Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What Happens When There *Is* No Plan B?

Over on Feministe,  Jill has a post up that comments on a WaPo article about a middle-aged woman, married with children, who found herself coping with an unwanted pregnancy.

To me, the WaPo article points up that (as in most matters) the current administration in Washington, in the effort to placate the very small numbered, but very vocal and exceedingly well-funded theocrat-wannabes, has followed their usual practice of not bothering to look at consequences for their actions.

In this case, it’s a direct consequence of the FDA’s bigot-inspired refusal to allow Plan B to be marketed over-the-counter that is causing an abortion.

It also points up another consequence, which has been shown, time and again, from the viewpoint of less-than-wealthy women, that the restrictions on abortion, if not targeted directly at poor and the young, do affect the poor and the young disproportionately.  Dana L, the author of the WaPo story, finds that, since she did not have access to Plan B in its prime window of opportunity (72 hours after intercourse), her unwanted pregnancy was going to be terminated by an invasive procedure.

Dana L. was able to afford the time, and expense, to travel from Virginia to Washington DC and have her abortion terminated in a Planned Parenthood clinic there, while her husband took her two young children to visit the Smithsonian.  She notes that, except for a woman who was the parent of one of the other patients at the clinic, she was the oldest person there.
All the while, I was thinking that if religion hadn't been allowed to seep into American politics the way it has, I wouldn't even be there.  This all could have been stopped way before this baby was conceived if they had just let me have that damn pill.

After passing through the metal detector inside the building, I entered the Planned Parenthood waiting room; it was like the waiting room for a budget airline -- crammed full of people, of all races, and getting busier by the moment. I was by far the oldest person there (other than one girl's mom). The wait seemed endless. No one looked happy. We were told that the lone doctor was stuck in Cherry Blossom Parade traffic.

He finally arrived, an hour and a half late.

The procedure itself took about five minutes. I finally walked out of the building at 4:30, 6 1/2 hours after I had arrived.

You know, one of the things I have seen in threads on this article (and the various places where the original article, and the post in Feministe are linked) is the commentary about how being concerned about this woman's dilemma (which actually shows that the issue is *not* just of concern to those who are "economically challenged") is misplaced because she’s affluent, “it’s her own fault” and "women in African countries are suffering genital mutilation."  

If someone who is relatively well-heeled has to jump through these hoops, think of what someone on the low end of the economic totem pole has to do.  Someone who can’t afford the  two days off from work to satisfy the waiting period and likely lie to their boss about the two days of sick time because they may get fired if the real reason for needing the time off were known, or cannot afford the babysitting fees for someone to watch the kids while she goes to the clinic (if she can find someone to take the money if they ever find out why she needs the time) or simply cannot afford the money to buy the travel to get to a clinic they can use that is outside their own area, because anybody providing services in her area has been hounded out by death threats.

And as for the genital mutilation, well, you know, realistically?  I, personally, can do just about squat for some woman in Africa or the Arabian Peninsula who is being mutilated by her family in the name of “being pure” and “conforming to cultural norms.”

However, I, personally, can, by voting and badgering my elected representatives, do something about what is happening *here,* in the United States.

Thank you, but I’ll fight the battles I actually can, by voting and donating to groups such as NARAL, who aren’t perfect, but at least they are trying to do the right thing.

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