June 05, 2013
Shakespeare or Stein? An Abortion in El Salvador for Beatriz
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 2, by William Shakespeare.
"Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose." Sacred Emily, by Gertrude Stein.
Beatriz got her abortion, and her life was saved. The fetus-child-baby (you choose) that she was carrying was dead before the procedure was carried out. What is the name for a dead fetus still in utero? And what is the name for removing this dead fetus from the mother before it kills her? What is in a name?
A 22 year-old El Salvadorian woman, Beatriz, was pregnant with her second child and discovered that the child had anencephaly - a condition where the child had no brain and only a partial skull. Beatriz herself had lupus and hypertension, and continuing the pregnancy would risk her life.
The child had no brain. No brain function. The unborn child was dead. Cerebral death is death. A heart may continue beating for a time after the brain ceases functioning but the patient is dead when the brain stops functioning. The child was not 'alive'. There was no 'life' to terminate with an abortion. Nature had already done that.
Beatriz's doctors were in a quandary, given El Salvador law.
El Salvador's original name is Provincia de Nuestro Señor Jesus Cristo, el Salvador del Mundo ("Province of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World"), which tells you that this country is seriously Catholic in origin. Abortion is forbidden in El Salvador for any reason, even to save the life of the mother. Life from the moment of conception is protected in the Constitution.
So Beatriz and the hospital went to the Supreme Court of El Salvador, which ruled, predictably, that an abortion was not permitted, because they had to protect the 'life' of the fetus, which sadly had none anymore, and because Beatriz's health problems were under control. The court did add that her doctors could proceed with interventions if Beatriz's health deteriorated to the point where danger was imminent.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights immediately ordered the government of El Salvador to act swiftly to protect Beatriz's "life, personal integrity and health".
Into the breach stepped the Health Minister of El Salvador, who ruled that the pregnancy could be interrupted by delivering the baby by caesarian section in order to protect Beatriz's life. Beatriz was at that time 27 weeks pregnant, and the C-section was immediately performed.
Was it an 'abortion'?
What is in a name? In South Africa, abortion is called 'termination of pregnancy'. What do we call what Beatriz had? 'Interruption of pregnancy', 'termination of pregnancy', 'C-section'?
Whatever Beatriz had, the road to getting it was a cruel one, akin to torture. Is this what a woman has to go through - the Supreme Court, the Inter-American Court and the Health Ministry - to save her life and control her childbearing?
Which is just what the powers-that-be in El Salvador do not want - women controlling their childbearing. This case does not change that. The law remains. The Constitution remains. They bent and called an abortion a C-section, but abortion and women controlling reproduction are still prohibited in El Salvador.
So what will woman in El Salvador do? Try to kill their fetuses with herbs or toxins, knitting needles and the like and then show up at the hospital and ask for a C-section, if they are still alive to ask. That is what women will do, and have always done, when they are pregnant with a child they do not want or cannot have.
There is a name for wanting to take care of these women and to give them the future they deserve. It's called humanitarianism. Someday El Salvador will smell the roses and decriminalize abortion.
May 10, 2013
Now is the Time for Women and Girls
The Time Is Now for Women and Girls
Posted: 05/10/2013 4:50 pm
What do a collapsing sweatshop in Bangladesh, the denial of a lifesaving abortion to a young woman in El Salvador and the kidnapping, rape and torture of three women in Cleveland have in common?
They exemplify the fact that women are not just second-class citizens, but not considered citizens at all.
Right now, we have the chance to change this reality by creating a wise, strategic and human-centered development agenda centered on women and girls. After months of work, civil society, private sector and government heavyweights will gather in New York this week to chart their vision for the future of global development. As members of a high-level panel
tasked with advising the United Nations Secretary General on key areas of investment, leaders like Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and UK Prime Minister David Cameron will have the difficult task of balancing a number of competing and important global priorities like education, employment, water, and health at the group's final meeting.
At the top of their list should be the health and rights of women and girls.
We have waited too long! In 1994, governments agreed to an ambitious Programme of Action
to achieve gender equality, eliminate violence against women, and ensure access to basic sexual and reproductive health services. Since that time, this landmark agreement has been reaffirmed, even providing the roadmap for the creation of the Millennium Development Goals that aimed to reduce poverty and ensure universal access to reproductive health.
Yet despite the many promises and commitments signed throughout the years, women's human rights and health remain a distant dream for many. Today, one in three
women around the world will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Today, more than 200 million women want
-- but are unable to access -- basic contraceptive services. Today, the largest-ever generation of adolescent and young women are increasingly at risk of HIV infection, many times lacking information on how to protect themselves and the power to negotiate condom use with their partners.
We know -- as generations before have professed -- that we cannot achieve sustainable development, that we cannot build healthy and empowered communities and nations when we continue to deny half the world's population their basic human rights and fundamental freedom.
This week, as the panel finalizes its recommendations for Secretary Ban Ki-moon, we call on panel members to prioritize:
- Universal access to quality and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, including safe abortion
- Universal access to quality education for women and girls, including comprehensive sexuality education
- The elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls
- The guarantee of women's rights, gender equality and women's empowerment, including their right to live free of discrimination and participate freely in political, economic, environmental and social decision-making spheres
- The development of mechanisms within the new global development paradigm that hold governments accountable to clear, time-bound commitments
As the world gears up to enshrine a new set of global development goals and agreements, it's time for us to keep our promise to women and girls. We have an unparalleled opportunity to secure a sustainable world of justice, choice and well-being for all people, and without a doubt, we need healthy, empowered women and girls to ensure that our planet can continue to care for us all.
Me and Pat Robertson Go Toe to Toe
Pat Robertson: Planned Parenthood Founder Had Plan To 'Lead The Black People Toward Euthanasia'
Televangelist Pat Robertson slammed Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger on Wednesday, saying her writings advocated a plan to drive minorities "toward euthanasia."
"Go back and read her writings," Robertson said on "The 700 Club." "What Margaret Sanger believed was there were defective, genetically defective people. They were Roman Catholics, they were evangelical protestants, they were Southern Europeans, they were Latinos and especially, they were African Americans."
Robertson went on to say Sanger wanted to find a "highly respected" leader in those communities to be the spokesman for Planned Parenthood in order to "lead the black people toward euthanasia."
Robertson also compared Sanger to "the Nazis," who he said "found people that they thought were defective and they wanted to sterilize them and of course, ultimately murder them."
It's not the first time Robertson has compared Sanger to Nazis. In April, he said
Sanger "set the stage for Adolf Hitler."
UPDATE -- 11:14 a.m.: Alexander Sanger, Chair of the International Planned Parenthood Council and grandson of Margaret Sanger, sent the following statement on Robertson's remarks to HuffPost:
The infamous out of context quote that she wanted to find prominent Negro physicians to help with birth control in the South was to counteract Black fears of birth control so that Black women could control their family size just as whites were doing.
These statements by Robertson are part of a long pattern of falsehoods and distortions by the anti-birth control crowd who have no valid arguments against birth control, so they resort to smearing a women who has been dead for a half century.
She did endorse compulsory sterilization in limited circumstances but in general opposed it as much as she opposed compulsory motherhood.
She said: "Compulsory motherhood is the cornerstone of the subjection of women and the subjection of women is the basis of all the evils of over-population. Birth is the woman’s problem, and she must be put in a position to solve it for herself. She must have the right to her own body, and the right to choose when she will bear a child. If this right be made absolutely hers, there will be an end to the bearing of children for whom the world has no room and no opportunities; there will be an end to the bearing of diseased and defective children…”
April 29, 2013
The Untold History of Abortion Access in America
Posted: 04/29/2013 10:21 am
Several U.S. states are falling over themselves -- and in some cases failing
-- to ban abortion, abortion clinics and access to the few clinics that remain. This is not a new phenomenon.
My grandmother, Margaret Sanger, began the birth control movement in the early 20th century. While early American law allowed for access to birth control and abortion, criminalization began in the 19th century. Then, the campaign to restrict reproductive freedom was primarily founded on the imperatives of organized medicine, the Protestant reaction to Irish Catholic immigration, and the drive for social "purity" in sexual matters.
During the 19th century, physicians began to unravel the mysteries of reproductive biology and fetal development. The ovum was discovered, as was the process of fertilization. The 19th century was also the time when university-trained physicians sought to control the practice of medicine.
Today, it is hard to imagine a time when there were few, if any, restrictions on who could practice medicine. In fact, until university-trained physicians appeared on the scene, midwives and other non-university trained doctors called "irregulars," as well as outright quacks, were the main practitioners. They not only diagnosed medical conditions, but also concocted and distributed all kinds of homemade drugs to their patients.
While official records are scarce, it seems that the first legislative restrictions on access to abortion were enacted as a result of efforts by "regular" physicians to protect the safety of women being treated by "irregulars" who earned a healthy part of their income by providing contraception, abortion and childbirth services. University-trained physicians also had an ulterior financial motive to put their competition -- irregulars, midwives and quacks -- out of business.
Physicians began to pressure legislatures to put the control of pregnancy prevention and termination in the hands of physicians only. The formation of the American Medical Association in 1841 by the physician-regulars accelerated the legislative process. They didn't bother to hide their financial motives. In "Abortion in America
," James C. Mohr relates that the Southern Michigan Medical Society in 1875 was reminded by one of its members: "Regular physicians are still losing patients, even long time patients, to competitors willing 'to prevent an increase in their (patient's) families' by performing abortions."
Physicians alone were not able to bring about the criminalization of abortion. At the beginning of their campaign in the 1840s and 1850s, they aligned themselves with the Know-Nothings, a fledging political party of nativists opposed the tide of Irish-Catholic immigration into America, which had begun to increase exponentially with the potato famine. The Know-Nothings wanted to preserve control over the then-mostly Anglo-Saxon, Protestant society. Their platform was a mixture of nativism, temperance and religious bigotry that sought to restrict the voting and political representation rights of immigrants. The Know-Nothings feared that they, the native-born Protestants, would soon be outnumbered and outvoted by the new Catholic immigrants.
It did not escape Protestant notice that immigrant Catholic women had large numbers of children, while native Protestant women were having fewer. Since few new birth control methods had been introduced at this time -- although there were the beginnings of condom and diaphragm manufacturing -- the Know-Nothings suspected that Protestant women were using abortion as their method of birth control. Hence, the Know-Nothing men readily joined the AMA crusade to criminalize abortion. As contraceptive options increased in the course of the 19th century, those who favored the white Protestant hegemony also supported the criminalization of contraception. As one prominent physician said
in 1874: "The annual destruction of fetuses has become so truly appalling among native American (Protestant) women that the Puritanic blood of '76 will be but sparingly represented in the approaching centenary."
Even though men took the lead in advancing the medical, political and racial arguments for the criminalization of birth control and abortion, some women were also in favor of this legislation. These women favored other "social purity" campaigns after the Civil War that sought to restrict gambling, drinking, prostitution and other immoral pursuits, including any expression of human sexuality other than that occurring between married couples for purposes of reproduction. Some feminists believed that birth control and abortion did more than enable voluntary motherhood; they also enabled husbands to consort more freely with "other women." These feminists believed that their own voluntary motherhood could be achieved by periodic abstinence and self-control.
The stars were thus aligned for Anthony Comstock, a YMCA official who headed the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, to persuade Congress to enact his eponymous laws that prevented the publication or mailing of materials "designed, adapted, or intended for preventing conception or producing abortion, or for any indecent or immoral purpose." Individual states followed suit, and by the last quarter of the 19th century, birth control and abortion had essentially been criminalized at both the state and federal levels.
The result was not that birth control and abortion were thereby eliminated from American society; instead they went underground. We can surmise that many women had access to these services because the birth rate continued its century-long decline even after both were criminalized.
One woman who did not was my grandmother's mother, who had 11 children and several more miscarriages. She died at 49. My grandmother never forgot her mother's tragic death. It took her a lifetime to overturn the Comstock Laws, the last one falling after the 1965 Supreme Court Griswold v. Connecticutruling.
It is not just legal abortion and Roe v. Wade but legal birth control and Griswold that today's opponents of reproductive freedom are trying to overturn. The ghost of Anthony Comstock still stalks the land.
April 15, 2013
Shame on Shaming
My latest blog post on the Huffington Post
Shame on Shaming
Posted: 04/12/2013 12:53 pm
The Bloomberg administration in New York recently launched a series of subway ads condemning teen pregnancy by trying to shame teen mothers into delaying childbirth.
One ad says, "I'm twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen."
"This campaign makes very clear to young people that there's a lot at stake when it comes to deciding to raise a child," said Bloomberg in a statement
... By focusing on responsibility and the importance of education, employment, and family in providing children with the emotional and financial support they need, we'll let thousands of young New Yorkers know that waiting to [become] a parent could be the best decision they ever made.
The press release accompanying the ad campaign also states that "Decades of research show that children born to young, unmarried parents are more likely to be poor, have emotional and behavioral problems and are less likely to do well in school."
The Bloomberg administration is using the received wisdom on teen pregnancy that early childbearing makes even more problematic the already difficult lives of poor, young people, delays their advancement out of poverty and harms their children. The received wisdom is, however, wrong.
suggests that poverty in the midst of income inequality, unstable family life, a poor environment, a poor educational system and job opportunities and limited life expectancy are the overriding factors harming young people and their children, not teenage childbearing.
The Bloomberg press release also states, correctly, that while "the city's teen pregnancy rate fell 27 percent in the last decade, there are still more than 20,000 teen pregnancies annually, 87 percent of which are unintended..."
Teen pregnancy is not intractable, and progress has been made -- but progress can be achieved without shaming the teens who do become pregnant. City-wide programs that provide sex education to young men and young women and contraceptive access for teens, including condoms that also protect young people from HIV infection, have been effective in reducing teen pregnancy.
Giving teens the information they need and the contraceptive methods that suit them is the key to eliminating the 87 percent of teen pregnancies that are "unintended."
Researchers, if not politicians, are well aware that "intendedness" around pregnancy is a slippery concept. One researcher
stated, "When one focuses on teen fertility, we would argue that it is not generally socially acceptable to report that you 'wanted' to get pregnant as a teenager, either at the time of conception, after pregnancy or after the child is born. So survey rates of 'intendedness' would be biased upward."
A 2010 report on teen pregnancy in New York City schools states
There is a growing body of literature suggesting that when teens live in poor communities with less advantage and opportunity and more disorganization, they are more likely to engage in sex at an earlier age and to become pregnant. This finding is supported by data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health that indicated neighborhood context as a significant factor in differences in rates of sexual initiation, after controlling for family income, parental education, race/ethnicity, age, and family structure. Qualitative studies within financially depressed neighborhoods have linked teens' decisions not to use contraception to feelings of hopelessness or perceived lack of personal opportunity for the future. This research is consistent with our finding of increased pregnancy risk within high need neighborhoods, after controlling for race/ethnicity.
More than 300,000
young women give birth every year in this country. What is the reproductive benefit they see? A teen, of any race or ethnicity, living in a an economically depressed neighborhood, who sees little possibility of advancement, may see her best opportunity to have a child and form a family as better done sooner rather than later. Sooner because her own life expectancy, and that of her parents who can may be in a position to help her raise a child, is shorter than more affluent teens; and sooner because her own health deteriorates more rapidly than more affluent teens, thereby making childbearing more fraught for the teen and her baby. Under these circumstances, to postpone childbearing is to risk forgoing having children at all.
But what about the effect on the babies? Do they end up markedly worse in life than if their mothers had delayed childbearing into her 20s?
There is no doubt that children of poor teen mothers do not fare well, but is this a result of being born to a teen or, rather, to being born to a poor girl in a poor neighborhood? In academic lingo, does correlation equal causation?
As I stated in my book, Beyond Choice
, "...just because children of teen mothers may have poor results in school does not mean that these results were caused by these children being born to teen mothers. It may be caused by other factors such as their underlying poverty, differing patterns of maternal care or the poor schools themselves."
Researchers Melissa Schettini Kearney and Philip B. Levine recently confirmed this
and stated: "our reading of the most rigorous empirical studies today is that the data reject the hypothesis that the children of teenage mothers would have experienced better outcomes had those same mothers delayed pregnancy until after age 19."
Shaming is not an answer to the issue of teen pregnancy. We need to give teens sexual education and access to contraceptives so that a decision to get pregnant and have a child can be a conscious one and not an accidental one. Shaming them for having children, who are born healthy, and who can be raised to adulthood in a family kin network, is cruel and wrong.
April 05, 2013
Conversation with Joan Garry
Here is the link to my 20 minute conversation with non-profit guru, Joan Garry, on reproductive rights, the role of non-profits, board-CEO relationships and other things.
February 19, 2013
My Two Grandfathers at the 1913 Armory Show
Below is a link to a story I wrote about my two grandfathers who each went to the 1913 Armory Show, 100 years ago this week.
My Grandfathers at the 1913 Armory Show
Posted: 02/11/2013 3:46 pm
One hundred years ago, a February day in 1913, two strangers, both fortyish, one in a formal black suit, wearing a black homburg, with carefully manicured nails, the other in a rumpled tweed suit, carrying in his oil-paint-stained hands a wide-brimmed brown fedora, stand alone in Gallery G of the International Exhibition of Modern Art at the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue ("The Armory Show"). Gallery G was the English, Irish and German room. A large painting, "The Garden of Love," that has briefly brought the two men together, is by a Russian living in Munich, Vassily Kandinsky. It is mostly abstract, though some figures are vaguely discernible; it is the only abstract painting in the room -- a colorful oil, with a blending of hues like a watercolor -- vibrant and seething with energy. Gallery I, two galleries over, which contained, among other revolutionary abstract works, Duchamp's "Nude Descending the Staircase," was so crowded with gawkers that a visitor could barely see, much less absorb the revolutionary experience of the artworks. The two men had Gallery G and its one abstract painting, and ten realist ones, to themselves. The two men are my grandfathers. The better-dressed one, Edwin Campbell, a doctor turned businessman, lingers enthralled before the Kandinsky, while the other, William Sanger, an architect and sometime painter, though appreciative of Kandinsky's painterly technique, moves on to the adjoining work, a non-abstract watercolor, "The Political Meeting," by the Irish Jack Butler Yeats.
Both men are immigrants. William Sanger, born to German-Jewish parents in Berlin, was educated at Cooper Union, turned Socialist and struggled thereafter to make a living as an architect, often working as an artisan in stained glass works to make ends meet. Breaking further with his parents, he married an Irish nurse, Maggie Higgins, who, after the three children were born, took up her nursing again to help with the family finances. She joined the Visiting Nurse Service on the Lower East Side, often tending to women dying from self-induced or back-alley abortions. Introduced into Socialist circles by her husband, she also joined the Industrial Workers of the World ("IWW") and helped lead the Lawrence Textile Strike of 1912. As the Armory Show approached, William Sanger was becoming more determined to flee architecture and his railroad flat in Harlem to paint full time, while his wife was off again with the IWW helping organize the Paterson Silk Workers Strike.
Edwin Campbell, my mother's father, born in Canada to a family of immigrant farmers and tavern keepers from Scotland, received a medical diploma in Toronto and emigrated to upper Michigan in 1887, where he met his future patient and father-in-law, WC Durant, in a poker game at the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island. Durant was co-owner of the Flint Road Cart Company, soon to be the largest producer of horse-drawn vehicles in the country. In 1904, Durant acquired his first horse-less vehicle company, the Buick Motor Company, and, shortly thereafter, Oldsmobile and Cadillac, putting them all together into his new General Motors Company in 1908. By then Edwin Campbell was Durant's son-in-law, and he gave up his lucrative practice of medicine to join the fledgling and risky General Motors as an executive. In 1911, Edwin Campbell incorporated the Chevrolet Motor Car Company for his father-in-law and subsequently became a director of General Motors. At about the time of the Armory Show, Durant and Campbell moved their operations to New York City, where Campbell bought a seventh-floor apartment at 635 Park Avenue for his wife and two children, staffing it with a cook, two maids and a butler. The apartment had an entrance foyer with three doors leading off to various rooms, leaving four large expanses of wall that begged for decoration.
Campbell -- personally taciturn and withdrawn, Presbyterian, scientific, methodical, with not a perceptible artistic bone in his body -- went to the Armory Show with the husband of one of Durant's cousins, Arthur Jerome Eddy, a noted Chicago lawyer and collector of modern art, including Kandinsky. Campbell decided in Gallery G of the Armory Show that he had to have four Kandinsky panels in his foyer at 635 Park Avenue. Eddy, as Campbell's agent, ordered the paintings by letter to Kandinsky, carefully giving the exact measurements of each panel. This was Kandinsky's first commission, and his only commission for the rest of his life. The price for all four panels was DM 2,000, or $177.30 each. Eddy asked that the panels be "strong brilliant pictures." Eddy added, in another letter to the artist, that Campbell "has a great deal of courage" to hang such paintings in a Park Avenue apartment. My mother said that her father's friends thought that, "he had taken leave of his senses." Art has been used for millennia to make a statement, and Edwin Campbell's four Kandinskys said, "New York, I've arrived."
William Sanger was slipping down the economic ladder as fast as Edwin Campbell was scaling it. Politically and personally passionate, defender of the poor and downtrodden, and with the soul of an artist, William Sanger returned multiple times to the Armory Show, studying the paintings of Matisse, Picasso and other Modernists working in Paris. He, too, made a momentous decision in Gallery G of the Armory Show -- to abandon architecture and take his family to Paris to paint. His wife had other ideas, and, while organizing picketers at the silk workers strike in Hazelton, Penn, Margaret Sanger was arrested for the first time, for hitting a policeman patrolling her picket line, who had ordered her to "move along." After being bailed out of jail by the IWW, she returned to the picket line and took a swing at another policeman. The Sangers worked together on the Paterson Silk Workers pageant held at Madison Square Garden (adjacent to the 69th Regiment Armory) in June 1913 -- an artistic success but a financial failure for the IWW -- with Bill painting scenery and Margaret organizing, with Jack Reed and Mable Dodge, the procession of strikers and their children brought in for the occasion from Paterson.
Their union crumbling -- the marriage not having room for two people each seeking their own quite different visions of fulfillment in life -- the Sangers set out for to Paris in the fall of 1913, where Margaret interviewed nurses and midwives about methods of birth control and Bill took a studio near Modigliani's and painted. Bill Sanger was once described by Mable Dodge in her memoir: "She (Margaret Sanger) had a husband, Bill Sanger, who tried to paint...." He did not meet with success. Margaret returned home in early 1914 to launch the birth control movement in America, while Bill stayed in Paris. His canvases remained social-realist, often with defiant political messages, like that of Jack Butler Yeats's painting in Gallery G -- abstractions like Kandinsky's, in his view, would not help the downtrodden workingman.
While the marriage was over, Bill Sanger's involvement in his estranged wife's cause was not. In 1915, Anthony Comstock, America's purity crusader and our answer to Inspector Javert, unable to bring Margaret Sanger to trial for obscenity for publishing her incendiary newspaper, The Woman Rebel - she had fled the country to avoid prosecution - entrapped Bill Sanger into handing over one of his wife's birth control pamphlets to an undercover police officer. At his trial at the Tombs, Bill Sanger made front-page news with his impassioned defense of women's rights and free speech:
I deny the right of the State to exercise dominion over the souls and bodies of our women by compelling them to go into unwilling motherhood. I deny the right of the State to arm an ignorant, irresponsible, and prudish censorship with the right of search and confiscation, to pass judgment on our art and literature, and I deny as well the right to hold over the entire medical profession the legal ban of this obscenity statute.
After refusing to disclose his wife's whereabouts, William Sanger was sentenced to 30 days in the Tombs -- thus having the distinction of going to jail for birth control before his wife did. Anthony Comstock caught a chill from testifying at the Tombs and was dead within two weeks. This poetic justice, combined with the extensive newspaper coverage of the trial, in which the words 'birth control' appeared for the first time in the nation's newspapers, led Margaret Sanger to return to America from exile to re-launch her crusade. The next year she opened America's first birth control clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
As Bill Sanger was serving his sentence, Kandinsky finished his four panels and shipped them to Stockholm for an exhibition and finally across the Atlantic to New York (just before the launch of unrestricted submarine warfare by the Germans). My seven-year old mother remembered the day the four panels were uncrated in the fall of 1916 and hung in the foyer of 635 Park Avenue, calling the works "horrid." Other observers called them "messes of color" and "horrible big paintings." When the Campbells divorced in 1920, Edwin gave the apartment, together with the panels, which the family called 'The Four Seasons', to my grandmother, who treated them in an extraordinarily cavalier fashion, abandoning two in the basement of a rented house in Palm Beach in the late 1930's and selling off the remaining two in a lawn sale at her house in New Canaan in the 1950's for $15 and $25. They are now recognized as Kandinsky's masterpieces, and, reunited, now hang, as the Campbell Panels, in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The paintings of William Sanger, who is largely known today as his wife's husband, are not so prominently displayed, now residing in storage vaults at the Brooklyn Museum, the Newark Museum and the Hispanic Society of America in upper Manhattan, among others. His one large commission, a mural for the Brooklyn Industrial School for Girls, done when he was a WPA artist during the Depression, was painted over with another mural. His lone architectural commission surviving in Manhattan is a striking townhouse at 114 Waverly Place.
My grandfathers never met, their lives intersecting just this once at the Armory Show. Edwin Campbell died of a heart attack on board the SS Majestic while taking my mother on a vacation to Europe in 1929, ten years before my mother met my father, while they were both medical residents at Presbyterian Hospital in New York.
Still, I imagine my two grandfathers standing silently side by side before the Kandinsky painting at the Armory Show, the exhibition that said to America that anything was possible -- a lesson that both men had already well absorbed and would continue to act on. I see Edwin Campbell--the straight-laced, but courageous, risk-taking entrepreneur, who had abandoned medicine to help bring the automobile to the American people -- entranced by the painting that had all the kinetic energy of a Buick engine; and William Sanger -- the courageous, idealistic, bohemian, though practical, artist, who had a pivotal if unsung role in bringing birth control to the same American people, and going to jail for it -- seeing his future in using realistic art to create a fairer and more just world. There they stand, absorbed in their own thoughts, staring at the painting -- each emboldened by the destiny that was staring back at them.
Alexander C. Sanger
Mr. Sanger previously served as the President of Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) and its international arm, The Margaret Sanger Center International (MSCI) for ten years from 1991 - 2000.
, the grandson of Margaret Sanger, who founded the birth control movement over eighty years ago, is currently Chair of the International Planned Parenthood Council.
Mr. Sanger speaks around the country and the world and has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund.
With reproductive freedom in jeopardy, Alexander Sanger, grandson of renowned family planning advocate Margaret Sanger and a longtime leader in the reproductive rights movement, has taken an urgent, fresh look at the pro-choice position—and even the pro-life position—and finds them necessary, but insufficient. In Beyond Choice he offers the first major re-thinking of these positions in thirty years.
“Well researched and readable, Beyond Choice should be required reading for both pro-choice and pro-life supporters.”
—Governor Christine Todd Whitman
» Much more on Beyond Choice, including an excerpt, discussion guides, reviews
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» Eugenics, Race, and Margaret sanger
Revisited: Reproductive Freedom for All?
Hypatia, Indiana University Press
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Tina Morlock, Oklahoma City Pioneer
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Paul Swiech, The Pantagraph
» Planned Parenthood founder: Republican Party is pro-choice
Elaine Hopkins, The Journal Star
» Women's Studies seminar covers controversial topic
Jamie Smith, The Daily Vidette
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Dahlia Weinstein, Rocky Mountain News
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