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]

itty's picture

After reading down through

After reading down through the comments here,
I feel the need to say a few things.

to LongBeach and Yvonne....
I applaud you.
You are brave, caring women.
I happen to share your views on this subject.
Thank you both for speaking out on behalf of the unborn,
the innocent, those who can't speak for themselves.

Emotions always run high on the subject of abortion...
they certainly have here...
but ladies...
most, if not all of you have read many of LongBeach's posts in the past...
here and on OurChart.
You've seen her open her heart...her soul...
share her experiences...
her passion,
her convictions...
she doesn't deserve the disrespect shown to her on this thread.

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

.

Tex's picture

TOPPING ERIN Now that you

TOPPING ERIN

Now that you mention it, I have to admit that I find ex-Catholic women erotically willing.....pair that with genteel Southern and......

Twitter Time @kdhales

Fastgurrrl's picture

Taeming the inner child,

Taeming the inner child, regarding your post this morning that I reposted below...

FULL RESPECT WOMAN =)

------------------------------------
March 12th, 2009 at 11:12 am
LB,

I does get personal, doesn’t it? We send and read things at a distance, missing the myriad little cues that we would pick up on so naturally in direct conversation. Each one of us comes with the whispers of her past threatening to intrude upon those conversations. Its a cumulative thing, a phrase here, another there, and we begin to build concepts around people we have never truly met.

You are entirely right; I don’t have a clue. Most of the time I find you very insightful and entertaining. Every now and then I find the things you post inciting and offending and ignore them, reading with an open heart and remembering that I do not truly know this person and have found so much more of her that I respect.

So here we are, deep in the belly of a powerful and very personal topic, and I committed the mortal sin of internet communication; I read you with the voice of my whispers, forgetting that I have never heard the tenor of you own rich voice in real conversation. For that I truly apologize.

I have no more idea of your own personal connection with the multitude of issues surrounding abortion or family relationships than you do mine. I shouldn’t have let it get personal. You have said that you have never loved a man nor had one inside of you. One would assume that this eliminates the possibility of at least one experience with the topic of abortion, but you know what they say about assuming, and I’ve already screwed up enough here. I should have just told myself that you have a totally different frame of reference than I do and let it go.

I do sincerely apologize for letting my juvenile self intrude here. I will make a concerted effort to keep her locked away.

Tae

Erin Blackwell's picture

FOR THE TEXTER as an

FOR THE TEXTER

as an ex-catholic schoolgirl i'm *tempted* to say if the catholics didn't think of it, it's probably not very exciting. as le marquis de sade discovered, all you have to do is flip cathoiicism for endless erotic fun'n'games.

Rusty's picture

I think that's a cougar.

I think that's a cougar.

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

Tex's picture

PUNANI is pootang! FG, you

PUNANI is pootang! FG, you are a world of delectible information.....thanks, really!

Twitter Time @kdhales

Fastgurrrl's picture

It's "punani" baby! ;)

It's "punani" baby! Wink

Erin Blackwell's picture

you girls sure are excitable.

you girls sure are excitable. but no, i wouldn't say i'm "satisfied" but thanks for asking. how was it for you?

self-edit: yes, i *am* satisfied. this is a hell of a salon. some beautiful writing and wise cracks. too bad about the hurt feelings but what would a salon be without feelings?

Rusty's picture

Thanks for all the

Thanks for all the compliments on the kiddos. They are even cuter in person (my unbiased opinion, of course).

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

Not2Taem's picture

I vote that we ditch this

I vote that we ditch this topic and start all over with the story of the transformation of Rusty the Chastised into Rusty the Blushing Butch. Wink

Do I have the order right, Rusty?

Not2Taem's picture

LB, I does get personal,

LB,

I does get personal, doesn't it? We send and read things at a distance, missing the myriad little cues that we would pick up on so naturally in direct conversation. Each one of us comes with the whispers of her past threatening to intrude upon those conversations. Its a cumulative thing, a phrase here, another there, and we begin to build concepts around people we have never truly met.

You are entirely right; I don't have a clue. Most of the time I find you very insightful and entertaining. Every now and then I find the things you post inciting and offending and ignore them, reading with an open heart and remembering that I do not truly know this person and have found so much more of her that I respect.

So here we are, deep in the belly of a powerful and very personal topic, and I committed the mortal sin of internet communication; I read you with the voice of my whispers, forgetting that I have never heard the tenor of you own rich voice in real conversation. For that I truly apologize.

I have no more idea of your own personal connection with the multitude of issues surrounding abortion or family relationships than you do mine. I shouldn't have let it get personal. You have said that you have never loved a man nor had one inside of you. One would assume that this eliminates the possibility of at least one experience with the topic of abortion, but you know what they say about assuming, and I've already screwed up enough here. I should have just told myself that you have a totally different frame of reference than I do and let it go.

I do sincerely apologize for letting my juvenile self intrude here. I will make a concerted effort to keep her locked away.

Tae

Julia Watson's picture

Did Buchanan officially get

Did Buchanan officially get disinvited from appearing on the show? I missed a week or two back there...

yonks's picture

I agree, its the choice of a

I agree, its the choice of a better life quality on a person already there vs an hypothetical person not existents yet.
For the argument of using abortion as a contraceptive method, i never met a woman who have been trough it who don't feel guilty.

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

Fastgurrrl's picture

Yvonne, right on!! =)

Yvonne, right on!! =)

deedee's picture

How dare somebody tell ME I

How dare somebody tell ME I have to have a baby because I was rape.My CHOICE MY RIGHT ,so stay the fuck out of my BODY.And in the USA the law gives me the RIGHT to a choice.So please keep the bullshit you all are(some of you)fixing to hand me to yourself .

Xanadu's picture

I'm staying out of the

I'm staying out of the abortion debate. As far as I'm concerned, it's a dead argument (aware of the pun) ...

I'll just say this:

My maternal grandmother gave birth to six children, then died from ovarian cancer at 36 years of age (I've been thinking about her a lot lately - as she was only 2 years older than I am now).

She died in the late 50's, due to a lack of knowledge of women's bodies and a complete lack of concern about the spiritual or physical wellbeing of women in general.

A couple of weeks after her death, my good Presbyterian grandfather moved his MISTRESS in to 'help' raise 6 motherless youngsters ... the oldest (my mother) was 16, the youngest - a 3 year old girl.

Moving on to 2009 and those 'children' are now in their 50's and 60's - and are as damaged by that event - as the day it happened.

My point?

Thank Christ for modern medicine and pioneer women like Margaret Sanger who fought to give women the choice ... The choice to have more achievements in life, than only being a vessel to carry the next generation.

I never got to know my grandmother ... I wonder what dreams she had, for herself?

mysticsmb's picture

Erin, are you satisfied??

Erin, are you satisfied?? Look at what all you started on here Smile

mysticsmb's picture

To LongBeach, below: you fail

To LongBeach, below: you fail to realize that what you say and how you say it reveals a great deal about who you are--as it does for all of us.

LongBeachDogLover's picture

***FOR TAE BELOW*** You took

***FOR TAE BELOW***

You took 4 statements totally out of context. Anything can sound like shit when someone does that. I don't appreciate that.

"Yeah, that sounds to me like you think you have some sort of superior take on this."

You don't have a clue Tae. You know nothing about me. I haven't said anything personal to you, or about you. But, I will now...... no, I won't actually.... You're not worth it.

Shit, I certainly did read you wrong..... WTF.

Tex's picture

TAE BELOW Tae, I began to

TAE BELOW

Tae, I began to live the rest of my life the day I forgave.....there is unbelievable power in forgiveness.....

You are loved,

Tex

Twitter Time @kdhales

Yvonne's picture

What we can do, small as it

What we can do, small as it is, is try to give every child a sense that she has someone to come to; someone she can trust with her deepest secrets, knowing that she will be met by an open heart.

That I totally approve with you on.

Tex's picture

Such sweetness.........you

Such sweetness.........you too, Rusty!

Twitter Time @kdhales

Not2Taem's picture

Yvonne, Sorry for the

Yvonne,
Sorry for the confusion. I was talking about the emotional impact on the child mother, not the potential child yet unborn. I would never suggest aborting because the child might encounter social stigma if born.

My major point here was that requiring, or in anyway pressuring, a victim of rape to bear the child prolongs and intensifies the trauma. Add to that the physical and emotional development of a child victim, and you have a recipe for disaster. Best case scenario, you find out early enough for something early stage. There are cases where no one even knows about the abuse until the girl starts to show.

There is nothing easy about this topic, and all of our discussion will not make a bit of difference. What we can do, small as it is, is try to give every child a sense that she has someone to come to; someone she can trust with her deepest secrets, knowing that she will be met by an open heart.

Erin Blackwell's picture

unfair to bears

unfair to bears

Erin Blackwell's picture

you could sell tickets

you could sell tickets

Not2Taem's picture

Well, there is that theory of

Well, there is that theory of the female pope. Maybe that's how the whole red robe thing got started.

Yvonne's picture

That's lovely to hear. Big

That's lovely to hear. Big hug and courage to you.

Yvonne's picture

I repeat, if the mother and

I repeat, if the mother and child are threatened then there is a choice to make, after all it is a soul that will be taken. That is physically.

As for emotionally, let's compare it for a while with gay parents: aren't the children of gay people opposed to emotional and psychological effects due to society? do we oppose gay parents to have children because of that?

As for the child-mother, part of her indeed will always be that 9 years old child, while she no longer be able to be a child anymore, but isn't that the case of BILLIONS who are abused around the world without having a child?

LongBeachDogLover's picture

Yvonne..... I am a Christian.

Yvonne..... I am a Christian. Thank you.

mysticsmb's picture

Minnie, I'm backing off this

Minnie, I'm backing off this one now and apologize for my part in a dialogue that has dredged up such painful memories for you. I'm deeply sorry...

Rusty's picture

I just watched the videos of

I just watched the videos of the interview. Civil, respectful dialogue between two women who disagree? Whoda thunk it was possible? Now that Rachel got rid of Pat Buchanan it might be a good idea to have Meghan McCain as a sparring partner every week or so.

Here's the link to an article about the interview and the videos:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/11/meghan-mccain-rachel-madd_n_174...

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

LongBeachDogLover's picture

I will not post any links.

I will not post any links. Please google 'abortion pictures'..... you will be disgusted. At least I hope you will be.

Not2Taem's picture

Yvonne, NEITHER child

Yvonne,

NEITHER child deserves to die. Not the one unborn, nor the one raped and abused. Would you condemn both to death, physical and emotional, based on an absolute imperative? You cannot decide in black and white what was created in shadow. Regardless of which way the decision is made, that child will be scarred for life, if indeed she finds the strength to survive. Part of her will always be that 9 year old child, while she is no longer able to be a child at all.

Rusty's picture

"Your graphic depiction of

"Your graphic depiction of abortion only applies after a certain number of months."
Agreed. And we haven't even touched on women dying or maimed from botched illegal abortions. Or the morality of comparing the life of a woman to that of an embryo.

No one should assume they know how they'll react to an unintended pregnancy. Pro choicers like myself sometimes have the child and anti-abortion folks sometimes make the exception for themselves.

My choice was my choice, but I have also driven friends to abortion clinics and stayed with them so they wouldn't have to go through it alone.

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

Yvonne's picture

thx, God bless.. or whoever

thx, God bless.. or whoever you believe in or not.

Yvonne's picture

I am sorry to hear that

I am sorry to hear that Minnie, and I do not disagree with any choice that you did take and I would never judge you on that, believe me the Church never would've as well.

It is in these cases M. that I wish if everyone can use their brains as well, I cannot tell people to get over their pain and have that child, but that is the way it should be in principle. And you cannot imagine how much I hate men when we speak about this, unabashedly hate them, Pope or no pope, church or no church, at the end we are the church and we are a hell of a dysfunctional one. I speak my words out of principles Minnie, but as I said, I am in no way and by any means in position or capable of judging someone for taking that decision.

Maybe we can swap packages of tears, it happened to me 3 years earlier than yourself, luckily women can't impregnate each others.

Lake's picture

I'm sure the first time the

I'm sure the first time the Pope had to surf the crimson wave, he would be wishing too.......Wink

Lake

Not2Taem's picture

Adorable! Thanks for

Adorable! Thanks for sharing.
(You know they are now the 2 most famous gals in lesbian interspace. Wink )

Not2Taem's picture

:lol: :lol:

Laughing out loud Laughing out loud Laughing out loud

:twisted: (This one is for the pope, who I'm pretty sure would object to that prayer.)

Yvonne's picture

and in this case the decision

and in this case the decision must be left to her and her alone.

I really do agree mys. but to me, a woman will always be the toughest on planet earth, and will always have the instinct to protect and keep her baby. The more difficult cases can only require a loving surrounding, if a woman I know is pregnant forcefully, I'd work day and night to stay next to her and let her go through it in as much lesser pain as possible.

If a wounded mother is indeed alone and has no one to help her go through it, then I do not judge her for aborting. I do not agree with it, but I don't judge her.

Not2Taem's picture

Now THAT would reroute the

Now THAT would reroute the discussion! FG, ever the optimist. Laughing out loud

minniesota's picture

Yvonne, I was molested at age

Yvonne, I was molested at age nine by a family member. To think that my young self would have had to bear a child as a result and because a patriarchal church would have said I must bear that child, makes me so angry that if I could bring down the Vatican single handed, I would.

Nine years old Yvonne. Nine years old. I was only a child. A child. I was the child that needed to be saved. Save your tears for me.

I'm pissed off now.

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

mysticsmb's picture

I can understand the pro-life

I can understand the pro-life stance to a point--but in the case of rape victims it's utterly inhumane. Your graphic depiction of abortion only applies after a certain number of months. There is no invasive procedure, no cutting or violence when we're talking about an embryo and the taking of a pill that prevents the implanting of an egg.

I cannot say for sure what I would do in that circumstance, but I know for damn sure nobody has the right to tell me what to do.

Yvonne's picture

Thank you for that.

Thank you for that. Personally, my mother did have an abortion previously and I love her more than myself, and if the Pope tells me otherwise then he can go to hell. Just to say that I am not judging, I am giving an opinion.

And if society is cruel enough not to help people taking the decision of keeping that child, then it is everyone's fault, not the Pope or the Church. The Church is not a charity organization, it cannot allow abortion so that everyone sleep together like rabbits and kill their children later.

As for when life starts, I do believe that it starts the moment your body prepares to handle it.

Again, why have a baby and kill it? there are tons of protective measures and if somehow the baby is still conceived, no one has the right to kill him/her..

If a person wakes up one day and finds a wounded defenseless puppy at their door step, do they choose to throw it away or kill it? I don't think so, most people would take care of it even if it costs and takes time. Others might call special organizations to help or take it.

Not2Taem's picture

LB down there, "If some of

LB down there,

"If some of the ex-man-lovers understood more about men, and what motivates them, maybe they wouldn’t be ex-man-lovers.

Just my humble, virginal opinion

Most women just don’t take the time to understand what motivates men. I do…. I see it, I feel it, I understand.

And, I stand by my assertion that simply because a woman has had a penis inside of her vagina, does not make her an expert on the needs of a man. If that was the case, the divorce rate would be a much lower…"

Yeah, that sounds to me like you think you have some sort of superior take on this.

Most women don't get divorced because they don't understand a man's needs. A hell of a lot of us do it because we find ourselves, or worse yet our children, at risk. Some of us do it because men present themselves as having one set of values and then act as if they have an entirely different set. Many others do it because their husbands choose to leave them and their children for someone else. And yes, some do it because they fall in love with someone else. I personally have never met a woman who got divorced because she to lazy to get to know her man.

PS on the ex-man-lover bit: Many of us love them for a good long while after we leave them or they leave us. Its the depth of that love that makes us stay too long in the first place. Its the depth of that love that fuels the fires of hate that can burn so brightly in the wake of hope. And with any luck its the depth of that love that allows us to move past hating and try to dredge out some sort of workable, safe form of contact for our kids.

mysticsmb's picture

It takes years for some women

It takes years for some women to recover. There are women who have committed suicide rather than bear such a child. Each woman knows what she is and isn't capable of, and in this case the decision must be left to her and her alone.

LongBeachDogLover's picture

Beautifully said

Beautifully said Yvonne.......

LongBeachDogLover's picture

Please don't go there

Please don't go there Mystic.... the tables could be turned. I could say put yourself in the womb of the rape victim. Imagine your small body being cut into pieces, and removed from that uterus, simply because you exist..... never allowed to take a breath, or apologize for your creation.

Let's not go here Mystic. Because now you are encroaching on the intrinsic value of human life...

One act of violence, does not justify another.

Yvonne's picture

Repeat: However, that 9 year

Repeat: However, that 9 year old girl story was painful to read and I stand against the decision of the Bishop - who will always be a man and not understand.

That's not absolutism, nor underestimation of what an abused woman goes through. One can only offer support and love enough for her to go through the painful time and switch from being a victim to being a mother, the giver of life and love on this planet. The child has nothing to do with the grown ups atrocities. They do not deserve to die because of them.

minniesota's picture

I will re-post for you

I will re-post for you something I wrote earlier today on this blog:

"[...]I saw the consequence of the Catholic Church’s birth control stance on the physical, mental and emotional health of my mother. The Pope can go blow himself as far as I’m concerned."

"As far as abortion is concerned, it pains me to think of it. But, not everyone agrees as to when life starts. My opinion is that adult women and girls of child-bearing age need access to safe, early term abortion and that decision should be between the woman and her physician."

Still searching for the right brainy quote.