Abortion's underground railroad

New York magazine explores New York's role and future as the abortion capital of the United States.

By Rebecca Traister
Published December 5, 2005 3:27PM (EST)

For a brisk, bone-chilling read, check out this week's New York magazine package on New York and abortion.

First there's the piece on how the state has the highest abortion rate in the country -- and that's only likely to become more true as Roe v. Wade gets further hacked apart.

Then there's a story by Debbie Nathan called "The New Underground Railroad," about New York volunteers with the Haven Coalition who take in women forced to flee their own states, where procedures are difficult to get and prohibitively expensive, to get second-term abortions.

The socioeconomic patterns of needs won't surprise anyone. Nathan writes, "Most Haven hosts are white, Jewish, well schooled, and political ... Meanwhile, most of the women helped by Haven are black and Latina, with GEDs or less, low literacy skills, and not much civic moxie."

These divides will only increase as rights to abortion are further eroded and more and more women are forced to cross state lines to get the care they need.

Of course, even the underground railroad systems will be imperiled if the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which would make it a crime to perform an abortion on a minor without a parent's permission, gets passed by Congress. If it does, groups like Haven could be prosecuted for harboring young women in need.

Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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