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Angry Times 3
by j.d.

January 22, 1998 was the 25th Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision which made abortion legal across the United States. On that day, I proudly strutted to work, stopped to buy a New York Times so that I could read all of the wonderful coverage of this historic event. I looked at the cover - nothing. I looked a few pages in - nothing. I finally read the Table of Contents, and realized that there were a few editorials on the subject. One was particularly good, although very grim in it's message. It detailed the decline of abortion services across the country - in fact, did you know that 80% of counties in this country today do not have an abortion provider? Anyway, the Op-Ed that day was particularly inflammatory. It was written by Peggy Noonan, and it was extremely anti-choice. I found it very interesting that they chose such an anti-choice message on such an important historical date. You should go to, go to their archives and look for the Op-Ed written by Peggy Noonan on January 22nd, 1998. I believe there is a $1.50 charge to access old files, so you can also go to your local library and read it on microfilm, but in the mean time, you can read my summary. Basically, Ms. Noonan directed her piece toward the "unfortunate souls" who were born after 1973 who had grown up "morally dulled" in "an abortion culture" that left us confused and not knowing right from wrong. If you can remember back to that time, there were also some famous stories in the news about teenagers killing their newborns, and Ms. Noonan tried to draw a parallel between those incidents and us growing up having heard about late-term abortion. She basically implied that we did not know the difference between killing a newborn baby and having a safe, legal abortion. I was incensed by her ignorant comments, and I wrote the following reply. To my knowledge, it was never printed.



I was born on February 1st, 1973, 10 days after the historic Roe vs. Wade decision was handed down; therefore, I have grown up in the "abortion culture" which Peggy Noonan mentions. However, I am neither "frightened", "confused", nor an I "morally dulled", and I resent the implication that I am unable to make my own decisions based on information I have received/perceived on the issue throughout my lifetime.

I have not grown up in a culture where the phrase "abortion on demand" is frequently heard. In fact, I did not hear this phrase until I went to college, and even then it was not a common utterance. Nor has the media "drummed into" me propaganda so severe that I am unable to be anything other than pro-choice. On the contrary, if I have been bombarded by any images through the media which have convinced me to be pro-choice, it is the wild and frightening antics of the anti-choice movement, screaming at and blocking women from entering clinics; interviews with doctors who perform abortions and are too frightened to show their faces or state their real names because they fear a "pro-life" activist will picket their office, drive them out of business or attempt to murder them. These images from the media have certainly steered me away from the anti-choice perspective.

The statements which truly disturb me from Ms. Noonan's editorial, however, have to deal with her notion that young people today are unable to make moral decisions because growing up in an era in which abortion is legal has somehow skewed our concept of "the worth of an ordinary human life".

I am pro-choice because I value human life. Making abortion illegal does not make abortion disappear. It pushes it into unsanitary conditions in back alleys. It puts the lives of women in dire jeopardy. Before Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion in this country, hundreds of thousands of women had illegal abortions. Tens of thousands were injured or died due to being butchered by "doctors", infections from unsanitary operations, or self-induced abortions in their homes with hangars, vacuums, overdoses of medication, etc. Many more were never able to conceive again because their reproductive organs were damaged by unqualified "physicians". I am pro-choice because I never want women to have to live with those terrible conditions again, not because I favor "free abortion on demand", or lack a moral compass.

I also want to see a time when the number of abortions is reduced. We must advocate for better sex education and affordable, available access to birth control for all women everywhere in the United States in all socio-economic classes. But abortion too, must remain legal and accessible to ensure the safety of the women of this country.

Finally, I just want to comment on Ms. Noonan's allegations that recent cases of young people killing their newborn babies is a result of growing up in "an abortion culture". While these allegations are so outrageous that even she herself negates them with her own comment that "…such crimes have occurred throughout time…" , I offer some alternative possibilities. Perhaps, growing up in a culture where more money is spent on war and the instruments of war than on social programs to feed starving children has "skewed young people's value of human life". I certainly was taught more- and in more graphic detail- about every war fought in U.S. and Western European history than I ever was on abortion and Roe vs. Wade. Perhaps our lack of faith in our political and judicial systems has made us more cynical than previous generations. Maybe the inability of our legislators to stand up against the NRA to pass and enforce stricter gun control laws to make our streets and schools safer has caused us to question how our nation values human life.

Today is the Silver Anniversary of an historic decision which I hold dear to my heart. Today, I affirm my commitment to the fight to keep abortion legal, make it more accessible, and I do so from a moral point of view which does indeed value human life.

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