Mary Ann Sorrentino's 2 Cents Worth

Opinions, Observations and Musings

Mary Ann Sorrentino

Mary Ann Sorrentino
RI or FL depending on season, USA
June 19
Mary Ann is a columnist for the Keene (NH) Sentinel, the Providence Phoenix and other newspapers and has appeared on She was an Associated Press Award-winning radio talk host for 13 years and the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood of RI 1977-1987. Her most recent book, ABORTION - The A Word (Gadd Books) is available on line and in major bookstores.


FEBRUARY 26, 2012 8:41PM

The Women Are Right Here!

Rate: 18 Flag




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.

You cannot!


(Mary Ann Sorrentino was Executive Director of Planned Parenthood in Rhode Island from 1977-1987)

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I thought we were done with this too Mary.

" 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!"

Right On!
Passionate as passionate can be, Mary Ann! Well said, brava.
...and some of us men are right here with you.

I have never understood why some people equate being pro-choice with promoting abortion.

Assuming I have the right to discuss this topic (being a man), I imagine that arriving at the choice of having an abortion is a horrifying ordeal. I further imagine that the experience of going through with it is unspeakable. I can only begin to imagine what a woman experiences afterward.

It would seem to me that a woman arrives at such a choice under the most compelling of considerations.

Mary Ann, you cleverly turn the tables on opponents of choice by recommending childbirth prep, but your tactic is so much more substantial than mere sophistry. You eloquently make the case that there are serious considerations involved for women even when they make the so-called prescribed choice.

Nature has afforded me immunity from the circumstances that face a woman who finds herself unwantedly pregnant. God strike me dumb if I ever say anything cavalier about a situation I will never face.

Great post as always, Mary Ann.
You are absolutely had to be said and no one could have said it better!! RATED!!!
I'm going to the Planned Parenthood lunch here in a few weeks. I am appalled and stunned that in this day and age we have politicians who can talk of democracy and freedom for oppression and yet not connect the dots that that must apply to all women for it to be true. We welcome a new family member this weekend, a baby born with all the love and desire of two parents, and grandparents and family- and in a country that full supports women's right to choose at all of her reproductive ages. All the babies there are born because they are wanted and loved. There is universal health care and access to birth control and sex ed from the first day a young woman asks for it. What a primitive country we are.
Scarlet, Fusun, Paul and Fay,
I am lifted by your support and friendship. Thank you. See you in the vineyards.
Oryoki, thank you and I pray for the sort of health care you describe in my lifetime
We are all in this together! This is the year we must take back our country from the crazies. The alternative is unimaginable!
Standing and cheering, Mary Ann! This is BRILLIANT.

All I thought of was laws requiring fathers to donate organs if they're needed by their children. Less comprehensive, less to the point, but I still think it should accompany every attempt to require women to give birth.
In 1972, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 39 women died from criminal abortions.

You wrote, "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."

So the Irish and Italians and others (of us) who keep a body in the home for some days before burial, who view the body, who kiss the body (Jacqueline Kennedy anyone?), who take cuttings of the dead one's hair, who dress it, who put things in the coffin (JBK again) etc., are all primitives too? And this is for YOU to know?

Sorry, but I'll let you grieve your way and why don't you let Mr. and Mrs. Santorum grieve in theirs?

And if you'd seen the most recent debate (Republican that is), you'd know that Mr. Santorum stated, and quite clearly, that his views on birth control are personal and that he, unlike the left, does not want to write laws forcing his views on others.

You can find that on YouTube.
Well done, Mary Ann, and yes, yes, yes.

I wrote a post the other day about my own experiences with birth control:

The cool thing is that this issue is resonating with a lot of people. My blog post is up to 240 "likes" on Facebook, and thousands of views... lots and lots of people care passionately about this issue.

Why, why, in 2012 are we debating BIRTH CONTROL of all things? Haven't we been there, done that, in the 1960s and 1970s for chrissakes???

The point I want to drive home with these people is that BIRTH CONTROL MAKES ME A BETTER TAXPAYER! Sorry for shouting. But I am more financially solvent today because my children were planned, wanted, and paid for at a time in our lives when we were ready for children. I don't need a multitude of social service programs, because my children were planned.
I remember taking my friend to the hospital after a botched abortion before it was legal, and being told by the doctors that if I had gotten her there just an hour later, she would have died.

When I remember her suffering, I can't believe we are fighting again for our reproductive rights.

It's a nightmare.
Passionate, intelligent and compassionate post. Say it loud, say it proud!
Well done Mary Ann. We will never be finished with this struggle for women's rights until the last vestige of patriarchal religion is just a memory.
Thanks to all for your supportive reactions and for taking the time...
Barbara Joanne- If you want to believe Rick Santorum's religious fanaticism will not seep into his governing style if he were to be elected, then you are unfamiliar with his record when he was in Washington. I'd also like to sell you a bridge in NY...
Amen! Santorum and his ilk are sanctimonious pisspots!!! How dare they only care about the unborn and cast aside the living, breathing women and children! But it isn't really caring about the unborn at all, it is ultimately about control! R
I've been thinking on this all day and all I can come up with is womb envy. If they were really all up in the grill on abstinence and sanctity of marriage they'd be going after the titty bars and porn industry but they're not. They're only going after the womb. Don't they get that they can't punish us for being able to give birth? You want a baby? Find a surrogate, buy an egg. Don't FORCE a woman to give up a piece of herself. Let it be willing.
I say I am with you Mary. 8 years after I last marched for reproductive rights with NARAL as well as sensible gun laws with Million Moms we are stilling lacing up our walking shoes to prepare for the next onslaught. Shameful. rated
Good to have so many brothers and sisters rallying to this cause! Thanks.