“Perish if you wish; I am safe.” (Jean-Jacques Rousseau)

Russian Abortion Poster

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Perish if you wish; I am safe.” (Jean-Jacques RousseauThe Discourse on InequalityPart One, more than a paragraph after Note 15)

Canada’s Omnibus Bill: ‘There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation’ (The Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1967) CBC* Digital Archives

*CBC: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

“Perish if you wish; I am safe.” (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Discourse on InequalityPart One, more than a paragraph after Note 15)

These words are uttered by the philosopher or person who uses reason only.  He always sleep peacefully.  He is not endowed with the pity/compassion that moderates self-love (l’amour-propre or l’amour de soi-même) in the savage(Part One, more than two paragraphs after Note 15)

The Romney-Ryan Team

Allow me to place in the proper mouths, the mouths of extremists in theRepublican Party, Rousseau’s “Perish if you wish; I am safe.”  I may be wrong, but I suspect that the reason these Republicans can speak like choir-boys on the subject of planned parenthood is that they are sufficiently wealthy to fly to countries where birth-control is available and inexpensive as well as to countries where abortions are not criminalized.  They can also pay a doctor the “right” fee.  In other words, I suspect a substantial degree of hypocrisy.  “Perish if you wish: I am safe.” (On rape, see The Washington Post).  On the “Gag Rule,” see The Huffington Post).

In fact, hypocrisy may not be the only sin.  We are also looking atinequality and at an unjust society.  The rich and wealthy will have a freedom that will be denied the poor.  As I have indicated in earlier blogs, the rich and the wealthy do not need health-insurance.  They can pay for medical treatment and medication.  Well, let’s raise that curtain again: the wealthy, wealthy women, need not give up controlling how many children they will have and when these children will be born.  This is again something they can buy.  In fact, they can also afford several children and help galore, in which they are very fortunate (no pun intended).  They are therefore saying: “Perish if you wish; I am safe.”

So it could be that the debate is not about morality

So, if Republicans are against planned parenthood and abortion, I am inclined to think it has little to do with morality.  I hope I’m wrong, but the debate about abortions seems such a convenient  front.  They will attract the votes of persons who are against abortion and who think naively that because a party does not criminalize abortion, members of that party are for abortion.  This is not the case and there are very real drawbacks to criminalizing abortion.  For instance, what are doctors to do when an abortion is an imperative?

Tying up the hands of doctors: unfit women

An abortion may indeed be an imperative.  What does a doctor do, assuming a woman can afford to see a doctor, if a woman’s life is at risk, if the fetus is abnormal, if she is taking medication that can harm the child, if she is taking drugs or is an alcoholic or if she cannot otherwise face a pregnancy, etc.  What can a doctor do if his or her patient is poor or a woman of humble means?  Under privatized health-insurance, it may again be privatized, not only will these unfit women be told that they are suffering from a pre-existing condition, but if an unfit woman consents to an abortion and a doctor intervenes, he or she, i.e. the doctor, and the unfit patient will face criminal charges.  “Perish if you wish; I am safe.”

Worst-Case Scenarios

A few years ago, I met a woman who had not slept since giving birth.  Her son was three years old but she could not look after him.  Nor could she work.  Fortunately, she lived in Canada so all that could be done, medically-speaking, was done at no cost to her.  However, I doubt that a doctor would have allowed a second pregnancy.   She was sick: severe postpartum depression.  Doctors need a little leeway.

Would that matters had been as they are now when my mother was having her babies. My poor mother carried a child every year knowing that the child would probably die in infancy of a congenital blood disease.  Her first children survived.  But she buried all the others.  I will spare you the number.  To make matters worse, in those days, a good Catholic woman could not say “no” to her husband.  Sexual intercourse was a duty (un devoir).  It was called: le devoir conjugal.  I fail to see what was good in having babies that would die.  This was cruelty.  And I also fail to see what was good in our attending a funeral or two every year.

Saying “no” as the only recourse

If Mr Romney is elected to the office of President of the United States, the only recourse women who are poor and “women of humble means” will have is the word “no” both outside and inside marriage.  There are husbands, such asCharles de Gaulle (rumor has it), who will not ask their spouse to engage in sexual intercourse if she is not prepared to carry a child and give birth to this child.

That is rather noble, but it isn’t very realistic in the case of most couples.  After a fine meal and, perhaps, one or two glasses of wine, hormones tend to take over, crippling intellectual resolve, particularly in younger people.  In fact, even we, older folks,  snuggle up from time to time and just may be induced to “play doctor.”

The above poster: reality

The above poster goes a long way into describing the situation poor and raped women will face (there is no “legitimate rape”) if planned parenthood is criminalized.  Before abortion was decriminalized in Canada, women, particularly unmarried women, who could not face a pregnancy, sometimes used tools that killed (metallic coat hangers) or went to charlatans and, in many cases, they committed suicide.  In the Quebec of my childhood, to avoid bringing shame on their family, young girls who got pregnant were sent to special institutions and when the baby was born, it was taken from them.  The babies were raised in an orphanage or adopted.  It would appear that some were sold.

So allow me to say that when it comes to a woman’s right to choose when and if she will have a child and her right to undergo an abortion when an abortion is necessary, I take matters very seriously.  It would be my view that a woman

  • should not be forced into a pregnancy, especially if she has been raped (there are no “legitimate rape”), including rape within marriage;
  • that she should act responsibly when she engages in sexual intercourse, as should her husband or partner.  Pregnancies can usually be avoided.  And I would like to point out
  • that there are cases when a doctor, with the consent of his or her patient, should be allowed to end a pregnancy.

On Day One: shackling women

However, if Republicans get into office, “On Day One,” not only will Mitt Romney call the Chinese “currency manipulators” and end the health-care reforms introduced by President Obama, but he will also shackle women who are poor and women of “humble means.”  Poor women and women of “humble means” will not have access to what is available to the rich.

The Conclusion

So scratch out most of the paragraph preceding the “On Day One,” because the conclusion is that “On Day One” women who are poor and women of humble means will be denied what will be accessible to the rich.  It will again be all about money and appearing virtuous when virtue is not part of the equation, but a convenient means to an end: being elected.  People who are against abortions will be fooled into thinking that are voting for the morally superior party.

Such is not the case.  If members of that party are elected they will impose on the poor repressive measures that seem virtuous, yet they will be hiding millions and billions, if not more, and demand tax cuts thus acting criminally.  So how can these persons talk about morality?  So wake up; it’s a smokescreen.  What they are saying is “Perish if you wish; I am safe.”

Make sure everyone knows that if the President does not criminalize abortions, it does not mean that he is for abortion.  

Canadians were lucky.  In 1967, future Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau got the Omnibus Bill passed.  One can access the details, including videos by clicking on Omnibus Bill, or CBC* Digital Archives.

Jan Kochanowski over the dead body of his daughter, Urszulka, by Jan Matejko

Micheline Walker©
October 28, 2012
WordPress
 
composer: Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe or Marin Marais
film: Tous les matins du monde (All the World’s Mornings)
performer: Jordi Savall
Sainte-Colombe playing the viola da gamba and dreaming of his wife.
 


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