Bucknam: The protection racket

By Deborah Bucknam

More than a half century ago, when I was in high school, I worked at a local ice cream store. Nearly every time I worked, I had to replace the large ice cream tubs from which we scooped ice cream for the customers. We carried the replacement tubs from the freezer in the back room to the freezer in the front of the store where we served customers. Trouble was, neither I nor the other girls employed there were supposed to lift those heavy ice cream containers. Massachusetts law prohibited women and girls from lifting more than 25 pounds — a law to “protect” the weaker sex. Most of the time there were no boys or men working, so we had to lift those containers ourselves. Even when there were males working, we were too embarrassed, or too proud, to ask them to carry the tubs. Besides, we knew we could lift the tubs as easily as any male. What did we girls get for this statutory protection? We were paid less than males, and we were told by our employers that the weight restriction was the reason for the lower wage. Some protection.

Michael Bielawski/TNR

St. Johnsbury-based attorney Deborah Bucknam

Over the centuries, there have been many of the laws “protecting” women. Married women were “protected” from being able to transfer their property without their husband’s consent. Women were protected from engaging in such dangerous occupations as the legal profession, or from entering the rough and tumble of political life by having the vote. The court decisions upholding those laws framed them as protection of women because judges said women were more fragile and less capable than men.

While some of these ancient restrictions began to be eased by the late 19th century, other protections on behalf of women and girls took their place. Labor laws such as weight restrictions and restrictions on hours worked were enacted, and challenges to those laws were invariably dismissed on the theory that women deserved special protection. In a 1912 decision upholding a law restricting the number of hours women and children could work, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts stated: “That purpose [restricting hours] was to establish the rights of children and women, who are treated as in a certain sense dependent and under an industrial disadvantage by reason of age and sex, to the end that the health and endurance of the [woman or child] may be insured and the ultimate strength and virility of the race be preserved.”

Of course, these laws did not protect women, but in reality protected men’s power and privileges, and protected men from labor competition with women.

Today, the protection racket continues. Advocates for unlimited abortion frame it as “protection” for women and their “right” to an abortion. Aside from the fatal risk to the unborn child, abortion is a procedure that is sad, heartbreaking, traumatic, and in some cases, physically risky, for women.

Statistics demonstrate that abortion is not the free exercise of a right its proponents claim. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in the United States 40 percent of abortions are performed on black women, while the black population is only 12 percent. Worldwide, there are far more female babies aborted than male babies. These facts demonstrate that abortion for many women is not a real choice, but akin to Sophie’s Choice.

Vermont’s new abortion law reveals that “protection” of women is a fiction. Vermont state government warns us endlessly about everything from swimming in lake water (you might get a rash) to keeping a clean house (you might get dust mites) to second-hand smoke to the risks of cell phone use while driving. It licenses and regulates everyone from manicurists to acupuncturists to landscape architects. Yet Vermont’s abortion bill allows the equivalent of the Wild West when it comes to abortion procedures. The Vermont Department of Health website, with its countless warnings, is silent about the risks of abortion.

Abortion is, at best, a highly unpleasant procedure, and at worst, a severely traumatic and dangerous one, performed because a woman is threatened by men who don’t want a girl baby or the responsibility of fatherhood. Then why do we call it “protection” of a woman’s “right”? The answer is similar to the reason why earlier laws were enacted to “protect” women. Abortion protects men’s ability to have sexual relations at no cost to them. Sex without consequences is, for too many men, a male ideal, liberating men from the burdens imposed when, in the past, sexual relations resulted in the birth of a child.

If we actually want to protect women, we should be advocating for medically safe abortion procedures, and as importantly, advocating for abortion prevention, researching the root causes of so many abortions, and, finally, encouraging women to take charge of their lives and their bodies so they are not faced with the horrible prospect of whether or not to “choose” to have an abortion.

Deborah Bucknam is a St. Johnsbury-based attorney and former Republican candidate for state attorney general.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/James McNellis and Michael Bielawski/TNR

6 thoughts on “Bucknam: The protection racket

  1. There is so much talk about a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. Any woman facing an unplanned pregnancy should be shown an ultrasound of the baby she is about to abort, and given accurate information about its current developmental stage. She should be told about adoption and other options that would not end her baby’s life, and what support is available to her. The only true choice is an informed choice.

    The new law fails to provide any protection against making the wrong choice. Those who profit from the abortion industry don’t want a woman to have real choice, because it would cut into their bottom line if more women chose life.

    This doesn’t even consider the rights of the child. The baby is entirely innocent, but must pay with his or her life for someone else’s unwillingness to take responsibility for their indiscretion.

  2. Men threatened by a baby girl? Seriously? I don’t think so.

    Because they don’t want to stand up for being a father? Seriously? The whole complaint is that men should have no say in “terminating a pregnancy”, it’s “our body”. They get stuck with a bill regardless so that doesn’t sound like running away from responsibility. Have the baby, give custody to the father and send child support, if they say no to that, then I’m in agreement, until that’s offered to men it doesn’t seem like a fair complaint.

    Men do not have the corner market on selfishness, nor do women have a monopoly or virtue, please.

    What percentage of men win custody? What percentage of women pay child support? If the courts started granting custody on a 50-50 split we’d see some very positive changes in child rearing.

    I haven’t seen too many women pumping septic, working for sanitation, digging for coal, plumbing and a host of other less pleasant jobs, that men do willingly and often with little complaint for decades to support their families. Men die on average 10 years sooner than all women, we foster the ‘war between the sexes” or come together in a spirit of love.

    There is no reason any child in Vermont should be unplanned, nor aborted, the tools are all here to prevent this. There are other better options if we stray, adoption being one choice.

    Women are smart, capable and responsible, they should be treated as such.

  3. The new Abortion Bill H.57 is nothing more than a ” cash cow ” for the UVM Medical Center
    and Planned Parenthood, PPH kind of an Oxymoron……..

    Planned Parenthood, is when you plan to have a child, not rip one out because of a one night
    stand and the have remorse because you got knocked up and dumped !!

    And now we all know you have no morals, Liberals will play on words ” Woman’s Rights, My Body ” by trying to justify their stupidity

    I don’t want my tax dollars going towards abortions, your foolishness is not my fault, so try some
    Protection or Abstinence it’s a lot safer !!

    • One would think “Planned Parenthood” is all about planning to have a child in the positive sense. I was horrified to learn it originated as just the opposite. In Burgess Owens’ stunning and revealing book “Liberalism or How to Turn Good Men into Whiners, Weenies, and Wimps”, the connection between Charles Darwin’s research, the Eugenics movement and Margaret Sanger is clarified.

      Sanger was a member of the Socialist Party of America and founder of Planned Parenthood. In 1916 she opened the first birth control clinic in Harlem serving poor immigrants, those “unfit” to reproduce and in 1926 was collaborating with the KKK. In 1939 Sanger launched “The Negro Project”: “We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” Negro population control through abortion was her plan! Further in Sanger’s own words “[Slavs, Latin, and Hebrew immigrants are] human weeds…deadweight of human waste…[Blacks, soldiers, and Jews are a] menace to the race…Eugenic sterilization is an urgent need…We must prevent multiplication of this bad stock.”

      Women today should take stock and realize exactly what “women’s health” and “family planning” traditions they are continuing, whose “rights” they are exercising, and by these abortion practices whose agenda they are realizing.

      • Dr. Kaufman, thank you for exposing this dark history of PP. it continues today with strategies that provide late term abortions and sell fetal tissues—both providing income to the organization.

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