When it comes to women’s reproductive rights there can be no question that the ultimate goal of the current Republican party is to make safe, legal abortions and a woman’s right to choose for herself what happens to her body, a thing of the past. All across the country an unprecedented number of anti-abortion bills are being pushed and passed by Republican lawmakers. And the manifestations of many of these new laws can be called nothing short of insanity.
Earlier this week a young woman in Georgia was arrested and charged with murder and possession of a dangerous drug after she attempted to give herself a home abortion. The woman reportedly purchased an ‘abortion pill’ off the internet called Cytotec from a source in Canada. The pills ended up putting her into severe distress and pain before she finally gave birth in the car on her way to the hospital. The 5-month old fetus died 30 minutes later.
In the state of Georgia, after the first trimester abortions are only allowed if they are performed in a licensed hospital, licensed ambulatory surgical center, or in an abortion facility licensed by the Department of Community Health. So because this woman violated Georgia law, she was immediately charged and placed in the County Jail without bond.
Like so many other states across the country, Georgia has many outrageous laws that are intended to prevent women from having abortions. Along with mandatory waiting periods, some of them include mandatory ‘counseling’ about how the fetus will feel severe pain if the mother goes through with the procedure, and mandatory ‘counseling’ about how dangerous abortion is for the woman’s physical and psychological health. Of course the research and facts show that these claims are completely false, but that hasn’t stopped lawmakers from passing laws requiring outright lying.
As more and more of these crazy laws are passed I can only surmise that we will see more and more cases like the woman in Georgia. And what’s even more disturbing is that there are actually many places online right now where women go to receive instructions on how to give themselves an at-home abortion…sort of the DIY abortion. This can only increase if laws become stricter. Some of the studies reported women in 2008 admitting to using things like herbs, medications, physical manipulation, the “suction technique”, and increasingly popular, misoprostol, which is readily available online.
In one of the many books I saw online, Carol Downer expressed a concern that abortion could easily and soon again become illegal. She instructed, “Keep this book and your speculum in a safe place. Whatever the political climate, you have the tools you need.” There are actually countless sites and studies on women who attempted this self induced abortion for a variety of reasons. They seem more prevalent in places without access to Planned Parenthood or women’s health centers, and the prevalence only increased when they were also in low income areas.
This Conservative attack on women’s reproductive rights really seems to be all about trying to turn back the clock to yesteryear. It seems there’s a considerable portion of the Republican party who wants to turn it back on abortion, and birth control, and access to those very reproductive services that have improved and saved countless lives.
There is a very real concern here that the many gains achieved in the past are at risk. It’s as important today, maybe more so, as it was 100 years ago for women to continue to move the agenda forward. Otherwise, overnight, in the blink of an eye, one of the most reliable, safest most critical social services will have vanished.