Who said the following? “The fetus is the property of the entire society. Anyone who avoids having children is a deserter who abandons the laws of national continuity.”
A. Rush Limbaugh
B. Rick Santorum
C. Mitt Romney
D. None of the Above
Give up? It was none other than Nicolae Ceausescu, the Communist dictator of Romania who criminalized abortion in 1966, one year after he assumed power. That’s right, GOP contenders: a commie outlawed not only abortion, but contraception and sex education.
We already know about the Republican party’s war against women: the massive defunding of Planned Parenthood, Mississippi’s (thankfully) defeated Personhood Amendment and other kooky state initiatives, including Arizona’s proposed bill that would allow doctors to lie about birth defects in order to stop terminations.
But back to that commie. So draconian were Ceausescu’s policies that the only way for women to obtain legal abortions during his regime were women who had already given birth to four children or had high ranking in the Communist Party. In another gross infringement on privacy rights, government agencies, colloquially referred to as the “Menstrual Police” forced women to take pregnancy tests; those who repeatedly failed to reproduce had to pay a “celibacy tax.”
Within one year of the abortion ban, the birthrate doubled, as Ceausescu intended. But it came at quite a cost. As Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner write in “Where Have All the Criminals Gone?“, “…these children would turn out to have particularly miserable lives. Compared to Romanian children born just a year earlier, the cohort of children born after the abortion ban would do worse in every measurable way: they would test lower in school, they would have less success in the labor market, and they also prove much more likely to become criminals.” Wait a minute… higher crime rates? You mean the perennial enemy/fear tactic of Republicans?
Turning our attention back home (and back in time), what about the health hazards American women faced before abortion became legal? In the February/March 2012 issue of Bust, Jill Angellotti examines what the situation was like pre-1965. A woman under the pseudonym Ruth Morrison details the trauma she faced, first of meeting up with a so-called doctor and enduring a termination with “little or no anesthetic” followed up with a 30-day hospital stay during which she required six blood transfusions. Of course, because transfusions were unscreened in the 1960s, Morrison “…was diagnosed with one of the worst recorded cases of hepatitis in the state of New York.” (pgs. 60-61)
To quote George Carlin, “These pro-life conservatives are really something…They will do anything for the unborn. But once you’re born, you’re on your own. There’s no neo-natal care, no free lunch, no nothing…if you’re pre-born, you’re fine; if you’re preschool, you’re fucked.”
Although Republicans are virulently opposed to anything they believe smacks of socialism, they share a spookily similarity to dictators, both communist and fascist, who have banned abortion for religious or nationalistic purposes. Ms. Morrison eloquently sums it up: “I pray that women in this country never again have to risk health and well-being, or have to rely upon knowing the right person to have access to choice… whether legal or illegal, abortion will always be sought.”
So let’s make sure that it’s always accessible and safe.