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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Women who are ovulating and fertile could go to secret government supported hideaways where they can be protected from those men with determined sperm.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.