Rape and abor­tion have be­come po­lit­i­cal football fields in U.S.

Times Chronicle - - OPINION -

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. ko 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 kew 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 tcgn@mont­gomerynews.com.

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