Lynne Miles // 27 October 2006
The Guardian is running a G2 special on abortion rights today, to celebrate the 39th anniversary of its legalisation. Zoe Williams opens with a belting piece:
So it boils down to this: for those of us with the cash, abortion is still an inviolable right, and for those of us without it, things are a lot more sticky. Let’s not forget, this is exactly what the situation was before 1967. Not since the dawn of medical capability has it been impossible for a rich woman to get a termination. This battle was fought for all women; if, as middle-class women, we stand by and watch while the right is clawed away from the bottom up, and then if, in 50 years’ time, it has been rescinded altogether, it will be no more than we deserve.
Suzanne Goldenberg reports on the battle for reproductive rights in South Dakota, the American state holding a referendum to outlaw abortion. The state passed the law last March, which would make abortion illegal in all circumstances other than where the life of the mother is endangered. Activists exploited a provision in state law stating that if 20,000 residents sign a petition against the law, it must be put to referendum. Planned Parenthood in South Dakota collected 40,000 signatures.
South Dakota requires parents of minors to be notified and a 24-hour waiting period. Abortions are performed at the Planned Parenthood clinic only until the 13th week of pregnancy, and the women must bear the $500 (�265) cost. If they are from Rapid City, South Dakota’s other main town, the clinic is a five-hour drive away. Last year, state legislators passed a law compelling doctors to tell women that if they have an abortion they would be terminating the life of a “whole, separate, unique human being”.
Finally, 9 women (of which I’m one) talk positively about their abortion experiences, because:
it is considered a given, an unarguable tenet of modern society, that you would feel ashamed of having a termination, that you would, in some cutesy, feminine, inarticulate way, feel “bad” about it. You are not allowed to talk about this operation unless it is to say how dirty it made you feel. We are all expected to have these moral objections and yet suffer the business anyway, in the name of pragmatism.
For more of this, you could do worse than check out the excellent I’m Not Sorry site.
Happy anniversary, people!