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Saturday, October 22, 2016

The morning after the Republicans won, well, just about everything, I spent a good half-hour staring at a favorite piece of artwork that hangs in a prominent place in our home.

From a distance, the piece looks like a 13-by-9-inch version of the American flag. Thirteen red and white stripes are stitched to perfection and anchored to a rectangle of dark blue fabric in the upper left corner. A nice patriotic rendering of Old Glory, matted and framed behind glass I swipe every week with my Swiffer.

On closer inspection, however, one sees that Cleveland artist Dawn Hanson was up to mischief when she created this flag, which is part quilt, part craft and wholly political.

Instead of 50 stars, there are four rows of tiny buttons. The first three rows — weeks one through three — are white; in the last row — week four — the buttons are pink. The days of the week run along the top: SUN, MON, TUE — you get the idea.

Hanson titled the piece “Reproductive Freedom Flag.” Patriotism with a punch.

You learn a lot about dinner guests in your home by watching their reaction to an American flag designed to resemble a pack of birth control pills. Men, if they happen to notice it, seldom say anything, but sometimes they shake their heads in what I imagine to be sympathy for my husband.

Women, however, particularly of a certain age, often start to walk past it and do a double take, tilting back on their heels as if an invisible someone just tugged on their sleeves. Inevitably, the smile grows wide with recognition. We remember. Mercy, do we remember.

Typically, our conversations ricochet from our favorite chicken recipes to the latest legislative assaults on women’s reproductive rights. I live in Ohio, after all, where the Republican sweep in 2010 led to more attempts to restrict abortion in the first 15 months than in the previous 10 years of the state Legislature.

On Wednesday morning, I stared at Hanson’s artwork that has launched so many conversations and wondered about the woman who made it. I took the frame down from the wall, found her business card taped to the back and called her.

At 50, Hanson is the co-owner of a marketing firm in Cleveland, but she spent a decade of her young adulthood working in corporate communications in Europe. During that time, she became aware of the difference between women’s rights there and women’s rights here in the United States.

“I started seeing all these stories about limiting not just abortion but women’s access to basic human rights like birth control,” she said in a phone interview. “It was so different from what I was experiencing in Europe.”

Hanson started contributing money to Planned Parenthood’s national organization and volunteered for the Cleveland chapter when she moved back to the U.S. She also returned to the quilting roots of her childhood in Shreveport, Louisiana, merging art with her growing activism. She gave her first “Reproductive Freedom Flag” to Cecile Richards, who is president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Hanson told me she hopes her “Reproductive Freedom Flag” in my house will continue to spark a lot of conversation. I told her I’ve had it up to here with just talk.

In the wake of Tuesday’s Republican rout, I suggested on social media that every woman in America register her uterus as a corporation. It’s the only thing I can think of right now that might stop Republican legislators from meddling with a woman’s reproductive organs.

Across the country, turnout for this election was down, including among women, prompting this observation from The Washington Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson: “One question Democratic and Republican pollsters will be chewing over is whether Democrats’ edge with women is becoming only a presidential-cycle bump.”

I will spare you my immediate response and just ask: How can this be?

How can we not cast our votes in elections that directly affect our health and our families’ futures? How can we shrug our shoulders with the indifference that Republicans count on to whittle away at our rights?

I know women juggle a lot, every day. I still remember an Election Day during my years as a single mother when I stood in front of the cashier at the grocery and counted out the coins in my purse to cover the cost of a handful of items. I offered an embarrassed smile and then panicked at the sight of the “I Voted” sticker on the cashier’s lapel. I barely made it to the polls in time to vote. Sometimes the daily mess of life can make a crucial act of citizenship just another thing on a long to-do list.

But here’s the thing: As long as this country continues to act as if family planning is only a women’s issue, we’re going to need a lot more women getting in the way of legislators, most of them male, who think our bodies are their business.

If you didn’t vote this time, I’ve got to tell you that just for today, I’m at a loss for how to get you to care.

This feeling will pass, I know, because I can’t stand looking at my reflection in the glass over that flag and seeing the face of surrender.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and an essayist for Parade magazine. She is the author of two books, including …and His Lovely Wife, which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz ([email protected]) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

Photo: WeNews via Flickr

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  • Allan Richardson

    Of course it’s a men’s issue too! At least it is for men who really LOVE their wives and other women in their families, as opposed to considering them to be “property” to get them children and grandchildren. If my wife’s life could not legally be saved from an ectopic pregnancy because of a “personhood” law, I would be tempted to use my Second Amendment right on legislators who voted for the law that killed her. And any caring husband, or father, or brother, of a woman who was in danger of dying because of such a law would feel the same.

    Men who see women as people rather than “traditional roles” in the family as envisioned by some religious tradition believe in protecting their rights to have children IF AND WHEN THEY WANT, and will not stand for going back to the 18th century.

    • Whatmeworry

      What do men have to do with this?? It’s the girls who get themselves pregnant and commmit MURDER

      • sleepvark

        No, you don’t get to win your insane argument by redefining the terms. It’s not a child till it’s born.
        We celebrate birthdays for a reason. We don’t celebrate conception days, unless you’re Roman Catholic, and then you only celebrate one conception day, a conception that is rumored to have come about without any sex, or at least, without sex with a human partner.
        In the meantime all you are advocating is for government control of the female half of the population.
        No, you can’t have it.

  • Whatmeworry

    Why not call it what it is Legalized MURDER

    • Whatmeworry is Dan M Ketter

      I Dan Max Ketter believe that abortion should remain LEGAL, as a woman has the RIGHT to CHOOSE

      • exdemo55

        Does the baby have a right to choose?

        • Whatmeworry is Dan M Ketter

          No, the fetus is not human, so has no right to choose

          • exdemo55

            At what point do you consider the baby being a human? 4 weeks, 3 months, 6 months?

          • sleepvark


          • exdemo55

            So you’re saying that a baby five minutes before birth has no rights and can be legally murdered?

          • sleepvark

            There you are trying to redefine the terms of the discussion. Ain’t happening. You lose.
            Birth. Not one nanosecond before. It’s not murder till there’s a human baby. That happens at birth, not before.
            At times it happens during the birthing process that things don’t go as they should. It has happened that the family, or more often just the husband, is presented with a choice. Only one can be saved. He must choose between the life of his wife and that of the fetus.
            The position of the catholic church has always been against the woman. The church says, in so many words, that the bitch dies, save the fetus.
            Screw that. The church can go to hell. I can make a new fetus with my wife, but I can’t replace her. The church in its evil ways would make the child a motherless half orphan.
            Not on my watch.
            Don’t even think of trying to kill my wife, or any other person I care about, for the sake of your evil beliefs.

          • exdemo55

            So, you’re saying one nanosecond before birth its a fetus and one nanosecond after birth, ita a human being?

          • sleepvark

            Is it that hard to comprehend? It is rather simple, isn’t it.
            I’m not the one who invented that idea. It’s been around for a lot longer than either you or I have been. Your attempt to redefine the terms is what is new. Don’t bother. The distinction of fetus / human being at birth is as old as mankind.
            Deal with it. You have no right to control a woman’s life. Only great evil results in such attempts. Your attempts to do so align you with evil, pure and simple. Best not to go there if you have any spiritual sense at all.
            You do remember the woman, don’t you? Or is she just a life support system for her vagina?

          • exdemo55

            So, you think Dr, Kermit Gosnell is not evil and was well within his legal rights?

          • sleepvark

            Been overseas for a while. Never heard of him.

          • exdemo55

            Doctor Starts His Life Term in Grisly Abortion Clinic CaseBy JON HURDLE

            PHILADELPHIA — Dr. Kermit Gosnell was sentenced on Wednesday to life in prison without parole for the murder of a baby born alive in a botched abortion, who prosecutors said would have survived if the doctor had not “snipped” its neck with scissors.

            Three jurors in the Gosnell trial outside court on Wednesday, the first time that any jurors spoke publicly about the case.
            The sentence was part of an agreement that Dr. Gosnell reached with the Philadelphia district attorney’s office under which he waives his right to appeal the first-degree murder conviction and two others that a jury returned on Monday.
            Under the agreement, Dr. Gosnell, 72, will be spared the death penalty, which prosecutors previously said they would seek.
            Dr. Gosnell, in a dark suit similar to one he wore throughout his five-week trial, declined an offer by Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart of Common Pleas Court to speak to the court before being sentenced.
            After he was told that he would spend the rest of his life in prison without parole for the murder of a victim known as Baby A, Dr. Gosnell shook hands with his lawyer, Jack J. McMahon, and was escorted out of the courtroom to begin his sentence.
            Dr. Gosnell was also sentenced to a total of 30 to 60 years on two charges of conspiring to kill two of the babies and on one charge of violating the corrupt organizations act, which has to do with ordering subordinates to commit crimes. And he was sentenced to two and a half to five years on involuntary manslaughter in the case of Karnamaya Mongar, a woman who died after being given too much anesthetic in Dr. Gosnell’s West Philadelphia abortion clinic.
            Outside the courthouse, members of the jury spoke publicly for the first time. The foreman, David Misko, said it had been emotionally hard for the jurors, seven women and five men, to deal with the trial’s gruesome images and searing testimony.
            “It was emotionally tolling for everyone involved,” he said.
            Asked what had led the jury to convict Dr. Gosnell on three counts of first-degree murder, Mr. Misko said: “Premeditation. It was business as usual. He snipped the necks no matter what.”
            Mr. Misko, 27, who works for a health care company, said he had been offended by Dr. Gosnell’s expression during the trial. “He just sat there smirking,” Mr. Misko said. “It wasn’t good. I didn’t care for it.”
            Sarah Glinski, one of three jurors who appeared before the news media after the trial, said she believed that Dr. Gosnell had started his clinic with good intentions of helping women who had little ability to afford abortions, but that he had gone wrong along the way.
            “He is an abortion doctor who tried to give people who may not have had the money the services they needed,” said Ms. Glinski, a public affairs officer with the Defense Department. “I think somewhere, something went wrong in his mind that made him do these things to these children that were born alive.”
            Ms. Glinski, 23, said she believed in a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion, but added, “That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the sanctity of life.” She does not have children, which she said had made it easier to take a detached view of the evidence, but she concluded that the acts Dr. Gosnell were convicted of were “evil.”
            “It was hard for me to admit that this kind of evil exists in this world,” she said.
            Another juror, Joseph Carroll, 46, said he might need to seek counseling after hearing all the evidence and seeing disturbing images of aborted fetuses and of the squalid conditions and grisly items in Dr. Gosnell’s clinic, including jars of fetuses’ feet, discovered by law enforcement officers during a drug raid in 2010.
            The Philadelphia district attorney, R. Seth Williams, said the Gosnell case was probably the most gruesome he had dealt with since becoming district attorney three years ago.
            “I will not mince my words: Kermit Gosnell is a monster,” Mr. Williams said after the sentencing. “Any doctor who cuts into the necks, severing the spinal cords of living, breathing babies, who would survive with proper medical attention, is a murderer and a monster.”
            But Dr. Gosnell’s lawyer, Mr. McMahon, reiterated his defense that his client had snipped the necks only of fetuses that were already dead.
            “He believes he never killed a live baby,” Mr. McMahon told reporters. “The jury has made its decision on what happened here. We respect it, but that doesn’t mean it’s the truth.”

          • sleepvark

            Okay, he broke the law in a number of ways, and if I understand correctly, killed some infants after they were born.
            Murder, no doubt. Fits the bill nicely. Justice is being done. Execution would be fine by me too.
            Keeping bad actors like this guy from doing back alley work is what we are all trying for. The issue is that when abortion is not legal, his type is the only recourse women have when they need to terminate a pregnancy. We already tried that for way too many years. It didn’t work. Women died in droves all over the country.
            He does nothing good for anybody when he’s on the loose.

          • exdemo55

            Q. Besides the Ten Commandments, where in the Bible can I find God’s word on abortion? He has been dealing with me to spread the word that abortion is wrong. I need to find more Scripture about this. I have the Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible and just love it. It has helped me greatly.

            A. God’s Word is very clear on the issue of abortion: it is murder, plain and simple.

            Perhaps the single most important passage on the topic can be found in Exodus:

            If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges [determine]. But if [any] harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe (Exodus 21:22-25, emphasis mine).

            God mandated that if a pregnant woman is hurt in such a way that she gives birth prematurely, and if the woman or her child perish, then the death penalty is imposed on the offending party.

            Unlike other passages which recognize a difference between premeditated murder and accidental manslaughter (Deu. 4:42), the motivation of the guilty party does not enter the picture here. Whether purposeful or accidental, the party who injures the mother or child suffers equal retribution. If the mother or child dies, the offending party is put to death. This underscores the high value which God places on the lives of both the mother and her fetus who is considered fully human.

            The welfare of a pregnant woman was protected by this law so that unintentional maltreatment constituted culpable negligence. Significantly for the abortion debate, the fetus was considered a person; thus, someone was held accountable for its death or injury.—John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible

            While unintentional life-taking was usually not a capital offense (cf. vv. 12-13), here it clearly was. Also the unborn fetus is viewed in this passage as just as much a human being as its mother; the abortion of a fetus was considered murder.—John D. Hannah, The Bible Knowledge Commentary – Old Testament

            The legalization of abortion in the United States marked a significant shift from our Biblical foundation toward Paganism, with its recognized disregard for the unborn:

            These verses are clear and bold protection of the rights of unborn children. They strongly affirm that to interfere with intrauterine life was a crime, the value of the fetus’s life being equal to that of the mother. This position is in contrast to that of many pagan nations.—Holy Bible – Baptist Study Edition (NKJV)

            Many other passages establish beyond any doubt that life begins in the womb, far in advance of birth: Job 10:11; Job 31:15; Ps 139:13; Ec 11:5; Jer 1:5; Luke 1:15; Luke 1:41-45.

            Of particular interest are the cases of John the Baptist and Jesus. Concerning John the Baptist, Scripture records:

            For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15).

            And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41).

            Note that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb—even reacting to the greeting of Mary, the mother of Jesus. John could hardly be considered ‘fetal tissue.’

            Notice too Elizabeth’s statement to Mary, pregnant with Jesus:

            Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed [are] you among women, and blessed [is] the fruit of your womb! But why [is] this [granted] to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy’ (Luke 1:42-44).

            Elizabeth calls Mary’s fetus ‘my Lord’ and remarks concerning the joy experienced by John the Baptist, still a fetus within her womb. One shudders to imagine how history would have been different if either of these women had been ‘pro-choice’ and terminated their pregnancies (Of course, in the providence of God, this would have been impossible. Still, it is horrific to consider the implications from a human perspective.)

            When the dust of history settles, abortion will come to be seen for what it is: one of the most barbaric horrors of complacency in history—easily surpassing events such as the Holocaust in sheer magnitude of the number of those killed.

            More than 42 million unborn babies have lost their lives [in the USA] since the United States Supreme Court decided on January 22, 1973, that women have a constitutionally protected right to have an abortion. According to the 2000 census, this number equals the current population of 19 different states… The number 42 million also equals the combined populations of California and Georgia… On a daily basis, abortion takes more lives than were lost in the September 11th tragedy. On average, 3,836 pre-born babies have been routinely eliminated every day for thirty years. Since 1973, unwanted pre-born babies have had their lives ended at an average rate of 2.5 per minute, 160 an hour, and 1,400,000 a year!—The Legal Alert, Christian Law Association, January 2003, p. 2. [], (emphasis mine)

            It is difficult to imagine a more helpless victim than a fetus in the womb.

            Restoration and Grace

            Any discussion of abortion from a Christian perspective would be lacking without also recognizing the healing grace of God. God stands ready to receive all who repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus to be washed clean (Isa. 1:18; 1 Jn. 1:9). We need only consider two of the most prominent men of God in Scripture: Moses and David—both guilty of murder (Ex. 2:12; 2 Sam. 11:15-21)—to see that complete forgiveness for heinous crimes is available to those who avail themselves of the mercy of God (John 3:16).

            Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, [And] my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness (King David, Psalms 51:14).

            Those who have suffered through the trauma of abortion can be renewed and made new. There is no crime beyond the reach of the forgiveness of Jesus and the cleansing power of His blood. Praise God for this priceless truth of restoration and grace!

            Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do’ (Luke 23:34a).

          • sleepvark

            Your entire posting is utterly irrelevant.
            Ever hear of the 1st amendment to the US Constitution?
            Your religious fantasies have no place in government policies. End of that discussion.
            The bible, especially the old testament, is full of evil deeds that are sanctioned by religion. Genocide and mass murder, of actual living human beings, not just fetuses, is rampant.
            Do you eat shrimp? If so, you are going to hell according to your silly book.
            I don’t believe a word of it. As it says, check the fruit of that tree. Everywhere I look in human history believers do the most incredible evil in the name of religion. Crusades, pogroms, burning of heretics, the list is endless.
            Ever wonder why the Jewish folks don’t convert?
            Got anything even remotely relevant?

          • exdemo55

            So, you believe the Holy Bible is just a silly book and not the word of God?

          • sleepvark

            My spiritual beliefs are not relevant. Just like yours.

          • exdemo55

            Oh but they are, extremely relavant

          • sleepvark

            No, not really.
            I already know what yours are. Not that it matters even a little.
            I will do you the curtesy of not asking you to accept mine either. Mostly because it’s nor relevant. Not to this discussion.
            I you would like to push this further with your redefining of terms, be aware that such an argument can be turned against you. Do you really want to see what that leads to?

          • exdemo55

            If a pregnant woman is beaten by an assailant to the point where she loses the baby but she recovers. A baby she wanted and loved, one the father wanted and loves, plus grandparents and friends. Is the assailant guilty of murder or just assault?

          • sleepvark

            Assault consummated with a battery. Lots of options for the court to consider when reaching a verdict. Reaching said verdict will be easier in a lot of ways than a conviction for murder, even if that cause of action is allowed by law, because juries are quicker to convict for assault and battery than they are for murder. Very long sentences can ensue, sometimes longer than for homicide. Depends on how angry the judge and jury become.
            Of course, a lot depends on which jurisdiction applies. State vs Federal, that sort of thing.
            And then there’s the repeat offender thing. The hits just keep on coming at the defense in such cases.
            Yes, a murder conviction might feel like a really good thing in such a case. But as mentioned before, the higher bar would result in fewer convictions. It would be easier for justice to get derailed when going for the murder rap.
            Try again.

          • exdemo55

            You didn’t answer the question

          • sleepvark

            Is English not your mother tongue?
            I believe you asked for the choice of murder or just assault given the facts of your hypothetical case.

          • exdemo55

            So, which is it, muder or just assault and battery? A simple question.

          • sleepvark

            At the risk of getting a bit repetitious, I’ll say it again. Assault consummated with a battery.
            殴打罪 if you like Chinese better.