This is a good thing. What's odd is that there has been, since 1973, no similar acknowledgment of the women among us who seek, or need, abortions.
I've met those women, and just knowing them briefly was as eye-opening as knowing openly homosexual couples. Meeting them, I realized they were human beings: not whores or sluts or party girls or strumpets, or even sorority vixens with rich daddies. They were just ordinary people with ordinary lives. Real life, my pastoral care professor in seminary never tired of telling us, is messy. The women having abortions have messy lives, just like the rest of us; and their decisions to have abortions are not for the convenience of more free, hot hot hot sex! Nor is it simply to unburden themselves of the weight of another child, or to keep their current boyfriend, or their figure, or whatever other demeaning idea you have in your head. Their decisions and choices were as individual as their lives; and they are just as messy.
It is the great problem of generalizing, the great danger of systematizing (and why, on a complete tangent, I am, along with Kierkegaard, so against systems of thought of any kind), that we turn individual human beings into things, the better to fit them into our concepts, our ideas, our ideals. Women are human beings. Pregnant women are human beings. Demanding, under force of law, that they continue any and all pregnancies to term, is little more than slavery. I would gladly argue it violates the 13th Amendment directly. You may disapprove, you may morally condemn; but if you do, I'd ask you who are without sin to cast the first stone.
I also don't think you should have the full weight of the State behind you. Not even a little of that weight. Kate Michelman is right:
By and large, our policymakers have never viewed abortion as a medical procedure - instead placing it under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code -- and therefore have not nurtured a system of abortion care that is woman-focused, readily accessible, and responsive to their medical needs. The Commonwealth's focus has been on denying access, not protecting the health and safety of women who need this medical care. If the charges against [Kermit] Gosnell prove true, Gosnell was an outlaw who repeatedly violated numerous laws and should have been shut down years ago, but the state did not hold him accountable to its own laws and policies.To the State, abortion is a medical procedure, just as marriage is a civil arrangement to determine who is directly responsible for any children of the marriage, and who owns any property acquired during the marriage. (I recall that Loving v. Virginia went to the Supreme Court on a violation of Virginia criminal law. Can anyone today defend interracial marriage as a criminal offense?) The morality of the marriage, its fecundity or lack thereof, its adherence or lacking to any religious standards, is not the state's concern. Neither is abortion, within the framework of Roe and Casey. And why should the state be neutral in this way?
During a Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee hearing on proposed abortion regulation bills, Tyhisha Hudson, a woman who had obtained an abortion at Gosnell's clinic, was asked why she went to him. She testified that women in her neighborhood knew that Gosnell was the man you saw for the cheapest abortion.If people were injured by the criminal acts of Kermit Gosnell, the state had an obligation to protect them from those acts, not just to punish Gosnell after the fact. The State, after all, licensed Gosnell as a doctor; it had a legal obligation to be sure that licensure was sound. If the women were behaving immorally by seeking abortions, that is between them and their moral community, whoever or whatever that is. I have met these women, and while I do not know them well, or know everyone of them, I know that their decisions are their own, and the state is no more entitled to interfere than to decide what neighborhood they should live in, or what stores they should shop at.
Another Gosnell patient, Davida Johnson, noted in an Associated Press article that she intended to go to Planned Parenthood for an abortion procedure, but was scared away by anti-abortion protesters picketing outside the clinic. An acquaintance suggested she go to Gosnell, where protesters (ironically) were not an issue.
Evidence suggests that a number of factors influenced a woman's decision to seek care at Gosnell's clinic: Medicaid's refusal to provide insurance coverage for most abortions; the scarcity of abortion providers in Pennsylvania (and across the nation); the fear of violence perpetrated by protestors at clinics, and the right-wing culture that has so stigmatized abortion that many think it is still illegal 40 years after Roe v. Wade.