ethics, healthcare, law, politicians, politics

Greg Abbott says he’s gonna “eliminate all rapists”…

Sigh… those of you who regularly read my blog may be curious to know why I’ve been reposting so many book reviews over the past couple of days. Well, it’s mainly because I suspect there are people who would like to read something besides more kvetching about politicians. Or… maybe I am just tired of writing about power hungry white men who are bound and determined to oppress women. And I am TIRED of writing about abortion, but right now, it’s just too fertile a field.

Greg Abbott, the current governor of Texas, has been in the news a lot lately, mainly because he’s championed an oppressive and creepy anti-abortion law. But yesterday, he was in the news for something else he said that is very controversial. A reporter asked Mr. Abbott, “Why force a rape or incest victim to carry a pregnancy to term?”

And Abbott, whom I assume has never been pregnant himself, responded. “It doesn’t require that at all,” Abbott said of the law, “because, obviously, it provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion.”

Greg Abbott then said, “Rape is a crime, and Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting them off the streets.”

Well… I’m glad to hear that. However, I have some problems with Mr. Abbott’s comments. First of all, his comment suggests that rapists are “out on the street” and need to be picked up by the police. The fact is, a lot of people are raped by folks who live in their own homes or neighborhoods, not strangers hiding in the bushes.

Secondly, Mr. Abbott doesn’t seem to realize that a lot of people don’t know they’re pregnant until after that six week mark. The number of weeks in a pregnancy are determined from the date of a woman’s last menstrual period. So, in many cases, a person won’t realize pregnancy has occurred until at least four weeks have passed. And those four weeks can be easily missed, if a person isn’t watching carefully. This is especially true for women who don’t have regular menstrual periods.

Until the last few years, my periods were like clockwork, and I could easily predict them. Lately, however, my periods have become more erratic. I am not in menopause yet, so there is a small chance I could get pregnant myself. But it would be difficult to determine when the pregnancy started, since my periods are now less predictable than they once were. And I have known many women whose periods have never been predictable.

Now… I’m sure a lot of people are thinking that a rape victim should just go get a “morning after” pill. But that assumes the victim is physically and emotionally able to seek help. It also assumes that the pharmacist doesn’t have any personal convictions against chemical abortions and is willing to dispense the medication.

While I agree that rape victims should be willing to report that they were raped, the reality is that the process of collecting evidence against rapists is, in and of itself, traumatic and humiliating. And some victims simply can’t bring themselves to submit to a forensic exam that takes hours and involves being photographed, poked, prodded, and examined in the most private parts of their bodies.

So… I have concluded that Mr. Abbott’s assertions that a person has plenty of time to get an abortion after rape, or that his new law is reasonable is, quite frankly, utter bullshit. It really disgusts me that this man has so very little regard for women, or their rights to control what happens to their own bodies, particularly after a sexual assault. I am so very tired of hearing men try to speak for women on this issue, too. Just yesterday, I read the following quote from a male pro-life advocate in Texas:

John Pisciotta, the director of the antiabortion group Pro-Life Waco, says he thinks rape victims could benefit from an abortion ban. When you perform an abortion on a rape victim, he said, “you’re just redoubling the woman’s trauma.” He has met women who are happy they kept children conceived in rape, he said.

“The mom is not crushed,” he said. “That’s not a rapist’s child. That’s her child.”

Excuse me? Even if it’s true that some women are “happy” they kept children conceived as a result of rape, he can’t say that about all women. Not all women want to be pregnant, raped or not. It’s not safe for all women to be pregnant, because some women’s bodies can’t handle pregnancy. And no person should have the right to force another to give birth, especially if the pregnancy is the result of coercion or violence. Despite what a lot of men seem to believe, pregnancy can and does happen under violent circumstances.

Greg Abbott insists that abortions are always wrong. And, like so many other politicians before him, he doesn’t seem to believe that true rape related pregnancies can happen. I mean, there have been so many braindead comments made by politicians, most of whom are white males like Greg Abbott, that indicate that a lot of men don’t believe that people can get pregnant due to rape. Sadly, some Republican women also don’t seem to get that rape can lead to an unintended pregnancy. Below are some infamous quotes by clueless conservatives on the subject of rape.

It really upsets me that people who make these kinds of insensitive, ignorant, and downright offensive remarks about rape are making laws. These people don’t have the intelligence, wisdom, or humanity to create laws that are helpful to victims. Greg Abbott is clearly an ignorant person, at best, regarding the abortion issue. And, based on his cruel comments over the past few days, he clearly does not care about women who have already been born and need to be able to attend to these very private matters without his, or any other person’s interference.

I realize that abortion is a contentious issue. Some people will never have empathy for people who have already been born. Some people will always place the value of a fetus over that of someone who has a concept of life and death and is fully conscious and sentient. Sadly, even people I really love and respect have these views, which, if I’m honest, make me think less of them somehow. The other day, I shared this with my friends on Facebook.

Most of my friends thought this was pretty cool. A couple of people also shared it.

I woke up this morning to two comments by a friend of mine. He’s very pro-life and religious, although he’s not a conservative voter.

He took issue with the above photo and wrote, “Belittling, perhaps “rightly, the characters of some of the people that advocate for the unborn does not change the fact that the unborn need to be advocated for because they are alive and they have a right to be born and that’s never taken into the equation when the absolute right of a woman to her body is posited.”

My response was, “No, I disagree. I will always advocate for people who have already been born over developing fetuses. There are situations in which abortions are medically necessary. None of those situations are anyone else’s business. As long as those situations exist, I will never agree that the unborn’s rights should ever supersede the rights of pregnant people.” I actually had to calm down a bit before I posted that. I do value this person as a good friend, but I absolutely disagree with his stance on abortion.

Then he posted this, which REALLY pissed me off, “And let’s not forget that the father should have a strong say about whether or not his baby is going to die.”

Uh… NOPE! NO.

My response was, “no… it’s not the father’s health or life on the line. While I empathize with men who want to be fathers, I will never agree that men have the right to force women to be pregnant.” Then I added, “And let’s NOT forget that sometimes children wind up pregnant…. Girls who have been raped. As long as twelve year olds anywhere in the world are getting pregnant by their fathers, brothers, or uncles (or anyone else), I will ALWAYS be pro choice.”

That’s right. Sometimes CHILDREN end up pregnant. This friend of mine has three daughters. I know he loves them very much and has done all he can to protect them. Fortunately, they are all grown women now. But what if, when those girls were growing up, they were victimized? What if one of his girls got pregnant due to a rape? Would he be advocating for the father’s rights then? Would he want one of his daughters, barely in puberty, to be FORCED to have a baby? Because there are places where children get pregnant and they are obliged to give birth. I won’t say it’s the norm, but it does happen even in these modern times. Two cases involving ten year olds are in the Wikipedia article I linked… and they both happened since 2015. Neither of those girls should have been forced to give birth, especially since they were both pregnant due to rape.

Now, if a person wants to argue that abortion is wrong on religious or moral grounds, and they want to grant “personhood” to a developing fetus, then in that case, I guess it’s always wrong, just as murder is wrong. If a person sees abortion as “murder”, then it shouldn’t matter how the person got pregnant or if the pregnancy is going to jeopardize the person’s health. A fetus conceived in violence or one that threatens the life or health of the mother is just as innocent as a fetus conceived intentionally. From that perspective, a developing fetus is a separate “person” who is just temporarily taking up residence in another person.

However, my guess is that most people can see situations in which abortion is permissible, and is clearly the kinder choice. Murder is never permissible, because murder involves malice and intent. Most abortions, while usually intentional, aren’t done maliciously.

My view is that no one should ever have to justify to another person why they want to have an abortion because, quite frankly, it’s no one else’s business. Moreover, the fact is, a fetus is NOT a separate person as long as it relies on its mother. And the longer people spend arguing about abortion, and whether or not the mother has a right to get one, the longer the fetus has to develop, and the crueler and more dangerous the procedure will ultimately be. Because, make no mistake about it. Abortions will still happen. But they will be more dangerous, and people will permanently injure or even kill themselves in the process of having them done clandestinely. That being said, though, abortion done correctly by people who know what they are doing is still much less dangerous than carrying a pregnancy to term.

I am glad Greg Abbott is committed to finding and prosecuting rapists. I’m not sure what secret he knows that will accomplish this great feat, but I look forward to seeing how he manages to fulfill this promise to his constituents. I expect to see the rape statistics go way down in Texas, now.

Yeah, right… I just don’t see it happening. It’s more controlling lip service from a man who obviously doesn’t understand women, or women’s health. And he just wants to keep oppressing them. It’s just sick.

I say, if people want the abortion rates to keep decreasing, then let’s make contraception easier to get and more affordable. Let’s create programs for pregnant people that take care of their healthcare expenses. Let’s make raising children less expensive, more parent friendly, and easier, with expanded options for child care that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and is always safe and available. Let’s promote sex education that recognizes that people are going to have sex and they need to know how to prevent unintended pregnancies. And let’s make laws that make men responsible during pregnancy, forcing them to contribute to the costs of pregnancy care. I’ll bet if we start doing that, a lot of men will change their opinions on abortion.

And you know, when Ireland and Mexico, two VERY Catholic nations, change their laws on abortion to be less draconian, you know that lawmakers who insist on compelling people to give birth are taking our country back to the Dark Ages. The abortion issue isn’t about saving lives. It’s about controlling women. So, if men want to dictate to women that they must give birth, let ’em pay their admission price.

Edited to add… 9/15/2021… an excellent video.

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movies

I watched 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days again yesterday… it reminded me of why legalized abortion is important.

Yesterday’s reposts made me want to watch a Romanian movie I’ve seen a couple of times already. I have discovered that Romania has put out some truly excellent films, even though I have to watch them with subtitles. But I’ve seen several now, and have even purchased a few for my library. The first time I had ever seen the film I saw yesterday, entitled 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, it was a random Netflix DVD I rented some years ago. The first time I saw it, I was astonished by the movie, which was made in 2007.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is set in an unnamed university town in Romania during the year 1987. Communism is still alive and well in Eastern Europe. Nicolae Ceaușescu is the president of the country, and rules it with an iron fist. In 1987 era Romania, Ceaușescu has forbidden abortions in almost every case. Contraception is also forbidden, and women are forced to visit gynecologists regularly to check for pregnancies. Viewers hear that rule referred to as Otilia talks about when she had her last period. However, even though abortion is punishable by years in a prison cell, women still access it by way of enlisting the services of illegal abortionists. Otherwise, they may find themselves raising children they can’t afford. In the 1990s, Romania was notorious for the number of babies it had in orphanages. Many of those babies grew up to be unable to assimilate in society because they were never properly socialized or cared for when they were infants. And some were born with diseases like AIDS. Women in Ceausescu’s era were expected to have children– at times, up to four or five of them– so that Ceausescu’s regime would always be supplied with fresh souls. It didn’t matter that there wasn’t enough available to support all of those babies being born into his regime.

A trailer for Four Months, Three Weeks, and Two Days…

Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) and Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) are roommates at the university in the unnamed Romanian town. They share a drab dormitory room on a co-ed hall. Gabita is pregnant. She’s shy, and seems to need looking after by Otilia, who seems to be more of a motherly type. Otilia takes care of her roommate, buying her soap and cigarettes from the campus shop, and bringing milk powder to a friend who has found kittens in the dorm’s boiler room. She’d like to take one, but Gabita is allergic to cats.

Gabita complains about a toothache, while Otilia tells her she’ll survive until after Saturday, when they’ve done the deed. The abortionist, a man named Viorel Bede (Vlad Ivanov) has given explicit instructions to Gabita on booking a room at one of two hotels in town. He has also told her what to bring with her. However, Gabita fails to get a room in the right hotel. Otilia ends up booking a much more expensive room at a different hotel. She deals with the unfriendly receptionist at Bede’s preferred hotel, who tells her the rooms are completely booked. Otilia also meets Bede, in Gabita’s stead, which makes him very nervous as he explains that if the authorities ever find out what they are doing, all three of them will go to prison.

At the hotel– the one Bede didn’t prefer– they’ve all left their identification with the front desk. They are told to leave the room key when they go out. The decor is strictly 1987, complete with primitive looking rotary dial phones. I had one in my first Armenian apartment that looked just like the one used in this film. Bede examines Gabita, realizing that she’s much further along in her pregnancy than she had told him. He explains that he will have to do a different procedure that will cost more. Since the women don’t have enough money to pay Bede, he says both women must have sex with him to make up the difference. When they balk at that idea, Bede reminds them that he’s not the one who needs help.

Otilia goes first, and we see her come into the bathroom afterwards, naked from the waist down as she climbs into the bathtub, looking wan and sick as she hoses herself off. Gabita has neglected to bring the plastic sheet Bede told her to bring, so she must cut a plastic bag and use it to protect the bed as Bede performs the abortion. After he’s finished, Bede gives Gabita instructions. He tells her to be very careful of infection, and if one should develop and she needs to see a doctor, not to deny having been pregnant. Lying about the pregnancy is a surefire way to land in prison, while claiming she didn’t know may result in the authorities looking the other way.

While Gabita waits, lying perfectly still and waiting for the fetus to die, Otilia visits her boyfriend and his family, who are having a party. Otilia is not in a good mood and doesn’t want to visit her boyfriend or hang out with his family. She’s just been through something horrific. But she can’t tell him about it. After staying just long enough to be polite, Otilia leaves. Her boyfriend is confused and upset when Otilia goes, but Otilia must get back to her friend. She’s a motherly sort, and concerned that Gabita needs her.

When Otilia arrives at the hotel, Gabita is covered up, sound asleep in bed. Otilia wakes her and Gabita says she got “rid” of it. Otilia finds the tiny, bloody, fetus lying on the bathroom floor. I will warn that this is not an easy scene to watch, and it lasts about fifteen seconds. Otilia is horrified by the sight of the dead fetus, but Gabita just seems relieved that the abortion is over. Gabita still asks her friend to bury the fetus for her, and Otilia obliges. She comes back to find Gabita in the restaurant, “starving”. There’s a wedding going on, so the food in the restaurant is what was being served at the wedding. Otilia is completely sickened by what she and her friend have been through… and Gabita, who had been the one to have the abortion, just seems numb.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is an interesting film for so many reasons. First off, it’s set in a time that wasn’t that long ago, but seems like it was ages ago. I was fifteen years old in 1987, and at that time, it seemed like communism would go on forever. Ceausescu was still very much in charge of Romania, and the threat of prison for abortion was very real. No one could know that in just two years, the Ceausescu regime would suddenly fall with the bang of the guns used to execute both Ceausescu and his wife, Elena.

Although this film is set in 1987, it’s still a useful subject for the present time. Today, in 2021, there are still people trying to stop women from having abortions. Governor Greg Abbott, of Texas, just signed a “heartbeat law”, which bans abortion for any woman who is more than six weeks along in her pregnancy. I find it interesting that a man who presides over a state that is very proud of its record on executing people on death row is claiming that Texas is a “pro-life” state. I also find it interesting that when a fetus is in utero, a heartbeat is a signal of life, whereas in people who have been born already, it takes brainwaves to prove life. But I digress. Texas’s new law allows private citizens to sue abortion providers who offer services to anyone more than six weeks pregnant, in which the fetus has a detectable heartbeat. The person suing would not have to have a connection to the person who had an abortion to sue.

There was a time in the United States when women who wanted to have an abortion had to sneak around and find someone like Bede to do the job. There’s no telling how many of those women were also coerced into providing sexual favors, too. I think about all of the heartbreaking situations a pregnant person might find themselves in that would make them want to seek to terminate a pregnancy. I think of how many of those situations are simply no one else’s business at all… actually, I would say that 100% of those situations are no one else’s business. But we still have so many politicians– many of them men, who will never have to deal with the consequences of an unintended pregnancy– trying to push these laws that will victimize women and endanger their health. And so many of these same politicians don’t want to do a damned thing for those babies, once they’ve been born.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is not an easy film to watch. It’s entirely in Romanian, so you have to pay attention to the film if you don’t know the language. The setting is bleak; there is no musical score; and the subject matter is depressing. However, I think it’s a very powerful film. Regardless of what I think of abortion on a personal level, I believe that people who want them will be determined to get them. They will put themselves at great risk and contribute to criminal behavior. And the babies born that survive botched abortion attempts may end up being a burden to society. Perhaps most importantly, the women who have money will still be able to have safe, legal abortions and will access them. Poor women– the one’s least able to support raising a child– will be the ones who suffer the most under this legislation. They will be the ones who might find themselves in the hellish situation Otilia and Gabita were in, as a man who provides abortions demands sexual favors from them before he does the procedure in less than hygienic and safe surroundings.

A link to the full movie.

I would recommend 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days to anyone who is interested in Romanian cinema. But I would also recommend it to those who need a reminder of why it’s best to let pregnant people make decisions for themselves, whether or not they wish to continue gestating fetuses. But if you do choose to watch this film, be prepared for the heavy emotional message. It’s definitely not a cheerful film, despite its powerful and necessary message. In any case, this story is one that reminds me of why I will always be in favor of contraceptives and legalized abortion.

Incidentally, since abortion and contraception have become legal in Romania, the number of women seeking abortions has gone down exponentially.

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