If God’s Dead, What’s He Doing in My Uterus?

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If God’s Dead, What’s He Doing in My Uterus?

Margaret Sanger began life as one of 11 children whose mother died young. So maybe it's not entirely surprising she began her professional life as a nurse. But what explains her foray into political life as the world's greatest champion of birth control? And what lessons can we take away from a life courageously lived in the service of women's liberation at its most fundamental: the freedom to not bear children.

margaretsanger.jpg

Irish-American birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger outside Brooklyn courthouse in 1916.

I take for granted not having kids. More: I take for granted not having to have kids. That's what choice means: the absence of coercion. That's what birth control activists work for: freedom of choice. That abortion and contraception are still controversial; that their advocacy is still considered the work of the devil; that presidential candidates can waffle on the topic; that health workers are subject to harassment and violence; that abstinence is the official remedy for teen pregnancy — these conditions remind us there are forces obstructing social progress.

Let's see, who springs to mind? Okay, he's German and he works in Italy, and he's merely a figurehead, but this one guy, who's incapable of bearing children and forbidden from fathering them, wields inappropriate power over the destinies of women around the globe by his pronouncements on the disposition of our reproductive organs. I'll give you one guess.

Last week, Italy's largest newspaper, the Corriere della Sera (The Nightly News) ran a half-page ad marking the 40th anniversary of a previous pope's encyclical, Humanae Vitae, which banned contraception. The ad was placed by 50-plus Catholic groups begging His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to lift the ban. On their knees. They couldn't even afford a full-page ad. You'd think the paper coulda cut 'em a deal.

What's the Latin for chutzpah? Who made Joseph Alois Ratzinger God? Sure, the Catholic hierarchy has great taste, Swiss Guards, all that Michaelangelo and Bernini shit, the list is too long, prime real estate, sublime architecture, but why are they allowed to dictate reproductive policy? Why does the President of the United States smile and shake this guy's hand? And while we're at it, where do we get off criticizing Iran for having mullahs? How can we say a word against sharia when we allow the boys in the Vatican to influence our secular affairs? Children, how do you spell Separation of Church and State?

st-john-the-baptist-83-mid.png

Leonardo da Vinci's St. John the Baptist, 1513-16, oil on walnut wood, the Louvre.

Let me get off the soapbox and acknowledge my lack of originality. Let me point, as John the Baptist pointed, to the mother of all birth control advocates. You can watch her on this archival video from 1957, a true time capsule. Interviewer Mike Wallace smokes throughout their dialogue and pauses to hawk Phillip Morris cigarettes, to which he attributes "a man's mildness." Margaret Sanger, a sturdy 78, is asked yet again to justify her audacity at standing up to the Catholic Church, 40 years after she opened the first birth control clinic in the United States. She hangs tough against the moralizing mindset that advocates suffering in the name of a God long-since pronounced dead. She's an inspiration to anyone who thinks women's health begins with the woman.

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche declared God dead in The Gay Science (1882).

(originally posted July 27, 2008)



Comments [219]

Erin Blackwell's picture

please encourage our

Tex's picture

I don't remember reading the

I don't remember reading the first one.... Wink

Twitter Time @kdhales

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Erin below: Yeah, calm,

Erin below:

Yeah, calm, rational, informed decisions are so much better, regardless of the issue.

Oh well, life happens, and tends to follow Chaos Theory rather than logic.

Erin Blackwell's picture

only 35 comments on the

only 35 comments on the original

Erin Blackwell's picture

to CMW below wouldn't it be

to CMW below

wouldn't it be great if women could actually debate the issue well before onset of the PREGNANCY CRISIS so they don't have to play HYSTERICAL CATCHUP?

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

To yonks below: The women I

To yonks below:

The women I hang around with tend to be no different from those here. They weigh their available options, make informed decisions, and in the end have no regrets (save for the possibility of the one case I cited above).

I suspect those who chose to abort and then later have regrets probably made their original decision not from an informed position, but from an emotional one. I would guess that if they had better information available to them, they would either have made a very different decision, or would not have regrets for the one they ultimately made.

Perhaps that is a good argument for pre-procedure counseling, and perhaps a "cooling off" period of some kind to explore the options they are informed of in that counseling? That seems to be required for every other medical procedure, I would hope it is required in the case of abortion.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Yeah, 213 and counting (214

Yeah, 213 and counting (214 if you include this one, lol). Definitely a lively discussion!

mysticsmb's picture

I think Erin put a hex on

I think Erin put a hex on this thread, lol!

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Thanks MB, at least you got

Thanks MB, at least you got it, which is a relief. For a second, I thought I lost my mind or something, because I couldn't figure out how what I posted could be taken as offensive.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

I think I will cease this

I think I will cease this discussion with you. It appears you have interpreted my words in a way completely unintended, and in a way that is making me increasingly uncomfortable with this line of discussion.

Erin Blackwell's picture

you're not alone, Lucia. an

you're not alone, Lucia. an idiot wrote this peculiar blog.

lucia_2008's picture

I guess I am the only idiot

I guess I am the only idiot to make a comment on this particular blog. I am very aware of the age-old confilict. To not interfere with the rights of others I will take a hiatus. But, my uterus is still mine.

Smile...life is good!!!

mysticsmb's picture

I know I'm butting in here

I know I'm butting in here and I could be wrong, but my take on what CAMW was saying was that it was very generalized and in no way applied to you personally. My reading of her statement about 'no negative impact' was that she was referring to that age-old conflict between the needs of the individual vs. the needs of society, i.e. we can do whatever we want insofar as it does not interfere with the rights of others (negative impact).

Not2Taem's picture

I know this is magical

I know this is magical thinking, but how much less judgmental might the world be if we were all "screwed up" for a day or 2?

Maybe the spirits directing your formation were actually pretty perceptive. Smile

Not2Taem's picture

Tex re: Topping Tae ;) That

Tex re: Topping Tae

Wink That should prove interesting. Wink

lucia_2008's picture

Honesty is blunt, straight

Honesty is blunt, straight forward and cuts like a two edged sword, when presented as such. Honesty can be presented in a gentle and calm approach with minimal harm. In a blog such as this, many of us not knowing each other, not knowing how a day has progressed or presented itself to others, not knowing everyone's past, assumptions should be taken with caution. You don't know me, you don't know anything about my past, you know nothing about my sexuality. I trully am sorry that your past experiences have traumatized you so deeply. I am sorry that the society in which we live, and have lived in, is cruel and unaccepting of all people. In my 54 years, I have seen a lot and have experienced a lot. Not all of it has been a pleasant by a long shot. So I trade you honesty for honesty.

Smile...life is good!!!

minniesota's picture

Erin, you provocateur! Did

Erin, you provocateur! Did you get this many comments when you posted this originally on ourchart back in July 27, 2008?

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

I implied nothing by my

I implied nothing by my original statement. You asked for clarification on my view, I gave it.

While being honest with others may carry a price for me, it is far easier and less costly to me than lying, on a whole number of levels. The decision to be honest, regardless of circumstances, came about after I nearly died as a teen because of the lies told to me and others by those ashamed of me and how I was born. I was also violently forced to protect those lies prior to my near death incident. Taken by themselves, those are two pretty powerful reasons for being honest, no matter what.

Tex's picture

CA BELOW How typical is

CA BELOW

How typical is that?! Punish the entire bunch for one dildos junk!

Twitter Time @kdhales

Tex's picture

CA BELOW Thank goodness! ;)

CA BELOW

Thank goodness! Wink It was actually interesting watching you going down through the comments. I was working on playllists and passing the time away - thanks for helping keep me awake....

Twitter Time @kdhales

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

I just adore voyuers, lol! ;)

I just adore voyuers, lol! Wink

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

They're using a program

They're using a program called Surf Control, which they installed a couple of years ago. Seems some slime ball was in one of the terminals showing off all the porn sites he could access, and that brought an end to uncensored wifi for the whole company. We can't even IM, and it was months before we could check our own emails.

Funny thing, we could always visit the job sites for our competition, lol.

Tex's picture

TOPPING TAE Yep!

TOPPING TAE

Yep!

Twitter Time @kdhales

Not2Taem's picture

Tex below, Ahhh.... See, I

Tex below,

Ahhh....
See, I would have thought that would be Hmmmm.....
I'm now viewing the question mark as more of a mischievous head tilt of contemplation.

Tex's picture

I understood what you

I understood what you meant......there is a first time for everything.....my cyber horizons are definitely being broadened! Wink

Twitter Time @kdhales

lucia_2008's picture

That's pretty strong

That's pretty strong implications to throw at someone. What makes you think I would not take this into consideration before I make such a public statement? If I were a murderer, rapist or thief, I think I would have been caught by now. Lying, absolutely no one is exempt from this, everyone lies. We can all deny it as much as we want to, but everyone tells a white lie or bold lie periodically.

Smile...life is good!!!

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Negative impact from personal

Negative impact from personal decisions that effect others, such as murder, rape, stealing, lying, etc., are what I meant.

lucia_2008's picture

Define "negatively effect

Define "negatively effect others directly".

At the age of 54 my decisions are mine to make and answer to God when necessary.

Smile...life is good!!!

Not2Taem's picture

I was teasing about you

I was teasing about you watching CAMW post; something I admit can be quite interesting. Wink

I feel so uncool actually sleeping last night. Well, this morning anyway.

Not2Taem's picture

That sucks. I figure

That sucks. I figure companies should have 2 choices: limit access to business activities only, or don't limit access at all. Its really the only way to avoid discrimination.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

LOL, more like making up for

LOL, more like making up for lost time after being in a cellular dead zone for a day.

Discovered our corporate wifi for the drivers will let me see the text of VP main page, but blocks everything else. Yet another sign there is a brewing problem in our company.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Mostly coffee, and one of

Mostly coffee, and one of those energy drinks.

Besides, it takes me a couple of hours to wind down after driving several hundred miles in one shot, lol.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Yeah, amazing what I miss

Yeah, amazing what I miss when I end up in a cellular dead zone for a day or two, lol.

So many different views to explore, so little time!

beauty's picture

This is the only comment I

This is the only comment I will make on this subject and will not respond to any replies. My decision to make this comment is based upon my unique observations and experiences that may provide a different perspective on the subject.

i adopted my daughter from birth and she has been the greatest blessing of my life. I admire and am deeply indebted to her birthmother who made that difficult decision based upon her life's circumstances.

However, I have also prosecuted the rapists of women and children, some of whom were impregnated by their assailant. Many of these adult victims made the difficult choice to abort the fetus and the raped children (most victimized by a family member) have had to bear the physical and emotional repercussions of abortions where there was no choice at all. I have ENORMOUS admiration for these women and children who have been faced with horrendous circumstances and "choices" to abort and then faced the perpetrator at trial.

I have represented unwanted abused children in family court and I have seen these same abused children grow up to become murderers who I have represented as a defense attorney in death penalty cases. I have also prosecuted child murderers and child abusers, all of whom have been the mother of the child or the boyfriend of the mother of an unwanted child.

So I am the parent of an adopted child, the prosecutor of rapists & child murderers, the defense attorney of adult murderers who were formerly abused children and a lawyer for abused and neglected children in family court. Each of these roles has given me a different perspective related to the issue at hand.

Nobody intentionally CHOOSES to become pregnant so they can abort a fetus. The issue is about DECISIONS, extremely difficult ones, that are based on the unique circumstances of each person's life. Choices are secondary to decisions. Choices "allow" one to make these difficult decisions. One cannot make appropriate decisions under the circumstances without choices. Dependent upon the circumstances the DECISION to abort a fetus is difficult and many times the decision to carry a baby to term is difficult.

It is easy to make judgments in the abstract. It is extremely difficult to make judgments in real life.

Tex's picture

hmmmmmmmm?

hmmmmmmmm?

Twitter Time @kdhales

Tex's picture

For you and us, my dear, that

For you and us, my dear, that is the best of excuses.....

Twitter Time @kdhales

Tex's picture

I was being facetious -

I was being facetious - that's a good word, isn't it - pretty also! Laughing out loud

Twitter Time @kdhales

Erin Blackwell's picture

ah, i have no excuse. i was

ah, i have no excuse. i was merely writing.

Tex's picture

I pooped out a little ater 3

I pooped out a little ater 3 mtn time - coffee, tea, or mtn dew? Smile Take care of yourself!

Twitter Time @kdhales

Tex's picture

Couldn't sleep - also, a

Couldn't sleep - also, a friend of mine had to get up at 4 am for an important, somewhat stressful appt - thought I would stay up and text her a 'good morning' to start her day off nicely. Now, what about you?

Twitter Time @kdhales

Lezbeth's picture

Deb, as painful and

Deb, as painful and challenging as your personal circumstances must be, I'm always appreciative of your sharing your point of view. I too feel blessed by the range of experiences and opinions expressed on this site and hope that we all continue to agree and disagree with open minds and respect. If one little segment of our world can do this, imagine how powerfully that energy can affect our world.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ie78VtBtwBI

Not2Taem's picture

voyeur :shock:

voyeur Shock

yonks's picture

Well, maybe around you but

Well, maybe around you but the girls i know even picture their missing child several year after: "he would have be 7 by now, i wonder how he would have look like".

I don't know what king of woman you hang around with but your post is very surprising to me.

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

yonks's picture

the good news is that we will

the good news is that we will go to hell together

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

Erin Blackwell's picture

you're late to the party,

you're late to the party, makin up for lost time. welcome aboard.

Erin Blackwell's picture

i'll see you and raise you.

i'll see you and raise you. what are *you* doing up at this hour?

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Yeah, I sin too, just not as

Yeah, I sin too, just not as often as I would like sometimes. Laughing out loud

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Too much caffeine, combined

Too much caffeine, combined with an interest in the topic and a really squirrelly work schedule, lol! Laughing out loud

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Pulling out methods nearly

Pulling out methods nearly always results in an unplanned pregnancy.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Unfortunately, religious

Unfortunately, religious leaders believe that any form of birth control, including the not so effect "rhythm method," are the same as abortion. Most notable in this belief are the Mormon and Catholic churches.

I tend to link birth control with abortion for one simple fact: The lack of the former, in my opinion (and the medical community backs this belief), causes an increased demand for the latter.

While I respect your views, I don't exactly share all of them. The issue of abortion is a touchy one for most, and I'm no different. I do not believe life begins when a man ejaculates into a woman, I believe life begins when we draw our first breath (Gen 2:7). It is this principle that Hebrew Law, as well as secular, uses to define what is life and what is not life. Other sections of the Torah and Bible suggest that we do not achieve "personhood" until after we have been out of the womb for one month (Lev 27:6, Num 3:15-16). I suspect this is likely because of the likely absence or any sort of prenatal or neonatal medical care.

My personal issue with abortion, particular when used as the only form of birth control a woman has available or chooses, is the medical risks to the woman. It is, after all, an invasive surgical procedure.

Beyond that, it is not my place to judge the heart or intent of a woman (or anyone else) when it comes to such a deeply personal decision. Matt 7:1-2 makes very clear I am not allowed to judge that sort of thing, quite clearly. The decision to have an abortion is between the woman and God, in consultation with her physician and whomever else she chooses to consult with.

When it comes to the psychological and medical well being of the mother, especially if that mother is still a child herself, I will always side with whatever is in the best interests of the mother, and I will back her decision without passing judgment or trying to coerce her with my own particular views, whether the choice is to carry the child to term or abort, or to raise the child or put it up for adoption. This is especially my position in cases of incest, rape, or the life of the mother The latter would most certainly apply to me, given my, um, unique nature, and the obvious medical risks and certain death a pregnancy would cause me.

And, yes, women should be responsible for the choices they make. Having said that, no one has the right to force women to deal with the consequences of the criminal acts of men in a way contrary to their own emotional and physical needs. No one has the right to force a woman to sacrifice her own life for that of her unborn child.