Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (94), August 30, 1989

Let Them Know We Care About Women

(My View invitational column)

(Barbara Smith is an occupational therapist and a mother. She lives in Essex.)

Many people today remember the time before 1972 when abortions were illegal. Women, wives, sisters, daughters and mothers lost their lives with illegal abortion. It was a war on women and just like all wars, the poor were the victims. Those with money went abroad for safe abortions.

Today, women in undeveloped countries cannot receive any U.S. family planning monies if abortion is even mentioned as an option to unwanted pregnancy. There are countries where people can barely feed existing children. Malnourished women give birth and can’t even produce milk to feed the infant.

In our country, the situation can be equally tragic. Will women go to prison after an abortion or after seeking medical care because the hanger caused an infection or perforation? Who will care for their children if they are in prison? How can society afford the psychological and financial ramifications of imprisoning women and/or doctors? Some politicians say that abortion is okay in cases of rape or incest. Many women don’t report rape. If they find out a month later that they need an abortion, who will believe them, judge them and have this awesome power over women’s lives?

Everyone in our society will be affected if women lose the right to reproductive freedom. Many people support choice although they are personally against abortion. Surveys report that 70 percent of Massachusetts voters support a woman’s right to choose. Yet, some of our elected officials, Congressman Mavroules, for example, based on religious convictions, ought to dictate what millions of women do with their bodies. I asked him “how do you feel about women dying as a result of illegal abortion? His response was that he supports abortion in the case of rape or incest. Aside from not answering the question, does he really think rapists and incest perpetrators will be running to the courts in time for the victim to have an early abortion?

What can people do? The biggest pro-choice rally scheduled for Nov. 12 in Washington, D.C. Research your candidate’s record, vote on their choice position. Let candidates know we care about women’s lives and that we must want our officials to represent our views,