poetry, opinion, pride

Guernica / Lucky Girl

Guernica / Lucky Girl

Great short story about a woman's experience with abortion in the 1960s. This is a very interesting read but the last bit left me with a bit to think about.
Here's an excerpt:

According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 1962—the year I made my trip to Puerto Rico—nearly sixteen hundred women were admitted to just one New York City hospital for incomplete abortions.
In the New York Times in June 2008, Waldo Fielding, a retired gynecologist, described his experience with incomplete abortion complications.
“The familiar symbol of illegal abortion is the infamous ‘coat hanger’—which may be the symbol, but is in no way a myth. In my years in New York, several women arrived with a hanger still in place. Whoever put it in—perhaps the patient herself—found it trapped in the cervix and could not remove it… Almost any implement you can imagine had been and was used to start an abortion—darning needles, crochet hooks, cut-glass salt shakers, soda bottles, sometimes intact, sometimes with the top broken off.”

For me the abortion question in some regards, is a lot like the sex education debate or the needle exchange debate: No matter what side a person falls on, we have to face the harsh truth that the world is not ideal.  This makes most people uncomfortable because it means that the rules we make sometimes involve choosing the lesser of two evils. Here are a few examples: Needle exchange programs offer drug addicts a a chance to exchange their used needles for new sterile ones. The immediate response for some people would be to claim that needle exchange programs promote and somehow validate drug use. In reality, this is not the case.  Even a slight understanding of the nature of addiction tells us that needle exchange program or not, an addict will get their fix come hell or high water. The only difference the exchange program has is the impact this needle drug use has on community health. Needle drug use is one of the major ways in which HIV is spread along with other blood born diseases. The needle exchange program, especially in places bursting at the seams with drug use greatly curb the spread of disease..no drug addict makes the decisions to get clean or begin use with a needle exchange program in mind.

Then there's the great state of Texas with it's staunch views on sexual education in high school class rooms. I won't say much but here's an interesting fact; sexual education was prohibited because Texans thought it would promote sexual behavior in teens (if you've ever been in a sex ed class then you probably know that there's nothing sex about it) they put this theory to test and are now just realizing that they have some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the country. There also seems to be a great deal of disease floating around the schools. I'm not saying kids are all going to have sex, but the ones that do are not making that decision based on a class they take in a cramped room. The difference between states that offer sex education and the ones that don't is whether or not the kids who DO choose to have sex know what to do in-order to both protect themselves from STDs as well as unwanted pregnancy.

Where does unwanted pregnancy lead? My senior year of high school a girl, after successfully hiding her pregnancy, delivered her baby in a car alone in a parking lot. According to the news, the child had been asphyxiated. I'm not saying everyone who has an unwanted pregnancy terminates it--this is obviously not true--but the above excerpt and this story proves that the desperation, fear and shame that often follows such events leaves people desperate enough to do unspeakable things. Even when abortion was illegal in the U.S. and in countries where it is still illegal, women have still found ways to terminate at great peril to themselves. Those that survive face the threat of not only disease but permanent damage to reproductive organs. On a global perspective unwed pregnancy is punishable by such practices as whipping, stoning and honor killing. This doesn't take into account the plight of the rape victim in different settings.

Recently, our neighborhood facebook removed the following post put up by a group geared towards women in countries where abortions are illegal. 

It's a complicated issue but stories are important. Not only do they put a human face on something that is often discussed in numerical terms, but it forces us to consider context when making a decision that is too often discussed as though the answer is written in black and white. 


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