Copyright © 2007 Henrietta W. Hay
Late Term Abortion
May 18, 2007
Last month the Supreme Court found the Partial Birth Abortion
bill constitutional by a 5 to 4 decision.
Women are still second class citizens.
This decision is the most blatantly political one since Bush vs. Gore,
the 2000 ruling that handed Bush the Presidency. It is an important victory in the Right Wing's long term effort to repeal Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion in 1973.
Senator Diane Feinstein, California, says, "By validating a ban on
abortions the State has taken the first major step backwards toward the days when abortion was illegal." And as we all know that means back alleys and coat hangers and non-sterile conditions, because laws can't stop a procedure that has been
going on for centuries.
The partial birth abortion bill made a fine political issue. The
title is gruesome, and the pictures they used are even more so. But
anything which has the word "abortion" is fair game. But the facts are somewhat different. It will not prevent very many abortions. The procedure is used only under extreme circumstances, to save the life or health of the mother.
The political significance of the bill completely omits the most
important factor in the equation - the rights of women. Ellen Goodman points out that when President Bush signed the bill in 2003 he was, according to Ellen Goodman, "surrounded by an all-male chorus line of legislators proudly governing something they never had a womb.
On the other hand, when President Clinton vetoed the bill in 1999 he was surrounded by women who had faced the tragedy of the operation. The position of a woman in serious, life threatening condition is not considered in this bill.
If there ever was an issue demanding compromise before it tears the
country apart, this is surely this one. But as a political weapon to
get conservative votes, compromise is extremely difficult. To many people, of course, it is a moral issue. They sincerely consider it to be murder, and they have every right to their moral convictions. But by the same token, so do I.
And I believe that a woman should be able to control the functions of
her own body without the Government standing over her telling her what
she can and cannot do with it. She should have the right to choose.
A majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal for
at least the first three months without any restrictions. For the last
six months, compromise could be achieved in negotiating restrictions which might be required. But the health of the mother must always be paramount.
The bill which Congress passed in 2003 and which the Supreme Court
declared constitutional last month does not make those allowances. But there is more. A well researched preventive of pregnancies which might lead to abortion has been held up by the Bush Administration. The morning after pill was denied free distribution without a prescription for a long time. It is now available on request for women over 17.
The Bush Administration has also denied federal money for medical research using embryonic stem cells. This research is leading lead to the cure of many serious diseases. Surely it is more humane to use them to save lives in the future.
This has been a hard column to write, and probably a hard one to read, but I do believe we have to think seriously about this issue.
Women's lives are at stake.