Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Bums Weigh In On Roe v Wade

Back in July, Salon had an interesting discussion about abortion:
"Meanwhile, commentators are weighing in with their predictions about what a Roe-less U.S. might look like. Cartoonist and commentator Ted Rall writes: 'Now is a superb time to get that abortion you've been putting off.' (In these fractious times, War Room admires a guy who can make a joke about abortion that's actually funny.) 'The world won't end with Roe,' Rall prognosticates. 'Female residents of the blue states and those with carfare will be able to terminate their pregnancies long after the realization of the Bush Right's babes-behind-burqas 'Handmaid's Tale'-style fantasy world. And in the red states? Sympathetic doctors with burdensome mortgages will provide discreet coathanger-free procedures for rich teenagers unable to work a condom-vending machine.'

But a piece in USA Today by Laura Vanderkam suggests that without Roe the U.S. won't really be that much different than it is now. Her argument: the states most likely to actually outlaw abortion, already have remarkably few abortion providers: 'In Mississippi, Kentucky and the Dakotas, 98% of counties have no abortion providers; in Missouri and Nebraska, 97% lack them. In these Roe-unfriendly states, women already have to travel hours to obtain abortions; in a post-Roe world of crossing state lines, that story wouldn't change,' she writes. Oh, great. So, losing Roe won't matter, because in the most conservative places the anti-choice forces have already effectively won.

Not so fast. The Nation's Katha Pollitt, in a piece reprinted in the San Francisco Chronicle, takes a dimmer view of a Roe-free future: 'It would be a repeat of 1970-73, when women who could get to New York -- but only they -- could have a safe, legal version of the operation that was killing and maiming their poorer sisters back home. The blatant class and racial unfairness of this disparity, in fact, was one of the arguments that pushed the court to declare abortion a constitutional right. If Roe goes, that same disparity will reappear, relabeled as local democracy.'"
I started to write a post in July about Roe vs. Wade, but I couldn't bring myself to post it. Here is part of it:

In 1969 (before abortion was safe and legal), I had three friends in high school who became pregnant. They each took different routes with their unintended pregnancies. One chose to drop out of high school and have the baby. We understood that she was going to marry the father who was stationed at a nearby military base. I really don't know how it all turned out for her, I never saw her again. One had to go through a lot of back-channels, great secrecy and expense to fly to Puerto Rico for her abortion. One had an abortion arranged by someone-- waited on a street corner in New York city at a designated time, got into a car with people she did not know, was blindfolded and driven somewhere, and had her abortion. She was blindfolded the entire time, and never saw her doctor.

Since Roe vs. Wade, we have not had to hear any tales like these. There are already one or two generations of women who do not know the terror and horror of being told she is pregnant with no safe and legal recourse.

What is the intention of the conservative agenda? Is it really to overturn Roe v Wade and then leave the decision to the states? Or is it that the court will overturn the R v W, and then federal law will be passed to outlaw abortion, so no matter what the states do, abortion will be illegal? I don't have the sense that conservatives want to leave it up to the individual, or to the states, and I see abortion going the way of medical marijuana. You can pass all the state referendums you want, the "federalists" have a better idea.

Why is safe and legal abortion so important? Why should the Democrats be steadfast about their support for it? We only have to ask these questions to know how far we have come from the days of coathangers and blindfolds.

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