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Hullabaloo


Monday, October 31, 2005

 
Generative Consequences

"Men's liberation" aside, there are many many people, both male and female, who believe that a woman should be required to inform her husband that she is pregnant -- after all, they reason, the baby is his too, right?

I don't believe that women should have to inform anyone of their decision to have an abortion because it infringes on her fundamental right to personal autonomy. But even those who disagree with that should recognise that it's not always so simple:

The name of the woman pictured below is Gerri Twerdy Santoro. She was just 28 years old. She was a sister, a daughter, and she was the mother of two daughters when she died a very painful and frightening death.

This New York coroner's picture first appeared in MS Magazine in April 1973. When Gerri's picture appeared in MS, no one knew her name or all the circumstances that surrounded her death from an illegal abortion. While it was assumed that she died at the hands of a back alley butcher, the family later confirmed that she died the way most women died before Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion in this country in 1973; she died from a self-induced abortion attempt.

Gerri was estranged from her abusive husband when she met Clyde Dixon and became pregnant by him. Terrified that once her abusive husband returned to town and learned it was Dixon's baby she was carrying, he would kill her. She was determined and desperate to end her unintended pregnancy. That desperation and determination made her akin to thousands upon thousands of women in those days that were desperate and determined enough to terminate their unintended pregnancies in spite of the fact that abortion was illegal. Illegality affected the safety of abortion but it never affected the number of abortions that were performed.

Gerri was 6 ½ months pregnant in June 1964. Gerri's boyfriend obtained a medical book and borrowed some surgical equipment. They went to a motel where Dixon tried to perform the abortion. When the attempt failed, when it all went terribly wrong, Dixon fled the scene, leaving her there to die, alone, in this cold impersonal hotel room. She was bleeding profusely and tried with towels to stop it but she couldn't. How frightened she must have been, knowing she was going to die. She was found like this, on her stomach with her knees under her, her face not visible, bloody, nude, alone and dead.


You can go to the link to see the picture, if you need to see the horror.

The new nominee for the Supreme Court voted that a woman today, in the same position this woman was in in 1964, would probably have to do the same thing Gerri Santoro did. Informing her husband would put her in the exact position she is desperate to avoid. And that woman might very well end up the same way Gerri Santoro did.

Now, I'm sure there are many on the right who believe that this poor woman deserved what she got for being unfaithful to her abusive husband. Her crime was having unauthorized sex and she should have had to "pay the price" by bringing a child into an angry abusive marriage --- or perhaps being killed by her violent husband.

Indeed, great thinkers on the right are now saying this right out loud.

From Pandagon I find out that Leon Kass is dead serious about outlawing birth control, because it has unhinged women's "desire" from its "consequences:"

The sexual revolution that liberated (especially) female sexual desire from the confines of marriage, and even from love and intimacy, would almost certainly not have occurred had there not been available cheap and effective female birth control — the pill — which for the first time severed female sexual activity from its generative consequences.

[...]

Her menstrual cycle, since puberty a regular reminder of her natural maternal destiny, is now anovulatory and directed instead by her will and her medications, serving goals only of pleasure and convenience, enjoyable without apparent risk to personal health and safet

[...]

Her sexuality unlinked to procreation, its exercise no longer needs to be concerned with the character of her partner and whether he is suitable to be the father and co-rearer of her yet-to-be-born children.


How touching. If it weren't for birth control we could pretend we're in Victorian England and have a nice cup of tea. Sadly, his little fantasy wasn't even true during that time for any but the richest Mayfair heiresses (who were also bartered off like cattle) and it sure wasn't true for women who had no means.

I think it's time to call upon some down home wisdom from somebody red staters revere about the "character" of partners and the "generative consequences" for women in a life without repropductive freedom:

You wined me and dined me
When I was your girl
Promised if I'd be your wife
You'd show me the world
But all I've seen of this old world
Is a bed and a doctor bill
I'm tearin' down your brooder house
'Cause now I've got the pill

All these years I've stayed at home
While you had all your fun
And every year thats gone by
Another babys come
There's a gonna be some changes made
Right here on nursery hill
You've set this chicken your last time
'Cause now I've got the pill

This old maternity dress I've got
Is goin' in the garbage
The clothes I'm wearin' from now on
Won't take up so much yardage
Miniskirts, hot pants and a few little fancy frills
Yeah I'm makin' up for all those years
Since I've got the pill

I'm tired of all your crowin'
How you and your hens play
While holdin' a couple in my arms
Another's on the way
This chicken's done tore up her nest
And I'm ready to make a deal
And ya can't afford to turn it down
'Cause you know I've got the pill

This incubator is overused
Because you've kept it filled
The feelin' good comes easy now
Since I've got the pill
It's gettin' dark it's roostin' time
Tonight's too good to be real
Oh but daddy don't you worry none
'Cause mama's got the pill
Oh daddy don't you worry none
'Cause mama's got the pill

Loretta Lynn 1972


Scalito doesn't want women to have family leave when they get pregnant, and he thinks that women should have to inform their husbands if they want an abortion (at least until he can outlaw it all together.) Considering his views are considered to be in the same ballpark as Scalia, I assume that he thinks that Griswold should be overturned as well -- all the best right wing fascists do.

Good luck with this. If these guys have their way it's going to be a rude awakening for the women in this country.




Update: Excuse me, I just found out that Scalito believes that there should have been an exception to the "inform the husband" provision --- she would have had to go to court and reveal all of her private business to a judge in order to get permission not to tell her estranged, abusive husband. The supreme court found that to be an undue burden. I'm sure he and Nino will take care of that nonsense the first chance they get.



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