Abortion and Gender

Ed Raymond

Magdalene laundries, also known as Magdalene’s asylums, were institutions from the 18th to the late 20th centuries ostensibly to house “fallen women”, a term used to imply female sexual promiscuity or work in prostitution. Many of these “laundries” were effectively operated as penitentiary work-houses. The strict regimes in the institutions were often more severe than those found in the prisons; this contradicted the perceived outlook that they were meant to treat the women as opposed to punishing them. Laundries such as this operated throughout Europe and North America for much of the nineteenth and well into the twentieth century, the last one closing in 1996. The institutions were named after the Biblical figure Mary Magdalene, in earlier centuries characterised as a reformed prostitutes.  BNPS.co.uk
Magdalene laundries, also known as Magdalene’s asylums, were institutions from the 18th to the late 20th centuries ostensibly to house “fallen women”, a term used to imply female sexual promiscuity or work in prostitution. Many of these “laundries” were effectively operated as penitentiary work-houses. The strict regimes in the institutions were often more severe than those found in the prisons; this contradicted the perceived outlook that they were meant to treat the women as opposed to punishing them. Laundries such as this operated throughout Europe and North America for much of the nineteenth and well into the twentieth century, the last one closing in 1996. The institutions were named after the Biblical figure Mary Magdalene, in earlier centuries characterised as a reformed prostitutes. BNPS.co.uk

Ireland Has Sent Pope Francis and The Vatican A Dear John Letter: “It’s Over!”

The Irish people and the Vatican have been developing a huge cultural grand canyon for decades over the issues of gender identities, contraceptives, abortion, same sex marriage, and the roles of women in the church. In an absolutely historic referendum vote in May, Irish voters of the once most-Roman Catholic country in Europe, repealed the 8th amendment in their constitution banning abortion by a 66.4% landslide vote. The turnout was 64.1% of eligible voters, third highest in history. Only votes for the constitution in 1937 and the decision to join the European Economic Community were greater.  When same-sex marriage was approved by the Irish in 2015 the vote was just over 60%. 

Mary McAuliffe, a University of Dublin gender studies expert, put the results bluntly: “Over the last 20 to 30 years, the idea of Ireland as a Catholic country has been changing. We’re no longer an isolated country on the edge of Europe hidebound by outdated ideas about morality, femininity, and controlling women’s bodies.” The days of pregnant girls being punished by enslaving them in the Catholic Magdalene Laundries are over. A columnist wrote: “One by one, the manacles imposed by clerical control and society’s deference has been removed, and Ireland has (been) altered beyond recognition.”

About 4,000 Irish women traveled to England each year to get an abortion, while 2,000 stayed home and got illegal abortions or had abortion drugs bought online or mailed to them. David Norris, who led the fight against Ireland’s anti-gay laws in 1993, noted that public opinion started to change after losing a battle over contraception: “That affected people’s real sexual and reproductive lives. The majority of people just ignored the teachings of the church. But the nail in the coffin was the succession of really appalling scandals about mistreatment of women and molestation of children.” Northern Ireland, a separate country controlled by England, will continue to send about 1,000 women seeking abortions to England unless the English parliament votes to allow abortions in Northern Ireland.

What Is Left for Pope Francis And The Vatican In Ireland?

About the only issue left for the Vatican in Ireland is to contain a huge number of sexual abuse cases of boys and girls left by Roman Catholic priests. Girls in Magdalene Laundries always warned their fellow prisoners: “Don’t get caught in the halls alone when certain priests are about.” The decriminalization of homosexuality and divorce has been approved in the last decade and same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015. Condoms were outlawed in Ireland until 1985. 

Pope Francis plans to visit Ireland, a country of 4.8 million, this summer. What can he do to save his church and the Vatican? Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (who is gay and Indian!) said this about the vote: “What we have seen today is a culmination of a quiet revolution that has been taking place in Ireland for the past 10 to 20 years. It’s also a day when we say no more. No more to doctors telling their patients there’s nothing can be done for them in their own country, no more lonely journeys across the Irish Sea, no more stigma as the veil of secrecy is lifted and no more isolation as the burden of shame is gone.”

From the position where a woman was facing 14 years in prison for having an abortion, Ireland will have the same abortion provisions as the other 27 members of the European Union. The EU laws 
are similar to those in the United States. The rejection of amendment 8 was overwhelming. The city of Dublin voted over 75% for repeal. Of the 26 counties in the country only Donegal in the far northwest next to Northern Ireland voted it down. Even in very conservative Roscommon-Galway, the only area to reject same-sex marriage in 2015, the vote for repeal was 57%. Women outpolled men, but men still voted for repeal. Farmers and rural areas voted for repeal. Support for repeal was heaviest among the young and urban. Very bad news for the conservatives in the Vatican who are still on the side that loved to burn heretics in the 15th Century.

The Roman Catholic Church Has Been Bedeviled By Sex for 2,000 Years

The primal power of human sex has been the centerfold of Roman Catholic religious conundrums for 2,000 years. The nutty idea of celibacy has never helped priests to service constituents better, although it was presumed by the church to put priests on some kind of higher moral level. Fooling around with the all-powerful sex drive is usually a loser—for both church authorities and parishioners. The Minneapolis archdiocese is about to pay out $250 million to compensate for the sexual abuse by “celibate“ priests. The Pennsylvania attorney general is about to release an 884-page report on decades of sexual abuse in the state by Catholic priests. A Vatican investigation of sexual abuse by priests in Chile is being reviewed in a 2,300-page report. Is it ever going to end? 

 The Vatican has tried to expand its fantasies of less sex and more loving. Catholic women and men use contraceptives at the same rate as non-Catholics and non-affiliated persons in Western societies. The abortion rate is now the same regardless of religious affiliation—or none. The abortion rate is much lower today because of the pill and other contraceptives. One can safely assume that humans are having sex at the same rate as we have had for time immemorial.

There truly is a huge cultural canyon between conservative Catholics clinging desperately to a bush keeping them from falling to the floor of Culture Canyon and those cherry-picking Catholics who take a pass on a lot of medieval Vatican teaching. About 70% of Catholics believe miscarriages, birth defects, and abortion are simply part of living on Planet Earth. Humans are at the top of the food chain, but we have the same miscarriages, birth defects, and abortions as all mammals have that are lower in the food chain. 

As a farm kid I often saw those birth problems in the horses, cattle, pigs, and rabbits we raised. Abortion laws really don’t mean much. Women were aborting fetuses somehow before we got out caves. The primal power of sex has proven that births and abortions can only be totally controlled by contraceptives. Yes, the white evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics finally got their fifth judge to overturn Roe V. Wade eventually. A repeal of the law won’t make a smidgen of difference in the number of abortions until contraceptives control all conceptions. Over 80% of white unmarried evangelicals aged 18 to 29 have already indulged their carnal desires. Let’s hope the coat-hanger era is over.

When Will Religions Recognize That Homosexuals Are Also God’s Creations?

Catholics have been taught for centuries that homosexuals are “intrinsically evil.” Muslims have the same ridiculous idea. Evangelical Christians go back to Old Testament Leviticus for their “proof.”  ‘Twas something about being an “abomination.” Can you imagine Satan on the right shoulder whispering evil musings in Michelangelo’s ear while he’s lying on a scaffold painting the ceiling of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel? How about Satan luring Leonardo Da Vinci to commit sins while he is painting that huge “Last Supper” to celebrate Christianity? Those two gays were pretty straight shooters throughout their lives. Do some religious homework, folks. Google “gender identities” and do some scientific reading about the fact that about 60 new gender identities have been identified. Read about the power of testosterone and estrogen. Study the LBGTQ community. The Irish had enough sense to overturn anti-gay statutes as early as 1993. Many of our states still have similar reprehensible laws on the books.

To follow how much progress homosexuals have made in the last 100 years let’s use the story of gay rights advocate Frank Kameny as outlined by Michael Rosenwald in the June 9 Washington Post. A Harvard-trained astronomer, Frank was fired from the Army Map Service in 1957 at the age of 32 because he was gay  and considered to be “immoral and unacceptable.” An Army combat veteran in World War II on the German front, he had fought to preserve the rights, freedom, and liberties of all Americans. He was really pissed about his firing so he sued the government. But he couldn’t find a regular attorney to take his case, so without any legal training he wrote and filed an appeal of his firing with the United States Supreme Court. It was the first time that a gay person brought the rights of gays, or the lack of them, to the highest court. He wrote the following in his appeal: “I am a resident of the District of Columbia where homosexuality is not illegal. How can I be free to engage in homosexual acts as a citizen but not as a federal employee? This clearly makes of a federal employee a second-class citizen. ..More important, in there being nothing more than reflection of ancient, primitive, archaic, obsolete taboos, they are an anachronistic relic of The Stone Age carried over into The Space Age—and a harmful relic! What kind of people are these against whom our government is so viciously and uncompromisingly prejudiced?” 

The court denied his appeal in 1960. He read about his loss in the Washington Star. Now Frank was really pissed. He coined the phrase “Gay is Good!” and started and marched in many early Pride marches. He started the Mattachine Society which fought for gay rights.  Later a friend found all of the records of Kameny’s losing court battle in his attic. He started the Kameny’s Papers Project and donated them to the Library of Congress. In 2009 at age 84 Frank finally received a public apology from the Office of Personnel Management for his firing at the Army Map Service. He accepted the apology. His obituaries all noted his historic efforts in his fight for equal rights. The fight is not over. Witness the recent battle in Colorado over a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding. The Supreme Court ducked the real issue again. Are gays equal or not?

Memo To All Men

The #Me Too movement is sweeping the world. Thousands of women in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales marched through cities in May 2018 celebrating getting the vote 100 years ago.  Irish women were responsible for passing same-sex marriage and repealing laws against divorce and abortion in the last decade. Although men consider themselves dominant in the American Southern Baptist Convention Church, thousands of protesting women drove  male leadership to resign recently because of sex scandals and elected new leadership. Catholic women have been protesting their lowly status in the church for decades and the fact they cannot be ordained as priests. The Vatican has already lost Europe. When “Catholic” Warsaw in “Catholic” Poland has 45,000 people marching and celebrating in a Gay Pride parade in 2018, that’s more than a message in Pope John II land. It’s a demand.

   

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