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Anna Quindlen: The Clinic: A No-Spin Zone

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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 08:35 PM
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Anna Quindlen: The Clinic: A No-Spin Zone
The Clinic: A No-Spin Zone

It's the determination to stay within the zone of privacy that has made abortion an easy mark for cheap mythology and easy demonization.
By Anna Quindlen
Newsweek


(snip)

Recently the House passed a bill that would make it a federal crime to accompany a minor seeking an abortion from a state that requires parental notification to one that does not. Like most abortion debates, this one had its stock characters: the grandmother imprisoned after helping a girl impregnated by her stepfather, the young woman victimized by the predatory older man. If those sound like plotlines from Lifetime movies, it may be because none of this had much to do with reality, with almost no chance of squaring the House and Senate versions of the law for a compromise that could be sent to the White House. But voting the bill out now gave House conservatives something to crow about just in time for the midterm races.

The conventional wisdom about parental-notification and consent laws was that they would cut down on abortion, which is why anti-abortion activists loved them. But earlier this year The New York Times ran a jaw-dropping analysis that found the laws had no significant impact on teenage abortion rates. (They also may be way behind the curve; at Chelian's clinic, young women already tell counselors that you can order an ulcer medication online that all their friends swear will cause a miscarriage.) The statutes did, however, have one unintended consequence. "We have parents who come in and want to force their daughters to have an abortion," Chelian says. "Their attitude is, 'If I can prevent you from having one, I can force you to have one.' And we have to tell them that that's not so. The mother will say, 'She's 14, I'm already taking care of her sister's baby, I can't take care of another one.' You know that it will be really hard for everyone."

Public pronouncements rarely make any of this sound hard for anyone, since they're too often based on mean-spirited assumptions. The gay-rights movement has shown over the last two decades that a powerful enemy of such misinformation is personal testimony, that coming out as an individual can combat the big lies about the group. In that spirit the current issue of Ms. magazine contains a list of the names of thousands of American women under the headline WE HAD ABORTIONS. It is riveting, even disconcerting, because telling their own abortion stories seems in direct opposition to the bedrock belief that this decision, above all, is not subject to the scrutiny of strangers.

It's that very determination to stay within the zone of privacy that has made abortion, and the women who choose it, such an easy mark for cheap mythology and easy demonization. And sometimes the triumphant talk of rights has overshadowed the complex responsibility women feel. "Having the right doesn't make the decision any easier," said one of the signatories of the Ms. magazine petition. Chelian notes that while most patients come to the clinic with their minds made up, that doesn't mean they are not conflicted. "Sometimes we're working with a person who feels like she's got nothing but bad choices," she says. "She doesn't want to have an abortion, but she doesn't want to have a baby. That's what I think people need to understand. You can be ambivalent about abortion and still decide to have one. And you can be ambivalent about abortion and still be pro-choice. Lots of people are."

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15173072/site/newsweek /

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CTyankee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 09:17 PM
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1. Thank you for this
Having worked for Planned Parenthood of CT for 6 years, I applaud your article. It emphasizes what we said for so many years.

But our voice was stifled.Public opinion was against it us, even tho we spoke the truth.

This is a moral choice by an individual woman. It always has been. The only issue is whether it is legal or not. If it is not legal, women will die.

I tell this to anyone who dares to contradict me.
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