Mother Jones has published an account of the pre-Roe v. Wade era in commemoration of the law’s 39th anniversary.
In the article, Eleanor Cooney recounts her experiences as a young woman, just off to college, and pregnant. Cooney discusses a variety of topics relating to abortion and the pro-choice movement, including the Partial Birth Abortion Ban, which was enacted in 2003.
-See, (R-PA) Rick Santorum–
-Also see, (R-PA) Rick Santorum: Jerk for President–
Cooney expresses this moment as, “the first federal legal erosion of Roe v. Wade since its adoption in 1973.” She goes on to explain the harmful implications of the law, including the leaving out of exceptions for rape and incest.
Not shying away from the science of abortion, Cooney goes into the process of the partial birth abortion the procedural name of which is D&X. She also explains the difference between all three types of procedures, including D&E (an earlier, more potentially harmful version of D&X) and D&C.
Cooney then recounts tales of friends’ and strangers’ experiences with “back alley abortions”. One woman in particular was left “sterile, violently allergic to penicillin, and. . .’paralyzed and ashamed’ by the experience”. Another died.
At this point, the reader can say, “That’s what she gets,” but I’d like him or her to transcend initial judgment and continue reading.
Cooney goes on to talk about her experience as a young woman, alone, and looking to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. She writes of the expense and difficulty of finding doctors to perform an abortion so late in the pregnancy (three months, I believe). Not only was the search difficult, but she also writes of the sexual abuse and uncalled for judgment delivered by those doctors to whom she reached out for help–inappropriate sexual questioning, no use of gloves, fondling, to name a few.
Despite laws, “demand for abortion continued to grow,” resulting in “several thousand American women [being] treated in emergency rooms for botched abortions, and there were at least 200 known deaths.” Cooney tells readers of the medical profession’s initial push to make abortion illegal, and the turn in opinions of doctors who decided to speak out.
She continues to write:
When a woman does not want to be pregnant, the drive to become unpregnant can turn into a force equal to the nature that wants her to stay pregnant. And then she will look for an abortion, whether it’s legal or illegal, clean or filthy, safe or riddled with danger.
The statement above is what we need to remember. Remember that pregnancy isn’t always a choice. Remember that the consequences of both bringing a child to term and having an abortion are abundant. Know that abortion is not a decision taken lightly on either side of the moral equation. Remember that abortion can be prevented.
This prevention not only includes abstinence (note – in cases of rape and incest, abstinence disappears as a viable option), but also the use of contraceptives like condoms and hormonal birth control.
It is legislation like Personhood Laws and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, controversial for its specification of which kind of rape would be covered, that threaten the reproductive rights of women in the United States. By limiting access to birth control and putting limitations on the circumstances under which a woman can terminate her pregnancy, politicians (Can I point out that the majority of them are men, now?), the same ones who seek to implement Hands-Off-the-People government policies, seem to be “hands off” unless it comes to women’s bodies.
Don’t agree with abortion? Great. That’s your right.
But keep the option open.