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A Flood of Maybes

March 3, 2006

“No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.”
— FREDERICA MATHEWES-GREEN

South DakotaMississippiMissouri.

In my head, I heard the steady click of dominoes falling over.  States pushing forward for abortion bans, one right after another.  And at the end of that row of dominoes, Roe v Wade.  Do you really think it won’t happen?  I want to think it won’t happen, too.  I want very badly to believe, to have faith in my fellow man.  To have faith in my government.  But the people in New Orleans had faith in their government too, and they were lied to.

“I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees”

Except, they did.  It’s on tape showing that they did.  But no one will care about this.  It will be excused and ignored.  Despite all the evidence, people still want to believe.  To have faith.  To deny that the man who was supposed to bring reform and honesty to our government could possibly have lied.  It’s all on tape, but still people defend him.  Like the men who recorded themselves raping a 16 year old in Chicago, people see the evidence and still do not want to admit that maybe, just maybe, bad things really do happen.

On NPR a few days ago, there was a discussion with several guests, including Richard Duncan, a professor of law at the University of Nebraska.  Early on in the show, Julie Rovner, the NPR health policy correspondent, mentions that it is very likely that if abortion should become a states rights issue, that the red states will choose to ban abortions, and blue states will choose to support them.  Duncan agrees with this assessment, and says that should this happen, then women in South Dakota will have to drive to Denver in order to get an abortion.  He says that these kinds of laws will make it “a little more difficult” for women to get an abortion.  Just a little more difficult.

Imagine with me for a moment, if you will.  It is late December, 2007.  The Supreme Court, after multiple challenges by multiple states, has given their final word on abortion, and turned the subject over to the states to decide.  The red states ban abortion, the blue states support it.  Now imagine for a moment that you are an 18 year old girl living in Lubbock, Texas.  Your boyfriend, in the heat of the moment one night in the back of his car, convinces you to have sex with him.  Because Texas supports abstinence only education, you believe that pulling out is a valid form of birth control.  Two-thirds of your friends have had sex by now, and very few of them have gotten pregnant, so you agree.  After all, you’re pretty sure that you’re going to marry him, what’s a few months to two people in love?

A few months later, your boyfriend has broken up with you.  He’s been accepted to the University of Texas in Austin, and thinks that a girlfriend back home will only hold him back.  Especially one who managed to get herself knocked up.  It’s not his problem, and he’s pretty sure it’s not his kid anyways.  You’re afraid to tell your parents, because they’re very conservative.  In your small town, a girl who gets pregnant out of wedlock is a scandal.  You probably won’t finish high school if you keep the baby, and your dreams of going to college looking like they’re going to stay dreams.  You wanted so badly to get some higher education, and maybe move away from the tiny little world you’ve known all your life, if only for a few years.

You’re a lucky girl, though.  Your best friend has a car, is very understanding, and has offered to drive you somewhere to get an abortion.  But you are living in a sea of red states.  You could drive 14 hours to Springfield.  Or 16 hours to Los Angeles.  Or you could drive south.  Just 7 hours to the border.  Maybe there will be a doctor somewhere in Mexico who will help you out.  Maybe if you had gotten pregnant a couple of years earlier, you could have driven a few minutes to the Planned Family Clinic, right in the heart of your own city.  But it’s closed.  It’s just a little more difficult now to get an abortion.

Just a little more difficult.

Hyperbole?  Maybe.  Maybe it breaks down upon closer examination.  Maybe all of those states wouldn’t ban abortion.  Maybe you wanted to keep the baby.  Maybe your boyfriend decides to marry you after all.  Maybe there was an underground clinic closer to home.  Maybe you are just desperate enough to take care of it yourself.

Maybe the levees will hold.

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