Revolting

In 1973 the Supreme Court of the United States of America in its Roe vs. Wade decision ruled that the Constitution protected the right of a pregnant woman to choose an abortion.

49 years later, the “same” Supreme Court overturned that decision, thus taking away every individual woman’s choice and handing it over to each individual state. It is likely that half the American states will ban abortion.

Allow me to present two cases. What? Two? Only two? Yes, two. In my life I’ve probably done close to a million interviews. Large, international or national samples. But I like the “sample of one” theory. The “sample of one theory” states (I just made it up) that a sample of one individual is representative of many other individuals. How many? We don’t know. But a few. Quite a few.

Case number 1. Her name was Inge. Not her real name of course. She was German. Not her real nationality either. She studied in the same French Lycée abroad where I finished high school. Over there in Africa. She was a couple of years back but she dated a good friend of mine in Senior High. Let’s call him Robert. Robert and I graduated from High School in 1970 and went our separate ways to College in France. Inge convinced her parents to send her to study in France. The times they were a-changing: he parents agreed. Inge and Robert kept on dating.

Around April 1971, Robert called me. He said Inge had got pregnant but he’d found a good clandestine clinic near my house in Paris, and would I go with him to visit Inge? I thought “Okay… Not sure Inge would be totally at ease, but friends are friends.”

Abortion was totally illegal in France then, but my friend had money, or rather his parents had, so they picked a posh clandestine abortion clinic in a posh neighbourhood. Yes, I lived in a posh neighbourhood. What can I say?

I still remember the clinic, the street. The clinic is still around. I walk by from time to time when I’m in Paris. Robert gave his name in reception; we were ushered into a luxury single room. Inge was fast asleep… She looked totally at peace. She’d made it. Safe. They later married and had three kids.

Inge was lucky. There was money around to give her the best attention based on her choice. At that time, it was calculated that thousands died in France every year due to clandestine abortion.

In 1975, Simone Veil, Ministry of Health under the Presidency of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing promoted – and passed – a law that made abortion legal in France. Veil was a concentration camp survivor where she’d been sent to with her family just for being Jewish. A fine and respected woman. Yet, I still remember the debates in the French Congress. The endless insults thrown at her by Congressmen. Not many women in Congress then. But the law passed. Abortion became legal in France.

Case number 2. Thirty something years later, beginning of the 21st century, one of my top research executives got married, we were invited to her wedding. Let’s call her Valentina. She had a kid. Took a long leave of absence (together we invented home office for her). We went to the baptism. She came back to work full time. Then had another kid. Another baptism. Leave. Back to the office. Then she got pregnant again.

In Mexico city at that time, abortion was illegal. It was only legalized a few years later in 2007, and only in the city. Incidentally, in many countries in Latin America, a miscarriage is still considered a criminal offence. And the “culprit” can do jail time.

Valentina decided she couldn’t have a third child. But abortion was illegal. Her gynecologist decided to do a clandestine abortion in her medical office. And things went bad. Valentina started bleeding massively. The doctor had no oxygen nor defibrillator. Valentina died before the ambulance arrived. She left two little kids and a bereaved husband. She was 35.

Those are true stories. Just changed the names. Sample of two? Thousands and thousands of women have gone through this. And will again and again.

Now, in 2022, half a century after Roe vs. Wade, six non-elected black robes decided that it was in their power to revoke women’s liberty of choice.

Revolting.

Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo.

147 thoughts on “Revolting

  1. Utterlly revolting.
    And, as you know, the lists of women and the various reasons (not that ANY are anyone’s busines) are varied and long. None should matter. A woman’s body is her own. Period.

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  3. A miscarriage is a crime? I have read that in some of the states in America they also sue women who miscarried. That is more than revolting, that is lunacy. Young women often abort their first pregnancy(ies), not their fault at all. I am surprised that women still dare to get pregnant in those countries/states.

    • Lunacy it is… My youngest could give you more details, she’s a specialist on gender issues. She has studied that particular issue in Latin America.
      Lunacy…

  4. I have never watched the Handmaids tale as it looked too abusive for me.
    What the hell went wrong here?
    Why is America so fearful that they retreat to hard line religious and social perspectives and guns? Why is there no separation of church paradigms and state objectivity?
    Why give so much power to individual states in a matter of national importance? It isn’t the wild west any longer. This decision has far reaching implications and globally woman are sad. And women will die because of men. That court has just approved the needless murder of pregnant women. Perhaps it will be their own who die too?

  5. Well said Brian, I like your sample theory, it is personalised and real rather than just a statistic. You have laid out the issue so clearly.

  6. From what I’ve read they were interpreting the Constitution where there was no provisions for abortion in first place therefore Roe V wade was unconstitutional and an abuse of power. If so then it can be argued that in order to make abortion legal they had to abuse their rights and privileges as Judges on Supreme Court

  7. Powerful piece. I must say this decision has been quite a blow. Progress? Equality? Rights? Where have they gone? This country, perhaps the world, needs to be saved. We are so far down the rabbit’s hole I don’t know what will become of us. It sounds cliched but we need a hero. I pray it’s soon.

    • At last someone is calling for a hero. They have their pros and cons, but it’s not just the US, France, Europe, Latin America, not to mention Africa… (Asia was doing very well, until China got crazy ideas…)
      Not one of the current world political personnel seems “à la hauteur”.
      It makes me think of my grandfather, a WWI veteran when the Nazis came back 2o years later…

  8. It’s a matter of disgrace. Being unable to decide for oneself. Having and raising a child is a lifelong responsibility. And the glitches often hit the child worse than any other. And what about those cases where an abortion is the only way out of misery? I think the photo is a huge glimpse of present times rewinding into some medieval bullshit.

  9. This can only be described as evil!
    I read on the BBC only last night that in El Salvador, women can get a 30-year prison sentence for a miscarriage as it’s seen as deliberate! I can’t even begin to comprehend this…

  10. It’s sick that women’s rights are being eroded.
    I’ve been trying to write my 2 stories, about friends . One is about a teen who did the coat hanger thing, the other a child of a rape. Two of the most effed up people I ever got involved with, they have not been my friends for a long time.
    Anyway, thanks for your support! xx

  11. Wow, Brian! This post is perfect … your ‘Sample of Two’ is more than sufficient, says more than 100 voices vying for space would have. We are supposed to mature as we age, and the same is said of nations … that progress comes from age and experience. But today in the U.S., (and other nations as well) it seems that with each passing year for the past decade or so, we keep taking steps backward instead of forward. In 1994, Congress banned military-style assault weapons from the civilian population. Gun deaths decreased significantly. The ban expired in 2004 and Congress has since refused to even discuss putting it back into place. Fifty years ago, the Supreme Court gave women the right to control their own body, and last week the Supreme Court took that right away. Now they are discussing also taking away the right to obtain birth control, the right to marry a person of the same gender, and more. WHY do we keep moving backward? Is it that as a result of climate change, people’s brains are being adversely affected? I’m at a loss to understand. Thank you, Brian, for this moving and spot-on post!

    • Why? I have a sad theory. As new people are born, memory of the past horrors fade away, and the urge to destroy becomes stronger. P*tin is ready to start a WWIII. Because though he knows there were 20 million Russians killed in WWII, it’s just a number to him. He thinks he will win. He won’t. But he will try all the same. Pissing contest. (Pardon my French)
      In the case of the “Supremes”, they have overextended their mandate. Checks and balances are gone. Time to shuffle things again, and take a hard look at your constitution… Our our way of government in the West in general. Who’s gonna do it? Nobody.
      Thanks for your comment and visit Jill. Stay safe.

      • Your sad theory is one that I have long expounded on. I remember my grandparents and great aunt & uncle telling me of their first-hand experience in the Holocaust, and my dad telling of his wartime experiences. It was all so very real to me because the people closest to me had experienced the horrors and told about them with a passion born of experience. I passed the same stories on to my own children, but it wasn’t the same … I wasn’t there, so I couldn’t have the same passion. And now they are adults, they are parents, and I don’t think they probably even think of those stories anymore. With time and distance comes forgetting, and with forgetting comes the assurance that we will repeat the mistakes of the past.

        There is much wrong in the world and I must learn that I cannot fix it all, I can only try to be the best person I can, use my voice to try to help people understand what they need to understand, cast my vote for those who might just make the world a little better, and that’s about the limit of my abilities to change the world.

      • Sigh… 😉 I agree totally. I have the memory of WWI because I knew two people who were in it. You have the memory of the Holocaust and the war because of your close family. Now, given the sorry state of History teaching just about anywhere… Nobody remembers or care…
        And yes, there is so little anyone of us can do… Frustrating… I’m actually thinking of putting my blog on hold, do another blog to try something else… I am confused…

      • And as if all that weren’t bad enough, today here in the U.S. states are opting for teaching a whitewashed version of history. I read today that Texas wants history teachers to refer to slavery as “involuntary relocation”. SAY WHAT??? 🙄 How are we ever to learn from the lessons of history if we paint it in pretty colours and act like it was just a misunderstanding???

        I would miss your blog, but do you have an idea already for what other blog you might do? Yes, I’m confused too, my friend … life has taken a funny turn of late in many countries, not only the U.S. Hang in, though … I can’t promise it will get better in our lifetimes, but … we’ve got our family and friends … sometimes that just has to be enough.

      • Involuntary relocation… LOL. How does Mr Thomas feel about that? Or maybe he will revoke Virginia vs. Loving? (Just to get rid of his wife?) 🤣
        Thank you about the blog. I like it too. I just need to think of a way to add something. Not sure whether it’s an entirely different blog or another type of post, or an addtitional blog. Don’t know.
        And yes, we have to hang on. For family and friends. I’m just very concerned about the apathy of friends… It’s like most don’t understand…

      • Good question! He probably doesn’t care, though … he seems to often forget about his ancestry. It’s funny that when he was listing the things the Court will be looking at next term, he mentioned Obergefell v Hodges (same sex marriage), and Griswold v Connecticut (birth control), but nary a mention of Virginia v Loving!

        Just get away and try to relax, try to clear your mind for brief periods of time (yeah, I know, easier said than done), and somehow you’ll just know when you’ve hit on the right balance for your blog or blogs.

        You’re right apathy is the big concern. Like you, I have friends who think I’m a bit of a lunatic for my extreme interest in the political climate these past several years, they tell me to just focus on my own life, that the rest will fall into place and everything will work out because it always has done so. I want to smack some sense into them!

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  13. Their bodies, their choices. It is common sense. I am thankful that my daughters will never be denied of abortion. Singapore may be draconian in some ways like not legalising gay marriages, having death penalty and caning for vandalism but they will never reject abortion. Why? We can’t have too many unwanted babies around. Singapore is too small and easily overpopulate. As much as Singapore government is encouraging parents to have babies (due to low birth rate), they want the babies to be born from families that can comfortably afford raising children in this expensive city.

  14. I used to have a blog friend, a man, who regularly wrote anti-abortion posts and I thought that’s odd for a none religious younger man, it must be a big thing that is whipped up in the States? It is a massive decision for a woman and one I’m glad I’ve never had to make. The what if’s must haunt you. I hope they have enough places for the unwanted babies to go and can they even get free maternity care in the States?

    • Abortion is a delicate subject, which in own view is a perfect battle ground for the fight between Arbitrary and Liberty.
      Because of anti-abortion laws I lost a dear friend. her kids lost their mom. Her husband lost his wife. To me? That is a “none of your business issue”. No-one should interfere with a woman’s/couple decision.
      As for the States, I don’t know about free maternity care. Not much is free (of charge) in the US. 😉

  15. Pingback: Nude Talk + Book n Vid Inspo + Abortion + Pod47: K. Rooney’s Mojo | Happiness Between Tails by da-AL

  16. My state supreme court, Michigan, just voted to let voters determine whether to place abortion rights in the state constitution. Hard to believe that this is happening. Both sides will be churning through precious funding to convince people to vote one way or the other. It’s such a colossal waste but unfortunately necessary in our increasingly vulnerable democracy.

    • Abortion is so critical. It is just the tip of the iceberg. Do the people have the right to choose they way they want to live their life. Or will the state, and other “organizations” rule every aspect of your life. Decide which books you can read. Rewrite history. Ban books and writers from school.
      And it’s not just you. France is mined by un-Democratic undercurrents. Right and left. Not to mention Macron who keeps inventing “non-elected” structures as the new “Conseil National de la Refondation”… Grrr.

  17. Hi Brian / I will email you but wanted to leave a note here real quick – I would like to post your priorhiuse interview next week on Wednesday the 28th-
    Just checking to see if that works for you –
    And I love love love what you sent me – you have such a knack for writing –
    Okay – have a good day and I’ll email you this weekend
    Peace

  18. A powerful post, Brian. Absolutely revolting. As you conclude, “… half a century after Roe vs. Wade, six non-elected black robes decided that it was in their power to revoke women’s liberty of choice.” And behind this decision are men who are far removed from understanding women, fundamental freedoms, and obviously women’s rights. I was in the States when this came down, and the reaction was swift… Revolting. Well written and made so powerful by the emotional “examples” you provided. Thank you.

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