The men who call themselves “pro-life” and “pro-family” want to limit women’s access to contraception, cut back on pre-natal care for fear it will lead to more abortions, and force pregnant women to have a fiber optic probe inserted in their vaginas to film the developing fetus. Then they want to force the pregnant woman to watch those films.
All this to allegedly provide “informed consent” for a personal decision the woman has been anguishing over since she missed her period weeks before. Probably she has been conferring with her family, her doctor and her religious advisors. But politicians apparently want her to ask them.
Let’s bring this insanity to its logical conclusion. Let’s insist on the same kind of “informed consent” from women who want to give birth. Let’s legislate that those women be shown graphic movies of caesarian sections, breech births, sloppy episiotomies cutting women wide open and pictures of stillborn babies. Let’s insist on images of genetic deformities in newborns, the raising of a child with severe handicaps followed by a reading of the long list of the practical costs—emotional, personal, financial and physical—of raising even a healthy child to adulthood.
For single women we can add data on the challenges of single parenthood—the high cost of child care if you can find it, the endless responsibilities, the financial cost, human toll and personal sacrifices. Throw in the loneliness and the lack of any real freedom for decades. Add the scorn of many in society for good measure. By the time we’re done with the “childbirth” prep, not many women will be opting to go ahead with the pregnancy, but fair is fair.
Did I mention that childbirth is at least 10 times more dangerous than first trimester abortions--which make up 97% of all US terminations?
But many male politicians and clergy don’t care about facts: they care about power and control. Rick Santorum leads the pack—a man who carried his dead newborn home so the rest of his kids could meet the sibling they would never know. If that happened in the third world, Americans would be rolling their eyes about such “primitive” behavior. Santorum just wants to be the leader of the free world.
I thought we were done with all this. I thought that the more than a quarter century I and others had spent fighting for “reproductive freedom” had finally brought us to however awkward a legal standoff. Abortion has been the law of the land since 1973. Before that more than a dozen states allowed abortion under their state laws. Birth control was legalized in 1965 when Griswold was decided. Now, more than 40 years later, women are being sacrificed again at the altar of men’s political ambitions.
I say, “NO!” I say we will NOT hemorrhage again in back alleys.
I say we will NOT be forced into degradation by the same governments that abandon pregnant women once they give birth and the same priests who ignore the sexual abuse of the children we do have.
I say already born citizens of America are “paramount” and women are already born. They will not be enslaved by the unborn inside their wombs.
I say women shall NOT have to testify publicly again about their most intimate past experiences. They shall NOT have to describe rapes and acts of incest by strangers, thugs, fathers, stepfathers, boyfriends, clergy, teachers or other authority figures.
Recently at a congressional hearing the few female legislators there asked, pointedly, “Where are the women?” The “panel of experts” before them included only male clergy and spokespersons for fetuses. The chair refused to let a woman testify.
I answer, “THE WOMEN ARE RIGHT HERE.” We are watching: we are taking notes and we shall name names and hold up mirrors—whatever it takes. We have toiled in this bloody vineyard for centuries and we shall continue to toil in bringing our daughters and granddaughters. We shall not be moved!
I thought we were done with this. I hoped we were done with this. But if we are not, we will take you down again as--in the end-- we always do because you cannot force us to give birth on command.
(Mary Ann Sorrentino was Executive Director of Planned Parenthood in Rhode Island from 1977-1987)