Friday, November 11, 2011

but I keep reading the New Yorker anyway...

The reason I have not yet become disgusted about the tenacious parity problem at the New Yorker enough to unsubscribe is the generally high quality of its non-fiction, for example this profile of Planned Parenthood by Jill Lepore. I almost missed my subway stop on this morning's commute I was so absorbed by it.

Unfortunately it's behind a pay wall so non-subscribers are out of luck unless they quick get the current issue on newsstands. But here are some fascinating items from the article:
On the day the (first birth control) clinic opened, Jewish and Italian women pushing prams and with toddlers in tow lined up down the street, Sanger recalled, "some shawled, some hatless, their red hands clasping the cold, chapped, smaller ones of their childrn." They paid ten cents to register. THen Sanger or Byrne met with seven or eight at once to show them how to use pessaries.

Nine days later, an undercover policewoman came, posing as a mother of two who couldn't afford any more children. Mindell sold her a copy of "What Every Girl Should Know." Byrne discussed contraception with her. The next day, the police arrived, arrested Sanger, confiscated an examination table, and shut down the clinic.
The first right-wing sting against Planned Parenthood. That evil freak Lila Rose would have been there, cheering on the cops.
A survey conducted of nearly a thousand members of the American Birth Control League in 1927 found its membership to be more Republican than the rest of the country. In a successful bid for respectability as a reform akin to prohibition, the league had attracted to its membership the same women and men who joined organizations like the Red Cross, the Rotary Club, and the Anti-Saloon League. The next year, Sanger was forced to resign as the league's president; its members objected to her feminism.

And I see a play title in this next bit:
In 1936, a federal appellate court heard U.S. v. One Package of Japanese Pessaries - a test case engineered by Sanger - and removed contraception from the category of obscenity.
And of course what article is complete without a typical idiotic statement from New York Times columnist David Brooks?
Unless Roe v. Wade is overturned, politics will never get better... Justice Harry Blackmun did more inadvertent damage to our democracy than any other 20th-century American. When he and his Supreme Court colleagues issued the Roe v. Wade decision, they set off a cycle of political viciousness and counter-viciousness that has poisoned public life ever since."
And what Mr. McBobo-ism is complete without an immediate rebuttal from people who actually know what they're talking about? Immediately after that quote in the article:
But Linda Greenhouse and Reva Siegel, both of whom teach at Yale Law School, have argued that this conventional narrative gets history backward. In an article published in the Yale Law Journal in June, they suggest that what happened after Roe was a consequence not of the Court's ruling, but of G.O.P. strategists' attempt to redefine the Party - before Roes. In their account, if there's a villain it's not Harry Blackmun; it's Richard Nixon.

And then there's this counter-intuitive fact, a bit later in the article:
Abortion wasn't a partisan issue until Republicans made it one. In June of 1972, a Gallup poll reported that sixty-eight per cent of Republicans and fifty-nine per cent of Democrats agreed that "the decision to have an abortion should be made solely by a woman and her physician." Fifty-six per cent of Catholics thought so too.
Although the article is well-researched and fact-based, Lepore does get a few pithy editorials into the article now an again:
Neither abortion nor birth control is, by nature, a partisan issue, and, from the vantage of history, it's rather difficult to sort out which position is conservative and which liberal, not least because this debate, which rages at a time when there is no consensus about what makes a person a person, began before an American electorate of white men was able to agree that woman's status as a citizen is any different from that of a child.

...however divided the electorate may or may not be over abortion, as long as Planned Parenthood is the target the G.O.P. stands only to gain by keeping up the attack, because a campaign against a government-funded provider of services for the poor appeals to the Tea Party.