The news does not end today!

ABC News has an article up about the fact that, surprise!, women are still having "underground" abortions. To summarize, there is a lot of information out there on the internet that lets you know what combination of drugs and such will induce a miscarriage. (My senior thesis was actually on the past, present and future of abortion, so I can add that there are several books that also have this info.) It seems that women are accessing and using this information in growing numbers. Now researchers want to know why.

I understand the need for actual statistics, but I can venture a few guesses as to what they will find:

1) Access to abortion is becoming quite the tricky issue. There are partial-birth abortion bans (FYI, this is a phrase anti-choicers contrived to fuel their own claims), parental consent/notification laws, public funding requirements, etc.

2) Abortion laws and regulations vary from state to state. Here is a breakdown of state differences from the Guttmacher Institute.

3) There is a general distrust of doctors in this country. Am I the only one who finds that I need to tell the doctor what might be wrong with me rather than the other way around?
EDIT: In getting caught up in my schpiel, I forgot to urge people that they should not stop seeing their doctors! GO TO YOUR DOCTORS! Yes, our health care system is not perfect, but doctors are trained and fully capable of keeping us safe in situations like these.

4) (Related to #3) Our health care system needs an upgrade. Stat. Abortions are expensive and many lack the resources to get abortion. Combine that with the fact that doctors can refuse to give you an abortion, and you've got a whole lot of obstacles hidden in the fine print.

5) There is serious shame and blame attached to abortion. This increases when dealing with people who have religious families and people from other cultures. Some women would rather see the problem go away quickly and play the denial game afterwards.

6) Access to the correct information is sometimes tricky. With all of these rules and obstacles, there is plenty of room for confusion. The article mentions a Mexican woman who just did not have all of the facts straight:

"She knew that abortion was legal in the U.S.," Grossman said, "but she thought that is was only for people who are legal residents."

I think we need to attack these problems from both sides. Not only should we advocate for better policies and clearer information from our government, but we should also rely on grassroots efforts to keep others informed of what the law says, what the alternatives are, and how to make sure that women are safe at all times.

And can we please stop calling the anti-choicers, "pro-life"? I am pro-choice. I am also pro-life. In fact, I don't know of ANY pro-choicers who are not also pro-life. I recently read that they're sometimes called pro-birth. I suppose this is also accurate, but since this particular group of people is usually the one against birth control and adequate sex education, I think anti-choice is more accurate. Erica has a post up over at the Feministing Community site about reclaiming the term pro-life. I completely agree with her. We need to start now.

Some great resources: NARAL, Planned Parenthood, Abortion Access Project, and National Abortion Federation.

(Cross-posted at The Feminist Underground.)


At Fri Aug 22, 02:14:00 PM Renee said...

If an abortion is what is desired women will find a way. What we need to do is make the option safer so that the mother survives the procedure.
I personally refer to people who claim to be pro-life as pro birth. I like this because it addresses the fact that they don't care what happens to the child after it is born. Notice how the pro-birth fundies never advocate for things like socialized daycare, job training for mothers, education subsidies..yeah they things that would make it easier for a woman who decided to keep her child. Honestly they make me sick.

At Fri Aug 22, 02:30:00 PM frau sally benz said...

Great point Renee! So we've got a group of people (with power) against sex ed., birth control, abortion, socialized daycare, and government assistance of any sort really. Ugh, maybe we should call them anti-choice/anti-mother. Or we can keep it simple and call them anti-woman. Perhaps that best encapsulates all of these issues.

At Fri Aug 22, 02:48:00 PM pizzadiavola said...

Great post! Thanks especially for the Guttmacher link - I've been trying to follow the state by state differences and that helps a lot.

Our health care system needs an upgrade. Stat. Abortions are expensive and many lack the resources to get abortion. Combine that with the fact that doctors can refuse to give you an abortion, and you've got a whole lot of obstacles hidden in the fine print.

Definitely. Trying to figure out what health care covers (if you have it) is so difficult and confusing, and combine that with trying to figure out what's legal in your state, and you end up with a big mess.

At Fri Aug 22, 11:43:00 PM Habladora said...

I thought I'd mention over here too that this is an excellent post which brings up some often ignored truths about abortion. Good work.

At Sun Aug 24, 02:08:00 PM Habladora said...

Also, Ann linked to this piece for Feministing's weekly reader... so lots and lots of people are reading and thinking about your insights. Hopefully this serious problem will start getting the thought it deserves.

At Sun Aug 24, 05:25:00 PM frau sally benz said...

Thanks for the heads up Habladora! And for the compliment! Always appreciated =)

At Wed Sep 10, 12:55:00 PM hysperia said...

A number of my feminist friends were a bit upset with the movie "Juno" because they thought it represented an "anti-abortion" viewpoint. Your post reminds me that I read the movie differently. I though the very young woman was understandably turned off by the lone anti-abortion kid demonstrating outside the abortion clinic and telling her the fetus had fingernails. And frankly, I do know women who found it highly upsetting to be confronted with anti-abortion demonstrators outside clinics carrying signs with pictures of fetus parts. A woman who wants or needs an abortion is being abused if she is forced to confront these inaccurate but grisly images of what some people think abortion is about. Recently, a young niece of mine became pregnant and really did want an abortion, but for awhile, was overcome by nightmares about fetus parts. These images are so ubiquitous that most women have seen them. At the very least, that kind of propoganda may increase shame and guilt and at most, stop some women from getting abortions entirely, as in the movie. And other times, it just keeps women away from the public spaces outside abortion clinics and possibly press them into taking matters into their own hands, privately. At least, this is a notion that concerns ME.

At Wed Sep 10, 01:26:00 PM hysperia said...

Here's an example of what I meant:

If young women are exposed to nasty images (and warning, there is one at that news link) I can imagine it really has a negative effect on how they understand the view society has of abortion.

At Wed Sep 10, 03:59:00 PM frau sally benz said...

Thanks for sharing the link, hysperia!

I completely agree with you about the reality of women being scared away because of the stigma of abortions. The one thing I've heard really gets to people is that the fetus can feel pain after however many weeks. As soon as they get the image in their heads of a baby (even though it's a fetus, people always picture a baby) in pain, it really reinforces all of that hesitation and anxiety they are likely feeling.

At Thu Sep 11, 06:17:00 AM innerbrat said...

I use 'anti-choice' because I know some people who are against leglisation who still describe themselves as 'pro-life' because they'd never have an abortion.

But I have met someone who was both pro-abortion and anti-choice: the doctor I consulted about an IUD after I was raped, who bullied me to tears in her consultancy room when I said I didn't want the coil.

I still get angry when it's implied that all pro-abortion people are anti-choice, like she seemed to be, but I'll never forget the feeling that she didn't think I should have a choice in the matter.


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