Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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I suppose you are aware that the NY Times links do not work for those of us who have not taken the time to open an account... Guess I need to do that one of these days, but is it true they are going to start charging for access?


Winston -- free registration is easy. The problem is that after a week or so, articles go into the archives and then they are inaccessible without paying at least a few dollars.

Often, though, someone (often at a nonprofit or activist .org) will repost a significant article elsewhere on the web. When I can (and when I remember), I'll go back and try to change the link to one of these free ones.


You rock, Ambi. Are you reading any of the books I recommended? I think you're doing amazing things sorting through all this in your mind, and I love reading when you pull your thoughts together. I want to see what you do with the information in the recommended reading.

BTW, you may want to start plugging Americans On Call. It gives everybody a means to reach out and help women, without having to pound out what might be irreconcilable differences.


Thank you, amba.

I think you are a very courageous woman- it must be difficult to finish this Rant. I never thought of that until now- that in finishing this Rant you were finishing and facing the parts of you most... sacred? Secret? Soulful?




Amba, thanks very much for posting these ideas, and for the bravery of sharing your own experiences.

A few weeks ago, I think it was in The NY Times, there was an article about some white, college-educated, professional women in New York who volunteer to help poor, uneducated and mostly black young women who are from Southern states with restrictive abortion laws. They connect the young women with a licensed abortion doctor in NY, have the women stay over at their apartments, etc.

The article revolved around the cultural divide between the volunteers and the women they're helping.

If I recall correctly, one of the hostesses was quoted as saying, "When I had my three abortions..."

Three! One, I could see. It's unfortunate, but you're only human. But three? For an educated, middle-class woman?

Listen, I could recite the statistics for every method of birth control years before I was having sex. And I don't have a graduate degree, but this woman did. Yet she revealed herself as being just as ignorant in some ways as somebody on the alleged other side of the cultural divide.

Did the Times think their readership would skim past that line without batting an eyelash, or did they know full well that even people like me would be having a canary reading it? If the answer is the latter, then I have to wonder if my suspicions about some progressives working undercover for Karl Rove are true. Because if the idea of an educated woman using abortion as a form of birth control upsets me, I can imagine how much more upsetting it would be to a cultural conservative.


That's "Wow" good.


Good stuff, Amba.


The thing I keep mentioning every time I hear anything about abortion is, "Why don't they ever talk about birth control?"

Apart from the fairly small percentage of women who have negative health consequences from the pill, or the implant, most can take it easily and prevent 99.9 percent of pregnancies.

I do not exempt men from responsibility, but the fact is there is no equivalent "male contraceptive" to the pill at this time, other than a vasectomy (which I also would promote, but machismo and fear makes too many men wary of surgery THERE. Plus I've heard in some cases it can be unreversible).

Condoms can be expensive, and can significantly deaden sensation for many men, often to the point of difficulty or inability to maintain an erection, though they are far more effective than Bush's "abstinence only" propaganda would lead you to believe. In particular, inside of a marriage or long term relationship I would imagine condoms are often not consistently used (it only takes once). (Note that I speak of condoms here purely from the pregnancy prevention standpoint - from the HIV and STD prevention angle condoms are VITAL)

What we need is to make contraceptives (of any kind) easy, cheap, and readily available to EVERYONE (even minors - irrespective of their parents' wishes). Plus schools need to do a far better job educating kids about birth control and how to get it, how to avoid pregnancy and STD's, and the negative consequences of ignoring those facts. This should be done in junior high at the latest, when kids are starting to think about such things.

I think efforts like that would do FAR more to curb the number of pregnancies than any legal blockades Alito would help put in place to make abortions uncomfortable, expensive, impractical, unsafe, or illegal.

The conservative talk about adoption and alternatives to abortion is just hot air - many people getting abortions are minorities, and the adoption market for minorities is far smaller than those needing adoption. Those with fetal alcohol syndrome, crack addiction, or various other mental or physical handicaps are even worse off - hardly ANYONE is willing to take on that financial and emotional burden. In addition, many of those seeking an abortion are low-income, and have no economic safety net if they had to take time off from work for a pregnancy (when this is mentioned, conservatives usually change the subject rather than suggesting subsidizing them during that period).

My motto has always been to make abortions unnecessary, not illegal.


Sleip -- it's ALL ABOUT birth control. (As I hope I'll be able to express when I continue Part III in the days ahead.) Everybody here agrees with you: make abortions unnecessary.

From Saletan's article:

Help every woman when she doesn't want an abortion: before she's pregnant. That means abstinence for those who can practice it and contraception for everybody else. Nearly half of the unintended pregnancies in this country result in abortions, and at least half of our unintended pregnancies are attributabe to women who didn't use contraception. The pregnancy rate among these women astronomically exceeds the pregnancy rate among women who use contraception.

Read the newest stories on I'm Not Sorry. Most of these mostly young women are not sorry they had an abortion instead of a child, but they are very sorry they ever got pregnant in the first place. They are stories of astounding ignorance -- I read of several young women who believed the old saw that the "pullout" method was reliable!??! -- of carelessness, and of eagerness to please a guy. These young girls seemed not to have believed it would happen to them. Even after one got a positive pregnancy test, she had trouble believing it.

After getting pregnant and having an abortion, many of them got serious about birth control. Why not before?? Because abortions are more acceptable culturally than they should be. "It's just a clump of cells" or "It didn't look anything like a baby on the ultrasound" were common expressions of relief. People need to be better taught right down the line.


You articulate with thoughtfulness and logic what should by this time have been the tangible result of R v w.


No. I disagree with you in every respect. Saletan's piece made me almost ill with revulsion. To me the question is not whether abortion is a good or a bad thing; rather, it is whether someone else's abortion is legitimately any of your concern. My answer is (with a few pretty extreme exceptions that I'm willing to negotiate), always and emphatically, no. Birth control, abortion, sexual abstinence, whatever. As long you are not actively torturing a sentient human being or other animal, it should not be the conceren of the government or society at large.

I understand that my view has become quaint and will soon be wholly obsolete. I am very sorry for the young women of today.



I hope it's ok with you that I deleted the double post, keeping the second one that appeared more complete.

I don't know why you felt revulsion at Saletan's piece. He didn't advocate outlawing early abortion. He just said we should do more to prevent unwanted pregnancy, including Plan B. I agree with that. I'm inclined to think that the early embryo is not "sentient." The earlier the better. There will still be birth control failures and a necessity for early medical or surgical abortion (and women will do it illegally if they can't do it legally), but there could be many, many, many fewer.

The culture had gone too far in the other direction -- to the notion that an abortion is no big deal. It is a big deal because you were there yourself; you were an embryo totally at the mercy of a woman's readiness and/or willingness to make the sacrifices of motherhood. Those young women you are sorry for -- many of them, whose mothers are pro-choice, are anti-choice, because, they say, "any one of us could have been aborted." The most tragic thing about all this to me as a centrist is the swinging from extreme to extreme.


thank you Nappy, reader, Melinda, Karen, Christina . . .


It was part 1 of this rant that first encouraged me to 'subscribe' to this blog, so I agree with everyone else who's commended your thoughtfulness and openness, and your ability to swim deep into the 'womb' of this debate where the real issues always are.

I have huge regrets about counseling friends to get abortions in high school and often wonder what might have happened if I'd only said, "Let's talk to my mom about this ... or let's find another adult we can trust." But I didn't, and my young friends were left to make the decisions, the appointments, the payments and the recoveries all on their own - without the support of an understanding adult, or even - in most cases - a boyfriend that gave a damn. I wish I could have done more ...


Ali- we probably all have regrets about the *immaturity* of our all-knowing youth- immature meaning-not fully informed.

Maybe that's how Wisdom is born? I'm now trying to encourage my own 14 yr old daughter not to go through the trial and error- learning on one's own- step #4...

I wonder if that will one day be a given- the advice of one's parent or mother taken for the worth of the word? Even though i know the apple doesn't fall far from the tree- I pray every day she's rolls far.


I remember ages ago on one of your topics I posted some data I dug up which basically said that abortions increased steadily til about 1990, then decreased steadily after that.

It would be interesting to track the abortion rate, especially teen abortions, in various states against the level of sex education available in the schools of that state, whether it was the "abstinence only" crap, and the age at which it was offered, and the level of availability of birth control, especially to teens.

Another interesting study would compare the abortion rate in those states with the introduction of abortion blocking legislation, such as parental/spousal notification, waiting periods, etc. Of course that sort of decrease is not necessarily positive - many discouraged by those means end up with kids they didn't want and can't afford, and lose the possibilities they might have had to make something of themselves other than a poor, undereducated and underemployed single mother.

Come to think of it, I've rarely heard much in the way of scientifically rigorous arguments on either side of the issue, it's usually "Roe v Wade is Sacred" vs frothing at the mouth fundies screaming "Baby killer!" If we actually looked at what's been tried and how well it worked we might eventually end up with a compromise that preserves the right to choose but minimizes the need to do so.


Sweet reason, Sleipner! This would be a good time for some (social) science.

It's very striking in the stories on "I'mNotSorry" how many of the women don't regret having the abortion under the circumstances, but do regret that they ever got pregnant in the first place. Those who were careless with birth control (not all the stories are like that -- there are more than a few b-c failure stories too -- but a lot are) say they are now scrupulous with it. Can we not teach people to take the matter seriously and be scrupulous from the beginning? (Some already are.) Age of first sexual activity might be a factor we should study too.


Gee sleip- do you think maybe some Mom out there- gung ho for an abortion , but somehow couldn't get one- might actually think her child was the best thing that ever happened to her?

Or, all all unwanted pregnancies the root of all unwanted children? All these *poor, ignorant welfare moms*. In my state, in my Kingdom- it's considered a profitable income. I also understand tht in order for meth addicts to get free treatment up here... the women cannot be turned away if pregnant (i obviously have to check into this statement because it's ludicrous!!)

Wouldn't that be amazing- to use a pregnancy as an excuse to get Meth treatment? It can't be true.


I'm sure there are probably quite a few women who were happy with their decision in either direction, and quite a few that were unhappy. Certainly a reasonable effort should be made to allow the woman to make the choice that is best for her, but she should not be pressured or forced into making the decision YOU want her to make.

Welfare moms (and other opportunistic pregnancies) are a difficult issue to handle - on one hand, you don't want to reward someone for bringing innocents into this world specifically for the purpose of avoiding work. On the other, you don't want those kids to starve to death.

The concept of a single mom with no education having to work is kind of difficult, especially in the early years of the child's life, where constant supervision is required. Most likely, any job such women could do would barely pay for daycare, much less their rent and food. So what options are there besides paying for her to stay home and watch Oprah?

One idea I just had is to have a communal daycare center that each woman gets to use for her kids, as long as she works there a day or two a week. However, that brings up liability issues - these women probably aren't trained for daycare, some may be drug or alcohol abusers, etc. The first time one of them drops someone else's kid on their head the program would tank.

Of course I believe there are already way too many people for the Earth to support indefinitely, so I tend to be a bit draconian about birth control. After the first welfare baby, implant Norplant. It would never fly in America, but I think it's the logical solution to the problem.


Hugs, Alison. You'd been told by society that underage girls who give birth are "babies having babies" but that when they abort they're "women making choices". It's natural that you soaked up the attitude and didn't think through the long-term repercussions for your friends. Teens don't tend to think long-term anyway.


I found reading about your experience interesting and touching. Thank you for sharing it with us.

I think that the economic and social support of women and their families is critical in a woman not feeling economic pressure to abort. It is horrifying, to me, that a woman (or girl) would feel compelled by her economic circumstances to abort. (I must say that I am also horrified at the possibility that a woman could be forced to carry a unwanted pregnancy to term.)

If women and families felt confident that social support, health care and economic help would be available to raise that child with, I think that would remove significant economic pressure. For example, a significant investment in health/dental care for children, day care, job security (maternal benefits) and financial aid would all contribute to a reduction in the economic reasons for for abortion.

Something I found interesting to read on girls and pregnancy was:

It's a variety of questions and answers from readers who are curious about various pregnancy related questions. The list can be sad to read, but it does underline some economic and familial pressures felt by teenagers and their families when confronting a unplanned pregnancy.


Grist for the mill.

Kay Dennison

Amba, you've enumerated in your 'rant' all the reasons I don't believe in abortion. Thank you for your honest (and heart-wrenching) appraisal of an imnportant issue.


i love this site.e


I praise God for answering my prayers. God, you are so wonderful, majestic. Jesus Christ, I adore Your Sacred Heart.


Thank you Annie,

You bring up thoughts for me almost 40 years ago. Do I regret what I did? Yes. But I didn't know any better at the time.

Your essays have made me think.

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