The pro-life proponents continue their efforts at fever pitch. Their success continues to chip away laws designed to protect the right of choice. The battle typically sets religious conservatives against women’s rights advocates.
Although the violent nature of the anti-abortion crowd has settled for protests and not killings of late, the confrontations at women’s clinics continue. Seven murders of doctors or clinic staff occurred in the 1990s. The last known doctor killing occurred in May 2009 when Dr. George Tiller was murdered at church in Wichita, Kan.
The killer, Scott Roeder expressed no remorse. The court sentenced him to life imprisonment. He was released after serving eight months; the verdict was overturned in higher court. His violent extremism centered on anti-government and anti-abortion activities.
Planned Parenthood has been targeted. As recently as 2013 an office was vandalized and another bombed in 2012. Current efforts to defund services have a threatened veto from President Barack Obama. The continued two-prong attack against contraceptive services and abortion largely affect the poor.
The pro-lifers focus their most effective efforts in the political arena. They find vast support among Republican conservatives. States leading the charge to undermine access to abortions are Texas, Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Ohio, Alabama, Kansas, Tennessee and Oklahoma. The abortion foes are making headway while pro-choice groups are on the defensive.
The curtailing of women’s rights and the undermining of Planned Parenthood will have serious consequences for the needy. Women will find a way to get abortions whatever the law. Those with means will always find a friendly nation to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Many countries allow unrestricted abortions: Canada and most Western European nations such as France, Spain, Belgium, and Germany.
The landmark decision Roe vs. Wade was decided Jan. 22, 1973. Prior to the decision about 1 million illegal abortions were performed annually. More than 1,000 women and girls died each year, victims of botched or unsanitary abortions. Unable to contact the abortionist when problems occurred, they normally ended up in hospital emergency rooms with advanced complications. Thousands recovered from serious infections, became sterilized or remained chronically and painfully ill.
In 1969, 75 percent of women who died from illegal abortions were women of color. Ninety percent of legal abortions that year were performed on white private patients.
Elements of the pro-life position: The fetus or unborn becomes a separate entity with rights at time of conception. Abortion is viewed as murder because it’s the destruction of human life. Abortion is not part of God’s plan. Legal abortion promotes promiscuity and immoral sexual behavior. Americans who oppose abortion should not have their tax dollars funding pregnancy termination. Abortion should not be used as a form of contraception. Other arguments are based on the potential medical complications of abortion and continue to address moral and religious issues.
Pro-choice arguments: Most abortions occur in the first trimester of pregnancy. It does not view the fetus as a separate entity because it’s dependent on the mother. It argues that a fertilized egg cannot be murdered. Abortion is a safe medical procedure ending the need for “back alley” abortions. The argue strenuously for a woman’s right to control her own body. Tax dollars enable poor women to access reproductive serves. Teens who become single mothers have grim prospects for the future. An unwanted birth becomes a high-risk child.
Efforts to block a women’s right to choose are becoming more effective. Current attacks on the funding of Planned Parenthood along with complicating the path to legal abortion will affect the under-served. Those populations will be driven further into poverty with such policies.
Dr. Marc Yacht is a retired physician living in Hudson, Fla. This column courtesy of Context Florida.