Not many women who elect to have an abortion do so without a long period of gut wrenching soul searching. Very few make a snap decision to abort; most go through hours of counseling before proceeding. Burdened with guilt, they are faced with what could be the most difficult decision of their lives. This emotional tug-of-war often leaves them traumatized and with scars that take a long, long time to heal, if they ever do.
These women are victims of archaic church and secular laws and of the antiquated mores of a few. They are captive members of a society that says "boys will be boys" and "nice girls don't do that." When they get caught, they wear a big scarlet letter. They pay the price -- financially, emotionally and, more often than not, all by themselves. Johnny's long gone and daddy's threatened to kill her if she tells anyone.
So, how are our laws protecting these innocent victims from further degradation and humiliation? It's simply a matter of geography.
Just this week the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance creating a 50 foot buffer outside the entrance to all health care facilities. "Come within eight feet of someone walking into an abortion clinic to hand out fliers, vocally protest, educate or counsel them and you could get slapped with a fine up to $500."
Ald. Vi Daley, who proposed the measure, said, "Women seeking any kind of medical service are routinely harassed. . . .They are photographed and they are followed."
Daley patterned her proposal after a 2000 Colorado "bubble" law which has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Since the court's ruling, many other states and cities have put similar restrictions into place.
Of course, anti-abortionists are claiming this violates their free speech. No it doesn't. If a pregnant woman wants their literature or counseling, they are free to seek it out. But they should not be subjected to pictures of dead fetuses being thrust in their faces. These women are already suffering from enough emotional stress. Such behavior is malicious and it is pure harassment. Finally, as loudly as these anti-abortionists scream, I doubt their free speech is impeded one iota.
Chicago's new ordinance is practical, it provides a safety net, and it is humane. Now let's turn to Oklahoma for a study in contrasts.
As of November 1, any Oklahoma woman who has an abortion will be placed on a public web site. Unlike sex offenders, her name will not be available, but as opponents point out, people in small communities will know "who." I would imagine that even people in larger communities will know "who." You know how folks talk.
These are the first eight questions that are legally required:
1. Date of abortion
2. County in which abortion is performed
3. Age of mother
4. Marital status of mother
5. Race of mother
6. Years of education of mother
7. State or foreign country of residence of mother
8. Total number of previous pregnancies of the mother
During these hard economic times, Oklahoma will spend $281,285 to implement the program and $256,285 each year thereafter. That comes to more than $1million over five years. This doesn't include the cost of defending this barbaric law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where they will surely loose.
But money isn't the issue here.
The issue is the unadulterated cruelty, harassment, intimidation and invasiveness of an outrageous law. The poor, of course, will suffer the most. The financially better off can afford to go to another state, Colorado for example, but the poor? Well, they should just keep their legs together.