Friday, April 8, 2011

Debating Planned Parenthood

In 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States made abortion legal in the case Roe versus Wade. In 2011, there is a debate in Congress as to whether Planned Parenthood, which performs some abortions, should continue to receive government funding. Currently Planned Parenthood cannot use government funding for abortions.

A person has the choice to believe that abortion is right or wrong. However, abortion is legal in this country and has been for almost 40 years. Why then is Planned Parenthood prohibited from using government funds to pay for abortions? Why then are the Republicans wanting to deny funding to Planned Parenthood because they perform abortions?

The Republicans and all members of the legislative, executive, and judiary branches of the government took an oath to uphold the constitution. The constituent does not address the issue of abortion in any way. The Supreme Court held that the right to privacy clause in the 14th amendment extends to a woman's right to an abortion. Therefore, until such a time that the constitution is amended to take away women's rights, every member of the Federal government must perform their duties in such a way that does not interfere with a woman's right to privacy, which includes a right to get an abortion according the Supreme Court.

Does that mean that Planned Parenthood should continue to be funded? Not necessarily. The government can choose to fund or not fund any private organization. But they cannot remove funding because their personal beliefs are at odds with the mission of the organization. They must instead base any decision to fund or remove funding on what is good for the people and this country.

Many would say that removing funding from Planned Parenthood would put more of a burden on society than funding it would. If a woman does not have access to low-cost or no-cost healthcare which includes pap smears, breast exams, birth control, and yes, even abortions as they are legal in this country, then more babies will be born into poverty and need government assistance, more women will not seek prenatal care so that more babies will be born needing extra medical care, and more women will die because they did not get screenings for cancers that can be cured with early detection. Since the women who seek care at Planned Parenthood are often low-income, the burden on the government will actually increase because more women and children will need medicaid and more of them will need more expensive curative medical care.

So, the question is not whether administering abortions should keep Planned Parenthood from being funded, the question is whether we can afford to not fund Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood should not be punished for performing procedures which are legal in this country. If we defund Planned Parenthood because they fund abortions, will we stop allowing medicare payments to doctors who perform abortions? Members of Congress, I say to you, follow the law and not your personal beliefs, as the oath you took states.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Life Stories and Other Works of Fiction

I don't remember the first time I fell down. I'm sure I was like most babies and fell down a lot when I was learning how to walk. I do remember learning about falling down. I learned that you should not cause others to fall down, even if you are only two.

My mema was my father's mother and she never liked me. I know what you are saying, that I imagined it. That she really did like me and you are sure she loved me. Grandmothers always love their grandchildren. Well, I know for a fact that she didn't like me. It all started when I was two. I don't remember being two but I've heard the story more than once.

Mema was coming up the back steps when I pushed the screen door open. She fell down and broke her crown. Oh wait, wrong story. But she did break her hip. And it was my fault. Even at two I should know not to open the door when someone is coming up the steps. Mema told me over and over again how I broke her hip. My mother told me how mema blamed me. I spent the rest of my childhood being the best child I could so that my family would love me. Even though my mother loves me dearly and I always knew she loved me, I lived in fear that if I caused her or anyone else in my family harm, that love would disappear.

Goody two shoes, that's what they called me. I was the one who cleaned my room without being asked. I was the one who didn't speak until spoken to. I was the one who made all A's. But I couldn't be perfect. As much as I tried, it didn't work. I was the one who wet my pants. I wet my pants at the most inopportune times. At the store, in the car, at school. I tried so hard but I just could not hold my water. The doctor said I didn't empty my bladder all the way. So he emptied it for me.

Interestingly enough, my mother said I was the easiest to potty train. She dressed me in ruffly pants (I was the first girl) and told me not to wet them so I didn't. Things started well but somewhere I went awry. Somewhere I began to "not empty my bladder" so that then I'd have to go an inappropriate times. Not being able to hold my water, I wet my pants. One solution was to make me sit on the toilet. Not sure how that was supposed to work since I sat with the lid down and my clothes on.

Then I was diagnosed with bladder infections. Chronic bladder infections. Solution, tetracycline. The antibiotic of choice during the late sixties and the reason many of the later baby boomers have yellow teeth and fingernails. A small price to pay. The reason I was having all of these bladder infections must be because I didn't empty it completely. What other reason would there be for a child under the age of 9 to have a bladder infection? Must be some fault of the child's.

Did I mention that mema was my father's mother? Yes, my father was a part of my life. Too much a part of my life. He was of the generation that thought children should be seen and not heard but that didn't stop him from making himself heard, very loudly. I lived in fear of my father. Oh, at school I bragged about my father saying he could beat up all the other dads. Like children do. But at home, I tried to stay as far from him as possible. We all did. My father was not someone who's love I tried to win. Mostly, I tried to not make my father angry because it didn't take much to make him angry.

However, my father always thought of me as his little girl. A daddy's girl. But unlike most little girls, that gave me the creeps. Anytime my father touched me, I cringed. And I'm not talking about inappropriate touching, I don't have any memories of him touching me inappropriately. There was the time when I was 13 that he made me touch him inappropriately but that's a different story. This story is before that. This story is before my memories.

My memories start when I was eleven. I have scattered memories before that but they are just that, scattered. One of my first memories is teaching my oldest brother (B1) how to have sex. I'm not sure how old I was but I hadn't started grammar school yet. My brother was in kindergarten. The next memory I have is when I was in kindergarten and I learned my ABC's before my other brother (B2) who is a year older. He was the "bad" one because he didn't like his food to touch and he would eat right out of the refrigerator. Plus he was sick the whole first year of his life.

My mema liked B2 the best. She told him that and she told him that my mother didn't love him. If my mother loved him, she wouldn't have let him get scaled by hot water when he was a baby. Another early memory is when we visited mema and she gave him a dime for the store but not the rest of us. She said it was because he was special. He's a homeless, crack addict now but that's a different story. He is special as we all are and I miss him terribly.

So, at two, I learned a very important life lesson. Do not push people down the stairs if you want them to love you. I think this is good advice if you add two words--"on purpose." Do not push people down the stairs on purpose if you want them to love you.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fall Down, Get Up

There is a saying, "Fall down seven times, get up eight." I think I've fallen down a hundred times and gotten up ninety-nine. Can one really fall down only seven times and get up eight times? How can you get up if you don't fall? Kind of like saying I dropped seven matches but I picked up eight. The math just doesn't add up for me.

So, for me, I can't count how many times I fallen (for real, with the scars to prove it!) or metaphorically but I know I usually bounce back. Can I say that I have bounced back completely every time? No. Hence, the ninety-nine. I'm think I'm fairly whole these days but can one ever be one hundred percent?

But I think that most people do survive, move on, do the necessary. We have to because there is no other choice. And life is all about choice. One can choose to stay down or one can choose to get up. Regardless of why we get up, we do. We get up because our parents say get up. We get up for the children. We get up because it is the right thing to do.

I think about the women (and some men too) in ages past that went away to "sanitoriums". Life was too much for them. I don't long for those days because of the status women had as the "weaker sex" but I do think it would be nice sometimes to be able to go away to some place like that because life is too much. Meals provided on schedule, housework done, nothing to do but rest and read a book. Write in a journal.

When is the last time we heard of someone going away to a place like that? And, no, I'm not talking about the celebrities going to rehab. Your average every day working (at home or away) woman with children. First, do we even have any "sanitoriums" left and secondly, who'd take care of the children? Maybe there weren't really that many women who went to sanitoriums. Maybe it was just in the movies.

Maybe we've always just done what needed to be done. I know I have. I wonder how people are able to not do what needs to be done. Like working. I've never considered not working, not getting up in the morning and doing what needs to be done. I got up and cared for my children, I got up and went to work, I got up and cleaned the house. To me, the thought of not doing these things is frightening.

So here I am getting up again. Did I fall? Not necessarily. Maybe that's the point. You don't have to fall in order to get up. You get up regardless. So maybe I have fallen one hundred times and gotten up one hundred and fifty. Now make that one hundred and fifty-one as I get up and get to work doing the things that are necessary because that is what one does.