Friday, April 28, 2006

Re-Examining the Becky Bell Story

It is a well-known statement, made by abortion right advocates that  an Indiana parental consent abortion law led to Becky Bell's death.

Rebecca (Becky) Bell was the daughter of Bill and Karen Bell. Becky lived with her parents and brother in a small town near Indianapolis, Indiana. Becky became pregnant her junior year of high school in 1988, unknown to her parents. Around 4 months into her pregnancy, Becky became mysteriously ill and suddenly began her menstrual period. Despite medical efforts, she died from hemorrhage and an infection which destroyed her lungs.  The details surrounding her death are contraversial. Both Becky's parents and abortion rights advocates claim that because Becky was unable to obtain a legal abortion due to Indiana's parental consent laws, she saught an illegal abortion which caused the infection that cost her life. Anti-abortion advocates argue that Becky had miscarried and the lung infection, caused by a common form of pneumonia, killed her. I think both sides carry some truth to the story. In this entry, I will be looking at the legal facts, medical information, and personal testimonies to provide a broader explination of what may have occured, leading to the death of Rebecca Bell.

The Law
According to Indiana Code 16-34-2-4: Written consent of parent or guardian of unemancipated pregnant woman under 18 years of age; conditions of waiver; representation by attorney; appeal; confidential records; emergency abortions
Sec. 4. (a) No physician shall perform an abortion on an unemancipated pregnant woman less than eighteen (18) years of age without first having obtained the written consent of one (1) of the parents or the legal guardian of the minor pregnant woman.
    (b) A minor:
        (1) who objects to having to obtain the written consent of her parent or legal guardian under this section; or
        (2) whose parent or legal guardian refuses to consent to an abortion;
may petition, on her own behalf or by next friend, the juvenile court for a waiver of the parental consent requirement under subsection (a).
    (c) A physician who feels that compliance with the parental consent requirement in subsection (a) would have an adverse effect on the welfare of the pregnant minor or on her pregnancy may petition the juvenile court within twenty-four (24) hours of the abortion request for a waiver of the parental consent requirement under subsection (a).
    (d) The juvenile court must rule on a petition filed by a pregnant minor under subsection (b) or by her physician under subsection (c) within forty-eight (48) hours of the filing of the petition. Before ruling on the petition, the court shall consider the concerns expressed by the pregnant minor and her physician. The requirement of parental consent under this section shall be waived by the juvenile court if the court finds that the minor is mature enough to make the abortion decision independently or that an abortion would be in the minor's best interests (1).

Why don't teenagers tell their parents of their pregnancy?
In my personal experience of working with teenagers facing an unplanned/unwanted pregnancy and I'm sure family planning clinic workers can echo this, the common reasons given are:
Fear of rejection, dissapointment, stigma, legal reprocussion, abuse, and/or unsupportive parents; independent/self-sufficient; doesn't wish to burden guardian/care provider

What percent of teenagers tell their parents about their pregnancy freely?One study dated from 1982 shows 37% told the mother and 26% told the father (2).  More recent research has found "Many adolescents had talked to parents about sexual issues (50–80%, depending on the topic) and reported high levels of connectedness with parents (68%). A substantial minority (19%) perceived that parents disapprove of their both having sex and using birth control. The majority (60%) reported that a parent knew of their [family planning] clinic visit; such reports were most common among those who had high levels of connectedness to parents and communication with parents about sexual issues, and those who did not perceive parents to disapprove of sex and birth control." (3)


This is Karen Bell's story: 'Becky and I were very close. She was an easy child, gentle and innocent. I would worry sometimes about my son, Billy, but never about Becky. She loved horses, music, school and life itself. When Becky was 16, she began dating a friend of Billy's. She was crazy about him. He was a rebel and completely different from her, but that's who she loved.

Soon after Becky turned 17, I noticed that she seemed quieter than usual. One evening she asked to go to a party on the south side of town. I said, "Becky, I don't want you to go to the south side, it's not safe there." I had a feeling that something wasn't right, but my son said, "My God, Mom, let Becky go. You protect her too much, and she's been sad lately
I let her go.' (4)

Gannett News Service Article Dated November 24, 1989
Abortion Law: Fatal Effect?

' Rebecca Bell died at age 17 because she was afraid to talk to her parents.

For years, she had treated her mother like her best friend, but that was before she got pregnant. After that, Rebecca hid her medical condition from her family, convinced they would throw her out of the house.

 She tried to get an abortion near her home in Indianapolis, Ind., but was turned away because state law required her to get approval from her parents. In the end, she died in silence, after hemorrhaging for hours and developing pneumonia from an abortion-related infection.

''She loved (her parents) so much, she couldn't bear telling them,'' said Heather Clark, Bell's friend and the only person who know about the pregnancy.

Now, all Rebecca's parents can do is decorate their daughter's grave and wonder why Rebecca had to suffer by herself.

How Rebecca's abortion occurred remains a mystery. Her mother believes Rebecca got an illegal abortion. Rebecca's best friend thinks she had a spontaneous abortion.' (5)

Becky's Life
' The Bells never thought this would happen to their daughter. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl was a cheerleader in junior high, and often bubbled with enthusiasm. She kept posters of James Dean and Marilyn Monroe on her bedroom walls, and was almost always fighting for some cause.

One year, she raised money for the Humane Society, turning cartwheels for cash until her hands were covered with blisters, her mother said. Before she died, she had become interested in the plight of the American Indian.

For years, the Bell household was filed with Rebecca's friends. They remember spending some time with the family eating pancakes, which Rebecca's mother made in the shape of bunnies, with chocolate chips as eyes.

Among her closest friends was her mother. They were so close—they even discussed sex.

"I just can't imagine doing anything. It just makes me sick,'' Karen Bell remembers her daughter telling her.

''Then,'' she said, ''she met this monster.''

Rebecca's last love was a high school dropout, according to family and friends. They claim he was violent and introduced her to drugs.

''It was a sick love,'' Clark said. ''She was so obsessed by him.''

Clark said she knew that Rebecca and the boy had been having sex, but that he swore to Rebecca he was sterile because of some early childhood disease. And before long, Rebecca feared she was pregnant, which her mother learned about through a family friend.

Karen Bell rushed her daughter to Planned Parenthood for tests, which proved to be negative. Later, she and her husband put Rebecca in a detoxification center for seven weeks, to rid her of her new drug habit.

''Becky, I don't want to go through this again,'' William Bell recalls telling his daughter.

But Rebecca remembered that conversation differently, Clark said, recalling repeatedly that her parents told her if she messed up one more time, she'd be thrown out of the house.

The Pregnancy

So, when Rebecca feared she was pregnant the second time, she confided only in Clark. Together, they went to Planned Parenthood, where a counselor confirmed their fears and told them about the Indiana parental-consent law, Clark said. '  (5)

' So when 17-year-old Becky learned that she really was pregnant, she turned to her best friend Heather for help. Together they explored her options.' (6)

' ''I hate this baby. I cannot have this baby. This is the devil's baby,'' Rebecca told Clark after leaving the clinic. ''She just thought her boyfriend was such a bad person that the baby would have to be, too.'' ' (5).

If Becky were to get an abortion in Indiana, she would have to tell her parents. After being threatened with being thrown out of the family home, Becky rejected that option. Perhaps Becky could drive to Kentucky for an abortion. Perhaps she could go to a home for unwed mothers in California. Becky seemed undecided.'(6)

The Final Days of her Life
' One Saturday night, Rebecca came home late, even though she was supposed to spend the night with a friend.

''Mom, forgive me. I know I'm late,'' her mother recalls her saying. ''I wanted to be home in my own bed. Mommy, I'm so sick. I feel like somebody put something in my drink.'' '(5)

' "I was laying awake in bed waiting for her to come home. At 12:45 in the morning, I heard her trying to open the door. She was crying, and said, "Mom, it was a horrible party. I feel like I've got the flu like Dad." Beck never lied; I never doubted what she said. I told her to go to bed and she would feel better in the morning. '(4)

' Karen Bell believes her daughter had someone try to induce an illegal abortion that night. ''She'd gone to a bad part of town.'' she said.

Clark insists her friend did nothing of the sort, saying Rebecca talked about getting a legal abortion in Kentucy until she died. She thinks Rebecca had a spontaneous abortion. ' (4)

This is one place where there is conflicting testimony. Did she go to a friend's party or to get an illegal abortion? There are a few indications that  Becky was still undecided as to whether or not carry her pregnancy to term 1)Her pregnancy was progressing and she was already in her 4th month, an indication of indecisiveness and inaction. And referring back to the testimony of her friend Heather Clark, 'During the four months of her pregnancy, though, Rebecca wavered about her decision, Clark said. She contemplated a trip to a Kentucky abortion clinic or running away to California, where she planned to have the baby and put it up for adoption. Most of the time, she said, Rebecca favored the abortion, but she kept postponing her trip out of state. ' (5) Receipts and notes found in her purse at a later time by her mother would verify this (5). But back to the present:

' But she did not [get better]. After school on Monday, she still felt sick. By Wednesday she had a fever of 104 and a strange cough. I told her we were going to the doctor. She turned white. She said, "Mom, oh Mom, please, oh please, I don't want to go. Just give me some aspirin, I'll be okay, please, please."

She was nearly hysterical, so I respected her wishes.'(4)

' ''She had a real sharp pain in her chest,'' Clark recalled. ''She knew if she went to the doctor, they'd be able to tell (she was pregnant), and the doctor would tell her parents.''

Rebecca told her parents she had the flu, which her father believed since he'd just recovered from a similar illness. The flu, however, was really pneumonia, triggered by the infection in her womb. The Bells said they repeatedly tried to persuade their daughter to go the doctor, but she refused. ' (5)

This is another point of conflicting information. Was there a uterine infection as well as damage, indicative of a clandestine abortion preformed on her? Was the pneumonia in her lungs triggered by a possible infection in her uterus or a seperate occuring illness?

' By Thursday, ''She was so sick, she could not breathe.'' Clark said. ''She couldn't lay down all the way.''

Still, Rebecca asked Clark to make a Saturday appointment at the Kentucky abortion clinic. As she lay dying, Clark said Rebecca requested she call one of her friends, who'd gone to the Kentucky clinic. That girl described the procedure to Rebecca.

All the while, Rebecca's mother had no clue what was going on. She didn't understand why her daughter kept muttering, ''Nothing's happening.'' Now, she realizes that Rebecca was anxiously awaiting the onset of a miscarriage. ' (5)

It is not unheard of for a woman undecided and unsure about how to progress handling the pregnancy to wait and hope that the pregnancy will take care of itself, ending in a miscarriage. A book entitled, In Good Conscience: A Practical, Emotional, and Spiritual Guide to Deciding Whether to Have an Abortion, advises, "Don’t Wait for a Miscarriage: A miscarriage will not save you pain or having to deal with your pregnancy." (7)

That Friday Becky began to bleed.

'...perhaps in an attempt to strengthen her to fight the ravaging infection in her lungs, Becky's body rejected her unborn baby.'(6)

''Mommy, I started.'' she said with a smile, her mother recalls, thinking that meant her daughter had started menstruating. She said she thought it was odd her daughter was happy. Rebecca usually dreaded her period since she often had cramps.' (5) Once the bleeding began, Becky, having probably though her pregnancy over, agreed to see a doctor. But the damage had already been done.

' She was so weak that my husband and I had to carry her to the car. The doctor sent us immediately to the hospital. We put her in the backseat and she asked me to sit next to her. I held her close. '(4)

Neither she nor her husband learned about the pregnancy until they talked to a doctor at the hospital, who said, ''I don't know whether we're going to be able to save the baby.'' ' (5) ' Karen Bell recalled that she told the doctor, "Never mind that baby! Save my baby!" '(6)

'The nuns and nurses at St. Vincent Hospital, where we have taken her for everything, kept asking Beck, "What have you done to yourself?" I heard the nurses say her veins had collapsed. They put oxygen on her, but Becky pulled the mask off. I leaned down and said, "Honey, tell Mom, tell me, honey." She said, "Mom, Dad, I love you, forgive me." And that was it. Her heart stopped. '(4)

' Bill and I went home. I don't know where Billy went. I don't know where anybody went. There are no words to describe how Bill and I felt. We just kept saying, "Oh my God, my baby, oh my God." '(4)
At Becky's funeral, the minister gave the following advice, 'Becky did not have to die,'' the minister said, urging the children always to seek help. ''You can never make a mistake or commit a sin that cannot be forgiven. . . . Don't count your parents out. Even though you may not have the greatest relationship, they love you and are in your corner.''

'I told Bill that I did not want people talking about Becky. We grew up in a small community. Everybody idolized us. We were the perfect couple -- the perfect family. I didn't want people to call her a whore. We agreed to say that Beck died of pneumonia. It wasn't a lie. The death certificate listed the cause of death as septic abortion with pneumonia.' (4)

' ''If only she'd been able to go to a clean place and take care of herself,'' Rebecca's mother said. '(5)

Actually, the autopsy report said septic, abortion with pneumonia."

So apparently the coroner told the Bells that their daughter had died of an illegal botched abortion. However, based on the death certificate, the correct term would of been a septic abortion with pneumonia. There is a difference. What the report indicates is Becky had sepsis, infection of the blood, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), and pneumonia. Also, there's a strong indication that Becky's parents were concerned with stigma and their reputation and would of supported Becky in choosing an abortion anyways.

' Desperate to find some meaning in their daughter's death, the Bells latched onto the term, "septic abortion." Perhaps, like most laymen, they didn't realize that a miscarriage is a form of abortion -- what's called a "spontaneous abortion." That still leaves the mystery of where the work "septic" came from, since according to the coroner's report, Becky's reproductive tract was healthy and free of injury or infection. But however the idea arose, Becky's family decided that Becky must have sought an illegal abortion. Abortion advocates caught wind of the story and recruited the Bells as spokesmen against parental involvement laws. '(6)

"Pro-choice" and Feminist organizations, especially Planned Parenthood and Eleanor Smeal's "Feminist Majority Fund," immediately seized on Becky Bell's death and stated as fact that it was directly caused by Indiana's parental consent laws. They dubbed Becky the "first known victim of parental consent laws" and launched massive media campaign and enlisted her parents to hit the talk show and lecture circuit to denounce parental notification and consent laws all over the country - the law that they claimed "caused Becky's death." As Ms. Magazine put it, "She Died Because of a Law." (8)
The Medical Evidence and Why Becky Died:

This event received a lot of media attention for awhile, until the National Right to Life Committee got a copy of the post-mortem report, which showed no sign of either induced abortion or infection in or near the reproductive organs. What the report did show was that Becky Bell died of a deadly and fast-acting form of pneumonia, similar to that which killed Muppets creator Jim Henson, which had neither originated in nor had affected the reproductive system. She had contracted this especially lethal form of pneumonia at about the same time that she had a miscarriage.
Various doctors have confirmed that Becky Bell did not die from an induced abortion. Dr. John Curry, former head of the Tissue Bank at Bethesda Naval Hospital, reviewed the coroner's pathology report. He noted that the report listed massive infection in Becky Bell's lungs and in other areas of her body, but there was no evidence of infection on the outside of her uterus or within it. He also stated that the germ that killed her was a common pneumonia germ "... which is unlikely to originate from a contaminated abortion procedure." (9)
The physician who personally examined Becky's body, Dr. John Pless, head of forensic pathology at Indiana University Medical Center, stated that "I cannot prove she had an illegal abortion. I cannot prove she had anything but a spontaneous abortion [miscarriage]." (10)

Former abortion provider Dr. Bernard Nathanson also concluded, after examining the medical evidence, that: "There is no infection in or around the uterus, no pus, no odor to the uterus, and no peritonitis. The serosa of the uterus is described as "smooth and glistening. In the case of a septic abortion, this tissue would be shaggy and discolored ... Indeed, there is no evidence for an induced abortion at all: no marks or stigmata of instrumentation in the genital tract ... In short, the cause of death here was probably overwhelming pneumonia unrelated to the abortion/ miscarriage." (11)

"I tracked down the doctor who performed Becky Bell's autopsy, Jesse Giles. Incredibly enough, Becky Bell's parents, who talk so glibly about what the autopsy report supposedly discloses, never bothered to talk to the doctor who wrote the report. When Giles wrote the word "abortion" in his autopsy report, he never imagined that abortion advocates would one day look over his shoulder and seize upon that word to promote their agenda. Giles used the word "abortion" in the way it had always been used in medicine prior to the national debate. He meant a spontaneous abortion. In short, he meant a miscarriage. If Giles had meant a deliberate, surgical abortion, he would have used the word "induced" to describe it. Giles told me that there is no evidence of an induced abortion, and in his professional opinion Becky Bell suffered a miscarriage." (12)
"Unfortunately, another pathologist stuck the word "septic" immediately before the word "abortion" on the report's cover page. That word has also been seized upon as proof positive that a botched, unsterile abortion had been performed. But the autopsy report has not the slightest evidence to support any "septic" condition in Becky Bell's uterus. The autopsy found no infection, no sepsis, no pus, no peritonitis, no odor, no discolored tissue, no infected blood. Indeed, the tissue lining Becky's uterus was described as "smooth and glistening," a state inconsistent with a "septic" diagnosis." (12)
Finally, Dr. Curtis Harris, president of the American Academy of Medical Ethics, consulted in detail with four leading specialists in the fields of infectious disease, infertility, pathology, and obstetrics/gynecology. The opinion of these five national experts was unanimous : That Becky Bell had an incomplete miscarriage ( not an induced abortion); that her uterus was not marked or infected at all; and that the cause of her death was pneumonia brought on by the aspiration of vomit, and that this pathology was not related to the miscarriage in any manner. (9)

The autopsy on her body was carried out by Jesse C. Giles, M.D., a pathologist in the Forensic Division of the Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Giles made a post mortem examination of the reproductive organs of Rebecca Bell and upon gross and microscopic examination of these organs found:

"The uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries are present. They are of usual size and shape for age. No tumors are present. There is evidence of recent pregnancy with recent partial abortion. The uterus is enlarged consistent with current pregnancy of age approximately 2-3 months. The cervix is dilated uniformly without evidence of mucosal or submucosal injury. Extruding from the cervical os is hemorraghic and necrotic red-tan and grey-brown tissue consistent with products of conception. The lower third of the uterine cavity has only the flat mucosa without obvious evidence of instrumentation. However, the upper 2/3 of the uterine cavity has a mixture of blood clot and necrotic and hemmorraghic products of conception. There are no recognizable fetal parts, and the amniotic membrance has been ruptured, leaving only a small area recognizable as thin blue-tan glistening membranes. There is no evidence of hydatid mole or invasive chorio-carcinoma. The serosa of the uterus is smooth and glistening and without exudate, and there are no areas of perforation or pus in or around the uterus. The right ovary has a 1 x 1 1/2 x 1 inch bright yellow corpus luteum. The remainder of the ovaries shows unremarkable for age ovaries. There are no injuries of the vagina." (13)

Pro-choice groups comtinue to use Becky's death for their case against parental consent and notification laws, despite Becky quite possibly having had parents who would of supported her in her decision and despite her cause of death as massive pneumonia and septic shock, unrelated to her miscarriage or an illegal abortion.

Lastly, we cannot avoid the fact that even if Becky Bell does not fit NARAL's scenario of having died of an illegal abortion, it's quite possible that another girl someday will. An exaggerated fear of Mom and Dad finding out can be powerful even in teens from happy families. The existence of such typical adolescent fear is not an argument against the law; for the teen's sake, the parents have the right and obligation to assist in such momentous health care situations. Most girls will do what they always have--take a deep breath and go ahead and tell their parents (again, advocacy programs can make this step much easier). Yet there is no doubt that some desperate and confused young women will seek an abortion.

(1) Indiana Code

(2) Why Can't We Love Them Both
By Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Wilke
Chapter 28: Parental Notification and Becky Bell

(3) Parent-Child Relations Among Minor Females Attending U.S. Family Planning Clinics
By Rachel K. Jones, Susheela Singh, and Alison Purcell
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2005, 37(4):192–201

(4) Medical Students for Choice
Becky Bell: A Mother's Story
Reprinted from Choices: Women Speak Out About Abortion, with the permission of NARAL.

(5) 1999 Child Custody Protection Act Hearing Before the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary House of Representatives
One Hundred Fifth Congress
Second Session on H.R. 3682
May 21, 1998
Serial No. 102
Pages 18 through 26

(6) A Tale of Two Abortions
By Christina Dunigan
Featured Rightgrrl March 1999
August 15, 1999  

(7) In Good Conscience: A Practical, Emotional, and Spiritual Guide to Deciding Whether to Have an Abortion
by Anna Runkle
Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, copyright 1998

(8) Rochelle Sharp, "She Died Because of a Law," Ms., July/August 1990, 80-81.
Linked from:

9) Dave Andrusko. "They Have No Shame!" National Right to Life News , August 16, 1990.

10) Joe Frolik. Cleveland Plain Dealer , September 9, 1990, page 1.

11) Bernard Nathanson, M.D. "In Memoriam: The Becky Bell Story." Bernadell Technical Bulletin, November 1990, pages 4 and 5.

12) James A. Miller. "In Indiana and Maryland, a tale of two abortions" The Baltimore Sun, February 15, 1991

13) Autopsy report: "Rebecca Suzanne Bell." By Jesse C. Giles. Forensic Division, Department of Pathology, Indiana University School of Medicine, September 17, 1988, 7:30 A.M. Signatories: John E. Pless, M.D. (Forensic Pathologist, Division of Forensic Pathology) & Jesse C. Giles, M.D. (Fellow in Forensic Pathology, Division of Forensic Pathology).
Sources to use:

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Article Response - When Anti-Choice Forces Get Their Way

When Anti-Choice Forces Get Their Way
H/T to spacelover_itin feminists4life,
@ 2006-04-19 14:02:00

Since my response is long and thought out, I thought it'd be worth posting my reply here too.
"Don’t let anyone tell you that anti-choicers care about women. They don’t."

This is just slander, discredit us and discourage women from turning to us or trusting us. But anyways, there are many "anti-choice" women who also volunteer for a number of humanitarian causes including Habitat for Humanity, soup kitchens, food pantries, and battered women's shelters.

"Their ideal policies will turn women and doctors into criminals."

Um, yeah, this is just blatant stereotyping. Pro-lifers range in beliefs, not all believe criminalizing the woman would be beneficial or helpful.

"They will kill and maim women."

It is not the grusome image projected here of pro-life activists dragging women into back-allies where amatures are waiting with a rusty coat-hanger. In fact, in the time before Roe, the majority of abortions were preformed by physicians in good standing and nurse midwives. And pro-choice advocates insist on keeping abortion available through any means possible, no matter the danger such procedures pose to women. And even since legalization, NARAL and individual pro-choice advocates have continued to fight against legal measures which would protect women's health, such as required licensing for ambulatory surgical clinics (such as abortion clinics) and mandating the availability of proper sanitation devices and emergency equipment, and professional pro-choice organizations such as the National Abortion Federation (NAF) have continued to defend abortion providers in the matter of medical malpractice and negligence suits.
Below are examples of the results when pro-choice advocates continue to place protecting abortion rights and abortion providers over protecting women's health and safety in abortion procedures.

"Women’s empowerment and reproductive rights are deeply and inexoribly[sic] related. Anti-choice activists aren’t interested in “saving babies,” or they’d be pushing for wider contraception access and universal healthcare[sic]. Instead, they’re willing to say anything — and I mean anything, no matter how obviously dishonest — in order to keep women indentured as servants to their biology."

We're not the ones who have a warped view of our ability to reproduce as a weakness or a disease to be remedied. Unintended pregnancy is only part of the problem. Rather than focusing alone on treating the pregnancy (i.e. abortion) we should be also be focusing on addressing the issues surrounding the pregnancy which make it a crisis. As for the last statment, can they back it with proof (not hypothetical nor personal anecdotes, nor stereotypes) to show that our beliefs are unerringly wrong?

"They are grounded in misogyny and outright lies."

Ah, more mud-slinging. When you're not able to rationally defend your position, resort to mud-slinging and stereotyping to discredit and silence opposing views.

“There does not exist any case in which the life of the mother would be in danger”? I think all the friends and relatives of the women who die in childbirth or during pregnancy would beg to differ. And I’ll bet a whole lot of doctors, and women with pre-eclampsia, HELLP syndrome and dozens of other conditions, would beg to differ, too."

I don't think the person they choose to quote adequately explained her position. I think she's saying that every effort can be made to save both mother and child (via c-section?) and using the technology available. Even so, most third-world countries lack proper nutrition and sanitation, as well as the money and technology for basic prenatal care non-the-less emergency ob. care. This is what we should be focusing on.

"Well, the “continent of hope” isn’t looking so hopeful when the women there remain second-class citizens and are tossed in prison for having the audacity to decide not to be pregnant."

Women should not have to be child-free or surrender motherhood in order to have financial/job opportunities and become successful. And this is where feminism has failed us, when we have become like men in order to succeed. And let us reiterate that abortion is often not chosen freely (like you might pick new clothing), but in a crisis situation and under duress.

"Many anti-choicers will tell you that they don’t want to punish women, and that they wouldn’t criminally penalize women who have illegal abortions. Well, they’re either liars or idiots. If we agree that life begins at conception, and that such a life is the moral equal of my life or yours, then ending that life through abortion is a murder equivalent to me killing you. Most anti-choicers will tell you that they believe a fertilized egg or an embryo or a fetus is a life equivalent to mine or yours (whether they actually believe this is doubtful, but let’s just take their word for it). How do you justify, then, allowing a woman to pay someone to end that life, but not prosecuting her? Wouldn’t you prosecute her if she hired a hitman to kill one of her born children? If you, anti-choicer, actually believe what you claim to, how do you justify not criminally prosecuting women who have abortions?"

They're angry because many of us don't fit neatly into their stereotype of pro-lifers and aren't absolutes. they want to paint us as and *gasp* we actually have compassion for the woman who finds herself in a crisis situation. Once again, our focus isn't punishing the woman, but providing better alternatives.

"The face of back-ally abortions has certainly shifted from the pre-Roe days, with advances in medical technology. If abortion were legalized today, chances are that fewer women would die from illegal abortions, if only because they have better access to medical care. But, as this article makes clear, there would still be a great distinction between what rich women have access to, and what poor women do."

True, it's been proven time and time again that it wasn't legalizing abortion which reduced the mortality rate, but advancements in emergency medicine and the discovery of antibiotics like penicillin. Although the poor and minority have a high abortion rate, I've found that it is the wealthy, not the poor, who are the most vocal for abortion rights. This is even described by Norma McCorvey herself in her book, "Won By Love" It seems the wealthy are using the poor as the icon for their cause so they can have their abortion services legal, convenient, and easy to access. It'd be interesting to have a poll and find out how many of the poor are actually in favor or legalized abortion.

Phew! Thanks for bearing with me ;-)