We need to keep respecting women

15 years ago

To the editor:
In last week’s paper, James Tweedie wrote a letter concerning abortion. In it, he claims that abortions have “happened many millions of times since the United States Supreme Court voted to legalize the practice in 1973.”  He also feigns disbelief that our grandparents could ever have imagined something like abortion ever taking place. However, his letter is sorely lacking history.
It appears that Mr. Tweedie chose to ignore thousands of years of human behavior and purports that abortion simply began happening in the early 1970s. Any quick research will tell a person that abortion has been practiced since ancient Greece, at least, and was more than likely practiced before humans even had a system of writing. Though not the sophisticated and safe medical practice of today, abortion of ancient times involved, among other methods, the ingestion of abortion-producing drugs and herbs, and the use of sharpened instruments. In fact, St. Augustine, a hero of the Catholic faith, thought abortion in the first two trimesters was a legitimate practice.
Mr. Tweedie’s letter also fails in its total ignorance of the inglorious recent history of abortion; namely, back-alley abortions. Though he claims our grandparents could never have imagined such a practice, it was the female contemporaries of our grandparents who are featured in those horrifying black and white photographs, usually of a young woman face down on a thin strip of pavement, lying in a pool of her own blood, the tragic victim of an unregulated and dangerous practice. To ignore the plight of these women and to ignore what their deaths mean is disconcerting. It took the deaths of thousands of women at the hands of untrained practitioners for the United States and other countries to recognize the need to make abortion legal and safe.
Mr. Tweedie is right in stating that we have two choices in this presidential election and they could not be starker. On the right, we have a man who gleefully puts the health of pregnant women in air quotes, seemingly finding it allowable for women to die rather than let them have a life-saving medical procedure. This is a man also does not respect the decision-making process of all women and would ignore the pleas of victims of rape and incest.
On the left, we have a man who respects a woman’s autonomy and knows that when it comes to a personal decision of such magnitude, it is best to leave it to the actual person to make. I know I do not want to have open my morning paper in the year 2008 and see a photo of an American woman, with nowhere else to go, dead on the street because new laws forced her hand into a dangerous situation. We are a better country than that, and we need to keep respecting the women who live here.

Heather M. Johnston
Mars Hill