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Kroeber '11, Ratledge '11: Pro-lifers fail to provide alternatives

Before spring break, Sarah Gassel '12 bravely wrote in her column ("The case for infant rights," March 18) about her personal relationship with abortion, making a case for adoption over abortion and criticizing Planned Parenthood for not providing sufficient adoption support services. Not many of us would disagree that giving a child up for adoption is a very noble endeavor, but not all American women have the freedom to make that choice.

Gassel completely missed the point of the claim that anti-abortion activists hurt women. Few people would argue that we should not be encouraging adoption for desperate mothers unable to raise a child, but saying that such is the viewpoint of anti-abortion protesters is ludicrous. Anti-abortion protesters do not stand outside of organizations such as Planned Parenthood and extol the virtues of adoption. They scream and curse and sometimes even physically accost the women and men seeking health care services, irrespective of what those services might be.

As Gassel herself writes, abortion makes up just 3 percent of Planned Parenthood's services — the other 97 percent include vital health care services otherwise inaccessible to low-income people, like contraception, gynecological exams, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and education on safer sex. But anti-abortion protesters do not discriminate — for them, all women headed into Planned Parenthood are sinners. They are not educating them about alternatives or encouraging them to "choose life," as their political action committees claim. Protesters hurl epithets and deliberately intimidate women who dared to have sex, demonizing them, as though verbal abuse is the way to save a fetus.  

 There are several ways to reduce the number of abortions performed in this country, exactly zero of which are bankrolled or lobbied for by the large pro-life organizations.

No national pro-life organizations provide low- or no-cost prenatal care to low-income women who would have to go without it.

No national pro-life organizations lobby for better benefits in low-paid positions disproportionately held by low-income women of color, who cannot carry a pregnancy to term without risking loss of employment.

No national pro-life organizations run shelters for young women who might be beaten or kicked out for becoming pregnant.

No national pro-life organizations provide pro bono legal advice to women considering adoption.

No national pro-life organizations provide low-income women with resources after birth to keep their babies healthy — once a child is born, they seem to lose all interest.

Pro-life organizations do not expend their time and resources effecting real change that would lower the abortion rate in the United States. They do not even support expanding access to contraception, the foremost way to reduce the abortion rate. Instead, they call women monsters, killers or sluts who should have kept their legs shut.

Of course, this should not come as a surprise. The majority of pro-life organizations oppose contraception across the board because they take Gassel's argument to its next logical step — contraception prevents "future Americans" from coming to be, which is a kind of murder, too.

We are glad to hear that Gassel's birth mother had the resources to carry her pregnancy to term and give her child up for adoption. But the fact that some women do does not mean that all women do. Shutting down Planned Parenthood — one of the few health care providers for low-income men and women — is certainly not a step toward changing that for the better.



Susannah Kroeber '11 is a Slavic studies and history concentrator.

Former Opinions Editor Alyssa Ratledge '11 is a public policy concentrator.


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