There's more at stake than Roe vs. Wade

By Carole Joffe

By Letters to the Editor

Published November 2, 2000 8:27AM (EST)

Read the story

Sending abortion back to the states, as a consequence of repealing Roe vs. Wade, would result in great political turmoil, and an immediate move by conservative states to outlaw or restrict abortion. When Romania repealed its liberal abortion policies in the 1970s, the birthrate shot up, and then came down quickly as illegal abortion took over. The same thing would happen in the U.S., with the attendant problems of hemorrhage, infection, sterility and death of pregnant women.

I am a doctor who worked in hospitals and emergency rooms before Roe vs. Wade, and I remember the terrible toll from knitting needles and other sharp objects poked into the uterus, injection of soap and pastes, potassium permanganate tablets that eroded the vaginal walls and women who shot themselves in the uterus.

Abortion does not go away when it is outlawed. It goes underground, with terrible results. Thank you for your article on this matter. We must not subject women and families to the reproductive chaos that could result from a Bush presidency.

-- Sadja Greenwood, M.D.

The article correctly states the details but misses the larger reality. Overturning Roe vs. Wade and administrative negativity to abortion will be the least of our problems. Last year a Republican Congress passed a law banning late-term abortions, but it was vetoed by our Democratic president. Under a George W. Bush White House, a Republican Congress will find it irresistible to pass a law banning ALL abortions. Bush will find overwhelming pressure to sign it. And a Bush Supreme Court will uphold it as the law of the land. Republican control of the court, and that ruling, will be the law of the land for 30 years. It will be a return to the back alleys for those American women who are neither rich nor dating the son of a congressman. Don't be fooled by the attempts of Nader and Bush to soft-peddle this threat to America's women and their daughters.

-- Jim McConnell

Very good story, and very true. However, it appears that Gore has chosen not to campaign heavily on that. He has not campaigned on issues that he differs from Bush on. This issue, and all the issues that appointing judges effect should have been hammered on. They weren't. Bush's people are running a much smarter campaign. Gore's are blowing it. Sadly, Roe vs. Wade will be overturned.

-- Tim Carroll

There's a certain irony in how Carole Joffe commends Clinton/Gore for defending abortion providers against violence while supporting their objections to partial-birth abortion bans. What could be more violent than to suck out the brain of a late-term fetus in the process of exiting the womb?

Even though I support reproductive rights for women, I am puzzled as to why we cannot recognize that abortion itself is an act of violence.

-- David P. Graf

This is an extremely volatile issue, and there are bound to be strong disagreements. However, even people with unpopular opinions are guaranteed the right to express them by the laws of this country. My personal opinion is that abortion is morally and ethically reprehensible, yet I recognize that as of now it is a legal option. That doesn't mean I won't do everything legally possible to see it ended.

People need to realize that terminating a pregnancy is like punishing the victim for the crime. Pro-abortionists say that women don't want the responsibility or can't afford to have a baby, or it isn't the right time, etc. But why should the innocent baby die because the parents were irresponsible? Do we jail the bank teller after a robbery because the thief can't deal with the consequences of his actions? There is a cause and effect, and people need to realize that. Don't have sex if you aren't prepared for what may happen.

-- Thomas Rodgers

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