Feel free to skip this post; it has very little to do with photography. It has to do mostly with my reaction to the Hobby Lobby decision handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS from now on).
In early 1959, my mother discovered that she was pregnant with me. She had already decided the “cut him off”, her way of saying no longer have sexual relations with her husband, my father. She was not happy in the marriage, and was planning to end it. But because abortion was not legal, but available and horrifically unsafe, she was forced to carry me to term. Shortly after I was born, she left my father and went to live with her mother in California.
Most of this I know because she later told me—even as a child she told me repeatedly that I should never have been born, that I was a burden, that she didn’t love me and never would. Toward the end of her life she relented a bit and said that while she didn’t love me, she hoped we could be friends, and apologized for the abuse she heaped on me. And yes, she did abuse me beyond telling me all those things. I was beaten regularly for minor infractions.
Let me be clear; Mother was later diagnosed manic depressive schizophrenic. She was often heavily sedated on Thorizine.
I have to agree with her; I should not have been born. Maybe her life would have been less hellish. But born I was, and here I am, a survivor of all sorts of abuse—not only as an unwanted child, but as a female. I’ve been beaten, raped, assaulted, harassed, intimidated, and discriminated against.
But on the other hand, I am a contributing member of society. I pay taxes, even for things I object to on moral and ethical grounds. I make art, too, i contribute to the beauty of the world around me, not by *being* beautiful, but by making beautiful images.
I am long past child bearing; I opted to have a tubal ligation at the US Navy’s and tax payer’s expense when I was still in my twenties. Prior to that, I went to Choice, Inc, a local clinic that dispensed The Pill, or IUDs at low cost.
I was still a virgin when I went on The Pill; I was asked why, and I said I’d met someone who interested me, and I knew that it took about a month for it to be effective against unwanted pregnancy.
Was I really that smart? No. I wasn’t. I was scared witless. My mother had shown me a gruesome picture of Gerri Santoro, dead and bloody in a hotel room, towels between her legs. I remembered it then and to this day. “I don’t want this to happen to you, Edie”, is what she said to me.
My mother had also taken me to rallies to make abortion legal and safe.
Understand me—China’s strictly enforced “One Child” law is as morally reprehensible as denying women safe and legal abortion. It’s about choice, letting the woman chose.
Now two forms of contraception are under fire because their opponents believe they cause abortion. IUDs and Plan B; but according to medical definition, they prevent pregnancy—they don’t allow the zygote to implant. A zygote is not a baby. It is not an embryo. It is a collection of cells that are rapidly growing. And it is safer to stop a zygote from implanting than to abort an embryo or fetus.
Interestingly, about half of all pregnancies abort spontaneously—and if you believe this is God’s will, that makes your God the busiest abortion provider in the universe.
IUDs have a bad reputation because of the Dalkon Shield, which was removed from the market because it caused pelvic inflammatory disease and sepsis, which can kill women. Even the newer, safer IUDs have some issues—such as severe cramping, bleeding, and uterine irritation. But for some women they work well, and for other women are the only kind of contraception they can use. But the idea is that the device stops pregnancy by killing sperm, or not allowing the zygote to implant, when pregnancy begins. It does not cause an abortion by strict medical definition.
Plan B is a new version of an old, old method: in the past women would drink tisanes made of specific herbs to induce their periods. If the zygote can’t implant in the intrauterine tissue, the pregnancy doesn’t begin.
The family of 5 people who own the corporation Hobby Lobby don’t agree with me. They seem to think that a zygote is morally equivalent to a baby, and even if the mother might die from her pregnancy feel it is wrong to provide insurance that provides IUDs and Plan B. They aren’t Catholics, they are evangelical Christians. The SCOTUS ruled in their favor 5-4.
So now any closely held corporation can request not to have to provide health insurance that provides something they don’t agree with based on their religious beliefs. Oddly, blood transfusions and vaccinations are exempt—sorry Jehovah’s Witnesses and Church of Christ Scientist, you still gotta buy insurance that provides those.
So what will happen to the women of child bearing age who work for Hobby Lobby and about 70 other closely held corporations? Well, the government may provide it for free; Hobby Lobby may still have to pay full price for insurance that doesn’t offer those contraception options. Or they may pay less; Or possibly the insurance company will absorb the cost. Meanwhile, other companies who have no compunction agains letting their workers make their own choices will have to pay more.
Hobby Lobby et al are forcing their religious beliefs on their workers, and/or shifting the burden to other corporations.
I’m 54 years old; I can’t believe I’m still fighting for women to have the right to chose when to have a baby. I began when I was less than 8 years old.
Let’s return to Gerri Santoro. You can read her story here: The Woman In The Photo Be warned: the photo is graphic. Gerri’s life ended horrifically; abused by her husband, abandoned in extremis by her lover, she died alone and in agony in a hotel room because she didn’t have access to contraception, and ultimately no access to safe and legal abortion. She was doomed to die, either by her husband’s hand, or a botched abortion.
In this age of cell phone cameras and digital photography, I’m bracing myself for lots more pictures of Gerri Santoro’s unfortunate, metaphorical sisters. I’ll blame the 5 justices of this SCOTUS.
And if you say she deserved to die, I say: Didn’t your Jesus die for her 2000 years ago? Who are you to condemn her to death, instead of possibly living to repent to her so-called sin? ”Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”