Claudette Paige: Women will persist in controlling their lives |

Claudette Paige: Women will persist in controlling their lives

Other Voices
Claudette Paige

It always mystifies me how asinine and self-righteous some men can be when discussing their views on issues about which they absolutely have no understanding. Mr. Jim Goetsch's opinion piece was one such example of an arrogant and ludicrous, specious argument for abolishing abortion.

Mr. Goetsch is clearly ignorant of the fact that women throughout history have always found ways to rid themselves of unwanted pregnancies. Usually it was accomplished before the man was even aware she was pregnant. She found herbs that were abortifacients, bringing on menstruation with no one the wiser. Other women would drink lye, throw themselves down a flight of stairs, use coat hangers or broken soda bottles to insert into their vaginas to bring on bleeding, hoping the embryo had not yet implanted in the lining of her womb.

The idea that "life" begins at conception is another specious argument based upon religious belief and not physical reality. Many fertilized eggs never implant and are flushed out with the next menstrual cycle. In short, women are in charge of their bodies and always will be.

If life is so precious, I wonder how he feels about capital punishment? About the actual killing of "living human beings" who have been born, taken their own breath, and were loved by their mother.

Every woman has a compelling story about her reproductive life. As late as the 1950s, it was against medical practice to assist a woman who did not want to have any more children. My mother contracted polio when she was 19 and couldn't walk without crutches and a brace. She married a wonderful man who wanted to have children. "OK," she said. "But you will need to help me." My father wanted a family and made sure there were three to four years between pregnancies. When my mother became pregnant a fourth time at age 36 she begged the doctor to "help her." He couldn't perform an abortion, but he made sure she had no more children. Against his physician's oath, he tied her tubes when my brother was born. He did this procedure without her signed approval nor foreknowledge.

There was no record of this illegal act of compassion. It lived in the memory of my mother and subsequently in mine.

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My own story involves a moment of decision about the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy. My husband was an elementary school teacher. We had a 3 year old and 6 month old when the fear of another pregnancy loomed. Did my IUD fail me? Would I give "birth" to an unplanned baby along with my IUD, just as my neighbor did a year later? The idea of an abortion arose.

It was 1970, pre-Roe v. Wade. We didn't want to afford three children, nor have me have to go to work. I searched my soul and came to know I couldn't go through with it. You see, in addition to being pro-choice, I am also pro-life. Fortunately, I didn't have to continue my fears of having an unwanted child. My husband then made the decision that we would not have to face that stressful situation again. A vasectomy ended our fears. For 58 years, I have been forever grateful to him for his love and support.

Unlike my husband, Mr. Goetsch denigrates the idea of a "woman's right to choose" with the fatuous remark that a woman's right to choose "should be done prior to engaging in sexual intercourse." His claim that a "female fetus has the right to choose" too, is ludicrous. Our ancestors had a better solution: it was called a chastity belt.

I've shared the stories that have formed my long-held beliefs that all women have the right to choose their future by controlling their reproduction. I'm sure Mr. Goetsch has a story too. I'd be interested in knowing what his formative personal experiences have been that led him to his beliefs.

I welcome the opportunity to understand better why Mr. Goetsch feels he has the right to impose his beliefs on all the women and girls in the United States of America.

Claudette Paige lives in Grass Valley.

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