Monday, February 27, 2012

The Triple Bind

Yesterday Don, Patrick and I visited our next-door neighbors and their newborn identical twin daughters, who were born prematurely on February 16. They're both beautiful and perfectly formed, like their parents and their older brother and sister. They are a loving, devoted family who will make the sudden doubling in the number of children in the family work for everyone. I wish every child could be born into a family like this.

Earlier in the day I attended an adult education session at my church outlining the youth sex trade in the U.S. Some of the kids forced into prostitution are fleeing abusive homes. Imagine the horror of finding that the world is even more brutal than the one you escaped from. Others are kids from loving homes who are lured by pimps into sexual slavery.

Most people agree that abortion is undesirable and should be avoided. Having said that, I don't believe that abortion, which has been legal and safe in this country since 1974, should be banned, even if that were possible. That genie is out of the bottle. Women have been ending unplanned pregnancies for centuries, often at great peril to their health. I've never understood why a civilized people would want to go back to a time when known medicine would be denied on supposedly moral grounds.

So I'm all for preventing pregnancies to reduce the need for abortion and increase the likelihood that more babies are born into families prepared to raise them in loving homes. But now on top of the right-to-life movement doing all they can to ban abortions, we've got another contingent who want to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides complete reproductive services to low-income women. They also seek to ensure that birth control and other reproductive services are not covered for employees of some religious organzations. For crying out loud. Wasn't family planning settled on fifty years ago as a societal good?

The third coil of the triple bind for women is that Viagra is still covered by most major health care insurers. Don't get pregnant. Don't have abortions. And be a darling--don't say no to a man with an everlasting erection.

There's no getting this straight, because it's good, old-fashioned crazy-making, designed to confuse women so much they don't know what to do. I can't make this crazy-making go away, any more than I could wish away unplanned pregnancy, abortion, and most especially, the scourge of Viagra.

I'll leave the moralizing to those who believe it's their business to tell other people when to have sex, who to have it with and whether or not to continue or end an unplanned pregnancy. All I can recommend is that you take the most prudent, moderate path--use contraception if you don't want to get pregnant.

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