The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Tag: abortion

Anti-Abortion Terrorism Chalks Up Another Success

The measure of terrorism's success

The measure of terrorism's success

The Tiller family has announced that it is closing Dr. Tiller’s clinic. The terrorists have won, and that assassination has succeeded in doing what it was meant to do. I’m sure the murderer is very happy tonight.

The bottom line on right wing terrorism against abortion rights is that it’s succeeding and has been for some time. Take a good hard look at the chart at the top and try and tell me otherwise. And when it comes to late term abortions, well, Tiller was one of the very few who still provided the service. According to Tiller, speaking in March before his assassination, he was one of only three doctors left in the US doing such abortions. Now there are two. If those numbers are right, one third of all abortion doctors doing these abortions were just killed.

In the aftermath of Tiller’s death, I heard a lot of progressives talking about how the anti-abortion folks were losing. The bottom line is that they’re winning. It is harder to get abortions than it was 5 years ago, or 10 years ago, or 25 years ago. Abortion access peaked in 1982 and has been declining ever since. Consider that the US population has increased by approximately 30% since 1982.  At the same time the number of providers has dropped by over a third.

Now, most types of abortion violence had been in a slow, long term decline (the exception is burglary) so there’s certainly some reason for optimism. At the same time I strongly suspect that anti-abortion violence will rise, along with other types of right wing terrorism, during Obama’s administration.

The larger point is simpler. It’s harder to get an abortion than it has ever been since Roe vs. Wade, because there are just less doctors who perform abortions. Until more doctors step up and start providing abortions, especially late term abortions, this will continue. It’s hard to blame doctors for not being willing to provide abortions. Not only could you be killed for doing so, your family will be stalked and perhaps harmed, your clinic will be burglarized, you will be subject to constant legal harassment and your life will, in general, be made a living hell along with the lives of your family, friends and associates.

It’s a lot to ask of someone. But this comes back to the truth of rights. You have no rights that people aren’t willing to suffer and die for. Rights that someone won’t put their life on the line for will be taken away by people who are willing to resort to intimidation, violence and to push for laws which take those rights away.

So the questions, then are these:

1) Where are the doctors who are willing to risk their lives, the lives of their families, and to endure constant harassment to ensure that women keep this right, not just in theory, but in practice?

2) Where are the mass of people who will provide money, aid, and physical protection to the doctors who put their lives on the line? Yes, they exist even now, but obviously there aren’t enough of them, because the number of abortion providers keeps going down.

Is this a right you’re willing to risk your life to keep? If enough people don’t answer that question yes, then you will continue to lose it.

Chart Source

Cross posted at Crooks and Liars.

The Cost Of Forgetting Life Before Roe

Still Available Without A PrescriptionThe abortion rights debate looks different for people old enough to remember the days of back alley abortions.

Case in point: the other day my my father brought up American politics, since he’s knows it’s my job to follow it (and since we don’t much agree on Canadian politics.) He’s a conservative guy, votes for the Conservative party routinely, likes to call himself “the last Victorian” though he really isn’t. Still, he’s no liberal and he’s pushing 80.

I filled him in on Sarah Palin, in particular, and mentioned she was against all abortion except if the mother’s life is at risk.

His voice turned incredulous and he said, “Don’t people remember what it was like when abortion was illegal? Women with coathangers up their….” His voice trailed off.

After a few moments he continued again, now angry. “How can these people be so stupid? Don’t they know what it was like? All the women who died?”

All I could really say was this: “People don’t learn from other people’s mistakes. Only their own. The generation that remembers what it was like, your generation, is mostly gone. The younger folks, they don’t remember, they don’t know. They don’t understand how bad it was, how many women died, how horrible it was. They weren’t there, and for some reason they won’t listen to those few who were. Those who remember. Those who know.”

The thing that saddens me the most about humanity, that worries me the most, is this shocking inability to understand anything unless they’ve experienced it themself. Wisdom is learning from other people’s mistakes.

It seems like every good thing that was done by older generations is being undone, step by step, by fools who weren’t there, don’t remember, and can’t learn. They stripped the protections meant to stop mass bank failures and a new depression and they keep trying to make sure that women will die in droves by getting rid of the right to safe, legal abortion.

So no, Dad, they don’t remember. If people like Palin and McCain have their way, the horrors you remember from your youth will start happening again. The battles your generation fought, the victories you handed to us, your children and grandchildren, we will squander and have to earn yet again.

And if we do fail to hold onto what you gave us, a lot of women will die because of our stupidity.

(Originally posted Sept. 15th, 2008.  It seems worth re-posting today.)

17 Year Olds To Be Allowed Plan B: Why Not 12 Year Olds

Nope, I’m not kidding.  Frankly the younger they are, the more they should have access, since the younger they are the more likely it is that they shouldn’t have kids.  Women don’t have a lot of time to get Plan B, having to run to parents make its very unlikely you’ll get it in time, making either teenage pregnancy or an abortion far more likely.


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