Uneducated


Gamers know this. Enter an alternate universe and they know that sometimes everyone has an evil twin. Or, as Carl Jung claimed, everyone has a shadow side, the primitive, irrational and dark aspect of the self. The shadow exists for otherwise goodies to be baddies. According to Jung, the shadow is prone to projection, turning a personal inferiority into a perceived moral deficiency in someone else. But, you might ask, what is the connection of the shadow self with abortion? Simple. Walk amongst most anti abortion activists, heretofore known as protesters, and you will cross into their alternate reality. Unlike gamers who are critical thinkers, these folks demonstrate primitive, irrational thinking and project their darkness and moral deficiencies on those outside their small universe.

First, most protesters succumb to primitive fears and hate. As a matter of survival, their fear and hate of what they do not understand leads them to embrace radical and destructive ideologies. Nowhere is there more evidence of this radical and destructive thinking than in the war against women being carried out across the United States. Rather than understand that women hold up half the sky, have full rights to bodily integrity, and have full rights as a citizen, they enthusiastically release their primitive hate to wage a bloody battle against abortion, abortion providers, and contraception, mostly impacting poor and minority women.

Second, from the churches to the likes of David Reardon and Priscilla Coleman, from the rarefied bluster of Frank Pavone to the pontifications of Troy Newman, these folks perpetuate an anti science, anti medicine campaign that would make Goebbels blush. Their web sites, posters and their ‘literature’ are replete with misinformation, untruths and cheap scare tactics. For example, post-abortion stress syndrome, PASS, is an attempt to illustrate that legal abortions expose women emotional trauma, often resulting in lifelong regret and depression. Yet, credible researchers from reputable institutions disprove every one of the Herculean efforts of Coleman and Reardon to argue that PASS exists. In a parallel claim, made from outliers, such as Joel Brind, argue that there is a dangerous correlation between abortion and breast cancer. However, the National Institute of Health, the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society and legions of trustworthy researchers continue to find no connection.

Third, and most devastatingly obvious, is that rather than focus on imaginary things, folks in this universe would do well to cross back over to reality.  Why not focus on why women don’t have the material or social support they need to continue pregnancies they might not want to end? I’m not talking about throwing diapers and baby showers at women or offering to buy them a winter coat. Rather than preying upon the emotions of women at a vulnerable time, you could offer measures that ensure a safe and comfortable home, transportation, health care, education, childcare and a fulfilling job—at least until she is on her feet. And for women who know that abortion is their only option, rather than project your moral inferiority on them, why not show some respect? Why not offer a bit of compassion instead of judgment? In other words, rather than standing outside abortion clinics as the pillar of darkness, why not as a beacon of light and compassion?

No Sex

Okay, boys and girls.  Let’s talk about sex.

Now that I have your attention.

So, as we know, there are a whole bunch of people out there who would prefer to make abortion illegal in this country.  They would like to go back to the old days when far too many women were being transported to the hospital emergency rooms because of a self-induced abortion or one performed by a shady back-alley “abortionist.”  How they can place more value on the “life” of that fetus over a woman’s health is beyond me, but I respect thoughtful anti-abortion advocates and support their right to try to make abortion illegal again through the judicial or legislative process.   Knock yourself out.

But here’s what I don’t get.  There are also millions and millions of anti-abortion advocates who do not support birth control.   I guess they are just taking their marching orders from the Pope who, theoretically, never has sex.  So, these people are telling others that if they are going to have sex with their partner, then it has to be with the intention of producing a child.  Forget the condoms or the birth control pills.  That is VERBOTEN.

Now, my question is this – how often are these anti-abortion, anti-birth control wackos having sex?

Anti Abortion Rally

Let’s assume that Mary and John have been married for 10 years and, being good Catholics, they have sex only once a month.  Now, of course, they are not going to conceive every time they have sex.  That’s particularly true if they do not have intercourse and really go out on a limb by doing something else (which, I suspect, is probably enough to send you straight to hell).  But let’s say they have intercourse 7 times in a year.  So, what I’m starting to add up in my head is that they will have one child a year.  Now, I know this is not scientific but my point is at that rate – if everyone in the country suddenly because devout Catholics – we would beat the crap out of China in the population race, marking probably the only time we would beat China in anything.

I think what this all comes down to is anti-abortion folks who don’t support birth control probably don’t have much sex.  And that shouldn’t be too surprising.  I mean, have you been to an anti-abortion rally lately?  Have you looked at the crusty old men and the misshapen women who have suffered through ten pregnancies?  And talk about getting in the mood.  Can you imagine standing outside of a clinic for hours, screaming at women, fantasizing over the baby they think they’ve saved, then going home to have some furious post-demonstration sex?   I think not.  And that’s why it is easy for them to say “no” to artificial birth control because they are doing it naturally by not having sex!

The point that I want to make, of course, is that anti-abortion folks need to get real.  If you really want to stop abortion, it ain’t gonna happen by you standing outside a clinic with a bullhorn shouting “Don’t kill me, Mommy!  Don’t kill me!”  The way you will stop an abortion is by preventing the conception of the child in the first place.  That’s why I will always say that abortion clinics, because they counsel women on birth control and offer free samples, do more to stop abortion than anyone.

And the other thing I want to say to my friends in that movement is:  have some fun.  I am now 61 years old and my spouse is 57.  We still have sex several times a week in all kinds of places and all kinds of positions with all kinds of toys.  Saturday morning is our favorite time – the time that most demonstrators are out at a clinic.

Life is too short, folks.  Join the party before it is too late.

Senator Joe Pitts

Okay, it’s my turn to crow, to beat my breast, to confirm to all of you skeptics how smart I am.  I gotta do this because after all of these years, I remain an insecure person who needs the kudos where I can get them.  I need to claim victory when I’m right about something.  I blame my shortcomings on my dead mother who for many years tortured me mentally by telling me how worthless I was.  She also beat the crap out of me but, well, I digress.  Let me get off of the couch now.

In my last post entitled “Shall We Dance?” I talked about how the pro-choice groups were in a state of panic because Randall Terry, the now totally emasculated founder of the now practically defunct Operation Rescue, had a meeting with the Chief of Staff of the incoming Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner.   I told everyone to calm down, that such a meeting was par for the course and that Terry would sent on his way, thinking he made some progress when, in fact, nothing dramatic would happen.

So, this morning in the New York Times, there is a headline entitled “Push for Stricter Abortion Limits is Expected in House.”  OMG!  Terry has done it!  They’re doing what he demanded – the end of legal abortion is in sight!  But then I took the unusual approach of actually reading the article and what I discovered confirmed exactly what I predicted in my last blog (applause).

The article notes that Representative Joe Pitts will now head the subcommittee that considers much of the anti-abortion legislation.  And, guess what he is going to do?  He is going to assure that no federal dollars will be used to pay for abortions.   How radical!  What a guy!  No doubt he is now Randall Terry’s hero and will soon receive a framed “Certificate of Appreciation” from Operation Rescue, assuming they can afford the paper and the frame.

Specifically, Pitts is targeting the new health care reform law and wants to insure that no one could use the

Randall Terry

new system to get an abortion.  Now, I don’t like this idea but my question is:  is that the best you got?  After all, no federal dollars have been spent for abortion for decades thanks to the late Congressman Henry Hyde.  This is your “pro-life agenda?”

Now, I don’t want to hear from the pro-choicers about how unfair this would be to women.  I get that piece, spare me the political rants.  You just gotta face it, we don’t have the votes to stop everything.  But if this is all they are going to do, then I say go ahead and waste your time on something that will hardly affect anyone. I mean, the fact is that the new health care centers will not even be offering abortion services folks. Just take this “defeat” and claim victory.

So, as I predicted, Randy Terry is probably telling his buddies how influential he is and, as I predicted, the new Congress won’t do anything that will curtail abortion rights in this country.

So, piss off, Mom.

I am smarter than you thought.

Jennifer misses the action.

She misses the adrenaline rush, the nervous stomach, the sweaty palms.  She misses the television cameras, the high-powered meetings and the inspiring convention speeches.  She even misses the feeling of wondering if the person approaching her is her assassin.

Jennifer is a veteran of the abortion wars.

Protests

In the 1990’s, she ran a busy abortion clinic in Florida.  During those years, she experienced it all:  the swarms of protestors surrounding her clinic, the bombings, the daily telephone death threats, the butyric acid attacks, the stalking and, yes, the killings.  She was in the middle of the maelstrom.

Today, she works for a small non-profit organization, raising money for a good cause.  It’s a satisfying job but it’s not enough.  She misses the wars.

Now, I am no psychologist but after talking to her the other day I have developed a theory.  Just hear me out.

In her day, Jennifer commanded a lot of attention.  A physically stunning woman, she didn’t fit the stereotype of the beleaguered abortion clinic director or the hardcore feminist.  She swallowed up a room with her infectious laugh and turned a lot of heads.  She also thrived on being the center of attention.  She enjoyed the media interviews, testifying before the legislature and staring down those protestors who dared to think about closing her clinic.

After hours, Jennifer played hard.  She enjoyed her wine and her men.  She could drink her (mostly) male doctors under a table and the next day greet her patients with her dazzling smile.  She enjoyed calling the shots.  She even derived a sordid sense of satisfaction when she heard her protestors mumbling under their breath “there she is, that’s the one who runs the abortuary.”

Protests

Then she left her clinic to run another one in an inner city, a non-profit facility run by a board of directors.  Suddenly, she was reporting to a bunch of folks.  Then, the federal government passed several laws restricting the rights of protestors and things started getting quiet outside the clinic.  She was suddenly in a different world and she started to lose her edge   Then the clinic closed its doors.

Although she enjoys her current job, a few years ago, in an attempt to recapture some of her passion, she set up a fund for poor women who needed abortions.   But she told me this weekend that it didn’t work, that her juices still weren’t flowing.  She then admitted that she felt that the folks she was working with on the fund didn’t really appreciate what she brought to the table, i.e., they didn’t realize she was a hardened veteran of the abortion wars.  While she admitted these feelings were “kind of silly,” I could tell that she was hurting.

And my reaction to her was:  honey, join the club.

I told her how I also miss the old days as well.  I miss seeing myself on the network news or reading my pithy quote in the New York Times.  I miss being surrounded by throngs of angry protestors who were screaming:  “Richards, you are going to hell!”  I miss hob-nobbing with Members of Congress who needed my political advice.  In a sick way, I miss the abortion wars as much as Jennifer does.

I am sure others feel the same way.  I am reminded of Diane Derzis, a sassy southern woman who used to run a clinic in Birmingham.  In 1994, I flew down to observe an Operation Rescue event that was taking place at a different clinic across town.  When I arrived, I hung around, watched the happenings, talked to our escorts and chatted with the police.  Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I saw a red convertible approaching and noticed that Diane was in the driver’s seat.  She was all dolled up and drove very slowly past the angry throng.  The local anti-abortion folks knew who Diane was and they started screaming at her.  Diane just waved.  What struck me, however, was that she wanted to be seen, she wanted to be yelled at.  She missed the action.  Indeed, later on she told me that she was actually “pissed” that they weren’t at her clinic. 

The craziness was an aphrodisiac.

The more I think about Jennifer, Diane, myself and our other colleagues, I realize that to some extent we’re like combat soldiers who have seen action and have been sent back home.  We were forced to go cold turkey and miss being in those dangerous situations.  For Jennifer, she misses watching her security camera trying to spot the next trouble-maker, she misses reviewing the protocols for a clinic bombing, she misses those interminable meetings with her designated FBI agent.

And, to add insult to injury, no one has ever said “thank you.”  Oh, sure, the folks she works with on the abortion fund know who she is, they’ve seen her resume and they are aware that some “stuff” was going on years ago.  But they really can’t appreciate what Jennifer did and the gravitas that she brings to the table.  So, that leaves Jennifer with her worn press clippings, her fading pictures and her memories.

Jennifer is a fighter.  She will ultimately prevail.  She will be fine.  And, yes, she deserves a pat on the back for a job well done.

But she’ll always miss the action.

Okay, I know this is gonna sound corny but I really would like to take this time to give “thanks” to a few people who I believe have made significant contributions to the fight for reproductive rights.

Ellie Smeal

ELLIE SMEAL:  For as long as I can remember, Ellie has been the head of the Feminist Majority Foundation.  For many years before we met, she was an outspoken leader for the Equal Rights Amendment but at some point she segued over to the abortion rights cause.  For a woman with so much inf

luence in the halls of Congress and in the White House, Ellie is one of the most unassuming people I have ever met.  Years ago, when the anti-abortion terrorists started blowing up clinics and shooting our doctors, it was Ellie and her Foundation that stepped up to provide security for the abortion clinics.  She was the one who arranged security briefings at the Department of Justice and spent a lot of money to protect the providers in the field.  She was not always successful in her efforts, but she never stopped trying.

SENATOR BOB PACKWOOD:  Okay, before you say it, I know Packwood was kind of a sleaze ball.  I

Senator Bob Packwood

remember as well as anyone the sexual harassment, the womanizing and all of the other stuff.  But, I have to say that before the allegations came to light Bob Packwood was always there for the pro-choice movement.  He was our leader, no doubt about it.  He was one of the first elected officials to go out there and say the frigging “A” word.  He led the filibuster against the proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned abortion.  Indeed, I remember how he actually pissed some other pro-choice Senators off because he wanted to be the ONLY Senator out there engaging in the filibuster.  Such was his ego.  Ultimately, under his leadership we sounded defeated the constitutional amendment.

DOCTOR GEORGE TILLER:  So much has been said about the late George Tiller.  Let me just say that he was a man of his convictions.  He did not hide, he spoke honestly about his work, he vigorously defended the right of a woman to obtain a late term abortion.  He was a politically savvy physician who contributed thousands and thousands of dollars to help elect pro-choice candidates.  He supported the national organizations that supported the abortion providers.  He was our leader – plain and simple.

DAVID GUNN, JR:  After his father, Doctor David Gunn, was assassinated as he approached his abortion clinic in Pensacola, David Gunn Jr. burst onto the national scene.  Many people in the abortion provider community did not know his father, but we all quickly “adopted” David, Jr.   The first time that most people saw him was when he appeared on “The Donohue Show” just a week after the murder.   Millions of people came to admire the young man who sat on the stage stoically while he listened to Mr. Paul Hill suggest that his father’s murder was “justifiable homicide.”  After that appearance, David went on a speaking tour (despite struggling with an obvious stutter) and raised money for a number of abortion provider organizations.  At one point, he even offered to have his photo taken to be used in a full page New York Times ad to raise money for the National Coalition of Abortion Providers.  Over the years, David and I became good friends but today I have no idea where David is.

THE NOVEMBER GANG:  This small “support group” of abortion rights activists took me under their wing when I joined the National Coalition of Abortion Providers.  For years, they served as my moral compass and my political conscience, both professionally and personally.   I was able to let my hair down with these folks and got through some very rough times because of them.   Many thanks to Renee, Charlotte, Claire, Peg and the others…..

Finally, thanks to my spouse and my two boys for putting up with all of the “stuff” that they had to endure when I was out there representing the abortion provider cause.  You have no idea what they went through over those years.

Abortion

In early 1991, just months after the formation of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, I hopped in a car and drove around the Midwest visiting clinics to get educated on the provision of abortion services.  One of my first stops was at a clinic in Arkansas.

I had a good initial meeting with the physician (who offered me a joint that he had been keeping in his desk drawer), then I met with the administrator for about two hours to discuss how clinics are run.  Very educational.  At one point, we started talking about the reasons why women have abortions and I mentioned how I’d love to meet a woman who was going to have an abortion.  The administrator responded “well, that shouldn’t be a problem.  You need to talk to Gloria.”

I learned that Gloria was in for her 6th abortion.  I couldn’t believe it and my initial reaction was that I needed to know why this was happening because, if I was going to represent abortion providers on Capitol Hill, I needed to know how to respond to charges of women “abusing” abortion. The administrator left the room to ask Gloria if she was willing to talk to me and she came back within a minute and said that Gloria would “love” to talk to me.

Gloria was in her mid-thirties.  She was what my father would call “a sassy broad.”  She was very confident, had a bee-hive hairdo and, from the crusty tone of her voice, a heavy smoker.  She was chewing gum as we spoke.  Probably worked as a waitress at the local diner.  You get the picture..

I told her that I was just hired to fight for abortion rights, which she appreciated, then I told her I needed to know why she was at the clinic for her sixth abortion.

“Well,’ she said, “the first time the condom broke.  The next time my boyfriend said he didn’t want to use a condom and threatened to beat me if I insisted on using one.  The third time, I had gone on new birth control pills and there was some problem with them, don’t remember the details.  The fourth time, I was raped by two truckers outside of the Rusty Skillet café in Little Rock.  The fifth time.  Geez, I can’t remember what happened the fifth time.  Then this time I was just playing Lady’s Luck.”

Medical Office

“What is Lady’s Luck?” I asked.

“Well, I was not on birth control, didn’t want to use a condom so I just kept my fingers crossed and hoped that I had good luck.  I actually should have just kept my legs crossed, huh?”

During her story, she kept cracking her gum and when she was done she looked at me coldly and said “Any more questions?”

I asked how she felt at that moment, knowing she’d be going in for anotherabortion in about 30 minutes.  She said she felt fine.  “I’ve been through this before, I know what to expect.”   She was a rock, ready to get on with her life.  Then, to my surprise, she asked me if I wanted to go in with her to the surgery room.  I said yes.

We walked in and the nurse put her on the table and started prepping her.  Then the doctor came in and said a few words to her before he got started.  Gloria looked at me and then reached her hand out to me. I grabbed it and she squeezed.  I then saw the doctor insert a tube into her and heard a vacuum-like sound.  I looked at Gloria and she had tears in her eyes.  I asked if she was okay and she said “I am such a loser.  I have got to get my act together.”  I started to well up myself.  The nurse asked if she wanted to proceed and Gloria said “let’s do it” and the process was complete within minutes.

Abortion

Later, in the recovery room Gloria was her old feisty, gum cracking self, ready to go out to her cold harsh world and kick some ass.  She hugged me as she was leaving and said “thanks for being there.”

When she left, the nurse came over to me and said “she cries all the time.  We always ask her if she really wants to do this and she always tells us yes.”

Thanks for the education, Gloria, you sassy ole broad….

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