Abbie Waters blogs about reproductive health at Fertility Nation.
Here are two stories which perfectly illustrate what happens when abortions are not legally and logistically available to women.
The first involves an improperly credentialed, allegedly murderous physician in Philadelphia, which I first read about here. Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a physician who operated a clinic that improperly performed late-term abortions on low income, minority and immigrant women. He was a family practice physician and not an OB/GYN, and his staff of eight lacked any medical training. Working in a state that banned late term abortion, he promised to help these women, and instead allegedly killed one woman, numerous babies, and endangered the lives of countless others. Thankfully he has been caught and charged.
Then today I saw the Campus Progress piece on DIY at-home abortions which describes the trend of women in the U.S. who chose to perform abortions on themselves because safe, legal abortions have been made so difficult to get.
The Campus Progress piece relies on two academic studies recently published on the rise of DIY at-home abortions:
These studies reveal telling facts about the kind of women who choose to forgo the safe and legal clinical route to ending their pregnancies. In 30 in-depth interviews conducted by Reproductive Health, a third of participants cited financial reasons for self-inducing abortions. That should come as no surprise—abortions cost up to $1000, and under the provisions of a piece of federal legislation called the Hyde Amendment (which Campus Progress has previously written extensively about), they are almost never covered by Medicaid at the federal level.
Other telltale signs of restricted access to legal abortions also emerged among the women who chose to self-induce. Several listed “distance to a clinic” as a factor, meaning they probably lived in one of the 87 percent of counties in the United States without an abortion clinic. And one 16-year old told the researchers, “I didn’t wanted my mom to know. I didn’t want to go to court ‘cause it was gonna be too long and probably he was gonna say no, so I just [said], you know, ‘skip all that, I’m gonna do it. Myself.’” That young woman lived in Massachusetts, a state that requires minors to obtain consent from a parent before an abortion can be performed (35 states legally compel women under 18 to either gain the consent of a parent or notify them of the procedure).
I wonder how the anti-choice activists will spin these tragedies. On second thought, no, I don’t. I just want women and children to stop being hurt by their actions.