Mississippi Morals: So What if Women Die?

When I was 20, exactly 20 years ago this past October 25th, I was abducted, raped, and shot twice by two teenagers on a car-jacking spree. I did not get pregnant, thank goodness. But if I had, and something like Initiative 26 had been in place, I would have been forced, by the state of Mississippi, to bear that child. Giving birth might have killed me physically (the gunshot wound to my lower back was life-threatening), if not emotionally.

That’s from Cristen Hemmins, who became a political activist in Mississippi with Initiative 26 (the “Personhood Initiative”). If that law had passed a woman would not have been able to get an abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or if her life were endangered. Miscarriage could have become a police investigation. And at least some (possibly all) forms of contraception would have become illegal.

Now Cristen is fighting to keep the last abortion clinic in the state open as a new law — ostensibly protecting women’s health – requires providers to have admitting privileges to a local hospital.

She says this standard is both unreachable (the clinic has had no luck getting the hospital to send the necessary forms) and medically unnecessary.

“Medically unnecessary” is an understatement. It is dangerous.

If women must save money to travel out of state, they risk having the procedure when the pregnancy is further along and more dangerous.

Others will resort to back alley abortionists or use coat hangers on themselves.

This is healthier than current Mississippi law?

Dr. Douglas Laube, board chair of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, wrote a letter to the editor warning that the law will harm women. He says that doctors in his organization, “know that when women seeking abortion are denied safe, legal procedures, they look for other ways to end their pregnancies.”

In fact, before Roe v. Wade doctors were at the forefront of the movement to make abortion legal, having seen too many women die.

But Mississippi State Rep. Bubba Carpenter doesn’t give a hoot:

They’re like, “Well, the poor pitiful women that can’t afford to go out of state are just going to start doing them at home with a coat hanger.” That’s what we’ve heard over and over and over. But hey–you have to have moral values.

So these Mississippi pro-lifers are fine with a law that will cause young women to die.

That’s moral?

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 20, 2012, in feminism, gender, politics/class inequality, reproductive rights, sexism, women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. This law is completely absurd and demeaning to all women especially to those who had no choice in making this life. Deciding to have an abortion should be a women’s concern and only hers without the laws, judgments, and morals of others. Though there should be a limited time frame for when an abortion is allowed it should be a more reasonable time considering the fact that not all women get the symptoms until much later in their pregnancy. For those women who were raped should be given the respect that was stolen from then when this life was created when choosing abortion over birth, this child will a constant day-to-day reminder of that terrifying time in their life and no one should have to live with that. Those who have health issues that could lead to serious or permanent injury or even death should never be excluded from the option to have an abortion, it is forcing them to choose a life with a child they could never fully care for or no life at all.

  2. Anyway should states even be allowed to legislate on such important issues, shouldn’t there be a federal law for the entirety of America? Those who are poor, young or in education are most in need of abortion and they will be the first to be denied it. So glad that law about rape/incest and life endangerment didn’t pass btw. I never knew how lucky I was to be living in Britain until a few months ago. Here, taxpayers’ money pays for all abortions and contraception, which is as it should be; we need these services/technologies and so we pay for them. Our childrens’ privacy is protected when they need contraception/abortion; the doctor will not tell their parents. Yet we take it all for granted and we of course know that in developing countries there isn’t easy access to contraception for economic and structural reasons but we never think of Americans because you have the technologies and wealth to make contraception available. But in N Carolina teens need parental permission for abortions and in some states parents are notified if teens get contraception which of course means that teens don’t get contraception. Anyway I wish we were more aware of what is happening in America. We generally think you are free. I hope things get better.

  3. And the law is pointless if women can just go out of state to have abortions. It also means teens who have abusive or neglectful parents may not be taken out of state by their parents, and so forced to bear a child as a form of child neglect/abuse. Teens would be forced to inform parents of their pregnancy which violates their right to privacy. Carpenter makes me sick, he wants to kill women for no reason/to save embryos?/for ‘moral values’? What is moral about forcing women to have babies? Should I poke holes in all the condoms in my local Superdrug and claim I’m doing it for moral values?

  4. Oh. My. God. Georgia–I cannot like this, it is too horrible a subject to “like” something this horrifyingly inhuman and inhumane. But, what I CAN do is FB it, to spread the word. Thanks for sharing such an important subject.

  5. Great post. It doesn’t seem very “pro-life” to accept that women will die if abortions are illegal or inaccessible. There’s a fascinating (and sobering) documentary from the 1990s called, “Motherless: A Legacy of Loss from Illegal Abortion,” which reminds us of what it was like pre-Roe. Making abortion illegal does not stop abortions from happening; it only makes them less safe.

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