Women's Health in
"It's My Body, and My Body's Nobody's Business but My Own"
"My Body" Music by Cy Coleman Lyrics by Ira Gasman
Data from Guttmacher Institute
Woman having an early
History of Abortion Movement
Women's Health Specialists
- Redding, CA
"My Body is Not Your Business"
Anti-Abortion picketers at
Planned Parenthood, D.C.
...Not Population Control
Ellie Smeal at 1970's Equal Pay Rally
Courageous U.S. doctors and lay people provide 95% of all abortion care in free-standing clinics. The latest technology, and supportive counselling make U.S. abortion care the most advanced in the world.
Abortion laws target our sexual freedom. Whether we are heterosexual or not, married or not, prostitutes or not, mothers or not. Patriarchy's control of women depends on its ability to influence and, when necessary, enforce our sexual and reproductive behavior.
Reproductive justice means that Women of all cultural and racial backgrounds need equality in the society so that we truly have the choice to keep or terminate an unexpected pregnancy. A woman must not be forced by her age or ecoomic circumstances to "choose" to have an abortion.
A very small minority of Americans resort to haraassment of women in front of abortion facilities and violence, including murder, against abortion providers. If women were given equal protection in this country, the laws would not permit such demonstrations in front of all health facilities, including those who provide abortions. Such demonstrations violate women's right of privacy in seeking health care, and the official toleration of them encourages further violence.
The Alan Guttmacher Institute collects excellent statistics on who gets abortion and the laws relating to contraceptive use and abortion by state. The science and study of population growth is called "demography".
Women's Health in
In the 1960's, an abortion reform movement arose, composed of medical and legal professionals and clergymen, Planned Parenthood Federation, prominent corporate leaders. Their projects were funded by wealthy foundations, like the Rockefeller Foundation. By the end of the decade, the movement was huge; it ran full-page ads in newspapers around the country. In 1969, President Richard M. Nixon told Congress "Population Growth is a world problem which no country can ignore."
The reformists decried the degradation, suffering and deaths that resulted from illegal abortions, but they were spurred to action by the growth of population, especially in certain countries like India. Throughout the 60's, over a million copies of the pamphlet, "The Population Bomb", written and published by Hugh Moore in the 1950's, had been distributed in college classrooms and in churches.
Active and respected in that movement in California, three radical feminists saw the solution in repealing all laws relating to abortion. Lana Clarke Phelan, Patricia Maginnis and Rowena Gurner. They wrote "The Abortion Handbook" and taught a form of self-abortion. Maginnis started The Society for Humane Abortion, and Lana Clarke Phelan was vice-president of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL).
Feminists want to destroy all laws, regulations, and policies that interfere with a woman's freedom to run her own sexual and reproductive life, starting with laws relating to birth control and abortion.
U.S. abortion laws were not based on religious beliefs. Throughout history the Church permitted abortion until "quickening". Abortion was not illegal until the mid-1900's in the United States, and it was the medical professional organizations that lobbied for almost a century to get abortion outlawed in state after state until the last state, Mississippi, passed a law making abortion illegal in 1950.
The questions of morality of contraception and abortion are individual matters of conscience, and religious debates have nothing to do with the political history of the laws regulating use of contraceptives and abortion.
Nations use abortion laws to control the growth of their population. When national leaders need more workers or soldiers, like Napoleon did in the 18th century, they restrict or outlaw abortion to force women into carrying their pregnancies to term. This type of public policy is called "pro-natalist" (latin, meaning "for birth"). When national leaders want fewer babies and for women to swell the workforce, they make abortion legal and easy to get. These public policies are called "anti-natalist" (latin, meaning "against birth"). All nations, including the United States, has a "population policy".
Feminists insist that government should stop using either the pro-natalist or anti-natalist "carrots and sticks" to control the population growth.