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The Liberty Loss I’m Not Accepting

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Department Of It’s Still Complicated

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” These words, penned by Thomas Jefferson more than 240 years ago, continue to inspire many Americans.
And yet these very same words — affirming the equality and dignity of all — were written by a man who owned hundreds of slaves, and fathered six children by an enslaved woman, Sally Hemings.
For historian Annette Gordon-Reed, the contradictions embedded in Jefferson’s life are ‘a window into us, into who we are as Americans.’
‘The fascinating thing about Jefferson is that he, in some ways, embodies the country,” she says. “A lot of Jefferson’s contradictions are alive in us.’ “

 

 

This is the intro to the Hidden Brain podcast A Founding Contradiction: Thomas Jefferson’s Stance On Slavery, wherein host Shankar Vidantam interviews Annette Gordon-Reed, a Harvard University historian and law professor.  Gordon-Reed’s latest book is Most Blessed Of The Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson And The Empire Of The Imagination.  As moiself  listened to the podcast, I was struck by how so much of what the historian was saying about enslaved people and their relationships with their enslavers also applied to “free” (white) women.

Historians have long speculated about the relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, citing letters and documents and writings from Jefferson’s friends and critics which indicate that he was fond of and most likely in love with Hemmings.  Hemmings left  [1]  no such records; her true feelings remain a mystery…but then, how can you have a true relationship in a family, as we understand it today, with family members who are not free to enter (and exit) the relationship?

The experiences of women in the abolitionist movement were a large part of what inspired the first wave of feminism and led to the Seneca Falls convention, when women activists realized that, despite all their in-the-trenches work in abolitionist groups, when it came to legal and political power they, like the enslaved people they worked to liberate, were in similar circumstances:  women, of any skin color, also lacked ultimate power over their own destiny .

“When abolitionists Sarah and Angelina Grimke faced efforts to silence them because they were women, they saw parallels between their own situation and that of the slaves.”
(from “Women’s Rights, Abolitionism, and Reform in Antebellum and Gilded Age America,”
Faye E. Dudden, American History )

“ (___women activists) began speaking publicly for anti-slavery organizations before mixed crowds of men and women, even though they were mocked and threatened for doing something considered so unladylike. Thousands more women wrote articles for abolitionist newspapers, signed anti-slavery petitions, and circulated anti-slavery literature. Still, women who joined the cause of abolition found that traditional assumptions and attitudes about women often limited the scope of their participation and leadership in the movement. When the American Anti-Slavery Society was founded by William Lloyd Garrison in 1833, women were not allowed to be delegates.

….female abolitionists faced discrimination not only from slavery supporters but also from within their own movement. This highlighted to them the injustice of women’s inferior legal and social standing. When women were not allowed to speak or be seated at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who had both travelled to attend the convention, began discussing what needed to be done for women’s rights.”

( “Abolition: The catalyst For The Women’s Rights Movement
Utahwomenshistory.org  )

 

 

I listened to the podcast, wondering if Gordon-Reed would address that.  She did.

GORDON-REED:

“… But if you look at the kinds of male-female relationships they would have known at that time, a wife, a white wife, would have been under the control of her husband, too. She could not refuse consent to sex any more than an enslaved woman could. He could not sell his wife, but that would be about the only thing that he couldn’t do. So we look at this – and there’s this sharp difference between male-female relationships. And we see the difference between – obviously a white woman has more power than an enslaved woman. But those people – Sally Hemings would not have thought that as a woman she would have freedom to do whatever she wanted. So it’s complicated.”

*   *   *

Department Of Getting Personal:
When Your Business Which Should Be Only Your Business Becomes The Business Of People You Don’t Even Know And Wouldn’t Care To Meet

Speaking of Jefferson, why is it that the legacy of the failings of dead-for-over-200-years men continue to harass women?

It is not always wise or fair to judge the people of the past by the standards of today; still, it’s not as if the abolition and women’s rights movements were non-existent when our government was being crafted.  Our Founding Fathers ®, as visionary and radical as they were for their time re representational government vs monarchy, dropped the ball when they ignored the moral stench of slavery and preserved its institution, and snubbed women’s requests for equal rights.  I always thought that’s why the so-called “Liberty” Bell was cracked.

 

 

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

(excerpts, my emphases, from the letter Abgail Adams wrote to her husband,
Founding Father and second US President, John Adams )

 

 

But rational adults in the 21st century cannot hide behind history to justify why five people – five people out of 330 million   [2]  – have the power to drag their fellow citizens back to the dark ages of religious oppression and paternalism, by using the excuse that they adhere to a retro judicial philosophy of “originalism” via interpreting the U.S. Constitution.

Some longtime readers of this blog may have been somewhat surprised by my lack of constant commentary re the recent SCOTUS decision overturning Roe v. Wade.  Some of that “lack” was due to moiself  being out of the country and with a self-imposed news block for almost seven weeks, returning a few hours after the decision was as announced.  Watching this debacle, moiself  was at once enraged and stupefied-into-an-almost-zombie-like-disengagement by what was happening.  [3]

What kind of nation had I returned to?

 

 

Moiself  has previously written about having worked (a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away) in the field of women’s reproductive health care.  I worked five years in a private OB-GYN practice, bookended by a total of ~ three years in Planned Parenthood clinics – one in So Cal and three in the Bay Area.  My job for the latter clinics included working in their abortion clinics, stories from which I noted in more detail in this post.

I know those who are anti-abortion don’t want to hear or read this,    [4]   but I lost track of the amount of times moiself  heard from one of the people those clinics served – from a sheepish teenager to a mortified, grown-ass woman to the only-mildly-apologetic-mother-who-used-to-protest-outside-the-clinic-and-who-now-is-in-our-waiting-room-requesting-our-services-for-her-teenaged-daughter –

“You know, before ____ (the particulars of their situation)
happened to me/my family,
I might have been one of those protestors outside your clinic.”

I continue to metaphorically watch The Ongoing Situation ® while holding my open-fingered hands over my eyes, confident – hopeful? – in the knowledge that, as bleak as it may seem, we can never fully return to the past.   [5]   Progressive states (I am so fortunate to be living in one of them – yay, Oregon!) – will keep women’s rights to health care enshrined in their state laws; there will be networks of women (and men) who will help others not so fortunate…

 

 

After the recent SCOTUS ruling, an older female friend told me how dumbfounded she was.  She’d fought so hard in the 60s and 70s for women’s rights, after having been one of those desperate, frightened women who had an abortion in the kitchen of an apartment somewhere before abortions were legal.   I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened to me, if abortion would have been illegal when I needed one.  I know I would have found someone, somewhere, some way….

I have been pregnant four times.  Three of those were intentional, and with MH: the pregnancy which produced our son K; a spontaneous abortion (the layperson’s term is miscarriage); the pregnancy which gave us our daughter Belle.

This – my reproductive status and history –  is should be no one’s business but my own (and MH and my doctors, should I choose to share that information).  And certainly, no one who lacks a uterus gets to weigh in on what happens in mine.

 

 

For women who are anti-abortion: I may not approve of your choices re when you get pregnant, who will father your children, and how many children you have, but I am glad you get to make your reproductive decisions sans my or our government’s interference (the interference you receive from your husband, family, church – I can’t help you there).

As for men who are anti-abortion:  are you fucking kidding me?

Just. Shut. Up. Go. Away. And. Keep. It. In. Your. Pants.  [6]

 

 

I’ll make it simple for y’all.

Robyn’s Righteous and Rational Rules Of Reproduction
* If you’re a woman who is opposed to abortion, don’t have one.
* If you’re a man who is opposed to abortion, don’t be the cause of one.

 

 

 

I suppose I’m outing myself, in a way, in this space. Yet, to repeat a point that apparently needs to be sledgehammered into some skulls, “outing” certain info about moiself  has nothing to do with shame and everything to do with *privacy* –  my own, primarily, and to a lesser degree, that of the man who caused my first, unintentional/unwanted pregnancy (remarkable person that I am, possessed with wondrous powers beyond mere mortal imagination, I nevertheless did not knock up moiself ).

Let us pause for a moment and consider a certain…inadequacy, when it comes to the issue of how we talk about abortion. When we ask about statistics or share stories, it’s always along the lines of How many women have had abortions/Do you know a woman who’s had an abortion?

These questions let a key participant in the equation wriggle out the backdoor, and ignore or skirt a basic Fact of Nature ®:

Ejaculations cause pregnancies.

 

Who, me?

 

Why is it never framed this way:

How many men have been the cause of an abortion?
Do you know any man who has caused an unintended/unwanted pregnancy?

Let’s all make a vow to change, or at least expand, the focus.  The next time you hear or read the “how many women…” question, be sure to ask “how many men…”

 

 

For anyone reading this blog who is anti-abortion and  [7]  calls themself “pro-life,” and who might claim *not* to fully understand   [8]   the reasons why any woman might want to end her pregnancy…sigh.  Google it.  The cretins in the TexASS state legislature promise you a bounty for sticking your nose in someone else’s hoo-haw?  That doesn’t change the humane fact that unless it’s your pregnancy it’s ultimately none of your business.

To borrow a variation of the only thing I’ve been seeing that makes sense and that does not strike a defensive posture: Do you call yourself pro-life, and interpret that label into wanting to criminalize abortion?  Hear ye this:  I, too, am pro-life.

I am pro-Indira, who had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-Shelby, who had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-Natasha, who had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-Rosalia, who had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-Li Chen, who had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-Imani, who had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-Sakura, who had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-Zahra, who had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-my Aunt Erva, who had an abortion  [9]
for reasons that are none of your business.
I am pro-my own life: I had an abortion for reasons that are none of your business.

 

 

So.  A dimwitted busybody curious person may wonder, If it’s personal/no one else’s business, why am I making it yours by writing about it here? Moiself  does this for reasons that are not so original and yet are none the less pertinent. 

“In 1972—when abortion was illegal throughout most of the country—53 well-known U.S. women courageously declared ‘We Have Had Abortions’ in the pages of the preview issue of Ms. magazine.
‘To many American women and men it seems absurd, that in this allegedly enlightened age, that we should still be arguing for a simple principle: that a woman has the right to sovereignty over her own body,’ they declared.
Gloria Steinem, Billie Jean King, Susan Sontag, Nora Ephron, Dorothy Pitman Hughes and Judy Collins were among the signers. The women spoke out ‘to save lives and to spare other women the pain of socially imposed guilt’ and ‘to repeal archaic and inhuman laws.’ They invited all women to sign in order to ‘help eliminate the stigma’ of abortion.
“ ‘We Have Had Abortions’ Petition Relaunches 50 Years Later—With Support From Original Signatories.”
Msmagazine.com 1-20-22)

It can be easy to ignore or discount issues that are critical for other people, if you think the issue doesn’t affect you or anyone you know.  If you (mistakenly) think that you don’t know anyone who’s gay/atheist/has had an abortion, then LGBTQ rights/religious discrimination/reproductive freedom may be an abstraction to you.  You can allow yourself to be on the fence about the issue – or even on the compassionate side of the fence but not really involved – if you think it doesn’t affect you or anyone that you know.

I’m not sure about my mother’s stance on abortion, but I know she went to her grave not knowing about her older sister‘s harrowing experience. My parents were as loving and considerate as could be to all of my different friends, and they knew of (and even occasionally discussed with me) my political opinions.  However and sadly, judging from the publications and mailers I espied on their coffee table during my infrequent visits to their house, it is likely that they could have fallen prey to fear-mongering politics of The Billy Graham Association and other conservative religious organizations.

During one of my visits, California had an “anti-homosexual” proposition on the ballot (I can’t remember which propostion, nor exactly when– there were several, over the years), and I saw a GAY TEACHERS ARE AFTER YOUR KIDS-type flyer on their kitchen table.

 

 

I asked them if they took such hyperbole seriously.  One of them (can’t remember if it was Mom or Dad) said they realized it was over-the-top, then said, “Actually, we don’t know anyone who is gay.”

“No,” I said, “Actually, you *do* know gay people.  You just don’t know that they are gay because you don’t know them well enough to be privy to their personal lives, or they have chosen not to reveal this to you…” – I indicated the flyer atop the mail pile – “…because of crap like that.”  (My mother later reassured me that that the flyer had just come in the mail, and that they hadn’t “requested it“).

I proceeded to give them the names of friends and teachers of mine, whom they’d met and liked, who were gay.  They seemed genuinely surprised“Mr. Haffner is gay?  He was one of your and your sister’s favorite teachers….” (Still is, Dad.)  “That nice friend of yours from college – he’s so sweet and smart and funny, he was a premed student, I think – he’s gay?” (Yes, Mom.  He’s still the nice young man – nice doctor, now – who  impressed you.  You simply know something about him that you didn’t know before).

Did it make a difference in how they thought, or voted? No idea.

Select family members and friends already know (at least the bare bones details) of my own abortion story.  Moiself  be mentioning it here in the hopes that it might help yet another woman to know she is not alone in her experience.  [10]   Am I pissing in the wind delusional to think it might, just possibly, cause a moment of reflection for someone who supports the SCOTUS decision?   [11]  

 

 

The so-called pro-lifers – please, let’s label them honestly: they are anti-abortion, anti-women’s bodily autonomy.

They. Just. Don’t. Care. About. Your. Life.  Or mine.

 

*   *   *

 

May we understand – but not excuse – the wrongs of our Founding Fathers;
May we keep our noses out of other people’s hoo-haws;
May we support reproductive freedom for all (or STFU);
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Was not allowed to leave.

[2] The US population, which is probably closer to 333 million.

[3] Are we really, in 2022, still debating women’s bodily autonomy?

[4] Like there are any reading this blog.

[5] That is why I cannot bring moiself  to watch the acclaimed streaming series about going back and even further: The Handmaids Tale.  I read the book, and that was enough dystopia for me.

[6] And wrapped in five plutonium condoms.

[7] And what are the chances of that?

[8] Or in all honesty just doesn’t want to know.

[9] Self-induced, way back when abortion was illegal, and the resulting complications left her unable to have children when she later married and wished to do so.

[10] Hell know, there are a bajillion of us – The Guttmacher Institute estimates at least 73 million each year, world wide.  But most simply do not share this information

[11] There should be another footnote here, but I’d rather throw heavy furniture down the staircase, so excuse me for a moment.

The Vacation Schedule I’m Not Maintaining

1 Comment

 

Trigger Warning

 

“I couldn’t believe it, because they actually did it.  The court actually took a constitutional right that has been recognized for half a century and took it from the women of America — that’s shocking when you think about it.”     [1]

*   *   *

Department Of It’s Baaaaaaaaack….

Attentive and longtime readers may have noticed that for the past eight weeks this disclaimer opened my blog posts:

Thanks for checking in, so to speak (…er, write).  I am taking moiself  on holiday.  From this Friday and through June, I will be posting blogs from the same time period of eight years ago (late May-June, 2014).  New posts will return in early-mid July.

That was due to the “exotic” travel schedule of MH and moiself, which began in mid-late May with a trip Florida.  [2]

Here is what our schedule was supposed to be:

* visiting MH’s mother in Florida for several days;

* on to Stockholm, a couple of days to acclimate ourselves to the time change (and all those Swedish meatball variations) before joining….

* a 14 day Rick Steves Tour of Scandinavia, starting in Stockholm and ending in Bergen;

* six days of touring Norway on our own, from Bergen back to Oslo;

* catching a train to join our Swenadian  [3] friends and spending a short week in their Swedish country stuga (cabin), then traveling with them to Gothenburg and vicinity;

* six days in Iceland “on the way back” to Oregon.

 

Here is what actually happened.

All went as planned until Day 13 of the tour, when MH awoke under the proverbial weather and tested positive for COVID.  The next 5 days were spent cancelling and rescheduling train-car rental-ferry-hotel bookings, trying to find a place to lay low for several days while we   [4]   recovered.  Our dear Swenadian friends, rightfully cautious due to their respective health concerns, came to visit us after we’d recovered.  While the afternoon walk we made around the parks of a Swedish town was a far cry from the longer time we’d hoped to have with them, it was good to have at least those two hours together.

What the what – if nothing else, travel teaches you to be flexible.  MH and I enjoyed some final days in Oslo and then Stockholm before flying on to Reykjavik, where our Iceland adventures were not impacted by the previous schedule rearranging. Also, there was the  blissful ignorance of being removed from everyday news reporting – moiself  had remembered that there’d been a pesky leak of a supposed/certain SCOTUS memo….

 

“I suppose I’ll have to be the one to say something to her.”

 

*   *   *

Department Of That Which Should Not Have To Be Mentioned

Our return flight last Thursday left Reykjavik a little before 5 pm and arrived in PDX ~ 6 pm. What with traveling east to west, we went back in time 7 hours….  Little did I know the news that would greet moiself  upon our return: my country’s legal system had gone back (what seemed like) more than a hundred years.

Really and truly, I knew nothing of this until I checked FB last Friday morning, and saw this post from my beloved nephew, who has been celebrating Pride Month with a series of personal reflections on what “being gay” means:

Being gay is…

…thinking that maybe you should get married on a sooner timescale than you’re ready for, because given how the Supreme Court’s minoritarian rule is going, your current right to do so might have an expiration date.

Sorry to steal the stage from today’s news. Fuck the Supreme Court majority that is not representative of majority public opinion.

 

 

 

Thus, my first FB post after stepping onto Oregon soil:

“Keep our nation on the track
one step forward, three steps back….”  [5]

I just returned last night from 6+ weeks in Europe, to find that certain intellectual, social and moral cretins who unfortunately hold positions of power in this country have effectively decided to turn back the clock, and I’m not talking the end of Daylight Savings time.

SCOTUS justices Thomas; Alioto; Gorsuch; Kavanaugh; Barret – I’d like to do a wire coat hanger D & C on their respective cranial contents.

*   *   *

As moiself  writes this it’s day five for me, back in Oregon, and I’m still in a fog. It’s not the time zone difference that has me discombobulated; rather, it’s the time travel thing, where I returned to find that my country’s legal/human rights system has warped back to the Dark Ages.  In case y’all haven’t guessed by now, I refer to the recent SCOTUS decisions involving guns, school employee-led prayer, and of course, Roe v. Wade.

Consider this:

SCOTUS Justices Who Voted to Overturn Roe v. Wade (the justice’s religion)

Samuel A. Alito, Jr. (Catholic)
Amy Coney Barrett (Catholic)
Brett Kavanaugh (Catholic)
Neil M. Gorsuch (Catholic)   [6]

and…wait for it…
Clarence Thomas (Catholic)

The fact that a practicing Catholic SCOTUS justice – or judge, of any court – is allowed to vote on this issue; i.e., is not legally and ethically *required* to recuse him or herself on any abortion case, as per their the Catholic sheep daddy Pope’s decrees on the matter…

 

 

“…. Roberts was asked by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) what he would do if the law required a ruling that his church considers immoral. Roberts is a devout Catholic and is married to an ardent pro-life activist. The Catholic Church considers abortion to be a sin, and various church leaders have stated that government officials supporting abortion should be denied religious rites such as communion….
Renowned for his unflappable style in oral argument, Roberts appeared nonplused and, according to sources in the meeting, answered after a long pause that he would probably have to recuse himself.”
(“The faith of John Roberts,” The Los Angeles Times)

Another butt-frosting fact: there are SCOTUS justices who adhere to the judicial philosophy of/refer to themselves as originalists   [7]  but who are also Catholic and/or female (hmm, what’s that musty odor, Amy Coney Barrett?), something the original founding fathers would never have imagined nor permitted.

And then, there is the festering turd atop the crumbling cake:

“In nearly 28 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas has been its most unwavering ‘originalist.’ That means that he reads the Constitution as meaning today what he believes those who wrote it meant back then, no matter how conditions may have changed in America in the meantime.”
(“Justice Thomas, originalism and the First Amendment,” National Constitution Center)

Clarence Thomas is an originalist. All righty then:  “Justice” Thomas – you should be a slave.  And counted as 3/5 of a person, as the Originals intended.

 

 

But I have to stop going there. Moiself  has to stop applying rational arguments to irrational situations.  Therein lies madness.

*   *   *

Department Of Stories That Need Retelling

This, from my blog post of 5-24-19 (“The Two-Faced, Sanctimonious, Festering Turd-Of-Hypocrisy I’m Not Strangling”)

From the early 1980s – 90’s I worked for (several Planned Parenthood clinics)… and a private OB-GYN practice in the Bay Area….

We (The Practice’s Doc, Nurse Practitioner, and I) developed a personal relationship    [8]  and had many interesting conversations on issues re women’s health care. Doc and NP were both staunchly pro-choice, Doc in particular due to his knowledge of what things were like before Roe v. Wade.  He told me stories about The Bad Old Days, about how (surprise!) the rich could always get safe care, no matter what. Back in the late 50s – 60s when abortion was illegal, a Japanese airline had a clandestine (but procurable, if you knew the right people) package deal: the fare included flights to and from Tokyo from West Coast airports, overnight lodging in a Tokyo hotel, and the fee for an abortion performed by a Japanese doctor. Sympathetic American doctors whose desperate patients had no safe local alternatives would refer their patients to someone, who would refer them to someone else, who would refer them to….    [9]

One of The Practice’s OB patients, after a routine exam, asked Doc if he ever performed abortions. Although it was none of her %&!$ business (and moiself wanted him to tell her so) he answered honestly, while tactfully letting her know that he would not be steered down the anti-abortion harangue road she was heading for.  After she’d left, Doc signaled to me to follow him to the office’s back room, where old/inactive patient files were kept.

As Doc searched through the files he told me about a former patient of his who’d sought an abortion, back when the procedure was illegal except for “medical reasons.” This woman had had to go before a (male, of course) judge to get approval to have an abortion. Her physicians had to testify as to her mental and physical well-being, and they had lots of material: she had chronic health problems; was depressed to the point of suicide; her husband had left her and their three children…. She’d wanted to get her tubes tied after birthing her second child but could not find a doctor to do so – as per the standards of the time, hospitals would not book a sterilization surgery for a woman unless she met this weird algorithm (criteria included her age, the number of children she had, and other factors I can’t recall).  She also needed her husband’s permission for the surgery, which he’d refused.   [10]

The woman won her petition. At this point in the story Doc had found the patient’s chart, and showed me the transcript from her day in court.     [11]  I will never forget the sad yet determined look in his eyes as he said,
“Don’t ever let it go back to that.” 

And I will always remember how foolishly optimistic it was of moiself  to think, “It could never go back to that.”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Business As Usual

Of course, no matter the legal restrictions and whatever else happens in the upcoming months, those with money and connections will always be able to wrangle safe medical care.  The trail of naïve, drugged and/or abused girls and women knocked up, intentionally or otherwise, by the Brett “I Love Beer” Kavanaughs of the world and their eternal frat bro contingents will always have an out, as powerful men do not want their mistakes publicly aired.  The poor and not-so-well connected will have to resort to measures of desperation – unless whatever choice they happen to make involves using a gun.

 

*   *   *

Department Of  And Yet One Never Fully Goes Back To The Past

There is too much water – and blood – under this particular bridge of human history.  Just as in the past, women and men will rise up to help those who need help (“Call Jane”).

Here is the message I recently received from a friend:

“Hope you are holding up with the end of democracy at hand.  Yeah.
Would you mind being a reference for me – I am applying to be a volunteer with the Colorado Abortion Doula Network.  I’m sure you’ve heard that CO clinics are overwhelmed with patients from OK and Tx….”

How proud I was of my friend; how sick to my stomach I was, for the reason for her (and other women and men) having to take that action.

When MH and I have attended NARAL fundraiser events in Portland, the organization’s staff has mentioned how their peers working in other states are “jealous” of Oregon’s long record of supporting reproductive rights.   [12]  Looks like my friends and I may soon be providing the same services, should Oregon experience a migration of patients.

*   *   *

Department Of, And One More Thing….

Don’t y’all be kidding y’alls’ selves that there is, ultimately or sincerely (ha!), *any* reason for the SCOTUS decision, other than that of controlling women and fearing women’s sexuality and autonomy.  I’ve seen firsthand the Scandinavian system and standard of living, and what societies looks like which actually care about children, put people ahead of politics, and relegate theocracy to the governmental dumpster fires of the past.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of, Unfortunately, There Is Always One More “One More Thing” :
The Quiet Part Out Loud

I am so, so, so sorry, my LGBTQ family and friends and fellow Americans…. You do know you’re next, right?

“Vice President Harris said Monday that she ‘never believed’ the Senate testimony of Supreme Court Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh and Neil M. Gorsuch, in which they stressed the importance of legal precedent in cases like Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion.

‘I never believed them. I didn’t believe them. That’s why I voted against them….’

Listen, it was clear to me when I was sitting in that chair as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that they were … very likely to do what they just did….”

Harris also addressed Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion, in which he called on the Supreme Court to reexamine cases on LGBTQ rights and contraception. ‘I definitely believe this is not over. I do. I think he just said the quiet part out loud,’ Harris said of Thomas.”

(Vice President Kamala Harris, “Harris says she ‘never believed’ Kavanaugh, Gorsuch would uphold Roe,”  Washington Post )

 

 

*   *   *

Punz For The Day
The Death Of Liberty Edition

I was looking forward to returning to this segment of my blog.  However, moiself  –  who looks for the levity in any situation and who sincerely hopes that friends and family entertain me with tasteless jokes should I come down with, say, butt cheek cancer or other dreadful diseases – is at a loss when it comes to being facetious about how religious conservative ideology is raping this country.   So, these may have to do:

A priest, a pedophile, and a rapist walk into a bar. He orders a drink.

Q. How many conservative evangelical Christians does it take to change a light bulb?
A. None. They just sit in the dark and demand you accept that the light is still on.

Q. How do you teach a bunch of kids about god—who he is, and what he does?
A. Gather them all in a classroom. Then never show up.

*   *   *

May you find power in the visualization of male SCOTUS justices who voted to overturn Roe V. Wade having yearly colonoscopies performed by unsterilized wire coat hangers;
May you take constructive action where and how you can to your maintain sanity;
May we all soon return to living in the 21st century;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] (Vice President Kamala Harris, “Harris says she ‘never believed’ Kavanaugh, Gorsuch would uphold Roe,”  Washington Post )

[2] The most exotic place of all, and as foreign as the state sometimes felt, we were never asked to show our passports.

[3] A Swede married to a Canadian.

[4] Yes, we – of course moiself eventually got it as well.  We were both glad to have been fully vaccinated, as our symptoms were relatively mild and followed the same course (fever disappearing in less than 48 hours…frankly, if we hadn’t have tested ourselves for COVID we’d have thought we’d contracted a mild influenza virus).

[5]  One of the rallying cries of the SF-based political activists group LAW [“Ladies Against Women”], who used satire – well, it seemed like satire at the time, and now it seems like prescient  journalism – to critique the religious/conservative right wing’s anti-women’s autonomy  political agenda.

[6] “Although Neil Gorsuch, appointed in 2017, attends an Episcopal church, he was raised Catholic, and it is unclear if he considers himself a Catholic who is also a member of a Protestant church or simply a Protestant.” (Daniel Burke (March 22, 2017). “What is Neil Gorsuch’s religion? It’s complicated.”)

[7] “In the context of United States law, originalism is a concept regarding the interpretation of the Constitution that asserts that all statements in the constitution must be interpreted based on the original understanding ‘at the time it was adopted.’ ” (Originalism, Wikipedia).

[8] Which continued after I left the practice and which exists to this day.

[9] I later heard about this same service from another doctor who was Doc’s age.

[10] Yep, that’s right – he knocked her up a fourth time, and then abandoned her and their children.

[11] Yes, that was way before HIPA laws.

[12] “Abortion is legal throughout pregnancy in Oregon – there is no ban or limit on abortion in Oregon based on how far along in pregnancy you are….”  (Abortionfinder.com, Abortion in Oregon)

 

The 2020 Mascot I Am Not Celebrating

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Department Of Questions That Have No Logical Answers   [1]

 

 

The realm in question:

Sci-fi and set-in-the-future movies and television shows.

The question for the realm:

Why are the (almost always male) directors’ and/or producers’ of such shows seemingly obsessed with bizarre/fantastical/just-plain-silly female hairstyles?

 

 

 

 

Kroika! Only he who is strong enough to remove this hibernating wolverine from my head shall be my mate.”

 

Do these men imagine that, in the future and/or “out in space,” the laws of gravity will not apply to hair proceeding from the scalps of both humanoid and alien women?

 

 

Just moiself  asking. Because, you know – science.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Surprise Of The Week
(As In, Are You Kidding – Not. At. All.)

AKA Jane Roe. Put that documentary on your streaming list. Highly recommended.

A bombshell documentary airing…on FX adds a final shocking twist to Norma McCorvey’s ideologically eventful life. In AKA Jane Roe, McCorvey offers what she calls a “deathbed confession”: Actually, she was basically pro-choice all along and only became a pro-life activist for the money. “It was a mutual thing,” she tells director Nick Sweeney. “I took their money, and they took me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say.” Sweeney displays tax documents revealing that McCorvey received at least $450,000 from pro-life groups over the course of her years as an activist, often classified as “benevolent gifts.”
(slate.com)

 

 

Apparently, there are some people who are shocked and/or disappointed to learn that Norma Jean McCarvey, aka “Jane Roe” in the 1973 Roe V. Wade SCOTUS decision, admitted she was paid for her notorious “flip-flop” – from pro-choice to anti-abortion – by the anti-abortion side.

In the final scene of “AKA Jane Roe,” a near-death McCorvey is asked if she felt she was a “trophy” to the pro-life movement, and she says, “Of course. I was the Big Fish. I took their money and they took me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say … I’m a good actress. Of course, I’m not acting now.”
(rogerebert.com review of AKA Jane Roe)

Such tactics are no surprise to many of us who have worked in women’s reproductive health care.  The anti-abortionists  [2]  use the ends-justifies-the-means excuses for their deception, propaganda, and outright pants-on-fire lies.

Moiself  has more stories than I care to recall, from both my days at Planned Parenthood and a private OB-GYN practice, having to do with women’s encounters with anti-choice exploiters activists. One of the ickiest stories I will detail in next week’s post.

One of my “favorite” such stories came from a PP I worked at, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, in the Bay Area.  I was in the clinic’s lab, about to start the centrifuge, when I saw my co-worker, MT, exit the exam room across from the lab.  MT, known and admired by her coworkers for her serenity and equanimity, face-palmed her forehead as she scurried toward me, holding a pipette of her patient’s blood.  As she added her sample to the centrifuge, I asked her whence the WTF?!?! expression on her face.  She replied that her patient had come to PP after first going to one of those shit-faced, lying to women “Pregnancy Counseling Centers” which, its receptionist assured her when she telephoned for info, was a legitimate medical clinic. While the patient was waiting for her pregnancy test to be run, the center’s “counselor” told her that having an abortion would give her cancer (of her “womb”), which could then infect her husband’s reproductive tract.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Why We’re On The Subject Of Lying To Women…And Men….

Division Of Taking A Break From Dissing My Religious Roots
And Going After Other Peoples’

Sub-Department Of More Fun With Movies

This next movie I recommend is not a documentary, ala AKA Jane Roe, but is an equally fascinating, disturbing, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful account of real-life events. It is based on Deborah Feldman’s  Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots Feldman’s memoir recounts growing up within, becoming estranged to, and finally escaping from her rigid Satmar Hasidic community in the Willamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.

So. My thoughts after watching Netflix’s four-part series, Unorthodox:

 

 

I wonder how many of the residents of New York City’s most populous borough go about their daily business without giving a thought to the fact that, in their northwest corner, there is an entire community of people ruled by…mmm, how do I put this…mind-numbing, misogynistic mythological minutia.

I’ve heard of/read about the voluminous rules & regs of Hasidic life, but to be presented with the daily realities of the Satmar Hasids…yikes with a capital IKES. The sect’s many extremist emphases include an ultra-orthodox, anti-Zionist theology (they’re not fond of other [read: non-Hasidic] Jews, and particularly loathe the secular ones), and rejection of modernity.  As for the latter, they are able to interpret some amusing exceptions for themselves (surprise!).  For example, Satmar Hasids may have a cellphone, but not a ‘smart” phone – or any device with internet access (which would allow you to ask questions of/read opinions and facts presented by authorities other than your rabbi).

Satmar Hasids’ lives are a continual numerical equation of sorts, a computing and tracking of what must be done and when and how often – as well as, the biggest list of all, the thou-shall nots – all carried out within the confines of a close-knit (read: gossip-ridden and judgmental) community isolated from non-Jews, estranged from other (non-Hasidic) Jews, and centered around the dicta of a grand rabbi leader.   [3]

All of the minutia of rules rules rules – and did I mention, rules?  [4]  The most time-consuming, and physically and intellectually and sexually onerous and stifling “guidelines” and restrictions are (surprise, again!) applied to women.

 “Blessed are you, HaShem, King of the Universe,
for not having made me a gentile;”

“Blessed are you, HaShem, King of the Universe,
for not having made me a slave.”

“Blessed are you, HaShem, King of the Universe,
for not having made me a woman.

(2,000 year old prayer, from the Talmud, which Orthodox Jewish men are still supposed to recite every morning)

 

 

Hasids’ lives are directed by the triviality of detail, the constant accounting of everything – how many days for this, steps for that, when to touch or say or eat this and not that, what to cover and uncover  – lives prescribed and restricted by the rules that (they are taught) are from their god and are monitored by their god (and the other community members. You are always being watched).  Yet, somehow, there’s a subset of rules as to how you can circumvent the other rules  [5]   – which, remember, are from The King Of The Universe…who apparently isn’t paying enough attention to notice when his minions are doing an end run around his holy rules.

Adherents and supporters of such religious communities argue that those rules and rituals give meaning to life.  Moiself, along with those who have escaped from such constrictive communities, call claptrap and bullshit take strong issue with that claim.

When I’ve read and watched the stories of people who’ve fled such communities, it’s obvious to moiself  that the fulfillment of the religious rules – and the task of merely trying to keep track of all of them – takes up the majority of one’s time. This crucial phenomenon serves to keep the community running…even if it’s only on its own cultural hamster wheel.  As a member of the community you aren’t really doing anything other than upholding the community.  You are not doing, learning, or producing anything new/original. You’re not even thinking original thoughts, but merely “studying” those of your community’s founder, who presents himself as your god’s interpreter. And with all this you shall pass the time because…what else is there for you to do, that you are allowed to do?

 

 

And, oh, the pervasive and primitive misogyny at the root of the Hasid – of any religion’s – social regulations! The fear and mis-characterization of, and obsession with, female sexuality is ever present, despite the claims that the religion’s rules uphold the “beauty and sanctity of the marital relationship” (the ultimate purpose of which is to produce more human specimens for their god’s ant farm). Denying and obscuring and shaming, either directly or obliquely, is applied to the physical aspects of being human, the very aspects which supposedly stem from their creator-god. What a world of spiritual and cognitive dissonance – to honestly think about it would drive an introspective person mad. But, once again: ritual and rules to the rescue!

The detailed pro-and pre-scribing of peoples’ behavior – even their thoughts – is a highly effective form of crowd control.  The decrees and rituals to be learned and applied – the continuous “studying“ of them guarantees there will be no true contemplation going on…because you’re just too damn busy trying to remember it all (“Hmm; was that mitzvot 513 or 613?”).  A day is only so long; keeping your sect’s versions of physical, mental and spiritual “kosher” keeps you from having the time for the kind of thoughtful analysis of these superstitious burdens codes which would allow you to see through and escape from them.

Now then. To those of us who are giving ourselves the proverbial pat on the back re our relatively progressive take on things:  I can’t help but wonder how many “moderate” believers (of any religion) who’ll watch Unorthodox – or perhaps another depiction of an extremist/Fundy sect of their own faith – will cluck their tongues at the primeval actions and philosophies of the Fundies, and not realize their own proximity to such retrograde superstitions.

 

Yes, the same g-d who commands that we reject the homos is honored by our Nancy-boy curls and Ru-Paul-to-die-for hats, trust us.

 

If you are religious, those are your roots. You only are a few notches up the scale of modernity, if you try to apply Iron Age spirituality in the 21st century. You may reject or laugh at the claims of, say, your Fundy Christian cousins, but do you still, literally or figuratively, embrace the tenets of Christianity?   Do you, either with fellow worshipers in a god-box (temple, church) or alone in the privacy of your home, telepathically beseech and/or grovel to a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father and who can make you live forever if you symbolically cannibalize him (“take communion”) and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical but forbidden tree?

Yep.  You’re not like those silly Fundies at all.

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Know The Year Isn’t Even Half Over Yet…

…but moiself  has a nomination for the Mascot For The Year 2020.

According to the Chinese Zodiac, we are in the Year of the Rat – although in my estimation, we have been ever since #45 took office.

 

 

 

Ahem. Ladies and Gentleman, for your consideration, I propose that 2020 may be declared The Year Of The Murder Hornet.

Yes, you heard me right:  THE MURDER HORNET. A name like that begs for all caps, n’est ce pas?

THE MURDER HORNET.

I am compelled to keep typing it. I so wish I was making this up – and so will you, if you read about this insect.  The name alone – do you even want to Google it?

 

 

*   *   *

Department of The Corona Virus Playlist
The 500 Greatest Songs Off All Time Edition

As per the Rolling Stone Magazine list[6]  Not to diss songs 101-500, but I culled the following entrants from the top 100 (’cause life is short and I like to eat dinner).

As with previous CVPs, moiself  has listed some of these song titles which are IMHO, applicable to our social-isolating, transmission–paranoid, COVID-19 times, and which, in small groupings, imply a related story. This time there’s no clue save for the song titles as to who the recording artists are (but few clues needed, given the RS list’s bold title).

 (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
My Generation
Imagine
What’s Going On
Suspicious Minds

A Change Is Gonna Come
Blowin’ in the Wind
People Get Ready
A Day in the Life

Help!
I Walk the Line
Gimme Shelter
Let’s Stay Together
Let It Be

The Times They Are a-Changin’
The Weight
Heroes
Bridge Over Troubled Water

Walk On By
You Really Got Me
I Heard It Through the Grapevine
Every Breath You Take
Crazy

 

*   *   *

Pun For The Day

 

How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.

 

“Haven’t my people suffered enough?”

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion  Evolution  [7]

 

 

And here’s what I made for ours, one day this week – never mind.  EEE on hiatus this week. So, get your own damn dinner ideas.

 

*   *   *

May you never see a MURDER HORNET, even from a safe distance;
May you reject all belief systems which require you to wear silly hats;
May the month of June bring us closer to a cure from
COVID-19 (and MURDER HORNETS);
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Including why they often appear in moiself’s brain, seemingly apropos of nothing.

[2] They’re definitely not “pro-life” – (unless the life in question is fetal) as their other political views and polities indicate.

[3] In the Satmar community’s case, a Hungarian rabbi who migrated to the US with a group of followers after WWII.

[4] They are way too many to list; and many revolve around the paramount importance of maintaining what they define as physical modesty: bodies must be covered fully; all clothing is formal (or what as a child my family would have called “dress-up” clothes). Women’s skirts must hang a certain distance below the knees, shirt sleeves must  extend past the elbows, bodices must cover the collarbone. Satmar Hassids take the modesty rules to the extreme re women’s hair: when a girl marries she must shave her head, then wear a wig when she is in public (if she has no hair then she cannot possibly tempt a man with her hair, because he can’t possibly or even accidentally see her hair when she has no hair. A totally logical thing for an almighty deity to be concerned with.

* Young people are kept ignorant about their bodies; masturbation (and any sexual contact or knowledge) outside of marriage is forbidden; thus, marriages (arranged when the participants are between the ages of 17-19) are often consummated with the Hasidic bride essentially being raped by her husband.

* Women are considered ritually “unclean” for a period of 12 days each month (during and after menstruation). Husbands must not have physical contact with their wives until after she has had a Mikveh (ritual cleansing bath). There are scads of rules for pregnancy, including that a pregnant woman must not gaze at “non-kosher animals and other impure things.” A woman is ritually unclean for 7 days after birthing a boy and 14 days after having a girl.

* Husbands are “unclean” – but for only one day –  after ejaculating, and take a mikvah to restore ritual purity.

-You must pray three times a day, and make sure that on the Sabbath (Shabbos) each prayer session is longer than usual, and also study certain religious texts at certain times of the day for certain lengths of time (the primary role of Hasid women is wife and mother; because of this, women are excused from some commandments that require them to study/pray at certain times of day.)

* Work” is prohibited on the Sabbath. What is defined as work includes writing (or erasing!), tearing of paper, driving, shopping, using any electric device, cooking, laundry, cleaning, carrying any object outside of the home, handling money…. There is a maximum number of steps you may take on the Sabbath (again, as interpreted per your rabbi, and there are ways to define what is your home/community that can skirt this requirement).

 

[5] Hasidic Jews will ask or even hire a non-Jew, aka a “Shabbas goy,” to perform basic tasks – e.g. turning on a light or an air conditioner – which the Hasids are forbidden to do on the Sabbath. Yet, even then, the Hasids can’t be honest, to themselves or the goys, about how they are skirting this holy commandment of no work on the Sabbath.  When enlisting assistance they’ll try to avoid asking directly (“Would you please turn on the light for me?”); rather, they’ll drop hints and hope the goy will get it and help them (example: “It’s so hot in this room…if only the fan was turned on….”).

[6] Which was curated nine years ago, so yeah, an update may be needed.

[7] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 1 of April 2020, wherein moiself decided that moiself would do themes as listed in the 4-3-20 blog.

The Two-Faced, Sanctimonious, Festering Turd-Of-Hypocrisy I’m Not Strangling

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The real reason behind the total ban on abortion in Alabama and other backward misogynist shithole legislatures states, or so political strategists on both sides of the aisle tell us, is to set up a challenge in SCOTUS for Roe v. Wade. State legislators know their draconian laws will be struck down by state judges as unconstitutional; thus, the hoped-for trip to up the judicial ladder to SCOTUS chambers.

But so-called real reasons often leave real people and their real stories in the dustbin of history.   I will share some of those stories in this post: a series of vignettes, in no particular chronological order, from my time working in women’s reproductive health care. The stories I have from those years are legion; I’ll attempt both restraint and discretion in relating a just few of them.  [1]

The last one still blows my mind, all these years later. If I were to write it up as a short story I’m sure literary journals would reject it (“Contrived plot,” the editor’s notes might read), but trust me, I’m not a skilled enough writer to have made it up. Once again, reality trumps fiction.

TheBackground

 

From the early 1980s – 90’s I worked for a Planned Parenthood (“PP”) clinic in a SoCal county, a private OB-GYN practice in the Bay Area, and Planned Parenthood clinics in a Bay Area county.

PP clinics provided services determined by geographic need.  Example: because there were several other clinics in the county which performed abortions, the SoCal PP clinic provided a range of health care but referred patients seeking an abortion to those other clinics. Because there were few options in that same county for women needing colposcopy exams,  [2] that PP set up a colposcopy clinic, the patients mainly coming via referrals from the county public health system.

The Doctor (“Doc”) at the OB-GYN office where I worked (“The Practice”) shared the practice with a nurse practitioner (“NP”). Their patients ranged from Silicon Valley execs to welfare recipients (but skewed toward the higher end of the economic spectrum). Doc infrequently performed first trimester abortions (~ four per year), at an offsite day surgery center (he was aware that many more of his patients had abortions, but went elsewhere for the procedure). He told me he didn’t like performing them (“It’s a sad situation, all around”), but what he didn’t like even more was the idea of abandoning his patients when they needed help.

The Bay Area county PP had four clinics in the county, three of which offered abortions services, one to three mornings per week. I worked initially at the main site’s STD screening clinic,  [3]  then at their abortion (AB) clinics.

 

 

The Stories

We (The Practice’s Doc, NP, and I) developed a personal relationship  [4]  and had many interesting conversations on issues re women’s health care. Doc and NP were both staunchly pro-choice, Doc in particular due to his knowledge of what things were like before Roe v. Wade.  He told me stories about The Bad Old Days, about how (surprise!) the rich could always get safe care, no matter what. Back in the late 50s – 60s when abortion was illegal, a Japanese airline had a clandestine (but procurable, if you knew the right people) package deal: the fare included flights to and from Tokyo from West Coast airports, overnight lodging in a Tokyo hotel, and the fee for an abortion performed by a Japanese doctor. Sympathetic American doctors whose desperate patients had no safe local alternatives would refer their patients to someone, who would refer them to someone else, who would refer them to….   [5]

One of The Practice’s OB patients, after a routine exam, asked Doc if he ever performed abortions. Although it was none of her %&!$ business (and moiself wanted him to tell her so) he answered honestly, while tactfully letting her know that he would not be steered down the anti-abortion harangue road she was heading for.  After she’d left, Doc signaled to me to follow him to the office’s back room, where old/inactive patient files were kept.

As Doc searched through the files he told me about a former patient of his who’d sought an abortion, back when the procedure was illegal except for “medical reasons.” This woman had to go before a (male, of course) judge to get approval to have an abortion. Her physicians had to testify as to her mental and physical well-being, and they had lots of material: she had chronic health problems; was depressed to the point of suicide; her husband had left her and their three children…. She’d wanted to get her tubes tied after birthing her second child but could not find a doctor to do so – as per the standards of the time, hospitals would not book a sterilization surgery for a woman unless she met this weird algorithm (criteria included her age, the number of children she had, and other factors I can’t recall).  She also needed her husband’s permission for the surgery, which he’d refused.   [6]

The woman won her petition. At this point in the story Doc had found the patient’s chart, and showed me the transcript from her day in court. He snorted with disgust as he recalled how a grown-ass adult woman had to grovel and reveal highly personal information to male strangers who held power over her life.  Doc re-filed the chart, the ever-present twinkle in his eyes absent as he said, “Don’t ever let it go back to that.”

 

*   *   *

The R- PP clinic site (Bay Area) performed abortions on Friday mornings. The R-PP had two recurrent anti-abortion protesters who hung out on the sidewalk by the clinic parking lot. They were an odd pair: an older woman with an imperious air, always impeccably dressed in a woolen suit, designer handbag matching her designer pumps, her chin-length white hair sprayed into a Doris Bay-type bob, and a tall, lanky young man with wild eyes and a shock of Conan O’Brien-ish, unruly red hair. I called them Snow White and Big Red.

Dateline: A Friday am; the clinic had just opened, patients were in the waiting room filling out forms. One of the four clinic aides motioned for me and the other aides to follow her down the hallway. Looking out the clinic’s rear window, we saw “Consuela” outside, approaching Big Red.

Consuela, a native Mexican married to an American, was R-PP’s AB clinic manager. She was committed to providing reproductive care for Latinas, even as she admitted struggling with her work, due to her harsh Catholic upbringing. Consuela was kind and sweet-tempered, admired by PP’s staff and beloved by PP’s Latina patients, about whom she would tolerantly (but never patronizingly) educate us “white girl” clinic aides. She told us about the vagaries of the male-dominated culture Latina women had to endure, and the stories of her patients who’d had a horrifyingly experience common to impoverished Latinas entering the US were truly heartbreaking. The template: a woman’s husband summoned her to join him in the US after he’d found a job. He’d wired money to pay a coyote  [7] to escort her across the border, and during the journey the coyote raped her. Coyotes often assaulted women and girls with impunity and threatened their lives, knowing they’d be too frightened to tell the authorities or their husbands (sadly, Consuela said, even loving husbands were steeped in their culture’s machismo code, which cast a wife’s rape as a stain upon her husband’s honor…or as a cover for an affair).

Consuela would be in a certain mood I learned to identify – anger muted by melancholy – after working with a woman impregnated by coyote-rape. I often saw her, as her patient was leaving the clinic, slip the patient some money (“For bus fare,” Consuela would whisper in Spanish).   [8]

Back to the sidewalk: Sweet, warm Consuela was also very, very shy. Thus, we (her fellow clinicians, staring out the window) were amazed to see her approach Big Red, speak to him for a few minutes, return to the clinic…and holy crap, Big Red is leaving the parking lot! When the clinic was finished (~ 1 pm) Consuela told me what she’d said to him (paraphrased here):

I know you are here because you think you are doing good, but there is something you need to know. Three weeks ago, there was a no-show at our clinic – that older Latina woman you thought you had talked out of having an abortion. Actually, she left when you confronted her because she was afraid of you; she speaks only a little English, and didn’t understand everything you had to say, only that you were a stranger, who knew nothing about her, trying to intimidate her into not having an abortion.  She returned last week and had the procedure.

She may be poor and illiterate, but she is not stupid. When a woman makes such an important decision she considers all her options, and when she makes up her mind she is going to do whatever it takes.  All you did was make her wait another two weeks; she had to be sick and stressed and distraught for another two weeks. That may not have been your intention, but that is what happened. You caused even more grief for her.

For several weeks after Consuela spoke to Big Red, Snow White was the lone protester outside the R-PP clinic.

*   *   *

I’m glad those days (when abortion was illegal) are passed. But I fear the younger generations have no memories of what happened and take their rights for granted, and those of us who lived in those times are dying out, and our stories will die with us.
(paraphrased, from a conversation with Samuel Greenberg, M.D., PP-M physician)

Dr. Greenberg was an older gentleman, retired from his longtime OB-GYN practice, who worked several days a week at the PP main site (“PP-M”). “Dr. G” was the doctor I most often worked with at PP, and I came to admire his expertise, experience, humor, and compassion.

We talked often; Dr. G was concerned that when he and his peers died there’d be no one left to tell about The Bad Old Days, and that people might forget….  Sound familiar? Like many Jews of his age, he’d lost loved ones to the WWII concentration camps. His family’s experiences as Jews in non-Jewish cultures was one of the reasons, he said, he felt so strongly about his work at PP  –– he knew first-hand what can happen when people have their rights abridged by those of differing beliefs.

When Dr. G was a young doctor in the 1950s, doing his OB-GYN residency rotations in two different urban Catholic hospitals, he saw and treated many women who showed up in a the hospitals’ ERs, gravely ill and/or dying from botched illegal or self-induced abortions. Yet he never *once* saw the attending physicians list complications from illegal abortion as the cause of death for a patient who had indeed died from that.  On one such occasion, when Dr. G had the unhappy task of writing the “cause of death” on the patient’s chart, he challenged the doctor in charge who’d instructed Dr. G to write that the patient died of sepsis from an incomplete miscarriage. But, that’s a lie! Dr. G protested. – How can we, as doctors, lie about such a thing – people need to know, and the public health statistics will never reflect the reality…

Dr. G’s boss grabbed Dr. G by the elbow and steered him to the ER waiting room, pointing toward a sofa where the dead patient’s bereft husband and children sat.  He then led Dr. G to an empty hallway and spoke to him, privately and sternly, about the hospital’s non-official policy re reporting abortion-related deaths:  This is a Catholic hospital, with a mostly Catholic clientele. The truth will only bring further anguish, and shame, to a grieving family; also, since abortion is illegal, the police will have to be notified, and the hospital does not want its staff to get dragged into criminal investigations….

I will never forget the patience and kindness Dr. G showed toward all of the women we saw in the clinic, but in particular, to one recovering heroin addict.  Like most addicts, she was hypersensitive to pain, and howled as if she’d been stabbed when I did a simple finger prick blood test to check her iron level. She’d asked for additional analgesics for her procedure, which less than 5% of patients requested and which the doctor had to approve and then administer intravenously. Due to her years of junkiedom, Dr. G couldn’t find a usable vein to inject the medication.  I waited with an impatience I tried not to show, thinking thoughts for which I was later ashamed (What a whining wimp – suck it up lady, this is all from your own doing… you’ll be out of here in 10 minutes, and nobody else begs for drugs….), while Dr. G searched and searched, and searched again, and finally found a usable spot between her toes. After her surgery Dr. G spent additional time with her, holding her hand and encouraging her not to get down on herself or let this be another setback on her road to healing and sobriety.

*   *   *

In the PP clinics I saw a variety of women, from a wealthy Señora from Guadalajara whose IUD “slipped” while she and he husband were vacationing in the US, to a mother of four, in her late 40s and going through a bitter divorce (who’d had been told by a doctor that she’d gone through early menopause and couldn’t get pregnant), to the proverbial teenage girls who seem as if they can get pregnant just by standing downwind from a boy.

As per the coyote story,  rape/incest victims were the saddest cases to see. Those included a preteen holding onto her mother with one hand and her stuffed animal with her other hand (accompanied by a police escort, to retrieve “evidence’ of the assault, evidence they hoped to use to prosecute the family member who’d raped the girl); a woman forcibly impregnated by her estranged, abusive husband (she was told  [9] by a police officer that she couldn’t press rape charges because she was still married to her rapist), girls abused by their brothers/cousins/stepfathers/mom’s “new friend”/youth pastors….

And then there were those who’d been assaulted by non-related acquaintances – scenarios given a term I despise for its downplaying of the trauma it inflicts:  Date rape.

During a patient’s intake procedure we reviewed her medical history, and one of the questions we asked was, What kind of contraception were you using when you became pregnant? That question was not posed to known rape victims, and was a particularly cutting one to hear for sexual assault victims who’d not yet told anyone what had happened to them.  One patient, her tough chick attitude failing to mask her nervousness, threw her hands up in the air and laughed bitterly when I asked that question. Nothing; I was using nothing!  Can you believe that the guy my friend set me up with, the guy who choked me until I passed out, didn’t have the decency to put on a condom before he raped me?!   [10] 

*   *   *

Big Bad Wolves are not always so obvious, Little Red Riding Hood.

 

She was not my patient; I’d finished my first intake and was on my way to place my patient’s chart in the surgical queue. She stood in the hallway outside the clinic’s bathroom, holding her urine sample cup, fidgeting in a way I’d come to recognize as a woman trying to convince herself to pee when she didn’t have to go. She was dressed like a 1950s secretary, with a pleated plaid skirt and a faded, rose red cardigan sweater. She looked sweetly anachronistic, nervous, and shy.

“Let me guess,” I pointed toward the empty cup she held.  “It seems like you have to go every five minutes, then when you need to go, you can’t?”

Exactly!  She flashed me a puppy-eyed look of gratitude. Kelly, my, uh, intake lady, left me here; she needed to talk with a nurse or something.  It might take awhile before I can… she looked askance at the empty cup in her hand. I shouldn’t have gone at my mom’s, before we came here.

I offered to get her a glass of water, and as I walked her back to her intake room she told me how out of place she felt.  I can tell I’m the oldest girl here. It’s so embarrassing. She lowered her voice. I’m twenty-seven.

“I’m thirty-one,” I said. “I win!”

She blushed, and told me she hadn’t meant the age of the staff, but rather “the girls” she’s seen in the waiting room, whom she assumed were, like her, there for an abortion, but unlike her, were probably not virgins… I mean, were virgins, until….

I stopped before entering the intake room, where her mother sat.  Sweet Twenty-Seven-Year-Old-Former-Virgin looked at me imploringly. Can you come in and talk with me?

I said I’d love to, and asked if it would be okay to talk in front of her mother.  She assured me it was.  I sat down with the two of them, and STSYOFV began to spill her guts. 

STSYOFV had flown out from Kentucky, where she’d gone to college and where she lived now. Her mother was helping out, paying for the abortion –  STSYOFV didn’t want to have it done where she lived, in case any of her friends and especially her church friends found out…well, I  really don’t have any friends besides church friends…

As STSYOFV told it, her  life revolved around an evangelical church where she was a member of the choir. STSYOFV ‘s mother discretely shook her head and gave me a look.

STSYOFV said she loved choral music; her church choir met for practice several times a week…and what they would think of me, if they knew where I was now.  I know what I’m doing is wrong in their sight, but my they’d disown me if I was pregnant out of wedlock and I know all my options and everyone here is so nice about reminding me but I wish they’d stop asking I don’t need adoption or pregnancy referrals I know what I’m doing and I can’t bear being pregnant it would destroy me and how could I be was so stupid and ignorant and naïve to stay a virgin until 27 and then get pregnant the first and only time…I feel felt guilty but I’m going to do it anyways, I tried a few home remedies, even thought if I threw myself down the stairs…

My eyes widened at the remark, and STSYOFV’s mother gasped. STSYOFV assured us both that she’d chickened out; I made her laugh when I told her that a miscarriage caused by falling down the stairs only happens in the movies.

Lawdy, Miss Scarlett!

 

My eyes flitted back and forth, from STSYOFV to her mother, who mostly remained silent while her daughter talked.  The mother’s unwavering love for STSYOFV was evident to me, as was her disapproval of the church her daughter had gotten involved with.

STSYOFV said she hadn’t even intended to have sex… I hope god will forgive me but I am going to do this, or if he can’t forgive me, at least I hope he won’t hate me.   If they only knew…they all think I’m a nice person….

“Then that’s one thing they’re right about – you are a nice person.” I placed my hand over STSYOFV’s. She grasped my hand with both of hers, her eyes moist with gratitude. Although a (closeted, at that time) non-believer, I attended a liberal Christian church, and knew what STSYOFV needed to hear. I assured her that her god, that no one, could ever hate her.

STSYOFV smiled at me through her tears. I wish you would be doing my intake, and be with me during the procedure. Kelly is nice, but she’s so young.

Actually, Kelly is 26, I thought to myself.  I also thought about how STSYOFV, with her gentle, desperate naivete and high voice, seems like a 12 year-old in a 27 year-old’s body.

I told STSYOFV I had another patient to help, but promised I’d check on her after her procedure. She hugged me, and said she’d like that.

STSYOFV was the last patient to see the doctor, and when she was out of the recovery room she, her mother and I had a heartfelt conversation before they left the clinic. I assured STSYOFV re how much she had going for her – she was young, strong- spirited and good-hearted, with a wonderful mother who loved and supported her…

She is the best. STSYOFV gazed lovingly at her mother. And she says she won’t let me pay her back, for lending me money for the plane tickets and everything.

“Speaking of which…” I hesitated. “What about the guy who got you pregnant? Why isn’t he helping you with this, or at least paying?”

Oh, no, that would ruin him. STSYOFV shook her head, sadly yet vehemently.  While her mother’s mama bear eyes blazed with rage on behalf of her daughter, STSYOFV told me that the man who’d seduced her was her choir director. He was older, married and with children, and active in the church’s pro-life demonstrations. When she went to him with news of her pregnancy he warned her to not to tell anyone, and told her to “take care of it,” and so STSYOFV had swallowed her pride and telephoned her mother….

*   *   *

Department Of This One Takes The Cake
Aka If I Hadn’t Seen It With My Own Eyes….

I lost track of how many times an AB clinic patient laughed and said, “Until it happened to me, I was against abortion. That” – the patient would indicate the clinic’s entrance, referring to the protesters outside – “might have been me a couple of months ago.” I’d smile, say, “We hear that a lot,” and do my best not to reveal that I didn’t find her admission – that she’d have supported taking away other women’s autonomy until “it” happened to her –  to be amusing.

PP-M had a semi-regular group of protesters who demonstrated outside the clinic’s front entrance. (I never saw them; I parked in the employee lot at the back of the clinic and entered and left through the back door.) Other PP-M employees became quite familiar with the protesters, who were part of some Catholic group led by a perky blond in her mid-thirties. The Vice President (“Veep”) of PP-M went out of her way to befriend the protesters. Veep was an ex-Catholic, and would go outside and chat with the protesters during her coffee breaks, sometimes joining them in reciting The Rosary. On sweltering summer days Veep carried cups of water out to the protesters – one day she even brought them lemonade – and on more than one cold winter morning I heard a fellow clinic aide good-naturedly grouse about how She ( meaning, Veep) is out there, serving them hot cocoa, can you believe it?

Dateline: one memorable Monday, ~ 8 am, at the PP-M AB clinic. As I reached for the first chart in the intake pile, “Cindy,” the clinic’s assistant manager, whisked the chart out of my hand. “I don’t believe this,” Cindy hissed. She motioned for me to follow her to the reception office, where she and the receptionist stared through the  bullet-and-sound-proof plate glass window to the waiting room, and traded incredulous remarks back and forth:

I don’t believe it – can you believe it? That can’t be her…no, it is her…this is got to be a joke…a plant…a set up…no – look at the chart, it is!….

I asked, What’s up? Cindy told me that Perky Blonde Anti-Abortion Protest Leader was in the waiting area, with her 15 year old daughter, whom she’d brought in for an abortion.

I am doing this intake,” Cindy announced. As her WTF ?!?!  expression morphed into that of Compassionate Health Care Worker, she opened the door to the waiting area and called PBAAPL and her daughter back to an intake room.

It was a busy morning; I didn’t get to talk with Cindy until after the clinic was over, when all four of us clinic aides gathered around Cindy to ask, What the heck….?  Cindy told us that she’d started the intake as usual – she led PBAAPLW and her daughter back to a private intake room, then asked the daughter to give a urine specimen. While the daughter was in the bathroom, Cindy introduced herself to PBAAPL, and the following conversation (paraphrased) ensued:

Cindy: I need to tell you something. I recognize you, from the protesters outside. If this makes you or your daughter uncomfortable, you can request another…

PBAAPL:  Oh no; thank you. You’ll be fine.

Cindy: Okay. Uh…now I’m speaking for me, personally, not on behalf of Planned Parenthood.  I can’t help but wonder, what are you doing here?

PBAAPL:  Well, my daughter got in trouble, you know?  And you people here are all so nice, I knew you’d take good care of her.

Imagine, if you will, the sound of four jaws simultaneously dropping to the clinic’s tile floor.

PBAAPL skipped the protests for the next two weeks (there were a few demonstrators who showed up, and only for one day, during PBAAPL’s absence). After she brought her daughter in for the girl’s post surgery exam, PBAAPL returned to leading the protests, trying to deny other women’s daughters the “good care” she’d sought for her own.

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [11]

 The excursion returns next week, having been temporarily grounded this week, due to the appetite-quashing political upheavals which prompted this post.

*   *   *

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1]  We didn’t have HIPAA laws then; still, I’ve altered all names and a few geographical details for privacy’s sake.

[2] A colposcopy is a procedure to closely examine a woman’s cervix for signs of disease, using a special instrument (colposcope). The procedure is most often done due to the woman having an abnormal pap smear, and may be followed by a cervical biopsy.

[3] I worked primarily at two PP clinics  in the county, and twice at a third PP clinic.

[4] Which continued after I left the practice and which exists to this day.

[5] I later heard about this same service from another doctor who was Doc’s age.

[6] Yep, that’s right – he knocked her up a third time, and then abandoned her and their children.

[7] A coyote is a man who makes a living smuggling migrants across the US-Mexico border.

[8] Consuela and her husband ( who was still in college) were far from wealthy, and had two children of their own to support. It probably violated some kind of clinic policy to give money, even your own, voluntarily, to patients; I always saw her look around furtively when she did so.

[9] Erroneously, I believe, although I don’t know the status of the marital rape laws in California at that time.

[10] I stopped the intake immediately and got the patient to speak with someone from PP’s counseling/education department. She was over 18; we couldn’t force her to go to the police, and she refused our advice to do so (she said she’d known someone that had the same thing happen and “was raped again by the cops” (i.e. they didn’t believe her ). After her procedure we set her up with referrals for individual counseling and a rape crisis center…I have no idea if she ever followed through with those contacts.

[11] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.

The Temperatures I’m Not Sweating

Comments Off on The Temperatures I’m Not Sweating

 

Happy Birthday, JWW.

*   *   *

The SCOTUS decision is responsible for this blast from the past: back in late 1992, a man from the OCA, a conservative Christian PAC in Oregon, was canvassing my neighborhood. He seemed pleased to see an obviously pregnant, married (I actually caught him glancing at my ring finger!) woman answer the door, and tried to get me to sign a petition supporting the OCA’s efforts to prohibit “special rights” for homosexuals. His pitch included the provocative warning that time was of the essence – before you know it, “the gays” will bring about the ruination of the “normal” family unit, and even demand the right to marry!

 I smiled sweetly (it took some effort, let me tell ya), patted my mother-to-be bump, and replied, “Not only do I support gay marriage, I think *every* marriage should be a gay marriage!”

 Dude left skidmarks departing my porch.

 I’m still trying to absorb the momentousness (is that even a word?) of this decision. Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard to have their family rights recognized. It doesn’t happen often enough, but humane human values seem to have prevailed.

That was my FB post last week, after I heard about the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage. Anecdote expansion: years later I was having a conversation with the “product” of the afore-mentioned pregnancy – my son K – about current events, and the two of us simultaneously wondered aloud if that issue – the rights for gays to marry – would be the defining civil rights issue of his generation.

 

 

Amidst all the justifiable jubilation, I’ve been thinking about other landmark SCOTUS decisions and legislative acts. Loving v. Virginia allowed, some thirty-plus years after its decision, for my brother to enter into his “interracial” [1] marriage with little fuss…although I know that is still not always the case for other such marital unions.  Brown v. The Board of Education , the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Roe V. Wade separately and collectively didn’t eradicate the attitudes and racism and gender discrimination that led to the Charleston massacre and murderous misogyny and internet harassment of women…. And there is always a backlash to progress.  I hear that in at least one state, [2] county clerks have refused to grant marriage licenses in defiance of the SCOTUS decision….

But, I’m not gonna go there right now. It’s nice to breathe deeply and whoop loudly, and celebrate for a moment, sans consideration of whatever is to come.

 

*   *   *

Department of Stream of Consciousness
Slice of Life Division

So I ran over to the nearest grocery store to grab a couple of things I was missing for dinner prep, and a wine rep was doing a wine tasting in the store, a rep whom I thought looked kinda sorta familiar and she later recognized me, after she asked to see my ID and I pointed my finger toward the lines framing my eyes which she pretended not to see (the lines; she saw my finger) and she said, No really, we do need to card anyone who looks 26 or under and I laughed heartily and told her my age and she spewed the reflex response to age-honesty, which I know is meant to be polite or even flattering but which nevertheless makes me cringe – she gushed No way! and stammered that I look essentially thirty years younger, which I know I don’t and I wish it didn’t have to be meant as a compliment in our ageist society but wine sample woman goes on and on about it and I flashed a knowing look to the young man standing behind me who was patiently waiting to sample some wine and who shook his head as if to say Yeah, sure lady, you look whatever your age is, now, how do we get her to shut up? and then I really took a good look at him in all his youth and thick blond hair and suspenders and shorts but no shirt and I knew we’re in the middle of an unseasonable heat wave and it’s 99 in the shade but I was thinking, geeze dude you’re strutting around with your hairy blonde naked nipple chest and what if I tried to pull that off? and wine woman said, I remember you! to me and asked if I was the woman who during the last tasting gave her the tip about briefly chilling a red wine to bring out its complexity and I ‘fessed up and she said god bless you in that way people say it when you’re not sure if they actually mean to invoke their deity’s consecration upon you or it’s like they are using it as a stand in for thanks or good morning or gesundheit or have a nice day or holy fuck would you look at the pecs on that buff and shirtless young man, but then later she said it again and somehow I managed to stifle myself from responding, Yeah well I’m an atheist so that’s not gonna happen.

Oh, and the wine was very good. Especially the red blend.

*   *   *

Reflections on all things messy, as per recent events

This was going to be my musings about how  Bruce Jenner, born biologically/genetically/XY chromosomally male, can become Caitlyn Jenner because he “feels” female, vis-à-vis Rachel Dolezal, the leader of the Spokane NAACP who was outed by her parents as white woman, even though Dolezal claims to feel or “identify” as black.

Oh, never mind.

 

Yeeees! Number One, cancel red alert!

 

Instead, wouldn’t you rather look at a picture of a delicious crab, avocado and roasted sweet corn salad?

We’ve been enjoying the fruits of MH’s going crabbing in Manzanita last Sunday – in the form of having crab several nights in a row, including this salad, which tasted even better than it looked…

 

 

…and which seemed to have removed all thoughts of current events commentary from my mind…except for this vestige of the tabloid-worthy identity stories. I woke up yesterday with an interesting image in my mind: a somewhat nervous, male Dungeness crab  [3] being removed from a crab pot, pleading his case to the crabbers:

Yeah, I know I look male, but I’m transitioning to female.

♫ I feel pretty, oh so pretty ♫

*   *   *

Department of Just Because

I came across an article about a casting call in Arkansas for the sequel to a movie that was titled  God’s Not Dead. [4] The sequel will be titled…hold on to your purity rings, boys and girls…God’s Not Dead 2.

I can’t help but fantasize about the sequel’s preview voiceover:

 He’s back, He’s still not dead, and HE’S PISSED !!!!

*   *   *

Department of WTF, Oregon?

Jul 2 99°F; Jul 3 97°; Jul 4 96°; Jul 5 101°; Jul 6 97°

This is not the forecast of the Oregon-west-of-the-Cascades-Range I’ve known and loved for the past 24+ years. I’m thinking my antiperspirant needs a more realistic name, or at least an update, from

to

*   *   *

May you always look (but never act) your age and be at ease about it,
May your transitions be crab-free and your marriages be gay,
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] I loathe that term, and wish I could ride a time warp back to muzzle the misguided anthropologists who coined the classifications of “races.” Ain’t no such things. My brother didn’t marry out of his “race;” he married a member of the human race.

[2] Tex-ass. You’d guessed that, didn’t you?

[3] Oregon crabbing regulations stipulate that only males of a certain shell width may be kept.

[4] Nope, I’d never heard of it either.