News stories like this one explain exactly why:
"A doctor accused of running an illegal "abortion mill" delivered babies alive, killed them with scissors and allowed a woman to be overmedicated and die at his clinic, prosecutors said." Read it here.Every year in America, almost 1.5 million women seek to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Many Republicans and conservatives believe that if you made abortion illegal, it would somehow magically eliminate the problem. Anybody with half a brain know that this isn't true.
If abortion become illegal, hundreds of thousands of women would still seek to terminate their pregnancies - they'd just be forced to go to one of thousands of practitioners performing the procedure outside of the law.
The difference between legal and illegal abortion providers, of course, is the fact that the illegal ones would not be regulated, inspect or controlled. They would operate outside of not just the law, but also the boundaries of acceptable medicine - just like the monstrous doctor in this horrific news story:
"Prosecutors described the clinic as a "house of horrors" where owner Dr. Gosnell kept baby body parts on the shelves, allowed a 15-year-old high school student to perform intravenous anesthesia on patients and had his licensed cosmetologist wife do late-term abortions. A family practice physician, Gosnell has no certification in gynecology or obstetrics."Before critics argue that letting abortion remain legal didn't prevent this horrific butcher perform his grisly craft, it's worth reading the rest of the story.
"Dr. Gosnell did abortions that other people wouldn't do," Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore said. "Women came from across the city, state and mid-Atlantic region for the illegal late-term abortions. He didn't advertise, but word got around. They paid $325 for first-trimester abortions and $1,600 to $3,000 for abortions up to 30 weeks. The clinic took in up to $15,000 a day."Dr. Gosnell offered his services to women who couldn't get a regular abortion. If abortion was made illegal, that would include all women. Clinics like his would thrive, committing countless atrocities, while formerly legal clinics - run by trained physicians operating under strict standards of safety - would disappear.
The result would be horrific, typical of the disgusting Dr. Gosnell:
"Gosnell typically worked weeknights, arriving hours after his unskilled staff administered anesthesia and drugs to induce labor. He then "forced the live birth of viable babies in the sixth, seventh, eighth month of pregnancy and then killed those babies by cutting into the back of the neck with scissors and severing their spinal cord," Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said."
"In addition to the two women who died, scores more were injured from perforated bowels, cervixes and uteruses, authorities said. Some were left sterile at the clinic, which had no trained nurses or medical staff other than Gosnell, they said."
This is why, despite hating the concept of abortion, I think it would be a horrific mistake to make it illegal.
Besides, I think conservatives are being incredibly blinkered in their 'magic bullet' approach for ending the problem.
Most Republicans support making abortion illegal, and I get the impression that if they managed to achieve that, they'd give themselves a pat on the back, settle down and consider the matter resolved - even though hundreds of thousands of women would still continue to have abortions.
Instead, the conservatives need to adopt the same mindset I have - and realize that abortion is the symptom, not the disease. The fact that 1.5 million women seek abortions every year is a result of 1.5 million women getting pregnant when they didn't want to be. That's the problem.
Because it's 2011, people. We can send men to the moon, split the atom and create life in a test tube with nothing more than amino acids and bits of string [not sure about the bits of string - Editorial Bear]. We've even had a supremely effective form of birth control at our fingertips since the 1960s - which statistically prevents 99% of unwanted pregnancies.
So why are so many people still getting pregnant accidentally?
That's the problem. That's the disease. Abortion is just the unsatisfactory 'treatment' for this sickness - much like how people who suffered from Syphilis used to have to take arsenic (a poison) to 'cure' themselves.
If conservatives want to end abortion, they need to tackle the issue of unwanted pregnancy, not the problem of abortion itself. That's like shutting the stable door 24 weeks (or more) after the horse has bolted.
And personally, I think it's nothing short of a national disgrace that so many people get pregnant accidentally, and a damning condemnation of our national sex education policy (abstinence only? Thanks for that, Republicans - way to contribute to the problem you're ostensibly trying to solve!)
That being said, I'm not quite sure of how to solve it.
I could argue that we need more sex education and more access to contraceptives around the country. We need to assume that teenager are going to have sex and give them the means to protect themselves - both from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Yet while sex education is shown statistically to be a dramatic improvement over 'abstinence only' it still doesn't prevent thousands of teenagers getting knocked up accidentally every year (20% of abortions are given to teenagers.)
What's more, the majority of abortions are performed for women in their twenties - at which point they're a little late for high school sex ed class.
In fact, the only solution I came up with was almost as horrific as legalized abortion itself - a system in which all 13 year old girls were given, by federal mandate, a fool-proof method of contraception like Depo-Provera injections, or an IUD, before attending high school.
Only when these women were ready to have kids, many years later, could they go to the doctor and ask to have the contraception reversed.
That would theoretically end 99% of unwanted pregnancies overnight - enough to make banning abortion manageable. But it would be the most horrific, dehumanizing experience, and expose millions of young women to the side effects of long-term contraception. If the Tea Party thinks forcing people to buy health insurance is unconstitutional, what would they say about federally mandated (albeit temporary) sterilization? It's the stuff of nightmares.
So until then, I think things are just going to continue as they have done. We can try, through education, to whittle down the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country - but I don't know if we'll ever be able to eliminate them entirely.
So, sadly, as long as the demand for abortion continues to exist, I'd far rather they were performed safely, legally and clinically by a regulated provider - rather than in dark, dirty charnel house like that of the fiendish Dr. Gosnell.