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kottke.org posts about abortion

Everyone Loves Someone Who Had an Abortion

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 21, 2023

Using a phrase popularized by reproductive justice activist Renee Bracey Sherman, The National Network of Abortion Funds teamed up with Molly Crabapple and Padma Lakshmi to produce a video about their mission to support abortion access in the US.

In order for abortion to be truly an option, it must not only be legal, but actually available, without the shame. It’s time we worked together towards a world where all people have the power and resources to care for and support their bodies, identities, and health — for themselves and their families. We need to take the hassle, hustle, and harassment out of healthcare. It’s time to change the conversation about abortion, to make it a real option, available to all people without shame or judgment. We all love someone who has had an abortion, whether we know it or not.

The video is three years old and from the very first line (“Abortion is legal in all 50 states”), you can tell how much the situation has changed in the United States — and how the NNAF’s mission is even more urgent. If you’d like to join me in donating, step right this way.

Abortion Protects the Lives of Women

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2022

Dr. Dipti S. Barot writing for HuffPost, My 11-Year-Old Patient Was Pregnant. Here’s What I Want You To Know About Being ‘Pro-Life.’ (Content warning: rape.)

Sophia is in her 20s now. I wonder how she has healed, how she has processed that trauma. Did she get to go to college? Has she been able to trust an intimate partner? Has she been pregnant on her own terms at the time of her choosing? Does she have a child? I can see her wide face and her soft smile in my mind’s eye and I know now, just as I knew then, that the decision to terminate Sophia’s pregnancy, supported by the ones who loved her the most, was a pro-life decision.

And:

I remember how tiny that clinic room felt. There was no room for politicians signing evil bills flanked by child props as old as Sophia, no room for Supreme Court justices who claim to value life while wondering aloud how pregnancy can be an undue burden. No room for those extraneous, unnecessary, useless others in that most intimate of spaces. Our clinic rooms will always be too small for anybody but providers and our patients.

The Real Fight for Abortion Rights

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2022

Melissa Gira Grant writing in The New Republic with a reminder that activists have seen this coming for a long time and moderates did not heed the warning:

Reproductive justice advocates have long warned that Roe v. Wade was in danger, well before the court agreed to take this case concerning a Mississippi abortion ban — before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, before Trump shifted the balance of the court by appointing justices certain to roll back Roe.

Those who saw this coming, who never believed the court could save them, who have mostly given up on the Democratic Party’s promises to protect Roe, have hardly been quiet or thwarted. Every local abortion fund launched to bridge the divide between a right and acting on it, every shared how-to on self-managed abortion using misoprostol pills (and mifepristone, if you can get it) — that’s what knowing this moment would come has looked like for years. It’s what surviving the end of Roe has already meant in the 89 percent of counties in this country without a clinic providing abortion, where abortion is already a contingent right.

(via waxy)

Into the Dark Ages

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2022

Speaking of the fundamentalist movement to repeal the 20th century, Jack Mirkinson isn’t writing for The Atlantic and therefore is free to not mince words:

[Alito] says that Roe should be scrapped because the right to an abortion is “not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions” — a byzantine litmus test that would wipe out just about every modern civil rights protection you can think of, given the nature of American history. He forthrightly casts aside the notion that the court should be cautious about overturning decades of precedent. He sends unmistakable signals that other civil rights opinions, especially ones protecting gay rights, are in the crosshairs.

The final opinion could differ, but what we have in front of us is an extremist, illegitimate opinion from an extremist, illegitimate court, one that sees women as serfs and breeders, that sees queer people as subhuman, that sees minorities of every kind as dirt under its collective shoe. It is happily dragging us into the dark ages. Alito and everyone who joins him are evil people. No hell is too hot for them.

(via waxy)

The Plan to Repeal the 20th Century

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2022

Adam Serwer writing in The Atlantic about the leaked Supreme Court opinion draft penned by conservative justice Samuel Alito that will, if it remains substantially unmodified, overturn Roe v Wade and other precedents that guarantee the right to an abortion in the United States.

“The majority can believe that it’s only eviscerating a right to abortion in this draft,” Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told me, “but the means by which it does so would open the door to similar attacks on other unenumerated rights, both directly, by attacking the underpinnings of those doctrines, and indirectly, by setting a precedent for such an attack.”

Aside from rights specifically mentioned in the text of the Constitution, Alito argues, only those rights “deeply rooted in the nation’s history in tradition” deserve its protections. This is as arbitrary as it is lawless. Alito is saying there is no freedom from state coercion that conservatives cannot strip away if conservatives find that freedom personally distasteful. The rights of heterosexual married couples to obtain contraception, or of LGBTQ people to be free from discrimination, are obvious targets. But other rights that Americans now take for granted could easily be excluded by this capricious reasoning.

“In a series of cases beginning in the early 1920s, the Court carved out a protected space for family, marriage, and children that the government is constrained from regulating,” Kimberly Wehle wrote last December. “A rollback of Roe could split this sphere open if the conservative theory that implied rights are constitutionally invalid takes hold, and states begin passing draconian laws that creep into other areas of intimate personal life.”

And:

On the grounds that it constitutes a form of religious discrimination, conservatives will be able to claim an exemption from any generally applicable rule they do not wish to follow, while imposing their own religious and ideological views on those who do not share them. Although the right-wing justices present this rule in the language of constitutionalism, they are simply imposing their ideological and cultural preferences on the rest of the country.

Abortion, same-sex marriage, birth control, rights for trans persons, other LGBTQ protections, other civil rights — it’s all on the table, they’re coming for all of it.

Update: See also This is just the beginning:

I ask you to re-read the above passage and substitute for the word “abortion” any other modern liberty not mentioned in the Constitution: the right to use contraception, same-sex marriage, the right of same-sex couples to adopt children, marriage between different “races,” the right of any consenting adults to engage in sex, the right of unmarried couples to live together, and the rights of LGBTQ people to be treated with equal dignity.

Each of the above rights — now widely accepted — was criminalized or prohibited in many U.S. states until the latter part of the 20th century. Under Justice Alito’s reasoning, because the Constitution “makes no reference to those rights” and they were “unknown” in American jurisprudence until recently, the Constitution affords them no protection. Alito does handsprings to claim the draft ruling does not reach other rights rooted in the same legal ground as Roe and Casey. But there is no difference under Alito’s reasoning between abortion and contraception, same sex marriage, same-sex adoption, and bans against “fornication,” “sodomy,” cohabitation, and “miscegenation.”

This is just the beginning.

Doctor Explains Why He Violated Texas’s Extremist Abortion Ban

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 20, 2021

Dr. Alan Braid, a practicing OB/GYN in the state of Texas for 45 years, explains why he provided medical care in the form of an abortion to a woman in violation of the state’s absurd and dangerous new law.

A new Texas law, known as S.B. 8, virtually banned any abortion beyond about the sixth week of pregnancy. It shut down about 80 percent of the abortion services we provide. Anyone who suspects I have violated the new law can sue me for at least $10,000. They could also sue anybody who helps a person obtain an abortion past the new limit, including, apparently, the driver who brings a patient to my clinic.

For me, it is 1972 all over again.

And that is why, on the morning of Sept. 6, I provided an abortion to a woman who, though still in her first trimester, was beyond the state’s new limit. I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she has a fundamental right to receive this care.

I fully understood that there could be legal consequences — but I wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested.

Braid concluded his piece: “I believe abortion is an essential part of health care.” Absolutely.

“My Day as an Abortion Care Provider”

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 24, 2019

In a piece for the NY Times, obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Lisa Harris shares her experience of a typical day at her practice, where she and her staff provide abortions.

My youngest patient of the day is 14 and here with her parents. The oldest patient is 41, here with her husband. As on all days, my patients come from every walk of life. Most have children already; many have arranged their appointment so that they’ll be done in time to pick them up after school. They assure me, again, that they are certain about their decision.

By the end of the day, I’ve seen 17 people, and made sure each received the care and time she needed. After counseling, two others left without having an abortion. One decided to continue her pregnancy and become a parent. Another appeared to need more time to think about it, and I encouraged her to do that. I support all of my patients’ decisions and needs; doing so is core to my work.

This was a typical day, and on the way home some of it plays back in my mind. A mother of three crosses herself and then takes the mifepristone pill she requested. Another requests a copy of the ultrasound picture for her memory box. After the abortion procedure, one asks to see what had been in her uterus and is relieved that the fetus is less than an inch, so much smaller than she had imagined.

See also What Illegal Abortion Was Like in the 1960s and Harrowing Illegal Abortion Stories from Before Roe v. Wade.

No Surprise: Anti-Abortion Advocates Care Little About Women’s Equality

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 29, 2019

A recent poll of almost 2000 likely 2020 voters suggests that the anti-abortion movement is not really about protecting life but more about controlling the lives and bodies of women. Jill Filipovic writes about the results in The Guardian:

Do men make better political leaders than women? More than half of anti-abortion voters agreed. Do you want there to be equal numbers of men and women in positions of power in America? Fewer than half of abortion opponents said yes - compared with 80% of pro-choicers, who said they want women to share in power equally.

Anti-abortion voters don’t like the #MeToo movement. They don’t think the lack of women in positions of power impacts women’s equality. They don’t think access to birth control impacts women’s equality. They don’t think the way women are treated in society is an important issue in the 2020 election.

In other words, they don’t believe sexism is a problem, and they’re hostile to women’s rights. Pro-lifers are sexists in denial — yes, the women too.

Poll Abortion 2019

The full results of the poll are an interesting read. Here are the main findings from the “snapshot” section:

1. Many voters are angry and worried about the state of women’s rights and gender equality in the country.

2. Women across nearly every demographic segment are more likely to think President Trump has made things worse, rather than better, for women.

3. Women voters connect a number of issues to gender equality, including violence against women, equal pay, paid family leave, and access to abortion.

4. The recent abortion bans aggravated and elevated feelings about the state of women’s rights.

5. Anti-abortion voters are among the most likely — if not the most likely — segment to hold inegalitarian views.

6. Democratic voters are more unified and mobilized around abortion than Republican voters are.

7. The way women are treated in society is a top voting issue for Democratic women voters, but not Republican women voters.

8. Democratic women are most likely to feel that the 2020 elections are “more important than usual.” Republican women are least likely to feel the upcoming elections are atypical.

And check out the Trump tag cloud on page 10. Oof.

What Illegal Abortion Was Like in the 1960s

posted by Jason Kottke   May 15, 2019

Diane Munday, an 86-year-old women’s rights activist, recalls what illegal abortion had been like in the UK in the 1960s.

“Women would drink bleach to try to induce miscarriage. They would have very hot baths, or move heavy furniture, or try to do it themselves with a needle or a crochet hook,” says Munday.

As a result, an underground network of backstreet abortionists ran quietly across the country. Some of them, says Munday, became involved by force. It was not unknown for women who had carried out abortions for their close friends and family to be blackmailed by desperate pregnant women who threatened to report them to the police if they didn’t help them, too. Like women who had abortions, those who carried out the procedure illegally could be sent to prison.

“These people were unskilled. Some might have had a bit of nursing experience or had worked in a hospital, or carried out procedures for a friend or daughter,” says Munday.

Munday became active in the campaign to legalize abortion in the UK after she had one herself following giving birth to three children in less than four years.

See also Harrowing Illegal Abortion Stories from Before Roe v. Wade.

Women’s Rights and the Policing of Pregnancy

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 28, 2018

The New York Times is running a series of editorials on the erosion of women’s rights in the American judicial system at the expense of extending rights to “clusters of cells that have not yet developed into viable human beings”.

You might be surprised to learn that in the United States a woman coping with the heartbreak of losing her pregnancy might also find herself facing jail time. Say she got in a car accident in New York or gave birth to a stillborn in Indiana: In such cases, women have been charged with manslaughter.

In fact, a fetus need not die for the state to charge a pregnant woman with a crime. Women who fell down the stairs, who ate a poppy seed bagel and failed a drug test or who took legal drugs during pregnancy — drugs prescribed by their doctors — all have been accused of endangering their children.

The introduction also contains a reminder that Republicans were for abortion rights until they realized it was politically advantageous for them to rail against them to rile up evangelicals and divide Democrats:

Out of concern for individual freedom, the Republican Party once treated abortion as a private matter. When Ronald Reagan was governor of California, he signed one of the most liberal abortion laws in the land, in 1967. As late as 1972, a Gallup poll found that 68 percent of Republicans thought that the decision to have an abortion should be made solely by a woman and her doctor.

Google search data shows “a crisis of self-induced abortions”

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 26, 2017

For his book Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz combed through data on Google Trends for five years, looking for data on searches that Google users “don’t tell to possibly anybody else, things they might not tell to family members, friends, anonymous surveys, or doctors”.

According to a recent interview with Stephens-Davidowitz, right now the data is showing an increase in search queries on how to perform abortions at home and, no surprise, the activity is highest in parts of the country where access to abortion is most difficult.

I’m pretty convinced that the United States has a self-induced abortion crisis right now based on the volume of search inquiries. I was blown away by how frequently people are searching for ways to do abortions themselves now. These searches are concentrated in parts of the country where it’s hard to get an abortion and they rose substantially when it became harder to get an abortion. They’re also, I calculate, missing pregnancies in these states that aren’t showing up in either abortion or birth rates.

That’s pretty disturbing and I think isn’t really being talked about. But I think, based on the data, it’s clearly going on.

Preemie lambs successfully grown to term in artificial wombs

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 25, 2017

Artificial Womb

Researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have succeeded in gestating premature lambs in artificial wombs. The abstract from the paper in Nature Communications:

In the developed world, extreme prematurity is the leading cause of neonatal mortality and morbidity due to a combination of organ immaturity and iatrogenic injury. Until now, efforts to extend gestation using extracorporeal systems have achieved limited success. Here we report the development of a system that incorporates a pumpless oxygenator circuit connected to the fetus of a lamb via an umbilical cord interface that is maintained within a closed ‘amniotic fluid’ circuit that closely reproduces the environment of the womb. We show that fetal lambs that are developmentally equivalent to the extreme premature human infant can be physiologically supported in this extra-uterine device for up to 4 weeks. Lambs on support maintain stable haemodynamics, have normal blood gas and oxygenation parameters and maintain patency of the fetal circulation. With appropriate nutritional support, lambs on the system demonstrate normal somatic growth, lung maturation and brain growth and myelination.

The Atlantic’s Olga Khazan translates what that might mean for human babies born prematurely.

One reason preterm birth is so dangerous is that, for an underweight baby, the first few breaths of air halt the development of the lungs. “Infants that are currently born and supported in a neonatal intensive care unit with gas-based ventilation demonstrate an arrest of lung development,” Partridge says, “which manifests in a long-term, severe restriction of lung function.”

With the artificial womb, the infant would continue “breathing” through the umbilical cord as its floats in amniotic fluid, which would flow into and out of the bag. Using its tiny heart, the fetus would pump its own blood through its umbilical cord and into an oxygenator, where the blood would pick up oxygen and return it to the fetus-much like with a normal placenta. In addition to boosting lung growth, the amniotic fluid would protect the baby from infections and support the development of the intestines.

If this does work for humans, there’s a possibility that at some point using artificial wombs may be safer (or just preferable for some people) than women carrying babies to term…which would have an interesting effect on childbirth (to say the least). And as Khazan mentions, there are potential implications related to abortion rights:

If they ever materialize, artificial wombs may stir concerns among pro-choice advocates, since the devices could push the point of viability for human fetuses even lower. That might encourage even more states to curtail abortions after, say, 20 weeks’ gestation. But speaking with reporters Monday, the Philadelphia researchers emphasized they don’t intend to expand the bounds of life before the 23rd gestational week. Before that point, fetuses are too fragile even for the artificial wombs.

Update: There’s a short video clip of the lamb in the artificial womb as well:

Harrowing Illegal Abortion Stories from Before Roe v. Wade

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 21, 2017

Before the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973, most women seeking abortions in the US had to get them illegally. Illegal abortions were often unsafe & painful, and many women died, were injured, or were sexually assaulted by the men performing the procedures. In this video, three women who had abortions before 1973 and a woman who worked at a Brooklyn hospital in that era described their experiences.

“He said, ‘I’m not going to give you any anesthetic’ and he said ‘If you scream, they will hear you.’”

That’s how Connie described the illegal abortion she received in 1953 when she was 16 years old. Now a retired teacher, mother and grandmother, Connie said that after she received the abortion, the man who performed the procedure proceeded to sexually assault her as she lay bleeding on the table.

John Oliver takes on crazy US abortion laws

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 22, 2016

On the most recent episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver argues against many US states’ anti-abortion laws. This was super funny and also made me really angry.

Let’s Just Say It: Women Matter More Than Fetuses Do

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 14, 2014

In The New Republic, Rebecca Traister says when talking about abortion, the rights of the mother should trump those of the fetus.

To me, abortion belongs to the same category as the early Cesarean I will need to undergo because of previous surgeries. That is to say, it is a crucial medical option, a cornerstone in women’s reproductive health care. And during pregnancy, should some medical, economic, or emotional circumstance have caused my fate to be weighed against that of my baby, I believe that my rights, my health, my consciousness, and my obligations to others — including to my toddler daughter — outweigh the rights of the unborn human inside me.

(via @mulegirl)

The abortion choice: not easy, not sorry

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 15, 2014

In the November issue of Elle, Laurie Abraham talks about the fear, pressure, regret, and misconceptions related to how we think about abortion in America, written through the lens of her own experiences.

In several meetings at work in which this essay was discussed, I noticed that none of the other editors in the room, all of them pro-choice, could bring themselves to utter the word abortion; it was “Laurie’s pro piece,” or her “memoir.” I know that my colleagues, many of whom are my friends, were just trying to be kind when they referred to my “reproductive rights” story. The truth is, I felt uncomfortable saying it out loud too. Abortion is a conversational third rail, women’s dirtiest dirty laundry, to mix metaphors. Because the other thing about living in a political culture where a single-cell zygote is constantly being called a “person” is that there is a penumbra of shame surrounding abortion. For myself, however, I wonder: Am I really ashamed — and, if so, what is it exactly that I’m ashamed of?

The book Abraham references throughout, Katha Pollitt’s Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights sounds really interesting. (via @atotalmonet)

Why Does New York Perform So Many Abortions Per Person?

posted by Choire Sicha   Jan 18, 2008

Though its abortion rate fell 13%, California still leads the nation by far in the number of abortions, with more than 208,000 in 2005. But that looks like it’s solely due to population.

New York came in second, with more than 155,000. And while New York has around 53% of the population that California does, it has only 25% or so fewer abortions than California. (I’m doing math with lots of round numbers here.)

California has 13 million more people than Texas, and Texas has 4 million more people than New York—but Texas has a bit more than half the number of abortions of New York.

Similarly, Florida has just a million fewer people than New York, but Florida has only about 60% of the number of abortions that New York does. I can understand why there might be fewer abortions in the south—but why more abortions in New York per person than elsewhere? (Uh, if I’m doing math right.) What gives?

A personal experience with and a decision

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 26, 2007

A personal experience with and a decision on the abortion issue. “I think about all those meddling politicians that would want to interject themselves into everything that just happened to me, interject themselves between me, my wife, and her doctors.”

Planned Parenthood clinic on Indian lands

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 23, 2006

President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Cecilia Fire Thunder, says:

I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction.

(via bb)

In the last two years, 83% of the

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 22, 2006

In the last two years, 83% of the pieces about abortion on the NY Times op-ed page have been written by men.

Abortion manual for the women of South Dakota

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 26, 2006

In reaction to the South Dakota Senate passing an abortion ban bill, a woman named Molly has posted an abortion manual for the women of South Dakota:

In the 1960s and early 1970s, when abortions were illegal in many places and expensive to get, an organization called Jane stepped up to the plate in the Chicago area. Jane initially hired an abortion doctor, but later they did the abortions themselves. They lost only one patient in 13,000 — a lower death rate than that of giving live birth. The biggest obstacle they had, though, was the fact that until years into the operation, they thought of abortion as something only a doctor could do, something only the most trained specialist could perform without endangering the life of the woman.

They were deceived — much like you have probably been deceived. An abortion, especially for an early pregnancy, is a relatively easy procedure to perform. And while I know, women of South Dakota, that you never asked for this, now is the time to learn how it is done. There is no reason you should be beholden to doctors — especially in a state where doctors have been refusing to perform them, forcing the state’s only abortion clinic to fly doctors in from elsewhere.

(via cyn-c)

Killing female fetuses in the womb is

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 21, 2006

Killing female fetuses in the womb is becoming more of a problem in Punjab, India. “In the last one year in [Dhanduha village], against 12 boys only three girls were born, and in the last five years, 34 baby boys were born as against only 18 girls. A sex ratio of just 529:1000!” (via 3qd)

“It’s time for the abortion-rights movement to

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 27, 2006

It’s time for the abortion-rights movement to declare war on abortion.

A pair of Boston economists is challenging

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 05, 2005

A pair of Boston economists is challenging Steven Levitt’s claim that the legalization of abortion significantly contributed to the crime rates of the 80s and 90s.

You can watch the entire program of

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 01, 2005

You can watch the entire program of Frontline’s The Last Abortion Clinic online. “With states across the US passing regulations limiting access to abortion, does Roe v. Wade still matter?”

Planned Parenthood in Southeastern Pennsylvania is running

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 19, 2005

Planned Parenthood in Southeastern Pennsylvania is running a unique pledge drive. The idea is that you pledge an amount of money for each anti-abortion protestor that shows up outside of the PP health center. “We will place a sign outside the health center that tracks pledges and makes protesters fully aware that their actions are benefiting PPSP”. That’s genius. (via freak)

March of the Penguins has become a

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 13, 2005

March of the Penguins has become a favorite for conservative moviegoers, who cite it as making a good case for monogomy, intelligent design, and a pro-life stance on abortion. I wonder if liberals watch the film and come out advocating universal health care…all those dead penguin babies could have been saved with proper medical care.