Always Wear Your Party Hat
ANOTHER BABY BOOM
What is it with all these unwanted pregnancies, already?
Tune in to Jerry Springer or Maury. So many women trying to figure out who the father of their child is. So many men denying they had anything to do with it. Cut to the cute, innocent baby who is the unwitting cause of all this sad commotion. Fortunately, DNA testing is a giant leap forward--not only in quickly uncovering the truth of the matter, but in saving some poor innocent souls from death row for good measure.
When I was in college, I had a number of--well--brief encounters. But I always had the foresight to dutifully wear my diaphragm. I never wanted children, never wanted marriage--despite two long-term relationships. The first one lasted twenty years. The second one has seen seven years and counting. Maybe if I'd married these men I would have jinxed it. In any case, I was always a maverick, and hated every cheesy wedding reception I ever attended. So bourgeois, so predictable. And so likely to lead to divorce, along with children who are traumitized by bitter custody battles.
My boyfriend BG has an even more colorful past, including two marriages, various relationships, and countless dalliances. Back in the day, STD's were not as much of an issue as they are now. But BG often neglected to wear his "party hat"--his nickname for condoms--and as a result his parents probably have at least one grandchild out there somewhere they'll never know about.
Granted, BG made every attempt to do the honorable thing. He offered to marry the woman he had apparently impregnated, who already had one child from a previous relationship. But she had no desire for marriage, and indeed intended to abort the baby. However, being the wild party girl she was, after gathering funds from friends to get an abortion in another state, she instead checked herself into a hotel room for several days and got good and drunk. (Very healthy for the baby to be, I might add.)
HAPPILY EVER AFTER?
Aside from the nice normal folk who do it the "proper" way--marriage, children, divorce, second marriage, children, divorce, etc. etc. ad nauseum--thus putting their kids through the stress and pain of a fractured family--there are also the myriad women I see shlepping strollers up and down the subway steps, with no hubby to help them. Many of them are poor, and have to struggle to raise their children all alone, or perhaps with the help of grandma. Many of them who apparently thought that having a child would result in a blissful life of perfect, cute, perpetually smiling and cooing little angels have quickly experienced a rude awakening. But puzzlingly enough, that doesn't seem to give them pause as they produce one illegitimate child after the other after the other. However, many may simply not have had ready access to free birth control and other family planning services-- which leads to my impassioned diatribe, which will follow shortly.
The stress of it all must be unbelieveable. Way too many times, I've witnessed an angry and frustrated mother shrilly bellowing at her cowed child: "Shut your motherf#cking mouth! I'm gonna beat the sh#t out of you!" Not to mention the doubtless millions of kids who are abused not only emotionally, but physically and/or sexually. And then there's the "enlightened" parent who cows before their child's tantrums by performing constant contract negotiations in the toy store: "OK, sweetheart, if you stop screeching I'll get you that astronomically priced gadget that I can't afford. And then, we can go for a nice ice cream cone. How does that sound, precious?"
I don't normally get actively involved in too many political or social causes, but I received a letter from Planned Parenthood the other day that had me hastily whipping out my checkbook. The letter read, in part:
"Planned Parenthood has become the target of religious political extremists simply because we are so important to so many people. By destroying Planned Parenthood, they would win the ultimate battle: defeeat reproductive rights and destroy our right to choose."
The details were chilling.
Although "opinion polls show that the vast majority of Americans believe in reproductive rights and support comprehensive, medically accurate sex education...Those who would put Planned Parenthood out of business include "the politically powerful Christian Coalition and the violently radical Operation Rescue/Operation Save America."
"All of these groups are politically astute, extremely well funded, and have a fanatical--often militant--approach to achieving their goals: Outlaw abortion. Cut public support of family planning. Stop responsible sex education in the schools. Put Planned Parenthood out of business....
"I hope you agree that it is outrageous to attack the one organization that is doing more than any other organization to help so many people prevent unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion. Currently in America, half of all pregnancies are unintended, and half of all unintended pregnancies end in abortion. So you would think, regardless of one's position on abortion, we should all do everything possible to prevent unplanned pregnancies....
"Planned Parenthood affiliates prevent 282,000 abortions each year by preventing unintended pregnancies...But the same anti-choice, anti-woman organizations that rail against abortion want nothing more than to dismantle family planning programs that make abortion less necessary."
Now, I adamantly believe in pro-choice, although personally I would be devastated if I had to have an abortion. My ex and my current boyfriend, BG, are both products of Catholic families who did not practice birth control. What would my world be like if either of them had been aborted? In addition, both families toughed it out, struggling to support their large families, and staying married til death to they part. But that was still their personal choice to make.
I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I LIKE TO DO AS I DAMN WELL PLEASE.
I hate extremists, hypocrites, fanatics, and proselytizers of any stripe. I am verily annoyed at the religious folk who continually bang on BG's door hoping to "save" him by convincing him to embrace Jesus. I despise the newfangled "black Jews" (by the way, there are true black Jews out there, as well as Japanese and Indian Jews, so that's not what I mean) who spit their bigoted, hateful vitriol every Saturday on Fordham Road at top amplified volume. But I still believe they have every right to speak--I just wish they weren't so loud. I don't like the Religious Right, whose hypocrisy often knows no bounds (witness those televangelists who were caught cheating while preaching fidelity and chastity). .I resent the fact that the Catholic church has such an appaling record of protecting priests who have taken a vow of chastity, yet secretly molest innocent children. And most of all, I am enraged by those dangerous, megalomaniacal "moralists" who think they can convince the world to "just say no" to extramarital sex--despite sex being a basic and undeniable human function--by seeking to ban contraception and abortion.
In short, I believe everyone has the right to their personal beliefs, and the right to voice them. But I do not believe that Far Right extremists have the right to control other's right to choose, expecting the world to "see the light" and stop copulating out of wedlock.
I urge anyone who feels the way I do visit the Planned Parenthood site http://www.plannedparenthood.org/pp2/portal/ and help fight the good fight for freedom of choice.
End of diatribe.