Everyone expects to hear women speak up about reproductive health issues–specifically about protecting a woman’s right to control her own body – because women bear the burden - pun intended – if no one speaks up. Women and women’s organizations have been vocal, visible and active in Pennsylvania, outraged by the ridiculous and indefensible HB 1077 that would require women to have an ultrasound 24 hours before having an abortion. What we did not expect was the gentle, rational, articulate voice of a man from Franklin County, PA, who wrote to his local paper about this bill, chiding the legislators to be honest about their intent:
Pennsylvania HB 1077 is a good example of how controversial legislation can debase the entire system. I consider myself pro-life. In my idea of a perfect world, abortion and capital punishment are used rarely and nobody dies because he can’t afford the medical treatment needed to keep him alive. If I personally knew someone considering abortion, I would try my damnedest to get her to consider other options.
I also consider myself pro-choice, by which I mean I would not try to keep a woman from having an abortion by calling the cops and having the government force her to have the baby. I have a whole long list of places where the government does not belong, and a womb is on it.
No government in history has ever stopped abortion. The prohibition of abortion works exactly as well as the prohibition of alcohol. Women with money have always had access to clean, safe abortions, and they always will. When we talk about criminalizing abortion, we’re talking about sending poor women to back-alley abortionists and desperate young women to whatever horrifying choices they can make. And sending police after them….
In politics, people get so convinced that what they want to do is righteous, and so frustrated that they can’t get it done, that they will tell any kind of lie and cut any corner to achieve their goal. That includes designing bills that try to dress up their intent in a big pile of fertilizer.
HB 1077 announces its fertilizer tendencies with its name. It’s called the Woman’s Right-To-Know Act, as if there are women out there who have been demanding more information from their abortion doctors but just can’t get answers.
The bill requires women to get an ultrasound at least 24 hours before an abortion. The ultrasound provider must make sure that the screen display faces the woman. Thankfully, it does not require anyone to grab her head and force her to watch. She must get copies of the ultrasound and deliver them to the abortion provider. The doctor must offer her the chance to watch an ultrasound of a similarly-aged fetus. No other medical procedure in this country has similar requirements.
A heartfelt thank you to this man, a teacher, who took the time to write such a thoughtful letter. The public needs to hear from men as well as women on this issue. Encourage your brothers, fathers, friends, husbands, partners, and colleagues to speak up and speak out in support of your rights!
Lastly, it was reported today that HB 1077 has been temporarily shelved, but please don’t be fooled by this tactic. In all likelihood the bill will find new life after the Pennsylvania election. So please call your representative in the Pennsylvania House (and have the men in your life call theirs) to oppose HB 1077. This legislation is deceptive, demeaning and offensive.
Other stories on HB 1077:
PA abortion measure shelved (Tribune-Review)