"Abortion is health care. Abortion is freedom. Abortion is bodily autonomy. A country without this human right is not a free country." - H.R. Bellicosa
During a visit to one of Planned Parenthood's clinics, I noticed a flyer asking for volunteers to help protect women's healthcare from planned attacks by a militant anti-abortion group. Operation Rescue had staged violent attacks across the country where they would blockade clinics providing abortion services in an attempt to keep women from exercising their constitutional right to choose to terminate unwanted pregnancies. They were now preparing to target clinics in Los Angeles.
As a dedicated feminist, I showed up at a healthcare facility in Van Nuys and waited for instructions. This clinic ended up not being targeted that day, giving me some time to speak with my fellow volunteers. I was reminded of one of the conversations that I had that day when last week's leak from the Supreme Court showed how close we are to losing the right to choose when we become parents.
The stranger's story was intensely personal. When she was just a young girl her mother faced an unplanned pregnancy. In the days before Roe had won her case against Wade, women in her mother's position had few legal choices. Unsatisfied with any of them she obtained her abortion in a back alley. The cost of that choice was her life.
No child should grow up without a mother because of desperation so great that risking one's life is the best choice available. If the Supreme Court follows through with the decision that was leaked last week we will be returning to the days when this occurred. My heart breaks for the child who will follow in the footsteps of the stranger that was courageous enough to share her story with me 33 years ago.
Instead of removing safe options for women facing a crisis pregnancy and threatening to imprison those who choose to terminate their pregnancies, we should remove obstacles that make them feel like having that baby is financially impossible. No potential mother should be coerced into having an abortion by difficult financial circumstances. Congressmen who call themselves "pro-life" could encourage fewer abortions by ensuring that potential parents can have confidence in knowing that they will have paid leave, access to affordable daycare, and earn wages that provide a living wage for families. These are much better solutions than turning women into second-class citizens.
Carl Petersen is a parent advocate for students with special education needs and public education. He is an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and serves as the Education Chair. As a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action. Dr. Diane Ravitch has called him "a valiant fighter for public schools in Los Angeles." For links to his blogs, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.