The states are not free, under the guise of protecting maternal health or potential life, to intimidate women into continuing pregnancies.—Justice Harry A. Blackmun, Roe v. Wade, January 22, 1973

Recently the Texas State Legislature walked all over Justice Blackmun’s ground breaking insight by passing a bill that would effectively close 37 abortion of 42 clinics and contravene the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade. Backers of the bill described it as a way to ensure all pregnancies are carried to term,[1] which goes directly against the Supreme Court decision.

Arrogance & Ignorance

When ignorance and arrogance come together rarely are the results appealing. The arrogance in this case comes from a Republican Party majority that changed rules in the middle of the game, making a super majority vote unnecessary. The ignorance comes from the bill’s House sponsor Collin County Representative Jodie Laubenberg.

Laubenberg was widely mocked after claiming that there was no need to make an exception to the proposed 20-week cutoff for abortions in cases of rape, because, well, rape victims can just get “cleaned out” at the hospital with a rape kit. [2] Laubenberg’s, bizarre remarks during House debate about abortion and rape kits[3] and revealed an alarming ignorance of the basic mechanics of sexual assault and the investigative role of rape kits, according to The Associated Press.[4]

It is not the first time Laubenberg seems clueless when it comes to women healthcare initiatives. In 2011, when it was pointed out to her by a budget expert that women's health programs actually save the government money because there would be fewer babies born under the state's Medicaid program, Laubenberg accused the Legislative Budget Board of using "government math."[5]

Effect & Cause

The passage of the antiabortion bill will affect thousands of women across Texas, especially the impoverished and those living in rural areas.[6] By requiring clinics to meet medically unnecessary standards such as size of hallways and procedure room entrances among other things, makes it too expensive to change and that is the intent. Only Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Ft. Worth would offer legal abortion services making it difficult for those living in the vast state to reach services and increasing the risk of self-abortion.

Since the beginning of the year, Republican controlled State Legislatures passed at least 40 new laws intended to restrict access to abortion, including mandatory ultrasounds and expensive new regulations for clinics. Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin signed a bill in private requiring physicians who perform abortions to get hospital admitting privileges immediately. Wisconsin is the 16th state to mandate admitting privileges or the equivalent and the 22nd to force ultrasounds on women.[7] Since routine ultrasound is not considered medically necessary as a component of first-trimester abortion, the requirements are nothing more than stealth attempts to personify the fetus and dissuade a woman from obtaining an abortion. Moreover, an ultrasound can add significantly to the cost of the procedure.[8]

An End Run

By imposing strict and expensive regulations on abortion clinics, beyond what is necessary to ensure patient safety, Texas and other states are using veiled laws to circumvent the constitution. Yet, the number of abortions in the United States has remained proportionately the same over the past 50 years. Most of the provisions add nothing to existing patient protections while granting hospitals effective veto power over whether an abortion provider can exist.

Although advocates of such restrictions claim that measures like mandating admitting privileges or applying standards meant for ambulatory surgical centers to abortion clinics are intended to ensure quality health care, none of them receives endorsement as necessary by relevant medical authorities. Instead, argues Planned Parenthood Wisconsin CEO Teri Huyck, women will be less safe because abortion will be less accessible. “When women don’t have access to safe, legal abortions, there are health consequences and women die,” she said.[9]

Contraception History

As far back as 1550 B.C., Egyptians recorded recipes that directed women how to mix dates, acacia and honey into a paste, smear it over wool and use it as a pessary to prevent conception. In the 1700s Casanova's memoirs detail his experiments in birth control, from sheep-bladder condoms to the use of half a lemon as a makeshift cervical cap. In 1839, Charles Goodyear invents the technology to vulcanize rubber and puts it to use manufacturing rubber condoms, intrauterine devices, douching syringes and "womb veils"[10]

Since the 1842 invention of the diaphragm in Europe contraceptive device development remained stagnant there had been no new advances in contraceptive methods until American birth control activist and sex educator Margaret Higgins Sanger came along. She wanted a pill that could provide women with cheap, safe, effective and female-controlled contraception. Her search ended in 1951 when she met Gregory Pincus, a medical expert in human reproduction who was willing to take on the project. Soon after, she found a sponsor for the research: International Harvester heiress Katharine McCormick. Their collaboration would lead to the FDA approval of Enovid, the first oral contraceptive, in 1960. With the advent of the “Pill,” Sanger accomplished her life-long goal of bringing safe and effective contraception to the masses.[11]

Outrage & Idiocy

With a woman’s sudden ability to control her body came outrage at such a thought. Even worse, religion stuck its ugly head into the fray in the form of the Catholic Church and condemned “The Pill” as sinful and against the will of God. Fortunately for women the genie was out of the bottle and women took the opportunity to cut off their burden as “baby” machines. Margaret Sanger’s mother died at age 50 after 11 children and seven miscarriages. [12]

Religionists and pro-life advocates also often stand opposed to “birth control,” apparently failing to make the connection between pregnancy and abortion. No woman seeks an abortion without experiencing some desperation, but for whatever reason effective contraception prevents pregnancy and eliminates the need for abortion. It seems such an easy concept to grasp.

The Idiocy of Abstinence

After more than two decades of effort and millions of tax dollars focused on refraining from sexual intercourse until marriage,[13] went up in smoke after government studies showed what most innately know—abstinence programs are about as effective as no program.

Some believed abstinence-only programs could attain their goals,[14] despite numerous studies showing most Americans have sexual intercourse before marrying.[15] The unyielding nature of this approach explains why Christians lobby incessantly against public school sex education that teaches contraception, despite all the studies demonstrating that “abstinence-only “programs serve not to decrease but increase the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STD).[16] Not only are abstinence-only programs ineffective at preventing pregnancy they also fall short in reducing the risk of HIV transmission.[17]

The Texas Freedom Network, an organization dedicated to fighting the religious right's control of Texas government, has a goal of “ending the state’s promotion of failed abstinence-only sex education and installing policies that ensure teaching about birth control, along with abstinence, in high school sex education classes."[18]

Abortion History

Abortion has been in existence since the ancient times and practiced by women all over the world. Researchers recorded 2600 BC known recipe for an abortion producing drug.[19] Abortion is hardly anything new and the quest to obtain them has stretched over the centuries and around the world. Even though abortion was illegal, in the 1930s licensed US physicians performed an estimated 800,000 abortions a year.[20] To handle the large number of those that resorted other methods the majority of large public hospitals had septic abortions wards. These places always reeked of the smell of death due to the women being extremely ill due to either botched abortions or self-induced abortions.[21]

The Failure of Religion

In Texas, much of the abortion debate is fueled by the Religious Right and therein lies the rub. Despite the shrillness of the abortion argument, one thing is clear: 70 percent of those receiving abortions in the United States are Christians, 43% Protestants and 27% Catholics.[22] Said plainly, religion has done little if anything to stem the need for abortion. To focus those numbers it helps to know almost a third (30%) of all abortions take place in the states of the old confederacy.[23]

The Bible Belt

The numbers change from year to year, but the location has not. Ironically, almost a quarter (298,569) of all abortions take place in the states of the old Confederacy—the most religious portion of the country.[24],[25] Mississippi displaced Texas and New Mexico with the nation's highest teen pregnancy rate, according to a 2009 federal report. The 2009 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control showed the teen pregnancy rate in Texas was more than 50 percent higher the national average.

To spotlight the situation a little closer it is the most religious portions of the country that have the most restrictive laws trying to ban abortion. Yet, for all their religiosity, they continue to lead the nation in the very behaviors they wish to eliminate. For instance, in descending order after Mississippi are New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Alabama Tennessee and Arizona, with the highest unwed birthrates in the nation ranging from Mississippi’s 64.2 births per 1,000 female of population to Arizona’s rate of 50.6 per 1,000. [26]

Pro-Life?

“Evangelicals must also rethink the priorities for their political engagement. There is too much truth to the charge that we have been pro-life only from conception to birth. The sanctity of human life also pertains to people dying from hunger, AIDS, tobacco smoke, and capital punishment.”[27]—Ronald J. Sider

A close look at the so-called “pro-life” movement reveals a faction whose focus stays almost entirely on preventing abortion. On achievement of that goal, concern for that child’s well-being disappears more often than not. Metaphorically, once a child is born, Pro-Life advocates imitate Pontius Pilate and “wash their hands” of the whole affair deeming their job accomplished.

With more than 120,000 adoptable children in the United States,[28] an excellent opportunity exists for the Evangelical Right and Pro-Life advocates to demonstrate their concern for life by adopting some of those hoping to land in a good home. The shallowness of the anti-abortion, pro-birth stance reveals itself in the failure to adopt the forced deliveries.

Saying that it is right or wrong begs the question. The birth of a child is a real event and has implications. A child must be clothed, fed, and nurtured. It must be educated and have medical care. It must have a chance to rise above adversity. It must access to some of the same things all Americans take for granted including quality of life. To block abortions and complain of welfare, ignore orphanages with children seeking adoption. Falling back on religion as a crutch for protection of what they do is hypocritical and transparent. I will finally let this go when the American public decides that if it wants to build lives that there is a cost that comes with it.

Abortions will continue as they have throughout history. The only question is whether it will return to musty motel rooms or clandestine locations with unqualified providers. Meanwhile, the rich will do as they did in the past—make arrangements, meaning that money can buy a safe abortion in a hospital. Conversely, poor women have little choice other than seeking a life-risking illegal procedure or self-induced abortion.



[1] Texas Threat to Abortion Clinics Dodged at Flea Markets, BloombergNews, Esme E. Deprez, July 11, 2013, http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-07-10/flea-market-abortions-thrive-as-texas-bill-might-close-clinics

[2] What Jodie Laubenberg said: Not just wrong, but creepy too, Jacquielynn Floyd, Dallas Morning News, June 26, 2013, http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2013/06/what-jodie-laubenberg-said-not-just-wrong-but-creepy-too.html/

[3] What Jodie Laubenberg said: Not just wrong, but creepy too, Jacquielynn Floyd, Dallas Morning News, June 26, 2013, http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2013/06/what-jodie-laubenberg-said-not-just-wrong-but-creepy-too.html/

[4] Jodie Laubenberg, Texas GOP Lawmaker, Suggests Rape Kits Can Give Abortions, Nick Wing, The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/24/jodie-laubenberg-texas-rape_n_3493220.html

[5] Sponsor of New Texas Anti-Abortion Bill Thinks Rape Kits Are Contraceptives, Alexander Abad-Santos, June 24, 2013, http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/06/new-texas-anti-abortion-bill-rape-kits/66531/

[6] Jodie Laubenberg, Texas GOP Lawmaker, Suggests Rape Kits Can Give Abortions, Nick Wing, The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/24/jodie-laubenberg-texas-rape_n_3493220.html

[7] Republican State Legislators Pass 40 Laws Restricting Abortion in First Half of 2013, Matt Bewig, AllGov.Com, July 08, 2013, http://www.allgov.com/news/top-stories/republican-state-legislators-pass-40-laws-restricting-abortion-in-first-half-of-2013-130708?news=850503

[8] State Policies In Brief, Requirements for Ultrasound, Guttmacher Institute, July 1, 2013, http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_RFU.pdf

[9] Republican State Legislators Pass 40 Laws Restricting Abortion in First Half of 2013, Matt Bewig, AllGov.Com, July 08, 2013, http://www.allgov.com/news/top-stories/republican-state-legislators-pass-40-laws-restricting-abortion-in-first-half-of-2013-130708?news=850503

[13] University and College Sex Survey, "CampusKiss and Tell", CampusKiss.com, February 14, 2006, http://www.campuskiss.com/defa...rvey=show&homepage=true

[14] Lawrence B. Finer, Trends in Premarital Sex in the United States, 1954–2003, Public Health Reports, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1802108/?tool=pubmed

[15] Even Grandma had premarital sex, survey finds, Americans weren't any more chaste in the past, researchers report, The Associated Press, MSNBC, December 28, 2006, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16287113/

[16] Leon Seltzer and David Niose,  eVolumeution of the Self, On the paradoxes of personality, Teen Sex: The "Holy"—vs.—Humanistic—Approach, How do secular humanists look at teenage sexuality August 5, 2010, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/eVolumeution-the-self/201008/te...

[17] Kristen Underhill, Paul Montgomery and Don Operario et al, Abstinence-Only Sex Education Programs Not Effective At Preventing Spread Of HIV In High-Income Countries, Study Says, British Medical Journal, July 26, 2007, http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/bmj.39245.446586.BEv1

[18] Sex Education Makes Kids "Hot And Bothered," Claims Texas Representative, Slate, Amanda Marcotte,  July 11, 2013,  http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/07/11/texas_rep_steve_toth_claims_sex_education_causes_pregnancy_by_sexually_arousing.html

[20] Boyer, Paul S., ed. (2006), The Oxford companion to United States history. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-19-508209-8.

[21] Patricia G Miller’s book, “The Worst of Times”

[22] The Alan Guttmacher Institute, 2008 & Women Who Have Abortions, National Abortion Federation

[23] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007

[24] Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States, In Brief: Fact Sheet, Guttmacher Institute, August 2011, http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html

[25] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008

[26] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008

[27] Ronald J. Sider, Evangelical Voters, Practice What You Preach, beliefnet, March 2005, http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2005/03/Evangelical-Vo...

[28] The AFCARS Report, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, June 2011, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/tar/report18.htm

Views: 282

Tags: Abortion, Arrogance, Birth-Control, Condoms, Contraception, Ignorance, Pill, The

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Comment by Loren Miller on July 23, 2013 at 5:26am

Tom, I wonder if they even go that far.  As I've been talking about elsewhere, girls and women have been devalued practically from the beginning of time.  Recognizing that that old calculation has a practical value insofar as ZPG (Zero Population Growth, if you've never heard of it) is concerned is simply a bonus - one more mechanism to keep influential men in power and everyone else under their thumbs.

Comment by Tom Sarbeck on July 23, 2013 at 3:42am

"...in 2013 in countries like India where girl children have little value."

Many an action has at least two explanations.

In this circumstance there's that ideological explanation and there's a different pragmatic explanation.

Suppose India's rulers want to limit population growth they choose abandonment.

1) They can say boy children have little value and abandon them, or

2) They can say girl children have little value and abandon them.

Critical Path Analysis (google it) compares realities.

1) Abandon boy children: girl children will grow up and those who want to get pregnant will do so.

2) Abandon girl children: fewer girl children will grow up and get pregnant.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on July 22, 2013 at 11:51pm
Tom--that activity takes place in 2013 in countries like India where girl children have little value. There are others. Even the Bible has baby-bashing.
Comment by Tom Sarbeck on July 21, 2013 at 10:30pm

Thanx, Don, for the information.

As I read I remembered hearing of a practice in ancient Greece about unwanted newborns being abandoned where wild beasts would find and eat them. I heard of it while in college, I think from a professor in one of those civilization courses that all first and second year students take. Has anyone else heard of the practice?

There was a time, in the late 1960s, that Austin, Texas, public schools had a comprehensive sex education program. When my wife and I moved to Austin in 1966, she happened to choose as our doctor one of the people who had designed the program, which started in second grade. She was teaching fifth grade and he asked her to keep him posted on how the program was working. In 1969 my work took us to Phoenix so I don't know when the abstinence-only people took over the schools. In Phoenix, she went to the Welcome Wagon programs for newcomers. People there wanted to hire her to teach sex ed classes for their kids but she had taught long enough and wanted to do something else.

Comment by Loren Miller on July 17, 2013 at 7:43am

Something occurs to me: has anyone ever run a poll of Women ONLY, asking their views about abortion and the issue of choice?  I'm not certain I've ever heard of such a poll, and considering that women are the only people who may need to avail themselves of such a procedure, their opinions would be of central interest.  I also can't help but notice crap like that one congressional panel where ONLY MEN were invited to give their opinions and suggestions regarding an issue which has no direct, personal impact on THEM ... but how control of rights and access to women's health providers may help them maintain a position of POWER over women, something which it seems the Neanderthals of Congress never fail to take advantage of.

Damn, but the abuse that men dole out to women over this business just makes me fucking SICK.

Comment by Loren Miller on July 16, 2013 at 8:58pm

Don, you could have quit after the Blackmun quote and you would have had me in any case.  It hardly takes much thought to recognize that intimidation in one form or another is PRECISELY what the likes of Rick Perry and John Kasich, among other governors, are doing with their legislation.  In response, that quote should go up on billboards in ANY state that thinks it has the right or some ill-considered reason to restrict a woman's right to choose.

Hell, let's say it again:

The states are not free, under the guise of protecting maternal health or potential life, to intimidate women into continuing pregnancies.
-- Justice Harry Blackmun

Comment by Sentient Biped on July 16, 2013 at 8:48pm

Excellent discussion Don.   I wish I had something meaningful to add, but you covered all of the bases.

I do find it interesting that abortion is such an issue for christians, but abortion is not forbidden in the bible.  Unlike many things that christians do engage in.

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