry, to speak for how people who have actually had abortions feel afterwards. Perhaps she knew then what the "now" felt like, but she doesn't know now what the after feels like.

We are all on different experience trains, after all.

I read that Planned Parenthood received a huge increase in "outrage" donations, supposedly surpassing what Komen's grants provide on an annual basis.

I wonder whether that was an unplanned or intended consequence — or if it was just another of those things to make me think that, no, there can't be any grand conspiracies because humans are so dreadfully disorganized. We end up so often with things we did not intend.

Intention brings me back to my reason for rambling: no one who doesn't want to have children intends for a particular sex act to create a child. Of course, s/he can take certain steps to add to the probability that procreation will not occur, but, we all know this: nothing is 100 percent effective. This does not address, either, rape victims' lack of being able to choose the act in the first place.

However, a woman who takes the daunting step to approach a doctor (whether in a "clinic" such as Planned Parenthood, albeit a safer-feeling place than the alternative — going to a hospital and asking an ER intake clerk what to do or even being terribly upfront enough to go to the primary care provider, provided one has one at all), that woman has one intention. Well, perhaps two.

The first is to determine whether she is truly pregnant. Some hope that the drugstore test was, somehow, wrong. Most know that their bodies are saying, "No, it's all quite happening."

The second is, I'm sorry, in order to find a way to avoid the physical transformation, on the one hand, and the life-long literal responsibility, on the other. Yes, women who go to get abortions want to get abortions. It's not a secret.

But they are not evil.

They are in a place most of you reading won't ever be. Abortions are still a minority experience, even when we add in men whose babies were terminated either with their consent or against their will.

It's very specific. It's very personal. It's almost always very horrible, even if the little one inside who is causing moral upheaval, physical distress, emotional turmoil … is a creation from someone she loves deeply.

And, I'm sorry, but it's still legal in the United States of America and a number of other countries.

On another law-related topic, it was pointed out to me by my husband that we abide by a skewed set of standards: women are always generally given control of whether a baby is born or not. (Please lay aside the forced-to-term births by controlling men over abused women or by obstructive laws that have waiting periods, consents, or that require women by their circumstance of residency / local politics to travel long distances for what is, to them, at the time, freedom.)

For example: a woman can tell a man she is on the Pill. She can say this even if she is not, and if/when she becomes pregnant, the man is responsible for financial support of the borne offspring. He may or may not be allowed any custody or visitation rights. Is that fair? (I acknowledge that a man can lie about a vasectomy or can take off a condom without a woman's knowledge … but that baby, if one is created, is still his responsibility; he's in a power-position, but she still retains the legal right to avoid it, and his duplicity does not change the fact that she, in the end, has the power of procreation and of what we label choice.)

For example: a woman might become pregnant without the intention or either party, even if one or both of them are using a birth control feature in good faith, yet, it is she and she alone, who gets to decide whether that fetus/baby lives. "My body, my choice" is supposed to be empowering to females, but I can't help but see how it shuts out the other genetic contributor. Is that fair? I think I am missing a feminist piece of history. I've been alive only as long as American abortion has been legal.

When I lived in Japan 14 years ago, I learned that for them, abortion was a sanctioned form of birth control and somewhat widespread. The Japanese also are the leading consumers of condoms. I don't know: perhaps they buy them on conscience but don't use them? Sounds familiar.

I also learned that a woman has to have the signed consent of the paternal entity (would you rather I say "baby's father?") in order to have an abortion. And that Japanese health care providers, like many pro-life activists in our country wish ours all did, automatically do an ultrasound, which shows, that, yup, there's a living, cute little person in there. It's not just a positive stripe on a test.

My point is that our laws are irrational. They claim one thing and accomplish another. And also that the most "life-protecting" policies do not insure that women somehow will stop using this last-resort, a choice that is often quite thought-out, and often un-blithe, very visceral and very permanent but chosen as necessary; as way of controlling their own destiny, it, in short, works.

I would encourage you to read the book, Jane, if you think women will stop getting abortions, even dangerous ones, as this story explains, if the law of the land prevents it.

I agree that all life is sacred. But I also observe that we, all the time, make choices about others' lives. I don't donate food to shelters nor offer up my own too-spacious home to shelter those who need it. I don't have resources to sustain my so-called lifestyle, yet I'm not providing a nursery for some alone-and-pregnant person. I do put my money where my mouth is, which is to say, barely anywhere. I acknowledge that we all are selfish, but I likewise can say I am no hypocrite.

I have committed theft, but I have only twice lied, and only to a lover, when I was quite young and very confused. The stealing amounted to taking a five-dollar bill from a sidewalk, a coffee maker from a college psychology department "chill room," and, when I was five, a daffodil from a neighbors' yard to give to my mother; around the same time, I ate a gumball from a five-and-dime, because it was spilled on the floor and seemed like a sample.

Therefore, I find the touted "must save all life" rhetoric of the mislabeled pro-life side to ring untrue.

Yes, some have adopted disadvantaged children. Many, many children remain.

Yes, killing anyone is wrong; however, we don't seem to mind the death penalty, the trillion-dollar military wars … including the "war on drugs" that puts tens of thousands of people in jail in our country and also at a disproportionally non-white rate (creating orphans) and that kills, especially in our coordination with Mexico (through violence I can't understand) tens of thousands of people who don't even fucking smoke pot.

Humans will always have contradictions and anomalies. I just wish we could be honest about them. We are wasting so much time pretending.

Pretending is something I understood to be something children did.

I used to play house. Not the sexual kind, just making food and tending to dolls.

I used to play army. Not the malicious kind, just going through maneuvers with toys in the gravel driveway.

I used to play office. Yes, the exact kind I feel a bit condemned to to this very day.