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Connie Page

Connie Page

In response to recent events further restricting a woman’s right to her own health care decisions (especially in light of the recent, impassioned speeches about an individual’s freedom of choice concerning vaccinations and masks), I am sharing a letter to the editor that I wrote 27 years ago to the Post Bulletin in Rochester, Minnesota. In 2014 I sent it to the News Miner in Fairbanks, Alaska. And today I repeat it, as it is still relevant. The original letter is posted here:

“Republicans in this country have me baffled. Claiming to be intent on saving potential lives, they don’t seem concerned with that life once it arrives. They spend their time, energy and money in ways that take us backward instead of forward. As long as this world is an imperfect place, there will be abortion. Therefore, I would like to suggest resources are used to work toward a healthier world for those already here.

  1. Teach parents to nurture and provide unconditional love.
  2. Work against physical, mental, sexual abuse of children (all people).
  3. Encourage parents/educators to teach children respect for themselves and others.
  4. Protest the violences and unrealistic depiction of sex in media.
  5. Increase access to family planning information/supplies.
  6. Work toward economic equality.
  7. Promote understanding/respect/equity/justice for all people.
  8. Support Planned Parenthood. Through education, information, contraception and counseling they are working toward the same goal.”

This is not the exact letter I would write today but it reminds me again how much money, time and effort has been wasted throughout the past 27 years. We all want the same thing: healthy, joyous children living in a loving and safe world. We need to work together. Limiting access to contraception and reproductive health care is the path backward.

If Republicans truly wanted to make a difference they would focus on the male gender and the part they play in this scenario. Men are more than half of this issue. We need to talk to men about responsibility, nurturing, anger management, kindness. Educate men and boys in what real love and caring looks like. Focus on the part they play in sexual abuse, date rape, family violence. Teach sons about their responsibility before and after a pregnancy occurs and when a child is born.

My mother was gang raped at 14 after her shift at work. Her job was standing up the pins at a bowling alley after they were toppled. Men and boys started providing her with beer while she worked, to the management’s blind eye. Her brother, coming to pick her up as it was after dark, found her. She was in a coma for days. At 16 (she was poor and needed to work) she was coerced into sex with her 40-something, married boss ... you know, the guy that wrote her paychecks and was old enough to be her father. When she became pregnant he paid her mom to get her a backstreet abortion. It was terrifying for her and left a scar that never healed.

I used to perform with the “Touch Continuum” in Rochester, Minnesota. It was a group that went into schools to talk to kids about Good and Bad Touch. There was not one performance that one or more women (mothers would attend to support their children) did not come up to me at the end and talk about their experience of being sexually abused as a child.

While I was living in Fairbanks, Alaska, a young girl was found dead in her own home. She was a sixth or seventh grader. A man her father had welcomed into their home had murdered her during the act of rape. The man’s lawyer called it “consensual sex.”

Don’t speak to me about women/girls as the center of this issue. It is clear through my lifetime of hearing stories of abuse that they are often subjects of coercion, violence, rape, grooming and more. Let’s put the focus where it should be and actually make a difference.

If Republicans are willing to put men/boys at the center of this discussion then maybe we can believe they really want to make a positive difference. I look forward to it.

And a big thanks to the commissioners and sheriff for supporting personal freedom, as I assume that is also meant for women’s personal health care choices — otherwise it would be mighty hypocritical.

Connie Page is the Chair of the Democratic Party of Douglas County, a retired lumber and milling business owner, dog lover, hiker, activist, supporter of wild places and their inhabitants, community volunteer and eternal optimist.

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(12) comments

S

The very sad part is that your letter is still relevant today. Patriarchy and "boy parts," really need to be held more accountable. The actual biological term for "boy parts," is considered profanity . . . ironic?

OregonTrail88

A virus in Texas currently has more reproductive rights than the women.

OregonTrail88

George Carlin nailed it in this 2 minute video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHRaUUlD00w

Huge bbfan

A couple of points. Murder is not healthcare.

Jen peaking said in a press conference last week that men can have no say in this debate because they can't get pregnant.

This administration has stated earlier that men can get pregnant 🙄.

Most people have never murdered anyone but have opinions about the wrongness of it whether it's healthcare? Or not.

CitizenJoe

Huge bbfan: true, murder is not healthcare. But abortion is not murder. In other news, a fertilized egg is not a child. Nor did the fertilized egg exist two weeks or so before fertilization. Time travel doesn't (yet*) exist.

What do we want

CitizenJoe

Sorry. Cut off the call and response:

What do we want?

A time machine!!!

When do we want it?

Doesn't matter!!!

melrosereader

This piece is heartfelt and beautifully written.

But I am curious, is the letter having any impact on the inappropriately-called right to life crowd? Or do they care only about fetuses?

NJ

[thumbup]

garyd

Thank you very much.

I don’t understand this whole situation. During the hearings of the A.F.C. act (Obama Care) I was amazed by the arguments from those politicions that the government doesn’t need to tell people what to do with their bodies. Now those same people are espousing the same argument regarding vaccinations and masking. Yet, they want to control what women can do with their bodies.

mworden

Thank you, Connie. The issues are as real now as they were 50 years ago. We need to protect reproductive freedom, now and into the future.

When it comes to vaccines and masks, the GOP and religious right feel fine shouting, "My body, My Choice." But they're certainly not willing to extend that freedom to reproductive choice. I'm hoping Old Guard Democrats, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z voters will all work together to protect our hard won freedoms.

Ms. Pellegrino-Reid

Well said Connie and Citizen Joe, so relevant today as back in the day. We need Roe V Wade and even more safeguards for woman and girls, as a crisis counselor I spent half of my job in ERs' holding the hand of a rape victim while she underwent a rape kit exam and then intense interrrogation from police and then the court system that called her promiscious and blamed her for her rape and unwanted pregnancy. In the middle east woman are stoned to death for getting raped. I mean, really, what is next? Rolling back human rights to biblical times?

CitizenJoe

Connie, thank you. I am a bit older than you are, so I got to see more of the bad old days before Roe v Wade.

Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, while I was a surgery intern at Madigan Army Medical Center. I had had a friend in college who nearly died from an illegal abortion in Indiana in about 1969; she survived, but was rendered infertile for life. I saw other similarly severely ill and occasionally dead women during medical school; after Roe v Wade, I never saw another. And abortion became the most common surgical procedure at Madigan and other military hospitals, for some years, ending in about 1978-1979.

We must defend Roe v Wade and defend Oregon's laws that protect a woman's right to choose. Republicans perennially introduce legislation like heartbeat bills, and sponsor initiatives to change the Oregon Constitution to effectively outlaw abortion. We must not allow them to return us to the deadly days pre-Roe.

https://www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2010/08/base-us-militarys-ban-privately-funded-abortions

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