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

  • The service having id "propeller" is missing, reactivate its module or save again the list of services.
  • The service having id "buzz" is missing, reactivate its module or save again the list of services.
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]

Tex's picture

Then, sweetness, I am a

Then, sweetness, I am a sinner....

Twitter Time @kdhales

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

And just think, the

And just think, the appropriate sex education and availability of safe, effective, and affordable birth control would reduce those numbers significantly.

But, religious leaders believe birth control is wrong, so their adherents end up getting "secret" abortions instead. Of course, that same lot believes that sex is solely for procreation, and that it is a sin to actually enjoy it.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Unfortunately, I visualize

Unfortunately, I visualize everything I read or hear.

Right now I wish I was blind.

Tex's picture

What in the world are you

What in the world are you doing up at this hour? I've been watching you methodically go down through the comments.....

Twitter Time @kdhales

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

So long as the decisions you

So long as the decisions you make do not negatively effect others directly, what you do is between you and God.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

I'm proof that God is a

I'm proof that God is a man.

I'm mixed race, mixed religion, intersexed, and lesbian.

No woman could have screwed things up that bad! Laughing out loud

(Yes, I'm just kidding. I think God did a great job creating each and every one of us).

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Awesome grandkids! And a

Awesome grandkids!

And a typical grandparent, flashing the photos! Laughing out loud

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Adoption is almost always

Adoption is almost always preferable to abortion, at least from a medical point of view.

Safe, effective, affordable birth control, combined with an education on human reproduction early on, would eliminate the need for most abortions to begin with, not to mention would mostly stop the spread of STD's.

Criminal penalties that include surgical castration of sexual predators would eliminate most forced pregnancies (caused by rape and incest), especially if publicized, just through the deterrent factor.

Please read my post above, about my personal position on this issue, as well as my particular set of circumstances. I'm not trying to change your mind, I just want you to see there are those of us who do not have the ability of being able to choose from multiple courses of action. You can comment at the post, or privately, or not at all, whatever you wish.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Exactly!

Exactly!

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

I don't blame you for being

I don't blame you for being pissed. I nearly lost my temper when I read that post.

I will never understand the reasoning that says one person has the right to force their values upon others.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

I'm sorry, but I have to

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with that point of view.

First of all, aside from the psychological and physical harm of having been raped, additional psychological and physical harm, including death, is very likely in a 9 year old forced to carry to term and give birth to a child. And I'm familiar with that story. All the rapist would have to do to avoid punishment for raping the child is marry her, even if that is against the child's will.

Then there is the story from several years back, right here in the good old US of A, where the parents of an 11 year old attempted to obtain a late term abortion for her. Seems she had been raped repeatedly by her older, and now adult brother, since she was 5. The governor of the state she was from attempted to block the abortion, going so far as to arrest the parents and hold the child in foster care. The state court eventually intervened, but by that time she had to be taken to another state.

The rapist brother? Never served a day in jail or prison.

The fetus? Multiple severe birth defects. The 11 year old would have been forced to leave school to care for her brother's child, in a state that had just eliminated nearly every aspect of its social safety net, including all programs geared towards teen parents and their children.

This of course assumes the preteen child mother survived childbirth to begin with, which is not very likely.

No way, no how, will I ever agree with any position, dictate, or law that forces a preteen child to bare and raise the child of her rapist.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

I've met plenty of women who

I've met plenty of women who used abortion and a form of contraception, and none with an ounce of guilt. I've met plenty who regretted getting an abortion, not because of any sense of personal responsibility, but because they were worried about what others might think.

I've only met one woman who regretted getting an abortion because she thought she ended a life. Her decision wasn't easy (for her), as this was her first pregnancy, and her husband had just been killed in Iraq. However, it was an ectopic pregnancy, with no chance of being able to be carried long enough for the fetus to survive premature birth, and she would have died had she not aborted. The difficulty in the decision for her caused sufficient enough delay as to render her sterile.

After that, I transferred out of OB/GYN and into the less stressful ER.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

I found no pictures on any

I found no pictures on any anti-abortion or medical site that shows a zygote aborted by taking emergency contraceptives immediately after conception.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

The concept of the fetus

The concept of the fetus having the ability to have an emotional response and recollection of pain in utero is largely a religious one, not shared by most religious beliefs or sects, and not supported by any anecdotal or scientific evidence.

Nearly all religions believe that the soul is not given by God (or whatever Creator they believe in) until the very moment the first breath is taken. That is the principle also used in the secular world, particularly in most criminal codes involving homicide.

I'm not saying your somewhat emotional post doesn't have validity at some level (there is no scientific proof to refute it or support it), but that it is emotionally inflammatory and originally intended to devalue the life of the mother by those who came up with that principle some 60 years ago.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

You should be satisfied! You

You should be satisfied! You sparked a debate on a touchy subject, and save for a few personal attacks, I suspect everyone here gained quite a bit from the discourse.

Well done!

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Very well put!

Very well put!

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Agreed, the personal attacks

Agreed, the personal attacks are unnecessary and have a negative impact on the overall discussion.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Bummer, I would have loved to

Bummer, I would have loved to seen your take on the issue here!

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Erin does have quite the

Erin does have quite the ability to spark a debate! Laughing out loud

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Obviously, our little

Obviously, our little community is not immune from the emotional impact of the various aspects of a woman's right to control her own reproductive abilities.

Like many here, I have my own personal point of view. Note the word personal, which implies correctly that in no way do I believe others must apply my personal beliefs to their particular set of circumstances, but I do believe that no one has any right to apply their beliefs to my set of circumstances. My beliefs are also very fluid and situational dependent, since life is not predetermined, but instead is chaotic and unpredictable.

Having said that, my spiritual faith tells me that these are deeply personal choices, and that as such no one other than the one making the choice has any right to judge the merits or morality of such a personal decision. We are women, not breeding stock, to be forced to procreate or spayed for our religious, social, or political rulers based upon their whims.

There should only be two people involved in a woman's reproductive choices, the woman and her physician.

Government involvement should be restricted to insuring that the available contraceptives, devices, and procedures are safe, effective, and available to all on demand. Today, adult men can choose to get a vasectomy, no questions asked. Any male, regardless of age, can buy condoms over the counter, no questions asked. Women are restricted in what forms of contraceptive devices, medications, and procedures are available to them based upon whether or not they've had children or their marital status. This is wrong. So is passing of laws to limit the reproductive choices of women, whether prohibiting contraceptives and abortions here in the US, or forcing women to undergo an abortion in China.

Religious groups should not be applying their values and sense of morality to those outside their faith or religious organization (ie members of their religious group). They can publicly proclaim those values as much as they wish, providing that such proclamations do not infringe on the rights of others to make their own decisions (ie passing laws, blowing up clinics, shooting providers, etc). The current activism by religious groups at the social and political level in order to force their values upon others is immoral and wrong.

The biology of human reproduction should be taught to every child before they become sexually aware. I'm not talking about sexuality or sexual morality and responsibility (that's the job of the parents), I'm talking the biological mechanics and biological results and potential consequences of human reproduction. They should be required to pass a written test that demonstrates they understand fully how humans reproduce, and how STD's are contracted and spread. Parents can "opt out" their children from the classroom portion, if their children can pass the written test. If the child does not pass, they must take/retake the class, until they do pass. I suspect many children who grew up on farms with livestock will pass with flying colors.

I firmly believe that if human reproduction were taught at an appropriate age, and that if contraceptives were readily available, eventually, abortions would become few and far between.

Abortions should always be legal. The decision to obtain an abortion should be left to the woman, in consultation with her physician and whomever else she chooses to seek advice from. The reasons behind obtaining an abortion are none of anyone else's business, no exceptions.

The woman should be the final decision maker with regards to her own body, no exceptions, including her reproductive rights, choices, and decisions. Men have this right, why shouldn't we?

I have been on birth control since 1976. Being intersexed, and having the reproductive organs of both anatomical genders, I can reproduce asexually, and completely by accident. Forget the possibilities of severe birth defects from that sort of inbreeding. My getting pregnant (by any means) would be a death sentence by around the middle of the second trimester, and my death would be decidedly unpleasant. If I did become pregnant, I would have no choice but to obtain an immediate abortion, as there is no way the fetus nor I could survive if I didn't.

Were the religious and social extremists to have their way, either the lack of birth control or the unavailability of the abortion procedure would have resulted in my death before age 15. The so-called "Pro Life" position of religious and social extremists has nothing to do with protecting life, and everything to do with controlling as much as possible the reproductive and sexual rights of women and subjegating women to the whims of men, in effect returning us to the status of being the property of men.

As stated above, these are my personal beliefs. The choice to agree or disagree with all or any part of them is your personal beliefs. Both are valid, so long as neither of us tries to force them on each other or anyone else.

The women I've met here and from that former site are some of the most intelligent and enlightened women I've ever come across. Part of that comes from our ability to not only share our own views with others, but to be able to respect the views of others as well. We can agree, disagree, and debate issues and views, and grow from such discourses. But, the personal attacks I've seen in this thread are disturbing, at best.

We're better than that.

Deb

Not2Taem's picture

Tex way down there, Doing my

Tex way down there,
Doing my PUMA/Cougar exercises. Want to cum hold my ____ ?
Wink

Rusty's picture

Re: stage directions

Re: stage directions below:
Could someone draw me a diagram please? I'm a visual learner.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

Lezbeth's picture

wow, I don't visit VP for a

wow, I don't visit VP for a day or two and all hell breaks loose. Erin you provocateur you.

One thing I got from reading everyone's posts was how deeply and differently we're affected by the responsibilities inherent in walking around in female bodies. We are awesome and powerful beings and when someone fucks with that, on any level from the personal to the institutional, it throws us and our social agreements into chaos. I applaud all of you who stepped out passionately and took your stand on this.

Yvonne's picture

Thank you for sharing this

Thank you for sharing this Itty.

Personally I don't post here much, but I certainly respect you and all the ladies. Everyone has an opinion and that is always good, no matter where the stance is.

Yvonne's picture

Hey Fast! long time no see.

Hey Fast! long time no see. thx. x

Not2Taem's picture

Nor should you. <3 Lovely

Nor should you. <3
Lovely song.

Tex's picture

http://www.youtube.com/watch?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLv4OaAO8Oo

I do apologize to those who may have been hurt in the process of debate......forgive me, but I will never apologize for who I am.

Twitter Time @kdhales

Tex's picture

RUSTY IN THE MIDDLE!

RUSTY IN THE MIDDLE!

Twitter Time @kdhales

Tex's picture

LAKE BELOW Shhhhhhhhhhh!

LAKE BELOW

Shhhhhhhhhhh! Don't be giving away my lines!

Twitter Time @kdhales

Rusty's picture

So Lake tops Tex and Tex tops

So Lake tops Tex and Tex tops Erin?

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

Lake's picture

"DON'T MOVE"

"DON'T MOVE"

Lake

Tex's picture

ROLLING You found that your

ROLLING

You found that your experience was something for which you had to confess? Wink

Twitter Time @kdhales

Lake's picture

FG...LOL!!! I like it!!!! ;)

FG...LOL!!!

I like it!!!! Wink

Lake

Lake's picture

Topping Tex The Priest

Topping Tex

The Priest dropped his bible a few times at confession.....only when I mentioned a "Genteel Southern Lady" Wink

Lake

itty's picture

Minnie... I care about you

Minnie...

I care about you and respect you also.

You're one of my favorite posters and I always enjoy reading your take on things.
I will always respect your point of view Minnie,
whether we agree or disagree.

mysticsmb's picture

Done!

Done!

peacekitty's picture

Oh I think you do have to to

Oh I think you do have to to get PMs.

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

mysticsmb's picture

What database? Do I have to

What database? Do I have to register on the Forum page? I haven't done that because I don't go on there (the front page is enough of a time-suck, lol). But I'd be willing to register if that enables me to PM.

minniesota's picture

We all have a heart, and

We all have a heart, and passionate convictions and deep personal histories regarding this blog topic. So, if I became upset at one point last night, I feel I deserve to have my feelings and express them. I'm going to say what I have to say about the church's stance on birth control, abortion and misogyny towards women because this topic has touched my life and the lives of all the women in my family.

Itty, I want you and LBDL to know that I care about you and respect you. If I disagree with you, the disagreement is only about that topic and nothing personal.

Best, Minnie

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

peacekitty's picture

Hi mystics. I tried to PM

Hi mystics. I tried to PM you but couldn't find you in the database.

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

mysticsmb's picture

Respect is always a two-way

Respect is always a two-way street.

mysticsmb's picture

Indeed. For me it was like

Indeed.

For me it was like stepping into quicksand: the more you struggle the quicker and deeper you get sucked down.

One tries to be rational, maybe even see the other side, deal in hypotheticals--to no avail, because ultimately the personal nudges, in some cases shoves, its way in. If I wasn't sure previously that Roe v. Wade was rightly rooted in the right to privacy I sure as hell am now.

Tex's picture

It can be pootang as well -

It can be pootang as well - actually, got a story for the pootang. I found a scrapbook of a WWII navy sailor - such an interesting book of history and personal insight - but, anyway, there was this 'word' used several times in and around photos of sailors and women - pootang! So, the way I look at it, if POOTANG is good enough for a sailor, it's good enough for me.... Smile

Twitter Time @kdhales

Kent's picture

Erin! Thank you for

Erin! Thank you for this...the Sanger / Wallace interview is incredible! What an awesome, inspiring woman.

peacekitty's picture

"Is it any wonder there are

"Is it any wonder there are so few who bother to comment on the blogs here at VP."

You have a point Itty.

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

Fastgurrrl's picture

It's "poontang, puntang"

It's "poontang, puntang" MAMA! Tongue

Rusty's picture

I don't think he got the

I don't think he got the official boot but I haven't seen him in forever. My problem with Buchanan is not his views—it's his ability to lie with a straight face, repeat talking points, and shout her down on her own show.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

Rusty's picture

Episode VII A New Pope A

Episode VII
A New Pope

A long time ago in an InterWeb far, far away . . .

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

Tex's picture

RUSTY BELOW But you can't

RUSTY BELOW

But you can't buy Cougar clothing - there's already an entire line of Puma attire....

Twitter Time @kdhales

peacekitty's picture

Just walking past the blog to

Just walking past the blog to say "Hi Everybody." Smile This is a great conversation but I'm staying out of the abortion debate. xoxo - PK

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"