A Historical View On Abortion

The pros and cons of abortion are not easy. Both sides have strong, convincing arguments.

As well as some horse pucky. The whole notion or Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice is a PR game. “Pro-Life” is a euphemism for Anti-Abortion. “Pro-Choice” is a euphemism for Pro-Abortion. It’s like the Southern States saying the Civil War was fought over state’s rights, when it was really about slavery – as in the Southern States’ right to have slaves. 

The Anti-Abortion side says they’re saving the lives of babies. The Pro-Abortion side says they are saving the quality of lives of both babies and mothers.

The Anti-Abortion side bases their argument on religion, citing numerous references in the Bible about the sanctity of life. The Pro-Abortion side notes that abortion is never cited or even mentioned in the Bible.

Interestingly, abortion wasn’t an issue until around the time of the Civil War. It had been practiced forever, in this country by the Pilgrims and the indigenous people, and by peoples all over the rest of the world (“As long as women have been pregnant, there have been abortions”). 

Also interestingly, abortions were performed by mid-wives, the same people who helped bring babies into the world. The practice was limited by the “quickening”, the moment around four to six months into a pregnancy when a woman could first feel the baby moving. Men had little interest and less to say about it.  Perhaps that why it wasn’t mentioned in the Constitution, either.

With advances in science, the notion of “quickening” has been replaced by more precise measurements. So now the two sides are debating about when a life actually begins. The Anti-Abortionists believe life begins the moment the sperm says “Hi there egg!” Abortionists put it much later.

Now, hold that thought.

Let’s go back to the early years of the country and the 55 delegates at The Constitutional Convention. They decided that Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  Jefferson described it as a wall separating church and state. As a nation, we have subscribed to that metaphor ever since.

It follows that, if Church and State must be separate, then although a religious belief may influence an American’s lifestyle, not to mention the vote, it cannot be forced onto others who have different beliefs. We cannot be forced, for example, to follow Christian beliefs – or Buddhist beliefs, or Hindu beliefs or Agnostic beliefs or Atheist beliefs – although we can voluntarily follow them.

In other words, the Constitution was written to avoid the very quandary we’re in now – debating whether any church can dictate to those outside of that religion. 

Also interestingly, escaping religious dictates was a primary reason the first settlers came to this country.

OK, back to the debate.  

In the 158 years since the Civil War, Christian religious groups – the church- have slowly and inexorably taken the abortion debate to the state. In the last 50 years Jefferson’s wall has been breached – really obliterated – by Evangelicals and Catholics who have used the pulpit and lobbyists to make the state declare abortion illegal. Why? Because their religion tells them that abortion is wrong.

Thus the torturous reasoning in a draft opinion, from one of six out of nine Catholic Justices on The Supreme Court, decimating a woman’s right to abortion in this country.

In my opinion, if you could go back and ask them, the founding fathers would have been saddened, if not shocked, by any church’s attempt to impose its beliefs on the state. They would have welcomed an open debate, for sure, but a debate to be decided by each person individually, just as they decide which religion, if any, to follow.

In other words, it’s not just a matter of choice for women. It’s a matter of choice for each of us – everyone – who lives by the Constitution.

Or was.

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The Outhouse Leak

Hardly had the word that Roe v. Wade is dead leaked like sewage out of the outhouse when Republicans and Democrats, pro and con Abortionists, started yelling at each other.

Democrats attacked the ruling for its obvious assault on women’s rights to control their own bodies. Republicans attacked the ruling for… Oops!…they didn’t attack the ruling. They attacked the leakers.

“This lawless action should be investigated and punished,” said Senator Mitch McConnell, who has spent the last twenty years stacking the Supreme Court with judges – mostly Catholic, mostly white males – who, despite what they told the Senate and the American public, were against abortion. 

Reminds me of the line from Casablanca, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

Of course, leaks of this sort are not illegal, as Mitch well knows. Leaking national security secrets is illegal; leaking drafts of Supreme Court rulings is not.  

Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski were also shocked, shocked! After all, they had asked the Supreme Court aspirants about their position on 1973’s Roe v Wade during public hearings and were assured that…um,  it was established law, that they…um…weren’t sure of the circumstances…would study the law…but couldn’t, in good conscience say how they’d… um…vote. So, feeling well informed, Collins and Murkowski and the other Republicans, voted them onto the Court.

Reminds me of another Casablanca line, “Round up the usual suspects.”

How about Mitch McConnell and Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski  as a start?

As a country we are (supposedly) committed to separating church and state. Of course for the Christian Right and the Catholic Church, that’s always been a hollow commitment.  

The issue of abortion has never been easy. Who takes precedence, the unborn or the mother? Are there any good reasons to abort a fetus? When does life begin? Science says one thing, religion another. Of course religions made their decisions over 2000 years ago, well before medical science even started. Science is still discovering its truths while religions know all truths and always have since they first discovered the earth was square.

And, hey, women were never that important anyway, right? Pop out those babies, baby! We macho types will do the rest!

But, of course, those macho types were usually busy with other things, so women have always carried the burden of children far more than men. They’re the ones who get pregnant, not the men. And if there is no guy around to help, they raise the kid, even if that means in abject poverty. Men don’t even have to apologize. They can either stay and be fathers, or take off for the next round of baby-making. 

And wouldn’t it be cool if scientists could invent a pill that prevented pregnancy in women, or disabled all those little swimmers in men? Oh, right! They have! 

I suppose that’s next on the Supreme Court agenda.

Whatever happens, a bunch of men, mostly white, mostly religious, mostly liars wearing the robes of gravitas, just decided that women have to have babies, whether they want to or not. 

Or visit back alleys where they can have needles poked up their uteruses in hopes of killing the baby and not the woman.

The Supreme Court sure smells like an outhouse today.

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DeSantis’ Mickey Mouse Move

Florida’s Governor DeSantis says he is punishing the Disney corporation for speaking out against the his “Don’t Say Gay Bill”, a bill aimed at preventing  kindergarteners to 3rd graders from being taught anything relating to LGBTQ. 

Of course everyone knows these kids aren’t old enough to give a DeSantis about LGBTQ.  So, what’s the real reason for taking away Disney’s authority over its park? And what’s the real reason for making sure no-one says “Gay” in kindergarten to 3rd grade classrooms?

To gin up Trumpers!  

In running against Trump in 2024, he needs to win over Trumpers. The way to do that is to out-Trump Trump. And the way to out-Trump Trump is to scare Trumper parents into thinking their kids are in danger of becoming… LBGTQ! And the way to do that is by telling them LGBTQ is a teachable event, not a hormonal one.  After all, there’s nothing about it in the Bible, right? 

So, scaring parents is good. But out-Trumping Trump by smacking Disney upside the head is even better. DeSantis’ thumping one of the biggest media corporations in the country is bound to scare other media corporations into political compliance, something Trump was never able to do. Yeah DeSantis!

Well…maybe not.

Maybe DeSantis is also ginning up moderates of both parties who see his “Don’t Say Gay” bill as the political stunt it is. 

And maybe, when Orange and Osceola citizens have to shoulder Disney’s billion dollar bond debt, not to mention every day municipal costs (fire, water, sewer, police, etc…) – up to $2200 per household -they’ll get ginned up too – against DeSantis.

On the other hand, that can’t happen until 2023, well after DeSantis wins the  2022 election for Governor of Florida. By which time he will be well on his way to a White House bid.


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The line between humor and pain.

The source of most humor is pain. Someone trips over a banana peel, flips head over teakettle, and we crack up. Why? Because he had no idea it was coming. We laugh at someone else’s pain, even if it’s just embarrassment.

You know what was funny about Chris Rock’s joke about Will Smith’s wife, actress Jada Koren Pinkett Smith, being bald?  Not much, really. (Next time, don’t forget the banana peel Chris.)

What was funny is what happened immediately afterward: Will Smith marched onstage and slapped Chris Rock, spiking his career… Will Smith’s, not Chris Rock’s. Chris’ career is soaring, now.  Will Smith just lost a bunch of contracts, which is funny – in an ironic way of course.

See that’s the basis of humor – someone gets hurt, screwed, or upended totally unexpectedly.  

Guys, particularly, like physical humor. That’s why the Three Stooges get laughs today, almost 100 years after they first made audiences laugh. 

My first grade teacher always said, “Use your words, Henry” And I did. But I got a lot more laughs when I tripped over my untied shoe lace or caught a baseball with my face than when I screwed up a math problem.

Women usually get laughs with their words.  They are more sophisticated I guess (I’m a guy, so Mars and Venus).

Humor isn’t always funny.  Like when I flunked Statistics 101. There was nothing funny about having to repeat the dullest course in all of schooldom… schooldumb.

Humor has also traditionally been a way to of trying to deal with very unfunny stuff. 

When I was still in my formative years, a TV comedy named “Hogan’s Heroes” made fun of a German WWII prisoner of war camp or “stalag”. Its first season was 20 years after the end of WWII, enough time, I guess, to erase the horror of real Nazi stalags. Actor John Banner became arguably the most famous character in the cast with just one line, “I know nu-uh-thing!!!” Although the show was a hit, some of the WWII vets I knew had a hard time with it.

“Mash”, a war comedy about the Korean War was launched 20 years after that war. But because its audience was still experiencing the Viet Nam War, its humor often recognized the stupidity, futility, and immorality of war instead of erasing it.

I wonder if 20 years is Hollywood’s magic number for dealing with the horrors of war. I kind of doubt it’s the magic number for many others.

I think it will take a lot longer than 20 years to erase the horrors of the war Russia is raging on Ukraine. Like many of my generation, the images from Ukraine feel like color renderings of photographs from WWI and WWII. 

The places, the faces: identical. Putin, Hitler: identical. The US then and now: we can only hope.

Which brings me back to the Will Smith-Chris Rock fluff-up. Chris Rock’s joke was funny to him because he thought Jada Koren Pinkett Smith had shaved her head to look cool. It wasn’t to Will Smith who knew the real reason: a skin disease. 

But you know what’s really funny about the whole thing? The media spent nearly as much time on that story as the Ukraine story. Ok… not funny…at least for 20 years or so.

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“I Need Ammunition, Not A Ride.”

There’s something very different about the Russia-Ukraine war. In other wars started by Russia, most other countries condemned Putin, or just sighed in resignation went on with their lives.

“If we remain silent today, we will be gone tomorrow.”

87 nations didn’t rise up against Putin’s support of Bashar al-Assad when all those Syrians got killed. 87 nations didn’t shame China for it’s attempt at genocide of Uighurs.

Light will shine over darkness.”

This time the US, Europe and others erupted in outrage, decrying Putin’s bullying and sending C-17’s filled with billions of dollars in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.  

Makes you wonder: what makes Ukraine so special?

The story has taken over the media. Every day we read heart rending stories of refugees – women and children, mostly – leaving Ukraine. Everyday we read inspiring stories of others who stayed to fight the Russians. Everyday we read about people from other countries crossing into Ukraine to join the fight.

“It’s a victory when the weapons fall silent and people speak up.”

It’s been deja vu after deja vu of WWII: mothers and babies with blood on their faces, buildings with only one wall standing, black smoke fires where hospitals used to be. 

“We will not forget. We will punish everyone who committed atrocities in this war…You will not have a quiet place on this earth, except for a grave.”

Putin couldn’t win with quick, surgical strikes, so he reverted to the time-honored Russian tactic of total destruction, decimating everything, from buildings to morale.

“We have tasted freedom and we will not give it up.”

But we’ve seen these scenes before, plenty of them, from WWII, Korea, Syria, Iraq, China, Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Crimea…

… Everywhere but LA…Oops! Then Chris Rock insulted Will Smith’s wife and got smacked for it by Will. 

So much for peace and love at the Oscars. 

Which probably ticked off Senators Graham, Hawley, and Cruz who would have liked to physically smack Supreme Court candidate Ketanji Brown Jackson, but chickened out and used their words instead. 

Sorry, too much TV.

So what’s different about this war?

“When you attack us you will see our faces. Not our backs but our faces.”

Is it the fact that the scenes are so reminiscent of the Nazi’s attacks on Poland, France? Is it the fact that Ukrainians are white and blond and straight out of Central Casting? Is it the fact that Ukraine is so close to Europe?  

The answer is yes…and no.

Yes, the WWII images still echo in our memories. Yes, Ukrainians are from Central Casting. Yes, if Russia can do this to Ukraine, Europe should worry.

But no, those scenes aren’t why 87 countries are uniting against Russia. They’re uniting against Russia because of rare, inspired and inspiring, leadership. 

“Nobody is going to break us; we’re strong, we’re Ukrainians.”

Volodymyr Zelenskyy is that leader. He is the Hollywood hero that has been missing for so long. He is Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Jack Kennedy.

His off-the-cuff comments are better than the best lines of John Wayne, Sean Connery, Daniel Craig or any other Hollywood hero. He’s real, a throwback to when national leaders led with their character. He connects with Ukrainians and everyone else because he doesn’t speak politics; he speaks his heart.

“I’m not in hiding. And I’m not afraid of anyone.”

Would people be so outraged at Putin without him? They weren’t when Russia took Georgia in 2008. They weren’t when Russia took Crimea in 2014. They weren’t when Russia attacked Donestk  and Lugansk in 2014. Things didn’t change until 2019, when Zelenskyy became President.

“I’m not iconic. Ukraine is iconic.”

Sorry, Mr. President. As the quotes here illustrate, you are iconic too.  

“This might be the last time you see me alive.”

I really hope not.

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