To The Barracades


Well ladies, the time for you to do battle has come.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead and Conservatives are salivating at the prospect that Donald Trump will be able to install a third member to the Supreme Court.  Such a move appears likely to accomplish their No. 1 goal: dismantling the abortion rights established in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling

So it is time to put on your armor  ladies and take up the sword assuming of course you still would like to have a choice; it don’t affect me none.  I’m male.  If you don’t have a choice as to whether or not to have a child, its no skin off my nose.  My daughters are done with their child bearing years so any return to the good old days of flights to Sweden or coat hangars don’t affect me in the slightest.

Back in 2019 the Alabama Senate (where else?) approved a bill to eliminate abortion at every stage.  The only exception is if your life is in serious jeopardy.  No other exception.  Not even for rape or incest.  Not even if you are raped by your brother.  Nope.

Senator Clyde Chambliss, a Republican and sponsor of the bill in the Senate, defended the omission of those exceptions.

“When God creates the miracle of life inside a woman’s womb,” he said, “it is not our place as human beings to extinguish that life.”  I guess when your brother put his handover your mouth and raped you it was God’s plan.

The legislation bans abortion at all stages and criminalizes the procedure.  Doctors performing abortions will be charged as felons and face up to 99 years in prison.

All of the members voting “aye” in the Alabama Senate were white males.

That law was of course challenged and Alabama is attempting to get it to the Supremes.

As I said, it don’t affect me none ladies.

But this is not about Alabama.  This is a direct assault on Roe.  It was expected and indeed welcomed by “pro-life” groups that a lower court would block the law as unconstitutional and the case would move to the Federal courts and ultimately the Supremes – where there will be a solid conservative majority if Trump and odious Mitch get their nominee approved.

And conservatives have begun to signal that they are preparing for the showdown on abortion rights, which Ginsburg, a feminist icon, had staunchly defended since being confirmed to the bench in 1993 as a decision women should be able to make for themselves.

Shortly after news surfaced of Ginsburg’s death made headlines, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) posted a scathing tweet: “RIP to the more than 30 million innocent babies that have been murdered during the decades that Ruth Bader Ginsburg defended pro-abortion laws. With [Trump] nominating a replacement that values human life, generations of unborn children have a chance to live.”

So ladies, the assault (if you haven’t noticed) is clearly on.  It is time to take to the barricades.  And you cannot count on Republican women to support you in your efforts.  Unless of course you like wearing a little red hat in Gilead and serving in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant.

I’m with you ladies, having long been a supporter of choice.  But again, its no skin off my nose if you lose.  I lived through the time when there were no women on Wall Street, bank tellers were all men, bra burning, mini-skirts in the office.  I remember when you couldn’t buy a condom in Connecticut even if you were married because some religious fanatic believed we should all use the “rhythm method” of birth control.  And I remember when a woman didn’t have the legal right to say “no” to her husband.

And I remember what it was like before the pill with abortion overseas for the well off and the neighborhood underground for the poor.  I remember families packing off their high school daughters to Italy to “study” for a year while living with Aunt Filomina.  In Italy they would have their babies and put them up of adoption, then return to high school in Westchester.

And I remember my wife having to make a choice and making it.  She had our girls – but she had a choice.  I firmly believe that each of us, if faced with the issue,  must make such a decision for ourselves.  And I speak from experience – not as an outsider looking in, judging others without having walked in their shoes.

My wife and I were married three days after Christmas in 1963 – just six months after the high school prom. Both sets of parents were frantic to stop us but we were of age and would have none of it.

Everyone who knew us, family and friends assumed she was pregnant. She was not. We laughed and went about our lives.

In four years we bought out first home together, got four years of Army active duty service out of the way, got good jobs and were doing just fine. I began a successful career in banking and finance; she worked for a steamship company, chartering vessels. I finished college and we sold our first house after 5 years and bought a sprawling ranch home in N.J.

We were the envy of all our friends who were struggling in small apartments with screaming little bundles of joy, constantly clamoring and in need. Children were just something we never thought about as we took to bed on rainy Sunday afternoons. Nine years had gone by without children. We were never big on birth control. Didn’t seem to be any need. Nothing ever happened. As the years rolled by we came to believe that nothing ever would. And we were okay with that. Even happy.

Suddenly, after nine years, out of no where she was pregnant.  Daniel was born on her birthday; he lived only 9 days and died from serious birth defects.

We tried to go back to our lives. After a time she wanted to try again. The doctors gave us the ok.  Two years later Michael was born.

Michael was profoundly disabled. We could only wish he had Downs.

Doctor’s suspected Krabbe’s Disease but the tests at the time were inconclusive. Neurologists at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in NYC told us Michael was not going to develop and had a life expectancy of maybe two years. They recommended institutionalization. We rejected that and took him home.

The doctors were right.  Every meal he ever ate we fed him.  He would always wear diapers and could not move, crawl, turn over or sit up; we carried him from his bed in the morning and back to his bed at night. She fed him breakfast and lunch while I fed him dinner and sat with him on my lap in a rocker while watching TV.  He never looked at us.  He never spoke a word. Never said “mommy”. He never moved on his own from wherever he was placed. He was carried everywhere. He might have been deaf and cortically blind.

My wife gave up any idea of ever returning to work or a career. She was her son’s mother. He was always clean, well dressed, hair combed and well fed. She would sit outside with him in his special wheelchair on glorious Spring and Summer days wondering what was going to become of him.

She cared for him well and Michael didn’t die.  Until one beautiful morning in February 1985 when we least expected it, he simply woke up and died in my arms. He was almost ten years old.

I swear it was the first time Michael ever smiled

We had two daughters after Michael was born; each pregnancy was an agony of worry and tests. Every test which could be done was done. We were told not to worry; everything seemed fine and she was carrying a girl. But we worried.  After all, we were two time losers when it came to having healthy children.

And we had a choice. And we thought about it.  Struggled with it.

It was her decision. It always was hers. I loved her and would stay with her no matter what she decided or what the future held.

She chose – and had two healthy girls. They are the joys of my life.  My wife, the girl I married out of high school, cared for Michael for ten years. I had wanted nothing but happiness for her. She didn’t get it. She cried an ocean of tears.

But she had a choice.

My wife and I loved our son Michael and we shed many a tear when he died. I know that everyone who came to his funeral thought that his passing was a blessing – both for him and for us, although we did not think so at the time.

Was he a “blessing” to us? Was his passing a “blessing?” Its much easier to say yes if you are not the parents.

In a sense that he changed our lives and made us more human and humane, then the answer is yes. He certainly made my daughters much more sensitive to the needs of others.  They never forgot when we were asked to leave a family restaurant because Michael was “disturbing” the other patrons.  For my wife and I it was a lifetime of heartache.

My wife gave up any dreams she might have had caring for a child which couldn’t reward her with just a simple glance, a smile, a “mommy”.

We hadn’t thought about testing during her pregnancies with Daniel or Michael. Today extensive testing is available.

So let me ask you.

If you were a 32 and 29 year old couple, happy and doing well and found out a Michael was coming your way, what would you do?  How would you choose?

You can blow off the question if you’ve walked ten years in her shoes.

Make your choice and answer to your own god yourself.




About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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7 Responses to To The Barracades

  1. leggypeggy says:

    It is about choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don Ostertag says:

    POWERFUL!!! and so sad and yet so full of love Bravo to you and your wife

    Liked by 3 people

  3. beetleypete says:

    As long as I can remember, I have never had any objection to abortion. I cannot get pregnant, so I have always thought it should be up to a woman to decide what to do with her own body, and in most cases, her own future. I am also sure that if men could get pregnant, they would have long ago invented a system that provided some simple way of not having that baby, and you wouldn’t be hearing any of them banging on about ‘Right to life’.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Powerful essay. Best wishes to you and your entire family.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. srbottch says:

    Wonderful expression of love. Michael looked very happy in this photo. Nice job and thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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