The International Socialist Organization (ISO) and Vox, Voices of Planned Parenthood, along with curious students, met last Thursday in the Social Sciences Building to discuss abortion and its status today as one of the most controversial surgical procedures in existence.
Matt Hoke, sophomore English and secondary education major, and Joanne Wiedman, sophomore English and elementary education major, both from ISO, and Kari Osmond, junior women’s and gender studies major and president of Vox, led the discussion.
Wiedman began with the statistics and a short history of abortion. Abortions have been in existence for hundreds of years – before surgery, women used herbs and other supplements to abort their pregnancies – but were banned in the United States. In fact, abortions are so common that one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime.
The idea Wiedman and other students agreed on was that if women are going to get abortions anyway, the government should ensure they are performed in the safest possible way. It was in the late 1800s that the procedure was banned in the United States – but many illegal procedures were still performed. Women afraid to visit an illegal doctor used barbaric methods, and many ended up sterile or dead. Worldwide, 78,000 women died last year as a result of unsafe abortions. Weidman believes women should be free from this “back-alley” terror.
Osmond made known her goal for Vox and all pro-choice advocates to “expand and secure reproductive rights into the next century . Women’s fundamental rights are being taken away from us.”
She said that the government is threatening women’s rights to their individuality, their bodies and their right to live their own lives. She pointed out that 83 percent of abortions are carried out by unmarried women. Half are done by women aged under 25. Four out of every 10 pregnancies result in an abortion. She also brought light to the fact that while 13,000 abortions are the result of rape or incest, 35 states still require parental consent for minors to have abortions – meaning a victim of sexual abuse may need her abuser’s permission.
Osmond asked whether the government should decide our morals for us, and after giving up our choice and our bodies, “What do we give up next? . How can I live without a choice?”
Pro-choice advocates fear the limits that Congress is imposing on abortion. Roe v. Wade legalized abortion on Jan. 22, 1973. The government gave the choice to all women of whether or not they wanted to be mothers.
Thirty years later, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which prohibits the abortion of a fetus using the method of dilation and extraction (D&E), was passed in November 2003. D&E is usually used 18-26 weeks into the pregnancy. This limits any woman to a matter of weeks in which to choose to have an abortion, and also puts the doctors at greater risk of being sued or criminally prosecuted.
Many abortion providers have taken to injecting the fetus with lethal drugs before it enters a late-term state, to avoid later being accused of performing a late-term abortion. This practice is untested and long-term side effects to the mother remain unknown.
The pro-choice students were quick to point that pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. Tamra Wroblesky, sophomore women’s and gender studies major, said, “No woman wants to get an abortion. She does want to prevent it.”
This brought the discussion to the subject of birth control and emergency contraception, like Plan B, and its availability, specifically on the College’s campus. Emergency contraception is still not available in all states, and pharmacists can refuse to offer it as a “matter of conscience.”
Some students offered stories of friends needing Plan B, and the College’s Health Services being unable to offer it immediately. Tom Sales, senior political science major, questioned the logic of Planned Parenthood only being on campus Tuesdays and Wednesdays. He said Planned Parenthood not being on campus when it is needed on the weekends is “ridiculous.”
Nicole Tauro, junior finance major, added that Plan B is extremely expensive, and girls who need it are having to pay a high price to “protect (their) futures.”
In the last few minutes, Sales revealed himself as the “pro-life spy,” and urged those present to use correct terminology for both sides: “pro-choice” and “pro-life,” not “anti-choice.” He warned that soon, the pro-life side may fight back with “anti-life” labels, as the names are one of the very few things both sides have agreed on.
In closing, Osmond urged solidarity to fight apathy, and said, “Abortions are going to happen . so let’s make it safe.”