Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (68), November 1, 1986

Woman’s Body, Woman’s Choice

Question No. 1, the proposed constitutional amendment on the Nov. 4, would give the legislature power to regulate or prohibit abortion within federal limits. It would maintain protection for abortion in only one circumstance: to prevent the death of the mother. It woulds make no exception for rape victims, incest victims, or women whose health would be endangered by a pregnancy.

Women have abortions for many reasons other than to prevent their death. Difficult situations that the proposed amendment would not take into the account include the following:

  • A couple had been trying to conceive a child for 13 years. Finally the woman became pregnant only to learn the fetus was genetically defective. Her doctor told her that the fetus would die in utero and that to carry it any longer would make future pregnancies impossible.
  • A woman spent a full year in a body cast after breaking her back. One month after the cast was removed, she became pregnant. Her doctor informed her that if she continued the pregnancy, the strain would break her back again.
  • A woman with a severe diabetic retinopathy was told be her doctor that continuing the pregnancy would lead to her becoming blind.

Though these cases may sound extreme, they are nonetheless true. The proposed amendment is written so narrowly that none of these women might be able to have safe legal abortions, nor would women suffering from cancer, severe heart or kidney problems, or a host of other severe medical conditions that, unfortunately, are not uncommon among women still in their reproductive years.

Each woman who faces an unwanted pregnancy faces a unique situation; each woman must be able to make her own personal decision about abortion freely, in consultation with her doctor and family, but without interference from our state legislature.

I urge you to vote no on Question No. 1.

John Pratt, president, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts