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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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58 Responses

  1. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune April 25, 2012 at 10:53 am |

    Cue the religious right insisting that women only take drugs to abort babies in the face of all evidence in 3, 2, 1…

  2. first week of pregnancy | Pregnancy @ Top Information

    [...] Prosecuting “Bad” Mothers By Jill on four.twenty five.2012 A need to-read in this week&#39s New York Occasions Sunday Magazine about in excess of-zealous Alabama prosecutors bringing charges against drug-addicted moms. It&#39s a troubling and complicated situation. Certainly no one thinks that using medications throughout … Study far more on Feministe (blog site) [...]

  3. yes
    yes April 25, 2012 at 11:23 am |

    I know it’s naive, but I have these vivid, saucy fantasies where laws are roughly about their stated intent, and not back-door ways of establishing or revoking other laws that lawmakers don’t have the clout or consent of the governed to directly put through. And it really does seem like the anti-choice movement is by far the most unscrupulous offender in these cases.

  4. Steve LaBonne
    Steve LaBonne April 25, 2012 at 11:58 am |

    Well, the “pro-family” types hate women but, as we can see from their zeal to cut funding for programs that help kids, don’t actually give a rat’s about the latter (not after they’re born, anyway). Plus, the back-door anti-abortion thing (which is also about hating women). This is just one more data point.

  5. Katya
    Katya April 25, 2012 at 12:39 pm |

    Because nothing says you’re pro-family like arresting a woman and taking her away from her newborn baby.

  6. hmm
    hmm April 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm |

    Many drug treatment centers won’t accept pregnant women.

    Why? I guess some sort of liability issue but I just don’t quite see it.

  7. Katya
    Katya April 25, 2012 at 2:51 pm |

    I suspect it’s a liability concern. Withdrawal from drugs can be harmful to a fetus, and there’s probably not a lot of research on the safety of drugs used to manage withdrawal symptoms.

  8. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan April 25, 2012 at 3:47 pm |

    The only way I could see prosecuting a pregnant person for doing drugs (separate from the because-doing-”drugs”- is-illegal thing, obvs) would be if the person were going around stating that they were doing drugs purposefully and specifically to try and mess up their future child. And then I’d call that child abuse, or intent to abuse, or something. And… okay, you could probably find someone in the world who does this, but a lone loser is not really the basis for a whole new law. A new law is not needed to cover illegal drug use (there are laws for that) or child abuse (there are laws for that too!) so this is clearly about enshrining fetal personhood in law.

  9. Which study?
    Which study? April 25, 2012 at 3:49 pm |

    (according to one study, black women and white women use drugs at about the same rates, but black women are ten times as likely to be reported to authorities)

    The link to the study didn’t work. I would love to be able to cite it, though. Help?

  10. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan April 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm |

    But sure, we should totally lock up all the parents who have kids with health problems just in case they accidentally caused one of those problems. Or even those with healthy kids, just in case. Did a jumping jack once in the first trimester? Not completely sure you got absolutely enough vitamin D? Throw away the key!

  11. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve April 25, 2012 at 4:13 pm |

    This law is ridiculous in every way, but none moreso than in the case of the woman who only smoked marijuana. There is no concrete evidence that smoking marijuana during pregnancy has a deleterious effect on the child. Meanwhile the FDA bends over backwards to approve drugs like Zoloft as safe during pregnancy.

  12. Wirbelwind
    Wirbelwind April 25, 2012 at 4:22 pm |

    1. Drink vodka or take drugs while pregnant.
    2. Do not abort the fetus and choose to give birth.
    3. Decide to bring up deformed/mentally challenged kid.
    4. 18 years later publish a book about your messed up childhood and struggle.
    5. Profit !

  13. Li
    Li April 25, 2012 at 4:36 pm |

    1. Drink vodka or take drugs while pregnant.
    2. Do not abort the fetus and choose to give birth.
    3. Decide to bring up deformed/mentally challenged kid.
    4. 18 years later publish a book about your messed up childhood and struggle.
    5. Profit !

    Because the women targeted by these prosecutions are the same women who are likely to get a book deal.

    #youfailsocialjusticeforever

  14. Wirbelwind
    Wirbelwind April 25, 2012 at 4:57 pm |

    Hey hey, getting out of poverty thanks to a great book deal ? That would make a great Hollywood story !

  15. damigiana
    damigiana April 25, 2012 at 6:42 pm |

    When I was pregnant, about a decade ago, European ob-gyns defended the right of pregnant women to drink moderately. Because, you know, no scientific evidence whatsoever. Not a shred.

    Now? We’re getting the same crap stories as everyone else. Again, slippery slope: getting drunk or drinking often can harm your fetus. An occasional half glass of wine/half pint of beer won’t.

    I’m sure someone will forbid pregnant women to drink. Bonus point: ads in US bars against pregnant women drinking always have an image of a dark-skinned, curly haired lady.

  16. er
    er April 25, 2012 at 6:56 pm |

    There was a case in Texas, I think, of a woman who was convicted of murder because her baby having been accused of poising her baby by opiates in breastmilk (even though there is no evidence that breastmilk can carry toxic levels and the baby might have had a metabolic disorder). So it doesn’t stop with pregnancy!

  17. Unree
    Unree April 25, 2012 at 8:25 pm |

    @er – this story probably isn’t the one you had in mind but a woman in South Carolina was prosecuted for homicide in February of this year after her baby died: she had been breastfeeding while taking painkiller drugs that metabolize as morphine-like. There is no evidence, zero, that breast milk can kill a baby.

  18. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated April 25, 2012 at 9:47 pm |

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/05/us/05meth.html?_r=1
    This woman was charged with murder after her breast-fed baby died and was found to have meth in its system.
    Tennessee just passed a law allowing murder charges to be filed on the death of an embryo. They exempted maternal choices and abortion-so far; these exemptions could be revoked next session.
    RWNJs want to ban welfare and food stamps which feed children of drug-dependent mothers and simultaneously proclaim tbat they are protecting the developing child. Much of their concern for the unborn strikes me as veiled sexual obsession with pregnancy.

  19. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune April 25, 2012 at 11:36 pm |

    1. Drink vodka or take drugs while pregnant.
    2. Do not abort the fetus and choose to give birth.
    3. Decide to bring up deformed/mentally challenged kid.
    4. 18 years later publish a book about your messed up childhood and struggle.
    5. Profit !

    Yeah, because that’s totally the thought process of someone who hypothetically gives birth and cares for a child with disabilities for 18 years, who risks the attendant economic, mental and physical strain of caregiving, the social judging and the threat of prison, public humiliation and stripping of basic rights that goes with that: the rockin’ book deal they’re going to get out of it.

  20. me and julio
    me and julio April 26, 2012 at 12:55 am |

    I have been heavily involved in alcohol and drug recovery communities for several years and never heard of treatment centers not accepting pregnant addicts. Is this real? If so that is deeply fucked up, of course, but I have never, ever heard of this. I will be doing research and coming back with more information if I find it.

  21. Ankhorite
    Ankhorite April 26, 2012 at 2:19 am |

    This “pro-life” push actually encourages abortions.

    If your choice is to between being prosecuted for using drugs while carrying a fetus, and perhaps being incarcerated, or choosing to *stop* carrying the fetus, and have no legal risk at all, what do the anti-choicers think is going to happen?

    Well, they think that after all their attempts to close down clinics, the woman might not be able to find or afford an abortion, so they’ll have all the fun of prosecuting her no matter what *she* wanted to do about her pregnancy, or about her addiction.*

    If your choice was prison or abortion, what would you do? If you could?

    *Yes to comment #6 above — it’s a liability problem. There are almost no slots for pregnant women in any drug rehab program anywhere.

  22. matlun
    matlun April 26, 2012 at 6:02 am |

    Drug addiction is a status and not a crime, and you cannot prosecute someone for simply being an addict.

    Obviously you can and simple drug use is criminalised in quite a few jurisdiction. The law under discussion here is not the only such law and most laws are not specifically used against only pregnant drug users.

    And regarding the medical issues that harm caused by drugs is unclear in many cases: If you read this law it is even more ridiculous than you would think. Exposing children to drugs is a felony, even if you can prove that the child was not harmed in any way. It is even illegal to allow children to come in contact with “drug paraphernalia”. (Actual harm makes it a more serious crime with more severe punishment)

  23. Norma
    Norma April 26, 2012 at 8:54 am |

    deformed/mentally challenged kid

    Have you lived under a rock for the past generation? This language isn’t appropriate.

  24. Julie Drizin
    Julie Drizin April 26, 2012 at 9:54 am |

    So glad you quoted Dorothy Roberts. She participating in a debate on this issue back in 1999-2000 for a public radio show I produced called Justice Talking. Here’s a link for anyone interested:

    http://www.justicetalking.org/ShowPage.aspx?ShowID=87

  25. matlun
    matlun April 26, 2012 at 10:08 am |

    @Ok, IANAL and was not aware of that case. I found the point a bit strange since there is a HUGE number of people in the US that have been convicted for simple possession. (In this thread we are discussing a law that criminalises use, which seems very similar).

    If you had said that you should not convict people for that I would have 100% agreed.

    And perhaps I am guilty of being overly pedantic. It happens on a semi regular basis.

  26. Huh?
    Huh? April 26, 2012 at 12:33 pm |

    What kills me if how transparent the pro life movement’s motives are. Note, the other kids are still in the home. They won’t remove children from homes with drug addicted parents, because nobody gives a crap about them. They won’t fund the welfare services for families like these. But *fetuses*, they are super special. Fetuses get you prison time. Unbelievable.

  27. Andie
    Andie April 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm |

    Actually I would understand it that you can prosecute someone for drug possession, but not for being a drug addict or having used drugs, which I would think makes the difference between prosecuting behaviour rather than prosecuting status.

    I’m not a lawyer, though, so I’m not sure.

  28. Henry
    Henry April 26, 2012 at 3:39 pm |

    Andie is right. Many legal systems have a long history of banning status as a crime, we only criminalize acts themselves (whether that is warranted or not is another question cue: the old sodomy laws) .

    As for the beast milk cases, this cannot be murder, where’s the proof she intended to kill or harm the child? – was she advised that breastfeeding when using methamphetamines was not an option as it could/would kill the child? [and I assume for the sake of argument it was the methamphetamines that even killed the child] The whole charge fails on intent to cause the harm, just like most car accidents do not result in murder charges. Not that I would vote her mom of the year, but the loss of her child by this horrible accident is not helped by locking her up.

    And back to the main topic, where’s the intent element in the pregnant woman who uses drugs [assuming for the sake a fetus has rights at some point in its life - for example we ban abortion after the fetus could survive to term in some all? states] so take the best case for the other side, preg. woman goes on a heroin binge 1 week before she is due, overdoses and loses the fetus due to the overdose – still no intent to murder anyone here. At most in such a late term hypothetical I could see slightly the argument that it might be a negligent homicide – but that does not cover the majority of the cases, where the drug abuse is ongoing over the whole pregnancy, and we already have laws on the books [e.g. drug possession, child abuse] to deal with these odd-ball scenarios us legal types can dream up.

    The real solution to the “drug-baby” issue is treating addicts so they become former addicts.

  29. VGC
    VGC April 26, 2012 at 6:06 pm |

    Ugh. I hate how pregnant women are put under a microscope and judged for EVERY tiny thing they do. And for the whole “A” leads to “B” mindset: I have met people who actually blame their mothers for their minor learning disability or social anxiety or some other psychological disorder (diagnosed and undiagnosed) because they found out that their mothers smoked a few times or had a few drinks while they were pregnant. And their mothers weren’t chain smokers or alcoholics by any stretch.

    It also saddens me when pregnant women buy into this bullshit and completely stop doing things they enjoy (wine, an occasional cigarette, sushi, exercising, etc.) the second they find out that they’re pregnant.

  30. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve April 26, 2012 at 9:10 pm |

    Ugh. I hate how pregnant women are put under a microscope and judged for EVERY tiny thing they do. And for the whole “A” leads to “B” mindset: I have met people who actually blame their mothers for their minor learning disability or social anxiety or some other psychological disorder (diagnosed and undiagnosed) because they found out that their mothers smoked a few times or had a few drinks while they were pregnant. And their mothers weren’t chain smokers or alcoholics by any stretch.

    It also saddens me when pregnant women buy into this bullshit and completely stop doing things they enjoy (wine, an occasional cigarette, sushi, exercising, etc.) the second they find out that they’re pregnant.

    First paragraph, totally agree. Second paragraph, I think it’s their business whether or not they ‘buy into bullshit.’ If someone wants to be ultra-vigilant, that’s up to them, surely?

  31. Azalea
    Azalea April 26, 2012 at 11:54 pm |

    And a former fetus now human being who wants to sue their mother for actions during gestation at could be or are linked to thrir current suffering is their right. Its one thing to ask the world not to blame a woman for a child born with fetal alcolh.syndrome, its out of line to expect the same with a person who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome is pissed off about it and chooses to sue.

  32. Chiara
    Chiara April 27, 2012 at 10:25 am |

    And a former fetus now human being who wants to sue their mother for actions during gestation at could be or are linked to thrir current suffering is their right. Its one thing to ask the world not to blame a woman for a child born with fetal alcolh.syndrome, its out of line to expect the same with a person who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome is pissed off about it and chooses to sue.

    Yes indeed this sounds like the perfect solution… Let’s give crippling dept to the alcoholic woman because some guy decides that his mother must have been responsible for his alcoholism.

  33. Jadey
    Jadey April 27, 2012 at 11:53 am |

    Yes indeed this sounds like the perfect solution… Let’s give crippling dept to the alcoholic woman because some guy decides that his mother must have been responsible for his alcoholism.

    Fetal alcohol syndrome /= alcoholism. Time for Google.

  34. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri April 27, 2012 at 11:55 am |

    @Chiara, you, yet again, clearly have no idea what you’re talking about — fetal alcohol syndrome is a well established syndrome linked to prenatal drinking — it’s not “his alcoholism” but “his mental disabilities”.

    Please use google once in a while.

    Azelea — I’m just being pedantic here, but I’m curious where you draw the line on “mother’s actions that affect the fetus/child” — that sushi was bad and she definitely did get food poisoning? (please don’t misunderstand, I agree with regard to heavy drinking once you know you’re pregnant, I’m just worried about the rest of us uterus-havers being perpetually pre-pregnant and can’t get too drunk!)

    I guess that’s more a question for tort law’s unpleasant headaches though. I kinda like the idea as it does cover that alcohol is legal and probably the most dangerous “drug” to be using while pregnant.

    [Fixed. -C]

  35. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan April 27, 2012 at 1:43 pm |

    Once you’re a person, you get person-rights. Like you can bring lawsuits (even frivolous ones) against your parents. And maybe it would be frivolous to sue your mother (or father) for something like a pack-a-day habit during your gestation, I don’t know. But let’s not pretend that things like *heavy* drinking and smoking do not have well-documented effects on fetuses. Then the woo becomes too strong. :\

  36. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan April 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm |

    And for the whole “A” leads to “B” mindset: I have met people who actually blame their mothers for their minor learning disability or social anxiety or some other psychological disorder (diagnosed and undiagnosed) because they found out that their mothers smoked a few times or had a few drinks while they were pregnant.

    Might as well blame her for having “bad” genes or being stressed out during pregnancy, ’cause those factors are waaay more likely to harm the fetus or cause lasting effects than a glass of wine is. :p

    That’s right, stress during pregnancy is harmful. Stop stressing out, pregnant people! I SAID STOP STRESSING OUT OR YOU’RE GOING TO JAIL!!! WHY ARE YOU SO STRESSED???

  37. David
    David April 27, 2012 at 6:15 pm |

    This is mainly a reply to FatSteve, who is arguing that parents should be able to do what they like, with no regard to their children’s health, and that society shouldn’t stop the parents from damaging their children. (Pregnant women are becoming parents)

    I am a former abused child, and I think there should be a lot more scrutiny on parents throughout the period that they bring up children. From conception to high school graduation. Children belong to society, and society should step in if the parent’s fuck up.

    I also believe that parenthood is a choice, and abortion should be freely available, and encouraged. All babies should be wanted.

    If a woman is pregnant, takes drugs, drinks lots of alochol, and plans to give birth. Then there is a serious problem. Going out, taking drugs and drinking with no regard for the health of your future child is not a good start to parenting. The child did not consent to consuming alochol while a featus or being exposed to drugs while growing up!

    Criminalising the woman isn’t the way forwards, but the society should step in and take action, such as taking the child at birth, or getting the mother on a drug treatment regime, because drug addicts cannot raise healthy children. If she wants to carry on taking drugs and drinking, then she can always have an abortion, or give up the child.

    This scrutiny should apply to everyone involved in bringing up children, no matter what gender or how they are related to the child.

    So I am arguing for a continuation of the scrutiny on pregnant women (Who plan to give birth), an increase in the scrutiny on fathers to be, until it matches the current level of scrutiny on women, and a continuation of this scrutiny until the child is old enough to fend for themselves.

    You could argue that I am over responding because of my up-bringing. However, I am not alone. 1 in 6 boys, and 1 in 5 girls gets sexually abused, and most children are abused by their parents. People you are friends with are abusing their children!

    Also, in reply to the posters above; if a baby has Meth in it’s bloodstream, then it is being abused, and the parents should be able to explain how the Meth got there. Child abuse is quite rightly a crime, which parents should be prosecuted for. Children and babies are humans not property, and humans have rights.

  38. Azalea
    Azalea April 27, 2012 at 10:18 pm |

    Argenti Aertheri,

    Azelea — I’m just being pedantic here, but I’m curious where you draw the line on “mother’s actions that affect the fetus/child” — that sushi was bad and she definitely did get food poisoning? (please don’t misunderstand, I agree with regard to heavy drinking once you know you’re pregnant, I’m just worried about the rest of us uterus-havers being perpetually pre-pregnant and can’t get too drunk!)

    1) THANK YOU for reading through my massive typos, I think I did that post from my Charge (smartphone).

    2) You’re not a mother and there is no fetus/born child without an actual pregnancy.

    3) Although I know it would hurt any mother to face the reality or more commonly the false accusation that her actions during gestation harmed the fetus that would become her child, the child is a born person with rights to. The child would be suffering from some ailment attached to his/her gestation and something as undeniable as fetal alcohol syndrome or the harsh effects of illegal drugs on a fetus has to be respected. We can’t tell children FUCK YOU we only have sympathy for your mom! Its ok and its totally possible to have sympathy for both. It’s simply a tragic situation all around.

    3.a) ANY douchebag who is not the child in question should leave the mother alone. Honestly she’d probably feel bad enough without some self righteous stranger making her feel worse.

  39. Azalea
    Azalea April 27, 2012 at 10:22 pm |

    >< I didnt mean that *you* arent a mother but any uterus toting person is NOT a mother until they are pregnant. And also, preparing for pregnancy helps with the most basic and natural prenatal scares the enhanced chance of being healthy is versus not being overly prepared as opposed to being overly careless.

  40. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri April 27, 2012 at 11:09 pm |

    Azelea, I was agreeing right until “And also, preparing for pregnancy helps with the most basic and natural prenatal scares the enhanced chance of being healthy is versus not being overly prepared as opposed to being overly careless.” — though that’s mostly that I can’t make heads or tails what you means

    And you were right in the guess I’m not a mother, point about not having born-children/real people duly noted. I may be having trouble parsing that last sentence as I really have no intent to be one, not any time soon at least, preparing for the possibility in my case means knowing where the PP is — that’s the point there though? that were I planning to keep an accidental pregnancy it would behoove me not to shit faced drunk? (why do I suspect you just missed a key comma somewhere?)

    Also, thanks for the fix on my html fail last comment, that was a mess.

  41. piny
    piny April 28, 2012 at 12:15 pm |

    @Chiara, you, yet again, clearly have no idea what you’re talking about — fetal alcohol syndrome is a well established syndrome linked to prenatal drinking — it’s not “his alcoholism” but “his mental disabilities”.

    Not exactly. Because we’re talking about the process whereby a woman creates an entire human being out of her own flesh over the course of almost a year, is not that simple. It’s not clear whether fetal alcohol syndrome is caused only by drinking or by drinking in combination with other factors (poor nutrition, poor health, poor health and nutrition secondary to alcoholism, stress and despair), or what level of intake at what point actually does damage.

    And no, I don’t think we have a right to sue our parents–wait, excuse me, moms only–for taking adequate care of themselves during pregnancy. It’s virtually impossible to figure out exactly what damage was done, and how it happened. But more importantly, pregnant women harm their fetuses only when they harm themselves. They poison their own bodies; they serve their own bodily and psychological addictions. We don’t criminalize alcoholism or starvation when normal people suffer either; we don’t criminalize poverty when it’s inflicted on women; we shouldn’t criminalize pregnant women for living like us. It’s inhumane and irrational.

    Not just that, but it’s impossible for the woman herself to separate her body from her child’s body in the morally immaculate way this reasoning requires. They’re physically inseparable, but their physical needs are sometimes divergent or conflicting. A woman might need to protect her own health and risk her child’s.

    >< I didnt mean that *you* arent a mother but any uterus toting person is NOT a mother until they are pregnant. And also, preparing for pregnancy helps with the most basic and natural prenatal scares the enhanced chance of being healthy is versus not being overly prepared as opposed to being overly careless.

    No, because perfectionism itself is damaging to pregnant (and pre-pregnant) women. We’re not battery hens. Being “overly prepared” means being paranoid, defensive, isolated, shamed, exhausted, and stressed out. All of those things are dangerous. They’re also abusive.

  42. maggiemay
    maggiemay April 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm |

    when hitler began his rise to power in the 30′s—before U.S. involvement in WW2—he began by persecuting the least popular—(ppl 4get that hitler went after homosexuals and feminists B4 he went after Jews)—and that’s what’s happening here—women who are perceived as child abusers because they drink or do drugs while pregnant are pariahs, especially if they are poor, nonwhite, and so forth—-the United States and the rest of the world are moving toward a police state, the powers that be are beginning with the least popular people, hoping that no one will notice or care—and when they get around to taking away everyone’s rights it will be too late

  43. Sandy
    Sandy April 28, 2012 at 1:15 pm |

    but any uterus toting person is NOT a mother until they are pregnant.

    To be nitpicky for a moment: a person is not a mother unless she is pregnant and wants to be. (Or if she’s birthed, adopted, or is raising a child and considers herself to be.) It grates on my nerves when forced birthers (which I know you are not) talk about pregnant women like they’re already mothers. Maybe they are, and maybe they aren’t.

  44. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date April 28, 2012 at 4:24 pm |

    when hitler began his rise to power in the 30′s—before U.S. involvement in WW2—he began by persecuting the least popular—(ppl 4get that hitler went after homosexuals and feminists B4 he went after Jews)

    Perhaps people forget this because it’s historically inaccurate?

  45. DonnaL
    DonnaL April 28, 2012 at 4:34 pm |

    (ppl 4get that hitler went after homosexuals and feminists B4 he went after Jews

    As past my expiration date points out, this is complete bullshit. For hitler, it was always about the jews. Always, back to mein kampf, all through the ’20′s, right on through the anti-jewish laws that were passed almost the moment he came to power. My mother was born in Berlin, and was 10 years old in 1933. She and her family lived this.

    I don’t usually like to play Oppression Olympics, but in this case, please just stop now, and don’t get yourself in trouble by desperately googling and looking for “evidence” to back you up.

  46. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve April 28, 2012 at 10:18 pm |

    As past my expiration date points out, this is complete bullshit. For hitler, it was always about the jews. Always, back to mein kampf, all through the ’20′s, right on through the anti-jewish laws that were passed almost the moment he came to power. My mother was born in Berlin, and was 10 years old in 1933. She and her family lived this.

    I don’t usually like to play Oppression Olympics, but in this case, please just stop now, and don’t get yourself in trouble by desperately googling and looking for “evidence” to back you up.

    True about his obsession with the Jews predating his rise to power, but he did start rounding up the socialists first. My (great) uncle, a Jew and a official of the Austrian Socialist Party, was sent to Dachau as a political prisoner, released and able to leave the country for England with my great-aunt and grandmother before they started putting the Jews in camps. They attempted to get my great-grandparents out, but neither the UK or USA would take them and they ended up being executed with tens of thousands of other Jews by Lithuanian partisans in a place called Kovno.

  47. DonnaL
    DonnaL April 29, 2012 at 2:56 pm |

    ^

    Kovno isn’t just a “place” in Lithuania; it’s the Yiddish version of Kaunas, a major city. Part of my father’s family came from there. And my mother’s Uncle Gustave was sent there from Drancy in 1944 on Convoy 73 (unlike most of the other convoys, which went to Auschwitz), and was murdered along with everyone else who had survived long enough, at the infamous Fort 9 in Kovno. Are you sure that your great-grandparents were murdered by Lithuanian “partisans”? The Lithuanian partisans were opposed to the Nazis, unless you’re referring to anti-Soviet partisans during the brief period between the Soviet takeover and the German invasion in June 1941. So far as I know, the Jews slaughtered in Lithuania after the German invasion — including many of my father’s relatives — were killed either by the Nazis or by the Lithuanian police, with the generally enthusiastic cooperation, and even participation, of the local population. (One of the reasons that Lithuania is about 1,000 years behind Germany itself in acknowledging its role in the Holocaust.)

  48. yes
    yes April 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm |

    Nice to see we’re staying on topic. Didn’t see Godwin coming in this particular thread.

  49. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm |

    MaggieMay – people already pointed out that you seem to be reading some questionable history books, but can we agree that even if your interpretation of history were correct,

    and that’s what’s happening here—

    is completely ridiculous?

  50. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve April 29, 2012 at 7:24 pm |

    Kovno isn’t just a “place” in Lithuania; it’s the Yiddish version of Kaunas, a major city. Part of my father’s family came from there. And my mother’s Uncle Gustave was sent there from Drancy in 1944 on Convoy 73 (unlike most of the other convoys, which went to Auschwitz), and was murdered along with everyone else who had survived long enough, at the infamous Fort 9 in Kovno. Are you sure that your great-grandparents were murdered by Lithuanian “partisans”? The Lithuanian partisans were opposed to the Nazis, unless you’re referring to anti-Soviet partisans during the brief period between the Soviet takeover and the German invasion in June 1941. So far as I know, the Jews slaughtered in Lithuania after the German invasion — including many of my father’s relatives — were killed either by the Nazis or by the Lithuanian police, with the generally enthusiastic cooperation, and even participation, of the local population. (One of the reasons that Lithuania is about 1,000 years behind Germany itself in acknowledging its role in the Holocaust.)

    I gortunately have the book my cousin wrote to go on (during her graduate studies at Oxford, she and my uncle traveled to Vienna, Poland and beyond to track this bit of unknown family history.) She was only 21 at the time, so I don’t know if her interpretation of everything is 100% correct, but this is what her account says:

    On Nov 23 1941 and 996 other Viennese Jews were told they would be transferred to a ghetto outside of Austria’s borders. After six days of travel on Nov 29, 1941, and 1998 Jews resettled from Vienna and Breslau arrived in Kovno (modern day Kaunus,) Lithuania. Here they were marched from the train by Nazi trained Lithuanian ‘partisans’; they passed in front of Kovno’s Jewish ghetto, which had recently been “prepared” for the arrival of these Jews from the Reich.

    But rather than stopping at the ghetto, and the others were brought to an old fort, termed by the Nazis, “Fort IX.”

    An account written by an eyewitness states: “The Jews who arrived had to fully undress (it was minus 18 degrees) and then get into pits dug by Russian prisoners of war. They were then shot with machine guns; grenades were thrown in afterwards. Without checking to see if they were all dead, the commando shouted out the order to ‘cover up the pits.’ ”

    The scenes of the shooting were filmed in part.

  51. DonnaL
    DonnaL April 29, 2012 at 9:06 pm |

    Thanks for that. Ugh. So, OK, then, I think they were “partisans” in name only. After all, they were *supporting* the occupying Germans, not fighting them! Also, I strongly suspect that it was the Germans themselves, the S.S. Einsatzgruppen, that did the actual machine-gunning. It was around that time that they realized how inefficient machine gunning was for disposing of large numbers, and began to develop more efficient methods.

    As I mentioned, though, Fort 9 and machine guns were still being utilized at times by the Nazis even three years later; Fort 9 is where my mother’s Uncle Gustav Bloch, my grandmother’s brother, and the rest of the 900 people in his convoy, were murdered in May 1944; see http://www.gutstein.net/kaunas/kaunas-ninthfort.htm and http://www.convoi73.org/indexa1.html. There’s a photo in the Yad Vashem photo archive of the graffiti he scratched, shortly before his deportation on convoy 73, on the wall at the Drancy internment camp in a Paris suburb, where he’d been brought from Marseilles after his arrest:

    http://collections.yadvashem.org/photosarchive/en-us/43354.html

    (He had been hiding out, but, unlike another uncle who survived with his family by posing as Christians in Nice, wasn’t able to get false identity papers. I’ve corresponded with the archive and they’ll eventually correct the errors in the description — it’s “Gustel,” a nickname for Gustav, not Yustel, and it’s from Drancy, not from a death camp or Fort 9 — the family came and found it on the wall there, later on. There’s a section on my uncle in the book that was published about convoy 73, with old family photos I contributed depicting his childhood in Sulzburg, the village in the Schwarzwald near Frieburg where the family had lived for at least 250 years and where my grandmother grew up.)

  52. DonnaL
    DonnaL April 29, 2012 at 9:07 pm |

    Thanks for that. Ugh. So, OK, then, I think they were “partisans” in name only. After all, they were *supporting* the occupying Germans, not fighting them! Also, I strongly suspect that it was the Germans themselves, the S.S. Einsatzgruppen, that did the actual machine-gunning. It was around that time that they realized how inefficient machine gunning was for disposing of large numbers, and began to develop more efficient methods.

    As I mentioned, though, Fort 9 and machine guns were still being utilized at times by the Nazis even three years later; Fort 9 is where my mother’s Uncle Gustav Bloch, my grandmother’s brother, and the rest of the 900 people in his convoy, were murdered in May 1944; see http://www.gutstein.net/kaunas/kaunas-ninthfort.htm and http://www.convoi73.org/indexa1.html. There’s a photo in the Yad Vashem photo archive of the graffiti he scratched, shortly before his deportation on convoy 73, on the wall at the Drancy internment camp in a Paris suburb, where he’d been brought from Marseilles after his arrest:

    http://collections.yadvashem.org/photosarchive/en-us/43354.html

    (He had been hiding out, but, unlike another uncle who survived with his family by posing as Christians in Nice, wasn’t able to get false identity papers. I’ve corresponded with the archive and they’ll eventually correct the errors in the description — it’s “Gustel,” a nickname for Gustav, not Yustel, and it’s from Drancy, not from a death camp or Fort 9 — the family came and found it on the wall there, later on. There’s a section on my uncle in the book that was published about convoy 73, with old family photos I contributed depicting his childhood in Sulzburg, the village in the Schwarzwald near Freiburg where the family had lived for at least 250 years and where my grandmother grew up.)

  53. DonnaL
    DonnaL April 29, 2012 at 9:08 pm |

    Sorry for the duplicate comment; I was trying to correct a typo before it posted.

  54. Azalea
    Azalea May 9, 2012 at 12:37 am |

    To be nitpicky for a moment: a person is not a mother unless she is pregnant and wants to be. (Or if she’s birthed, adopted, or is raising a child and considers herself to be.) It grates on my nerves when forced birthers (which I know you are not) talk about pregnant women like they’re already mothers. Maybe they are, and maybe they aren’t.

    Isnt that a slippery slope though? What of birth mothers? What of gestational surrogates? Women who have zero intention of being a parent but generally call themselves mother by virtue of having been aware of being pregnant and carrying said pregnancy to term. Im defeinitely not for forced birthing but if we call men who supplied the gametes of a current pregnancy “fathers” how could we not call women who are gestating those pregnancies “mothers?” Mothering a child is gestating a fetus and/or parentinga born child. Fathering a is being the biological paternal gamete of a gestating fetus and/or parenting a child. Is that definition offensive?

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