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tv   Joshua Prager The Family Roe  CSPAN  June 18, 2022 3:37pm-4:24pm EDT

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independent-minded republicans flake and corker left politics john mccain passed away the best part of lindsey graham died with john mccain, so so and then we get left with sort of well what susan collins and lisa murkowski doing what about mitt romney? mcconnell after his great speech or as he was condemning trump. he's later said well, i couldn't go against all the other republicans. they were all the other republicans many of them would have rallied to convict trump if mcconnell had and by the way, i don't know how rob portman and lamar alexander and any number of the others lived with their records in the last four years. thank you all.
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i'll kind of do a slight introduction i think as i know to before this topic is always intrigued me partly because i have a son who's adopted and he was in an open relationship. and so there was a lot of dialogue with the birth mother about why she chose to have an adoption as opposed to an abortion and so it's been kind of close to my heart. it's also been something that's always been in the forefront as long as i can remember as a child. about abortion and i think it's interesting that you know, just a few a month ago roughly when i was reading the the rowe family in american story. we had basically the release of the draft version supposedly of the supreme court decision
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regarding this particular topic. so, i think it's really relevant today that we understand the topic better than what we normally. to hear about and this book does that you know, it provides an honest glimpse of norma mccovary who is jane rowe. her family those associated with the landmark case and those surrounding the right to life and pro-life movements. joshua gives us a global perspective on how unintended and possibly unwanted pregnancies impact not only the individual but entire families. norma's family has a history as like many of our own which is mired in a complex relationships religion. sexual repression which leads to unintended consequences i think one of the things i always find that striking is that most people assume that norma was able to receive the abortion, right? they assume that with roe versus wage. she got the abortion, but as we all know it takes a long time
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for court cases to make it through the system so she actually gave birth. she never attended the court proceedings. i think that's one thing. i found really interesting in. this book is she becomes a secondary player at a certain point and then comes back again? joshua after reading an article kind of tracks down the three children of norma melissa, jennifer and shelley. who's the baby roe? and we still continue to see what impacts and long term social economic circumstances that you know kind of lead people to get abortions from those perspectives. i think one thing that was really striking. i was talking to joshua before we came up here is that you know, these women aren't alone. we can also see how the social constraints. and the abortion debate shapes and impacts negatively often
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individuals lives such as curtis boyd milford faye johnson, you know, i found these stories revealing as much as norma's and how we cannot just always assume or frame this debate about the termination of pregnancy itself. it does have other impacts. in addition, you know no matter what side of the abortion debate you land on this book provides you a perspective on the personal lives social constraints and historical events without making any moral judgments, and i think that's critical. joshua's writing allows us to empathize with all the cast of the players that are involved with this issue. which leads us to greater understanding and you know one thing i told him is i think this book helped me and i think would help a lot of other people look at divisive issues that we're facing in our country today if we had more authors who framed it in that way. they're not taking a position on
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one side or the other but presenting the facts and giving you empathy for those characters and and with that i'll let him start, but i also wanted to note that if you didn't hear he was one of the finalists for the pulitzer prize, and so i think you can see that this is a great book and with that. i'll let josh you go. thank you all for coming. thank you to the festival for having me. thanks for the introduction. i have to say that you know. it's so nice to be in front of real human beings and not looking at my computer screen. it's been a lot of all events. so this is a real treat for me. i'll step back before we talk about where we are today as a country. obviously, we're all very mindful that it looks like the supreme court is about to overturn roe v wade after 49 and a half years. let me first just tell you that the timeliness of my book was a
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great shock to me. i started writing this 12 years ago. i worked on it for 11 years. i started when president obama was in his second year in office, and it did not look at all like it would be timely but i was interested and so this is kind of it was a crazy thing to have this line up with it. before we get to sort of what's going on right now again. i'll tell you a little bit about my book. following up on what you just said and also kind of it's origins. so yes. i'm a journalist and i for many years have written articles about people whose lives intersect with history in some way and often people who sort of tell you the way something really is a little bit different than we've all thought and so i'm writing about sort of secrets that are connected to history to give you just a few little examples. there was only one anonymous winner in the history of the pulitzer prizes. somebody took a photograph of an execution in iran during the islamic revolution. it was awarded an anonymously no one knew who it was 27 years
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after that prize. i had a thought that you know what i bet he or she is sort of a fascinating story and it took me a while, but i went to iran and i found them they told me their story and it wasn't amazing story. i wrote about a cheating scandal that wasn't known connected to baseball's most famous moment the shot heard around the world bobby thompson's home run in 1951. i wrote about the unknown air to a famous children's book. good night moon and on and on and on this is the kind of thing that attracted me and so just like you said, was in france 12 years. go reading an article about gay marriage actually and they mentioned in passing that sometimes a plaintiff. is not great for the cause he or she the movement he or she represents and in that category, they put norman mccormick jane roe because she had famously switched sides in this debate. she'd gone for being pro-choice to pro-life. and by the way, i'll just say i chose in my book to use those terms. i allow people to call themselves what they wish to be called. well it then mentioned what you just mentioned that of course a
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lawsuit takes longer than the gestation of a baby and my mind just said wow. that means somewhere there is somebody who's conception occasioned roe v wade, that's crazy and i went online and i just sort of started googling and i saw that the pro-life movement was sort of desperate to find this person. norma jane rowe had given the child up for adoption and they looked at this person he or she as the serving living incarnation of their argument against abortion. they said they would say that had roe already been ruled upon when norma gave birth. they want to be able to say it's not abstract. but this human being you would have murdered and so it was sort of a very important anonymous person for them. and so i said, i'd like to find that person and i just had an inkling and i turned out to be right that he or she knew who they'd been bored to that somehow. they would have found out who their birth mother was well.
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i sent a note to norma. i found her name. it's okay. i have a four year old and a six year old. i'm used to insanity. yeah, this is nothing. i i got a note to to norma and and i identified myself and said, you know would it would you speak to me about what's going on? would you speak to me about the who the identity of your third child if you know who she is. and she said she didn't want to and i said, okay. and i then sort of step back and thought about well who might be able to help me. i wondered if maybe the adoption attorney would but he had been in an unrelated tragedy. he'd been murdered in 1973 the very year of roby wade, and i reached out norma was gay and i say even norma had to relinquish her she had excuse me to renounce her homosexuality when she swung over to the pro life side that was sort of the the
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precondition of her of her rebirth, but she had had for many years a woman who was her partner a woman named connie gonzalez. and i and i wanted to find her. i thought maybe she would know and i reached out to connie and she was an old woman. she'd had a stroke. she was living in, texas. and she was living with her niece. who was her caretaker. and she welcomed me into the house and now my second visit with her. she said, you know our home is being foreclosed on norma had lived there with her for many years and had since left or after she'd had a stroke. she's had her home is being foreclosed on and we're throwing everything up that's in the garage and oh by the way, norma's private papers are in the garage, and i said do not throw those papers out, please. can i have them? and so she said yes, and she sort of smushed the papers into these large large garbage bags that i put into the trunk of my
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rental car and what i looked for that first night. i found a three in the morning on one piece of paper out of the many thousands of this papers in this big jumbo was the date of birth of norma's youngest child and that led me sort of within a few months to figure out who she was and in case she didn't know who she'd been born to that. she was the quote unquote real baby. i didn't reach out to her that would upend her life. i reached out to her mom to the person who would raised her and identified myself, and she said we know about norma and she said i'll pass on your note to to shelley. shelley did not wish to speak with me and i said you have my word i will never write about you against your wishes. but i was now intrigued about the family and i found it took me a year to find the other two children norma had given birth to given birth to in place for adoption. i found them they've been desperately trying to find one another they knew they had half siblings and they started sharing with me their story and i then reached back to shelley and she then wished to participate because her sisters were involved.
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well, very quickly within a year my sort of you know, when you the years just sort of passed one to another again. it was 11 years, but within another year. my interest grew from shelley to her sisters to norma to roby wade to the whole of abortion in america and what started off in my mind is this sort of, you know, very circumscribed. nice tidy article about this one missing person came to be this very large project. i wanted to look at abortion in america even during as i say this started during obama's presidency, even then it was still incredibly fraught of course. it was really sort of a civil war. and like you alluded to you know, i try to write about people with empathy. it's a big cliche, but it's a good thing to not judge a person until you've walked in their shoes and both sides have become much more extreme over the years something both sides. don't wish to acknowledge. and in my opinion i happen to be pro-choice and i mentioned this in my author's note, but it's a
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big it made me feel good that many people sort of asked me what side i was on when i wrote the book, but it's my contention that abortion is fraught for good reason that on the one hand you have the growing sort of humanity of the fetus on the other side. you have the very compelling reasons a girl or a woman might wish to abort her pregnancy and i wrote about them fairly and there are things in my book that both sides can seize upon and sort of use for their side ideally will open their eyes to the other side, but that's you know, it's really sort of down the middle to give too little examples on the pro-choice side a very important woman who just passed away with sarah weddington. she was the woman who had 26 and 27 years old argue the supreme court argued the case in the supreme court. she was really one of the heroes to the movement, but as i show she treated norm a very very poorly she treated her co-counsel linda coffee very poorly and there's not it. the problems are not sort of limited to the individuals. she rubbed elbows with but
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actually in my opinion they've speak a larger problem in the pro-choice movement of class that often the sort of people who are not as educated as they are who don't speak about the issues as sort of beautifully as they do are sometimes kicked to the wayside on the other side something that is not particularly that didn't fit with the narrative that the pro-life put forward. i wrote about how a lot of people on that side. they say hey and we heard this just now in the in the oral arguments of dobbs with justice amy courtney. barrett was saying this they say, hey, it's no big deal. you don't want the child just sort of put it up for adoption. well, the truth of the matter is they want to say that when you have an abortion if you have an abortion, it causes the woman or the girl who has the abortion emotional harm and she should relinquish the child to adoption. well enormous studies actually show the exact opposite. while there are of course individuals who have suffered emotionally from having an
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abortion the overwhelming majority of women who have abortions express relief not regret conversely when a person places their child for adoption, even if they're happy they did it and they believe they do it. there was an enormous percentage of those women who struggle emotionally the rest of their lives knowing that a child they gave birth. there was out there somewhere and it's a difficult thing for them. so the truth in other words was more complicated than the tidy narratives that both sides put forward. at the heart of my book is norma mccorvey. she is a i mean if you're a writer you you are thrilled when you come upon a person like her her life was remarkable. i'll just sort of tell you one thing that well she was born in 1947 in rural, louisiana on the banks of a thechafalaya river really in the middle of nowhere. i've traveled to many many countries and i never felt like i was abroad more than when i was in this part of louisiana. i will tell you that honestly, i'm from i lived the upper west side of manhattan.
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so it's a little a little different. but anyway i get there. well, i went to visit the family. she's born there and she moves quickly to texas with her family now. her family. it's a broken home and her her mother is an alcoholic and a waitress. she has affairs with many many men. she's serving alcohol to and what was so interesting from my point of view. this wasn't even known to norma's own family. but norma was the third consecutive woman in a three straight generations in her family had gotten unhappily pregnant when they were very young. and the reason that was so germane and important for me is because the major reason that those unwanted pregnancies caused big crises was because of what seemed to these families and incompatibility between sex and religion. it just seemed an impossibility
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that life would be okay if you were 17, not married and pregnant. so norma's grandmother who was a catholic turned pentecostal. she has to marry sort of immediately and that has profound repercussions in the family. and norma's mother, it's very sad. mary who i met before she died. she had literally never been interviewed in her life. she was 17 years old when she gets pregnant right across the river from where her family is living. and what they did to her was horrible. they made her leave town. she had to go carry or pregnancy in the big city in baton rouge. she went to work at a walgreens. she gave birth and then the child was taken from her and that child was raised by her parents back across the river and she had to sort of pretend that that child was not her daughter, but her niece now imagine that that is a very difficult thing that devastated her and that woman then became norma's mom jane rose mom.
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so norma is growing up in a family not only sort of ripped apart by this incompatibility between sex and religion. but also, you know sex is something illicit sinful and all the more so when norma is then a young teen and comes out to her parents to her mom in particular her mother unapologetically told me that she beat norma for that when she came out of the closet and norma is sent away. she gets an all sorts of trouble. she sent away to a school for quote unquote delinquent children. she then gets married when she's 16 years old to a man that marriage quickly ends. one thing that complicated my life as a writer norma lied endlessly. it was a very difficult so you had to always sort of make sure everything was true. one of the things she told everyone was that her husband beat her that was not true the marriage ended because he was having affairs she then. gave birth to the child and even though she was such a kid.
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she said, you know what i want to be a mom. well almost immediately. she realizes she's not only unfit to be a mother. she doesn't want to be a mother and then another lie comes she tells everyone and writes about this in these books that later come out that her mother kidnapped her child from her when the truth was she begged her mother to sort of take the child off her hands and mary which is remarkable these cycles mary having lost her child to her mother then sort of is now normal loses her child to her mother even though she's asking her to take him, but that was another sort of thing. then what happens is she she's working and i'm lesbian bars. she's having endless affairs with women occasional affairs with men flings with men gets pregnant again that child gets placed for adoption. she becomes and this had not been told so i wrote about in my book. she becomes a prostitute a drug dealer a drug user life is very difficult. and she's now pregnant for the third time when she realizes i
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don't want to go through this hell again of having to carry a child having to carry a pregnancy that i know. i'm not going to keep i want an abortion abortion of course is illegal. she begs her adoption attorney to sort of help or find someone. well, let me first say she begs her doctor to provide an abortion another lie. she tells people she went to an abortion clinic and that the it had just been shuttered she says and there's dried blood on the floor. everything's always so dramatic with norma the truth was much more mundane and much more painful and sad she's simply couldn't afford it one of her lawyers. sarah weddington was working actually at a time for an abortion referral network where they would fly people from, texas to california. we're governor ronald reagan had signed into law the most liberal law amazingly enough liberalizing abortion. you can have an abortion through 20 weeks and it was open also to non-residents of california, but she can't afford that and she can't afford the clinic she texas it's $500 and she's
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distraught her adoption attorney then says hey guess what? i just remembered. i went to law school with someone named linda coffee a brilliant lawyer was helped me. he says fight the sodomy laws in, texas. and she's looking to challenge the abortion laws here in texas. i don't know if that'll mean you can have an abortion, but let me introduce you he does incidentally. linda coffee the lawyer henry mccluskey and norma were all gay and that's not a coincidence. there was a great overlap in the fights for sort of women's rights and also sort of gay rights at the time. well one of the sort of thrilling things for me about stumbling upon norma. she was the perfect sort of prism through which to tell the largest story of abortion in america. because she switched switches size as i mentioned later on. so her life just sort of organically naturally. when's its way through both sides of this debate and into the very personal lives of the leaders on both sides and also,
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the very same things that as i've sort of described in, you know in the book i go into a much more detail the very same sort of seeming irreconcilability of sex and religion are to my mind the fundamental reason why abortion in this country is so difficult an abortion here is the same as an abortion in japan or australia or israel or anywhere else, but it's only here that we have basically a civil war about it. and so i was able to write about the same issues that sort of ripped her apart in your family apart. they did the same to our country at large. okay. so how did we get here? you know, how did this country get here? well, of course as with everything else with roby wade, wade, it depends who you ask. people who are opposed to rome. they will say it's all rose fault. of course, it's rose fall. they will point to the fact that that law i mentioned that that governor reagan signed in 1967. it had broad bipartisan support which is true. they will point to the fact that already four states in 1971 four
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states had liberalized their abortion laws, and if you left it alone things would have been just fine people on the other side say no it's not rose falls. they can correctly point to the fact that the republicans in particular were beginning to politicize abortion pre-row as an example of that we have this memo. that pat buchanan who was invisor to richard nixon. he gives nixon a memo. nixon had said, you know what i'm in favor of of subsidizing abortions at military hospitals but buchanan says, you know what there are votes to be one among left-leaning catholics. so you need to bite your lip and say you've had a moral about face on this and abortion is sort of horrible to you and now he does exactly what he's told and they start to sort of siphon off some of these votes into their party. so as you see it's complicated as with everything else with row, but it does absolutely then become little by little incredibly polarized and
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polarizing and politicize as you know, brings us right to where we are. so just to give you a few of the sort of points of how we got it got so politicized 1976 the woman who brought ronald reagan into the pro-life fold was a woman named mildred jefferson. you mentioned her a remarkable woman the first black woman to graduate from harvard medical school. absolutely brilliant. every one of my book by the way is from texas. she's also from texas and she always told people that she just it was sort of the you know the the need to help the unborn that led her to leave the heights of the medical profession for the pro-life fight, but that's not true. what is true is that she endured enormous racism? misogynyah? she had an fbi file because nixon wanted to appoint a board. i was able to read these unbelievably sort of ugly things about very prominent doctors are like, oh, yeah, of course. i didn't appoint her, you know to my team because she's a black woman and you're like, okay
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they're saying this in 1973, and she didn't know what to do. and so she hadn't given abortion much thought but it bothers her they at the american medical association now wants doctors to defer to state laws, even when those laws say that abortionality legal she gets upset and she very quickly sort of rises up the rank. she becomes the head of the national right to life committee the largest pro-life organization in america and a mesmerizing speaker like you hear this woman. she's mesmerizing also very beautiful, which was not sort of beside the point because people realized what they had in her and they constantly were putting on tv and one of the people who's watched her was ronald reagan in 1973. she's on the show. he writes her a letter. wow, you really convinced me and he joins the joins the team and she then in 1976 more than anyone turns abortion into a political issue. they make all of the people running for president that year say whether or not they believe
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in a personhood amendment something that's coming back into play right now the idea that you'd have an amendment to the constitution that says a fetus has personhood which would automatically say that all abortion is illegal. very quickly sort of in response to that. the gop says here here. they put it on their platform now for the first time abortions on their sort of political platform. the democrats do the same and very quickly. it's sort of remarkable how quickly just like 10 years the politicians start to fall in line. nixon as i said about face reagan bush everyone on that side on this side, jesse jackson al gore -- gebhardt ted kennedy. they were all pro-life and they switch sort of remarkable a lot of the republicans had concerns about overpopulation and talked about family planning and abortion is something they believed in conversely you had you know, jesse jackson speaking
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about how abortion is a plague in the black community. you had ted kennedy talked about how it was, you know, it was anathema to his catholic to his catholicism anyway, we switch everyone sort of falls in line and then by 1995 you have the republican senator, arlan spector saying we need to take abortion out of politics. that does not happen abortion states put he's the one who then has to switch parties. so it just shows sort of you know, that's a little bit how we got here in terms of politics and i'll just give you a very quick sort of rundown of how the pro-life movement very smartly. you know they have one this 50-year battle, roe gets ruled upon and the democrats and the pro choices say hey, we won we can sort of roll up our sleeves and abortions now legal we don't have to worry about this anymore. but the pro-life first they have that desire to do the amendments, you know to overturn rowan one fell swoop that doesn't work and then they take a sort of very smart incremental approach and they start chipping away and chipping away and
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chipping away 1976. the high amendment is passed which says you can't pay for abortion with medicaid 1989 and other supreme court case webster, which rules against using public resources for abortion 2007 gonzalez be carhart a specific procedure of abortion is band and then of course, you know, the endless endless endless regulations and state laws which continue to sort of circumscribe row mandating waiting periods and consent and ultrasounds and all this stuff and at least and then sb8 which we saw in texas just sort of last year and then of course we have the case that now came before the supreme court dobs, which went to part of row namely viability which said that you know, here was a law out of mississippi, which said that abortion can be made illegal before viability that period at roughly 26 weeks now, it's a little earlier 23 weeks at the end of the second trimester when the fetus can survive outside the womb well, i'll just sort of
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i know where we're gonna be coming up up to sort of questions here. i'll tell you. one thing that is just depressing no matter which side of the issue you're on if you read the alito opinion the opinion that was that was leaked and i'll just know do i think that they're going to overturn row? yes, but you should know it is possible that they won't the last time row was really in jeopardy was 1992. there was the casey case and the first draft had them overturning row. so things happened a clerk of justice suitor wrote a memo which then sort of won him that memo was exciting for me. he had never been seen before but i found it. it's in my book and he then brings kennedy and o'connor until the fold and they they changed the law a little bit, but they preserve the essential holding of row namely viability again. do i think that'll happen? no, but right now like as we speak the chief justice roberts is desperately trying to preserve row. he doesn't want that headline
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row overturn and the two justices. he's working on our kavanaugh and barrett. i don't think they'll be successful. but that's what he's trying to do just to sort of finish up and well one thing on that if anyone thinks that if they overturn roe things will then be nice and tidy. it'll go back to the states and they're bonkers. it's going to be what we have now on steroids like it is going to be this divided country will divide all the more it is going to be i mean right now the sort of you know you go from one state to the next you might feel a little out of place like i mentioned when i went from the upper west side to the chapel i a river fine, but imagine you're a woman and like on this out of the line. i'm allowed to have an abortion on this side of the line. i'm not i mean that is really remarkable. and that's what we're looking towards a truly divided country now, i'll just sort of finish up by saying. then we'll take questions and if you don't have questions i can talk about this. i worked on the -- thing as i said for 11 years.
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but you know, i really do believe in humanizing not just this issue but all issues lawrence tribe the famous constitutional scholar. he wrote a book called clash of absolutes in 1992, i think and he said, you know the only way forward the only way that we can ever move forward as a people is that i'm quoting by giving voice to the human reality on each side of the verses meaning roe versus wade. and i believe that you know, it's not a coincidence. for example. that justice blackman was appointed by nixon. was the author of this opinion? he had worked at the mayo clinic. he'd been a general council at the mayo clinic. he'd seen up close women hospitalized because of a legal abortions and a hospital he also his own daughter sally a few years prior had been unhappily pregnant in college and that rerouted her entire life.
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well, maybe that it rerouted her at least a decade of her life. and so he saw up close give another example one of his fellow justices on the court also appointed. by richard nixon who as i say had about faced on the issue? his name justice powell. and he had been at a virginia law firm. he'd been working there when one of the messenger boys a teenager came to him. desperate for his help. he had he mentioned that. he had taken his girlfriend. to an abortion provider in a legal abortion provider she had died and he was now wanted for manslaughter. and just as powell was devastated by this and he confided to his clerks a few years later that this was the reason that he thought and ruled the way he did. so when you humanize issues it's not something like theoretical thing. and there are stories in my book
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on both sides that will make you feel i guarantee you you will be pulling for that person even though you disagree with them because that's what being open to people's stories does for you. you understand them you relate to them and we would our country as a whole would be in a much better place if we did that and obviously there's a lot said about the sort of you know polarization of our country and the echo chambers and we only hear people who agree with us. do yourselves a favor and speak to people who don't agree with you i do that for a living and it has made me a more empathetic person. so on that i will open it up to questions and thank you very much. to the mic if you're going to ask a question. yes. i'm certain that babies and fetuses are very emotional thing
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when i became a father certainly it was but i think the science says that every cell in your body. has dna. you can clone them and make a person now. there was a rogue scientist. you probably know in china who cloned a monkey from one cell not the gametes, but one cell therefore an embryo and a fetus is a potential human being with the emphasis on potential, but they're not not a human being please comment. yeah, i would say that, you know. one of the things that was interesting obviously writing about abortion. it's like a minefield even the words you choose, you know, as i say i chose to do pro-life pro-choice. so i chose to be literal like i used words like embryo and fetus whereas and it's fascinating to
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chart how the how the language changes in the republican political platforms, but you know now the unborn embryo is referred to is called a human being an unborn human being, you know, what was really amazing to me was this again like looking at how we got to this point the southern baptist convention the largest body evangelical christians in this country was pro-choice until 1980. so that's remarkable and you see sort of little by little everyone just sort of fell in line right and now here we are. i mentioned all that because you know a lot of the people on the pro-life side. they just now say hey look at my churches said this look at the catholic church. well, i think it's helpful and i lay out the history in my book to know that we got here because of the decisions of human beings even the catholic church, which has the most sort of, you know
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absolutist sort of view of abortion. now that only started in 1917 for the previous 700 years with a tiny three year window exception for 700 years the catholic church differentiated between abort abortions pre and post quickening the point at roughly 16 weeks when you can sort of feel the fetus inside and again, like everyone sort of fell in line. so i agree with you and i mentioned in my authors note that to me a potential human being is not the same as a human being but a person who does feel that it is a human being. and really believes that then they you know, the genuine sort of earnest person in that camp feels that they are preventing murder and so they of course will sort of go to any end to see that through so it's a complicated thing what i can
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tell you is as you know what you're learning to i did my very best to provide context. so everyone knows where they got to like. i was just on a on a podcast with one of the heads of the largest southern baptist committee seminary in america and i told him things about his own church that he didn't know, you know, and that was sort of fasting but it shows that even this person who has been marinating in the sbc for 30 years. you know their notebooks only started 1980 and that's kind of a complicated thing. thank you. my question was that you know in this entire discussion about unwanted pregnancies and abortion one of the key things is is the economic factors. and so how come in none of those discussions whether it is pre-portion post-abortion pregnancy around that. we don't hear anything about
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that really important economic factors. yeah. well, i agree with you and i mentioned earlier the word class like norma jane. roe was such a wonderful person for me to write about because her life shown a light on the sort of differences in class and economics. you know that mark our country. had norma had money not only would she have been able to sort of fly to california, but she would have also probably gone to and she probably would have been clued in to one of the central characters of my book a man named curtis boyd who was providing abortions in texas in a safe way pre-row and it just shows you know, how important leveling the playing field is now a lot of things are happening right now. we're large organizations on the pro-choice side or sort of gearing up figuring out infrastructures that they're going to be able to bring people who can't afford abortion where
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it's illegal to where it's legal on the other side. you've got you've got i mean remarkable sounds crazy, but you actually have you know laws being sort of prepared. god knows how this could be legal but preventing a woman from leaving to go get an abortion somewhere else or or preventing women from getting pills in the mail, you know medical abortion. i'll just mention one thing. you know my eyes were i didn't know much about roby wade when i started this i majored in music theory in college. i was like in over my head, but i started learning and started learning and and i just sort of accepted. oh, roby wade, of course, it should sort of remain law, but i'll tell you the truth my in my heart like the thing that i feel most comfortable with is what they have in western europe where basically the cutoff for abortion is earlier in the pregnancy, but until that point the state does everything it can to help the woman have the
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abortion. it's free. it's available everywhere and there are certainly aren't these crazy obstacles thrown in a way not, you know having to go back to the doctor three times and having to literally listen in some states of the doctor tell you that abortion causes cancer and and on and on and on and on and on now, they have exceptions they are for the health of the mother and such like that, but i just want to mention that because it's also true that i don't think and i go into it in detail in my book. i don't think people realize sort of what is entailed by a second trimester abortion. it's complicated and i think you know, it's good to challenge yourself and say okay, i believe in this. well, let's see if i still believe in this after i read you know about what's going on. i'm not i just had a question to follow up on the last women's focus on the economic issues. do you address or have you researched at all? the positions that different parties take on the responsibility of the father. of the baby in all of this a on
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both sides. so if a woman is prevented from having an abortion, and she's forced to carry a baby to term and give birth. how where does the father fall in this and if in fact for example, oklahoma just passed the law what this week. that made abortion illegal at the point of fertilization. which is at the point of conception and they passed that law this week. and so so if that's the case. have you explored or do you discuss the responsibilities in that case of the father? of this fertilized egg. yeah. i mean i could tell you that in terms of the second thing first setting aside the father for a second. yeah, you basically have some say that are trying desperately to sort of out, you know pro-life each other and coming up with a single most extreme laws that you can possibly come
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up with and you know, these are i mean, the only equivalents are like in places like el salvador and other places, you know, these are very very extreme things in terms of the father. you know, what interested me if you read through the row the different opinions of the justices who ruled on row. it's actually you don't have to be a lawyer to understand it like it's very accessible and one of the things that was sort of striking was justice byron white who was appointed by kennedy. and was one of the two dissenters in row. he talks a lot about the sort of rights of the father and this notion in the pro-life world that hey, what about the father? well, you know, there's this notion that feminist writers have written about the woman as womb. you know that basically she's sort of carry. it's a responsibility to carry and she's a little more than sort of a womb and you know, what was nice for me having
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these different characters in the book is the abortion provider curtis boyd, who is the person through whom i tell what it's like to be an abortion provider and he more than anyone sort of prefigured the the movement where we are today. it used to be that the leaders in the pro-choice world referred to abortion. that's something should be safely legal and rare as president clinton said, but he said well, why should it be rare it only empowers women. it's a social and moral good and he railed in particular against against the fact that he said like it's completely up to the woman and i understand that i would also just sort of point out. he's now come this man who is really i think the most important sort of voice in the pro-choice world in terms of his influence. he's now the largest provider of third trimester abortion in america. he's come to a very radical position where he believes that ab let's be legal literally until birth. so like, you know, it's very very complicated. i think just sort of one thing connected to what you're what
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you were saying is you know. well, actually it opens a whole can of worms and let me i think someone else might have a question. yeah. anyone else? okay. questions yeah. do i think that the upcoming march is going to do the oh, well, here's what i could say, you know. what galvanized? those opposed to row was the passage of rome like that became their unifying thing after that to overturn row and i think there are generations of women now and girls who have grown up. just taking this for granted. they can't even conceive of the fact that this would be illegal. and susan sontag actually wrote a brilliant thing in 1972 that i quoted my book. saying even even row itself just
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sort of mollified the masses because it preserved the patriarchy it's still like overall the general sort of role of men and women and she goes in her brilliant fashion explaining why that is the case it just sort of preserved the status quo, and she said the only way that sort of women will be roused from this sort of complacent state is if abortion is illegal, and i think there is some truth to that obviously men too. like we didn't i didn't get a question that i often get like who the hell are you to write this book? you're a man and i can answer that question, but i will just say that i do think it's true. i think that you know, there are now going to be millions of people who are forced to sort of grapple with this for the first time and confront this for the first time and politicians. listen, and let's see what happens in the midterm. elections. i mean if this does in fact become something that you know, kicks republicans out of office then i guarantee you that the power brokers on that side of
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the aisle are going to say, you know what we've got a little bit too far. so, you know, let's see. let's see what happens. yeah. exactly what do we think joshua for coming here? okay, i'm gonna i'm gonna start this intro now by the time we get into the program it will be officially 215 so welcome back everyone to the gaithersburg book festival. my name is jud ashman. i'm i'm the proud mayor and founder and chair of this book festival. thank you. gaithersburg is a city that values and supports the arts and humanities. we are pleased to bring y


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