Wednesday, October 03, 2007

the seed inside ya, baby, do you feel it growin'?

(photo by Marianne Mather/STNG)

I love to read mystery novels, for pure escapism and fun. And my special subset of interest is female protagonists, in books written by women. The absence of visible testosterone makes these books more interesting and intellectual, IMO.

One of my favs is Sara Paretsky, who authors the V. I. Warshawski series of books. But it seems she also writes some riveting non-fiction as well, about the totalitarian and authoritarian goals of the religious Right towards womens' reproductive health in her beloved Chicago:
My grandmother watched her father die when an anti-Jewish mob broke into their small home and shot him as he lay in bed with his wife. The mob was jubilant and exuberant at his death; their neighborhood priest in Vilnius, Lithuania, led the crowd through the streets chanting a Te Deum to show their thanks to the Lord at the death of someone they considered a nonbeliever.

Most members of that crowd called themselves Christians. I think of them when I look at the mob in Aurora that is trying to keep the Planned Parenthood health center there from opening.

I have been working around these protesters and their associates for 20 years, trying to help women get through their ranks into clinics for medical appointments. On a recent stint at an obstetrics-gynecology health center under siege on the North Side of Chicago, I was trying to escort a woman with ovarian cancer through the horde so she could see her doctor.

Part of the crowd surrounded us, chanting "Christ killers!" and "Baby killers!" Briefly, I felt the fear my grandmother must have known.

The hypocrisy of these folks seems without limits, yet their agenda is clear, while misrepresented. They claim to be against abortion under any circumstances, yet the clear goal is no birth control or any other reproductive rights for women. They're not only after Roe v. Wade, they're after Griswold v. Connecticut.

Don't remember that one? You should. Here's what a synopsis of major Supreme Court decisions on reproductive rights from FindLaw says about Griswold:
Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965). In this case, the Supreme Court held that the right to privacy, which flows from the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution), includes the right of married persons to use contraceptives.

Interesting the the far Right, who claim to value personal freedom and responsibility, and lack of government intrusion, feel a need to tell people that they can't even use birth control. No abortions, and no way to keep from getting pregnant. This makes the old Rhythm Method seem like scientific advancement. Oddly, the great rush to canonize marriage as a sacred act between one man & one woman by the Right doesn't seem to include a married couple's right to privacy in re: their right to birth control.

And think about the specifics of the case, that prior to 1965, a state told its citizens they couldn't make their own birth control decisions. And it wasn't until 1972 (Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438(1972), that:
. . . the Supreme Court held that a statute that allowed giving contraceptives to married adults but prohibited the same conduct with respect to unmarried adults violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. If the right of privacy means anything, explained the Court, it encompasses the right of all individuals, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether or not to conceive a child.

Not that long ago. We seem to have barely escaped from the dark ages. And now zealots on the far Right want to take us back there. Here's an article from Prevention Magazine that makes some important points about the Right-wing lies about birth control:
In the past decade or so, the "hormonal birth control equals abortion" view has quietly grown roots in the antiabortion underground. It's spread from doctor to doctor, through local newsletters, in books with titles such as Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? (written by Randy Alcorn, an Oregon-based antiabortion pastor and author), and through lobbying groups that have encouraged lawmakers in Arkansas, South Dakota, and most recently Mississippi to enact "conscience clauses." These legislative provisions protect health care professionals--in this case, pharmacists--who refuse to provide services they oppose on moral, ethical, or legal grounds. At press time, similar legislation had been introduced in 11 more states.

An Internet search turns up thousands of Web sites containing articles with titles such as "The Pill Kills Babies," "Are Contraception and Abortion Siamese Twins?" and "The Dirty Little Secrets about the Birth Control Pill." Hundreds of physicians and pharmacists have pledged not to provide hormonal birth control. Among them: 450 doctors affiliated with the Dayton, OH-based natural family planning group One More Soul; some members of the 2,500 doctors in the Holland, MI-based American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists; and a growing number of the 1,500-member Web-based Pharmacists for Life International, says Brauer. Not even anti-Pill groups know how many doctors and druggists are involved. And while the total is still a small percentage of the 117,500 family physicians and OB/GYNs and 173,000 pharmacists in the US, they are making their presence felt in women's lives and among law and policy makers on both the state and national levels. Their influence is far-reaching and disproportionate to their size--a quiet version of the public shock waves produced by the nation's relatively small number of antiabortion activists.

"Refusing women access to the Pill is a very disturbing trend," says Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "The war on choice is not just about abortion anymore. It's about our right to birth control."

More from the article:
Part of the crowd surrounded us, chanting "Christ killers!" and "Baby killers!" Briefly, I felt the fear my grandmother must have known.

The police were watching the demonstrators block the clinic but doing nothing to remove them from the entrance. After five minutes, they came to help the cancer patient escape her harassers and return to her car -- weeping and trembling. There was no way she was going to get essential medical care that day.

After the police left, one of the protesters said to me, "I suppose since you think it's OK to kill a fetus you agree that it's OK if I kill you."

This is ugly language, but no more hate-filled than the rest of the words and deeds of those angry people who want to keep women from getting reproductive health care.

Here's more about the Aurora clinic from the Chicago Sun-Times:

A handful of patients visited the new Planned Parenthood clinic as it opened Tuesday in Aurora, but they were far outnumbered by dozens of anti-abortion demonstrators who vowed to continue their efforts to shut the center.

Opponents in fact filed a new challenge with Aurora's zoning board of appeals, contending the clinic -- which offers abortion services -- shouldn't be open because it lacks a required special-use permit.

. . . More than 20 patients also made appointments Tuesday for visits to the clinic, which offers a range of health care that includes testing for sexually transmitted infections and providing contraceptives.

Read Paretsky's piece, and be afraid for your civil rights.