Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. (Just remember I'm looking through my prism which may or may not be the full story.) Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Abortions: Past, Present and Future

Spoiler Alert: If you’re a Pro-Life activist please stop reading here. 

I haven’t wanted to do this but here I am writing a post about abortion. I’m a product of the Second Wave of the Feminist Movement back in the ‘60s/‘70s and I fought for the Equal Rights Amendment (‘72) and I was invested in the outcome of the abortion issue (Roe vs Wade ‘73) having known someone who died from a back alley abortion, and I listened intently to the media when doctors, religious leaders and scientists presented their opinions to the Supreme Court on the topic of when life begins. From the moment of conception to zygotes to embryos to fetuses to birth---no consensus was ever reached on where life begins. All of these measurable benchmarks along the baby making process will become center stage again because certain forms of birth control will be classified as ‘murder.' 

When life begins was not agreed upon back in 1973 but viability outside the womb has became an important medical standard and is set at the 24th week. Though, now, with the advances of ultrasound and neonatal care it’s a harder agreement to put forth and it gets stronger push-back on the time-line. Viable outside the womb is arguably lowing but at the tune of nearly a million dollars per baby in neonatal care. Then the argument becomes is being hooked up to machines actually a viable life? If we applied the same million dollars to a person near the end of life couldn’t we also change the life expectancy rates? I’m not saying we should or shouldn’t as a society force insurance companies and/or tax payers to take on these kinds of expenses, I’m just saying Pro-Lifers should also be willing to save lives at the other end of life as well as babies incubating in the womb. Cryogentics anyone one? We’re already freezing embryos and at what point does it become murder to discard the ones not implanted? Harvesting a woman's eggs becomes a next level legal issue with the no-abortions-after-the-sixth-week trigger laws in thirteen states that are set to enact if Roe vs Wade is overturned in June.

At what point when a woman spontaneous aborts through no fault of her own does it become murder if heroic actions aren’t taken in a neonatal care unit to save what Mother Nature expelled? How many of us would be in abortion prison right now if we couldn't prove a spontaneous abortion in the first twelve weeks wasn't planned? And will Pro-Lifers be there to help with the cost of a new wave of younger and younger neonatal babies? If we as a society are going to force pregnant women to carry to term why can’t we be forced to keep people of all ages on life-support until new treatments come along?  I’m being sarcastic with that last sentence, and I hope you figured that out on your own.

I’m getting lost in the weeds here aren’t I. The whole reason I wanted to write about the topic is to help rally people to wake up to the rights women and families are about to lose if we don’t start fighting back. The Far Right has been planning this attack on Roe vs Wade for decades, they’ve been playing the long game getting sympathetic-to-their-cause judges installed at all levels and they’re well organized. 

Probably most people who are reading this are past the age when pregnancy is possible but we have come too far to turn back and we owe it to the next generations of women and men who want to plan their families to speak up. Pro-Choice means just that. If you don’t want one don’t get one, but don’t send other women out to the back alleys where the procedure was too often done with wire coat hangers and knitting needles. 

I knew a girl who died from a botched back alley abortion. Her father took her and her father was the 'man' who impregnated her. Why isn't punishment for men not part of the Pro-Life proposed punishment laws? Women don't impregnate themselves. At the very least men who cause unwanted pregnancies should have their abilities to have an erection taken away chemically for nine months. And just to be clear, I'm not being sarcastic here.

Abortions have been taking place since biblical days when dropping large rocks on a woman’s stomach was the preferred method. No matter how many Handmaid Tales-like laws they put in place women in desperate situations are going to find a way to undo a pregnancy. Our battle cry back in my day was “keep abortions safe, legal and rare.” If you agree spread it around and don’t be quiet about it. 

If you don’t agree, I’m like the shingles commercial that keeps repeating shingles doesn’t care. I don't care if your church says it's taking a life. I don’t care if you had an abortion and regret it. All tough decisions come with regrets, with what-ifs. Women who’ve given babies up for adoption have regrets, too. Women who’ve kept babies they didn’t want don’t always learn to love that child unconditionally. There is no perfect choice, one without painful reflections before and after. And this should be a painful choice but its one each woman should be allowed to make for herself.

In late June the Supreme Court is ruling on a case that could overturn Roes vs Wade but a leaked draft of that ruling shows the majority of justices are willing to do just that. There's no time to waste if you want to add your voice to the fray. A draft is not a ruling and there is still time and a slim chance we can influence the justices on the court. ©

* Photograph at the top by Anna and Elena Balbusso

 


69 comments:

  1. I had an abortion when I had two children and I have never regretted my decision. I could not afford another child either financially or emotionally. It was the right decision for me and I can't imagine what my life might have been like if I did not have a legal and safe abortion available to me.

    If women can't control their bodies, they are second class citizens, at best. I never thought I would see this day. It pains me to my core.

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    1. I never thought this day would come either. The abortion rate as gone down 24% over the past decade, Couples are being more responsible and education is helping with that.

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    2. In the last decade birth control has become much better, and there are options that weren't available earlier. That alone can account for the 24% decline.

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    3. Their next step is banning the morning after pill and birth control

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    4. It would be considered an abortion under the new law in certain states.

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  2. I had a whole paragraph written and then deleted it. I am absolutely sick that this nightmare is taking place. Truly. A woman's body is HER body, with every right to do whatever she wants, with it or to it. The decision isn't to be made by religion, other men, women, and most certainly, not the Supreme Court Justices. This is sheer lunacy and a massive invasion of women's personal liberty. Why aren't these people crying for men to be neutered??? Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, so is what they're trying to do women. How can you fight stupid? Why is such a basic part of freedom being put on trial or even argued about??? It's nobody's business what a woman decides to do if she becomes pregnant. It's HER body and HER CHOICE.

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  3. This whole nightmare makes me sick. What a woman does to or with her body is HER right and HER business. If she becomes pregnant, SHE decides if she wants to give birth--not religions, not men, not other women, and surely NOT SUPREME COURT JUSTICES! This is a massive invasion of a woman's personal liberty. It shouldn't even be questioned, by anyone, for any reason whatsoever. The whole situation is stupid and it makes me angry that some people want to control what a woman can or can't do with her own body. What kind of a free America are we living in?? It's surely not free for women, not if Roe V. Wade is overturned. People need to wake up and realize that if this is overturned, it'll just be the tip of the iceberg and we'll all suffer for it in the long run. They won't quit at just controlling a woman's reproductive ability. Just wait and see...

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    1. You are so right that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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  4. Thank you for writing this. You make a lot of good points. What I find ironic is that this is happening at the same time that the expanded child tax credit is being revoked. It seems to me that the same people against legal abortion are the same people against expanding financial help for low income and middle-class families. I don’t know if I’ll ever have grandchildren. My kids don’t think they will have enough money to support even one child.

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    1. It is the same people and they don't care what happens after a baby is born. And the only exception they are allowing is when the mother's life is in danger. But who decides that?

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  5. Like you, I am a product of the fifties and sixties. In Canada, what happened is that the anti-abortion laws got shot down and nothing took their place. We have no judicial ruling. I like it that way. My daughter had an abortion. Her body. Her life. In Canada, her choice, because of a lot of work by people like you. And me. I am sorry she had to do that, but I understand why. I hate the idea of abortion used as birth control, but I hate taking away the right to control your own body even more.

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    1. I think everyone on both sides of the issue is against abortion being used as a common birth control method which I don't think is the case, no thanks to the Pro-Lifers who are also against teaching sex education and giving away free condoms in high school.

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  6. After I read this I remembered something from my childhood (1950s). My mom was just 20 when she had me, and I was the first grandchild in her family. She had an older and younger sister, and two brothers. We were at a family gathering, and mom was telling her sisters and one sis-in-law about a feminine hygiene product that was supposed to also act as birth control. I can still remember the gold and white box (I think they were called Norforms--can't believe I remember that!) tucked in mom and dad's headboard. I was so little that I really didn't understand what mom was talking about, but the one thing I did know for sure, was that this little group of women needed answers. Mom spoke in a whisper and they listened so closely. Isn't it something how women have always helped one another. A truly generous act of love. Not everyone has a "big sister" with answers. Those are the women who need help. I doubt that men will ever be able to grasp the weight of responsibility borne by women of child-bearing age. A good, thought-provoking post, Jean. How are the baby swans and the geese getting on at the CCC?

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    1. Love what you added to this discussion. Thanks.

      There are six or seven baby swans now. No one can agree on the number as they stay too close together. The father swan is chasing everything with wings off the entire lake and working very hard at protecting his little family.

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  7. Oh I agree totally and also the major issue that these anti abortionists have is they don’t give one hoot after the baby is born. They don’t want any of their taxes dollars going for medical care to the poor, proper education, family assistance etc. etc.

    And guns kill more children every year, but no, we can’t have any background checks or parental responsibility to simple keep guns locked up and away from children.

    And the trumpers..you can’t force me to take a vaccine or wear a mask, but you sure as heck can force a women to not have a choice with her own body.

    And the really sad thing to me is back in the 70s when Roe vs Wade passed, I never heard any rumblings about how awful it was. Churches didn’t go beserk like now. It was accepted law and if you didn’t believe it was right or for you, you simply didn’t get one. A few girls I knew who did, never felt regret and their GYN doctor did the procedure and it was called pregnancy termination and insurance in many cases covered it in part.

    This has never been an issue until of late..once the religious right got their hooks into the Republican Party. Why are these people so arrogant that they can presume to FORCE their religious views on the rest of us and how can 5 people overturn a 50 year old law that the majority of Americans want to keep in place! This is not the MidEast where religion rules and women are stoned.
    As you can tell…this is a hot button issue for me and where it will lead.

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    1. I don't think younger women fully understand what their futures look like if Roe vs Wade is overturned so its up to our generation of women to express our views and outrage now, before it's too late.

      Love your point about guns and the masks. The Far Right are such hypocrites!

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  8. It is the same people who cry foul when asked to pay for school lunches. The same people who, here in Texas, cut funds for CHIPS, health care for children. Like you, I find it atrocious that politicians now talk about the lifelong emotional trauma of women who choose abortion, but fail to notice the pain of women who give up a child for adoption or who go forward with a pregnancy they are not prepared for emotionally or financially. Good little Baptist young married woman that I was, I was against abortion until someone close to me became pregnant at eighteen. She had just started sharing an apartment with a friend while she worked herself through her first summer of college at a community university, loving her studies. I saw her choices collapse immediately as she quickly married and carried her baby, but not quite to term because he, like all her subsequent children, was born way too soon. This baby was born before the days of neonatural units and he did not survive his first day. Family rallied round her, but no governmental agency stepped in to pay her immense medical bills or even for counseling. She is okay now, but she endured much and a cascade of choices taken away and bad choices made under duress. Some of those choices she still keeps from people. I remember her sunny, open face as a child, her foot-stomping toddlerhood when she knew what she wanted and was going to demand it, her quick mind, her knowledge that she was at the center of a loving family. No amount of love I and others offer, she now often does not feel worthy.

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    1. Thanks for share your first hand experiences. Shaming women for their choices is one of the reasons why woman rarely talk about them. I hate how women who've had abortions are too often painted as if they have no feelings about not bringing a pregnancy to term, like it was a lightly made decision.

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  9. What is going to happen to our rights in this country with this overly conservative court is frightening. Once they toss out stare decisis (which three of them said under oath they believed in following), there is no telling what is next. Same sex marriage? Birth control? I suppose anything by guns. I'm infuriated by what is happening in this country. The very black and white way they are defining abortion is going to cause so many problems for women (and their doctors) I can't even imagine.

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    1. There are going to be a lot OBGN retiring early I think. I remember one time there was a case where a pregnant woman was on life support and the family wanted to pull the plug but the local Right-to-Life group got involved and tried to stop it so the baby could be saved which would have involved months on life support for the mother and probably neonatal care for the baby when born. Of course, they didn't offer any money to help cover the massive bills involved.

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  10. You should send this to the New York Times and every other newspaper in America. It's a wonderfully written, spot-on assessment of what will be our newest national nightmare. At my age, I know a number of women who have had abortions. At the time they occurred, none of those women would have been competent mothers and indeed, in one case, it would have been especially challenging due to genetic factors. And you nailed one of my big issues -- after you force the woman to have the child, who will help cover the child care, medical issues, living expenses, especially if the mother is unmarried and under employed? In some places, it's going beyond abortion and into birth control as well. I've read a number of pieces on this issue. Yours is one of the best. Please do something with it beyond your blog and the "converted."

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    1. I'm flattered you think so highly of my essay but I don't want to relive the days when I had to bone up on all sides of an issue so I could take on what comes by being too pubic on a controversial topic.

      And you are right, if Roes vs Wade goes down then other things like gay marriage will be on the chopping block. They've made no secret of that.

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  11. I trust women to follow their own conscience and make their own decisions.

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  12. Jean, kudos to you for posting on such a controversial topic. I'm confident that if men had to deal with unplanned pregnancy, these conversations wouldn't be happening. So many unplanned pregnancies leave the female saddled with the responsibility of the outcome and the life-altering decisions. I am definitely pro-choice until all women have a voice.

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    1. There are many men out there who understand the issue and are willing to help women fight to keep their body their own, and to be response partners. But there are also too many men who want to walk away if their fun turns into an unwanted pregnancy.

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  13. You made some excellent points here. I really liked your take on the men involved having to take a medical 9 month vacation from sex. I would never have gotten one myself but respect the right of women to chose. I did have a roommate once who chose the only abortion option then, back street, and ended up in the hospital and almost lost her life. Women should be able to make decisions about their own bodies.

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    1. Sadly your roommate is another example of why we have to keep abortions safe, legal and rare.

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  14. You've crafted an excellent post and I agree 100%. This is indeed only the first step, a heinous and poorly thought out one yet the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

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  15. When abortions are illegal women die needlessly, a bloody good post

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    1. Thank you. As I said I didn't want to write it but I have no one to talk about this issue with and I needed to let out my feelings, so I thought others might feel the same. I'm surrounded by a lot of Catholics where I'm living.

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  16. Amen Sister! I am thankful that my crazy ass die hard catholic family gets this one! I don't get one big thing,if you don't believe in it - don't have one. So simple.Teach your daughters not to, but don't tell me what I can and can't do. For the love of God these are the same assholes who won't get a shot/vaccine, because someone told them they should and they don't want their rights taken away, just mine. I don't believe in guns, so I don't have them. It's pretty simple even for these simpleton nut jobs. And by the way I know many more catholics who believe in the right to choose, they just wouldn't chose this for themselves. See how easy it is to stand up for what you believe and just not do it? Oh wait, that doesn't give fat white men any power now does it?

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    1. Don't even get me started on the Right Wingers who won't wear a mask but think it's okay to tell a woman what she can't do with her womb.

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  17. And the nightmare continues….I wish I could confidently say this is the last gasp of a dying patriarchy but I fear not. How to combat this rising tide of religious doctrine stomping on people’s rights? I wish I knew…Have those who truly believe in democracy been playing it too nice and according to a moral compass that the other side does not possess? I think it could be this.

    Deb

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    1. The churches need to fix themselves. They are the ones who no longer teach or practice a moral code. But I'm for taking off our boxing gloves and going at it.

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  18. This is a terrific well thought out post and I'm happy you decided to wade in. Criminalizing something that's been legal for 50 years? And do we think there's never, ever been an anti-abortion woman who hasn't gotten an abortion herself? I do agree that it should be terminated in the embryo/zygote stage and that's entirely possible now with accurate pregnancy tests and morning after pills. I hope there are lots of young women hoarding one of those pills.

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    1. I've met more Pro-Life woman who'd had abortions than Pro-Choice. They think because they wish they hadn't done it that no one should.

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  19. Great post! I've been wondering why no one has pointed out the hypocrisy of anti-vaxers vs. Pro-choice. No one can force them to take a shot but the same people want to force a woman to carry a fetus to term.

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  20. All that I can say is Well Said!

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  21. Well written. I don't remember the Evangelicals being much interested in "the unborn" in the 1970s. They thought that was a Catholic idea. Then somebody decided to push it, probably for political reasons, and the propaganda started. But it's one thing to make a religious decision about when life begins and another to force your opinion on the whole country.

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    1. The Evangelicals weren't that interest in the beginning of reproductive rights fight. It was the doctors against the Catholics in the early years.

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  22. Excellent! The Supremes should read it before they make their decision -- if they haven't already. I really think the matter is very simple, not complicated as the New York Times Editorial Board wrote on May 6th and quoted at blogger Pied.type: "The principle is clear: Women and men should have
    equal control over their own bodies …

    Even more fundamental than our religious and/or unscientific differences about when human life begins is that simple statement: Women and men should have equal control over their own bodies. To deny women the right to abortion is to deny them equality with men. Period.

    Gender equality in the United States either is, or it isn’t."

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    1. Another good point in the debate. We become glorified incubators without free will once we get pregnant, like the Victorian Women who'd get raped and are forced to married their rapist who may only want her for her inheritance.

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    2. I might add a friend wrote me recently:
      “...the rights granted in HIPAA should apply to women’s reproductive rights. It’s nobody’s business but patient/doctor.”

      HIPAA: “The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that required the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient's consent or knowledge.”

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    3. That's a point I haven't heard before and it sure should apply to reproductive rights. But the witch hounds won't care if they break HIPAA to report someone when some states are even talking about rewards to anyone who turns another person in.

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    4. I just read Margaret Atwood's "Atlantic" article you no doubt will too, but just in case you miss it, here's the link: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/05/supreme-court-roe-handmaids-tale-abortion-margaret-atwood/629833/
      FWIW I had taken the liberty of linking to your blog in a piece I will publish this coming Sunday and now Atwood's article makes what you've written and the photo even more pertinent.

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    5. Thank you for the link. I would not have seen the article otherwise. And thank you for thinking highly enough about my post to link it to yours. We all need to speak up where we can, while we can.

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  23. There is not one single law in this land that regulates the male body. Not one. Some point weakly to the draft, which is so laughable that it is staggering.

    I cannot believe what this republican collective have dragged us back to. And how far. I am afraid what's next to fall because nothing is safe, nor anyone, either.

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    1. I can't believe it either. And it's not just with women's rights they're dragging us back it's with standards of ethic and morals, too---lying and cheating is okay as long as they get their own way.

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  24. I have nothing to add, you all have covered this topic and my sentiments exactly. It's never been about Babies/Children, EVER... since they could care less once Born, what happens to them, their Mothers or their Families. And any Programs designed to assist Babies/Children, their Mothers or Families are cut by the same sanctimonious Control Freaks now forcing Women to not have any Choice... and will bitch then about the Children Society will have to deal with from the circumstances they created with archaic oppressive rulings done away with over Fifty Years ago! I can't EVEN Blog about it Jean... you really steeled yourself to do something I can't here in the Blogasphere right now with my own Blog Post about it... so... THANK YOU my Friend!

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    1. I know what you mean, it's such a hot button topic and talking publicly about it is hard to do and you've already got a lot on your plate just dealing with your families, health issues. I'm glad I wrote the blog post, though. I needed to get my frustration out.

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    2. Great post! I totally agree and I also appreciated the comments. I'm heartbroken and furious in equal amounts.

      The only thing I can think of that might make them stop in their tracks is if we could push the idea of including in the law a DNA test from every pregnant woman, which should make identifying fathers an easy task, allowing the woman some measure of help from the man. Dream on, I"m guessing.

      Nina

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    3. I like also an idea I was on Facebook about pushing a law that no treatment or medications for Erectile dysfunction be covered by Medicare or Medicaid. We need to start regulating men's bodies if they want to regulate ours.

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  25. I didn't think I could be more in awe of the person you are until I read this post. You're still that courageous lady I met all those years ago.

    I've typed and retyped a response but they get so long. I'll begin by saying that I'm in complete agreement with everything you and your readers have said. I'm heartbroken that something so personal to women is going to be stripped away and once again we'll be nothing but vessels. With no laws protecting us, no support and no safe answers.

    Once you begin to take the rights away from a population of people, they are then seen as less. With every liberty that's removed the chasm will grow until the 'lesser' population is no longer even seen as people. When that happens, treating them poorly becomes normalized and even expected. A door is opening that that has a dangerous beast on the other side, and all generations of women are in danger if it's released.

    Removing the right of a woman to be the only voice that matters in the treatment of her own body, is beyond terrifying. If a woman is not allowed to make this decision for herself, the end result is that a woman's voice doesn't matter at all.

    Years ago, women were nothing in society but property. They were a means of service, children and personal pleasure. We were paid cents on the dollar when compared to a man's wages. We had zero rights in refusing our husbands their pleasure, and when assaulted, it was surely our fault. After marriage, we gave birth until we were no longer of child bearing age or ill.

    This was the normal life of a 'lesser' population. This is what can happen when a more dominant group is in charge. This is what we're headed back to, because people, one of the points above can already be seen in the distance. All it would take is the loss of your right to use birth control. I wonder how the Supremes feel about that.

    I am astounded at the number of people who think this has nothing to do with them. Because, 'Oh my Lord, I would never have an unplanned pregnancy! And neither would my daughters, or grand-daughters or nieces or...' Fine, that part obviously has nothing to do with you, but how do you like earning a decent wage? Being able to drive, vote, say no to a marriage proposal? Because, guess what, you're on your way to being much, much less than equal again. How many generations will it take for us to be back at being property, one stripped right at a time?

    How long before we have no voice at all?

    As usual, I've begun to ramble. I'm sorry.. I did delete a few more paragraphs though, so it could have been worse. :)

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    1. No need to apology. I'm glad this post gave you (and others) a place to express the frustration a lot of us are feeling. And I agree with every word you've written.

      I will add that the trigger laws some states have in place if Roe vs Wade goes down don't even include in cases of rape or incest as a exclusions. A woman could get gang raped and still be expected to carry to term likes she's nothing but breeding stock.

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  26. Perfect timing for this blog. Whichever side of the fence, this is about WOMEN and so many more topics related to women (as mentioned above ... owning property, the right to vote, etc). WHY would the Supreme Court even consider changing a 50 year old decision. Ludicrous.

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    1. Why is a good question and sometimes I think there is a certain type of men who are threatened by and resentful of women in the work place that they want to return to the keep the "women folk" barefoot and

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  27. Ruth…Ruthie…RudieMay 17, 2022 at 2:43 PM

    Beautifully written. Thank you for reminding us that it is more important than ever to take a stand and defend our right to CHOOSE. I was 19 years old in 1973 and remember the passing of Roe vs Wade very well. We seem to be falling backwards and I worry for those younger than us and what this may mean for them.

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    1. It's going to hit them especially hard if they aren't paying attention.

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  28. Thank you for your courageous post, and all the thoughtful replies pointing out likely consequences. I hope everyone makes it a priority to contact local and/or national feminist and reproductive rights organizations to find out what YOU can do, what are the best ACTIONS to take.

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    1. Now is the critic time to get involved. We can't say that often enough.

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  29. I like the nine-month chemical castration idea except they don't have the discomfort - and for some - the embarrassment associate with unwanted pregnancies

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    1. Maybe a bracelet like an ankle monitor proclaiming they've been chemically castrated that they can't remove.

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