I want to clarify a small part of my last post. As I was going through my list of examples of social progress that the Conservatives had instinctively fought against and/or sought to undo, I mentioned "Reproductive Freedom." And based on the ascending chronology of the items in the list, it would be reasonable to conclude that I intended that as no more than a euphemism for "Abortion." Well... yes and no. Sadly, YES, Abortion is part of what I'm talking about. And admittedly it's curious thing to consider as "social progress" and to defend as such. However, while I feel that Abortion is a sin and a tragedy to use as a mere form of Contraception, it must be considered is part of the overarching issue of Contraceptive Rights, and the right of a woman to have a say in whether or not she will bear one man's children, or indeed ANY children. Take away abortion, and what you've got left is something that was beautifully, and rather appropriately, characterized by Keith Olbermann as "The Rapist's Bill of Rights." (Note: I'm sorry - I cannot find a proper attribution of that epithet. I first heard it from Olbermann, but it may well have been first said by someone else.)
No before we get sidetracked or a discussion about Abortion alone, I would like you to read the following exert from the autobiography of Margret Sanger - a feminist, nurse, reproductive rights pioneer and founder of Planned Parenthood. More of it can be found here. I read this in college, and remembered it clearly, because it just about destroyed me. THIS is the world that the other side of the slippery slope - the one that would limit a woman's reproductive freedom - leads to:
Then one stifling mid-July day of 1912 I was summoned to a Grand Street tenement. My patient was a small, slight Russian Jewess, about twenty-eight years old, of the special cast of feature to which suffering lends a madonna-like expression. The cramped three-room apartment was in a sorry state of turmoil. Jake Sachs, a truck driver scarcely older than his wife, had come home to find the three children crying and her unconscious from the effects of a self-induced abortion. He had called the nearest doctor, who in turn had sent for me. Jake's earnings were trifling, and most of them had gone to keep the none-too-strong children clean and properly fed. But his wife's ingenuity had helped them to save a little, and this he was glad to spend on a nurse rather than have her go to a hospital.
The doctor and I settled ourselves to the task of fighting the septicemia. Never had I worked so fast, never so concentratedly.
Jake was more kind and thoughtful than many of the husbands I had encountered. He loved his children, and had always helped his wife wash and dress them. He had brought water up and carried garbage down before he left in the morning, and did as much as he could for me while he anxiously watched her progress.
After a fortnight Mrs. Sachs' recovery was in sight. As I was preparing to leave the fragile patient to take up her difficult life once more, she finally voiced her fears, "Another baby will finish me, I suppose?"
"It's too early to talk about that," I temporized.
But when the doctor came to make his last call, I drew him aside. "Mrs. Sachs is terribly worried about having another baby."
"She well may be," replied the doctor, and then he stood before her and said, "Any more such capers, young woman, and there'll be no need to send for me."
"I know, doctor," she replied timidly, "but," and she hesitated as though it took all her courage to say it, "what can I do to prevent it?"
The doctor was a kindly man, and he had worked hard to save her, but such incidents had become so familiar to him that he-had long since lost whatever delicacy he might once have had. He laughed good-naturedly. "You want to have your cake and eat it too, do you? Well, it can't be done."
Then picking up his hat and bag to depart he said, "Tell Jake to sleep on the roof."
I glanced quickly to Mrs. Sachs. Even through my sudden tears I could see stamped on her face an expression of absolute despair. We simply looked at each other, saying no word until the door had closed behind the doctor. Then she lifted her thin, blue-veined hands and clasped them beseechingly. "He can't understand. He's only a man. But you do, don't you? Please tell me the secret, and I'll never breathe it to a soul. Please!"
These were not the words of someone trying to get a job, or borrow something from a friend, or asking the bank for a few more days to make their payment. This was a mother, wife and human being who was looking for a way NOT TO DIE.
"Tell Jake to sleep on the roof."
And while you're mulling that over, consider that this took place in 1912: A time when 1% of women - 1 in 100 - still died in childbirth in the U.S. (Roughly 100x as many as today's rate of 11 in 100,000). And Condoms and Diaphragms? The only existing forms of contraception, which had been around for thousands of years in one form or another? WERE ILLEGAL. And they remained illegal until Sanger "won" a court battle in 1918, appealing her 1917 Conviction for disseminating information (!) about birth control. I say "won" because her Conviction was upheld (!!) but the court issued a ruling that finally allowed Doctors to prescribe contraception.
Think about that. So strong was the movement AGAINST this basic tenet of Woman's Right's that it took a COURT CASE to allow even DOCTOR'S to prescribe it! (Meaning that, even in the case of LIFE THREATENING MEDICAL NEED, they had previously been barred from doing so!)
Remember: "Tell Jake to sleep on the roof."
That was their answer. That was society's answer.
And before anyone tries to explain to this humble blogger that the modern Conservative movement has nothing against Contraception (as long as teenagers never get a hold it, anyway *facepalm*, *shakes head*) and only one modern Church (the bass-ackwards and psychotic Catholic Church, which I am sorry to say I was raised in) opposes it's use, remember that I said that it was not ONLY about abortion. Just as the modern (Republican) church opposes abortion, who do you think it was that lead the crusade against contraception before and at the turn of the century?
Why, who else? That great bastion of Conservatism, the MOTHERFUCKING CHURCH! (Who, at the time, also considered it a sin for a wife not to avail herself to the sexual advances of her lawful husband, don't forget!)
Remember: "Tell Jake to sleep on the roof."
And in case you are wondering? There IS more to the story, and it does not end well...
The telephone rang one evening three months later, and Jake Sachs' agitated voice begged me to come at once; his wife was sick again and from the same cause. For a wild moment I thought of sending someone else, but actually, of course, I hurried into my uniform, caught up my bag, and started out. All the way I longed for a subway wreck, an explosion, anything to keep me from having to enter that home again. But nothing happened, even to delay me. I turned into the dingy doorway and climbed the familiar stairs once more. The children were there, young little things.
Mrs. Sachs was in a coma and died within ten minutes. I folded,her still hands across her breast, remembering how they had pleaded with me, begging so humbly for the knowledge which was her right. I drew a sheet over her pallid face. Jake was sobbing, running his hands through his hair and pulling it out like an insane person. Over and over again he wailed, "My God! My God! My God!"
So let me rephrase the sentiment that I was trying to express in my lats post:
At every crossroads on the path that leads to the future, tradition has placed 10,000 men to guard the past.
Or, to put in a less artificially politically-neutral way:
At every crossroads on the path that leads to the social progress, tradition has placed 10,000 Conservatives to hinder it.
And remember the statement on the Bumper sticker that led to the whole rant:
Evil flourishes when good men doing nothing.
Well... If anyone still has issues with my labelling of "Reproductive Freedom" as a great and defensible milestone of profound social progress, or for that matter any of you Right Wing Pricks who would spread all manner of lies about Planned Parenthood, and even Sanger herself, just to score cheap political points from the abortion (*see below) issue, please, by all means, come on over here a second so I CAN HIT YOU IN THE HEAD WITH A BRICK!
Do you see what's been written on the back of it?
"Tell Jake to sleep on the roof."
(And... uh... I think I also wrote "Fuck You" on the other side...)
*It is worth noting that Sanger herself was opposed to abortion:
...we explained simply what contraception was; that abortion was the wrong way — no matter how early it was performed it was taking a life; that contraception was the better way, the safer way — it took a little time, a little trouble, but was well worth while in the long run, because life had not yet begun.
Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, in An Autobiography, 1938
So, really, all you people who are out there (on the 'Net, or in the Media) lying about Sanger?
I've got a brick here with your name on one of the remaining sides!
More on Margret Sanger. More. And more.