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Entries in Birth Control (2)

Friday
Mar022012

{Rant} Abortion, Birth Control, Romania and Rush Limbaugh

I am SO sick of this whole birth control/abortion debate.

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Have we forgotten about the whole Roe vs. Wade thingy circa 1973? I was THREE years old. THREE. Many of you who read this blog weren’t even born.

Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion via the SUPREME COURT. Done deal, right? Wrong.

The argument in the politics du jour is that the government shouldn’t pay for abortions/birth control. The answer? Pull all government dollars that go towards the likes of Planned Parenthood.  Familiar with Planned Parenthood? It’s the place where lots of young women and women without health care can go to get pelvic exams, birth control and breast exams.

In 1986, I was 16 years old. Sex was still taboo and to have it was to label yourself a slut, particularly if you weren’t in a confirmed, long term relationship. My BFF at the time was a year older than I was. She was in a long term relationship. She’d been with her boyfriend for two years. Things were getting serious  and she was worried. There was a girl in our high school who had gotten pregnant who, rumor had it, had gotten so because  the condom had failed. It broke.

Suddenly, in the extremely bourgeois suburb of picture-perfect West Springfield, something was amiss. Pregnancy? Condom failure? WHA?

My friend was terrified of pregnancy. Wait, no. She was terrified of her abusive father. A father who I personally saw beat the crap out of my friend and her mother and who when I intervened, threatened me too. So when she begged me to come with her to Planned Parenthood, I drove her there with glee. I wanted to make sure my BFF was protected from stray boyfriend sperm as well as her asshat father.  

I stood with her and held her hand while she got her first pelvic exam. At Planned Parenthood.

So when I hear shit like this from douchebags like Rush Limbaugh, it sets my blood to FUCKING BOIL:

So, Miss Fluke and the rest of you feminazis. Here's the deal. If we're going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.

He’s referring to Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student who was denied the right to speak at a controversial Republican hearing on contraception.

So let’s see…. an educated woman who stands up for her rights as well as the rights of other women is labeled a slut and a Feminazi for requesting to legally, and through proper legislative channels, discuss those rights?

Are you kidding me?

One of the reasons we’re all in an uproar about everything political is the way we’ve taken to discussing things. We call people names like slut, feminazi and douchebag. As soon as the name calling starts, all true discussion ends. It’s tough to maintain composure when a fat-ass, right-wing, pseudo-celebrity calls an intelligent woman a slut. It’s a stunt. It’s a radio ‘personality’ looking for publicity.

The problem is that there are people out there who freakin’ worship Rush Limbaugh. They think he’s an educated man (he dropped out of the well-known and oh-so-elite Southeast Missouri State University). People actually listen to what he says. I guess as a right-winger he’s cornered the market on family values: married four times, no kids and clearly watches internet porn. Anyone else smell his hypocritical manure?

But people listen to him and believe him. The Limbaughs of the world use verbiage like this as political fire bombs during election time. They pass insane laws, fast track legislation and generally get everyone in an uproar all for votes. VOTES. It’s certainly not for the safety and well being of our population.

So let’s talk about that safety and well-being. There has been some interesting research out there in conjunction with unwanted births and crime statistics. I’m fascinated by this so thought I’d share. Most of this is paraphrased from the research done for the book Freakanomics, so please keep this in mind.

We need to start with a history lesson.

In 1966, Nicolae Ceausescu became the Communist dictator of Romania. He outlawed abortions in order to build  a nation worthy of the New Socialist Man – it was an exercise in grandiosity and ego. Anyone familiar with Romania’s history during this regime knows that the dictator and his family lived in amazing wealth while their people suffered in extreme poverty. The population grew.

Ceausescu’s ban on abortion was designed to achieve one of his major aims: to rapidly strengthen Romania by boosting its population. Until 1966, Romania had had one of the most liberal abortion policies in the world. Abortion was in fact the main form of birth control, with four abortions for every live birth. Now, virtually overnight, abortion was forbidden. The only exemptions were mothers who already had four children or women with significant standing in the Communist Party. At the same time, all contraception and sex education were banned. Government agents sardonically known as the Menstrual Police regularly rounded up women in their workplaces to administer pregnancy tests. If a woman repeatedly failed to conceive, she as forced to pay a steep ‘celibacy tax’.

Ceausescu’s incentives produced the desired effect. Within one year of the abortion ban, the Romanian birth rate had doubled. These babies were born into a country where, unless you belonged to the Ceausescu clan or the Communist elite, life was miserable.

Fast forward to December 16, 1989. Know what happened? Nicolae Ceausescu lost his grip on Romania. Thousands of people took to the streets in protest. Wanna guess the age range of those protestors? Let’s see, 1989-1966 = 23….ages of the protestors ranged from 13 to mid-20’s. Ceausescu’s own ‘Socialist Army’ retaliated and put a bullet in his brain on Christmas Day 1989.

Now let’s slide on over to the US of A. On that very same day in 1989, crime was just about at its peak in the United States. When the crime rate began falling in the early 1990’s, it did so with such speed and suddenness that it surprised everyone. Most look at the demographics and say, “Well, the majority of the population in the US was older. How many geriatrics do you see knocking over the local 7-11?” According to studies though, demographic change is too slow and subtle a process – you don’t graduate from teenage hoodlum to senior citizen in just a few years – to even begin to explain the suddenness of the crime decline  in our country.

So what does this have to do with abortion? Here’s another history lesson:

In 1828, New York became the first state to restrict abortion; by 1900 it had been made illegal throughout the country. In the late 1960’s, several states began to allow abortion under extreme circumstances: rape, incest or danger to the mother. By 1970 five states had made abortion entirely legal and broadly available: New York, California, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii. On January 22, 1973, legalized abortion was suddenly extended to the entire country with the U.S. Supreme court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade.

The majority opinion, written by justice Harry Blackmun, spoke specifically to the would-be mother’s predicament:

The detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying this choice altogether is apparent … maternity, or additional offspring, may force upon the woman a distressful life and future psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care. There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it.

The Supreme Court gave voice to what the mothers in Romania – and elsewhere – had long known: when a woman does not want to have a child, she usually has a good reason.

In the first year after Roe v. Wade, some 750,000 women had abortions in the United States (representing one abortion for every 4 live births, the opposite of Romania). Time for another math equation! Take the early 90’s, let’s just say 1994-1973 (legalized abortion) = 21. See where this is going?  A generation has passed since women can make their own decision to abort. In sharp contrast to Romania, you have a sudden and extreme drop in the crime rate across the country. And wanna hear something equally freaky? Those first states to adopt abortion (New York, California, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii)? Guess which states crime rates dropped faster and first?

DING! DING! DING! YOU WIN!

Socially speaking. Historically speaking. Logically speaking. Fueled by data and research alone, keeping the government and Rush Limbaugh out of women's uteruses (uteri?) is clearly the better choice. Are there continued arguments as to the whether the government should fund them? Yes. Is there a better way than to simply pull all funding from Planned Parenthood? Yes. It’s called compromise. I wish politicians could understand that word.

I also wish that the GOP would go back to stealing our money rather than getting on their family value/morality high horse during election season. It’s old. And false. And filled with such hypocrisy it’s sick.

If you think because you’re getting married and planning to have a child that this doesn’t affect you? You’re wrong. This is seeping into birth control and if you’re on the pill, that may no longer be covered by your health insurance. Can you afford that? With insurance it’s anywhere from $5-$15 a month. Without it can be $20-$50. What if you lost your job? Your insurance? What then? What about the women RIGHT NOW who can’t afford it now, who get their prescriptions from Planned Parenthood, like my friend did in 1986? To call a woman  slut, to enforce celibacy amongst women only (somehow folks forget that it takes TWO to tango), to take away a woman’s right to protect herself from unwanted pregnancy? It’s just stupid. And in extreme cases (hello Romania!) dangerous to our society.

I’m exhausted over the issue. Aren’t you?

Friday
Aug262011

A New Form of Birth Control!

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Last weekend I was wandering through Target looking for placemats. I’m still not completely familiar with the layout of “my” new Target here in Charlotte, so ended up doing a full lap of the store before I found where they kept them (for the record, NOT in linens, but in housewares). Wherever I went in the store, I could hear this little boy, probably about two years old, doing what two year olds do best: throwing a tantrum. And I mean  a tantrum of monumental proportions. It was something about a ball momma clearly was not going to buy him.

I was heading towards the cash wrap when I got about an aisle or so away from the pair. From the sound of things, momma was about to lose her cool and you could tell she was cutting the trip short because of her mean little kid. And yes, that child was mean. So I’m walking and I mutter a comment under my breath that I've often heard my Dad use in similar situations, “Why don’t you just smack that kid and really give him something to cry about.” 

A footfall later a woman walks right up beside me and pleasantly says, “The perfect form of birth control, no?” I had no idea anyone was nearby and she startled me. Flustered, I said “You didn’t just hear what I said, did you?” She laughed and said she hadn’t, but had heard me mutter and was certain it was about the child. We laughed and parted ways.

I went through the busy line, momma and the screaming child a register or two over. I paid for my purchases and stopped to pull the sticky tag off the sunglasses I had just bought so I could wear them. This process took longer than I expected and as I was finishing up, momma and Evil Child finally made it through the cash wrap. Momma was pissed. And I’m sure embarrassed. The kid started to run from her, screaming at her because now it was crystal clear he wasn’t going to get the ball he wanted. I heard momma say, “Why would you even think I’d buy you anything after all this?” Not that the child was in any way capable of grasping the concept of that question, but I had to give her private mental kudos for not placating the brat.

So now I’m standing there and the kid runs and ends up right at my feet. I’m standing there looking at the kid with an expression of what I’m sure would be the same if a miniature albino rhinoceros had presented itself. He gave a screech of what sounded like, “Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall! I can’t go without my baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall!'”

I said, in a loud sort of whisper, “HEY KID!” and he whipped his head up and looked at me.  I continued, glaring at him “You’re not getting the ball. Give your mom a break.” For about 3 heartbeats he had stopped crying and just stared at me. I raised my eyebrows at him in a way that mocked his little tantrum. And he knew it.

He turned his head and was immediately back in tantrum mode. He screamed and fussed his way all the way out into the parking lot, shooting me sideways glances as I walked to my car. Momma got a hold of his arm and yanked him towards their car, her other arm pushing a cart full o’ Target crap. He broke loose and ran. It was Saturday. There were cars everywhere. Momma screamed, abandoned the cart, grabbed the kid and whacked him several good ones on the bum, now having her own tantrum about safety and looking both ways and cars and all that.

Evil Child was too young to understand any of this beyond the fact that he’d gone too far and really pissed momma off. Scared the shit out of her is what he did. Momma finally followed my earlier advice about really giving the child something to cry about. 

In my mind, I see no issues whatsoever with corporal punishment. I was whacked as a kid. In fact, in what I see now as sick twist on the part of my parents, we would always get those plywood paddleballs  in our Christmas stockings. Well, guess what became of those paddles when the rubber band broke, as it always did about 5 seconds after you started playing with it? That’s right, they became the weapon of choice for misbehaving children. Skinny plywood sails through the air and it stings.

One time, and it only took one time, I misbehaved at my grandparents house. My grandmother made me go out and pick my own switch. Ever heard of that? It means you go out and choose the very instrument that you are about to be beat with. Pick a branch (generally switches are chosen from sapling trees – bendable green branches) that’s too thick and it might not sting as much, but you’ll get more whacks. Pick a skinny one and it’s going to sting like a motherfucker, but you’ll get fewer. Decisions, decisions.

People today might say that’s cruel. I don’t think so. It puts your stupid-ass child-brain through a series of very clear action/reaction/consequence type scenarios. That thing I did at my grandma’s house? Yeah, never ever did that again. And I didn’t hate her. Or grow up trying to kick asses on the playground. If anything, it made me respect my elders and taught me how to behave. And grandma didn’t tell my parents what I’d done, which was super-cool because I might have had a double-dose of punishment if she had.

I’m not exactly sure of my point here but I’ve come away with two very distinct thoughts:

1. Momma should have whacked that kid WAY earlier than the parking lot.

2. That other lady in the Target was correct. A most excellent form of birth control.