Maybe I need to get up close and personal with younger readers that have grown up complacent about the breakthrough of Roe versus Wade :
I was nine years old and sitting at the kitchen table, doing my homework one evening, when my parents walked into the kitchen, having one of their "conversations". My father was speaking in a low voice about a coworker who had given him contact information for somebody who would --
Suddenly my mother blurted out, "I'm not going to some back-alley abortionist, just get that through your head! You were there to make this baby, you can be there to take responsibility for it."
A few months later, on the morning of July 4, 1962, my parents had another conversation in the kitchen. This time it started about hotdogs. My father lost it completely and flew into what I later would learn was a homicidal bipolar rage. Horrified with my feet stuck to the floor and unable to move -- still nine years old, I watched my father kick my pregnant mother around the kitchen. By early the following morning she had begun to hemorrhage vaginally. My father woke me from my bed and brought me downstairs. He told me that I was to stay in my parents' bed until he returned from taking my mother to the emergency room -- just in case my younger sister or brother woke up while both parents were out of the house.
I asked why I couldn't just stay on the sofa. No, I had to stay in their bed even though my mother's half of it was drenched in blood. There was blood down the hallway floor and all over the bathroom floor and the toilet. The one concession that my father did make was that I did not have to clean up the blood; he would mop up the mess when he got home. My mother said nothing; she was looking rather pale.
So, there I lay until my siblings woke up and our father came home.
Our youngest sister was delivered by caesarean section in a "good Catholic" hospital in West Islip, Long Island, New York, on July 6, 1962. There the clerics forbade the surgeons to perform a tubal ligation for my mother before sewing her up after the caesarean section -- all the better to foist their sectarian doctrines on a woman who now had four children to rear as well as her newly diagnosed diabetes mellitus. My father refused to buy my mother the post-surgical girdle needed to help heal her abdominal muscles because he was too cheap. So, my mother went through the rest of her life with a distended belly because she could not afford the corrective "cosmetic" surgery -- especially after my father deserted the family; married another Catholic woman; and had four more children with his second wife.
For decades I listened to assinine platitudes that I was just being neurotic about my parents' unhappy marriage. That may be so, but I was also right about my father being crazy. Independent medical proof finally arrived the day my brother cleaned out our father's medicine chest after he had died and found his V.A. prescription vial full of lithium tablets. My father never went for a diagnosis, much less treatment, until he retired from the U.S. Army Signal School. Psychiatric diagnosis, no security clearance. No security clearance, no job. No job, no money. And that was the one thing my father, having grown up in the Great Depression, simply could not bear. He just let the rest of us bear the brunt of his undiagnosed, unmedicated bipolar antics for seven-and-one-half decades.
Accordingly, I do not give a tinker's damn what some doctrinaires in Rome or their political lackeys in Columbus, Ohio, presume to think they know about my life, my morals, or my decision to complete or to abort my pregnancy. The only cleric I pay attention to when it comes to my reproductive life is that Augustinian Gregor Johann Mendel and his seminal work with pea plants. Knowing that bipolar disorder runs rampant on my father's side of the family, I chose to abstain from motherhood for damned good reasons. Knowing that Roe versus Wade was there to protect me in case I slipped up -- or was raped -- gave me the sense of security I needed. How you young women in Ohio today propose to assert your reproductive healthcare rights in light of the bastardized legislation promulgated by the 129th Ohio General Assembly is beyond me.
THIS IS YOUR FUTURE IF YOU FAIL TO LEARN FROM MY PAST...
It may be politically incorrect these days to use the term "idiot fringe", but the fact remains that idiots are just as dangerous on the political right as they are on the left. Politics has never been foolproof, and bigots mixing politics with sanctimony are the most dangerous kind of idiot on the American right. So take care what you vote for lest you get it.
Postscript: This post updated periodically in honor of Ohio Women's Lobby Day, March 21, 2012.