Roe v. Wade and ‘Calling a Spade a Spade’

Roe v. Wade and ‘Calling a Spade a Spade’

I haven’t blogged for quite some time. For one thing, all my life I’ve been plagued with the problem of not having enough time. Lots of ideas. Way too little time. But also, I just don’t see any real interest out there in doing the things we really need to be doing. Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of ideas for changing that. (Oh boy, do I!) But I can’t move on any of them, unless I get funding. It’s kind of a catch-22. I explain more about this on the Read this first! page (part of which “spills over” onto the Solutions page). Just as Greta Thunberg had her “school strike for climate,” I have my “blogging strike,” because I don’t see much genuine interest in saving the planet. Unless and until I get emails indicating I’m wrong about that, I intend, for the most part, to stick with my “strike.” But today’s an exception. Because Roe v. Wade has suddenly found its way onto the endangered species list. [There’s that Texas law, now being reviewed by he Supreme Court; and on the docket for December 1, is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.]

This is a subject I feel passionate about. There are many points I would like to make about why I am pro-choice. But for purposes of brevity, I’ll try to keep it short.

Let me start by saying it’s interesting that when you ask people this fundamentally simple question, you’ll find that very few actually know the answer: How many eggs does a female fetus have?

I’ll get back to that question — and answer it — shortly; and perhaps you might want to be sitting down when you read the answer. I’ll also explain why I think that question is relevant.

But before I get to that, I want to quickly make a few points. On Newsday’s letters page on February 16, 2017, one letter writer (Kathleen Young of Northport, NY) begins by stating: “Opponents of abortion say they fight to give the fetus a voice. As a proponent of free choice, I fight to give the fetus a voice, as well.” And then she adds: “If I had the choice to be born to a mother who didn’t want me or didn’t want to care for me, I would choose not to be born.”

I share that sentiment. I enjoy being alive. But I also put it in perspective with other truths. I love my mom. And therefore, if she had not wanted to have me — for whatever reason — why wouldn’t I want her to have had the freedom to make that decision? It’s her body, her life.

Also, something else many people don’t take into consideration is what’s the difference, really, if someone wasn’t born because a contraceptive was used, versus someone who wasn’t born because they had been aborted? Is there a difference? And if one’s legal, shouldn’t the other be, too?

It’s also worth noting that abortion has never been just about abortion. Amanda Marcotte states in an article appearing on Slate (“It Wasn’t Abortion That formed the Religious Right. It Was Support for Segregation“), that “It wasn’t Roe v. Wade that woke the sleeping dragon of the evangelical vote. It was Green v. Kennedy, a 1970 decision stripping tax-exempt status from ‘segregation academies’ — private Christian schools that were set up in response to Brown v. Board of Education, where the practice of barring black students continued.” Thomas B. Edsall, in a guest essay published in The New York Times (“Abortion Has Never Been Just About Abortion“), states that Katherine Stewart, author of The Power Worshipers, argues that Richard Viguerie, Paul Weyrich “and others on the right were determined to find an issue that could bring together a much larger constituency.” “As Weyrich understood,” Edsall quotes Stewart as stating in an email, “building a new movement around the burning issue of defending the tax advantages of racist schools wasn’t going to be a viable strategy on the national stage.” Eventually, a consensus was reached. “They landed upon the one surprising word that would supply the key to the political puzzle of the age,” Stewart states, ” ‘abortion.’ ”

Edsall also quotes Jefferson Cowie, a historian at Vanderbilt University, as stating there are “three dimensions to the question of abortion.” And one of those simply involves riling up the electorate, in an effort to harvest votes. “Obviously, there is very little support for neonatal care or curbing the death penalty,” Cowie is quoted as stating in an email, “so ‘pro-life’ is a ridiculous misnomer. They are less pro-life than they are pro-political power — their own.”

Another point concerning abortion is this: the carrying capacity of this planet (for our species) is limited. Very limited. That’s a fact. One blog post I’ve been itching to get to for years, I’ve anticipated titling “1 + 1 = 60!” Why? Because in it, I planned to bring up an obituary in which a husband and wife, tallied together with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, adds up to sixty. That’s right, that one couple alone increased Earth’s total human population by an additional fifty-eight people. I don’t have that obit handy, but I did find another that helps make the same point. This comes from the March 2003 Washington Post obituary for Joseph Coors (yes, that Joseph Coors). He and his wife had five sons, 27 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. So in total, that’s 1 + 1 = 42. If everyone on this planet reproduced at that same rate, planet Earth would resemble planet Gideon, in no time. That’s a Star Trek reference, if you didn’t catch it. In “The Mark of Gideon” episode, I don’t recall the actual plot, but the planet Gideon was chock-a-block people. Elbow to elbow. Quite surreal.

Another reason why this Roe v. Wade potentially being overturned situation leaves a bad taste in my mouth? The numbers. Only 22 percent of the U.S. population identify as being Catholic (using a 2017 statistic from Wikipedia). However, 66.66 percent of the Justices sitting on the Supreme Court are Catholic. Also, while over 50 percent of the U.S. population is female, only three of the nine Justices are women. Additionally, while Republicans won the popular vote just once within the past eight presidential elections — that 12.5 percent win rate is the reason voter suppression is such a top tier agenda concern within the Republican Party — Republican presidents have appointed 66.66 percent of the Justices now sitting on the Supreme Court. And what Republicans did concerning getting Gorsuch and Barrett onto the Court in the first place, that also leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. And Kavanaugh? What happened to those 4,500 tips the FBI received on that special hotline regarding Kavanaugh? Is it any wonder why the American public has such a low opinion of the Court? The most recent Gallup poll indicates it’s reached an all-time low. Only 40 percent view the Court favorably.

Finally, in the November 4th issue of The New York Review of Books (my ad appears on page 51), David Cole presents a powerful argument for why Roe v. Wade should stand. In fact, the title of that piece is “Let the Decision Stand.” Cole writes that “forcing a woman to continue a pregnancy she does not want interferes directly with her right to control her own body.” And asks “Why should women be obliged to surrender their body for the benefit of another when no one else is” required to do the same? Cole points out that a parent, for example, cannot be forced to give up a kidney, even if it would save their own child’s life. Cole also writes that the philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson hypothesized a situation in which you wake up in a hospital and find yourself attached to another person. You also learn “that if you detached yourself, the other person would die.” What do you do? Cole writes that while you could potentially choose to remain like that, “no one could force you to do so.” That decision would be up to you.

Okay, now back to that question I asked earlier. Are you ready for the answer? Well, here it is: during the fetal stage of development, each female fetus has between six to seven million eggs! That’s about the equivalent, population wise, of one Los Angeles and two Philadelphias, combined. (At birth, that number drops down to about 1 million. More than 10,000 eggs continue to die off each month, until, at puberty, approximately 300,000 remain.)

Why do I mention this? Well, for two reasons. One is simply to point out that Nature is the biggest abortionist. Just as an oak tree, for example, produces millions of acorns over its lifetime, even though few will actually grow into and survive as trees, so too women start out with millions of eggs, even though, on average, the worldwide fertility rate is currently just 2.4 children per woman. No one weeps for those millions of hearts that will never beat, or for those 10,000 potential human beings lost each and every month before puberty. No one suggests we gather them together and cryogenically preserve them, so that at some future point, if we choose, we could bring them to life and give them personhood through artificial insemination and use of artificial wombs.

Here’s the other thing I wanted to tie this in with — since this goes back to what got me wanting to write this blog post in the first place. This past June, The New York Times ran an op-ed “guest essay” titled “Why the Supreme Court Should Reset the Terms of the Abortion Debate.” Honestly, I can’t recall the exact point Leah Libresco Sargeant was making. But two things went through my mind upon reading it. One, generally speaking, whenever I see op-eds in the Times that touch upon the topic of abortion, they more often than not remind me of how much I wish that paper didn’t have pro-life columnists on staff. (There are at least one or two.) Giving columnists (or “guests”) who espouse pro-life views a huge soapbox on which to do so, adds to that confluence of factors that helped get someone like Trump into the Oval Office in the first place.

The other thing that went through my mind while reading Sargeant’s essay, was upon seeing that reference pertaining to “artificial wombs,” it brought to mind a Seinfeld episode (“The Card”), wherein Elaine has mailed out Christmas cards that show her nipples. It was unintentional. And she’s not happy about it. Kramer took the photo in question, and he’s just as shocked as everyone else. Anyhow, at one point in this episode, after hearing George complain one too many times about not having gotten one of those cards, Elaine says, “You want a Christmas card? Here’s your Christmas card!” and as she says this, she grabs
George’s head and presses it into her breasts. “There! There’s your Christmas card!” She’s pissed. Anyhow, it made me think of that statistic I cited above. As in: “You want babies? Here! I’ll give you babies!” Because, hypothetically speaking, if we were to extract and artificially inseminate all those eggs from female fetuses, and place them in futuristic artificial wombs, in just one year, we would have 42 trillion babies!

In fact, hypothetically speaking, were it possible to manufacture artificial wombs fast enough and if we had the ability to travel throughout the universe with ease, by removing and fertilizing these unused eggs we could quite literally produce enough babies within a couple years or so, to overpopulate every habitable planet that exists within this entire universe (no matter how many billions of them there might be).

Perhaps that touches upon what Richard Dawkins was alluding to, when he wrote: “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia.”

Richard Dawkins is an eminent scientist whose published works have sold millions of copies worldwide. The God Delusion was translated into over 30 languages and became an international bestseller. Dawkins has an admirable ability to put into words thoughts and ideas that people love to read and quote from. Here is the continuation of that quotation I quoted from above:

“Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”

Being born, if you think about it, is indeed like a lottery (not a right). Only you’re infinitely more likely to win an actual lottery. It’s not just the fact you had to “beat the odds” of that one particular egg becoming the zygote that produced you (one chance in 6,500,000 evidently), but those odds are stupefyingly compounded when you consider these same odds existed for each one of your forebears, going all the way back to the very first H. sapiens, hundreds of thousands of years ago. And even that doesn’t take into account the myriad other factors such as deadly attacks by wild animals, famine, wars, natural disasters, and so on and so on, that also play a role in this “lottery” determining who will and who won’t be born.

Finally, I’ll wrap this up and bring this to conclusion on a melodic note. I’ll end with a link to a song written about Rosie Jimenez. Jimenez, according to Wikipedia, was “the first woman known to have died in the United States due to an unsafe abortion after the Hyde Amendment was passed.” The Hyde Amendment, in 1977, cut off Medicaid funding for safe medically-supervised abortions.” Just as I would hate to contemplate the thought of my mom dying this way, no woman or girl should ever have to die as a result of simply not wanting to carry a pregnancy to term. Carrying a pregnancy to term, or not, should be a choice, a personal decision, a right that should never be taken away. I find it ironic that so many of the people out there against vaccine requirements, don’t mind at all the idea of forcing pregnant women to carry pregnancies to term, whether they want to be pregnant or not. Here’s the song: Remember Rose: Song for Choice. It was written by Sandy Rapp, and performed with Bella Abzug.

[Note: To “call a spade a spade” means to speak plainly — to describe something as it really is;  to speak directly and blatantly;  to speak ‘the unvarnished truth.’ ” Alternatively, a better title for this blog post might be: “Speaking frankly about Roe v. Wade”]