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.”
How 343 Women Made French History by Talking About Their Abortions
By Jess McHugh
November 26, 2018
On April 5, 1971, in France, 343 filmmakers, writers, actresses, singers and philosophers ended a long-held silence.
“One million women have abortions each year in France,” they wrote in a manifesto published in the magazine Nouvel Observateur. “I declare that I am one of them. I declare that I’ve had an abortion. We demand open access to contraceptives; we demand open abortion.”
Banning abortion does not make abortion go away
June 30, 2018
Banning abortion does not make abortion go away. Women who have the means to travel, or the desperation to go underground, have always found a way, and their organizing power ultimately made abortion a constitutional right in the United States. Today, women should keep that history in mind as they prepare for the next chapter in this fight.
This week, US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his plans to retire. Kennedy has long been the Court’s swing vote on issues like abortion. If president Donald Trump is able to appoint an anti-choice judge (which he has vowed to do), the cases that established abortion rights, such as Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood vs. Casey will face immense challenges, and could potentially be overturned as soon as next year. It’s a terrifying and overwhelming prospect.