Rape and abortion have become political football fields in U.S.
August 2012 will be remembered as the month when a four-letter word was on the lips of everyone. “Rape” became a subject for discussion across the United States.
The political meaning of the word and its handling by the law brought shocking thoughts to everyone. Depending on the political party in power, no special treatment would be available to victims of rape by strangers, incest or an outcome of probable death of the victim.
The word rape brings with it another four-letter word: “fear.” One thing is certain, anyone who is raped will have a future of physical harm and emotional shock. Rape by a stranger is not a sexual happening; the driving force is power and often the victim is blamed. No one has the right to assume a female wearing provocative clothing is “asking for it.” How a person dresses and acts is the right of the person without someone else interpreting the meaning.
“Date rape” is a fear in high school and colleges. Drinking and drugs may make someone act wrong but those actions are not tickets to conquest. The consequences of date rape might end in expulsion from school, jail time, and a ruined future. The use of alcohol and drugs should be forbidden.
If a girl no longer has her period, or has not had a period by age 16, an exam by a physician is a must. When periods stop for three months, a term known as a-men-or-rhe-a, the problem could be pregnancy or a medical ab- normality. A girl who is a thin athlete may stop having periods. The condition has been seen in long distance runners, gymnasts, cyclists and girls with low body fat and in girls with thyroid disease. A complication of this is weak bones in the teenage years that is equivalent to osteoporosis.
That first period of life has happened earlier over the years. In the year 1840, the first menses known as menarche usually happened when a girl was 14 to 15 years old. By 1980, the average age for the first period was 12.6 years. In the 1800s in Europe, the age of the first period was at age 17. Apparently, with time, a heavier young teen triggered an earlier menarche.
The chronology of birth control dates back to the Bible. In Genesis, 38 -9 coitus interrupts is mentioned as onanism. However, it was the Roman writer who told his readers to avoid sex to prevent pregnancy. It would be in 1827 A.D. before researchers discovered the existence of the female egg and 16 years later until they learned that pregnancy might occur when the sperm enters the egg.
In 1873 the Comstock Law outlawed contraception devices. In 1890 a German scientist invented the diaphragm. In 1916 Margaret Sanger, a New York nurse, opened the first birth control clinic in Brooklyn and 10 days later the vice squad shut it down.
In the 1920s the rhythm method was invented. In 1926 the first pregnancy test was carried out. In l962, two years after the birth control pill hit the market, 2.3 million American women were taking the pill. In 1967, 12.5 million American women were on the pill. In 1984, worldwide, more than 50 million were using the birth control pill.
Approximately one-fifth (19 per- cent) of the 6.4 million pregnancies that occur annually in the United States ends in abortion. In 2001 nearly half (49 percent) were unintended and, of these, 42 percent ended in abortion. According to surveys, abortion rates are higher among low-income women.
In 2005, 1,787 facilities provided abortions in the United States and medical abortions accounted for 13 percent of all abortions. Although surgical abortions account for 87 percent of abortions, since 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug for medical abortion RU-486.
We must now wait for the political outcome in this country to find out if there will be a change in the handling of rape and abortions.
Dr. Milton Friedman can be reached at email@example.com.