Abortion — Cow Dung, Religion, And Technology

Ed Raymond

Broadly - Vice
Broadly - Vice

Actually The Times Have Been A-Changin’ Since The Big Bang

Bob Dylan did a terrific job reminding all of us that “the times they are a’changin’.”  My first 14 years were spent on a small farm near Little Falls, living in a house with no electricity or running water, reading books by kerosene lamp, and dashing to the two-holer 60 feet away in the boondocks when it was 20 below.

This morning I microwaved an old cup of coffee, got on the Internet and read The Washington Post, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Tribune, and the HuffPost. I also had a TV on and watched a Taliban attack in Kabul, Afghanistan and a big fire near Redding, California where a nephew lives. I sat six feet from a toilet and a Jacuzzi bathtub. Yes, the times are changing every second---as they have been since the Big Bang. A hundred years ago marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at local drugstores. Back then druggists and pharmacists proclaimed “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach, bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health!” Which, somehow or other, brings up the old subject of abortion which will dominate the 2018 elections and court appointments made by Our Great Leader.

Will The Great Arc Of History Take Care Of “Wire Coat Hanger” Days?

We may never know how many hundreds of thousands of years ago the first abortion took place. But we do know that contraception and abortion have been around for at least 5,000 years. Over 5,000 years ago the Chinese recommended drinking hot mercury after sex to kill a potentially fertilized egg. Over 3,500 years ago Egyptian women stuffed cow dung in the right place to prevent pregnancy. Over the arc of abortion history many interesting items were used to abort a fetus. This is only a partial list: strychnine, gunpowder, lye, bleach, crushed ants, camel hair, lead, white phosphorous, herbs, quinine, copper sulfate, belladonna, mandrake, stinking iris, and a special herb called “prostitute’s root.” And metal coat hangers.

  Extreme physical exercises were often called on to rid one of a baby bump. These included mountain-climbing, fast horse-riding, cliff diving into deep water, weightlifting, and hard physical labor. Sometimes being tossed around and shaken by strong men did the trick. Jumping rapidly up and down rarely did—but sometimes falling down a flight of stairs did. Cambodians used to pound the belly with a wooden mallet. Many other very damaging blunt force methods were used. An 8th Century Sanskrit text recommended that pregnant women squat over a pot of boiling onions. This method was tried by Jewish women as late as the 1900’s in Manhattan’s Lower Eastside.

In 1964, 28-year-old Geri Santoro prepared for an abortion by borrowing a textbook and surgical instruments. She went to a motel room with her boyfriend who he agreed to perform the abortion. She had separated from her abusive husband of ten years and had begun to see a married man. She became pregnant by him, but her husband was coming back to town so she was afraid he would kill her if he discovered her pregnancy. But playing abortion doctor did not go well. She began to bleed copiously. The boyfriend fled. She was discovered the next morning very dead, naked in a pool of blood with a bloody towel between her legs. Nine years later in 1973, after the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision, her crime scene photo was published in Ms. Magazine. The picture was used to emphasize what often happened before abortion was legalized. 

Will A Reversal Of Roe VS. Wade Actually Change Anything?

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World was published in 1932, the year I was born. I always had my senior English students at Fargo Central read it because they were going to live with new developments in reproductive technology and human relations. Huxley’s ideas are more meaningful than ever today. We are rapidly approaching what he predicted would happen by 2540 AD. The world’s population had been limited to two billion (currently about 7.4 billion!) and all citizens are born in state hatcheries into five castes that will serve as leaders and workers. One human ovary can be used to produce thousands of children out of their birth bottles. This book is a must read today.

Recreational sex in Brave New World is a state-promoted activity. Sex is not the means of reproduction, it is a social activity encouraged from the point children are hatched. Only a few women who can reproduce are conditioned to use birth control. They wear at all times a popular fashion accessory called the Malthusian Belt which contains contraceptives. Marriage, natural birth, parenthood, and pregnancy are considered obscene. Romantic relationships are obsolete because they are no longer needed for reproduction. It’s a fascinating book—and we are moving closer to adopting some of its ideas every second.

Medical Technology And The Use Of Mifepristone And Misoprostol (M&M)

If Roe vs. Wade is reversed and abortions are made illegal in some states, new medical technologies will probably replace wire coat hangers and most techniques listed previously. Although abortion drugs were developed in 1980, they were not approved in the U.S. until 2000. It has reached the point that almost half of abortions are performed with medication.  When Texas closed 23 abortion clinics between 2013 and 2016, many Texas women purchased the drug on the Internet or over the counter in Mexico. Online websites such as Women on Web and Plan C have interactive websites on where patients can buy drugs and figure out how far along they are in a pregnancy.

Before Ireland legalized abortion, many Irish women bought drugs online and had them mailed to their homes. A study of 1,000 Irish women who used the M&M drug found the self-medicated drugs were very safe. Thousands of Irish Catholic women traveled to England each year to get abortions—if they could afford to make the journey and pay for the abortion. But we know the history of abortions. About the same number of abortions have been performed on a per capita basis during modern times whether illegal or legal.  Over 70% of Americans do not want Roe overturned even if pro-lifers yell “MURDER” at women entering abortion clinics. We are all against abortion unless it is necessary because of health, medical, genetic, and important financial considerations. One kind of beginning life happens at conception. But real life does not begin until the brain takes over the body. That’s why, before we had all of these medical discoveries, both Jewish and Muslim societies agreed life, or the “quickening,” was a sign that a fetus might be viable as a human. Both societies had used 80 days when the brain of the fetus began to take over. 

Religion Can Really Screw Up Sex

We already know how white Christian “born-again” Protestant Bible-thumping fundamentalists have recently swallowed the line developed by thousands of years of male-dominated religious bigotry. The Roman Catholic Church has been bedeviled by sex since Pope Peter 2000 years ago, but it really started to go off the rails about a thousand years ago by forcing priests to be celibate. Married priests would have children and property, assets the Vatican wanted. Even popes recommended contraceptives a thousand years ago. But then the old men in the Vatican, in an attempt to control women, lost control of their humanity and swerved into the ditch. They banned contraceptives, divorce (while approving all kinds of annulments for a good price), called homosexuals “intrinsically evil,” railed against same-sex marriage, created worksites such as the Irish Magdalene Laundries to punish young women who had pre-marital sex,  buried their fetuses and babies in unmarked graves near the laundries, banned women from the priesthood---and it goes on and on… 

While Catholic Church dioceses are going bankrupt paying out millions of dollars to victims of sex abuse committed by priests, bishops, and cardinals around the world, it is essentially committing “religious” suicide because of sex. The recent sexual abuse charges levied against priests by Roman Catholic nuns who are members of The Leadership Conference of Women Religious probably will be the last nail in the coffin. Nuns are claiming they have become sexual targets by priests since the AIDS epidemics frightened them off their usual targets.

My French Roman Catholic ancestors migrated to Catholic Quebec from Normandy before migrating to Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Catholic Church dominated life in Quebec for centuries, but has fallen on hard times—like all European Catholic countries. In the 1950’s 95% of Catholic citizens attended Mass. Only 5% attend Mass today. As of April of 2018, 547 Catholic churches have closed doors in Quebec. Sex policies forced the foreclosures. Many have been sold and converted into restaurants, cheese factories, theaters, and other businesses. One is now called “Le Chic Rest Pop” and serves chicken sandwiches.

Fact: There Is No Life Without A Brain

Serious brain research started in 1960. Now brain death is the universally accepted legal and medical measure accepted across the globe. Thus “life” needs the brain. If the heart is removed from the body but blood can be kept pumping through the body, life can be sustained because the brain is still working. When brain activity begins regular and sustained activity in the mother, human life begins. This happens about the 25th week. Now “life” and brain function become quite technical according to the research: “At 20 weeks, the first intermittent firings of random neurons can be detected but pathways have not been formed.  Neural pathways form about four weeks after the first firings of neurons. Two of the most essential structures, the thalamocortical and corticothalmic pathways that transmit sensorimotor information, begin to form at 24 weeks and are complete by week 28.” These are medical facts.

Banning abortion and contraceptives has never reduced abortion. Today people are marrying late at age 30—if at all. At what age do the sex hormones start raging? Do Bible Thumpers really believe Deuteronomy 22:20 that demands a girl performing pre-marital sex be stoned to death by the entrance to her father’s house? We desperately need complete and thorough sex education classes for everybody if people are going to be able to handle the very complex life experiences of many different genders.

Every person should read Deborah Copaken’s article in The Atlantic titled “Three Children, Two Abortions.” She’s had 11 surgeries so far, with eight related to being a woman and pregnant. In her last paragraph she explains her position on abortion as only a woman could: “Only two of my five pregnancies were planned. Three were not….what’s at stake in this ridiculous debate over bodily autonomy is choice. It’s always been about choice. To be alive and human is to be in favor of life, but to bring an unwanted child into this world—or to force any woman to do so against her will, her health, her future, her finances, or her well-being, because that is your moral stance, not hers or her doctor’s—is not pro-life. It is control wearing the mask of virtue. It is government at its most invasive. It is being willfully blind to the inevitable bloodshed from illegal abortions and high-risk pregnancies. It is choosing an embryo over the life of a woman. It is, to put it succinctly, anti-woman.” Amen.