Archive for ‘Grief and Grieving’

August 17, 2014

The Sad and Mysterious Life of Edward/Ellen De Lacy Evans [slv.vic.gov.au/]

deLaceyPerhaps the most interesting and mysterious of these women was Ellen Tremayne, or Tremaye, who as Edward De Lacy Evans gained notoriety in Victoria in 1879. The Evans case attracted many lurid reports in colonial and international newspapers and sensationalist pamphlets with headlines such as ‘Extraordinary Personation Case’ or ‘The Impersonation Case’. People who claimed to have known her in Ireland or on the immigrant ship, the Ocean Monarch, came forward with hearsay and gossip trying to unravel the ‘mystery’ of this woman’s life.

Like ‘Jack’ Jorgensen, De Lacy Evans lived a large part of her life as a labourer. When her gender was discovered by the authorities she was persuaded to exhibit herself as an oddity at sideshows.

She may have been a transsexual, or gender dysphoric, that is, a person who felt herself to be male, despite being anatomically female. Today she might have had surgery and hormone treatment to arrive at gender comfort. On the other hand she might have been lesbian, preferring sex with women and using male garb as a way of surviving in an ostensibly ‘moral’ and heterosexual society. The newspapers treated such women mercilessly. The various accounts of her life show that Evans was unable to cope psychologically with circumstances both before her ‘masquerade’ and after her discovery.

Evans, or Ellen Tremayne, as she was known on the ship, arrived in Australia as an assisted immigrant in June 1856. According to the Shipping Lists she was from Kilkenny, 26 years old, was Roman Catholic, could read and write and was described as a housemaid. If we can believe the confused and often contradictory reports that appeared in 1879, when the ‘scandal’ broke, she had borne an illegitimate child in Ireland and fled to America. She is supposed to have returned to Ireland but was again forced by social disapproval of her ‘immoral’ life to sail to Australia by the Ocean Monarch.

During the voyage she caused much speculation on varying counts. She wore a man’s shirt and trousers under her dress and seemed to have formed sexual attachments to some of her female cabin mates, in particular, Mary Delahunty, a 34-year-old governess who came from the same part of Ireland, the Harristown-Waterford region. Some of her fellow passengers thought Evans was a man masquerading as a woman!

Soon after arrival Evans, or Tremayne, as she was then known, was employed as a maidservant at a Melton public house. After some time she left this position, donned men’s clothes, found Mary Delahunty and, calling herself Edmund De Lacy, ‘married’ Delahunty at St Francis’ Roman Catholic church in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. There is evidence, however, that they ‘did not live comfortably together’. Delahunty opened a school in Blackwood and around 1862 left to marry Lyman Oatman Hart, an American mining surveyor in Daylesford.

What of the name De Lacy Evans? During the 1850s it was a famous one. General Sir George De Lacy Evans was a prominent military man at the Crimean War and part of the Irish establishment. Evans’s ‘third wife’, Julia Marquand, stated that Evans had told her that the general was his uncle. Further, it was reported that Ellen Tremayne had a cabin trunk marked with the words ‘Edward De Lacy Evans’. A woman who claimed to have been a Kilkenny neighbour told the newspapers that Evans was really Ellen Lacy, daughter of a well-to-do farmer of Harristown, Kilkenny, who had borne an illegitimate child and fled to North America. She returned as Mrs De Lacy Evans and was last remembered in the early 1850s as causing a furore when she rode her horse among the villagers at a gathering held by the Earl of Bessborough. The locals drove her out of town as an immoral woman. There is speculation in the Man-Woman pamphlet that her husband or paramour was named Edward De Lacy Evans, that he somehow tricked her by placing his trunk on the Ocean Monarch but had deserted her. A man of that name is supposed to have arrived in Melbourne in June 1858 on theMatoaka, ‘a rather handsome young fellow, well developed and with fine-flowing whiskers’ who worked as labourer around Ballarat and Bendigo.

During the next 20 years Evans ‘married’ two other women: Sarah Moore, who died of pulmonary tuberculosis in 1867, and Julia Marquand of Bendigo. Evans worked as a carter, miner, blacksmith and ploughman in the Blackwood, Bendigo and Stawell districts. During this time it seems that Evans was charged at the police court and jailed for seven days for being found in a servant’s bedroom at the hotel where she and her ‘wife’ Sarah worked, but got away with swindling a fellow miner out of £175.  Nevertheless, the public record shows her as owning shares in various goldmines and paying rates for properties in Eaglehawk and Sandhurst.

When her third ‘wife’, Julia Marquand, gave birth to a child in March 1878 Evans registered herself as the father. Perhaps in a certain sense, we can see Evans as the embodiment of feminist Julia Kristeva’s theories of the ‘abject mother’ and the ‘imaginary father’. In the early 1850s Evans, as Ellen Tremaye, had borne a child and become outcast from her own region; now in 1878, by registering the child as her own in her masculine persona, she becomes a ‘father’.

Evans and Julia Marquand seem to have lived together only intermittently, Evans working in Stawell or Ballarat and Marquand working as a dressmaker near the City Family Hotelowned by Marquand’s brother-in-law Jean Baptiste Loridan. There must, however, have been deep resentments following on the discovery of her ‘wife’s’ pregnancy. In July 1879, she became violent to Julia and the 15-month-old daughter, fell into deep depression and was admitted to the Lunacy Ward of the Bendigo Hospital suffering from ‘amentia’. For the next six weeks she refused to bathe, and it was not until she was removed to the Kew Asylum and forcibly stripped, that her gender was discovered. She was promptly handed over to female nurses and dressed in ‘frocks and petticoats’. Bendigo newspapers reported the story with much prurient and salacious detail. Soon, the colonial and international press ran the stories.

When the De Lacy Evans ‘scandal’ broke, Aaron Flegeltaub, a Stawell photographer, exploited the situation bringing to light ‘excellent likenesses’ of Evans and Julia Marquand taken about 1870. He possibly made a tidy sum selling them ascartes-de-visite. Bendigo photographer Nicholas White somehow obtained access to Evans just after she had been readmitted to the Bendigo Lunacy ward, and took a trick photograph of her dressed in both male and female clothing. He also took a series of head and shoulders portraits of Evans wearing what seems to be a white hospital nightshirt (or straight-jacket). White’s action seems a clear case of exploitation. In the photographs Evans stares out at us, wild eyed and probably affronted by the intrusion. The Australian Medical Journal of 15 April 1880 gave a detailed description of another intrusion: a gynaecological examination that caused her to cry and scream while Dr Penfold used his speculum. This report, however, verifies that Evans was physiologically female and that she had carried and borne a child.

Not surprisingly the existence of a child and the ‘wife’s’ insistence that she did not know that Evans was a woman caused most public conjecture. Speaking to reporters, Julia Marquand ingenuously accounted for the child by saying that she believed that ‘some strange man entered the house one night about the time her husband should have returned home’. There was evidence that the second wife, Sarah Moore, after about a year of marriage, was aware of the masquerade and not happy with the situation. A witness reported Moore punching Evans on the breast, her ‘weak place’. While Marquand might not have been aware of Evans’s gender, it is likely that she nevertheless had sought sexual gratification with her brother-in-law.

deLacy2After her release from Kew Asylum, Evans, dressed as a woman and still mentally distressed, was a witness at Julia Marquand’s paternity suit against her brother-in-law Jean Baptiste Loridan, a prosperous Bendigo businessman, married to Marquand’s sister, and father of four children. Evans gave the only corroborative evidence in the case stating that she’ had seen them in bed together. But her evidence, given in an incoherent manner, was not accepted and the case was dismissed. The scandal and business problems led to the ruin of Loridan’s career in Bendigo and he left for Queensland where he was involved in the start of the sugarcane industry.

The furore of the De Lacy Evans case caused entertainment entrepreneurs to apply to the Bendigo Hospital for permission for her to be ‘publicly exhibited’. Samuel Lazar of Sydney offered £3 and £5 per week for a tour. To their credit, the Asylum authorities refused the offers. Nevertheless, after her release from the hospital in December 1879 Evans was being exhibited by panorama showmen at Geelong and Stawell.

Click here to continue reading at the link:

http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/latrobejournal/issue/latrobe-69/t1-g-t9.html

 

 

August 17, 2014

Unattended Death: The plight of growing old alone [sbs.com.au]

A ninety year old woman died in her home in Auburn.  The diaries found in her belongings shed light on this lonely and brilliant mind. Watch the documentary above, and read further excerpts from her diaries below.

by Andy Park / sbs.com.au

These impressions, after a long life of nearly 90 years, are my own, right or wrong, are real and lived through. My ten fingers don’t need any support to hold a pen, and neither does my mind need any stimulants to express itself. A last pleasure of a lonely life. 

 

AGING

With aging, we realize that life can be compared to a constant falling of leaves. In dreamland, the leaves don’t fall anymore., they acquire a verdane, which never fades like memories.

With aging, the taste for fighting is gone drastically weakened, with the depletion of the hormones and we become silent pacifists, trying to adjust ourselves to what is left.

I know that I must look to others as a stupid old has-been, because I avoid most of the new and prefer the old, I am a complete ignoramus in the modern ways of life and I don’t mind. I can still walk to the shops and choose what I buy. My first hundred metres of walk(ing) might seem brisk, then (I) slow down to to just a careful pace, which suits my age.

Once in human history, old age was respected and even venerated, but no more today. IT’s a shocking fact to observe how old age is considered and treated.

It is the saddest occurrence when old people are displaced from their habits and placed into an unfamiliar milieu. They slowly die away too, which sometimes is a cruel death. Euthanasia would be a blessing. Once families cared for their aging parents, but today, many can’t be bothered or they want the old house for themselves.

I have reached 87 years of my life with no fanfares, with only one birthday card. However, I am still granted many blessings for which I am grateful. I still have my five senses, not as good as new, but quite serviceable. I can use my legs and walk with no fancy steps in a hurry.

I have reached that stage at the present. Am i of unsound mind? It might appear so to some privileged people, until they reach the point of no return themselves.

My own blessings for which I am grateful in my own age, would be judged by some with pity or with distain for an old fool by others. With the tendency of today to give a name to any malaise, it would be called depression and given some artificial props to make it vanish. In reality, it is a sadness for the things passed, for the wrong acts and words especially words, which can’t be erased…”

In the quietness of old age, many unanswered questions occupy the mind, with no definitive answers, only guesses.

Click on this link to continue reading the article:
http://www.sbs.com.au/thefeed/blog/2014/08/11/unattended-death

June 24, 2014

Trans Woman of Color Murdered, Set on Fire, Then Dumped in Trash [jezebel.com]

by Kat Callahan / jezebel.com

transwomanfloridakilledburnedIn horrific news out of Fort Myers, Florida, a trans woman of color has been murdered, and her body set on fire, then dumped in a garbage bin. I just can’t right now, I just can’t even.

According to a local media outlet, the victim was identified as Yazmin or Yaz’min Shancez, which was the woman’s preferred name according to her family, although the police reported that her documents had not yet been changed to reflect this. The same report quoted Fort Myers Police Lt. Jay Rodriguez as saying the police have not determined a cause of death, and are not investigating the homicide as a hate crime.

We have no indication at this time to say this was specifically done because it was a male living as a female or anything like that. If you really think about it, a hate crime is killing someone for a specific reason, being black, Hispanic, gay. We’re investigating as we would any other homicide.

…I’m sorry, Officer Rodriguez, but are you trying to suggest here that killing someone because they’re transgender isn’t a specific enough reason? Or maybe that the reason doesn’t count because it’s not on your official “hate crime” cheat sheet? If I really think about it? Jesus fucking Christ, sir, I think about it constantly. Do you typically see non-hate crime related homicides that end with burning the already dead body and then dumping it like worthless refuse in a garbage bin? Is this a pattern in Fort Myers which makes it like “every other homicide?”

Her father, identified as Harvey Loggins, said that he and his family left balloons and stuffed animals in the small private drive in an industrial area of the city where the garbage bin was located.

With the exception of her father (who continued to use male pronouns, despite his daughter’sidentity), the majority of her family appears to have accepted her decision to live as a woman, which she apparently began to do in 2004. Her aunt, Beatrice Loggins, spoke lovingly of Shancez, citing her uniqueness as a person.

Nobody deserves that. Straight, gay, purple, pink, white, black. Nobody…There will never be another T, you couldn’t clone her, couldn’t mold her.

Cousin Jasmine Weaver seemed at a loss to understand the crime (you and me, both, Jasmine, you and me both).

We don’t know of any person who would do something like that to T. It’s mind-boggling. You’d never think that would happen to your family.

Mind-boggling? Horrific. Abhorrent. And an altogether too common reality for transgender people, especially trans women of color. I’d love to shout from the rooftops that this is so horrible because it is incredibly rare. Well, it’s not. It happens all the goddamned time.

And if this story could get any worse, if that’s at all possible when dealing with such a terrible crime, this is a second heartbreak for the family. They have already lost one child, as Shancez’s 15-year-old little sister was also murdered, gunned down in a drive-by shooting almost exactly two years before.

I hate everything right now.

http://roygbiv.jezebel.com/trans-woman-of-color-murdered-set-on-fire-then-dumped-1595108365/+burtreynoldsismyspiritguide1

June 12, 2014

Anti-conformity Research Led to Freud’s Best Sarcastic One-Liner [io9.com]

by Esther Inglis-Arkell / io9.com

There are plenty of tests that study conformity, but measuring anti-conformity is a tougher proposition. How do you measure something that is only evident after you make your influence felt? Researching this led to some interesting experiments, and the best line ever delivered by Sigmund Freud.

Conformity experiments have revealed some horrible truths about human nature. Anti-conformity experiments have just revealed, for the most part, only the annoying truths. Then again, anti-conformity is tough to measure. Not only has a person got to go against the grain of the group, it has to be shown that their only reason for doing so is to keep themselves from fitting in. How do you set up an experiment to prove that?

Michael Argyle, a psychologist, attempted the first experiment meant to measure anti-conformity in 1957. He had volunteers come in, and pair up, in order to engage in a little art critique. Unbeknownst to one half of each pair, their partner was actually Argyle’s assistant. The assistant was there to reject the participant’s view of the painting they were evaluating – which, by the way, was The Poet Reclining, by Marc Chagall. (If anyone is wondering about my opinion, I am not a fan, although I like the colors in the sky, and the piggy. Have at me, anti-conformists!)

Whatever view the participant expressed of the painting, Argyle’s stooge rejected it. The participant was then given another chance to evaluate the painting. Fifty-eight percent of the participants didn’t change their ideas. Around thirty-five percent adjusted their opinions towards those of their partners. Eight percent went the other way. They exaggerated the differences between their opinions and the opinions of their supposed partner. Argyle dubbed these people anti-conformists.

Click here to continue reading the article: http://io9.com/anti-conformity-research-led-to-freuds-best-sarcastic-o-1589769720

May 28, 2014

Lawmakers Aim To Restrict Guns for Mentally Ill After Shooting [californiahealthline.org]

California lawmakers are calling for increased restrictions on gun purchases for individuals who are suspected of having mental health issues and could pose a threat to themselves or others, theAP/Sacramento Bee reports. The legislation comes after six people were killed last week by an individual with suspected mental health issues.

Background on Killings

On May 23, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six individuals by stabbing or shooting them and wounded 13 others in Isla Vista, Calif. Rodger had legally purchased three semi-automatic guns and ammunition used in the attack (Dillon/Thompson, AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/28).

The incident occurred after Rodger’s family members had contacted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department on April 30 with concerns about his mental health. Police conducted a welfare visit and concluded that Rodger did not pose a risk (Pickert, Time, 5/27).

Details of Legislation

Following the killings, California lawmakers proposed changes to the state’s rules for purchasing guns.

Assembly members Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) and state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) have introduced a bill that would allow temporary restraining orders to prevent individuals who are potentially violent from purchasing guns. Under the bill, family members and friends could contact law enforcement if they believe an individual could be a threat to themselves or others, and officers then could ask a judge for the temporary restraining order (Mason, “PolitiCal,” Los Angeles Times, 5/27).

Under current state law, individuals can be banned from buying firearms only if they are involuntarily committed to a mental health facility.

Skinner said, “When someone is in crisis, the people closest to them are often the first to spot the warning signs, but almost nothing can now be done to get back their guns or prevent them from buying more.”

In addition, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said the state should require law enforcement officers to check for weapons when conducting welfare visits, such as the one that took place at Rodger’s residence on April 30. In addition, Steinberg suggested that officers should search the area when called on such visits and speak with roommates and neighbors (AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/28).

Reaction

Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said the new legislation limiting gun purchases is unnecessary. Parades said, “We don’t need another bill to solve this problem. The tools are there — the Legislature and the professionals involved need to be willing to understand and take advantage of the system that is there in place” (“PolitiCal,” Los Angeles Times, 5/27).

Meanwhile, a spokesperson with the California chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness noted that only 30 law enforcement employees in Santa Barbara County undergo crisis-intervention training each year. However, the official said increasing such training still might “not be enough to respond” to such violent incidents.

NAMI California Executive Director Jessica Cruz added that there often is a lack of funding for mental health prevention and treatment, noting that the state has fewer than 50% of the number of psychiatric in-patient hospital beds as recommended by an expert panel (Time, 5/27).

http://www.californiahealthline.org/articles/2014/5/28/lawmakers-aim-to-restrict-guns–for-mentally-ill-after-shooting

February 14, 2014

What Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Sponsor Could Have Done for Him [time.com]

the_twelve_stepsAs part of Twelve-Step programs, they act as support, friend, mentor, and advisor—but they’re also former addicts and shouldn’t be treated as experts.

By  @maiasz / time.com

A haunting writeup in The New York Times Thursday detailed how actor Philip Seymour Hoffman spent his last days after relapsing back into heroin addiction and leaving the home he shared with his partner, Mimi O’Donnell, and their three children.

Though he was surrounded by people as the end drew near, the Times piece describes how Hoffman was ultimately “a man who died alone”—which is sadly not uncommon for addicted people. Notably included was a quote from a member of the Twelve-Step program Narcotics Anonymous (NA) regarding what the actor said at a December meeting. Though speaking about what was said by a specific person meeting is an unusual breach of protocol, the incident has got people thinking about what goes on in NA meetings and the idea of members “sponsoring” each other to support recovery.

As a former heroin and cocaine addict who has covered addiction and recovery for over a quarter century, I’d like to stress that I am writing here as someone with knowledge of the field and not as a member of any program. There are many routes to recovery and Twelve-Step programs are just one.

Although touted as an essential element of Twelve-Step recovery, the guidance given to sponsors is extremely vague. There is no requirement for having a certain amount of time drug-free, although at least 90 days is typically required and, most commonly, at least one year. Moreover, there are no specific guidelines related to the amount of contact people should have with their sponsors and the type of advice that should be given at any particular time. An NA pamphlet puts it this way:

Sponsors share their experience, strength, and hope with their sponsees. Some describe their sponsor as loving and compassionate, someone they can count on to listen and support them no matter what. Others value the objectivity and detachment a sponsor can offer, relying on their direct and honest input even when it may be difficult to accept. Still others turn to a sponsor mainly for guidance through the Twelve Steps.

From the outside, the idea that a more experienced member should sponsor someone who is new or has recently relapsed looks like a way to help the newcomer. But, in fact, Twelve-Step literature explicitly says that this is not the purpose, although it is obviously a welcome result. The sponsor-sponsee relationship is predicated on the assumption that “‘the heart of NA beats when two addicts share their recovery,’” and “sponsorship is simply one addict helping another. The two-way street of sponsorship is a loving, spiritual, and compassionate relationship that helps both the sponsor and sponsee.”

In practice, of course, this means that sponsors do give advice and support to newcomers—and anyone who has spent time around people in recovery knows that they will often go to enormous lengths and spend much of their time to try to help.

Read more: Philip Seymour Hoffman: Twelve Step Programs and the Role of a Sponsor | TIME.com

December 28, 2013

Playing for Change – A Great Way to Ring in the New Year

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December 4, 2013

Alone During the Holidays? Make No Major Decisions

by Helen Hill MFT

The holidays can be a very lonely time of year for anyone who, because of their uniqueness, finds himself or herself without family, and sometimes, friends.  Sharing the time with others can be a salve for those who are tolerated or accepted.  But for those of us who are unique, different, eclectic, marching to a different drummer, or suffering from some physical malady, and we find ourselves alone, it can be a challenge to just get through the holidays.

Families are defined by blood.  Often, that is a mistake.  Sometimes there are those relatives (by blood) whose views and outlooks would be offensive and cruel to any outsider — to any kind and compassionate soul.  The challenge is to surround ourselves with a family we choose, who love us and accept us for who we are, rather than for what we are not.

If family during the holidays is defined by accepting only those people like themselves, then we have learned nothing about tolerance, acceptance, and compassion.  Let us not make the same mistakes as those poor souls who live in fear of what they do not understand, and the resulting cruelty that manifests itself in the name of “family.”

What I would emphasize to all is that the holidays are NO TIME to be making major decisions about one’s life, one’s circumstances, one’s issues, or one’s family. Suicide is never good any time. But the holidays have a way of making us, what I like to call, “temporarily isolated” or “temporarily inconsolable.” The emphasis, though, should be on the word TEMPORARY.

During this tough economic time, many are suffering. And even in good economic times, during the holidays, there are so many people who find themselves spending the holiday alone.  And then there are those who do spend the holidays with their relatives and come back even more depressed and/or vulnerable than before they left.

Family and holidays can be very difficult even in the best of times. No matter what, whether spending holidays with friends and family, or spending them alone, I would recommend that no one make major life changing, irreversible decisions.

For those who find themselves depressed or alone during the holidays, the secret to success is to just get through them!

Survival is success!

The sun will come out tomorrow. There will be a chance for a new day and new beginnings. And hope does not take a raincheck during holidays. It is still there, even if it seems harder to grasp.

As you have doubtless heard many times before, even if you don’t feel like doing something, DO SOMETHING! A walk, a movie, reading a good book, or an activity. Invite another friend over for tea, or meet for a lunch or dinner. Some online support forums can be quite helpful during these times as well.

Solution Focused Therapy provides three very simple, yet effective, suggestions:

  1. If it is not broken, don’t fix it
  2. It it is working, do more of it
  3. If it is NOT working, change it

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is not a character flaw or a weakness to ask for help. On the contrary, it is one of the healthiest things a person can learn to do – knowing when to ask for help. This link http://helenhill.wordpress.com/emergency-resources/ lists a number of resources that can be helpful during difficult times.

Make the time less about the holiday, and more about self-care.

But most of all, never use a temporary situation to make a permanent, unalterable decision. Never.

Hope and peace are always in season.

lonelysnowman_pe2

January 23, 2013

The Accidental Activist [vanityfair.com]

She appeared to be the perfect plaintiff in a case that changed America’s political landscape: Roe v. Wade, decided by the Supreme Court 40 years ago this month. But Norma McCorvey, now 65, was never what she seemed: neither as the pregnant Texas woman who won fame as abortion-rights icon “Jane Roe,” nor as the pro-life activist she would become.

by Joshua Prager / vanityfair.com

It is a spring night in rural Texas, and crickets sing as a woman in her 60s with broad shoulders and short brown hair stops a pregnant young woman on an empty sidewalk. The older woman has heard that the younger woman, her neighbor Lucy Mae, may be seeking an abortion. “You don’t have to do this,” she says, her brown eyes and long loose cheeks filling with emotion. “Children are a miracle—a gift from God!”

The women are performing a scene in Doonby, a movie about a drifter who awakens a sleepy Texas town to its spiritual possibilities. The movie, tentatively set to be released this year, is directed by Peter Mackenzie, a Catholic filmmaker from Britain. It stars John Schneider, best known for The Dukes of Hazzard, who is a born-again Christian.

The older woman is born-again, too. Her name is Norma McCorvey. She is not a professional actress. But back when Nixon was president, McCorvey landed the role of a lifetime: that of “Jane Roe,” the plaintiff in what would become one of the most divisive legal actions in American history.

Forty years ago, on January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wadethat women had the right to an abortion “free of interference by the State,” as Justice Harry A. Blackmun wrote in the Court’s majority opinion. The decision greatly expanded the legal boundaries for abortion in the United States, allowing women to terminate a pregnancy at any point during the first 24 weeks—that is, through the first and second trimesters. (Roe did, however, permit states to impose regulations in the second trimester, including who could perform abortions and where. It also gave states the right to ban most abortions in the third trimester.)

McCorvey, under the pseudonym Jane Roe, had brought the precipitating lawsuit in 1970, when she was pregnant for a third time and living in Texas, where abortion was prohibited unless the life of the pregnant woman was threatened. (The Wade in Roe v. Wade was Dallas County district attorney Henry Wade, the named defendant.) Roe v. Wade was a watershed legal ruling. But it also helped to turn abortion into the great foe of American consensus. Subsequent cases have made it clear that the Supreme Court majority in favor of abortion rights has been eroding, from 7 to 2 in Roe to 5 to 4 in cases decided in more recent years (with the majority deciding against abortion rights in a number of cases). Roe is undoubtedly the most familiar legal ruling in the minds of most Americans—not for nothing did Katie Couric ask Sarah Palin in a 2008 interview to cite any Supreme Court case except that one. But few people know much about the woman who prompted the ruling in the first place.

Norma McCorvey, now 65, has presented a version of her life in two autobiographies, I Am Roe(with Andy Meisler, 1994) and Won by Love (with Gary Thomas, 1997). In McCorvey’s telling, the story is a morality tale with a simple arc: An unwanted pregnancy. A lawsuit. Pro-choice. Born-again. Pro-life. Peace. The truth is sadder and less tidy. And with the help of a cache of documents retrieved two years ago from the clutter of a Texas home she had abandoned, as well as interviews with people once close to her, the story can be more accurately told.

Click to read the rest of the article…

January 21, 2013

President Obama’s Inauguration Speech (Jan 21, 2013)

TRANSCRIPT OF SPEECH… [bold highlighting added by helen]

Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.

For more than two hundred years, we have.

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.

That is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.

For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.

My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service. But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.

They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope.

You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.

You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time – not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.

Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.

Thank you, God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.

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