The Idiocy-Capable, Unrealized Adults Protection Act

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

January 22 is a significant date for me. I make note of it every year. There are two reasons.

One, January 22 is the day my mother, now dear and departed, birthed me. This year, I will acknowledge the anniversary in the warm embrace of family, Sicilian cuisine and possibly enough Chianti to disqualify my normal role as designated driver. I will laugh among loved ones, expound on various profundities and polemics, blow out the candles, and wish for a future in which women continue to make progress toward equality in the United States, while I sag imperceptibly toward my oldth.

GagMeHangerTwo, January 22 is the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States. Today’s newly Republican-dominated Congress will acknowledge the anniversary in the warm embrace of anti-abortion activists and enough religiosity to qualify many of its members as anthropomorphic examples of a failed separation of church and state. They will envision a national ban on abortions after 20 weeks, vote on the misnomered H.R. 36, the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” and wish for a future female population that acquiesces to white, heterosexual, Christian male dominance.

By the way, the bill’s title is a misnomer because scientific studies put the age at which a fetus experiences pain somewhere between 23 and 30 weeks.

Please note, however, that science is not a requisite basis for U.S. legislation; nor is the embrace of science a requisite for being elected to the U.S. Congress.

Please note also that some of those who support the unscientific bill are not necessarily idiots, but some clearly are, for example, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who introduced it. He’s one of those nutty elected guys who’ve said nutty things about “women parts” they can’t bring themselves to name in public. Franks’ contribution to the nuttiness is, “The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low," a statement contradicted by medical science and the rules of grammar.

CallameConUnGanchoThis sort of thing puts a bit of a damper on my celebratory mood. I’m always grateful to share a day of such importance to the advancement of women’s rights, but I’m always annoyed that some men and women remain adamantly dedicated to rescinding this particular advancement, and preventing others when the opportunity arises. And now, I’m sad that I can no longer call Mother on the 22nd to thank her for birthing me—and for teaching me grammar.

My mother was a great fan of grammar, unlike Rep. Franks and so many of his peers. She liked syntax, too, big fan of that. And punctuation. Also semantics. We could play with the meaning of words well into the wee hours. And, ho boy, Mother would have had some fun with H.R. 36’s title, the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” It’s quite a little piece of propaganda: Who wouldn’t want to vote to protect children, right? I imagine, though, she’d have found that hyphenated compound modifier troubling, and the missing comma. She would surely never have referred to Rep. Franks and his nutty peers as “idiocy-capable, unrealized adults.” But she surely would have wondered why anything yet to be born would rely on anyone but its mother for protection.

Mother did a great job of protecting me, in the womb and out, without any interference from Congress. She was especially protective when I had an abortion. And you know what? When she died, she left me some money, so I honored her departure by giving some of it to abortion funds in states already burdened with abortion bans, along with other regressive restrictions that make abortions pretty darn hard for low-income women to access.

This also makes me sad. And mad.

So here’s a thought. On the 22nd, when I blow out the candles, I’m wishing for this: that you make a contribution to an abortion fund. Yeah, that would be great! You can visit the National Network of Abortion Funds to find the fund nearest you.

Love, K-B

For information about Roe v. Wade and reproductive justice:

Read Pro-Choice America’s “Abortion Bans at 20 Weeks: A Dangerous Restriction for Women.”

Click here to read an overview of the Roe v. Wade case.

Click here to read the Supreme Court decision, written by Justice Harry Blackmun.

Click here to read the dissenting opinion by Justice William Rehnquist.

1992 Rehnquist posters by Robbie Conal.