If abortion is illegal--and it's already happening

UPDATED: Monday, August 27, 2012 06:03
VIEWED: 2807
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Thursday, August 23, 2012 8:28 AM


Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...

How about we consider what neither the media nor the pro-lifers talk about: The fact that you can't "end" abortion, you can only make it illegal, which won't stop it. Nobody seems to want to talk about that, despite the fact that it's already happening.

Some background:

Abortion has been performed for thousands of years, and in every society that has been studied. It was legal in the United States from the time the earliest settlers arrived. At the time the Constitution was adopted, abortions before "quickening" were openly advertised and commonly performed.

Making Abortion Illegal
In the mid-to-late 1800s states began passing laws that made abortion illegal. The motivations for anti-abortion laws varied from state to state. One of the reasons included fears that the population would be dominated by the children of newly arriving immigrants, whose birth rates were higher than those of "native" Anglo-Saxon women.

Medical Practice
During the 1800s, all surgical procedures, including abortion, were extremely risky. Hospitals were not common, antiseptics were unknown, and even the most respected doctors had only primitive medical educations. Without today's current technology, maternal and infant mortality rates during childbirth were extraordinarily high. The dangers from abortion were similar to the dangers from other surgeries that were not outlawed.

As scientific methods began to dominate medical practice, and technologies were developed to prevent infection, medical care on the whole became much safer and more effective. But by this time, the vast majority of women who needed abortions had no choice but to get them from illegal practitioners without these medical advances at their disposal. The "back alley" abortion remained a dangerous, often deadly procedure.

Back-Alley Abortions
The prohibition of legal abortion from the 1880s until 1973 came under the same anti-obscenity or Comstock laws that prohibited the dissemination of birth control information and services.

Criminalization of abortion did not reduce the numbers of women who sought abortions. In the years before Roe v. Wade, the estimates of illegal abortions ranged as high as 1.2 million per year.1 Although accurate records could not be kept, it is known that between the 1880s and 1973, many thousands of women were harmed as a result of illegal abortion.

Many women died or suffered serious medical problems after attempting to self-induce their abortions or going to untrained practitioners who performed abortions with primitive methods or in unsanitary conditions. During this time, hospital emergency room staff treated thousands of women who either died or were suffering terrible effects of abortions provided without adequate skill and care.

Some women were able to obtain relatively safer, although still illegal, abortions from private doctors. This practice remained prevalent for the first half of the twentieth century. The rate of reported abortions then began to decline, partly because doctors faced increased scrutiny from their peers and hospital administrators concerned about the legality of their operations. More at ALREADY doubt everywhere the pro-lifers have used their various methods of making it too difficult or illegal. Texas is the only place I could find information on it, but I have no doubt that's not the only place it's happening:

McALLEN — In this Roman Catholic stronghold, where abortion is deeply stigmatized, reproductive health providers tell stories of women going to pharmacies across the border in Mexico, in search of a drug they hope will terminate unwanted pregnancies.

But the providers say that the pharmacies, which are largely unregulated, often fail to give proper instructions for the drug, misoprostol, and that it does not always give the women the result they seek.

“I’m sure it’s always occurred, but we’re noticing it more,” said Kristeena Banda, the director of Whole Woman’s Health in McAllen, one of two Rio Grande Valley abortion providers. “A few times a week, women come in to ask for a pregnancy test. They’ve taken the pills, but they’re still seeing symptoms of pregnancy.”

Misoprostol, which requires a prescription in the United States, is used primarily for ulcer prevention here and is not prescribed, on its own, for abortions. American doctors and clinics do sometimes pair it with the drug mifepristone (formerly known as RU-486) to produce a “medical abortion,” a method considered more effective than using misoprostol by itself. But the World Health Organization has said that using misoprostol alone can be highly effective as an abortion method, provided patients take the correct dosage within the first nine weeks of gestation.

And knowledge of what the correct dosage is seems to be in short supply among the pharmacy workers dispensing the drugs in northern Mexico. Researchers say that the brand-name form of the medication, Cytotec, made by Pfizer, has been available over the counter in Mexico since 1985 and that generic versions have followed. The drug is available in many small, independent pharmacies in the country, but the people selling it often lack training. Because abortion is illegal outside the country’s capital city, they are also wary of providing information on how misoprostol should be used for that purpose.

Without proper instructions, Banda said, her clinic’s patients have often ingested misoprostol in varying amounts — some would take an entire bottle within days — based on what friends or family had told them.

Abortion-rights advocates are concerned that a lack of awareness about clinical options in the United States — as well as a lack of funds — could lead more women to go underground and risk their health in this way. In 2011, Texas lawmakers made deep cuts in financing for family planning for low-income women. And a new law that requires a woman seeking an abortion to receive a sonogram 24 hours ahead of the procedure — that is, to make at least two visits to the abortion clinic — may be prompting some to seek alternate abortion methods.

Women Banda talked to who sought out misoprostol in Mexico, she said, were looking for “the least invasive option, both medically and personally.”

She added that it was likely that her clinic was seeing only a fraction of the women who were using the drug. South Texas has a concentration of immigrants who were born in Latin American countries, where self-medication is a common practice and abortion is outlawed or culturally stigmatized.

In July, at one of the many pharmacies lining the main street in Nuevo Progreso, a town across the border from Weslaco, Jose Alfredo Acosta was selling Cytotec for $153 per box. The package contained 28 pills, each about 200 micrograms. The informational insert did not include directions for self-induced abortion, but Acosta said he knew that was why many women bought the medication.

Like many Progreso pharmacy workers, Acosta does not hold a pharmacy degree or a license but is allowed under Mexican law to dispense Cytotec. Asked about the proper dosage, he reluctantly suggested that patients take one pill every two hours — 18 tablets in all.

Gabriel Noguez, who works in a pharmacy down the street from Acosta and is also untrained, said his shop sold Cytotec for $241.80 per box.

“It sells. That’s the problem,” he said. “But I won’t tell them how to take it. I just say, ‘You might have problems later.’ ”

Grossman said he was concerned that the misoprostol issue was a symptom of the barriers women faced in getting a legal abortion in the United States, especially for those who were determined to end their pregnancies.

In a 2010 study he published in the journal Reproductive Health Matters, a 30-year-old Texas woman reported that she started taking misoprostol in her 13th week of pregnancy. She bled so badly that she had to be admitted to a hospital.

“If I was put in the exact situation all over again,” she was quoted as saying, “I’d probably do it again.”
going to happen. It IS happening, worldwide, in countries where conservative governments have made it illegal, as well as in poor countries where medical care is unavailable. Around the world, unsafe abortions accounted for 220 deaths per 100,000 procedures in 2008 -- 35 times the rate for legal abortions in the United States -- and for nearly one in seven of all maternal deaths.

Do we really want that here? Whatever one thinks about abortion, and I maintain that NOBODY is "pro-abortion", removing choice from women means they will seek other methods, methods which can result in serious harm and/or death. And it's rising, all over the world.

A rising proportion of abortions worldwide are putting women’s health at risk, researchers say. The World Health Organisation study suggests global abortion rates are steady, at 28 per 1,000 women a year. However, the proportion of the total carried out without trained clinical help rose from 44 per cent in 1995 to 49 per cent in 2008. The Lancet, which carried the report, said the figures were “deeply disturbing.” Unsafe abortion is one of the main contributors to maternal death worldwide, and refers to procedures outside hospitals, clinics and surgeries, or without qualified medical supervision. Women are more vulnerable to dangerous infection or bleeding in these environments.

To compile the figures—often a difficult task in countries where abortion is illegal—the researchers at the Guttmacher Foundation used surveys, official statistics and hospital records. They concluded that while the abortion rate had fallen since 1995, that drop had now levelled off, and overall, the rise in world population meant that there were 2.2 million more abortions in 2008 compared with 2003.

In the developed world, the proportion of pregnancies ending in abortion fell from 36 per cent in 1995 to 26 per cent in 2008. Countries with restrictive abortion laws did not have a corresponding decrease in abortion rate - in some cases, the reverse was true. Professor Beverly Winikoff, from Gynuity, a New York organisation which pushes for access to safer abortion, wrote in the Lancet: “Unsafe abortion is one of the five major contributors to maternal mortality, causing one in every seven or eight maternal deaths in 2008. “Yet, when abortion is provided with proper medical techniques and care, the risk of death is negligible and nearly 14 times lower than that of childbirth. “The data continue to confirm what we have known for decades—that women who wish to terminate unwanted pregnancies will seek abortion at any cost, even if it is illegal or involves risk to their own lives.” Dr Richard Horton, the Lancet’s editor, said: “These latest figures are deeply disturbing. The progress made in the 1990s is now in reverse.

“Condemning, stigmatising and criminalising abortion are cruel and failed strategies.”

“That women continue to die in significant numbers because of unsafe abortion is a scandal and is an issue that the development sector should take seriously.” The UK Department for International Development part-funded the study, and International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell MP said it was a “tragedy” that the number of “back-street” abortions was rising. “Women should be able to decide for themselves whether, when and how many children to have—but for many this is not a reality as they have no access to family planning.

I've yet to hear ANY discussion of the fact that if the pro-lifers get their way and abortion is made illegal here in the states, more and more women will die from illegal abortions. Why is this, do you think? Might it have something to do with the attitude toward women, that if abortion is made illegal and they suffer or die from getting an illegal one, they get what they deserve?

How about a realistic discussion on the "logic" of making abortion illegal, and whether it actually improves a society or not? In a society which is working, at the same time, on minimizing education on sex, AS WELL AS promulgating the "just say no" "solution", AND is in danger of having even contraception made illegal, nobody seems interested in what the results of these things will be.

By now everyone knows part of the reason I'm such a bear on this subject is that my mother had an illegal abortion back in the 1930s, and how it fucked her up. So I will never stop speaking up for the women who suffer from back-street abortions because our backward-thinking politicians want to make them illegal again.


Thursday, August 23, 2012 11:32 AM


Beir bua agus beannacht

I'm a pretty prolife person, but Niki's point about how they'll do it anyway, just more dangerously is something I've been considering and thinking about.

"A completely coherant River means writers don't deliver" KatTaya


Thursday, August 23, 2012 4:31 PM


But see, that's the POINT, Niki - it's been the point all along.

Make it illegal, make women felons on a grand scale, and poof, there goes the Nineteenth Amendment, in a nutshell, and soon will follow other rights and personhood till they're considered subhuman much in the same way children are, that slaves once were.


That I saw this, that I said this - has gotten me called an alarmist, a crank, a conspiracy theorist, but when does it stop being a "theory" then, how much of an admission do people need ?

This is who they are, what they are, and what they have been all along.
And those who claim to not know this, have not been paying attention.
You all know how big a pet peeve it is with me when folks deny deny deny and then come whining when its too damn late, askin me what to do about it.

Well, I think its a little late for denial, how bout you ?
Stand now, or Fall forever.



Friday, August 24, 2012 5:10 AM


Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...

I see nobody but you guys is interested in discussing the abortion issue and its impact on women. That kinda says it all. Frem; those of us who knew better--or at least those who live in the states where it's happening--haven't been able to block their efforts; the Republicans "snuk" enough legislators/governors in last time that they have the power, we don't. Once again I thank gawd I live in California, not one of those idiotic states that bought into their bullshit in 2010.


Friday, August 24, 2012 6:48 AM


Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...


A pregnant Dominican teenager with cancer whose case sparked worldwide controversy over the country’s strict abortion laws died last week.

Her case renewed a bitter debate that has long divided the country – whether an abortion should be allowed if the mother’s life is in danger.

The 16-year-old girl, Esperanza, was battling acute leukemia and ended up pregnant. She needed to undergo chemotherapy but was initially barred by the Dominican Constitution from undergoing treatment because it would have likely harmed the fetus. Her doctors wanted to treat her but feared legal repercussions if they went ahead with the procedure and she miscarried.

Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, an archbishop in Santo Domingo, spoke out about the case after a Mass in late July, saying that a "direct abortion" was wrong, but "everything possible" should be done to save the life of this young woman, according to the news organization Dominican Today.

"Her situation can be saved, but we don't agree with performing an abortion directly," Rodriguez said.

The girl died last Friday from complications related to the disease.

Don't kid yourselves; if the Republicans gain power, this is the way we're headed.


Friday, August 24, 2012 7:37 AM


I was 17 years old when Roe-v-Wade became law. At the time I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread, or getting an air conditioner in your bedroom. I don't support any restrictions to obtaining a confidential abortion in a clean medical facility, except in late-term situations.


Friday, August 24, 2012 10:30 AM


The poster formerly known as yinyang.


Making Abortion Illegal
In the mid-to-late 1800s states began passing laws that made abortion illegal. The motivations for anti-abortion laws varied from state to state. One of the reasons included fears that the population would be dominated by the children of newly arriving immigrants, whose birth rates were higher than those of "native" Anglo-Saxon women.

To me, this is the most interesting part of all this. I know someone who writes a lot about immigration issues, and she's linked the furor over undocumented immigrants with increasing attacks on abortion. Because in the U.S., conservatives wants the right (white) women to have good (white) babies, but they want to deport immigrant women so they can't have "anchor babies." And maybe that's the case in every country, that pro-lifers only want to prevent the right kinds of people from having abortions, but it's generally a bad idea to say that, so they have to propose across-the-board restrictions and go to serious extremes to try and shut down access. Like the 16-year-old in the Dominican Republic, or the nine-year-old in Brazil a couple years ago - both cases which are extremely depressing and disgusting for the way pro-lifers responded.


Friday, August 24, 2012 11:28 AM



The fact that you can't "end" abortion, you can only make it illegal, which won't stop it.

Exactly like drug use.

Which is why, though I am personally very, very pro-life, I vote pro-choice. And though I dislike drug use intensely, I vote to make all drugs legal.

So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind
is all the sad world needs.
- Ella Wheeler Wilcox, poet (1850-1919)


Friday, August 24, 2012 3:15 PM



Originally posted by canttakesky:

The fact that you can't "end" abortion, you can only make it illegal, which won't stop it.

Exactly like drug use.

Which is why, though I am personally very, very pro-life, I vote pro-choice. And though I dislike drug use intensely, I vote to make all drugs legal.

Right, and I guess for the record, there would be few people that are 'pro abortion' and that most people would like to see the number of abortions decline, but through choice, not coercion.

That being said, I wonder if abortion is also about choice for medical staff, and that no-one is involved in procedures that they feel are counter to their value system. I am not entirely sure how I feel about this one, but it is an interesting point.


Saturday, August 25, 2012 4:55 AM


Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...

Magons, there have been laws passed on that one, where medical people don't have to do anything against their "religious beliefs" or their "conscience". So for example, a pharmacist (or even the woman at the pharmacy counter) could refuse to sell contraceptives to ANYONE. I forget the name of the bill/law, but I remember when it came around.

Ah, I found it--from May of this year:

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed a bill yesterday that will allow pharmacists in the state to refuse to fill a prescription they think could be used to induce abortion. But since the “conscience” measure says they cannot be required to provide a drug or device that they think “may result in the termination of a pregnancy” — but does not define which drug in particular — the law’s opponents say it could allow a pharmacist to interfere with a woman’s health care by refusing to distribute birth control or emergency contraception.

No pharmacist could be fired for refusing to fill such prescriptions, and doctors can refuse to refer patients to pharmacists who would fill a birth control prescription. Additionally, the Associated Press had reported that the law could “allow a doctor to refuse to provide chemotherapy to a pregnant cancer patient because it might end her pregnancy.”

Brownback’s office justified his signing by saying the bill “gives more legal protection to Kansas health care providers who refuse to participate in abortions” based on their conscience. Kansas already had a law that allowed medical professionals to refuse to assist in abortion procedures.

Fun, fun...I didn't know the thing about chemotherapy, but it sure ties in to the other story!

There's been stuff like this happening all over the country--another goodie is the one where doctors can't be sued for not informing the mother of birth defects in her fetus...and more. Sickening.


Sunday, August 26, 2012 7:50 PM


Beir bua agus beannacht

I didn't know that anyone opposed it if the life of the mother is in danger.

Byte had this cool idea. She says that scientists should get going on figuring out how to grow a baby outside the womb. That way anyone who wants to end their pregnancy can just have the baby transferred out and someone else can adopt it when it is full term. This way the prochoice people ensure that women don't have to continue with unwanted pregnancies, and the pro life people will feel good that fewer babies are being killed, and they can grow up to cure cancer or save the world or whatever they might do in life. I think its a cool idea.

"A completely coherant River means writers don't deliver" KatTaya


Sunday, August 26, 2012 11:12 PM


Goodbye, kind world (George Monbiot) - In common with all those generations which have contemplated catastrophe, we appear to be incapable of understanding what confronts us.

Maureen Dowd: Todd Akin is right about at least one thing

By Maureen Dowd
Posted: 08/23/2012 10:59:10 AM PDT
August 23, 2012 7:59 PM GMTUpdated: 08/23/2012 12:59:32 PM PDT

WASHINGTON -- There's something trying about an unforgiving man suddenly in need of forgiveness.

Yet Todd Akin is right. He shouldn't have to get out of the U.S. Senate race in Missouri simply for saying what he believes. He reflects a severe stance on abortion that many in his party embrace, including the new vice presidential candidate.

"I talk about one word, one sentence, one day out of place, and, all of a sudden, the entire establishment turns on you," Akin complained to the conservative radio talk-show host Dana Loesch on Tuesday as he spurned pleas from Mitt Romney and other GOP big shots to abort his bid. He continued: "They just ran for cover at the first sign of any gunfire, and I think we need to rush to the gunfire."

He's right again. Other Republicans are trying to cover up their true identity to get elected. Even as party leaders attempted to lock the crazy uncle in the attic in Missouri, they were doing their own crazy thing down in Tampa, Fla., by reiterating language in their platform calling for a no-exceptions constitutional amendment outlawing abortion, even in cases of rape, incest and threat to the life of the mother.

Paul Ryan, who teamed up with Akin in the House to sponsor harsh anti-abortion bills, may look young and hip and new generation, with his iPod full of heavy metal jams and his cute kids. But he's just a fresh face on a Taliban creed -- the evermore antediluvian, anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-gay conservative core. Amiable in khakis and polo shirts, Ryan is the perfect modern leader to rally medieval Republicans who believe that Adam and Eve cavorted with dinosaurs.

In asserting that women have the superpower to repel rape sperm, Akin ratcheted up the old chauvinist argument that gals who wear miniskirts and high-heels are "asking" for rape; now women who don't have the presence of mind to conjure up a tubal spasm, a drone hormone, a magic spermicidal secretion or mere willpower to block conception during rape are "asking" for a baby.

"The biological facts are perhaps inconvenient, but whether the egg meets the sperm is a matter of luck or prevention," says Dr. Paul Blumenthal, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology who directs the Stanford Program for International Reproductive Education and Services. "If wishing that 'I won't get pregnant right now' made it so, we wouldn't need contraceptives."

When you wish upon a rape.

Blumenthal is alarmed that Akin is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

"What is very disturbing to me is that people like Mr. Akin who have postulated this secret mechanism for avoiding pregnancy have developed their own make-believe world of science based on entirely self-serving beliefs of convenience or just ignorance," he said. "I don't think we want these people to be responsible for the lives of others."

But, for all the Republican cant about how they want to keep government out of the lives of others, the ultraconservatives are panting to meddle in the lives of others. Contrary to President Barack Obama's refreshing assertion Monday that a bunch of male politicians shouldn't be making health care decisions for women, this troglodyte tribe of men and Bachmann-esque women craves that responsibility.

"Next we'll be trying to take away the vote from women," lamented Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist who advised Romney in the 2008 race. "How can we be the party of cool and make the generational leap forward when we have these recidivist ideas at the very core of our base?"

Akin defended the incendiary comment he made on a Missouri TV show -- "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down" -- by saying he wasn't talking about rapists being legitimate, but rather "false claims" of rape, "like those made in Roe versus Wade." He said he meant to say "forcible rape." Oh, that's ever so much better.

Akin, Ryan et al. have made it their business to designate which rapes are legitimate, joining up to push Orwellian legislation last year to narrow the definition of rape to "forcible rape."

And Mitt, who was for abortion rights (except for Mormons he counseled) before he was against them, in his last presidential bid went after the endorsement of Dr. John Willke, a former president of the National Right to Life Committee and father of the inanity about rape victims being able to turn back sperm if they put their mind and muscles to it.

The nutty doctor hypothesized: "This is a traumatic thing. She's, shall we say, she's uptight." Adding, "She is frightened, tight, and so on. And sperm, if deposited in her vagina, are less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic."

Akin is right in saying this race should be about "who we are as a people."

It should also be about who they are. They are people who want to be in your life, deep in your life, even when they say they don't.


Monday, August 27, 2012 6:03 AM


Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...

Magons, Ryan has made clear in the past that he doesn't believe in abortion even in the case of the life of the mother. Of course, for political expediency they're all spinning that one now, but it's long been a platform of the ultra-conservative pro-lifers. Some of their instructions:

Key Tactical Point

Just as there is an underlying test of your compassion when people bring up abortion in the case of rape, when someone asks “Would you say that abortion is wrong when used to save the mother’s life?” they are testing whether you are a reasonable, compassionate human being. It’s critical that you pass this test in order to maintain credibility and have further opportunity to make the case for the unborn. But it’s also critical that you use this opportunity to clarify the moral logic of the pro-life position.

They go on to define every "life of the mother" danger and how they would go about treating it to save both.

The ACTUAL belief of many of them:

M]others should never kill their babies. There are no exceptions. The Bible condemns abortion and offers no exceptions to this rule. Abortion is not even biblically permissible in so-called “life of the mother” cases. As with all ethical decisions, our approach to the question of “abortion for the life of the mother” must be dictated by Scripture alone. We are not to look to situation ethics, the advice of the medical community, personal opinion, or even “common sense” to help us make life-and-death decisions concerning our unborn children. Nor may a Christian look to their emotions, to human traditions, to majority consensus, to their personal experience, or to a private revelation from God as the basis for their decision-making. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine for reproof and for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect thoroughly equipped unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). This is the only source of wisdom for our ethical decisions. [...]

Killing a baby in the womb is unconscionable under any circumstances. To embrace anything but a “no exception” policy in opposition to abortion is to condone infanticide. Historically and biblically, the greatest judgments have been reserved for those nations which embrace perversion and child sacrifice. (Both are rampant within our nation.) Political leaders who profess to be Christian, but who promote the right of any individual to perform abortions (child sacrifice) for any reason whatsoever, are party to the promotion of the slaughter of the innocent and will be judged. Such men and women will be judged even before heathen leaders, because “judgment begins first in the house of the Lord.” Consequently, before pointing out the speck in the political eyes of unbelieving politicians, we must first remove the enormous log of compromise from the collective eyes of our own evangelical community.






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