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The 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade

January 20, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
This month is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. I've noticed several articles about the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota's only abortion clinic. Most of the articles note that North Dakota is one of a handful of states that has just one abortion clinic. As at other such clinics, the Red River Women's Clinic has dealt with protests and its staff are wary of potential threats. Volunteers escort women to the abortion clinic entrance, past the protesters.

According to the AP, the clinic performs 1,200 abortions each year. The same article notes that the clinic is suing the state over a bill passed in the 2011 Legislature that bans use of a medication that induces abortion. The abortion pill would probably make it easier for women to end a pregnancy.

On a personal level I've always had mixed feelings about abortion and the laws that govern it. I believe life begins at conception and an unborn child has a soul. I am still too Catholic to think otherwise. Even if you do not share that belief, it's hard not to look at ultrasound pictures of fetuses at just a few months gestation and fail to see their humanity. At a minimum, a fetus is a POTENTIAL life and ending its existence shouldn't be taken lightly.

That said, there are undoubtedly circumstances under which an abortion might be a regrettable necessity, if it will save the life or health or the sanity of the mother. I could not personally justify forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy if she could die as a result or if it meant she could become so distraught she might consider suicide as an option. I couldn't justify forcing her to carry the pregnancy to term if it meant her future fertility would be threatened or if her physical health would be otherwise compromised. In such cases, abortion ought to be considered self defense.

Women who seek abortions also generally do so because of highly difficult circumstances: a bad relationship, financial trouble, a life that is spiraling out of control. It might be easier said than done for a woman to place a child for adoption, since mothers who do so experience lifelong heartache. Under those circumstances, abortion might look like the easiest option.

If we really want to prevent some of those 1,200 abortions in this state, we need to make it a whole lot easier for women to support and care for a child. The social safety net, including such things as increased child care and housing assistance for needy families and social service programs that help families in crisis, need to be far, far stronger.

I will never actively support the Red River Women's Clinic and hope that one day it will no longer be needed in this state. But I also wish that our legislators would pay more attention to passing laws that will make life easier for parents and their small children instead of passing additional and probably counterproductive laws that make it harder for a woman to get an abortion.


Article Comments



Feb-04-13 8:32 AM

Well I'm sure glad I was born, I bet most of the aborted babies would say the same if they were alive.


Jan-22-13 9:24 PM

True, I just don't like paying for someone else's 'responsibility! But, it comes down to the lesser of two evils.


Jan-22-13 9:17 PM

Well... using birth control would be the responsible behavior in this case.


Jan-22-13 8:58 PM

contraceptives are available thru public health. I strongly believe in personal responsibility. I guess the compromise is to provide birth control for irresponsible behavior.


Jan-22-13 8:33 PM

Curbside distribution could be an answer, but the costs involved in maintaining such a program would likely make it financially irresponsible. And most reliable forms of contraception are not available 'everywhere', often requiring a prescription; without insurance, such things can cost anywhere from $600 to $1200 a year (which says nothing of the cost of the doctor's visit to get the prescription). For those with the least at their disposal that can be unaffordable, especially if there are already mouths to feed. But making contraception more easily accessible (subsidies, etc.) isn't just an ethical or medically beneficial way to address this problem before it begins, but also makes fiscal sense. The Roosevelt Institute estimates every dollar spent on subsidized contraceptive services saves at least four dollars in Medicaid costs that would otherwise go to unwanted obstetric care.


Jan-22-13 8:14 PM

What depressing news about NY.

Sorry, lorexxx, but you just made my day....not.


Jan-22-13 7:47 PM

Life is not fair to mother's or babies alike. It isn't fair for a 16 y/o to be in a diaper, unable to talk or eat or have his first kiss, or drive a car, but I have watched mothers care for their children unselfishly. I have seen aunts and uncles take over care of infants and children who live in that vegetative state of which you speak. One uncle in particular comes to mind. The best way I can describe his relationship with his niece was his connection to her soul or spirit. Is that life easy? No, and they will be the first to say so.


Jan-22-13 7:22 PM

But there are cases where kids are born who are going to die within hours or days or will spend short and miserable lives in a vegetative state. I am not willing to categorically say that a woman should be forbidden from law from abortion in those cases. Who's going to take care of those children, for one thing? I don't think people are lining up to adopt severely disabled children, though there is such a list for kids with Down Syndrome. If the mother who wants an abortion is denied one under those circumstances, how likely is she to take on the very time consuming, expensive and demanding care that such a child would require? A difficult question all the way around.


Jan-22-13 7:08 PM

anencephaly---without brain.(sorry, I didn't check my spelling in earlier post) I have taken care of such infants whose moms were incredibly loving. And, yes, care is incredibly difficult. TheDiogenist: How accessible should birth control be? Laying on the curb side? It is given out everywhere. And why can those who want sex not at least take the steps on their own to get birth control?

Have you seen what extensive surguries are done for severe heart defects such as the left chambers are missing? Why should they be denied life without the three surgeries? Hope4Change--yep, but even if one does not believe in God, how do they have the right to take the life of another?


Jan-22-13 5:58 PM

I mentioned Down Syndrome because the AP story about the state legislature specifically mentioned Down Syndrome as one of the genetic defects that women would not be allowed to abort for.


Jan-22-13 5:46 PM

There's a slippery slope argument there once you say it's appropriate to abort a child who has a developmental disability or a severe physical handicap. Once you say that you "CAN" do that, you arrive at a lot of people who say you "SHOULD" do that, which isn't appropriate. I oppose euthanasia and the death penalty for similar reasons. I don't think Down Syndrome would qualify as a condition that people should be allowed to abort a fetus for. People with that condition can usually live full lives and in a lot of circumstances marry, have jobs and even live independently with supports.

That said, I think there are probably some circumstances under which abortion for a genetic disease might be appropriate in some women's eyes. What about a child who's born without a brain? What about one whose heart is so malformed he will die within hours? I could see myself giving birth just so the child could be baptized but I don't know if the law ought to require it under those


Jan-22-13 5:38 PM

"Fraught with emotion on both sides." No, not as such. Cutting to the argument itself, the 'pro-choice' side by necessity has a very clinical approach to the socially complex problems associable with unplanned pregnancy. It's about improving quality of life; if you want to stop abortion, support higher-quality (i.e. 'honest') sexual education and make contraceptives more easily accessible.


Jan-22-13 5:07 PM

It is an ethical question. I do not believe in the death penalty anymore than I believe in abortion. I do not believe I have the right to arbitrarily select one life over another except in defense of self or country. No one knows how long a baby will live, even one born with ancephaly. Why did you single out those dx with Down's Syndrome? They share a warmth and gentleness unlike anyone. Life brings no guarantees. Some of our darkest moments bring the greatest lessons. If we do not revere life, what else is there?


Jan-22-13 5:07 PM

"But I do not think a father should ever be given the right to require a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term."

A very emotionally charged statement, for sure. But the whole abortion argument is fraught with emotion on both sides, isn't it?


Jan-22-13 4:35 PM

I fall somewhere in the middle. I think abortion ought to be legal under some circumstances, but not all. Certainly it should not be legal after 20 weeks. Children born at that gestation have been saved.

I see that a couple of legislators have introduced a bill that would outlaw abortion for sex selection or impairments such as Down Syndrome. Those are tough cases but I don't know that it's appropriate to force a woman to carry to term a baby who will likely die within hours of birth, which is the reason some of these abortions are performed. Why bring a baby into the world who will suffer severe pain, cannot be saved by modern medicine and will likely not survive more than a few days or months? Maybe the proposed law needs to be rewritten to specify that it doesn't apply to abortions performed because the unborn baby suffers from a fatal disease.

But I do not think a father should ever be given the right to require a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.


Jan-22-13 3:32 PM

"It's the woman who bears all the risk to her health and life that comes with being pregnant." Pregnancy can cause health risks, but that is NOT common. A woman's right to "Her body, her choice," seems to automatically dismiss the earliest decision which is removing herself from the situation in the first place, learning and knowing that SHE has control of her actions. Once there is consentual sex and pregnancy occurs, both are responsible for the life of the unborn. Approximately 55,772,015 abortions have been performed or about 1/4 of the pregnancies that have occurred since RvW. "The father doesn't have a legal right to force a woman to carry a child to term if he objects to an abortion." That removes any and all responsibility from men giving them free rein to act out all of their desires because 'she can just get rid of it if she gets knocked up'. Of course men don't want RoevWade to go anyway. They can have all their fun and NO responsi


Jan-22-13 2:45 PM

From pollingreport . com

NBC/WSJ poll Jan. 12-15, 2013

70% said "no" to this question: "Would you like to see the Supreme Court completely overturn its Roe versus Wade decision, or not?"

Let's move on to the next question...

"Which comes closest to your view on abortion: abortion should always be legal; should be legal most of the time; should be made illegal except in cases of rape, incest and to save the mother's life; or abortion should be made illegal without any exceptions?"

Always legal - 31% Legal most of the time - 23% Illegal except rape, incest, mother's life - 35% Illegal without exceptions - 9% Unsure - 2%

Just the rest of the story, leftwing.


Jan-22-13 2:33 PM

leftwing, my point is that it takes two to make a baby, and I do think each party should bear equal responsibility for the choice each equally made in the first place. It's not so hard to understand.


Jan-22-13 2:28 PM

Well, the first post got bumped, so I'll self-edit and try again.

Andrea, I think it's sad that it's come down to "her body, her choice." This philosophy does nothing to make/help/force men to be accountable for their decisions.

In essence, it gives them more of a free pass than ever. Men can continue to be "boys" because the women will take care of any "mistakes." I don't think this is good for any society.


Jan-22-13 11:32 AM

BG, many abortion foes (I prefer to say pro-lifers) are women, who have become pregnant and carried to term, some under very trying circumstances.

As Roe v. Wade is law, of course it's not going anywhere. So relax, BG. If it does go somewhere, we'll let you know.


Jan-21-13 6:13 PM

I hate the phrase "Her body, her choice," but that's really what it comes down to. Women bear most of the physical and emotional burden of childbearing and get to make the decisions about what happens with a pregnancy. Once the child is born, the father can and should assert his parental rights.

The father doesn't have a legal right to force a woman to carry a child to term if he objects to an abortion. I believe some states have laws that require a father to have put his name on a register indicating he might be the father of the child or to make some effort to financially support the child to have parental rights in the event that the mother tries to place the child for adoption. That sounds fair to me, though it is not fair in cases where a woman has lied to the father and claims she is not pregnant or the baby isn't his.


Jan-21-13 5:34 PM

Andrea, I believe that the father should be informed of the pregnancy before any decision is made by the mother. It took two to make the baby. And I realize that this viewpoint might be an unpopular one.

But why shouldn't that father be just as responsible for the outcome as the mother? Is he only to be held responsible as the mother chooses? Like for financial reasons? When is he to be a man and own up to an outcome that resulted from a choice he made? Exactly when does the pregnancy become the mother's sole fault or sole authority? The moment they part?


Jan-21-13 4:18 PM

The father doesn't get a say into whether the woman aborts or does abort the unborn child. It's the woman who bears all the risk to her health and life that comes with being pregnant. If she chooses to carry the baby to term, the father ought to be told and given the opportunity to support the woman and child financially and emotionally during the pregnancy and afterwards. I don't have a lot of respect for women who fails to inform a man that he's going to be a father, unless she legitimately fears for her life if she tells him.


Jan-21-13 4:11 PM

Fundamentals need to be reviewed here.

1. It takes two to make a baby. Whenever a man and a woman engage in sex, the potential is there to get pregnant. All it takes is one time.

2. The father should be involved in any decision about the baby. Why? Because it took two to make the baby, and he's responsible for his contribution.

3. The reality of #1 has to be taught to children, to let it sink in. If you don't want to make hard decisions afterwards, don't get into circumstances for that first decision. Yes, if he really loves you, he'll wait. But it's awful hard to wait in a car somewhere alone together...


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