Okay, I admit it. I've become complacent in recent years about my pro-choice activism. But South Dakota's attack on the constitutionally-protected right to choose has the tiniest of tiny silver linings. NARAL: Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood are each getting a ridiculous pittance from my dwindling-too-soon-in-the-semester checking account. I'm clinging to the adage that every dollar helps.
The extreme difficulty women already faced in South Dakota prior to the ultimately unsuccessful attempt to outlaw abortion in a sweeping criminal ban reminded me of my own former state. According to the oh-so-pleasant American Death Camps website, Utah has three abortion clinics. (I had only been aware of two. Thanks for the good news, abortion foes!) All three clinics are within Salt Lake County. Meaning 96% of the counties in this state do not have an abortion clinic. [According to the site, in 2010 there are four states with only one abortion provider: Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.]
Terminating a pregnancy in Utah is tough. Ten years ago, a woman I know better than anyone else (yet somehow never well enough) went through the challenging and frustrating process of getting an abortion there. Although I can't find statutory explanation for this circumstance (and perhaps I'm forgetting the explanatory facts), she had to wait for several weeks after learning she was pregnant and had a very brief window of time during which she could submit to the procedure. The hassle was tremendous, but would have been much worse had she lived in any one of the 28 less fortunate Utah counties.
After getting an appointment, she had to take another day off work to go to the clinic two days before the planned abortion to receive the mandated "informed consent" (aka state-articulated you-are-killing-a-baby) lecture from an underenthused women's health worker complying with a law she despised, pick up the manipulative and expensive color glossy thirty-page printout with details of fetal development, and be given the state-produced try-to-convince-you-adoption-is-the-answer video. On the day of her termination, she thanked the doctor and nurses profusely for being willing to stand up for the rights of women. Given the difficulty she had in scraping together money to pay for the termination, she couldn't have afforded to go to a friendlier state as an alternative.
FOR ANYONE READING THIS WHO IS ANTI-CHOICE, would you be less upset about this abortion if you knew she was addicted to methamphetamine at the time?
The decision was wrenching for her. She had previously described herself as pro-choice. Yet she found the biological drive and the intensely positive feelings the pregnancy hormones induced may have clouded her judgment and affected her decision had she not been addicted to speed. She has often said that it was a blessing that her Unintended Pregnancy Lesson and her Drug Addiction Lesson coincided. Otherwise, she may have given birth and not experienced the Getting an Abortion in Utah Lesson. [Another day maybe I'll post the story of a close friend whose Drug Addiction, Abortion Attempt, and Unsuccessful Open Adoption Lessons converged.]
The irony? At the time of these intersecting lessons, her state-employee health insurance wouldn't pay for oral contraceptives. But two weeks after the bleeding stopped and her reproductive system started to re-boot, she received a check from her insurance company covering 80% of her $380 abortion.
. . .
When I was first learning about the South Dakota situation and reading about the bill's sponsor, Roger Hunt, I thought, "Is it just coincidence that those who criminalize abortion are overwhelming fat white men?"