Su Lum: Slumming |

Su Lum: Slumming

Su Lum
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

I don’t have a lot – or even a few – positive things to say about getting old, but after watching the Republican candidates for president (all the debates, most of the coverage), I can positively say that I am glad that I have passed my childbearing years.

Here we have a political party clamoring to reduce government and get government off our backs while, at the same time, proposing government-sanctioned intrusions into both our private lives and our private parts, without even realizing the dichotomy of their position. They want those babies, but the hell with Head Start.

According to Rick Santorum, abortion wouldn’t be an issue if we’d all obey God’s law and only engage in the dirty deed if we hoped and expected to procreate. Mitt Romney, who has been on both sides of the right-to-choose issue, clearly doesn’t care squat about abortion but picked what he thought was the winning side. And for moral direction, who better to turn to than Newt?

It would be funny if it weren’t perilously close to the new reality. With the stroke of a pen, the Supreme Court could strike down Roe v. Wade and send us back to the Dark Ages and back alleys.

I was lucky that I never faced that decision, but in the late ’60s (Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973) one of my roommates got pregnant. This was before the pill, the IUD or the late, lamented sponge. Condoms were available, but it was before STDs and, you know, guys hate condoms, and these things happen.

The roommate, who was totally ill-equipped to deal with this situation, appealed to me to find someone who would perform an abortion. Moi? This was way out of my league. She might as well have asked me to score a kilo of heroin for her.

The protagonists are dead now, so I can name some of the names. I went to my boss, Bil Dunaway, told him the story and asked how I could go about finding the name of a doctor who could help my roommate. Bil didn’t know any more about it than I did, so he called his friend Dr. Bugsy Barnard, ex of the City Council and then mayor of Aspen.

Bugsy and Dunaway were racing-car buddies and partners in the campaign to rid the valley of billboards, but, true to form, Bil never failed to nail Bugsy in Aspen Times editorials when he stepped over the line that he basically straddled.

Barnard came up with two or three names and numbers, passed them to Dunaway, who passed them to me, who passed them to my roommate. This was serious stuff back in those days, days to which the Republicans (white men) seem to want us to return. You could go to prison for performing an abortion or for aiding and abetting.

As they say, if men could get pregnant, their self-righteousness would explode like a hot-air balloon in a firefight.

My roommate called the numbers and was accepted as a candidate by only one, a man in Kansas or Nebraska who told her that she would have to appear with $400 in cash, with the understanding that having sexual intercourse with him beforehand was part of the deal. And she did it.

How barbaric and indefensible, you might say, and you’d be right. Those were the days.

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