Now that Roe vs. Wade is gone, the abortion protections we struggled for are gone, shuffled off to states. This will divide the ‘United’ States, even more, when states reflect the moral-code prejudices of that state’s currently elected politicians. The 2022 post-election scramble to limit voting rights shows us Republican politicians devise punitive laws.
Women gained the vote in 1920. In 1965 the Supreme Court legalized birth control, and in 1967 came the ‘Summer of Love,’ and Woodstock in 1969. Permissiveness was in the air. We learned to trust others and ended the Vietnam War. Media publicized free speech, hippies, communes, and the chance for understanding and personal growth. Drugs opened new horizons. And Roe vs. Wade women’s in 1973 meant that, after centuries of male control, women could decide for themselves whether or not to bear a child. Most women who get abortions are married, and they will always obtain a safe one. The ruling will mainly affect poor single women.
In 1973, Roe vs. Wade was passed by a Supreme Court majority of Protestant Democrat males. Between then and now, Catholic Republicans became the majority, with 6 Catholics, 1 Jew, 1 Protestant, and 1 Anglican/Catholic; 5 men and 4 women. Today’s Catholic majority holds a retrograde version of Christian fundamentalism, a hierarchy of men speaking to God and interpreting the true doctrine for parishioners, mostly women whose belief makes them trust and obey.
The Republican Party is also a hierarchy of mostly men. Party members are punished if they don’t support what the top dogs deem important. At the moment, they embrace Trump, focus on the past, and ignore the problems of a future dominated by fearful and cowardly men. This kind of masculinity sees kindness, peace, truth, harmony, and diversity as foolish weaknesses, suitable only for women and children.
Christianity is pervasive, and its principles are applied without question. Catholic religion decrees that a non-viable life form is more important than the viable person growing that life form, and the majority of Supremes agree. It’s likely those ethics are shared by politicians who now control the management of women’s bodies. And the ten-year-old rape victim says, “What about MY life?”
The first Commandment bans killing, so no abortions. But war? Ignored. Separation of church and State? A fantasy; they are intimately intertwined in today’s political universe. The Constitution prohibits government-mandated religion, but it doesn’t address a religious presence that has become a default national moral guideline.
This guideline punishes and shames an unmarried pregnant woman out of wedlock. Puritan Christians preached fire and brimstone, demanded strict obedience, and punished aberrant behavior. But one church’s morality applies only to its parishioners. Other sects with different beliefs might as well not exist.
When a girl is impregnated, perhaps by rape or a sleazy relative, she will be horrified, confused, angry, and desperate, with a creature growing in her body. There’s a generalized horror at what awaits her in nine months, as her body struggles to expel something the size of, say, a melon. And then…What?? Not all adoptions bring a better life, and foster care can be no better than what the child left.
Some families will accept the baby but never forget the stigma of its birth. Other girls are luckier, with supportive social or family networks around them. Some single mothers keep their babies. Dysfunctional families have their own problems.
This new mother is a child herself, with a helpless infant having endless needs, and loud, insistent demands. How she will support herself, much less the unwanted child? She won’t finish school. She’s never held a job and doesn’t know how to work. Any job she gets will likely be menial and poorly paid, and she must find child care. Without education, and being young, she won’t earn enough to live on. Welfare’s no gravy train; it’s a struggle to survive. There’s no provision for the needs of an unwanted child. We taxpayers fund welfare, and we don’t provide a viable standard of living.
Even wanted babies stress parents. A single mother living in poverty might blame that child for her own miseries. The child acts out, passing its pain on to others. Unwanted or mistreated children grow up damaged, with no empathy. In Boston, gangs of children roam the streets attacking and robbing pedestrians. Hateful people shoot up schoolrooms and public gatherings. And the Supreme Court protects gun rights. There’s no longer a safe place.
These predatory children were born while women had access to abortion. But child abuse is insidious. The trajectory from an infant’s inborn joy to adult cruelty doesn’t come from nowhere. The zeal of Christian morality and its intolerance of human differences foster a subsystem of violent, miserable people. Being poor, addicted, or with other chronic problems, increases the possibility of child abuse, pain, rebellion, anger, and finally the child’s criminal behavior. Juvenile detention hones the budding criminal into a prisoner, with a possible finale playing out in the execution chamber.
The repeal of National abortion protection is dividing our country even more, as states adopt either moralistic intolerance or self-determination.
Susan Stornetta is a retired archaeologist and a longtime Comstock resident.
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