6/30/2003

The slog through the edits on Angel Stations is becoming harder now that I'm onto the last quarter of the manuscript, mainly because this is the section of the book which I had least opportunity to revise before the book deal appeared and knocked me all for six. Now I'm not only carrying out the suggested edits, I'm also reorganising the text to make more sense overall - including switching whole chapters around to make more chronological sense. I'm still hoping to finish this within the next fortnight, since the other book, Against Gravity, is getting workshopped at the writer's circle in two week's time, and it would be nice to get Stations out of the way for now so I can concentrate on that.

Meanwhile, out there in the real world, I found something very alarming on the BBC news site, about the American Government exporting anti-abortion laws to other countries by threatening to withdraw vital aid from those who refuse to co-operate. From the article;

"The anti-abortion movement is growing stronger under Bush. (He has) reinstated an old policy from the Reagan days (that) the United States will not allow its overseas aid money to be used to fund groups that carry out or provide any kind of advice or information about abortion.
"Hundreds of women's health organisations in the poorest nations of the world - places where maternal mortality and infant death are high - faced a tough choice. Either sign the gag rule and be silenced on abortion, or refuse and lose millions of dollars in US aid.
"Most refused to sign. As a result, thousands of family planning clinics across the developing world have closed their doors, making access to vital contraceptives hard to come by."

Apparently, abortion is already illegal in Ethiopia where half of all female fatalities are due to botched back-street abortions. Clinics that give the pill free to countless women in underprivileged societies are shutting down because they can no longer afford to operate ... because their funding has been withdrawn.

And further:
"In the region of Nazareth in Ethiopia's highland plains, Amare Badada of the Ethiopian Family Guidance Association lists rape, forced marriage and genital mutilation as part of daily life for women.
"'These women will always find a way to abort somehow," he said. "If they are forced to give birth they throw the children into latrines or abandon them for the hyenas to eat them.' Mr Badada refused to sign the gag rule, and has since watched his organisation's family planning clinics close down one after the other. In the region of Nazareth, there were 54 clinics last year. Next year there will be just 10."

Remember that line: many of these pregnancies are due to rape and forced marriage. There are still many, many countries where a woman's status as a human being is barely recognised, if at all. These are not women choosing to have babies. Others become prostitutes because it's a choice between that or starving to death. The social and physical result is devastating; that anyone could have doubts about the efficacy and rightness of free access to abortion continues to appall me. It seems to me a basic human right that a woman should have control over her body. Not only do these women not have control over their own basic biological functions, legislators from other countries who have never known hunger, or real fear, who are not forced to hide their faces when they go out in public, appear to be in a position of sufficient power as to degrade the quality of their life even further.

One can only wonder if it would be the same if those affected were men. One more jaw-dropping morsel: apparently Bush promised to spend at least fifteen billion dollars in the fight against Aids. What isn't so well known, apparently, is that a third of this money goes to faith-based, abstinence-oriented organisations.

All around the world, the lives of women who are not in any position to be able to stand up for themselves are being treated with the cursory disdain of a Roman emperor.
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