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Let’s talk about abortion for a bit.

By Alice Bradley

Well, I see I picked the wrong topic to focus on last week, didn’t I? I was all, End the Mommy Wars, Yo! Women Unite! Then, just before posting, I found that ultrasound bill article, and I added it—didn’t bother to read it, mind you, because as we know I’m not big on the reading—and hoo doggies, it seems I passed over a real firecracker of a topic!

Actually you did precisely what I wish the media would do—get past all the mother-fretting and address some real topics. That was tricky of you, to do that like that. You’re smarter than me. Than I? You’re smarter than me is. Good you. Thank.

Because I should have addressed the abortion bill last week, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to talk about it now.

South Carolina’s Senate is expected to pass a bill requiring abortion-seeking women to first view an ultrasound of the fetus. The House passed the legislation, 91-23. The governor supports it. All evidence points to it soon being state law.

Let me first state what I think is fairly obvious, what many of my commenters said last week: This bill is beyond insulting. It assumes that the woman who has reached this decision has done so lightly, that she doesn’t know or want to acknowledge what’s inside her. It is a blanket condemnation of all women who opt to abort their pregnancies. It turns into state law something that should be a private decision between a woman and her practitioner. It’s cruel and gratuitous.

(Incidentally, the bill was passed after lawmakers defeated amendments exempting rape or incest victims from mandatory ultrasounds. Defeated them. These people didn’t even want rape and incest victims to get a pass. Now, in order for the bill to be passed, these exemptions will almost certainly be back in, but still, I think it’s important to note the mindset of those who want to see this bill become state law.)

How, pray tell, will the woman be required to view the ultrasound? If she turns her head, is someone going to force her to turn it back? What happens if the woman closes her eyes—how are we going to pry open her eyelids?

There’s a lot of noise about the mandatory ultrasound being “educational,” but that’s putting a rather euphemistic spin on it. In fact, it’s intimidation, pure and simple. It’s one more hurdle put up specifically to prevent women from having abortions. Seen as an intimidation tool, it’s not hard to see that its targets are the people with the fewest emotional, financial, and social resources: the young, the uneducated, the poor. Desperate people without options, without a plan. When these people are faced with an authority figure showing them—implicitly or explicitly—why their decision is wrong, what do you think they’re going to do?

As I noted in a previous post, Babies are abandoned regularly in the U.S., and the risk of homicide on the first day of life is 10 times greater than the rate during any other time of life. Putting up more roadblocks to abortion will undoubtedly increase the number of these grim crimes.

Reader Angie pointed out the following in last week’s comments:

“These facts are from the South Carolina Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program’s website.
• Infant mortality is an indicator of the overall health of a community. Ten of the 12 states with the highest infant death rates are in the South, with South Carolina ranking first in eight of the last ten years.
• Forty-three and a half percent of pregnant women in South Carolina receive inadequate prenatal care.
• In addition, South Carolina ranks among the worst ten states on characteristics correlated with low birth weight (i.e. prematurity, births to women with inadequate prenatal care, unmarried women and teenagers.)”

So, South Carolina: if your intimidation tactics prove effective and fewer abortions occur, are you going to step forward and support those mothers, despite all evidence to the contrary? Are you going to provide medical care, psychological assistance, day care for the baby?

Make no mistake: this South Carolina bill is not an isolated incident. This is one small step toward illegalizing abortions in each state as soon as Roe V. Wade is overturned. My rudimentary attempts at research turned up the following changes (or attempts at changes) in legislation, most of which occurred in the past two weeks:

Parental consent, a 24-hour waiting period… these bills may seem innocuous, even wise, but think about whom they’ll intimidate out of pursuing abortions. The teenagers who might hide their pregnancies and abandon their babies at birth. The working poor who are turned away at the abortion clinic in order for them to “reconsider,” and don’t have the time or resources or will to return.

Abortion is a terrible option, but that’s what it has to be: an option. Without it, we’re in for illegal abortions, backroom affairs that end in injury and death, or women risking their lives with unapproved, black-market drugs. We’ll have more abandoned babies, more child homicides. Meanwhile, legislators tell us that this option to abort should be taken away, in the name of life. That it’s for the good of the babies. It’s not true. If we really cared about the babies, we’d do something to help them once they’re born.

We’re poised to become a country where abortion is a criminal act, where women have no power over their own bodies. It’s a frightening path, and we’re hurtling down it headfirst.

Alice Bradley
About the Author

Alice Bradley

Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.

...

Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.

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divinemisk
Guest

i’m glad you decided to address this alice, and i couldn’t agree with you more. thank you for putting to words my own thoughts and feelings. i am a pregnant woman who is joyfully looking forward to her second sonogram next week. however, if i were in a different situation and were forced to make a different (and heartbreaking) choice, the last thing i would want is the government telling me i can’t make certain decisions about my health and mental wellbeing. when are legislators and community leaders going to focus on unwanted pregnancy prevention, which would as a result… Read more »

Crystal
Guest
Crystal

You forgot that North Dakota just passed a bill forbidding any under 18 to get prenatal care without parental consent.

zu
Guest
zu

I am speechless…in this day and age we are still forced to discuss these things.
Dang it!
It’s my body- how about i have a say about it more than a mr. house representative who doesn’t even have an uterus.

amanda
Guest

Oh, i’m so glad you said this. And said it so eloquently too. Thank you. The path this is all heading down is too terrifying not to talk about it.

Gayle
Guest
Gayle

Thank you for posting this. One of the way these laws get passed is that they remain under the radar. They are not even being discussed except by a small minority.
Sure, there may be a lot of press when the SC looks at Roe v Wade but it seems to me that all these state bills are at least as important.

liz
Guest

How about a bill mandating sterilization for men who get anyone under 18 pregnant, get women pregnant out of wedlock, etc.? And mandatory castration for rapists and those who commit incest.
Oh, wait, men can’t help it.

JeniG
Guest

Thank you for posting this. Women need to know that the threats on Roe are real and are very scary. And like you said, they are the most terrifying for women who are without support and finances. I cannot believe any person finds these laws acceptable. They are so offensive.

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

Sadly, these sort of bills are not unique or rare. My former employer maintains a list of laws and pending legislation in each of the 50 states: http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/choice-action-center/in_your_state/
What is worse, I think, are the targeted regulation of abortion provider (or TRAP) laws. South Carolina is among the worst — their law mandates the temperature of the facility’s room, size of doorways, landscaping, etc. V. restrictive requirements just to force providers to make expensive (and, in most cases, completely unnecessary) alterations.

silvermine
Guest
silvermine

I’m one of those pro-choice anti-abortion kinds of people. I really abhor abortion, but it’s not really my place to try to legislate most of it. And most of the stuff above falls into that place of it not being right to legislate it.
(I actually do think parental notification is important. I mean, it’s their kids.)

Jackie
Guest
Jackie

silvermine, the problem with parental notification is that sometimes it’s the parent or caregiver or guardian who got the girl pregnant in the first place. An abusive parent or guardian is not exactly going to be thrilled to discuss the situation.
Also, sometimes notifying a parent that the girl in question is pregnant leads directly to assault and abuse by that parent. Many girls who are getting abortions do not feel safe in their own homes (because they aren’t) and so parental notification does not exactly aid them.

lizpenn
Guest

thanks for writing this, alice. i especially like the part where you take the “requirement” that women look at the ultrasound image to its logical extreme: do we prop their eyes open with toothpicks? if we’re forcing the state’s will on their bodies to that extent, why not just chain them up until the pregnancy is over and force them to bear the child? i also wanted to add this link to an old barbara ehrenreich op-ed on abortion, which i love because she treats “choice” not like an abstract hot-button issue, but like an experience that is a real… Read more »

angela
Guest

It’s so rediculous. I am proud that I marched in D.C. at the March For Women’s Lives, but I hope that everyone knows that isn’t enough. I am afraid this is just the tip of the iceberg of what is to come. I also believe that women can have the best of both with this issue. It seems as though it is always Pro Choice vs. Pro Life and I don’t think that should be. I am Pro Choice. I also do believe that women can be Pro Choice when it comes to believing women should make that choice for… Read more »

Melinda
Guest
Melinda

Alice, Oh,how I love you, and your blog. Did you know you had wacky, pro-life, Catholic lurkers? While I’m not sure that mandatory ultrasounds are a great solution to what I see as an overwhelming cultural problem, your post makes a lot of the standard assumptions that pro-choicers make when it comes to the abortion debate. The biggest of these is that lack of access to abortion will lead to higher rates of infanticide/abandonment. In fact, the rates of both have been steadily on the rise since Roe v. Wade, and particularly since the early nineties. Strange, but true, the… Read more »

Scarlett_Demon
Guest

Thanks for a very interesting article! I too am an anti-abortion/pro-choice person. When will people realise that one size does not fit all and you can not force your own morals onto other people?

amanda
Guest
amanda

i personally know the man who wrote/sponsored this bill. i’m torn about this b/c i want to give you all his phone number, and address but am not sure that that would be ethical either.

slouching mom
Guest

Thank you, Alice. This was right on the mark. The more people who know about what’s going on in underhanded ways all across the country, the less likely it is that these kinds of laws will be voted through. People, contact your representatives!

Neb
Guest
Neb

The one question I have is this: is it worse for a mother to give birth and then abandon or kill the baby right away, as opposed to having an abortion?
I don’t see the difference.

Tammy
Guest

“Abortion is a terrible option, but that’s what it has to be: an option.” This is my sentiment exactly. I HATE the idea of abortion, but I still agree that the option has to exist. It’s so easy to be anti-abortion when you’ve completely detached yourself from reality. Melinda, you stated: “Strange, but true, the more access we have to abortion, the more we abandon and kill our babies.” Are you trying to state that there’s a direct correlation between these two facts? That there’s actually some kind of cause-and-effect at work here? Because I fail to see how a… Read more »

beth
Guest
beth

i’m a huge fan of finslippy, and regularly follow your links to wonderland. i am anti-abortion though, and i disagree with your opinion regarding this issue. all human lives are valuable, regardless of whether or not they were planned or desired at the time of their conception. i know many people who were “accidents”, who were unwanted, unplanned, etc. some of those people ended up being loved and cherished by their parents, many of them didn’t. those that weren’t wanted — they have become some of the most giving, loving people i know. likewise, some of those desired children grew… Read more »

liz
Guest

Melinda, infant homicide rates have been on the rise as restrictions on abortion have been implemented throughout the nation.

KarenT
Guest
KarenT

Informed consent is an interesting topic. If a teenager can give inforned consent for an abortion, should she not then be able to give informed consent for all aspects of her medical care? I find the situation in which a minor can give informed consent for an elective abortion but not for an appendectomy for a ruptured appendix to be incongruent. In Indiana informed consent pertaining to minors for general medical care is even more confusing. If a 15 year old mother lives with her parents, her parents give consent for her medical care, yet she gives consent for her… Read more »

Alice Bradley
Guest
alice

Beth, I don’t think anyone is “pro-abortion.” Whether or not abortion is taking a human life is, believe it or not, beside the point. The point is, abortions will happen, whether or not they’re legal. If they’re illegal, women will die.

Alice Bradley
Guest
alice

Melinda, I thought you were dissing Catholics, and I got all defensive. But ha! No! You’re one of us!
I would argue, Melinda, that though abortion is “legal,” there’s so much social pressure against aborting (parental consent laws, picketing, bomb threats–just to pick a few), it might as well be illegal in some areas.
The solution would be partly to have REAL sex ed in schools and free contraception available to kids. But sadly, the government (and the Church) is too horrified by the reality of kids having sex to protect unborn lives before they’ve begun.

Bethany
Guest
Bethany

It’s a heartless bill. Consider the broken-hearted women who, for medical or other reasons, HAVE to abort much-wanted children. What a monstrous government it would be that would force them to suffer through that last ultrasound.

Mother Hoodwink
Guest

I heard about that Texas bill about giving women $500 not to have an abortion. I find that to be so, well, stupid. How far is $500 going to go? And what’s going to stop women who know they aren’t going to have an abortion act like they’re going to and pick up some extra cash? Texas should save all their $500 checks and put it in a safe sex education campaign. I can’t believe that Republicans can’t see that when they take out safe sex education in schools, abortion rates skyrocket. I was in high school less then ten… Read more »

Melanie
Guest

Alice, I love that last part- it’s what I’ve been trying to tell people for years. I’m not pro-abortion, I’m pro-choice, and there’s a huge difference. It’s amazing how many people who say they are pro-life except in such-and-such situation will mull over that and realize that they, too, are pro-choice. The turn this country has taken toward the scary-ass conservative really freaks me out and I wish I had something I could do to stop it. Maybe it’s a lame cop-out, but with the current administration it seems so inevitable that more damage will continue to be done in… Read more »

dinka
Guest

Hi alice, another pro-life catholic reader rising her hand over here. This law is questionable, but i wonder why is it so mean to show a woman what is going to happen? If abortion is OK then why is it so horrifying to look at the fetus? Isn’t it highly patronizing to imply that women are so easily scared that just looking at the ultrasound will immediately make them crumble and change the “informed” decision they are making? Unless maye there is another human being involved… I’m also one of those crazy people who believes that for many people abortion… Read more »

Robyn
Guest
Robyn

I’ve always felt that making the argument that keeping abortion legal keeps it “safe” (i.e. reduces back-alley abortions, etc) is like saying that bank robbery or carjacking should be legal. Just think! If those things were legal, far fewer people would die as a result. And yet, pretty much everyone agrees that bank robbery and carjacking are wrong. How come nobody can agree that it’s wrong to not protect our society’s most defenseless creatures? And count me in for agreeing that parental notification is important. While I’ll grant that, as a previous poster stated, “sometimes it’s the parent or caregiver… Read more »

jami
Guest
jami

Another Tennessee reader – and as far as the bill introduced to issue death certificates, I believe the state attorney general shot it out of the water pretty quickly. It might also help to know that the (idiot) (white) state representative who introduced the legislation also tried to join the black legislative caucus, and pitched a fit when they didn’t really want him thanks.
And I live in his district. Lucky me.

Jessica
Guest
Jessica

I live in South Carolina and the current government is extremely conservative. The worst part is that this govenor was RE-ELECTED. It is very scary for our state.
This bill is embarassing for our state and for all women.

Frankie
Guest
Frankie

Not to be argumentative, but to Beth and the others who are anti-abortion and feel that life changes once you feel that babe move in your arms, are you willing to take and care for the child if it doesn’t? How many unwanted children have you adopted? Because these children, born to mothers who didn’t want them in the first place, end up living lives that are nothing short of a nightmare. Do you know what Reactive Attachment Disorder is? Many of these children born to parents who didn’t want them, abandoned them and the WERE adopted by people who… Read more »

Crystal
Guest
Crystal

Parental consent is nice, but not nearly as important as prenatal care. If we actually educated our kids about sex, protection and STD’s we’d have a lower pregnancy rate. The reason some kids think they can’t get pregnant the first time is because they were never educated properly about sex. My husband and I have already agreed that our kids will be given thorough sex ed, have access to wonderful sites like scarletteen.com, know where the condoms are, and be given birth control pills (including whatever options are available for boys at that point) with no questions asked. In countries… Read more »

Scarlett_Demon
Guest

Following on from Robyn’s comment above; I do think that the issue of parental notification needs to be thought about very carefully. I personally am very divided on the subject! As a Mother I would be angry, indignant, horrified even if my underage daughter was given an abortion without my knowledge. I would want to be able to talk it through with her, comfort her and help her to make what would probably be the biggest decision she had ever had to make. On the other hand, when I was 15 years old and pregnant through rape the absolute last… Read more »

Nuclear Blonde
Guest
Nuclear Blonde

What we seem to lose sight of is whether the government has a right to determine whether an individual can be denied a medical procedure? Roe v. Wade, predicated on the due process clause of the 14th Amendement: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”. R v W set a sliding scale of government interest… Read more »

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

Wow they don’t call this a hot-button issue for nothing, but at least I feel that so far all comments have been (mostly) respectful and thoughtful. To clarify my position – I’m pro-life because I believe that it is immoral to kill a human being, that a baby is a human being from the moment of conception, and that two wrongs never make a right. I would love to see every pregnant woman supported from the beginning by family and friends, and by the state when it is clear that family is no support. I believe in real and honest… Read more »

Alexandrialeigh
Guest

Well-written, Alice! I posted about this on my blog last week, too, and I’m completely horrified by this kind of legislation.

Christopher
Guest
Christopher

I’m not sure what the problem is–pro-choice women want to make informed choices, right? This technology allows women to be MUCH more informed of one of their choices. For women who are already fully informed of what abortion is and what it does and to whom, they still have the ability to abort. However, many women have been sold a pack of lies–that it’s just tissue, formless, etc. They call the thing inside of them a “pregnancy,” for example. Even calling it a “fetus” is more accurate than the euphemism, “a pregnancy.” Nobody has “a pregnancy” inside of them. Having… Read more »

Belinda
Guest

I’m still reeling from Crystal’s comment, up top. Denied PRENATAL CARE without parental consent if you’re under 18? WHAT does this solve?

beth
Guest
beth

nuclear blonde, my opinion on abortion has nothing to do with religion. as a child, i looked up the word in the dictionary to find out what it meant. immediately, i knew that abortion was wrong. if anything, science pushed me towards being pro-life. nblonde, you also asked “So, anti-choice (or, as my more radical sisters call it–pro-forced birth) folks, where in the Constitution do you have the right to deny other American citizens the choice to determine what happens to their body?” a woman (and a man for that matter) knows that when she has sex, no matter what,… Read more »

Margaret
Guest
Margaret

You rock, Alice. Thanks for a fabulous post.

alianora
Guest

I wont get into my feelings on abortion or pro-life, or the lack of sex ed, or the fact that I currently live somewhere that has a very high teen pregnancy rate – its very normal out here, where EVERYONE knows that “condoms give you diseases.” But, I do have to say, mandatory ultrasounds? Psh. I am currently 35 weeks pregnant, with a wanted pregnancy, and even at my 20 weeks appointment, where we found out it was a boy and they pointed out hands and face and penis – it was still not completely real. This kid kicks me… Read more »

kate
Guest

rah rah.

HerrMetik
Guest
HerrMetik

Hi there. Let me first say that I am young, and I’m male, so I can’t really say I’m speaking about a topic that affects my in the same way it does others. I didn’t even read the whole entry nor all the comments before I decided to write my own one, because I was so stirred up by what I read: “…Babies are abandoned regularly in the U.S., and the risk of homicide on the first day of life is 10 times greater than the rate during any other time of life. Putting up more roadblocks to abortion will… Read more »

Ginjoint
Guest
Ginjoint

Frankie, your post was wonderfully written. I hope you don’t mind if I “use” some of your points when discussing this issue with others. Beth, if you would be “approved” by an adoption agency (wow, that sure was an easy out for you!) would you then step in and adopt the child of a woman who was intimidated by these tactics and gave birth instead of aborting? Or would you only do it for someone you knew personally? What about women who have no one who would or could help them out?

Ginjoint
Guest
Ginjoint

Yes, HerrMetik, a wonderful place for all the unwanted children! Yes! And Republicans would be oh-so-happy to fund these *cough*orphanages*cough*! With well-paid, well-trained staff, who are given good insurance benefits, and respected for their work!
There’s a saying in America, something along the lines of, “Yeah, and monkeys fly out of my butt.” You get the picture.

Sandra
Guest
Sandra

OH. MY. GOD. This scares the sh*t outta me. I live in Canada, where so far we seem to be a little bit more liberal minded and respect people’s right to make their own choices. But this scares the crap outta me because, sadly, we always seem to follow in the U.S.’s footsteps for some unknown reason. I have had an abortion. Has anyone else here who made a comment had one? Are you to ashamed or scared to own up? I am NOT ashamed. It was not an easy decision nor was it taken AT ALL lightly. I was… Read more »

beth
Guest
beth

ginjoint, i’m sorry that you feel i took an “easy out”. i would step in for any unborn baby, regardless of if i knew the woman personally or not. unfortunately, i don’t have the funding or the resources to save all unwanted children. no one does. that doesn’t mean i think so called “unwanted” children should be aborted. i don’t feel that you, or anyone else for that matter, has the right to determine whether a child’s life is worth living or not.

L
Guest
L

It makes me sick that fetuses have more rights than women in this country, and that the very second a fetus becomes a newborn baby, it stops getting all this attention from law makers and nutjob right wing conservatives. all the anti-abortion stuff wouldn’t be half as insulting if they wanted to take care of children as much as fetuses. but instead they cut head start, cut access to pre natal care, and try to make the whole abortion problem just disappear.

Ginjoint
Guest
Ginjoint

Oh Beth…and I don’t feel that you, or anyone else for that matter, has the right to determine my reproductive path. BTW, I didn’t suggest for you to “save” ALL unwanted children. Perhaps just one. Wait, you can’t afford to raise a child? Neither can many of the women who choose to abort their pregnancies. Of course, there’s also millions of folks in America without healthcare insurance to pay for prenatal care, which becomes an issue if one thinks that adoption is the end-all solution to this. Women shouldn’t have to put their lives on the line so that another… Read more »

Frankie
Guest
Frankie

ginjoint, yes, please feel free t use anything of ine you please. Beth, as for your abilty to adopt, has the government determined that you would not be approved? Have you tried? If you go through your local Children Services board, where most of these unwanted children are being taken into care, they will actually give you a stipend in most cases to adopt the child, as well as pay for the childs medical insurance, so resources are not an issue. If the government in your state has determined that you would not be approved, then I am sorry. It… Read more »