Monday, September 25, 2006

Reproductive Freedom with a Little History

All right, a thread over at The Data Port touched on the abortion debate, and it has really set me off. First, I need to quote an excellent distinction posted by TDP Blogger Art Jacobson:

Let me take it a step further and suggest that it is systematically unresolvable because there is not really one argument going on here, but two. We tend to conflate them.

One argument is about whether a woman has the ultimate right over control of her body. Another argument is about whether life begins at conception and whether abortion is immoral.

These are two different arguments, not two branches of the same argument. How we settle one probably has no force in the settlement of the other.

The one thing we could argue about and decide would be the question of the social utility of banning abortion, Socio-political consequences, costs, effects of family structure, effect on children who were allowed to come to term unwanted, and so forth.

Most well said, Art. Now I must rant.

Will spare folks Susan B. Anthony, suffrage, Rosie the Riveter, and start in 1960 with FDA approval of the birth control pill and in 1963 with Smith College Betty Friedan’s publication of The Feminine Mystique and also Smith College Gloria Steinem's undercover article. We had the 60’s questioning authority, questioning everything, exploring free love, with exploding university enrollment, Friedan’s book, and the pill well in the mix.

In 1970 Norma McCorvy files a lawsuit against Texas abortion laws, claiming her pregnancy was the result of a rape. In 1972 Steinem starts publishing Ms. Magazine and the 92nd Congress of the United States submits the following proposed amendment to the US Constitution:

SECTION 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
SEC. 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
SEC. 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

To take effect, 38 states had to ratify. We got to 35, and this conversation was HUGE.

In 1973 McCorvy, now known as "Jane Roe," sees her suit culminate with the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

The Feminist movement cheered and continued to gain momentum. That same year Boston Women's Health Book Collective published Our Bodies, Ourselves, a book written by women for women, which women devoured, and Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Fisher in a highly watched televised battle of the sexes tennis match.

WARNING!! This link actually does play the song.

In 1978 Mormon activist Sonia Johnson testified for the ERA before the US Senate’s Constitutional Rights Subcommittee. The Mormons excommunicated her. In 1984 she was the US Citizens Party’s candidate for president and spoke at the Republican convention.

Now throughout all of this, a bunch of guys are getting really irritated, and in 1979 some men together with televangelist Jerry Falwell form a major political organization The Moral Majority that claims to be all about "family" and "family values." One of its key objectives: outlaw abortion but it also held that homosexuality was a crime, and it made headlines by proposing censorship of literature and other publications it found offensive. Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, and now the president is sympathetic to the "their side" of things. The ERA died.

Make no mistake, and my key point here, is that this organization and its proponents main opposition to abortion flows from the same stream with the same motivation as the objection to homosexuality and the ERA, and their promotion of "family values." The belief that life begins at conception is an expedient notion they have integrated into their rhetoric to fortify their argument.

Yes, it’s a mess, and must acknowledge the Catholic Church immediately in 1973 groaned over the Supreme Court’s decision and voiced the belief that life begins at conception.

The Moral Majority evolved into the Christian Coalition run by Pat Robertson, who as we know, ran for president and can be quoted with all sorts of comments like small towns in Pennsylvania deserving Armageddon because he didn’t agree with the vote of its school board, and if I’m not mistaken, didn’t he suggest we assassinate the President of Venezuela?

All that said, will return to Art’s insightful remarks that the debate cannot be resolved, and will re-assert that Reproductive Freedom is part of a sane civilization and that society is not best served by restricting a woman’s access to this freedom.


Blogger Michael said...

I missed Art's original post over at TDP, so thanks for quoting it here. He summed up exactly that which I've been saying for some time: pro-choice folks are arguing one side of one argument while anti-choice folks are arguing one side of another argument (mostly).

I also appreciate your historical perspective on the issue, which is so important in understanding how we got to where we are today. We too often get caught up in the minutiae of the latest Senate vote or outrageous Operation Rescue lies. It's important for us as advocates to step back and look at the big picture. Only then can we devise a winning strategy.

9/25/2006 6:04 PM  
Blogger Kralmajales said...

X4mr (and Michael):

First, congrats on your blog, my friend. I am thrilled to see you in print...aside from comments.

While the Supreme Court never addressed the issue in this fashion, nor will they, I see the abortion debate as very much an establishment of religion question. Different faiths view the beginning of life differently and to enact a state interest in the life at conception, to me, imposes religious beliefs of some on the freedom's of others. I see same sex marriage the exact same way.



9/25/2006 8:48 PM  
Blogger wegowherewhy said...


Who are you? After reading your story, I read your whole blog. It is very good!

But your profile says you are male. No guy could write your last posting. Admit your wife or girlfriend did it. Either that, or you are gynecologist or hairdresser, but your profile says education. Do you teach Women's Studies?

Your posting is too deep for a guy, and a guy knowing about Sonia Johnson?

That's just ABNORMAL!!

No disrespect and I mean that sincerely. Did you used to be a woman?

I haven't heard the Helen Reddy song in years. Thanks!

9/26/2006 5:16 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Been a guy all my life, and no, not getting any blogger coaching from a wife or girlfriend.

Am, however, somewhat educated, and one period focused on religion.

Learned things like engrams and auditing, J, E, D, and P, sound of one hand clapping, wheel of life, being partkdolg duty....

And yes, one chapter included Mormonism, which believes the rather surprising notion that God was once what man is now, and that what God is now, man may become.

Women don't fare so well in their system, and Sonia Johnson emerged on my radar, a Mormon woman excommunicated from her church for having the gall to assert that women deserved equal rights under the law.

9/27/2006 8:51 PM  

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