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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My head is chock-a-bloc with comments, but for now I just want to say:

1. Wow! and

2. That whole "post-abortion syndrome" thing reminds me of the novel "Madness of a Seduced Woman" by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer. It takes place at the turn of the last century, and it's about a woman who kills her ex-boyfriend's fiancee and then pleads insanity because the guy seduced, impregnated and abandoned her.

The rationale is "can you blaaaaaame her?" but by the time these events occur, you know enough about the protagonist to know that while she's deeply troubled, she's no helpless victim.

Here's the review from the NYT from 1983:

"The irony of the verdict - she is pronounced insane and hence fit to survive - is that the jurors can accept her only when they are convinced of her vulnerability to the same impulses as 'ordinary' women: love, shame at betrayal, the need to mother."


I think early abortions are perfectly ok and it's just a crime to make women feel guilty about it. I think late abortions are murder, so we should find a way to draw a line between them somewhere.

Amba, your case is different because you wanted the baby and let someone else prevent you from having it. Of course you feel regret and resentment.

We modern secular humans just get too emotional about babies. At least half of them used to die, and that was expected and accepted. The strongest ones survived. This sounds heartless but I am not at all heartless. I am especially sensitive to grief. But grief and pain are part of life and they do not kill us.

Amba your feelings about abortion are distorted by your personal experience of loss. I had an early abortion when I was 25 and I feel absolutely no regret whatsoever. Thank God I did not ever become a mother, because that just was not me. And my partner wasn't exactly father material. But that is besides the point. If I wanted to be a mother I would have found the right partner.

But I feel very strongly against elective late abortions and I can't imagine how anyone could defend them.


I think most women are more educated now about what it is they are doing. At 36, I doubt anyone would feel pressured to abort today, unless she were very troubled already. And I think also at 36, you should have a moral concept that you are terminating a life. The only question you might privately ask yourself: If I had to do it all again, would I have made the same "choice" ?

"I think we have to face the fact that we do have that power of life and death before we can decide how lightly we really want to use it."


We modern secular humans just get too emotional about babies. At least half of them used to die, and that was expected and accepted.

Expected perhaps, but I seriously doubt it was accepted.


Amba, you are the most honest writer i know.

I recently told a friend(spudly- yoohoo!) that Mrs. Pelosi was acting in arrogance and hypocritical behaviour- having a Mass in her honour of high esteem while supporting abortion rights to term. It's against the Catholic teachings, i said. You can't expect to receive Communion while not in communion w/the Church- i said, (& i know- i've been there).

I'm now unChristian(although spud didn't say that- his bro did).

Anyway- the essence of humanity is all present at conception- the value of our essence need only time to mature- regardless of which side of the womb's walls we are on. Unfortunately, development is the benchmark of what humanity is- rather than the value of the very human him/herself.

The only difference between the unborn and the newborn... is time. And, obviously the legal ability to get rid of an unwanted child.


... and i probably fuddled that up; but, value of any unborn is equal- IMhumbleO. Value of any human is equal. Regardless of development.

If i try to make what i mean any clearer- i'll fuddle that, too.



"We modern secular humans just get too emotional about babies"

This is perhaps true. On the other hand, Western women used to have LOTS of babies. High infant mortality rates are one of the reasons- have more kids so at least some will survive. Amba regrets her only, single, pregnancy. Statically, she has more to regret than the woman who had 9 pregnancies and only 4 children who survived infancy.

"I think early abortions are perfectly ok and it's just a crime to make women feel guilty about it. I think late abortions are murder, so we should find a way to draw a line between them somewhere."

This is just incoherent.


real (several comments up),

You could say that my feelings are "distorted," or that I was sensitized by the circumstances to an objective truth most women having an abortion can't afford to acknowledge: that that is, in fact, a unique individual in the bud the same as you were. I am all for women being alert to and respectful of that fact to the point that avoiding unwanted pregnancy becomes a higher priority than it is now. And I think the reason it's not a higher priority now is that so many women are NOT in control of their own destinies; they're needy and off balance; they want emotional security with a man and they're not getting it (and often not admitting they want it), and that obsession blots out everything else.

There are all kinds of ways in which humans are insensitive and violent to each other and deny each other's reality. Abortion is one of them. The way it's been singled out suggests that it's also about something else: about what we want women's nature and role to be, and about how we want to view sex, and about a need to identify with "innocence" (the same thing that drives the animal rights movement). But to the extent that it leads us to be more sensitive and aware, to take better care of ourselves and others, and to leave a little less of a bloody trail of blunders through life, the pro-life movement isn't wrong to raise these things.



It is rarely as simple as that. Because women can now raise children alone, though it isn't easy, we talk as if only the mother and the baby were involved. The relationship, or lack thereof, with the man is a major factor. Having an abortion is, among other things, a merciless biological judgment on the reproductive fitness of a man. We look at "babies" as if they come pristine from God and their genes don't play a part. This is partially true. Genes are so complex that they're not too directly predictive. Even a rapist's baby may be more like his lovable grandmother than like him. Certainly it's a spiritual advance beyond biological primitivism not to blame a baby for the sins or deficiencies of its father, to see that baby as the blameless fresh chance, fresh throw of the genetic dice, that it is. Still, it's part of our legacy both as animals and as people who, for most of our history, could not survive as lone mothers: a woman who has an abortion is almost always passing intimate judgment on a man: does she want to have HIS baby growing inside her? would he make a good and responsible father? Is she willing to be bound to him by a biological tie for the rest of her life?

All these are reasons why sex ought best to be reserved for situations of love and trust. Ideally. More than it is now.


Good link, Ice!! That came to my mind, but you went and found it.



Ok, I agree with you even while not quite agreeing. I am ambivalent about abortion. My heart breaks to think of a tiny unborn, even at 2 months, being torn apart. But my heart could also break thinking about a baby deer being torn apart by a lion. My heart can break over any innocent little thing getting hurt. Even not so innocent, not so little, things. I am a typical modern female in that sense.

But we often allow compassion to rule us, and to rule our society. We can take reasonable steps to protect the innocent, but going too far is going too far. People who give up everything else in life to fight for the unborn, or for animals, are crazed, in my opinion. There are animal-rights activists who murder scientists and bomb labs to save the rats.

Everything will die, cute and innocent or not. Everyone we love will die. This is a temporary world. For those who believe this temporary world is all that exists, the facts are harder to accept.

But even though I believe in something beyond, I can't escape the pain of grief. It is an inevitable part of life. And we all know that there is something beautiful about tragedy and grief; otherwise it would not have inspired so much art.


Amba -

I thought your essays on abortion were the best damn thing I've ever read on the subject. I have a tremendous amount of ambivalence on the subject, and I get tired of the loud voices on both sides telling women how they should feel or what their experience is.

I so love your honesty.


I don't think respect for a human life necessarily has anything to do w/compassion. It has to do w/equality and the fairness of it's human value.

When the anonomyous gal above spoke of the advanced knowledge we should have now on this subject as opposed to 30+ yrs ago- i guess i don't get that.

What i do get is that a younger female now believes her abortion rights are a given... over and above any moral responsibilty, if that even enters her mind.

~It's just tissue~ seems to be more of the reality of today's multiple abortion thinking than it was all those yrs ago. Even if the proof of many scientists can pinpoint tiny hands&feet at eight weeks and a beating heart even before it can be heard.

I can't find it in my being to be ambivalent about the destruction of any such a wonder.


When the anonomyous gal above spoke of the advanced knowledge we should have now on this subject as opposed to 30+ yrs ago- i guess i don't get that.

To clarify: I meant unless the 36 year old is a mentally vulnerable adult, women today are no doubt conscious of the consequences of their actions. They are terminating a potential life. Just like donating sperm or eggs. It's not a "thing" you are giving; it's a potential life. The pro-life movement, plus time and experience, have done a good job of educating women that they should understand at least what they are being "pressured" into. I don't see that as an excuse, even for a young woman. Also, as social stigmas have lessened, it is a rare single woman imho who is a "lone mother". The baby daddy, her family, his family etc. are most often around to help the "lone mother". Plus social support available. There is no father in the home, but that is true for many children of divorce too.

I think most people do accept that a child is genetically made up of two -- the mother and the father. That is why even a child raised of a sperm donor would naturally wonder about the biological other half of themselves. Those who conceive in this way sometimes take this into account and try to plan ahead

It's sad to think that some women might abort because they didn't care for their child's father -- whether or not he would be supportive. Very sad. I don't think that's so true though, since you see many women with more than one man fathering their children now. Not a good thing, but perhaps better than aborting a potential life. I would caution against drawing too many conclusions that your own experience here is representative; times have changed in so many ways since then and women are better educated about what they are doing, and why.


Just wanted to say, my sympathies to you, Amba, for your experiences.



Amba -
I echo Christy on this one. Thanks.


Three weeks after conception heart started to beat. First brain waves recorded at six weeks after conception. Seen sucking thumb at seven weeks after conception.


World estimations of the number of terminations carried out each year is somewhere between 20 and 88 million.(likely 55 to 60)

Over 3,500 per day / Over 1.3 million per year in America alone.

50% of that 1.3 million claimed failed birth control was to blame.

A further 48% had failed to use any birth control at all.

And 2% had medical reasons.

That means a staggering 98% of unwanted pregnancies may have been avoided had an effective birth control been used.

People have to stop using abortion as birth control.

People should be able to choose to use birth control, to avoid having to make another choice.

I'd like to see effective birth control made available to all who can't afford it.



I often wonder what percentage of those who say "birth control failed" really mean "I failed to use birth control." There's no question that birth control does fail, but using it correctly keeps the failure rate low. Hormonal contraceptives, oral, injectable and implanted, despite their other rawbacks, have a 1 to 2% failure rate according to the FDA.


That's drawbacks.


Hi Amba,


Implanon is new to the US but has been widely used in Aus for about five years.The only bad report iv'e heard is if your a smoker you can't use them due to increased risk of cardiovascular conditions.
Good incentive to give the cigs a miss............
any way my daughter has one, and no problems and no pills to remember.


One of my nieces has an implant, though I'm not sure it is that long-lasting kind.

Where I differ from conservatives is that I think a girl deserves, if she wants, her "moment in the sun," her time to be at the center, learning and exploring, which may include emotional and sexual learning and exploring, trial-and-error love.

Women have traditionally been a means to the end of passing life on, not the center of life itself. Looking back, it's a very brief moment in the life cycle before one has to get on with passing life on anyway, or be left out. But those few years of self-exploration can be particularly precious for a girl, and by extension for society as a whole, precisely because for millennia most women didn't get them. It's hard to express this and I'm not doing a very good job of it right now.

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