Lazy Caturday Reads

Young girl with kitten, William Mulready, 1786-1863

Young girl with kitten, William Mulready, 1786-1863

Good Afternoon!!

I’m really struggling to get going on a post this morning. Each day this week the despair I’m feeling about the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned has escalated. I go to sleep thinking about it and when I wake up the reality of what is happening hits me again. It feels like the grief I have felt over a death or the end of a relationship. It’s not just the loss of women’s bodily autonomy either–it’s the sense that this will lead to the loss of other rights and then to the end of U.S. democracy.

I read this piece by British economist Umair Haque at Medium yesterday, and I’m not sure how seriously to take it. I do agree with him that Democrats are not fighting hard enough against GOP efforts to turn our country into a patriarchal theocracy.

I warned you the far right was seizing control of our societies. Do you believe me yet? We warned you. Because the list of people who understood this fact is long. It ranges from thinkers like Sarah Kendzior and Jared Sexton and I, to plenty of average, sane people. And yet the warning was ignored. Not just that — but mocked.

I’m going to tell you what comes next for America — and it isn’t pretty — but before I do, it’s worth taking a moment to review how utterly incredible this situation is to someone like me. I study social collapse. I predict social collapse — and I’ve never, ever been wrong about where it will strike. That’s because I’ve lived social collapse, over and over again.

Antonio Rotta, Italian, 1828-1903

Antonio Rotta, Italian, 1828-1903

And yet even I’ve never — never — seen anything as painfully, jaw-droppingly idiotic as what transpired in America. That’s the only word for it. Even in the societies I’ve seen collapse into theocracy, none of this would have happened. None of what? A member of a fanatical religious cult being appointed to the Supreme Court. An alleged sexual predator. A man whose wife openly plots coups. And then all of the people on our side — the side of democracy — in power insisting that they wouldn’t do what they were obviously going to do.

I have never, ever, ever seen this level of jaw-dropping mind-melting idiocy. Anywhere. From the Islamic World to Eastern Europe and beyond. Think about what it means for a second when someone like me says that.

Even in the most hardcore failed states I’ve seen, appointing these kinds of figures to the Supreme Court — religious nuts, sexual predators, coup-plotters — would not have been normalized. By way of denialIt would have been fought tooth and nail. In many of those nations, frankly, the military would have stepped in to prevent it. I’m not saying that’s a wonderful thing, I’m just saying something would have happened, apart from denial. Because to the entire rest of the goddamned world, it is stroke-inducingly obvious what happens when you appoint religious nutcases, sexual predators, and coup-plotters to the Supreme Court. They try to kill democracy.

I hope you’ll read the article and share your thoughts on it.

Yesterday Dakinikat posted this in the comment thread:

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this since I first read it and I’m not alone. Discussions about it have been dominating Twitter this morning.

And keep in mind, the quote in Alito’s footnote comes from a CDC report. Yes, you read it right: “the domestic supply of infants relinquished at birth or within the first month of life” is a reason to outlaw abortion. Rich couples need a “supply of infants” if they can’t conceive a child. Therefore women who don’t have the means to get an illegal abortion must be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term in order to supply infants to their “betters.” This is human trafficking, and before Roe it was accepted by society. There was an industry that literally stole babies and sold them to rich wannabe parents. It is still happening, but it’s more difficult because of the reduced “domestic supply of infants” post-Roe.

This is from Time in June 2021: The Baby Brokers: Inside America’s Murky Private-Adoption Industry.

Shyanne Klupp was 20 years old and homeless when she met her boyfriend in 2009. Within weeks, the two had married, and within months, she was pregnant. “I was so excited,” says Klupp. Soon, however, she learned that her new husband was facing serious jail time, and she reluctantly agreed to start looking into how to place their expected child for adoption. The couple called one of the first results that Google spat out: Adoption Network Law Center (ANLC).

Klupp says her initial conversations with ANLC went well; the adoption counselor seemed kind and caring and made her and her husband feel comfortable choosing adoption. ANLC quickly sent them packets of paperwork to fill out, which included questions ranging from personal-health and substance-abuse history to how much money the couple would need for expenses during the pregnancy.

Klupp and her husband entered in the essentials: gas money, food, blankets and the like. She remembers thinking, “I’m not trying to sell my baby.” But ANLC, she says, pointed out that the prospective adoptive parents were rich. “That’s not enough,” Klupp recalls her counselor telling her. “You can ask for more.” So the couple added maternity clothes, a new set of tires, and money for her husband’s prison commissary account, Klupp says. Then, in January 2010, she signed the initial legal paperwork for adoption, with the option to revoke. (In the U.S., an expectant mother has the right to change her mind anytime before birth, and after for a period that varies state by state. While a 2019 bill proposing an explicit federal ban of the sale of children failed in Congress, many states have such statutes and the practice is generally considered unlawful throughout the country.)

François Aimé Louis Dumoulin, Self portrait, age 78

François Aimé Louis Dumoulin, Self portrait, age 79

Klupp says she had recurring doubts about her decision. But when she called her ANLC counselor to ask whether keeping the child was an option, she says, “they made me feel like, if I backed out, then the adoptive parents were going to come after me for all the money that they had spent.” That would have been thousands of dollars. In shock, Klupp says, she hung up and never broached the subject again. The counselor, who no longer works with the company, denies telling Klupp she would have to pay back any such expense money. But Klupp’s then roommates—she had found housing at this point—both recall her being distraught over the prospect of legal action if she didn’t follow through with the adoption. She says she wasn’t aware that an attorney, whose services were paid for by the adoptive parents, represented her.

“I will never forget the way my heart sank,” says Klupp. “You have to buy your own baby back almost.” Seeing no viable alternative, she ended up placing her son, and hasn’t seen him since he left the hospital 11 years ago.

That’s how it works. In the old days, families sent their pregnant daughters to homes for unwed mothers, where their infants were taken at birth and passed on to adoption agencies. Read more about the adoption industry at the Time link. It’s a long article and well worth reading for background on the attitudes of people like Samuel Alito and Amy Coney Barrett. The Handmaid’s Tale is not far from reality.

In the bad old days:

From Yahoo News UK, here is an adoptee’s point of view: Voices: Roe v Wade: I’m an adoptee – adoption is not a ‘simple’ solution to abortion, by Melissa Guida-Richards.

It is essential that we recognise the trauma of forcing people to carry pregnancies to term and the issue with promoting adoption as the “simple” solution to parenting. If Barett’s views were to become the precedent for women and pregnant persons who do not wish to carry a child, we are turning into a society that is no better than The Handmaid’s Tale. We must consider the consequences of how the United States’s previous stance on abortion threw us into the Baby Scoop Era, where 1.5 million pregnant women and girls were sent to maternity homes to remain pregnant in secret until the baby was born and placed into adoption whether the mother approved or not.

Annual adoption numbers in the States have plummeted from 175,000 in the 1970s to around 125,000 in recent years. With over a million families looking to adopt (mostly infants) it is a recipe for disaster for this struggling business. Adoptive parents in the US typically pay between $20,000 to $45,000 for domestic private adoptions and between $15,000 to $40,000 for independent adoptions, while foster care adoptions are generally much less. We are facing an era where those in positions of power are pushing adoption for questionable reasons: a Supreme Court Justice who benefited personally from adoption is the perfect example of how white saviorism and toxic positivity in the adoption industry can encourage unethical policies and laws.

If we think of adoption as the solution to unwanted pregnancies and forced parenting, we need to consider that while previously there was a stigma surrounding unwed motherhood that influenced many pregnant persons to place their child for adoption, our society has since changed and more and more unmarried women are choosing to parent. When suggesting that women carry to term, place their children for adoption and then go about their lives, we are also ignoring the systemic racism in our country that targets Black and Brown people. Over 70 per cent of adoptive parents are white and the majority of children adopted are Black, Indigenous or persons of colour.

Nikolai Petrovich Bogdanov-Belsky, 1868-1945

Nikolai Petrovich Bogdanov-Belsky, 1868-1945

To suggest safe haven laws as the optimal solution, we are also ignoring the trauma of placing a child for adoption and the overarching effect that it will have not just on the birth parent, but current or future siblings, grandparents, and other family members. Adoption does not erase a child’s or parents’ genetic and biological desire to connect with not only their family members, but their culture as well. It does not erase the pain of a birth parent being separated from their flesh and blood. It does not negate the risk of pregnancy and birth complications that Black and Indigenous women are more likely to die from.

As an adoptee I have felt the trauma of not just being placed for adoption from a country that banned abortions, but the intergenerational wounds of my birth mother placing not just one, but three of her children for adoption. Abandonment, (or more gently put, placement of a child for adoption) is a traumatic event for children that can jeopardize a child’s development. It can also deeply wound families. From my birth mother, to myself, to my half-siblings that were adopted into a different family, to the children my birth mother parented, we have all been deeply affected by adoption.

Of course rich women will still be unencumbered by the new reality of abortion being illegal and many states, right? Not so say Rebecca Traister at The Cut: The Limits of Privilege. The new abortion regime is going to affect everyone.

In 2015, the Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “We will never see a day when women of means are not able to get a safe abortion in this country.” If you have paid attention to mainstream progressive politics in recent years, you have likely heard some version of this message: that privileged women — middle- and upper-class women, cis women, white women — are not going to experience much of a change to their circumstances when Roe v. Wade goes. In September 2021, on the day Texas’s sweeping anti-abortion lawSB8, went into effect, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts asserted that “when abortion is illegal, rich women still get abortions. Women with resources still get abortions.” It has become common wisdom, so much so that a December article on Bloomberg Law confidently predicted that “restrictive abortion laws will have little effect on professional women or those in their orbit.” [….]

But as we teeter on the threshold of the post-Roe world, it’s worth considering that the message that privileged women will be just fine is inaccurate and that its repetition, while well meaning, is counterproductive to the task of readying an unprepared public for massive and terrifying shifts on the horizon. It’s worth pointing out that it is simply not true that the reproductive options of white, middle-class, and even wealthy people are going to remain the same. Because while circumstances will certainly be graver and more perilous for the already vulnerable, the reality is that everything is about to change, for everyone, in one way or another, and to muffle that alarm is an error, factually, practically, and politically….

Anticipation, Victor Gabriel Gilbert 1847-1933 Frankrijk

Anticipation, Victor Gabriel Gilbert 1847-1933 Frankrijk

Today, unlike in the early 1970s, we have mifepristone and misoprostol, pills that are available by mail and are safe and effective in inducing abortions, which are then indistinguishable from miscarriages. Lots of people in lots of places can end their pregnancies in medically safe ways that do not entail dirty coat hangers. However, now that there are widespread means of delivering abortifacients, anti-abortion crusaders are intent on criminalizing their use. Which means the frightening new questions are not simply about access but about whether people who take these pills, or the people who provide them, will be prosecuted, fined, and put in jail for doing so. In any criminal-justice context, it is true that people of color and poor people will still suffer more, but do not underestimate anger at abortion seekers of all races — including white women of privilege — who attempt to assert independence and reproductive autonomy.

For the really rich, it is true: Traveling to get an abortion and evading prosecution will more or less be a cinch. But the chasm between really rich and everyone else gets deeper every day, and it is simply not true that a suburban white mom of three in Missouri or the teenage daughter of well-off Christian conservatives in Alabama will be in a position to get the abortion she needs when she needs it with ease and without risk to herself, her family, or the people willing to help her. Even crossing to another state to obtain an abortion may entail legal jeopardy as states consider various means to prohibit and criminalize abortion travel.

Again, please read the whole thing if you have time.

More articles to check out:

LA Progressive: Alito’s ‘Raw Judicial Power’: An Attack on Dignity, Autonomy, and ProgressWhat is the end game here for the U.S. Supreme Court’s right-wing majority? It’s not pretty.

Jill Lepore at The New Yorker: Of Course the Constitution Has Nothing to Say About Abortion.

Susan Matthews at Slate: The Constitution Wasn’t Written for Women.

The Washington Post: Clarence Thomas says he worries respect for institutions is eroding.

The Hill: Justice Thomas on SCOTUS decisions: People need to ‘live with outcomes we don’t agree with’

ProPublica: Draft Overturning Roe v. Wade Quotes Infamous Witch Trial Judge With Long-Discredited Ideas on Rape.

Take care everyone. These are desperate times, but it’s not over yet.

18 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Quoting from the ProPublica article on Matthew Hale:

    When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, in a draft opinion obtained and published this week by Politico, detailed his justifications for overturning Roe v. Wade, he invoked a surprising name given the case’s subject. In writing about abortion, a matter inextricably tied to a woman’s control over her body, Alito chose to quote from Sir Matthew Hale, a 17th-century English jurist whose writings and reasonings have caused enduring damage to women for hundreds of years.

    The so-called marital rape exemption — the legal notion that a married woman cannot be raped by her husband — traces to Hale. So does a long-used instruction to jurors to be skeptical of reports of rape. So, in a way, do the infamous Salem witch trials, in which women (and some men) were hanged on or near Gallows Hill.

    Hale’s influence in the United States has been on the wane since the 1970s, with one state after another abandoning his legal principles on rape. But Alito’s opinion resurrects Hale, a judge who was considered misogynistic even by his era’s notably low standards. Hale once wrote a long letter to his grandchildren, dispensing life advice, in which he veered into a screed against women, describing them as “chargeable unprofitable people” who “know the ready way to consume an estate, and to ruin a family quickly.” Hale particularly despaired of the changes he saw in young women, writing, “And now the world is altered: young gentlewomen learn to be bold” and “talk loud.”

  2. roofingbird says:

    WP popped you right up on my feed today. Yey! This is a horrifying post.

  3. dakinikat says:

    Umair Haque’s research and posts are frightening. Like I didn’t know all this already, but to know that it’s rather drastic for us and that we seem to be led like lambs to the slaughter.

    • dakinikat says:

      We are the majority. They are a reactionary fascist and theocratic minority. We have lost our democracy.

  4. dakinikat says:

  5. quixote says:

    About trafficking: we’ve been there for years when it comes to getting white babies. Victoria Smith aka Glosswitch Paid surrogacy makes disadvantaged women into walking wombs.

    The main “supply” is located overseas (India is #1), so it’s largely off Western radar. Very early embryos are implanted, so the surrogates are not genetic mothers. But that doesn’t change the renting-human-woman aspect of it at all.

    • NW Luna says:

      Even paid surrogacy is slavery.

      • dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. NW Luna says:

    BB, thanks for the cat pictures. The young girl watching her black and white kitten is my favorite. I also like how Dumoulin has his calico cat posed.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Thank you. I chose paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries, in keeping with Alito’s attitudes toward women.

  9. dakinikat says:

  10. dakinikat says:

    He said the quiet part out loud.