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STOP! PART 2
When I posted Stop! Part 1, it made the rounds on the internet. (I posted it at more than one blog and site.)
It created a lot of conversation and in the course of that discussion I learned a great deal.
I was introduced to a book, When Abortion Was A Crime: Women, Medicine and Law in the United States, 1867-1973, by Leslie J. Reagan, published in 1997.
It's a scholarly book, solidly researched and referenced. It's been used as a text book in law history courses in some law schools. But anti-abortionists hate it. Why? Because in it's cool, dry text is a stark, scathing indictment of illegal abortion and the sheer number of women lost to it over a nearly hundred year period in this country.
Many of the people I've spoken with are concerned that this new push to recriminalize abortion will be far worse.
In the past, when abortion was illegal, entire wards of hospitals were set aside to treat women that had undergone abortions and needed emergency care. They weren't exactly treated courteously (and in some cases actually had treatment withheld until they named their abortionist to the police) but by and large, women, themselves, were not criminalized; only the clinics and providers.
However, in this new era of anti-abortionism, it's already become apparent that the political climate is to also charge women with criminal wrong doing. Several high profile cases have been in the media about women charged with feticide when they have self aborted from lack of access. One was charged with it when she miscarried after a suicide attempt. Another was charged with attempted feticide when she fell down a flight of stairs and told her ER nurse that, early in her pregnancy, she had contemplated aborting.
This attempt to criminalize women is troubling on a number of levels. If abortion is totally outlawed, women will delay or even forego treatment entirely, if they run into trouble, to try and prevent being charged with a criminal act, thus placing their lives in far greater jeopardy than that in the past. Some cynics actually question the reason for this criminalization and point to private prisons and the need for their state contractors to fill them and make a profit.
In the end, there is simply no denying that, no matter what, if these laws get past Federal challenge, the impact on women and their lives is going to be horrendous.