The Forgotten Father of the Abortion Rights Movement
What Bill Baird's aggressive, often illegal form of activism can teach a new generation about combating anti-abortion forces.
By Myra MacPherson
October 7, 2019
I first met Bill Baird in Hempstead, Long Island, on a freezing December night in 1968. This was 18 months after he was arrested and jailed for handing a can of contraceptive foam to an unmarried coed at Boston University. And it was some four years before the Supreme Court would hand down its decision in Eisenstadt v. Baird, the case that grew out of Baird’s illegal action and established the right of unmarried people to possess contraceptive products. Eisenstadt, in turn, was a crucial privacy precedent that the Court cited in 1973’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision establishing a woman’s right to an abortion. But on that night in 1968, Baird was attending to more immediate matters: a clinic packed with desperate women.
Book excerpt: Unhelpful Arguments That Downplay the Importance of Abortion on Demand
Sept 30, 2019
The first shot in the feminist abortion wars was fired in 1969 in a New York City Health Department auditorium, where a panel of male psychologists, doctors, clergy, and lawyers (and one woman, a Sister Mary Patricia) debated exceptions to New York’s law forbidding abortion. They were discussing whether a woman should be allowed to have an abortion if her health was in danger, or if she had been raped, or if she had already given birth to four children.
A shout came up from a woman in the audience: “Now let’s hear from the real experts on abortion!” Then, “Repeal the abortion law, instead of wasting more time talking about these stupid reforms!” Then, “We’ve waited and waited while you have held one hearing after another. Meanwhile, the baby I didn’t want is two years old!” More women stood to object and testify. “Why are fourteen men and only one woman on your list of speakers—and she a nun?” The committee members “stared over their microphones in amazement,” wrote Edith Evans Asbury in the New York Times. The chair tried to shush the women, arguing that everyone was really on the same side: “You’re only hurting your own case.”
Carolyn Cooper | Women dying for abortion rights
Published: Sunday | March 10, 2019
The facts are bloodcurdling. The Partnership for Women’s Health and Well-being has issued a grave reminder that we simply cannot ignore.
“The practice of unsafe abortions and the consequences of abortions performed by untrained, non-specialist physicians can result in a number of complications for women, including: severe infections, gangrene in the uterus, hemorrhaging, tearing of the cervix, uterine perforation, laceration of the vaginal wall and untimely death.”
A new generation of people, many born since 1983, want to have their say on the issue
Sat, Sep 24, 2016, Irish Times
Thousands of people will march through the streets of Dublin today demanding that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which underpins Ireland’s strict anti-abortion laws, be removed.
It is the fifth annual rally, and comes at a time when the abortion issue is moving steadily up the political agenda once more.
The programme for government promised a citizens assembly to discuss the issue before it moves to the Oireachtas, and that assembly will meet in Dublin for the first time next month. It is likely to issue recommendations early next year.
Many of those who remember the bitterly divisive abortion debates of the past may not relish the prospect of their return.
But among a whole generation of people who have grown up since the amendment was passed in 1983, since the X case in 1992 and even since the most recent referendum in 2002, there is a desire to have their say.
The abortion wars are coming again, and they’re coming soon.
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Source: Irish Times