A Modest Proposal To End the Abortion Wars

Last year Time published an article appropriately titled: The Only Controversy About Birth Control is That We’re Still Fighting For It. The opening sentence strikes at the heart of the matter for many women concerned about the imposition of policy on their personal choices: Decisions about women’s health are being made, yet again, by judges and politicians who will never need to use birth control.

In my article “A Modest Proposal” I’m offering what I believe is a reasonable solution to the ongoing controversy that is birth control to even the playing field of personal responsibility:

Sperm Police, That’s What We Need!

Anti-choice radicals have it all wrong in the “Battle for Women’s Bodies” exemplified in the ongoing political kerfuffles about birth control and abortion called by some the War on Women. It doesn’t make sense to try to control women’s bodies when we usually have just one egg a month. Men average 500 million sperm per ejaculation. Assuming the national average of sex twice a week, that means that each month that tiny egg has a fight off at least 4 billion sperm—not very good odds of preventing pregnancy. Clearly the problem is all that sperm which must be kept away from impregnating that vulnerable egg.

Isn’t it odd that the leaders of the anti-choice movement are mostly older men, bringing their propensity toward guns and violence to the “cause”? How would these guys like laws to be passed to control the expression of their sperm? Or a law stating men had to receive rectal exams before being prescribed Viagra? It seems that our male politicians (and some male-identified females) want women to be breeders for the state. But sadly, the state wants nothing to do with the “crop,” the children, after they are born. Why else the mean-spirited legislation against programs serving the needs of women and children?

The issue isn’t really concerned for the “unborn.” The issue is controlling women’s sexuality. Anyone who enjoys heterosexual sex knows there are contraceptive failures.

This is an anti-women’s sexuality movement, not a “pro-life” movement, for if it was truly pro-life, there would be no children languishing in poverty, in foster homes and orphanages. If these folks really believed in the sanctity of the family, the biggest chunk of our national budget would go for women’s and children’s health and educational needs. We’d have Mother’s Wages like in Sweden for all childbearing women.

A while back, I was stopped in traffic by anti-choice demonstrators in front of a hospital that soon afterward would stop performing abortions because of political pressure from religious right extremists. I asked a man carrying a sign how many babies he’d adopted. Completely missing my point, he said proudly, “I’ve got five of my own.”(Oh that sperm, so determined!)

At my uncle’s funeral mass, the priest, no doubt intending to comfort the mourners, said, “The soul never dies.” Later in his sermon he launched into a diatribe against abortion. If the soul never dies, why all this fuss about fetuses? The church doesn’t require a funeral service for a miscarried fetus. At least not up to now. Fetus funerals would be a great publicity gimmicks as well as fresh occasions for the expression of abortion-war hysteria.

I know of a white, middle-class Catholic family who a couple of years ago adopted a newborn girl after years of waiting for a white baby. Both sides of the family were ecstatic and the newest member of the family was showered with gifts and attention. The nursery had been lovingly and carefully decorated according to the latest trends in the baby fashions. Her new grandfather, the judge, was especially delighted with her.

Two months later, the birth mother returned to the Catholic adoption agency and tearfully confessed that the baby’s father was African-American. The doting parents immediately gave their baby girl back to the agency, which placed her in a foster home. No one in either family mentions her. It’s as if she never existed, except deep in the darkness of the family shame they hopefully must all feel.

The agency immediately placed them at the top of the waiting list for a pure, white baby.

On television, Father Paul Marx of the International Right to Life Committee proudly acknowledged that members of the anti-choice movement in this country went to Ireland and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars influencing the vote that gave that country the most repressive anti-choice laws in the western world. Marx spoke with excitement about moving into Eastern Europe to influence the passage of equally repressive laws in those countries.

How does the Roman Catholic church get away without paying a dime in taxes at the same time it is so deeply involved in politics, attempting to govern sexual behavior of both Catholic and non-Catholic women? The Vatican says Catholic parents have a duty to pull their children from sex education programs that promote condoms to prevent pregnancy or AIDS. Ironically, Catholic women account for one third of the abortions in this country and 98% have at some point bucked the church’s rules and have used contraception. It seems cruel to oppose both abortion and birth control, forcing millions of woman into enslaved motherhood and millions of men into forced fatherhood. This does nothing to improve the status of male-female relationships or “strengthen the family.”

In a statement declaring its support for discrimination against gay people who are “against natural law, the Vatican said, “The Church has the responsibility to promote the public morality of the entire civil society on the basis of fundamental moral values.” Parents are advised to seek counseling for gay youth. The Vatican insists that gay Catholics remain celibate. We all know how that has turned out.

To publicly allow its followers to practice the birth control many of them use, the church would have to condone non-procreative sex and eventually allow priests to marry. But the church’s power is in numbers, regardless of the costs to Catholic as well as non-Catholic men and women. Leaders of other world religions, alarmed at global overpopulation, have publically asked the Roman Catholic Church to change its position on birth control. The answer once again is no, despite the recurring embarrassment to the church when so many priests are being charged with molesting children, an effect of its unnatural, repressive position on human sexuality.

What can be done to end this madness? Here are some “modest proposals” to bring the wars to an end:

  1. We could pass laws that men could only ejaculate with a consenting woman who wanted a child. The religious right should really get behind such a law with enthusiasm.
  2. Laws would require men to have their testicles weighed and checked daily to make sure they haven’t been ejaculating clandestinely. Offenders would be dealt with harshly, as would any doctors who helped them cover up by injecting saline solution or silicone into their testicles to make them bigger and fuller. This supervision would come under the newly created Department of Sperm Police, who would be women, of course. Repeat offenders would be sent to prison, maybe as sex offenders, having to register with police wherever they lived and worked upon release.
  3. Women could stop having sex with men until the men figure out how to nurture and support the fruit of their ejaculations. Women who want a child could go to a sperm bank, where business would quadruple due to all that sperm buildup.
  4. Women could turn all the children over to the men to raise for at least three generations. This could give men time to reorder their priorities, learn to nurture, give up guns and war, and become truly pro-life.
  5. Women who are ovulating and fertile could go to secret government supported hideaways where they can be protected from those men with determined sperm.
  6. Accidental pregnancies could be medically transferred to men’s bellies to grow and be delivered by caesarean section. The technology for this is right around the corner.
  7. The establishment of a bipartisan National Sperm Control Commission to set standards for research on male birth control, male pregnancy and ways to reduce male violence and epidemics of testosteronitis like the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and in our cities.
  8. Legislate that all male newborns get vasectomies, to be reversed by approval of the governments’ parental control commission when the boy is grown and choosing fatherhood with a consenting woman.

If these measures seem harsh or extreme to the reader, I offer these kinder, gentler solutions:

  1. We could let everyone, male or female, be responsibly in control of their own bodies without interference from the state. Birth control, including the abortion pill, would be freely available to those who choose it.
  2. We could shift out national priorities and become a truly child-centered culture where all babies of all colors and economic backgrounds would be wanted, loved, and given every opportunity to learn and grow with the support of all of our institutions.
  3. We could all choose to act respectfully, lovingly, and responsibly toward one another and get on with the business of becoming true planetary citizens, no longer at war with each other in the name of god and country.
  4. We could declare an end to the “Battles for Women’s Bodies” and firmly reestablish the separation of church and state that was the basis of the founding of this nation. As Supreme Court Judge Anthony M. Kennedy said, “The mother who carries a child to full term is subject to anxieties, to physical restraints, to pain that only she must bear…Her suffering is too intimate and personal for the state to insist, without more, upon its own vision of the woman’s role.” His former colleague, Sandra Day O’Conner agrees: “Our obligation is to define the liberty of all. We reaffirm the constitutionally protected liberty of women to obtain an abortion.”
  5. Perhaps we could draw on the teaching of Jesus, Mohammad, Abraham, Krishna or any number of spiritual teachers, who all said in one form or another, “LOVE ONE ANOTHER.”

This is an idea whose time has to come.

 

Prisoners’ Rights to Education

New York Times Article: Let Prisoners Take College Courses

The Divide Widens

“I can’t imagine what it’s like to be white, even for one day,” my friend said wistfully after experiencing another in the series of both subtle and overt snubs clearly related to her dark skin-one of many that I have witnessed during our 30 years of friendship. Sometimes, when the actions of a rude clerk were impossible to ignore, I would chide the person, hand them a “Thank you for your kindness” card, and say, “You really need to be kinder to people” while I simmered with barely suppressed anger at what my friend-and all black people, regardless of stats-endures on a daily basis.

Is she another “angry black woman” with a chip on her shoulders braced for possible insults? You bet-but, more than that, she is scared. No matter what she says, teaches, or does, no matter the extent of her sacrifices for her family, she still cannot keep her sons protected, no matter if they are presidents or 12-year-olds; nor her daughters, for black women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population.

Aside from my friend’s many personal experiences with racism, here is one of the reasons why she is so chronically traumatized; when her 19-year-old son was a top student on scholarship at a small southern college, he was arrested for murder while walking down the street. It took her several weeks to raise the money for bail and to find a local lawyer who was able to prove her son’s innocence and get him out of jail.

Whatever happened to him in jail-God only knows-he was so scarred by being held behind bars for a crime he did not commit that he dropped out of school. Ever since, he has gone from job to job, self-medicating with alcohol and drugs for PTSD. This once promising young man seemingly is doomed by the experience of that incarceration. His mother, too, never has been the same-and never will be. It took years to pay back the thousands she had begged and borrowed to get him free.

Why are white people so afraid of black people, especially young black males? Is it some twisted psychosexual fear of them stealing white women as the number of whites in the population declines? Is it some primordial fear that with slavery, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration, on some level whites are afraid of retribution? Is it the media that profits on highlighting young blacks as criminals? Most whites-good, kind people-would be baffled and dismayed if it was pointed out to them that it is passive, unconscious racism bubbling just under the new national hobby of the frightened Americans, hating Pres. Barack Obama no matter what he does or says. They are ignorant of the daily land mines of oppression most blacks face, or that the laws and policies their politicians vote for harm people, who ironically are mostly white. How difficult it must be for black people to trust white people under ongoing oppressive laws and policies and the constant denigration and attacks, especially on young black males.

Many years ago, my family was friendly with a family from Barbados. Our kids were the same age, played together, had sleepovers at each other’s houses, and went on day trips-all piled into my station wagon. Their mother and I walked our five-year-old sons to the first day of half-day kindergarten with their new backpacks, shiny shoes, and excitement at finally going to school in Media, Pa., a town that prided itself on integration. At noon, we waited for the boys to come home. When they arrived, her dark-skinned son was in tears and my son looked confused. What had happened? The crying boy tearfully described how the other students in the class called him a N*****! Shocked, I turned to my boy and asked him what he had done. He shamefacedly admitted that he, too, had called his best friend the N word, a word he never had heard uttered at home-our home, where we once were honored to have Martin Luther King Jr. come for dinner. How could this be? My sweet, innocent boy did not even know the meaning of the word. Their tears were wiped away and hugs given to both boys. As they went off with a snack to play, their mother and I wept in each other’s arms.

I had to acknowledge that, despite what children are taught in the home, the racist culture had invaded their kindergarten class, and no doubt all classes in this mostly white, suburban American town. That culture and its peer pressure already had poisoned the minds of innocent children. Years later when my grown son and I discussed the incident, he had no memory of it. I doubt if his dark-skinned friend would, like my other friend’s son, ever be able to forget, learning at a tender age that whites could not be trusted to stand up for them when attacked by other whites.

This is at the core of our national psychosis which grew out of control after 9-11 and the resulting militarization of unchecked police forces now waging war against their citizens, especially young black males. The tragedy of this cultural fear was highlighted just recently in Texas-a video showing a black woman stopped by police while driving, handcuffed in front of her four young children for what turned out to be a “mistaken identity.” Imagine being stopped by police who, without explanation, handcuff you with guns drawn, ignoring your cries of concern for your children, who sat watching wide-eyed with fear, as men with weapons drawn approached the car. One of the children gets out, a boy, and holds his hands up in the manner of Ferguson’s Michael Brown, the “Don’t shoot!” posture that has become the symbol of cops gunning down unarmed black youth. Surely what these children and their mother endured will leave a lifetime mark on them.

Never once did I ever have this fear for any of my four sons; the one time they got in trouble, the police brought them home to their parents to discipline. I was scared, but grateful, that, unlike their black friends, they were not to be locked up. We all live in Ferguson, Mo., though not enough whites recognize the disparity of our unquestioned privilege and entitlement that is at the core of the issues facing black citizens. What has been happening in Ferguson and so many other places is not an anomaly.


Judith’s article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of USA Today magazine.

Global Kindness Revolution at GoFundMe!

Now! YOU can help build the Global Kindness Revolution

and learn

How to Create a Kindness Circle“!

Join me at GoFundMe to contribute to my goal of making the Global Kindness Revolution a worldwide cause! Be kind all the time – here’s your chance …

 

 

Trustone’s “Celling America’s Soul” garners prestigious e-book award

Judith Trustone’s Celling America’s Soul: Torture and Transformation in Our Prisons and Why We Should Care recently took the Bronze award in the prestigious Ebook Global Awards.

EBOOK Global Awards-BronzeJudith proudly made the announcement Monday, August 18, 2014, about her social and political commentary on the state of prisons in the United States, “I’m so excited that the judges recognize the importance of this travesty in America and hope the award brings awareness to more who will make the necessary changes toward renovating our penal system.”

Do you want to know more about this important issue? Read Celling America’s Soul.

Rising from the Ashes

Judith Trustone shared a link: TrustOneKindness ~ SAGEWRITERS:
Global Kindness Revolution - Judith Trustone, FounderRising from the ashes after a terrible auto accident, we’re getting “back on the horse,” so to speak.

Stay tuned for some upcoming creations! My new training video, “Train Your Mind To Be Kind All The Time: the Global Kindness Revolution,” will be available in September on YouTube (and CD and MP4), for those of you interested in creating Kindness Circles with your organization, church, synagogue or mosque, or just with some family or friends.

The DVD will provide a basic structure that has been working well for the past six years since I started this endeavor with people in prison, Lifers, Inc. You may use your own words for this organizing structure.

We’re calling for a National Kindness Circle as an antidote to violence, bullying and a lack of civility, on Saturday, October 25th at 4:00 pm eastern, lockdown time in prisons, to coincide with the Movement Against Mass Incarceration’s month of resistance, StopMassIncarceration.org. Continue reading

Pondering Postcards

A GenXer’s recent social media piece, “Send me a postcard,” in reaction to being unable to find postcards on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, evoked memories of documenting my pre-computer world travels with postcards.

greece-postcard for blogI shared my youthful adventures with family and friends through colorful pictures and brief, excited notes. A bundle of now yellowing cards shows the Greek island where I once took a sabbatical from marriage and motherhood, my travels through Egypt, and incredible trips across America.

Instead of today’s obsession with photographing every moment, postcards still enable us to revisit the moments as we experience them without compulsively recording everything through our handheld devices. How much of an experience is missed as we juggle the phone for a selfie or let its camera view the moment, instead of our eyes?

When I finished the article, I wanted to send the author an email, thanking her for her thoughts. But alas, like so many GenXers, she listed no email address, though she mentioned a website, a blog, and references to being on Facebook and Twitter.

I have social networking profiles too, and am even on YouTube; but I don’t participate on a daily basis. I think Skype is fabulous, especially for distant grandparents. But I still want to see my “friends” face to face or voice to voice.

Gen Xers no longer use email or even talk on their “smart” phones. I don’t feel a need to be in constant touch with a virtual world, like the 85 times a day they average. If she didn’t text him, my sister says she might never hear from her son. But those of us who love the language cringe at its 140-character destruction of grammar at the thumbs of youth.

So young folks, have compassion for those of us who still like to look at the sky, smile at passersby, and hear the songs of birds. Quiet soothes us like a balm. We’ve grudgingly accepted email as necessary and we know we have to text if we want to stay in touch with our grandchildren, yet we still are delighted with personal, handwritten letters and the occasional postcard.

grand canyon postcardWhen I used to commute and invariably became snarled in traffic, I kept in my purse a stack of blank, stamped postcards from my collection, and my address book (handwritten) and, while waiting, I’d send a few lines letting others know I was thinking about them. It was a more pleasant alternative to road rage and a quick, easy way to nurture relationships with those we care about. I admit though that sometimes the recipient is confused, thinking I actually was at the Grand Canyon. Or at the Sphinx.

Just as a GenXer joins us in regretting the demise of the postcard, must we older folks bemoan the end of email? Don’t leave us behind in your quest for having the world in your hand. Smell the roses! Become comfortable with silence and your own thoughts. Look people in the eye and smile. It will raise your serotonin, the “happy Hormone” levels, as well as those who receive your smile. Who knows, you might even discover, without the constant input, some insight you’d never thought of about yourself and others.

Think of it as respect for your technologically-challenged elders. In twenty years, your thumbs will be bigger but those devices you cling to as if necessary to life, will be replaced. One can only wonder, with what?

Be in Beauty,

Judith

Judith Trustone, filmmaker and author of The Cats Secret Guide to Living with Humans and Celling America’s Soul: torture & transformation in our prisons and why we should care, directs Sagewriters & the Global Kindness Revolution, which to date has distributed more than 70,000 Kindness Cards throughout the US and South America.
Box 215, Swarthmore, PA 19081
www.Trustonekindness.com; Judith@Sagewriters.org
610-328-6101