According to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner’s Sam Bishop, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell sent out a fundraising letter in early November, which told a personal story about his mother and abortion. In the letter, and in others since, Treadwell writes about his 18-year-old mother’s decision not to have an abortion 58 years ago when she discovered that she was pregnant “out of wedlock.”
“We used to be a culture that valued liberty and life,” he wrote. Treadwell said that unlike Washington Democrats, “I am a Republican candidate for the United States Senate because I do not believe the way we used to be was wrong.”
It’s hard to say what rosy past Treadwell is evoking here, but since he brought it up, it appears that the 1950s was the time when we “used to be a culture that valued life.” The time, apparently, that he does not believe “used to be wrong.”
A few facts about the 1950s, the utopian era for which Treadwell apparently longs:
- Until 1978, women could be fired for being or becoming pregnant.
- In the 1950s, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower proposed cutting taxes from the the top rate down to 91 percent from 92 percent. Currently, the top rate is in the upper 30s.
- In the 1950s and 1960s, laws in several states prohibited women from working and banned their hiring for some length of time before and after childbirth.
- In most states until the 1970s, a wife didn’t have the right to refuse sex with her husband and a husband couldn’t be prosecuted for marital rape. In July 1993, marital rape became a crime in all 50 states.
- In the 1950s, about a million illegal abortions a year were performed in the U.S. and somewhere between 160 to 260 women died from these abortions, while thousands more were seriously injured.
- In Alaska, it wasn’t until 1968 that the first two women — Mary Alice Miller and Dorothy Tyner — were appointed judges.
- In 1955 when Treadwell was born, there were no women on the U. S. Supreme Court and only two of the 307 federal district judges were women.
- In 1955, of the 435 U.S. House members, 17 were women and only one of the 96 U.S. senators was a woman.
- In Alaska in 1955, there were 16 territorial senators, one of whom was a woman, and 24 house members, three of whom were women.
- Currently, out of 60 total, there are 17 women serving in the Alaska Legislature: 13 female members of the House of Representatives and four senators.
- In 1955, the “poodle cut” was all the rage.
- There was no licensed polio vaccine until 1962.
It goes on, including that Alaska wasn’t a state until 1959 and Prudhoe Bay wasn’t discovered until 1968.
Treadwell was once known in political circles as a forward-thinking, technology-embracing Republican moderate. That began to change when he ran in 2010 for lieutenant governor. Now, he’s even more vocally conservative than his boss, Gov. Sean Parnell, who although plenty conservative, would likely never say in a fundraising letter that he wants to go back to the days of Jim Crow, of separate but equal, of breathtaking sexism. The good old days when Treadwell’s mother could and likely would be kicked out of school or fired from her job because she chose to bring a child into the world.
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org