Swans Commentary » swans.com March 26, 2012  



Great Moments In Procreation


by Jan Baughman





"A society cannot be happy unless women are happy too."


(Swans - March 26, 2012)   In Aristotle's Egypt, women coated their cervixes with olive oil and used crocodile dung suppositories to prevent pregnancy. The Book of Genesis made reference to coitus interruptus. In 7th century China, coitus reservatus and coitus obstructus were practiced. In 9th to 10th century Islam, coitus interruptus was also practiced, and women used suppositories of elephant dung, cabbage, and pitch to block the cervix. Casanova, in the 18th century, reportedly used "assurance caps" -- early condoms, and in the 1870s in America, Congress criminalized the distribution of contraception across state lines.

In 1916, Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S., which ultimately led to the founding of Planned Parenthood. She was arrested for distributing information about contraceptives. Abortion was illegal and dangerous, back-alley procedures were performed. The first intrauterine devices were introduced in the 1950s. France lifted its ban on birth control in 1965. In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that women had a right to privacy, which included the decision to have an abortion. The Hyde Amendment in 1976 prevented federal funding for abortion (except in cases of rape, incest, or life-threatening conditions) for Medicaid women. State laws began to increasingly restrict access to abortion, with required waiting periods, parental or spousal notification, and more intimidating and humiliating measures to follow.

President Reagan introduced the Gag Rule in 1994, under which global organizations receiving US aid for family planning could not give out medical information about abortion. It was rescinded by Bill Clinton, reinstated by George W. Bush, and rescinded by President Obama. Viagra was approved in 1998. Pfizer's annual revenues from Viagra were $1,981,000,000 in 2011; $1,928,000,000 in 2010; $1,892,000,000 in 2009; $1,934,000,000 in 2008; $1,764,000,000 in 2007; $1,657,000,000 in 2006; $1,675,000,000 in 2005; and $1,678,000,000 in 2004. The U.S. spent $2,370,000,000 on publicly-funded family planning services in 2010. The Partial Birth Abortion Ban was passed in 2003, limiting late-term abortions in America. Presidents Bush I and II promoted abstinence-only sex education. In 2006, the teen pregnancy rate, birth rate, and abortion rate surpassed those of 2005, the first increases in more than a decade. In 2010, President Obama's Affordable Care Act required coverage for contraception in all new insurance plans. A proposed 2012 Arizona law would require women to provide proof to their employer that they require contraception for medical -- not contraceptive -- uses if insurance is to cover it. Texas governor Rick Perry signed a bill requiring all women undergoing an abortion to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound (at their expense) prior to the procedure. Numerous states are following suit. The Ohio Senate is pending a vote on the Heartbeat Bill, which would forbid abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

In 2012, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said that "It's [contraception's] not okay. It's a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." Men have purchased nearly $15 billion worth of Viagra in the past eight years alone, while women's reproductive rights have virtually vanished in the last decade. In 2012, Ohio state senator Nina Turner introduced a bill that would require men wishing to obtain a prescription for Viagra to undergo numerous evaluations, humiliations, and hurdles, similar to those required for women wishing to have an abortion. Florynce Rae Kennedy wrote, in her 1971 book Abortion Rap, "If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament."

America's twenty-first century's reproductive legacy is headed toward coitus illegalus, a return to back-alley abortions, and the use of crocodile suppositories for contraception -- without a modern-day Aristotle to apply formal logic to an otherwise faith-based assault on women's freedom of choice and privacy.


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Patterns which Connect

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Published March 26, 2012