Chapter Four: Old Spice

Linda Hirshman

Red State is Linda Hirshman's fictional account of an imagined, terrifying but not unthinkable America if Roe v. Wade is overturned. In Chapter Four, Lucy, our heroine may finally be on the road to safety.

As the pro-choice majority of the Supreme Court has dwindled to a few old Justices, legal scholars predict a world eerily like America before the Civil War, with women fleeing anti-abortion states, the authorities a few steps behind.

But there’s nothing like fiction to engage the heart. What would it feel like to live in the world like the one the law professors coldly imagine? Catch up and read Chapters One, Two and Three. Continuing every Tuesday and Friday until the heroine meets her fate, I will publish at this site an installment of her adventures and an imagined, terrifying, but not unthinkable America in the time after Roe.

Old Spice. Her father used to have old spice shaving stuff. Even when he was away, doing polling and stuff, his side of their bed still smelled of Old Spice. Where was the smell coming from? She turned her cheek a little. What was this cloth, rough, yet so cool and smooth? Smelling of her father. From before. Her head hurt so much. What had happened? Was she dead? Was there really heaven? Was she going to see her Dad again if there was heaven? Did they kill her after they raped her? Did you still hurt after you died? That would suck.

She opened her eyes. It was still dark, but could she be dead if she still hurt and still smelled? Had they blinded her after they raped her? Where were they? Why did it smell like her dead father?

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She wiggled her arms. She did not seem to be tied up. But she was surrounded by that strange cloth. Some kind of funeral wrapping? Surely ferals would not treat their victims to death rituals. The bachelor packs were famous for their savagery. Too many men and not enough women. That’s what abortion does. Her stepfather harped endlessly on abortion. Once people could choose the sex of their children, they mostly wanted boys. People always wanted boys – boys got the good jobs, boys supported their old parents especially after Social Security got repealed. If you could only afford one or two children, it made sense to abort the girls and keep the males. Once everyone started doing it, of course, there were too many boys and not enough girls to go around.

Rich men got wives, but the poor ones and the ugly ones, like the three in the bathroom, roamed around in packs looking for unguarded girls to rape. Once you were raped you were hard to marry off, even in a time when girls were scarce. Sometimes your father would marry you to the feral, if he was someone you knew from school or whatever. "Better than no husband at all," Arthur said. "Better to marry than to burn." Arthur was always saying that. Wonder if he made it up.

You’d think with all the police around, cruising the streets making sure everyone was doing what they should, there wouldn’t be much opportunity for the feral gangs. But rape was a crime the new cops didn’t seem to care that much about. It certainly kept her and her friends from roaming around, looking for trouble, as Arthur would say.

"I think she’s waking up." The smell grew stronger. A faint light appeared behind a figure in the doorway. A man in the doorway. Another figure behind. Oh, no, were they back? The light grew stronger. Well he certainly couldn’t be a feral, not with that face. Maybe she was dead; he looked like an angel, if there was such a thing, with his perfect oval face and long black eyelashes over kind brown eyes.

"Can you hear me?" He leaned over her. With the light, she realized she must be in a bed. Sheets, made of some strange material, soft, yet firm and cool. Not a shroud. She tried to nod and briefly blacked out again. She felt a cool dampness on her forehead and opened her eyes.

"Don’t move your head. Just blink if you can hear me."

She blinked and felt her face make a little smile in spite of his injunction.

"You are one lucky girl. We normally make rounds much later after it’s really dark, but one of our people who works at the Union thought he saw someone in the Toyota when he left work, and he celled us. They were all over you when we arrived. Do you remember being raped? It didn’t look like it. We need to treat you if you were. The ferals are dangerous."

He didn’t say it, but at school they whispered "AIDS" whenever they talked about the bachelors.

"I don’t think so." She moved gingerly. "It doesn’t hurt there. Where am I? Who are you?"

A long silence ensued. Then, without a word, he turned and walked out the door of the room.

When he came back, there was a small, middle aged woman with him.

She pulled a chair up to the side of the bed.

"My dear," she said gently, "what were you doing in that garage at sunset?"

Oh God. Who were these people? She thought she was safe for a moment. Didn’t they talk about making rounds? She assumed they were Guides from the Road. Had she made a terrible mistake? Were they the State "counselors?" She looked a little like them, so plain and no makeup or anything. One of them came to school last year to explain to her class why the girls were "graduating" early. They seemed so nice at first. But in the end they would turn her in or at least send her back.

She did not answer.

The woman said nothing.

Time – it seems like about a thousand years – passed.

The woman’s pocket began to play a tune. She grabbed it and pounded on it. Too late. A cell phone. Even though cell phones had been forbidden for a while now, she remembered when they used to play music, and what’s more she knew that song — "It’s Raining Men!" The girls used to sing it in the bathroom before, and a few of the rebellious ones still did. They could not be from Virginia if they had the gay anthem on their cell phone. She began to hum the rest.

"Okay," the man said to the woman with the cell phone. Were you waiting to be picked up?" he said.

She nodded.

"You’re in."

She’s in. They really exist. She found them. The Rainbow Road to freedom, a long, multicolored path from Red states to Blue. People whispered about them in the toilet, but no one had ever met one — the legendary Rainbow Guides. Soon she would be gone. Gone from Virginia, gone to Baltimore to live with her friend Joanna. Or to New York. Maybe she could even go back and finish high school. If she could find work, she could send herself to college. Her dad always said she was very smart. She used to get really good grades. She could listen to Car Talk.

She threw up all over herself. The man ran for something, but it was too late. She puked up crackers and cheese from her brother’s house, the candy bars she had taken to tide her over until they came for her, a coke. Vomiting on the sheets in their nice clean bead, retching and retching until nothing was left. Crying and apologizing, her head throbbing from the motion, she finally fell back against the pillow.

They cleaned her up. They did not seem to be mad, but there was a difference in their faces and their voices. And they left without another word. What had she done? Surely they weren’t going to send her back because she dirtied their sheets?

When they returned, they had a sober look.

"What is it?" she said. "I’m so sorry I messed up your beautiful bed. Are you going to send me back?"

"Of course we’re not going to send you back. Not even for linen sheets," the man said in a tone of mild amusement. His voice darkened. "But we can’t move you until we find out if you have a concussion. Throwing up is a symptom of concussion. And we cannot locate the doctor who used to help us. We have nothing to do but wait. If I could have found him, I would have had him examine you hours ago."

That’s okay. She would wait. She would be happy to wait here forever. When they turned on the lamp she saw beautiful drawings on the wall. She never had linen sheets, even if she did barf them up. Who were these people?

News Abortion

Anti-Choice Leader to Remove Himself From Medical Board Case in Ohio

Michelle D. Anderson

In a letter to the State of Ohio Medical Board, representatives from nine groups shared comments made by Gonidakis and said he lacked the objectivity required to remain a member of the medical board. The letter’s undersigned said the board should take whatever steps necessary to force Gonidakis’ resignation if he failed to resign.

Anti-choice leader Mike Gonidakis said Monday that he would remove himself from deciding a complaint against a local abortion provider after several groups asked that he resign as president of the State of Ohio Medical Board.

The Associated Press first reported news of Gonidakis’ decision, which came after several pro-choice groups said he should step down from the medical board because he had a conflict of interest in the pending complaint.

The complaint, filed by Dayton Right to Life on August 3, alleged that three abortion providers working at Women’s Med Center in Dayton violated state law and forced an abortion on a patient that was incapable of withdrawing her consent due to a drug overdose.

Ohio Right to Life issued a news release the same day Dayton Right to Life filed its complaint, featuring a quotation from its executive director saying that local pro-choice advocates forfeit “whatever tinge of credibility” it had if it refused to condemn what allegedly happened at Women’s Med Center.

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Gonidakis, the president of Ohio Right to Life, had then forwarded a copy of the news release to ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis with a note saying, “Sandy…. Will you finally repudiate the industry for which you so proudly support? So much for ‘women’s health’. So sad.”

On Friday, ProgressOhio, along with eight other groupsDoctors for Health Care Solutions, Common Cause Ohio, the Ohio National Organization for Women, Innovation Ohio, the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus, the National Council of Jewish Women, Democratic Voices of Ohio, and Ohio Voice—responded to Gonidakis’ public and private commentary by writing a letter to the medical board asking that he resign.

In the letter, representatives from those groups shared comments made by Gonidakis and said he lacked the objectivity required to remain a member of the medical board. The letter’s undersigned said the board should take whatever steps necessary to force Gonidakis’ resignation if he failed to resign.

Contacted for comment, the medical board did not respond by press time.

The Ohio Medical Board protects the public by licensing and regulating physicians and other health-care professionals in part by reviewing complaints such as the one filed by Dayton Right to Life.

The decision-making body includes three non-physician consumer members and nine physicians who serve five-year terms when fully staffed. Currently, 11 citizens serve on the board.

Gonidakis, appointed in 2012 by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, is a consumer member of the board and lacks medical training.

Theis told Rewire in a telephone interview that the letter’s undersigned did not include groups like NARAL Pro-Choice and Planned Parenthood in its effort to highlight the conflict with Gonidakis.

“We wanted it to be about ethics” and not about abortion politics, Theis explained to Rewire.

Theis said Gonidakis had publicly condemned three licensed doctors from Women’s Med Center without engaging the providers or hearing the facts about the alleged incident.

“He put his point out there on Main Street having only heard the view of Dayton Right to Life,” Theis said. “In court, a judge who does something like that would have been thrown off the bench.”

Arthur Lavin, co-chairman of Doctors for Health Care Solutions, told the Associated Press the medical board should be free from politics.

Theis said ProgressOhio also exercised its right to file a complaint with the Ohio Ethics Commission to have Gonidakis removed because Theis had first-hand knowledge of his ethical wrongdoing.

The 29-page complaint, obtained by Rewire, details Gonidakis’ association with anti-choice groups and includes a copy of the email he sent to Theis.

Common Cause Ohio was the only group that co-signed the letter that is decidedly not pro-choice. A policy analyst from the nonpartisan organization told the Columbus Dispatch that Common Cause was not for or against abortion, but had signed the letter because a clear conflict of interest exists on the state’s medical board.

News Politics

Missouri ‘Witch Hunt Hearings’ Modeled on Anti-Choice Congressional Crusade

Christine Grimaldi

Missouri state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) said the Missouri General Assembly's "witch hunt hearings" were "closely modeled" on those in the U.S. Congress. Specifically, she drew parallels between Republicans' special investigative bodies—the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Missouri Senate’s Committee on the Sanctity of Life.

Congressional Republicans are responsible for perpetuating widely discredited and often inflammatory allegations about fetal tissue and abortion care practices for a year and counting. Their actions may have charted the course for at least one Republican-controlled state legislature to advance an anti-choice agenda based on a fabricated market in aborted “baby body parts.”

“They say that a lot in Missouri,” state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) told Rewire in an interview at the Democratic National Convention last month.

Newman is a longtime abortion rights advocate who proposed legislation that would subject firearms purchases to the same types of restrictions, including mandatory waiting periods, as abortion care.

Newman said the Missouri General Assembly’s “witch hunt hearings” were “closely modeled” on those in the U.S. Congress. Specifically, she drew parallels between Republicans’ special investigative bodies—the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Missouri Senate’s Committee on the Sanctity of Life. Both formed last year in response to videos from the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from fetal tissue donations. Both released reports last month condemning the reproductive health-care provider even though Missouri’s attorney general, among officials in 13 states to date, and three congressional investigations all previously found no evidence of wrongdoing.

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Missouri state Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R), the chair of the committee, and his colleagues alleged that the report potentially contradicted the attorney general’s findings. Schaefer’s district includes the University of Missouri, which ended a 26-year relationship with Planned Parenthood as anti-choice state lawmakers ramped up their inquiries in the legislature. Schaefer’s refusal to confront evidence to the contrary aligned with how Newman described his leadership of the committee.

“It was based on what was going on in Congress, but then Kurt Schaefer took it a step further,” Newman said.

As Schaefer waged an ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the Missouri Republican attorney general primary, the once moderate Republican “felt he needed to jump on the extreme [anti-choice] bandwagon,” she said.

Schaefer in April sought to punish the head of Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis affiliate with fines and jail time for protecting patient documents he had subpoenaed. The state senate suspended contempt proceedings against Mary Kogut, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, reaching an agreement before the end of the month, according to news reports.

Newman speculated that Schaefer’s threats thwarted an omnibus abortion bill (HB 1953, SB 644) from proceeding before the end of the 2016 legislative session in May, despite Republican majorities in the Missouri house and senate.

“I think it was part of the compromise that they came up with Planned Parenthood, when they realized their backs [were] against the wall, because she was not, obviously, going to illegally turn over medical records.” Newman said of her Republican colleagues.

Republicans on the select panel in Washington have frequently made similar complaints, and threats, in their pursuit of subpoenas.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the chair of the select panel, in May pledged “to pursue all means necessary” to obtain documents from the tissue procurement company targeted in the CMP videos. In June, she told a conservative crowd at the faith-based Road to Majority conference that she planned to start contempt of Congress proceedings after little cooperation from “middle men” and their suppliers—“big abortion.” By July, Blackburn seemingly walked back that pledge in front of reporters at a press conference where she unveiled the select panel’s interim report.

The investigations share another common denominator: a lack of transparency about how much money they have cost taxpayers.

“The excuse that’s come back from leadership, both [in the] House and the Senate, is that not everybody has turned in their expense reports,” Newman said. Republicans have used “every stalling tactic” to rebuff inquiries from her and reporters in the state, she said.

Congressional Republicans with varying degrees of oversight over the select panel—Blackburn, House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI), and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (MI)—all declined to answer Rewire’s funding questions. Rewire confirmed with a high-ranking GOP aide that Republicans budgeted $1.2 million for the investigation through the end of the year.

Blackburn is expected to resume the panel’s activities after Congress returns from recess in early September. Schaeffer and his fellow Republicans on the committee indicated in their report that an investigation could continue in the 2017 legislative session, which begins in January.


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